Irenaeus of Lyons believed, “We never could have learned anything had we not seen him with our own eyes and heard his voice with our own ears.” In Jesus Christ, God fully lives in the experience of our human nature. He prays in such agony over His death that His sweat turns to blood (Luke 22:44). Death is real, even for God. God can do whatever God pleases, and God chose to plunge into the misery of death and demonstrate dying in front of the world, nailed to a cross. When speaking of the addict’s surrender of life to God, the Rev. Sam Shoemaker wrote this: “We felt we had come somewhere within hearing distance of His [Jesus Christ’s] tremendous surrender ‘Let this cup pass…nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.’”
"In the latter part of the last century, there has been much discussion of our ‘denial of death.’ But it would seem to me that the problem is deeper and more difficult. If it is true that Christ shows us what it is to be God in the way that he dies as a human being, then, quite simply, if we no longer ‘see’ death, we no longer see the face of God."
(The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr)
There is a direct correlation between talking about death and the stability of our faith. If death is a reality we wish to deny, then our faith for healing will be at risk. If the ability to see death is taken away, in the context of today's faith-healing ministries, we might ask, how were we not able with our faith to raise the dead?
Death Positive is a philosophical and social movement gaining momentum through community efforts of bringing death back into our conversations. It is a culture shift ushering in a positive mindset around death as part of living well. The goal of the movement is to redefine death. I believe this budding movement is the platform for reviving Irenaeus’ Recapitulation model in ministering to the dying and in a contemporary charismatic healing ministry for the Church and the world.
“If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).
In his book, The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane tells the story of Henry Fleming, a young Civil War soldier who enlists in the Union army in hopes of fulfilling his dream for glory. But, a long time goes by before his regiment is called forward to the battle, and the fear of dying begins to set in his mind. Henry wonders if he is courageous enough for battle. Then, upon seeing the enemy for the first time, Henry’s courage fails, and he flees the battlefield. This is an unforgettable picture of the reality of human nature. To die is inconceivable. It is something humans constantly work against and pray to avoid. The hardest part of dying is not knowing what new life will bring. How could one know? New life is something that has never been before.
There is an open field for fresh theology in contemporary healing prayer ministry while preserving an orthodox perspective of the Scriptures!