A Question I Was Asked:

'What is your Personal Opinion of 'Ernest Angley Ministries'?

Should People Be Encouraged to Place Their Hand on a Computer Screen in Order to Receive a Healing?

Okay, first of all, I cannot judge (and do not claim to be able to judge) Mr Angley's personal relationship with God. His relationship with God and Jesus Christ is between him and God. I know nothing of that.

Neither do I doubt that - on occasions, perhaps many occasions - Mr Angley may have prayed for people and seen those people restored to health, yes, maybe even dramatically restored to health - after all, this has also been my own experience, so why not Mr Angley?

Having said that, since Ernest Angley apparently sets himself up to be a man who has been granted particular healing gifts by God, and since he makes a comment about that on his website, I will make a few comments on what appears there (just as it is perfectly reasonable for anybody to make some sort of an evaluation of our ministry of UK Apologetics based on comments/statements which I - or others - make on our website).

In a leading section on his website which is titled, “I Believe in Miracles Because I Believe in God,” My Angley states,

“Do you need a miracle or healing? You can have a miracle; you can have a healing today. Untold multitudes have been healed as they put their hand against mine on the screen.

You can have your deliverance. This is just a point of contact. I am not a healer; Jesus is the Healer. He said a believer would lay hands on the sick and they would get well. I am God's believer, endowed with His precious gifts to bring healing to the people.”

Okay, let me here make a number of comments about what Mr Angley writes,

Regarding the comment 'I Believe in Miracles Because I Believe in God' - that is fine: I too believe in miracles because I believe in God. However, if one is drawing one's knowledge of God out of the Bible (as Mr Angley and myself both do), one needs to be very aware of exactly what the Bible teaches on miracles. But I think that this matter is far too important to settle on an approximation of what the Bible teaches - we need to be really clear here, and to avoid all possibility of theological error, at least, as much as is possible. Truth is: A thorough knowledge of the Scriptures will show that miracles are not as common therein as so many continue to believe; they 'cluster' around certain important events/ministries: Creation, the delivering of the Old Covenant at Sinai, the ministries of Elijah and Elishah and - especially - the ministry of Jesus, and then the first century apostolic ministry. If one left those vital events/ministries out of the picture, then the Bible contains almost no accounts of the miraculous! In a real sense, everything in the Old Covenant points to Jesus, but the ministries of Elijah and Elishah, and then our Lord's ministry, followed by the apostolic ministry especially point to Jesus and to salvation through Him.

It was granted to the apostles and to the '70' to perform mighty works, even to the degree that the people believed that the very shadow of Peter passing over people would cause them to be healed (Acts 5:15). The miracles of Jesus provided clear evidence for his identity: His miraculous ministry was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew. 11:3-5). Jesus Himself cited his utterly unique miracle ministry as one of the evidences for his Messiahship (Matthew. 11:3-5; Mark 2:9-11; John. 5:36; 10:37,38).

For their part, the apostles (and the 70 evangelists) were specifically required to be witnesses to the ministry of Jesus and were empowered for this purpose. They lived the same time as Jesus and could provide direct testimony of the incredible things which they witnessed - none of us can do that today. Just note Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:8; Mark 16:20; Luke 9:1-2; Acts 2:43; Acts 5 12-16; Acts 14:3; Acts 15:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12 and Hebrews 2:3-4. Indeed, the New Testament writers usually referred to the miraculous 'signs of an apostle' in the past tense - this alone tells us a whole lot.

I am not fully 'cessationist' and do not believe that miracles are now impossible (and I myself have witnessed some incredible occurrences), but in everything I have seen of modern-day 'healing evangelists' I remain unconvinced that any of them have been granted particular gifts of healing - this does not surprise me since I feel that the fullest manifestation of this Gift has now passed. After all, why look for what the New Testament refers to as 'the signs of an apostle' in an age in which the apostles have long since departed?
But (it could be asked), are not some sick people still healed in a sudden and possibly dynamic way? Undoubtedly, and I myself have witnessed several examples of that (although over many years), but I tend to put that down to the faith of the sick person, or to the faith of the person praying for the sick person, or to the faith of a group of people involved in such prayers - but that in itself still does not necessarily mean that the 'Gift of Healing' has - in our day - been granted to any one person or to any one ministry! If it had been, this would surely grab the attention of even this sceptical world; Just think of it: every child and adult with 'down's syndrome' dramatically healed, every blind person receiving sight, every cancer sufferer instantly healed! Every amputee finding a new arm or leg miraculously reappearing! Yes, I really mean 'every'- not just claims by a tiny minority who attend 'healing meetings.' I have heard of the desperate sadness and depression of hundreds of mentally and physically handicapped persons leaving typical large charismatic healing meetings. These people had been told that they would be healed “as long as you have the faith” and since no healing occurred then people who had thought themselves to be rich in faith, leave in a doubly depressed state. Truth is: they had fallen victims to some pretty poor biblical teaching. This teaching blames the failure for God to heal on a lack of faith - but this is entirely wrong. If such people lacked faith they almost certainly would not have attended the healing meeting in the first place! No - The problem is that the theology is wrong in the first place.

