Sunday, June 3, 2012

Craig Marsh's Response: More Than I Can Stomach

*Edit: I've been asked to state that I do not work for Premier Christian Radio, do not represent their views and am not acting on behalf of their company or agents. I'm happy to do so.*


Back in March I discussed modern-day miracles with Doctor Craig Keener on Premier Christian Radio. He'd written a 1,200 page book on the subject, and while he was a pleasant chap with some good points on Hume I disagreed with his endorsement of riot-inciting Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke and Dawit Molalegn, mega rich megapastor of the FBI miracle church.

In addition the host played two recorded messages and asked for my response. One was from a woman who said her leg felt improved some days after being prayed for. The other was from a Pastor Craig Marsh. His - let's be polite initially - story was that his stomach had been largely amputated for medical reasons, he was terminally ill, and then during a group prayer event his stomach spontaneously regrew, allowing him to both live a normal life and perplex his medical staff.

I was happy to hear it. Having read and researched over a thousand pages of miracles for the show without finding medical documentation I was elated to think we could have something to seriously chew over. From memory my exuberance led me to say "if you can get me his before and after medical records I'll come back on this show, sit in the Christian chair, and tell you about my conversion."

I say exuberance; in my haste I realise I rather created the impression that they have dedicated seats for Christian and non-Christian guests. This is not the case. There's every chance my back graced the same fabric sat upon by William Dembski, though thankfully vaccine denialism isn't contagious. As for the rest of the message, I meant it. Stomachs don't grow back by themselves, and if he has robust evidence to support his medical claims, and witnesses stating the events happened during a prayer meeting for his health, I'd find myself rather convinced.

Justin Brierley, the host and a Christian, rather gamely agreed to contact Marsh and request further details. From past experience requests from atheists for such information aren't always viewed in a positive light. Some four months after Justin's initial attempt Marsh replied to my request with the following:

"Sorry it has taken me awhile [sic] to get back to you I have been constantly travelling and in fact am home for just this week then we head to Europe for 6 weeks [sic] ministry.
Yes there is documentation including before and after xrays [sic]. I do not supply these on request simply because even then those who are sceptical regarding God are usually are [sic] not convinced anyway. As you and I know it is by faith that we are saved and producing evidence of a miracle has seemed to make no change to those who won’t believe regardless of what is put in front of them.
As far as Christians go who want documentation or evidence, again I have stopped supplying such nor do I carry with me anymore. My approach is to point to the vast number of miracles of healings which happen in our meetings all the time and those are documented.
I am not interested in proving my case. I am alive and those who knew me 15 years ago when I was so sick also know. We try very hard for the focus not to be on me or even what God has done in me but rather in [sic] what God is doing and using us for.
For some years we used to carry the xrays [sic] but they're getting damaged and are irreplaceable. We were also discovering, like I mentioned about the sceptics, that not one has turned and become a Christian upon being presented evidence of my healing or the healings of others who have been prayed for. 
No faith and the Bible even says there are none so blind as those who will not see. It is amazing how when confronted with evidence of a healing folk will still say ....”well I still don’t believe there is a God”. 
For the Church going Christian it is stunning how they disbelieve that God can or still does heal and after running ragged trying to present evidence of my healing we realised that besides the fact they were calling us liars, in truth they simply lacked faith and nothing I put in front of them is going to make a difference at least not in 12 years since my healing."

What can we conclude from this drivel, other than a suspicion that Marsh must have stayed up late into the night splitting infinitives? For one it contradicts an earlier account he gave. It's improbable that a man who travels so extensively is only capable of responding to e-mails from his home base. X-rays are not the tool of choice for investigating soft tissue complaints. He is a man who earns his crust by evangelising across the globe, telling tales of his miraculous stomach. It seems odd that he considers preaching of miracles to be a poor tool for evangelisation.

He makes reference to a vast number of healings that are documented. He's referring to these one and two line testimonies, and I caution you to expect to be underwhelmed. Take this undated example of Dylan, who as a toddler completely healed of heart problems, naturally without medical documentation. It's interesting to note that Dylan at the later age of three required a heart bypass operation. Perhaps his faith wavered? I'm pleased to report the required surgery was more successful than the healing.

One of the crying shames of Marsh's ministry is that it is somehow restricted to the technology of the 1950's. He is unable to duplicate medical records, let alone digitise them. His excuses are profoundly incredible and can pander only to the most credulous and trusting of victims. The way he admonishes Christians to simply accept his authority and suspend their reasoning is particularly galling.

