Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
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3 thoughts on “Interview #2 with Michael Graham

  1. I am chronically ill and have had an unseen disability since a stroke nearly 11 years ago. I have been able to receive Disability benefits after 2 tribunals probably heading for a 3rd because of the criteria for PIP as you know is so rigid and not adaptable to people’s individual situations plus there is definitely a hostile environment feeling about it the last couple of times I’ve had to appeal. I am really interested in what you are saying about the different approaches to care between the NHS who want to ‘fix’ the problem and the social care approach which wants to support the individual where they’re at. I see a parity between that and the way the charismatic evangelical church approach chronic illness which I was involved in. The emphasis on healing being important and ‘stepping into your healing’ or ‘contending for your healing’ which inadvertently leads to a person feeling like a failure if they’re not healed being like NHS approach. The idea of wellness is so powerful and sometimes the I’ve heard some teaching which extends as far as to imply that only by demonstrating wellness in the body of Christ/Ekklesia can it be a force for good in the world and demonstrate real power etc. These type of ministries find it very difficult to know what to do with a person or support them if they continue being unwell or have a disability I have found and it would be so good if they were able to accept that not everyone is healed (at least not yet!) and find other ways of supporting them and including them. Very interesting conversations both of them. Thank you

  2. Hi Joanna, allow me to express my apreciation for how difficult it must be, to not only cope with a cronic illness but also to navigate a very unforgiving benifits system. Sadly people with unseen disabilities illnesses experience the effects of the discourse in our society against “benifts cheats” or “scroungers”. It has become a political rehotoric to justify not only cuts to the amount of benifit support but also having difficulties to making claims “baked in” to the system in order “make work pay” or in orther words make being unemployed not pay. This is really a fresh iteration of the old distinction that I refered to in the interview, of the deserving and undeserving poor. It impacts people with unseen disabilities becasue although they are not the target of policies aimed at percieved unworthy benfitift claimants, it subjects them to the same methods of (cruel, in my oppinion) scruitiny. In my view, a society that decides to have low tax on corperations, becuse if fears they will then cheat the system, should also alow a small amount of benifits cheating, in order to ensure that all people with disablities recieve a fair amount to live on, without haivng to experience a system the treats them with suspicion from the outset.
    I fully understand what you are refeing to when you talk about the charismatic evangelical church’s understand and treatment of people with chronic illness. My obdervation is that healing prayer pratice in this part of the church has become a mater of demonstrating faith. Where there is a belief in the gospel being advanced by miracolous “signs and wondres”, then healing and healing prayer becomes part of a strategy for church growth. This adds to the pratice of healing prayer, an agenda an expectation and an emotional dynamic that implies that if somebody within the church community is not experincing healing, then they are failing in faith and letting down the church and God. An anditional dynamic that i have observed is that sacred-secular, spiritual-natural dualism causes christian in Evangelical/Charasmatic church to see supernatual healing as the only valid healing. The work of profesionalls in the areas of physical and mental health is often discounted by the chruch as not being within the of God’s work with humans. The third dynamic that I have an awareness of is the theology of determinism, which frames events as either within or without the will of God (and by implpication within the will of satan or the devil). This again places a person who experiences illness or disability as subject to either God’s will (if experiencing healing) or the will of spiritural darkness. With all of these things in mind, I have arrived at a view of illness or disability that sees it as part of the complex nature of an imperfect natural world. People who experience disability or illness should be accepted just as they are (unconditional positive regard). Spiritual practices of healing should be offered to people if they want it, but conventional medical treatment and /or social care interventions should be considered a equally valid. Most important of all, people who have illness or disability should be fully included with the church community, without any implication that they have somehow fallen short of God’s purpose.

    1. Thank you Michael for you kind reply this is all so useful and interesting. I really appreciate you taking the time to write back to me and having such a compassionate approach to dealing with disabled and socially disadvantaged people. Your analysis on what is going in the benefits/social care system and in the charismatic evangelical churches are really insightful too.

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