Monday, August 25, 2003

Jehovah Rapha Versus the MD-I haven't seen any bloggage on this one, but I'm sure some Bright's going to make a quip on this piece on an autistic kid dying in a Milwaukee prayer meeting; they were trying to exorcise the kid, thinking the autism was demonic-related. I'm not sure if we would have heard about this if the kid had died at school or at a Little League game, for this is a piece that makes the more secular three-quarters of the spectrum feel more enlightened than the holy rollers in Milwaukee. David Heddle, being the dad of an autistic son, could give a better description of autism than I, but it results from the brain having some short circuits, creating compulsive behaviors that are often disruptive to social function. If I recall correctly, there isn't a medical cure for autism, just coping mechanisms that try to minimize the disruptive behaviors. In less-enlightened times, such behavior would have been more likely to be attributed to demonic possession. This passage in Matthew 17 comes to mind
14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him." 17 And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me." 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.
Today, the boy would have probably been deemed autistic. Such a cure is what the Milwaukee folks had in mind. In the past, when medicine was primitive and psychiatry was non-existent, a lot of illnesses was chalked up to demonic activity. Without any good ways to treat illnesses, prayer was the best answer, as a lot of what passed for medical care was often counter-productive. Today, we understand bacteria, viruses, cancer and other physiological and psychological problems that the people of centuries past either chalked up to "natural causes" or possession. However, the Devil didn't go out of business when penicillin and psychotherapy was invented. We often have the opposite problem of our ancestors; where they didn't have a handle on the physical causes of things, today's naturalists haven't got a handle on the spiritual realm. Some diseases will have a demonic component to them, while many mental illnesses aren't treatable by what's available in the pharmacy or by talk therapy. Some of the problems only come out via fasting and prayer. God has the power to heal, whether the problem be a physical disease or a emotional problem. He also has the power to get rid of demons, if that is the source of the problem. In many devout churches, right after hearing about Jehovah Jirah, God the Provider, you'll often hear of Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer. You have a handful of hard-cases out there who don't believe in doctors, but most people who believe in God's healing power recognize that God can heal through natural processes such as medication and surgery. However, they also recognize that God can do some disintermediation and heal the person directly. Something went wrong Friday night in Milwaukee. The kid may have had a seizure that his teacher or care-giver wouldn't have been able to deal with, either. However, that doesn't mean that that Faith Temple may haven't been right in seeking deliverance for the kid. They may have confused a seizure for being slain in the spirit and though some spiritual warfare was going on in the kid. With autism being hard to treat, these folks may have given up on the medical profession for this kid and solely relied on God. Let's not make apparent fubars like this keep us from thoughtfully making God part of the healing mix. Let's also not make this take the spotlight off of Ol' Sloughfoot and his mischief-making in the world; he doesn't cause every illness, but he'd go a hand in more of them than we think.

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