I’m currently writing on a minor thesis in systematic theology on belief in miracles. I will compare Pentecostal pastor Surprise Sithole in South Africa, former arch bishop of the Swedish Lutheran Church KG Hammar, and pope Francis. One of the books I’m reading as a background for my study is Craig Keener’s excellent Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. For the thesis, I’m mainly interested in his church historical and philosophical chapters, but for my life I’m interested in every single page of this 900-page book. Here’s a very interesting excerpt from Chapter 11: Supernatural Claims in the Recent West:
Scientist, Journalists and Doctors
John Polkinghorne, the scientist-theologian noted in chapter 5, reports a woman whose left leg was paralyzed from an injury. Her doctors had given up trying to do more for her, indicating that she would remain an invalid for life. In 1980, she reluctantly and without any positive expectation agreed to meet with a priest conducting a healing meeting. On their second meeting, she had a mystical vision in which she was commanded to arise and walk. “From that moment she was able to walk, jump and bend down, completely without pain. Her husband, an orthopaedic charge nurse, on examining his wife, found that a large ulcer, which he had been dressing, had also healed spontaneously.” Polkinghorne concludes that one may think what one will, but the account “cannot simply be dismissed on a priori grounds as not having possibly happened.”
Others have collected further claims, and some have investigated them. As in Jamie Buckingham’s supportive follow-up of claims involving one ministry (see below), some popular authors have investigated some of the claims available to them. For example, one investigative reporter for the Eire Daily Times recounts that he did follow up and confirm numerous reports of healings, as well as debunking some others. Some of the confirmed cases were instant and dramatic answers to prayer, and some involved cures never attested as occurring apart from claims of miraculous intervention. Some other investigators have gone further.
Rex Gardner, a physician, records numerous healings verified by eyewitnesses, some with medical documentation. For example, a member of a Lutheran order of sisters was supposed to need traction for many weeks but rose immediately after prayer, though some secondary elements of her recovery took two weeks. A young medical trainee in North Wales was dying of meningitis in the hospital, but those praying for her felt that she would recover, against medical opinion. X-ray films of her chest initially revealed “extensive left-sided pneumonia with collapse of the middle lobe.” Two days later, however, X-rays showed “a normal chest.” Because of scarring on her eye, the ophthalmologist assured her that she would have “permanent blindness in that eye”, despite her confidence that she would be healed. Clearly some patients who insist they will recover are in denial, but such was not the case here. Her eye recovered completely, for which the ophthalmologist could offer no explanation. “The four consultants who saw her on admission to hospital remain confident of their initial diagnosis. She is shown at post-graduate medical meetings as ‘The one that got away.'”
He cites the healing of a cardiac invalid and other examples. In one of his other examples, a doctor examined a Baptist woman’s ulcer that was daily exuding pus and concluded that even if it should heal, skin grafting would be necessary. The morning after prayer, nearly the entire ulcer disappeared; a week later, during another prayer, the skin was completely healed. Gardner notes that he was one of the examining physicians and had also inquired of the witnesses.
In another case, a nine-year-old girl, deaf without her hearing aid bur praying for healing, was instantly healed, to the audiologist’s amazement. The dumbfounded consultant responded, “I don’t believe you. It is not possible.” But the next day, the tests revealed that her hearing was normal. The doctor’s report admitted, “Her hearing returned completely to normal… I was completely unable to explain this phenomenon… I can think of no rational explanation as to why her hearing returned to normal, there being a severe bilateral sensorineural loss.” […]
Gardner is by no means the only physician offering such testimonies. For example, an Anglican priest in England notes a woman who testified that she had been instantly healed of what was to be terminal cancer, and her doctor was present to confirm the same based on her medical records. Another doctor notes a patient immediately cured from metastasized breast cancer after prayer, another person cured of metastasized melanoma (spread to the liver) after prayer, and other examples.
Another medical doctor, John White, attests that a woman with a confirmed diagnosis of tuberculosis of the cervical spine, unable to stand, was healed after prayer; her doctor, who had been trying to secure her a place in the sanatorium, “was bewildered to find there was no evidence of disease in her body.” Her illness was certain, her cure permanent, and the witness virtually inconvertible. White could attest this incident and its permanence because he was no only the person who prayed for her, and an MD himself, but he later married this woman and spent the rest of his life with her.
BAM! I will provide some of his thousand footnotes for all these claims when I have time. God is good, peace out