. . . A church does not remain healthy by trying to stamp out every little sin that is in it, [but] by focusing on what is wholesome and healthy, in spite of the pathogens, in spite
of the little sins . . . .
–– Reverend Charles Morris.
How oxymoronic indeed was the controversial Anglican priest’s advice when set against his very own acerbic criticism of the church’s focus on “healing”, and loss of sight on “the goal of saving souls”. Reverend Charles Morris’ seemingly contradictory concepts appearing in conjunction were presented last Sunday as he delivered the sermon to a St Matthias Church congregation that included members of the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society.
The society members had gathered to mark the start of Pharmacy Week 2016 and presumably give God Almighty thanks, but might have had to endure Reverend Morris’ scathing remarks much to their discomfort and chagrin.
Declared the minister: “Let me say, the more doctors the churches have, the sicker our churches and society have become . . . . I believe the time has come for the church to leave the process of healing to the medical doctors and the pharmacists, and focus on people’s souls.”
This came after the goodly priest had referred to “pastors of churches” seeing themselves in the category of “reverend doctor” where they on one hand invited you to “come and get saved” –– the “reverend part”, and, on the other, implored you to “come and get healed” –– the “doctor part”.
We cannot help but wonder what is Reverend Morris’ take on Jesus –– and his disciples –– who saved souls and healed bodies, never making claims to be medical doctors or pharmacists. Indeed, there can be nothing wrong with priests –– or pastors, with whom Reverend Morris seemingly has a problem –– praying for the improved health of the sick. And, surely, a faithful Christian who prays to the Almighty for healing of the body is hardly playing doctor.
The Anglican preacher might take a cue from his very own advice by ceasing his analysis of what is “wrong” about healing prayer, and identifying what is right, strengthening the attribute of faith in the Lord –– within reason, of course.
The Apostle Paul reminds us:
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
–– 2 Corinthians 7:1.
Those of us exposed to Christian religious teaching will hardly be unfamiliar with the idiom Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness. Often attributed to the Holy Bible itself, the saying is actually that of evangelist and Methodism founder John Wesley.
Apart from the 18th century minister’s intent to show after the worshipping of God the second most important thing was pure preservation of self, his purpose was as well to convey the notion of simply keeping oneself healthy and clean –– for God’s sake, and man’s. Grasping this, we can thus draw divine inspiration from Apostle Paul’s words above to the Corinthians.
This won’t be the first time the Anglican priest is castigating his brethren and others. The acerbic Reverend Morris sometime back had made much of a to-do about his perceived failure of the church and its betrayal of the people –– as he put it, “sitting idly by as the social and economic decay of Barbados continued”.
The priest blasted then: “The church has to shoulder the blame for what is happening in this country, for while the warning signs were on the horizon, the church sat by and said nothing . . . .”
This would suggest the church and its leaders have responsibility for both the soul and body, and that the safety and future of the Barbadian being cannot be left only up to the politicians, economists, doctors and pharmacists.
Truth be told, the church has pretty much gone silent, allowing the politicians of late to traipse into their edifices speaking on their parties’ behalf –– and the church’s to boot.
While it might be mollifying to see politicians going to church, it would be critically prudent to have them render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.
Having church services to mark organizational anniversaries, or special weeks, at which one gives thanks to Jehovah for His being there when needed, and for any blessings bestowed, is one thing. Having a politician give a feature speech at the gathering is disturbingly another.
There are few other things as disgusting as a minister of Cabinet in church on a Sunday morning taking up the preacher’s sermon time with a boast of how many houses his Government has built, or another pontificating on the purity of his party’s policy.
Yes, the church needs to recover its social leverage through which the Christian-minded would be inspired to act with Christian character in the public domain. But the body is not tossed to the medical doctors for the sake of a “saved” soul.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own . . . .
–– 1 Corinthians 6:19.
As we ponder these things, we might mull too upon Hosea 4:6:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.