Towards the end of the twentieth century, Frank Macchia (1999) expressed concern that an inwardness and otherworldliness had developed and was dominating global Pentecostalism. Twenty-one years into the new millennium, are Australian Pentecostal churches becoming less introverted and more socially engaged? The initiative of ACC NSW promoting community involvement is encouraging. But the question is also for the individual and theological. Am I inward looking as an ACC pastor, or visionary for global redemption, reconciliation and justice? My interest in Macchia’s concern was accentuated by his suggestion that “…divine healing of the body, more than any other aspect of Pentecostal spirituality and belief, provides a potential corrective…” (Macchia, 1999, p. 20) His reasoning is that bodily healing can cause us to realise that the Holy Spirit has the very real power to heal in a broader sense.
Hejzlar’s distinction between evangelistic healing and pastoral healing helpful. (Hejzlar, 2010) He found classical Pentecostal healing-evangelists were more faith and scripture oriented, while healing ministries among mainline churches in the Charismatic movement were more pastoral, highlighting of God’s compassion and included social and ecological sensibilities. In my research into divine healing in ACC churches, I find its ministers are running with a theology of evangelistic healing (espoused theology) while ministering by necessity in pastoral healing (operant theology) and are not yet visionary. This is an inherited disposition. The early emphasis on healing evangelism is reflected in O’Keefe and Brett’s comments on Australian Pentecostalism in the 1930s, “Almost all pentecostal ministers operated in the mould of Wigglesworth, and made better evangelists and preachers than they did long-term pastors.” (Brett & O’Keefe, n.d.)
How does this help address Macchia’s concern? Evangelistic healing in a local church leads to an unreconciled tension. Members need to grow in faith and character, not be converted by the miraculous over and over again. Expectations of instant, perfect healing are met by partial or non-healings, causing a lack of confidence in the healing ministry. It is the broken hearts that need healing, and wounds bandaged (Psalm 147). Pastoral healing and evangelistic healing, I suggest, are most effective when working together in tandem; the commission to evangelise is then matched with the command of Jesus to “love one another.” Is this inward looking? Both can fit into the category of therapeutically extending the kingdom of God. After all, the command is followed by the consequence, “that all may know that you are my disciples.”
Brett, M., & O’Keefe, D. (n.d.). Maxwell Armstrong. In Australasian Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Alphacrucis College, Sydney. Retrieved 15 September 2020, from https://sites.google.com/view/adpcm
Hejzlar, P. (2010). Two paradigms for divine healing: Fred F. Bosworth, Kenneth E. Hagin, Agnes Sanford, and Francis MacNutt in dialogue. Brill.
Macchia, F. D. (1999). The Struggle for Global Witness. In M. W. Dempster, B. D. Klaus, & D. Petersen (Eds.), The Globalization of Pentecostalism: A religion made to travel (pp. 8–29). Regnum.
About the author
John is a candidate for the DMin at Alphacrucis College. His is also the founding pastor of Hope Sydney Christian Church.