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Ronald Kydd: Healing through the Centuries


Ronald A. N. Kydd, Healing through the Centuries: Models for Understanding (Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, Massachusetts: 1998), xxxi+235 pages.

Although the doctrine of healing has a long history in Pentecostal and charismatic circles, it has rarely been investigated from a sympathetic perspective. Ron Kydd’s work is refreshing, because he explores different healing movements within Christianity without dismissing their importance. Divine healing is defined as the direct intervention of God to restore personal health and Kydd develops six models for understanding how healing both functions in and is interpreted by the various healing groups.

Before discussing the models, however, Kydd addresses a number of misunderstandings regarding healing. First, divine healing is not limited to any one group, but has a robust history throughout Christianity. Secondly, without trying to be deceptive, healers and their supporters tend to overstate the manifestations of healing. This tendency is mostly due to the excitement of experiencing of God presence in their midst. Thirdly, there is no stereotypical healer; healers are a diverse lot. Fourthly, healing flows out of the mystery of God, and cannot be reduced to a simple formula. And fifthly, healing cannot be used as proof of doctrinal correctness. In fact, different healing ministries have opposing and sometimes confrontational doctrines, but these groups still experience the grace of God’s healing power.

Kydd develops six models of healing based on his observations in the field: the confrontational, intercessory, reliquarial, incubational, revelational, and soteriological. The confrontational model focuses on the confrontation, victory and liberty of Jesus Christ over sin to heal, in order to plant his kingdom. It includes many early church Fathers, German Pietist Johann Blumhardt and Vineyard leader John Wimber. The intercessory model looks for divine healing through the intervention of saints who have led an exemplary life, and is characteristic of Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. The reliquarial model (meaning “relic”) focuses on the relics of the saints (bodies, objects or tombs) as the vehicle through which healing occurs. Examples include Roman Catholic belief in late antiquity and Middle Ages, and an eighteenth-century group in Paris, which centered on the tomb of François de Pâris. The incubational model insists that divine healing does not come swiftly, but over a period of time in a prayerful, nurturing and hospitable environment. The healing centers in Männedorf, Switzerland and the Morija (also in Switzerland) are representive, but certain healing centers in the Wesleyan Holiness movement could be included as well. In the revelational model, healers are given special, divine knowledge of the need for healing, so that the healer can act accordingly. William Branham and Kathryn Kuhlman are representative of this model. The soteriological model is theologically supported by the notion that miraculous healing is possible through the atoning work of Christ. It has a prominent history in nineteenth-century American religion, culminating in the Pentecostal movement. Healing in this model oscillates between the certainty and the sovereignty of God in healing. Like salvation, healing is certain because it is offered in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, but sovereign in that God may say “no” or “not now” to a person’s healing. Oral Roberts is selected as the quintessential Pentecostal.

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Category: Fall 2003, Spirit

About the Author: Peter F. Althouse, PhD (University of Toronto), is Assistant Professor of Religion at Southeastern University. He is the author of Spirit of the Last Days: Pentecostal Eschatology in Conversation with Jürgen Moltmann (T & T Clark, 2003), and has written many articles on eschatology, pneumatology and Pentecostal studies. Faculty page. Facebook.

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