This article is focusing on practical-theological discourse about appearance and importance of the Church. For many of those interested in Christianity there are different obstacles in forms of institutional Church and organized religion. We cannot avoid an obvious fact that the Church lacks a good credit within the society. Apart from people watching the church from outside, even the very existence of the Church can sometimes be a problem for our individualistic society.
This trend used to be fostered throughout 1960’s and 1970’s when the Church had been overlooked and rejected by different theologians of various Christian traditions including e.g. Liberation Theology. The Church sometimes used to be understood as a deformed expression of an entity that should have been the kingdom of God. The teaching of Jesus as manifested by the Apostles, however, grants the Church quite an important role. The epistles focus on church planting and building. In spite of all critical comments and distortions of the past and present we can see that Christianity cannot exist without the Church. The Church is not a relict of the past but a substantial part of the Gospel. We are allowed to seek her contextualized expression but not to avoid the Church. The Church is not an invention of Christians but she is the beloved Bride of Christ that plays an important role in the plan of salvation and a crucial role in interpreting the Scripture.
An Outline of Evangelical Theology
Evangelical theology, supra-confessional as it is, seems to be constituted in four points:
(1) the authority and adequacy of Scripture,
(2) the uniqueness of redemption through the atoning death of Christ on the cross,
(3) the need of personal conversion,
and (4) the indispensability, pertinence and exigency of the gospel outreach.
These are a heritage of Reformation without which a theology cannot be considered evangelical. Typical of its ecclesiology is discriminating between the visible Church as the confessing, sacramental and discipline-applying body while still of a mixed nature, and on the other hand the Church invisible with members known only to the Lord while we, entitled as we are to expect personal confessions, are unable to tell what is genuine or otherwise. Evangelical theology should not resign to the need of personal conversion and confession while reject the belief this is what defines the limits of Church. Its diversity, which is unavoidable due to fragmentation and incrementation of human knowledge as well as obligatoriness of human conscience, provides opportunity for the Church to address the world with the Gospel, share social responsibility and join efforts in brotherly love.
American Divine Healing
The article descibes the development of the Divine Healing Movement in the United States, starting with Charles Cullis and his associates in the 1860s. Several strands of the movement are identified, each featuring either a successive stage in the history of the movement or a distinct set of doctrinal emphases which live on, embodied in the teaching and practice of diverse bodies or networks of Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians. The stage prior to the outbreak of the Pentecostal Movement proper was marked by the Holiness piety. The agenda of the Divine Healing Movement was taken over by Pentecostals. The interest in healing saw its resurgence with the appearance of William M. Branham and those he inspired in 1940s and 1950s. Agnes Sanford and Francis MacNutt are discussed as pathfinders of new approaches to healing ministry in 1960s. Finally, the problem of the relationship between the Faith Movement, represented by Kenneth E. Hagin, and the New Thought is highlighted.
The Concept of Disease: A Key for Pastoral Care
Do illness and suffering, in their deepest essence, represent blessings— intended or allowed by God? Are they, primarily, a test of faith and a symbolic cipher, which should be decoded and responded to, or does their presence rather obscure the true nature of salvation? Specific ways of thinking about diseases (which are illustrated by quotations from the works of Smolík, MacNutt, Grün and Dufner and other authors) substantially influence the objectives of pastoral work as well as its methods. With respect to relevant biblical texts, this article deals with considerations how the burden of suffering can be carried with other people, how the painful dilemma of repeated disappointment from expected recovery can be understood, and how the goodness of God can be perceived in this context. Despite all this conflict, it is advised to enter the area of trust, because it is the trust what causes principal change in the very perception and experience of this reality, as it provides a new view of Christ, a part of which is also the healing by God’s grace. Thus, the service of healing is a common part of life in the Christian community, not only a memory of the practice in the early Church, or even an unexpected and completely surprising manifestation of the Spirit of God.
Inner Healing as Understood by Leanne Payne
Numbers of people with inner wounds increase in the society and church. They need the care of psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists, and in particular an experience of God’s healing power. The pastoral care of Leanne Payne consists in healing the soul by God’s presence through union with Christ in the Holy Spirit. She established Pastoral Care Ministries in 1982 and ever since she has ministered with her co-workers and prayer team at conferences, seminars and schools of pastoral care ministries in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Leanne Payne builds her ministry on a firm Biblical foundation, she counts on the healing power of God’s indwelling by the Holy Spirit and she also takes advantage of her extensive knowledge of psychology.
Where Is Church?
A Protestant Position concerning the 2007 document "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" by the Roman Catholic Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Iran: A Church in a Moslem Country
While conducting research among Iranian converts to Christianity, the author looked for causes of conversions. His observations are the present message. First, he briefly summarizes the religious history of Iran so as to bring forward the special relationship the Iranians feel concerning the spiritual heritage of their people. Then, he tries to explain why exactly it is the Protestant, and most probably Evangelical and Charismatic, Christianity that appears to attract growing crowds of the Iranians. One of the factors that seem to counterproductively undermine the credibility of Islam is the consistent largescale enforcement of Islamic life and belief as well as the corruption and thirst for power in clerics, the cult of death and apparent aloofness of God. This is encouraging (but also warning) for Christians. What appears to be missing in the Islam of Iran is offered by the authentically and courageously lived Christianity: meekness, mutual acceptance (including women), forgiveness, love, supernatural testimony (such as prayers for healing), free, joyful worship and direct encounters with the loving God. The local churches succeed in taking up respect of Iranian spiritual heritage, worship God naturally in a local language, with traditional music and poetry that is widely cherished. Islam then loses out as the more foreign, imported religion. While Islam inflicts its own identity on the Iranians, Christianity makes advantage and develops the indigenous identity.
Prayers for Healing
Prayer for healing was an integral part of the ministry of Jesus and consequently it should be an integral part of the ministry of the church. Nevertheless, it is important to minister with the right motives. Legitimate motives for the ministry of healing are obedience and compassion.
It is important to avoid any promises and any pressure upon the person we are praying for. If our approach to people is sensitive, the prayer for healing should not harm and is often positively accepted even by people who do not regard themselves as Christians.
Divine Healing as Practiced among Roman Catholics
Prayer for healing was always part of the life of the Church, but through the centuries the emphasis shifted more to the sacramental level (the sacrament of anointing the sick) or prayer for healing at the intercession of Saints, i.e., to the realm of "the extraordinary". In the last decades, under the influence of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and similar streams from other churches, we have been discovering new dimensions of prayer for healing that gradually became a more common dimension of the normal life of the Church.
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