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Dr. James L. Snyder Ministries
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General Essays > A. B. Simpson and the "Business" of Healing

Matters of health have become big business in our generation. Even the government is trying to wrestle with the enormous problems of healthcare has created. Unfortunately, everybody has jumped onto this bandwagon. If you watch, TV infomercials, you will find most of them have to do with some aspect of health. Everyone boasts of some healing through chemistry or therapy or psychology or even some exercise gizmo. Everybody seems to have the magic "something," that will bring the much coveted health to any person who applies their program. All kinds of solutions are available to make you live longer, live happier and live to the fullest extent of human experience. 

Enter the televangelist.

Into this arena comes the proverbial Elmer Gantry's of our generation not to be outdone. All kinds of gimmicks are employed to market their so-called healing powers. Everything from "Miracle Springwater," to "blood red Prayer Cloths." The problem is so many take this seriously enough to support it with millions of dollars which I believe to be a neat trick of the enemy to diverge money from legitimate areas of evangelism.

If this matter were not so dangerous it would be right down humorous. But the "on-air" heretics are doing serious damage to the true cause of Christ and his church in this generation.

If these boasters have the power they boast of, why is it that it only happens when camera lights are on? Why not go down to the pediatric ward and lay hands on all those innocent young infants suffering from some disease? Why not put the so-called miraculous power to work for good without any consideration of personal compensation or recognition?

Marketing the gospel has become one of the great heresies of our generation and is responsible, to a great degree, for the detrimental state of the evangelical church in America. It has become highly impossible to run a local church without employing the latest gimmicks and techno-wonders.

A plague of contemporary Christianity today are those who use aspects of the gospel for self-promotion. The call goes out, "Expect your miracle today," and "Come see a miracle," all in an effort to draw the curious to their meetings under the guise of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, the gospel is Big Business and plenty are willing to exploit this aspect to further their personal advantage.

In a sermon once, Dr. A. W. Tozer commented, "I noticed there are thousands of people using missions and healing and prophecy and the deeper life and all the rest for no other purpose than secretly promoting their own private interest." He said that back in the early 1960s, what would he say today?

In this context, healing has become big business. From the old canvas tent campaigns of another generation to TV and Internet today, healing is a marketable commodity.

Following the death of a world famous "Faith healer," the person said he thought Dr. Simpson would have been a close associate of his. This made me question whether the person knew as much about Simpson as he thought.

A. W. Tozer in his biography of Simpson, "Wingspread" clears this issue up.

"Another question Mr. Simpson had to settle very early in the development of his Tabernacle and his missionary Society was whether divine healing was to be permitted to become an end in itself, or whether it was to be presented as a privilege which any child of God might enjoy, but which was not by any means central in the wide sweep of the gospel plan. Should healing or salvation take first place in the message of the Alliance?

“John Alexander Dowie, a Scottish preacher who had come to the United States from Australia, forced the hand of Simpson and indirectly did him a great favor in compelling him to clear up the whole matter of divine healing as it related to himself and his Tabernacle. Dowie could see nothing but healing. He felt it to be of such supreme importance as to deserve his almost undivided attention. He proposed to Simpson that the two of them join forces and stump the country in the interest of divine healing. Mr. Simpson demurred. "No, Brother Dowie," said he, "I have four wheels on my chariot. I cannot agree to neglect the other three while I devote all my time to the one."

"Impulsive and violent as he always was Dowie promptly turned against Simpson and set out with the express intention of discrediting him in the eyes of the public. He arranged throughout some of the principal cities of the United States a series of lectures in which he would tear Simpson to shreds and then tramp on the shreds! Simpson refused to fight back. Pittsburgh was the place chosen for the opening of the shredding campaign. Crowds filled the huge auditorium to hear the famous John Alexander Dowie. That evening, an hour or so before time for the opening lecture, Dowie was eating a fish dinner when a tiny bone became lodged cross-wise in his throat. The crowds waited, time went on and the speaker did not appear. He never showed up. It must have been an eloquent piece of bone, for it completely changed the plans of Mr. Dowie. He cancelled his series of lectures and crept back home to lick his wounds. When Simpson was informed of the turn things had taken, he said simply, "Oh, Dowie. Yes, I committed that man to God long ago."

Throughout his long ministry, Simpson never contemplated using any element of the gospel to bring him recognition or remuneration. His sole business was reaching the lost world for Jesus Christ.

A visitor in the Simpson home once discovered the secret to Simpson's great ministry. He happened to get up early in the morning and heard a noise in Simpson's study. The door was ajar so peeking in he discovered Simpson draped over a globe of the world sobbing as though his heart would break for the lost world. Simpson had a passion that could never be satiated by any personal exploitation of the gospel.

His ministry was balanced theologically. That is where the Fourfold Gospel message comes in. Jesus Christ our: Savior, Sanctifier, Healer and Coming King embraces the gospel in a very balanced fashion.

At the Gospel Tabernacle in New York City where Dr. Simpson was the founding pastor, he had special Friday healing services. Many people would come and be anointed and prayed for healing. Simpson did something rather strange, at least from our point of view today. He often would give the healing message and then when it came time for people to come to be anointed and prayed for he retired to another part of the building and gave himself to intercessory prayer. He did not want the people who had come for prayer to think that healing had anything whatsoever to do with him. He refused to be a healing celebrity.