One of the hallmarks of the Pentecostal movement is the belief that divine healing (sometimes called faith healing) is provided for in the Atonement. Citing Bible passages like James 5:14-16, Mark 16:18, and Isaiah 53:4-5, Pentecostals teach that all believers can petition God for divine healing. This has sometimes led to the erroneous notion that Pentecostals disapprove of doctors or modern medicine. While there are small fringe groups of Pentecostals who eschew doctors entirely, the overwhelming majority believe that God is Sovereign and can heal through miracles or through modern medicine.
Divine healing is one of the core teachings that distinguish Pentecostals. As the Foursquare Church (a large Pentecostal denomination) puts it, "Our call is to preach Jesus Christ, God's Son, as the Savior, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, Healer and coming King." Pentecostals believe that when Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, he also took our sickness and disease upon himself. They often cite Isaiah 53:5: "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."
Classical Pentecostalism includes early Pentecostal denominations that trace their heritage to revivals that started in Topeka, Kansas and Los Angeles, California in the early 1900s. These include the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Church of God and the Church of God International. Classical Pentecostals are united in their belief that God does not always choose to heal through miracles of divine healing and that there is no inconsistency in a believer seeking both divine healing and medical treatment. In the Classical Pentecostal mindset, healing comes from God, whether it comes by means of prayer and laying on of hands or medicine.
Many consider the Charismatic Movement a second wave of Pentecostalism. Charismatics and Pentecostals have similar teachings on miracles and divine healing. Many churches born of the Charismatic movement are nondenominational. A few small or independent groups of Charismatic Christians have taught that going to a doctor shows a lack of faith. Some have gone so far as to teach that seeking medical help is a sin and that believers should rely only on divine healing. These churches are on the fringe of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements and do not represent the wider view of Pentecostals about doctors and medical science.
Medicine within Pentecostalism
Most Pentecostals embrace modern medicine as a blessing. Many Pentecostal denominations, like the Assemblies of God, include doctors, nurses and other medical professionals in their approach to evangelism, sponsoring medical missions worldwide. Some Pentecostal colleges and universities, such as Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri; and Southeastern Assemblies of God University in Lakeland, Florida, provide pre-medicine education for prospective doctors. In general, Pentecostals take a holistic view of medicine. In their view, a sick person should see a doctor when necessary, but should also seek God for healing.
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