The Great Cloud of Witnesses

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” -Psalm 127: 1

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” -1 Corinthians 3: 9

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” -Hebrews 12: 1

Christian writings about prayer and counsel for sanctification and transformation are nothing new. In the 17th century, Madame Jeanne Guyon was imprisoned in France for her passionate books, still read today, which call for depth of intimacy with Christ. Her works draw individual believers to profound healing through inner listening to God, rather than merely following liturgical rituals or behavioral rules.

Nearer the present many teachers and speakers have contributed to the body of Christian inner healing practices and works. In the late 1940’s and 1950’s Agnes Sanford, wife of an Episcopal priest and writer of Healing Light, paved the way for many who followed. Dennis and Rita Bennett as well as Francis and Judith MacNutt brought their insights into the Catholic, denominational, and charismatic churches during the 1960’s and 70’s. Ruth Carter Stapleton, David Seamands, Leanne Payne, and countless others have continued to influence new generations of Christians.

John and Paula Sanford, through books and workshops from their school in Idaho, brought detailed understanding of inner healing across several decades of clinical experience. Theophostic counseling developed by Dr. Ed Smith, which emphasizes finding root lies behind present emotions, is yet another adaptation of inner healing techniques.

Vineyard churches, founded by John Wimber, have frequently employed inner healing. Youth With a Mission, a nondenominational worldwide Christian missionary organization, has as part of their training curriculum an emotional healing model that was developed by a physician, Dr. Bruce Thompson. Evangelist Bob Larson, well known in deliverance ministry circles, in recent years modified his focus to include inner healing.

Temperament theory, as advanced by contemporary modern Christian writers like Dr. Tim LaHaye and Drs. Richard and Phyllis Arno, is creationist in approach, emphasizing the unique nature of every individual according to God’s blueprint. The study of temperament goes back to the days of Aristotle, and since then western history reveals several subsequent times when writers sought to categorize human behavior based on patterns of inborn similarities and differences.

Turning to the secular counseling arena, many popular approaches utilize techniques to access buried memories so they can be processed in a clinical setting.  From Freud, to John Bradshaw in Healing the Shame that Binds You, to Arthur Janov whose Primal Therapy takes a patient back to birth trauma, psychologists continue to search for deep recovery modalities.

In today’s world, debate between proponents of “nature” vs. “nurture” continues to flourish. Some psychological theories like behaviorism approach man rather mechanistically, methodically reprogramming behavior through negative and positive conditioning. In contrast, Jungians espouse a “collective unconscious”, while existentialists remove any overriding meaning from life (see the article “Psychological Theory Sketches”).

We take the approach in heart-healing therapy that much research data and many clinical counseling techniques cited for use in non-Christian settings can provide tools applicable in Biblically-based deep inner healing work. Our desired therapy outcomes, however, are far different than the objectives of “values-neutral” emotional processing methods. Secular and evolution-based recovery modalities measure progress in terms of increasing adaptation and productivity or improved “self-esteem”. Ultimately, the goal for an individual in heart-healing counseling is ongoing deeper personal relationships with self, with others, and with God.

No one can trace all the circumstances and people that have contributed to making him who he is today. Likewise, we are extremely indebted to the believers and theorists who have gone before us and shared their insights on deep healing, and those who are working with different approaches toward the same end today. Together we are far greater than the sum of parts, and even if it were possible we wouldn’t want to isolate ourselves from them and their activities. All true healing comes from the very nature of God in His love, not any particular technique or tool.