There is no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority do not receive supernatural healing in our age simply because the extensive presence of that particular Gift only accompanied the apostolic age. The New Testament seems to frankly tell us that, so why not just believe it? Some like to only read their preferred Scriptures on the topic of healing when it has always been a cardinal rule of good biblical interpetation to take all scriptural teaching on any doctrine into account before deciding what the correct scriptural teaching really is. I do not doubt Mr Angley's sincerity when he writes, “Do you need a miracle or healing? You can have a miracle; you can have a healing today. Untold multitudes have been healed as they put their hand against mine on the screen.” But in the light of biblical teaching, I am bound to call into question his approach. I also question his wisdom in making such a statement. How deeply has he thought this through? It is true that he gives full credit to Jesus alone for any healing which may occur but by making his statement of healing (simply by encouraging people to put their hand against his hand - on a computer screen, that is), he is setting himself up as a man with a specific healing ministry of somewhat apostolic proportions. He states that he considers himself “endowed with His precious gifts to bring healing to the people”- He also states that “untold multitudes” have been healed in exactly this manner - yes, without doubt, this would make Mr Angley a healer of first century apostolic status! Well “untold multitudes” sounds like a lot of people! That cannot just be about 100 or even 300 people - that seems to infer in the thousands. Therefore - and this is still no personal attack on Mr Angley whatsoever - it is reasonable to ask if there is documentary evidence of all of these healings. Have these healings been carefully corobborated? Have medical experts been called in to confirm these incredible healings? Maybe that could not happen in every single case, but does his ministry possess, say, at least 800 fully corobborated cases of these healings?? Of course, maybe this particular ministry does not go back too far so such a large number would not be available. Yet I think we should all be very careful about our claims because "untold multitudes" sounds like many thousands!

Mr Angley states that, “Jesus is the Healer. He said a believer would lay hands on the sick and they would get well...”, but I am not sure that Jesus said that, in quite that same way. And, by the way, if I said that "believers are rich in faith" would I necessarily mean every believer - at all times? He is quoting Mark 16:18 within the context of Jesus giving the 'Go into all the world' mission to the original apostles - carefully note Mark 16:14 to note that Jesus was addressing the original apostles. Without question, physical healing would form a large part of this ministry and the activity of the apostles would be surrounded by some incredible events (Acts 5:12). However, there are some serious problems involved in even considering Mark 16:9-20 here. I don't reject Mark 16:9-20 entirely by any means but it is well known that the oldest and most reliable New Testament manuscripts which are in existence do not contain these verses and Mark 16 concludes at verse eight. Many feel that this chapter certainly was intended to finish at verse 8, but others think there were originally a few more verses after verse 8 but that they possibly became lost and verses 9-16 are added in an attempt to get at the spirit of what was lost. So we should not attempt to establish any doctrines with these verses. We may note that verse 18 states that Christians would not be hurt by drinking 'deadly poison' - many have noted that this seems quite an odd comment which finds no support anywhere else in the New Testament. But, in any case, the evidence seems overwhelming that these comments were specifically addressed to the original apostles (who were clearly being addressed in this chapter) and are not instructions for every Christian of every age. In fact, the clear evidence of the last several hundred years is that these comments were indeed intended for the apostolic age and this has been widely accepted within Christianity. It is only during the last 100-150 years that certain charismatic preachers and their theologies have insisted on reclaiming these promises.

So, to conclude, I do not judge Ernest Angley or his ministry and I know very little about him, but I am prepared to make these comments regarding things which Mr Angley himself has presumably allowed to be written about his ministry on his own website. Sincere or not this man seems quite representative of a long line of American fundamentalist/charismatic preachers who hold a view of divine physical healing which lacks Scriptural support.

Robin A. Brace, 2006.

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