Saturday, March 12, 2016

Book Review: Healed of Cancer

Healed of Cancer. Dodie Osteen. 1986/2003. Lakewood Church. 81 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

Do I believe that Dodie Osteen had liver cancer and was miraculously cured of that cancer? Yes, I don't call into question those (bare) facts at all. I do not even disagree with her decision to go home instead of to stay in the hospital, or, to not seek further medical treatment. In her case, it makes sense. She was told that without treatment, she would probably live two to three weeks, and, with chemotherapy she would probably live three to five weeks. The treatment options were almost nonexistent. For reference, this was in 1981, so quite a few decades ago!

Dodie Osteen was not going home to die, however, she was going home to live. She says her healing (practically) began the moment she left the hospital as she and her family--her immediate family, her extended family, her church family--began to pray for her healing. For the record, she does recognize a few vital facts: every type of cancer is different; some types of cancer can be treated (should be treated) the traditional way through medical treatment under the care of doctors and surgeons; that she is not advocating that every single person--no matter the diagnosis--refuse medical treatment. However, she does think every person has the right to refuse treatment so they can trust in God alone to heal them.

The book makes clear that the author took her healing seriously, as did her family. She refused to rest or to relax. She went so far as to say in this little booklet that taking a nap or "sleeping in" in the mornings would be a sign of unbelief or lack of faith. To her way of thinking, to show a lack of faith would be disastrous. How could God heal her if she admitted her weakness, her exhaustion, her pain?! The only way to be healed was to live as if the healing was a done deal, a finished matter. No taking it easy, no change of routine, no slackening in the work load, no asking for help, no allowing anyone to help, no admitting how her body--or her mind--was actually feeling. I want to make clear this was HER thinking, HER conclusion.

The premise of the book is simple: the author believes that she is alive only because of the Bible. That it was by claiming--confessing, professing, clinging--"healing verses" that saved her life. I too believe that there is life to be found in the Word of God, and that the Bible is a powerful, authoritative book--a book like no other. But there are differences of opinion. BIG differences of opinion.

The first section tells her story. It is the longest chapter in the book. The second chapter--or section--shares 40 verses (often taken out of context, though not always*) that she used to "win the battle over cancer." These are verses that she still prays daily to keep her cancer from coming back. She advocates believers speaking directly to the devil and also to the cancer cells in their bodies. Believers are to rebuke the cancer cells and claim their healing. The book prints out the healing verses, and each verse has a sentence or two of commentary by the author. The third chapter is composed of three statements by physicians all supporting two things: she had cancer; she now does not have cancer. The fourth chapter is frequently asked questions. In this section she reiterates again that every single person is different, that every type of cancer is different, that she is not saying that everyone should refuse medical treatment.

So. I mentioned there are some differences of opinion...

I believe that God can heal, that He is certainly more than capable of healing people. God is all-powerful, nothing is beyond Him, nothing is impossible for Him. But I do not believe, like the author, that when a person is not healed that it is a sign of either them "choosing to be sick" instead of "choosing to have abundant life." In other words, it is not a lack of faith--a sign of unbelief--if a believer is not healed or even dies. Christians can die of cancer; their death is not the result of their lack of faith. It is not the weakness of a believer's faith that leads to death. The author assumes that it is always, always, always the will of God for believers to live--to live a long, abundant, happy, free-from-pain-and-suffering life. That it couldn't possibly be within God's will for believers to die, to be sick, to suffer pain, to be weak. But is this true? Or is the author picking and choosing verses to back her up--to back her theological worldview?

I'll be happy to admit that every person with a theological worldview--which is essentially almost everyone in the faith--can be guilty of this. Some may be a lot guilty; some may be a little guilty. But I think the only way to live a life pleasing to God is to embrace ALL of Scripture, to embrace God's WHOLE revelation. Furthermore, it is crucial to read the Bible in context. Not just to pull a verse here and there. OR in the author's case half of a verse here and there. We are not to pack a verse full of the meaning we want it have, but to let the verse mean exactly what it means--no more, no less.

