I came across this video over at Jesus Needs New PR (link in the sidebar), and spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon watching it and thinking about it. It's very clear that Derren Brown approaches the topic with an agenda - he wants to prove that faith healing is the work of charlatans, and in many respects, he gets it right. And he also, likely unknowingly, brings up several other issues that the church has either ignored or failed to engage on a suitable level.
I know the video is an hour and 15 or so minutes, so I'll sum up: Derren Brown is a magician and skeptic from the UK. He frequently works to expose scams and cons, and does TV specials about them. In this particular episode, he takes on the behemoth in the American church that is faith healing - specifically, he focuses on those televangelists who say "God will heal your cancer/MS/whooping cough/infertility/whatever if you just send me a check for a thousand dollars." The kicker is that if you don't get healed, well then, it's your own fault - you must have some sort of sin in your life that keeps you from being healed.
Over the next week or so, I'm going to do a series of five posts (this one included) about the different aspects of faith healing - as it has been viewed in the past, what it means to the church, and what we should do with it now.
The five parts will discuss first the idea of male authority in the church; then, there will be two parts on the idea of sin as related to faith healing, and the way the prosperity gospel ties in. Last, we'll talk about where we go from here - how does the church respond to those who fully believe they've been healed by a televangelist? What do you say to your neighbor who's grandma's cousin who was told ten years ago that she had two weeks to live and is still alive today?
For this last part, your discussion will be vital, so feel free to challenge me in the comments, to bring up counterpoints and tell me your experiences. Keyboard fingers: Engage! What are you initial thoughts on faith healing?