Miracle Madness?

Tonight on Channel 4, a documentary made by Derren Brown was shown which looked at the phenomenon of Miracles.

However, Derren Brown’s documentary wasn’t on the phenomenon of them, but rather the apparent deceit of them.

I must start this post by saying that Brown made it clear that this wasn’t an attack on the Christian faith, or anyone who believes in miracles. However, the inference was made that all miracles are bogus and a mere trick of the human brain. I completely disagree.

You may at this point, if you aren’t a believer, say that Derren Brown proved in front of audiences that miracles don’t really happen. And to an extent, I would agree with you. But I only agree to a certain point due to the fact that Brown has three major flaws in his argument:

  1. Derren Brown sought after ‘Faith Healers’ who were evidently false teachers of the Bible, or those who even admitted that they were phoney. The Faith Healers that Brown pursued preached a ‘prosperity Gospel’. That is a gospel whereby giving all your money will earn you more favour with God and therefore more blessing. Often the money given to ‘God’ is given to the preacher in stead. Thrown in with the prosperity gospel is a lot of hype and trickery, which is why they filmed the person who was ‘healed’ from deafness, but the preacher didn’t really close his hearing ear. The other main incident was a guy who was a ‘faith healer’ but used hype in order to ‘heal people’. The thing is, I do believe that there are phoneys out there, and they trick people into thinking they are healed. Brown clearly demonstrated this in the documentary. But does this mean that all healings are phoney? Of course it doesn’t. Let me explain in the second flaw I found…
  2. Brown didn’t try to tackle healings of obvious disability, such as blindness. The fact is, however, that people who are blind have been healed. And to add to that, it hasn’t just been temporary due to adrenaline either. Because Brown didn’t comment on this, the whole argument is one sided, and therefore doesn’t come to any reasonable conclusion about healings in general.
  3. Because Brown didn’t explore people who pray for healing who aren’t phoney, he didn’t manage to say that those of us who believe that God can heal actually say that God doesn’t heal all the time. Phoney preachers say that God has given them the power to heal all the time. Phoney preachers ‘show off’ their healing powers. Authentic Christians who believe in healing don’t show off at all. They pray for healing over people. Sometimes healing occurs, sometimes it doesn’t. I guess many people will say ‘Ah-ha! That means healing doesn’t happen’. Well that’s a very ignorant conclusion to come to. You see, authentic Christians believe in the principle of the “Kingdom Now and Not Yet” doctrine: this is the idea that God’s Kingdom is here on earth now, but only in glimpses. This is why some people get healed and some don’t. We don’t claim to know exactly why some people DON’T get healed, but it does at least tell people that healing only happens when God desires it too. You’ll find that most Christians are happy with this theology, even those with serious illness like cancer.

So therefore, I don’t think the documentary fully represented what is taught by the Christian church. All Derren Brown did in the documentary was to show up the fake healers and show what methodoligies they use to re-enact ‘healing’.

What he failed to show was people being cured of cancer due to prayers for healing over a person and doctors being speechless because of what they’ve seen. He didn’t show a blind person being healed permanently, and he didn’t show a dead man being raised to life, which has happened. He also didn’t show a wheelchair bound person get up and walk for the rest of his life as a direct result of prayer for healing.

Some of you will be reading this blog post skeptically, and that’s OK. All I have to say is that when Jesus did miracles in front of crowds and in front of their very eyes, some still didn’t believe. You’re just being those people today. But for those of you who are open minded, please leave feedback, ask questions, or even find a Bible believing church that has a healing ministry… but make sure it’s genuine! Again, ask me for more info.

I don’t claim to have all the answers on this topic, but I can usually tell a genuine healing ministry from a phoney one, and all this blog post is doing is coming at the Derren Brown documentary from a faith perspective and highlighting the issues with it.

Conclusion: The documentary was good for highlighting phoney faith healers, but bad for presenting a balanced argument for and against the authenticity of healings and miracles.

Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • Just seen it on 4od. Thanks for the heads up!

    My initial impression was that I would have found it much easier to watch in my former cessationist days.

    Indeed, it would be all to easy to allow programmes such as this to feed prejudice against claims of the miraculous today.

    However, having recently learned not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, I’ve come away with a greater desire for the genuine article.

    I believe Jesus heals people today. But what goes on freely, quietly, within loving Christian communities, and far from gaze of the lens cannot be compared to the grotesque caricature of the greedy, empire building, prosperity touting telly evangelists.

    It was good to see Brown and his team struggle with the morality of what they were doing. However, I don’t think they struggled enough. For Brown, the end clearly justified the means.

    But let’s not forget that, for all his protestations of a righteous cause, Brown is a TV presenter, working to a budget and a schedule to produce compelling programmes, that people will pay to see.

    Somehow it’s ok for Brown to use deceit to earn a buck, but not others? And in the process, how much did Brown and his team have to harden their hearts (and those of their viewers) to the real gospel?

    That’s not to suggest that Brown’s method totally invalidates his findings (indeed, those of us who are jealous for the gospel and the glory of Jesus will take heed), but it does deny Brown the moral high ground.

    So I see this as a warning to keep our own house in order, to take heed lest we fall, and to continue to pursue God for wisdom and for true manifestations of his glory.

  • Tony

    good stuff D!

  • Dai

    Your argument is completely misleading. There is no evidence whatsoever for blind people being healed by prayer. Faith healing and the power of prayer have both shown to be completely inefficacious in double-blinnd, peer-reviewed experiments. Well done on commending Brown for the strengths of his argument, and I agree that he can be biased; but seriously, propagating the notion that prayer can be effective is dangerous and a complete fabrication, just like when Christians claim that Darwin recanted his theories on his deathbed. Sorry about the tone of this message by the way. Great blog though! very well written

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