Healing Hope or Hype? – Part 4 – The Semitic Worldview

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chaplainOne of the most significant reasons we do not see healings in our midst as we might, is because of the worldview assumptions and the cultural values of western individualism and personal privacy. The scriptures were not written to, or by, people with a western worldview. They understood sickness, disease, and healing differently than we do. We cannot come to the scriptures with our western presuppositions, and expect kingdom results. This profoundly affects our theology and practice of praying for the sick.

Understanding a couple of Semitic metaphors will help us grasp the significance of these verses:

1 Thessalonians 5:23  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:14  I will praise thee; for, I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well.[1]

Proverbs 15:13  A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.

Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.

Proverbs 23:16 Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when your lips speak right things.

Psalm 7:9  Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God tries the hearts and reins.

Luke 4:18  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised . . .

The KJV translates the Jewish word for kidneys as reins. Semites believed[1] that the kidneys were the source of motives, affections, feelings, and passions. They represented the innermost hidden self. Egyptians believed the kidneys were so important to life that they were the only organs not removed during the mummification process.[1]

For a Semite/Jew the heart, not the head/mind, had to do with decision-making, rule, government, the will, and thought. The heart metaphor came to represent the totality of the non-material person.  For Westerners the heart represents the seat of emotions and the mind/head represents the seat of government and decision-making. Kidneys don’t play into it at all!  It turns out the ancient Semitic view was closer to physical reality and it’s more than a metaphor.

Recent research has shown that the heart, the actual organ, is not just a passive pump taking orders from the brain. The heart has its own independent nervous system with 40,000 neurons that give it thinking and feeling capability.  The heart actually seems to respond to brain signals as if it’s “considering” things. It doesn’t automatically obey or respond to them. The heart and brain actually hold intelligent neural dialog, analyzing and responding to each other’s signals.[1]

The biblical phrases such as: fearfully and wonderfully made, guard your heart, as a man thinks in his heart, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,[1] are more than quaint Semitic metaphors. They reflect a physical reality that should affect our Western materialist presuppositions and methods concerning health and healing in the Church.

The Semitic “broken spirit” of Proverbs 17:22 is approximated by our metaphors of “soul damage,” a “broken heart,” a crushed psyche, etc.”[1] For us, all these faculties are sometimes summed up less precisely in the terms soul, mind, or heart, representing the totality of the immaterial part of human personality.

The body-soul-spirit relationship of 1Thessalonians 5:23 has been debated for centuries. Some think the tripartite nature of humanity is the key that unlocks all spiritual and theological wonders. Others think spirit and soul are synonymous. Still others think all three are interchangeable synonyms and simply represent the whole of a human. A good argument can be made for any one of these views.[1]

In my theological circles it is often said that a human is a spirit, with a soul, which lives in a body, as if each is hierarchically offset against the other. Kind of catchy preacher-talk, but I’m a little nervous of making the essence of a human just spiritual. First, it’s a philosophical inference, not the explicit teaching of Scripture.

Secondly, it’s anti-incarnational. It devalues our bodies[1] and is an unintegrated view of humanity. Humanity is a composite unity, just like God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).  It’s a mistake to artificially separate that which God has obviously incarnated together. Without getting bogged down in the dual or tripartite nature debates, what can we summarize about healing from this brief sampling of Scripture?

  1. There is more to a human being than physical matter, our bodies.
  2. The immaterial realm affects the material. Our soul affects our bodies.
  3. Christ heals body and soul.

This blog is an excerpt from our title: Healing: Hope or Hype? Why Legitimate Physical Healings are Rare in Local Churches, and What We Can do About it! It is available in all formats at www.stevecrosby.com.



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8 comments on “Healing Hope or Hype? – Part 4 – The Semitic Worldview

  1. I know from my own experience that first someone told me with words what the gospel was…then I saw some movies and passion plays about Jesus..then some years later on a beach in Florida I was birthed into Gods life when I saw in my mind Jesus being crucified then someone entered into me and 26 years later I saw in my mind Jesus in his exalted state..that was when he started teaching me that he was the Christian life and I was the vessel for expression of his nature..all I know is it started on the inside of me and has been working its way out of me ever since.

  2. Steve – could you point me to the information you have about the heart, sounds very interesting. You said, “Recent research has shown that the heart, the actual organ, is not just a passive pump taking orders from the brain. The heart has its own independent nervous system with 40,000 neurons that give it thinking and feeling capability.” Very intriguing, I have never heard this before, I would like to look into this further.

    • Ryan, where in this piece, or any of this series did I say, anywhere, that people should stop seeing doctors? No, I am not saying that, as you would know if you read the whole book, of which this is but an excerpt. I am saying that that even modern scientific medicine has confirmed there is more to sickness than bugs, drugs, and knives, as you would also know if you read the whole book, of which this is but an excerpt.

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