Faith Like Potatoes, or Biblical Faith?

  And so we parted ways.  And our lives took very different courses.  Angus Buchan became a Charismatic preacher, taking the message of “Jesus the Healer” (in the Charismatic sense) to multiplied thousands of people around South Africa and other parts of the world.  He wrote his autobiography, Faith Like Potatoes.  And now – the book has become the movie.

  Angus Buchan is an extremely likeable man.  The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is brim-full with charlatans, men (and women) in positions of influence behind pulpits who are nothing but liars and deceivers, and they know it, but they’re in it for the money and the fame.  They do not believe a word they are saying.  But there are also others in the movement who are sincerely convinced that what they are saying and claiming is the truth, the Gospel truth.  And I have no reason to doubt that Angus Buchan falls into this latter category.  Certainly he would have done so all those years ago, when I knew him and considered him a close friend.  He apparently produces his TV programme at his own cost, and distances himself from the American “televangelists”, who (he correctly says) spend 10 minutes preaching and 20 minutes asking for money.  I have no reason to doubt that he is very sincere.  But as the saying goes, one can be sincerely wrong.  And as an enthusiastic proponent of modern-day Charismatic heresy, he is sincerely wrong.  It is an unbiblical, heretical movement.  And this becomes clear in the movie itself:

 According to one reviewer, “The film depicts some incredible miracles that God accomplishes through and around Angus.  Perhaps, the most awe-inspiring part of the film is the point when, through the prayer of Angus, God raises to life a farm worker who had been struck dead by lightning” (Africa Christian Action film review).

  Well, that’s to be expected when one makes a movie based on the life of a Charismatic “faith healer.”  But let’s get real here.   Angus Buchan prayed and a person (in this case a woman) was raised to life?  Many, many Charismatic “faith healers” have made such astounding claims; but not one of them has ever been truly verified.  Nor will it ever happen.  The Lord Jesus Christ raised the dead when He ministered on earth, and He, through His servants, raised others to life in the apostolic age after He had ascended back to heaven; but after that?  These miracles were among “the signs of an apostle” (see 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3,4), and the apostolic ministry ceased in the first century AD.  No one is an apostle today, it was a foundational ministry of the early Church, before the Scriptures were complete (Eph. 2:20).  The gift of “working of miracles” (1 Cor. 12:10) was, like the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and miraculous healing, a temporary gift given to the apostles and a few others in the apostolic age; it is not given to anyone today.  Anyone, today, who claims to have raised someone from the dead is either deliberately lying, or is utterly deceived.  I am not saying that Angus was deliberately trying to deceive people by making this claim.  Doubtless he really believes that a woman was raised to life through his prayer; but in this he is terribly deceived.  It is easy to make the claim that someone has been raised to life; but what solid evidence is there?  Was the woman truly verified as being dead?  Were there competent witnesses who can attest to it?  Not all who are struck by lightning die – but doubtless many would have felt like they were dead!  From time to time, from all over the world, we hear accounts of people supposedly raised to life by some Pentecostal “healer” or other.  But where is the proof?  Must we just take their word for it?  That is simply not good enough.

  It is highly significant that in the book, Angus Buchan himself makes it clear that he was uncertain whether the woman was merely unconscious, or truly dead.  He relates how lightning struck the hut where some women were sleeping, and all had recovered except one, whom they had left lying in the hut, covered by a blanket.  They were all shouting and screaming, and they said to him, “She is dead.”  He went into the hut, which was dark and smoky, and he could see very little at first.  He writes, “I had no idea whether the woman was dead or unconscious, but I acted in raw faith, in fear and trembling.  I laid my hands on her, closed my eyes and prayed” (pg. 45).  He then felt he should lift her up, so he did so and she remained standing.  He told her to lift up her hands to God, and she did so.

  Note that there was no verification that she was truly dead.  The women were highly emotional, shouting, screaming, sure she was dead.  They had just come from a hut which lightning had struck, and this was a very natural reaction!  Their friend was not moving, so they assumed she was dead.  No one can blame them for thinking it, but there was no solid evidence.  Angus Buchan could not see well inside the dark and smoky hut, and by his own admission he had no idea whether she was dead or merely unconscious!  Why, then, must we believe that she was dead?  Why should anyone?  We only have the word of some hysterical women, who had just emerged in terror from a dark hut which had just been struck by lightning.

  This same reviewer, so enthusiastic in her praise for the supposed “miracle” of raising someone to life, in the very next paragraph makes a most telling admission: “While the heart of the Gospel, that man is a sinner and can only be changed because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, is neglected, the message that God can transform lives comes through clearly in the film.”