Well, this semester is finally over, leaving me with six total classes left before I graduate. This time around, I only took two classes, not wanting to overly exert myself by doing a full-time schedule of three classes, on top of a job and freelance work. One of the classes, Worship 510 was pretty grueling to get through. I probably wouldn't have enrolled in it, had it been more aptly titled Obscure Litergical Trivia 510. We argued the minutia of different denominational views on various sacraments, and I was generally bored.
However, the other class was very cool: Pastoral Counseling 510 with Dr. Tony Headley, who is an awesome teacher and author. We used one of his books for the class, and I must say it was one of the better ones I've ever read. It focused on setting up boundaries, learning when to say no, and in general sorting out your priorities and making time for them. The book is entitled Achieving Balance in Ministry, and is an easy read at only 88 pages long. Don't scoff at the brevity. It is concise and poignant. I would highly recommend it for anyone in ministry or those with workaholic tendencies.
Anyway, to get the point of this post, I wrote a research paper entitled Faith Healing Fallout. It pertains to counseling in cross cultural situations where people have been burned by "name it and claim it" promises of riches or physical relief. When initially doing research, I figured there would be hard evidence that faith healing works. What I found however, was a string of cases gone awry, and a solid Harvard study in which those prayed for actually fared worse in their recovery time from heart surgery.
Now, do I still believe that God has the power to heal? Absolutely. However, what I have started to wonder is: Does God really want to be scrutinized and quantified by our human efforts? Conducting scientific studies on prayer and healing presupposes the Lord's willingness to play along. Suffice it to say, God is not a vending machine. Even those with great faith still die physical deaths. I won't reiterate the whole paper now, since you can go read it for yourself:
Faith Healing Fallout (PDF)
It is in SWF format for consistency. I opted to do this because many of my seminary papers contain Greek and Hebrew fonts, which cannot be embedded into PDF, but can be converted just fine into vector graphics for Flashpaper. I realize this is not super accessible, so if anyone wants my papers as plaintext, PDF or Microsoft Word just let me know and I will email you a copy.