There may be no greater devastation for a parent, or even a grandparent, than to see one of their offspring fatally injured — or nearly so. Our hearts are deeply touched when we observe such anxiety.
It is even a greater sadness when loved ones expect a “miracle” in such an instance — only to wait, heart-broken, in vain. From a spiritual vantage point, the tragedy is magnified when the hopeful relatives have a history with the Lord’s church, and have forgotten that which they once knew, having absorbed significant amounts of doctrinal error.
That is the situation that confronted viewers who tuned in to Larry King Live this past Friday evening (8/17/01). Guests on King’s popular show were: Pat Boone; his daughter Lindy; Max Lucado, minister and well-known author from San Antonio; Dave Owen, a “pastor” from Malibu; and Ken Copeland, a “faith healer” who hails from Fort Worth.
The distressing story was this. Back in June, Pat Boone’s grandson, twenty-four-year-old Ryan, fell from the top of a three-story building and was critically injured. Even now, two months later, he is still in a coma. Understandably, the family is frantic with pain and fear. Unfortunately, they have sought remedies in “physicians of no value” (cf. Job 13:4).
Pat Boone’s defection from the faith is no news-flash to anyone who has been around for many years. Boone — a graduate of David Lipscomb College (now University) – is a popular song-leader, occasional preacher, and well-known recording artist. Under the strong influence of his wife, Shirley, he digressed into the Pentecostal movement in the late 60s. The report of that departure was detailed in the book, Pat Boone and The Gift of Tongues (Searcy, AR: 1970), authored by the late James D. Bales, long-time professor of Bible at Harding University. Boone’s newly-discovered “charismatic” views were reviewed and demolished.
But back to the main story. In this heart-breaking episode, Boone has sought the assistance of some of the most notorious “faith [fake] healers” in the business. Kenneth Copeland, widely publicized, “healer,” visited with young Ryan on Friday. He preached to him, prayed for him, laid hands on the lad, and prophetically declared that Ryan “will be all right.”
May I ask a question at this point? Why did not Copeland, who unblushingly claims miraculous powers equivalent to those possessed by the apostles of Christ, simply say: “In the name of Jesus, arise and walk”? (cf. Mt. 9:5; Mk. 2:9; 5:41; Acts 9:40). Had the young man been able to do that, that would have been a miracle. Gradual, agonizing rehabilitation is not supernatural; atheists recover in such a fashion all the time.
Later, Copeland informed the group that when a miracle is not received, the fault is at the “receiving” end, rather than with the “giving” [God’s part]. That must have afforded some comfort to the Boone family! Besides, it is not true. In Bible times, some were miraculously healed who had no idea that a healing was about to be performed (Acts 3:5-6). When the Lord’s disciples had difficulty expelling a demon on one occasion, Jesus charged that the fault was their “little faith” (Mt. 17:20).
Max Lucado presently enters the conversation. Lucado, with the Oak Hills church in San Antonio, is another defector from the truth. In a recent interview with “The Baptist Standard”, he reveals that he may eventually sever all association with churches of Christ.
But when King asks Lucado what he believes about TV miracle-workers, the best-selling author eratically equivocates:
“You know, I’ve struggled on and off at times with what’s legitimate and what isn’t.”
He is hesitant to endorse the likes of Benny Hinn (who also has visited at Ryan’s bedside and prayed for him — with similar results for a miracle — zero), but he obviously doesn’t want to deny the possibility of modern-day miracles entirely. So he just nods his head from time to time, while clutching his latest book, grateful for King’s “plug” on its behalf.
How very sad it is that these people — all of them — are so bereft of biblical knowledge on the subject of miracles.
- They do not comprehend the purpose of “signs” (as set forth in the New Testament), namely to confirm the authenticity of revelation in the first century, while the Scriptures were in the process of being given (Mk. 16:9-20; Heb. 2:1-4).
- They do not fathom that supernatural gifts were bestowed in a special way — Spirit baptism and laying on of apostles’ hands — and the fact that those media are not operative today (Acts 1:5; 2:4ff; Eph. 4:5; Acts 8:18; 19:6).
- They do not understand the nature of a genuine miracle (instant in its effect and complete in its result), otherwise this grieving family would not be claiming that “miracles” have already been performed on the lad, and yet he lies there — comatose still.
- They are oblivious to the fact that the New Testament itself predicts the end of the miraculous age, as the New Testament record is completed (cir. A.D. 96) (see 1 Cor. 13:8ff). For a more detailed study, see “Archives”, ""Miracles"," October 18, 1998.
Should young Ryan fully recover, we will rejoice with this grieving family. Whatever the outcome, no miracles will be performed, and claims of such are only bringing discredit to the cause of Christ.
See these addition resources:
- “Transcript of Larry King Live (8/17/01)”
- Max Lucado interview with “The Baptist Standard”