I recently had an interesting exchange with a young woman who attended a church event where an evangelist claimed that hundreds of people were healed. As I was watching the event myself I knew that the claim was false.
The young woman, whose sincerity I do not doubt, was adamant that hundreds of people were healed. When I asked her for evidence so that I could rejoice with her, what I received instead were seven statements that could only be described as denying all reality. In fact, these statements are common among Christians who have a tendency to over-super-naturalize their experiences. When you hear these objections to a request for evidence of something then you can identify a person whose understanding is divorced from reality and scripture. Before I provide those seven statements let me share this important foundational point: God is a God of evidences. In fact, God always asks us to believe things for which there is real world evidence. We are never asked to have faith without evidence. I’d go so far as to say that it is impossible for God to work in the world and not leave any evidence that he is the one doing what he has been doing. God does not hide or hide his work. He wants us to see and know and believe.
I’d also like to say that such people who are trapped in this non-biblical perspective are just that—they are trapped. They should not be attacked, ridiculed, or made to feel stupid. Rather, firm but gentle persuasion should be applied to help them see the error that entraps them. We must be loving and gracious while we seek to firmly persuade.
Now, here are the seven statements of someone who denies reality and insists on believing wild things for which there is no evidence.
1.) I am proof
It is true that all Christians have a testimony about how God has changed their lives. These testimonies are powerful when coupled with the testimony of the Bible and the life of Jesus. However, the person who over-super-naturalizes everything states that his life is a proof, but then offers no specific explanation about how his life was changed. This claim simply amounts to saying, “Just believe me,” with no ground for that belief.
2.) Don’t be mean
There are actually a number of ways such a person will say this. You’re being mean. Stop being contrary. Don’t be a know it all. Stop being cruel, etc. Whenever you ask for an evidence of a claim, or give a rational reason why you don’t believe the claim, this person resorts to emotionalism and near-name calling. This is a sign that he is unable to defend his view upon even minor examination. However, it may also be a sign of immaturity, which you must graciously excuse.
3.) Just pray about it
When a person who cannot defend their claim says this, he is essentially trying to lay a guilt trip on you. If you are not spiritual enough to pray about it, then you are deceived or are a bad Christian. But this is not true. This is a defense mechanism to let the person off the hook for having to present real evidence.
4.) Words can’t explain it
This is also a defense mechanism against having no proof. It’s meant to communicate the idea that something is so spiritually above you that mere words can’t do the claim justice. Honestly, this is pure foolishness. Words can indeed explain everything. We use commonly understood words in the Bible to describe God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and high theology. If mere words can describe the eternal God of the universe then mere words can describe your experience or provide evidence for your claim. It’s one thing if you are not an articulate person. There’s nothing wrong with that. But your lack of articulation doesn’t make something too high for anyone to understand with words.
5.) There is no need for proof
Yes there is. If you claim that hundreds of people were bodily healed then there ought to be a whole lot of proof in the form of diseases, syndromes, and conditions vanishing and no longer needing treatment. If such things are not apparent then the claim is false. Consider that no one disbelieved Jesus was healing people. Even his enemies admitted that Jesus healed people and raised the dead. The same was true of his disciples. That is not true about most faith healers today.
Consider also that Jesus offered proof of his resurrection. In the eyes of Jesus, proof was a requirement. If you deny the need for proof then you are denying the very practice of Jesus.
6.) The Bible teaches it
When the claimant states this he is essentially saying that the Bible supports his claim—but he offers no relevant passage that teaches his specific claim his true. Too many people use the Bible to justify their claims without understanding its context. For instance, did you know the Bible says that there is no God? It’s true. The Bible says in Psalm 14:1 that, “There is no God.” I can make the argument from the Bible that God does not exist. Of course, I would have to do that by butchering the text. Because the full passage really says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.'”
The Bible teaches supernatural healing. But it doesn’t mean your claim of hundreds healed is true.
7.) It is beyond your understanding
This is the claimant’s last resort. With this statement the person is essentially saying, “I’m more spiritual than you.” It is a statement of self-superiority and self-importance. It’s like saying to someone, “You’re too stupid to understand it.” It is nothing more than an insult as a way out of having to defend a view that doesn’t hold up under common sense scrutiny.
When you encounter wild claims about spiritual things and ask for proof, and you encounter these arguments you can know that the claim is without merit. Don’t be fooled by sincerity or emotionalism, or submit to demands that your attitude is wrong or sinful. It’s never sinful to want to believe the truth. You should not feel pressured by those who make wild, unsubstantiated, over-super-naturalized claims. Theirs is the burden of proof. Your job is to evaluate the claims so that you can defend against deception or rejoice with the truth.