There's a chance you think I might be exaggerating. I'll share some quotes so you know that I'm not exaggerating the author's position:
Many people suffer and die needlessly because they do not know what the Word of God says about healing. (p. 54, her "commentary" on 2 Corinthians 1:20)
When I was sick, I had to cast down imaginations concerning symptoms, and, you will too. Make your thoughts obey you. (p. 55, her "commentary" on 2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
Then it lists the blessings and the curses. God tells us to diligently obey and observe carefully His commandments. That is when we receive from him. (p. 39, her "commentary" on Deuteronomy  28:1-2)
I prayed 'Father, I plead my case to You and I ask You to show me things that have been wrong in my life that I can correct. (p. 43, her "commentary" on Isaiah 43:25-26)
If you follow His commandments, forgiving others, tithing, obeying His commandments, then God will bless you. (p. 47, her "commentary" on Malachi 3:10)
It is God's will for you to be well. If you do not believe that, you need to change your thinking. It is not God who has made you sick, it's the devil." (p. 48, her "commentary" on Matthew 8:2-3)
You can personalize this verse and read it this way: "Whatever I stop on earth will be stopped in heaven, and whatever I permit and allow on earth will be permitted and allowed in heaven." (p. 49, her "commentary" on Matthew 18:18)
The Bible says we are snared by the words of our mouth (see Proverbs 6:2). So watch what you say. Confess, "I believe I am healed," and you will be. (p. 50, her "commentary" on Mark 11:22-23)
Believers should pray for healing. I am not saying that they shouldn't. But to assume--or to presume or demand--that the only possible answer to their prayer is complete healing is not quite right or sound.

God does teach through sickness, weakness, pain, suffering, affliction. God, I think makes it clear that he does use our pain, suffering, weakness, sickness to transform us into who he would have us to be. He is shaping us through our circumstances, and using us to bring glory to His name.  Our lives do have purpose. Being weak is not a sign of weak faith.

The author is adamant this is not so. That our sickness, our suffering, does not serve a purpose except to reveal our lack of faith or our disobedience which is "blocking" our healing.

God has never promised us a pain-free, affliction-free life! Just the opposite! In this world we will have trouble, we will suffer. We can choose to praise God through the trials and sufferings or choose to learn nothing and become angry, bitter, and ungrateful. God has promised to be with us, to comfort us, to walk with us no matter the circumstance. But we are to expect some groans in this life.

Here are some Bible verses that I would like to highlight.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:26-30
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14
The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
*Exodus 15:26, Exodus 23:25, Deuteronomy 7:15; Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Deuteronomy 30:19, Joshua 21:45, 1 Kings 8:56b, Psalm 89:34, Psalm 91:16, Psalm 103:1-5, Psalm 105:37, Psalm 107:20, Psalm 118:17, Proverbs 4:20-22, Isaiah 41:10, 13; Isaiah 43:25-26, Isaiah 53:5; Jeremiah 1:12, Jeremiah 30:17, Hosea 4:6a, Joel 3:10b; Nahum 1:9b, Malachi 3:10; Matthew 8:2-3, Matthew 8:17, Matthew 18:18, Matthew 18:19, Matthew 21:21-22; Mark 11:22-23; Mark 11:24, Mark 16:17-18, Luke 10:19, John 9:31; John 10:10; Romans 4:19-21; Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Galatians 3:13-14, Ephesians 6:10-13, Philippians 2:13, 2 Timothy 1:7, Hebrews 4:12, Hebrews 10:23; Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:35, Hebrews 11:11, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:5, James 3:17, James 4:7-8, James 5:14-15, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 Peter 5:7-9; 1 John 3:21-22; 1 John 5:14-15, 3 John 2, Revelation 12:11

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: