Jeff Maples is the editor at Pulpit&Pen. He is also an administrator at the chookwatcher Facebook page. His articles are often featured on chookwatcher sites, and he may be one of the anonymous chookwatchers.
He portrays himself as the loving family man with a smiling, freindly image of himself with his young child, but his blogging rhetoric often betrays an angry polemist. This latter nature is the ideal fit for chookwatcher sites, which is why they use his rhetoric.
A scathing and unworthy article about C Peter Wagner in a time of Wagner’s need of our prayers is an indication of the depths to which Pulpit&Pen writers will sink to attack a man of God when he is down.
The body is subject to aging
C Peter Wagner is 86 years old. He is a gentle natured Christian man in his senior years. He didn’t deserve the verbal pasting Maples gave him in the article in question.
Aging is part of the natural process of the human body, which scripture reveals will be the last thing to be redeemed (Romans 8:18-25). All of nature awaits the redemption of our bodies.
This means that the human body is still subject to the ravages of this dying world. We have a physically finite time. We are not immune to illness or death. The older we get the more likely we will be affected by illness.
God’s provision of healing and health are no less available, but we are not physically immune to aging or death. God has promised seventy years, and more if He so permits. 86 is a very good lifespan, even in our era.
Contempt for age
Jeff Maples, still a young man who appears to be in good health, doesn’t take this into account in his unnecessarily unkind attack on C Peter Wagner. Maples shows his open contempt and disregard for Wagner when he was recently hospitalised with a recurring heart condition associated with his age.
Ministers who are used by the Holy Spirit in healing and deliverance are not immune themselves from illness, or from death. It is said that Paul had an illness, possibly opthalmia, or more likely wounded facially through stonings, when he went to the Galatians, and yet there were healings that took place there. Was he healed? Yet he was used to heal others. And he eventually died.
We know that we will all die, should the Lord tarry, and await the great day when we will be raised.
But Maples is not gracious enough to consider this. He hears that Wagner is hospitalised as an elderly man and pounces.
He writes a scurrilous piece entitled ‘Famous Faith Healer in Hospital due to Failing Health’, not with the focus on prayer for Wagner’s recovery, but so that Wagner can be told to repent before he dies.
‘Founder of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), C. Peter Wagner, and proponent of charismatic chicanery such as faith healing, perhaps doesn’t have enough faith to heal himself.’
So begins Maples’ mocking of an ill man.
Wagner, of course, has written at length to state he is not the founder of NAR, which we have revealed here. Neither is he a proponent of ‘charismatic chicanery such as faith healing’. That is an opinion held by Maples, who is a cessationist.
As for the comment on not having enough faith to heal himself, well it merely demonstrates Maple’s lack of understanding of scripture and shows him to be a graceless scoffer.
Healing by faith
All Biblical healing is by faith. Faith healing is mentioned throughout the New Testament. Jesus healed people by faith, as did James, John, Peter and Paul, as well as others.
For instance, after healing a man who was lame, the disciples, speaking of the name of Jesus, made the following declaration about how the man was healed.
Acts 3:16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
Faith healing. Faith in the name of the Healer, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Praying for people who are ill in the name of Jesus, Who is the Healer.
There are many similar examples. In fact, James admonishes those who are sick to call for the elders who can anoint them with oil so that they can be raised up with the prayer of faith.
James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
The prayer of faith, then, for healing. The prayer of faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. Faith is important in healing. Jesus commended several people for their faith just prior to healing them, such as the woman with the issue of blood, to whom He said, “Woman, your faith has made you whole.”
We all get older in natural terms
But you can’t stop the aging process. Heart failure, for some people, even Christians, is one symptom of age. We have to be prepared for the day when we go to be with the Lord.
For the believer, the soul is saved, the spirit is regenerated, but the body is not yet redeemed. When Jesus comes for the Church we will receive a heavenly body to replace the earthly. ‘In the twinkling of the eye’, says Paul. Until then our earthly body is subject to the corruption that is in this fallen world.
However, Maples, ignoring this, calls on Wagner to repent for having a different theology to himself.
‘While on the one hand, we hate to see a fellow image-bearer suffer, on the other hand, our first prayer should be for Wagner to repent and turn to Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Wagner has a major movement and propagated serious damnable error into the church. While his promotion of charismatic nonsense, blaspheming the Holy Spirit regularly, has made major inroads into the professing church, it goes without saying that his false teachings are being exposed right before our eyes.’
Well, no, Wagner has not ‘propagated damnable error into the church’, nor does he have a major movement, as he has reminded us firmly and clearly. He has observed a phenomenon and reported on it.
He has written about the need for apostolic and prophetic leadership, which Maples, despite Biblical evidence to the contrary, denies. Wagner does so with scripture. Maples has none to disprove Wagner on this. Jesus gives us apostles and prophets as much as He gives us evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Wagner has called for a restoration of the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, which, again, cessationist Maples rejects as ‘promotion of charismatic nonsense’. It is Maples who is in error, and using it to come against a brother in Christ who is going through a tough time.
Nor are Wagner’s teachings false. His theology is more akin to scripture than the cessationists’. What Maples seeks to end Wagner promotes. Maples says the gifts have ended. Wagner says they have not. Scripture confirms Wagner’s theology on this. Therefore, it is Maples’ lack of understanding of scripture that is being exposed before our eyes.
Physician, heal thyself
Then this from Maples:
‘Of course, at the age of 86, perhaps we should expect his special powers to start dwindling after all? So why aren’t all of his NAR faith healers flocking around him to heal him? At what point do they fold their cards and give up? By all means, anyone with an ounce of common sense would be able to see right through the shell game of faith healing. If it were true, there should be someone out there who could heal him–or perhaps he’d be able to heal himself.
Of course, the Scriptures nowhere allow for the concept of a “faith healing” ministry or even a “faith healer.” The notion is completely foreign to the word of God. Men and women who teach, preach and practice this junk are nothing bud [sic] frauds with self-interests.’
These comments are opinionated ignorance gone to seed. First of all, Maples doesn’t know or even enquire who has been requested to attend to Wagner. Perhaps he has already called for the elders of his church according to scripture. Certainly, the call went out from Wagner’s wife for the faithful to pray. We do not know whether Wagner himself is ready to go to be with the Lord or desires recovery.
Maples’ mocking disregard for the situation is unworthy of a professed minister of God. For someone who considers himself a part of a polemic discernment ministry, he is showing himself to be lacking in the most basic grasp of how healing works and the situation at hand, so disqualifying himself from reasoned commentary.
Healing is no ‘shell game’, as Maples puts it. It is God’s provision. He is the Healer. But there is a time when we’ll all need to face whether we want to go to be with Him or not. As Paul said, ‘for me to live is Christ, to die is gain’. Maples seems to be demonstrating his own apprehension of death as an avenue to life in Christ.
And this extraordinary claim by Maples, ‘the Scriptures nowhere allow for the concept of a “faith healing” ministry or even a “faith healer.”’
As already revealed in this piece, all healing from God is by faith. Anyone who is used of God could be termed a ‘faith healer’, but most ministers I know, including Wagner, always remind people that they cannot personally heal anyone, but all scriptural healing is in the name of Jesus. He is the Healer. We are the vessels through whom the Holy Spirit operates to bring healing.
So Maples’ incredible claim that there is no scripture that promotes healing by faith is poor doctrine even for a cessationist.
Worse, he calls healing ‘junk’ and condemns those who teach, preach and practice what is taught in scripture on healing as ‘frauds’. No, the frauds are those who reject the gifts, manifestations and ministry of the Holy Spirit through the Church today.
And so to Maples’ closing comment…
‘Mr. Wagner, your time is running out. Repent!’
I’m sure C Peter Wagner has repented, and lives a repented life. I’m sure he knows that one day, as Maples’ puts it, his time will be up, as it will for all of us on this earth, should the Lord tarry. I’m sure, too, that he prays for people like Maples who curse him and harshly criticise him for being ill.
Everyone’s time is running out, Maples included.
Perhaps he should look to his own repentance before publicly calling on a hospitalised elderly man to do what he almost certainly has done already.
Lord help him find the grace to see into his own heart.