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Amanda Porterfield: Healing in the History of Christianity

Porterfield’s work is an excellent resource on the history of healing in Christianity. In addition to tracing the practice of healing down through the centuries, it sheds light on the many debates and theological discussions that have occurred on the topic. The debates include discussions of science down through the ages, as well as links between healing and psychology. Porterfield also explains the nature of political healing and the role of churches in the establishment of medical agencies.

One area that Pentecostals may appreciate is the section on Martin Luther and John Calvin, and the views they held about miracles and healing. Given the religious climate of their day, in which people believed in magic and prayed to saints for healing, Luther and Calvin apparently opposed the practices of healing and the cries for the miraculous. Calvin argued that the time of miracles and healing had passed.

According to Porterfield, her aim in writing this book is “to show that religious experience and practice are vital forces in human culture and history and that Christianity’s popularity over time and appeal across a variety of cultures have much to do with these forces” (19).

Her thorough research combined with her balanced approach and clear communication show that she accomplishes her goal. Her book should be well appreciated by readers, especially those who want to know more about the history of healing.

Reviewed by Roscoe Barnes III


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Category: Church History, Pneuma Review, Spring 2011

About the Author: Roscoe Barnes III, Ph.D., is a prison chaplain, former award-winning journalist, and independent scholar of church history. He holds a doctorate from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, a M.A.R. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and B.S. and A.S. degrees from East Coast Bible College, Charlotte, N.C. He is the author of numerous books including F.F. Bosworth: The Man Behind “Christ the Healer” (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), The Guide to Effective Gospel Tract Ministry (Church Growth Institute, 2004) and Off to War: Franklin Countians in World War II (White Mane Publishing, 1996). His articles have appeared in Refleks Journal, The Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, The Africa Journal of Pentecostal Studies, and in numerous newspapers and popular magazines. He blogs at Roscoe Reporting and shares his F. F. Bosworth research at Professional: Roscoe Barnes III. Twitter: @Roscoebarnes3

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