Whatever other maladies may or may not have befallen his digestive tract I can say with confidence that his ability to produce excrement on demand has remained unmolested throughout his life. He'll be travelling the UK this month - the full itinerary is here. If you're in the area do pop in and give him my kindest regards.

10 comments:

mandmigop.dk said...

Hi Geoff

I was one of the listeners of the show, and I did look forward for the evidence... Weird that Marsh can phone and witness, but can send an x-ray pr. mail.

Well, when I listend to the show I remembered a televisonshow in my contry "Denmark" some years ago, called "The power of the spirits". A Journalist tried to inverstergate different spiritual claims, like healings, proheshies and miracels. And so - this was se secular show.

They toke a man with double sight, got a doctor at the royal hospital to check him, smuggled him in at the meeting and when the crowed was asked to "lay hands on the sick place in a group-prayer"he got healed, he could see normal, remove his clap for the eye without headig. The took him to the doctor again, who said "some things we can't explain" - 3 months after, the guy was still cured.

1000 upon 1000 came to the healers meetings after that (Charles Ndifon was his name).

What do you think about that? There is a link for the show here, but it's in danish.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?playnext=1&index=0&feature=PlayList&v=EZkMujhtoa0&list=PL7F1CAF41EC9B9D36

Sorry my poor english.

Geoff said...

Hi! Your English is fine. Do you know where I can find the medical records and details of the doctor that certified this?

Generally, I'm skeptical of prosperity preachers from megachurches. Do you know of anything in particular about this chap that would reduce these concerns?

B. Claveau said...

Geoff,

I too was a listener to your appearance alongside Craig Keener on Unbelievable (albeit at a later date and by podcast) and as a Christian I was excited by the prospect that this man’s miracle claim might be the real deal. Being a believer in God myself, I am fully open to the possibility of the miraculous (see C.S. Lewis’ Miracles for my definition of a miracle). That being said, there are far too many people out there like Benny Hinn and Dawit Molalegn who claim to be healers working in the name of God, whilst robbing well-meaning (though painfully naïve) followers, to take every miracle claim at face value. So, your request for evidence is completely justified and as a Christian I too would like to see some sort of evidence for such a singular and mysterious occurrence. I am completely open to the possibility of miracles, but I also understand that, by definition, miracles are not common and we need to be diligent in (to put it Biblically) “separating the wheat from the chaff”.

The biggest issue I had with Pastor Marsh’s response to your request is this: If this man truly wants to reach people with the truth of this miraculous healing, why would he not jump at the chance to give a skeptic such as yourself concrete evidence of God’s hand at work in his body? Given the challenge you had put forth on the show, (that is, that given the proof, you would come back and tell your conversion story) it seems absolutely ludicrous to me that if Pastor Marsh does in fact hold this evidence he would withhold it from you. If he truly was healed and has the medical records to prove it, he had an incredible opportunity to help a skeptic overcome an intellectual stumbling block, and his refusal to provide you with this evidence is just absurd. The failure of these records’ causing anyone to convert in the past is a poor excuse for ceasing to show them- there is always the possibility that someone will be convinced by them, and that possibility should be reason enough to continue trying. So, as disappointed as I am having been intrigued by Pastor Marsh’s incredible claim of having been miraculously healed, I am forced to conclude that this story truly is incredible (as in, “not credible”) and is yet another bit of chaff.

- Brandon

Red said...

Hey Geoff, thanks for your comment on my blog - have replied over there, but in addition to that, I think the evidence is in the fruit. So if arsh turns up here in a few weeks time and people get healed, then clearly God is working through him. I will wait to see the fruit..!
red

Rodney Wilson said...

I'm glad you have stayed on this. No one in 2012 has a right to claim a miracle without scientific evidence to back it up -- in this case, before-and-after medical tests, signed affidavits by physicians, etc. Sad.

Chris Turner said...

so it ends up like the man with three buttocks from monty python, he was on turkish radio, so why show you?

One question you might ask when they ambush you next time is, why didn't all those pastors rush over to the nearest hospital and empty it? They had such obvious success with him, why stop there?

qmonkey said...

nail on the head, chris! its also an argument to put to people who believe that jesus (or whoever) litterally healed people. ie, what about everyone else? i'm sure there were loads of blind and lame people in the town, and i imagine they would have liked to be healed too, did Jesus just walk past them saying 'sorry no time'? isnt it in fact barbaric to pick and choose the odd punter here and there to change their lives in such a away. cruel and unusual

sabersun said...

I have the in-depth info to enable you to make up ur own mind on marshys so-called testimony!

Geoff said...

Do tell more.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Questions for Keener in the comments section of this post:

http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.com/2011/10/does-god-heal-today.html