There's an interesting story from a couple of weeks ago in South Africa.
The Solid Rock Church of Miracles in Johannesburg (or one of its suburbs) has come under fire for its newspaper ads. A charismatic church, it promised miracles in its ads. A curious reporter for the local newspaper went to ask some questions and garnered this response:
"Look, for our members and for ourselves, miracles are very real," [Pastor Johan] Van Wyk told the Saturday Star of the divine healing he claims happens at the Northcliff, Joburg, church come weekends. "Every weekend we experience miracles and hear testimonies.
"For us they're very real ...The person most blind is the one who doesn't want to see. Our business is not about proving miracles; it's to help people."
Our business is not about proving miracles? The apostle Paul would disagree with you, with his talk of always having "an answer" for the faith that you have inside you.
Imagine this conversation:
Pastor: "We have faith, as shown by our newspaper ads, that miracles happen in our church!"
Reporter: "Do you have an answer to the question 'why do you have faith that this happens?'"
Pastor: "No, and we are not obliged to."
One would figure out pretty quickly that the pastor's faith was suspect. If the Bible says, "Help people who lack faith with answers", I would say that is a good thing.
And we can cite Christ's own encounter with Thomas. "It would be better if you believed without seeing, but I am happy to show my wounds if that will strengthen your faith." His business was about proving miracles. Are the South Africans up to the task?
Another interesting thing is that the church is now in trouble with the South African authority that regulates newspapers:
But their business of healing came under fire in the latest ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which ordered the church to take down ads it placed in local newspapers that made "unsubstantiated" claims that it can heal the blind, the ill, those dying from Aids-related illnesses and cancer patients.
I remember that back in the revivals of the 40s and 50s that some faith healers, such as Jack Coe, were jailed for practicing medicine without a license, but this is a new one for me. Have you ever seen a crackdown on ads before?
Can we expect other jurisdictions to crack down on faith healer's ads, or is South Africa unique? We will see...