(The book was originally titled: "The Nearly Perfect Crime")Although the main method leading to the conversion of the Roman Empire during the early years of Christianity lay in dramatically healing the sick and casting out evil spirits. The belief in supernatural healing nearly disappeared from mainline churches during the following centuries. In weakening this central teaching of the Gospel, they unwittingly opened themselves to the influence of Paganism, Platonism, Stoicism and Gnosticism.
How did something so central to Jesusí own heart, something so essential to the spreading of the gospel, nearly disappear? Join Francis MacNutt as he explores the fascinating "crime" at work to undermine the Christian power ministry.
The Holy Spirit has not stopped pouring out his blessings. With this book we can rediscover the empowerment that the early church once experienced.
For the first three centuries of Christianity, healing prayer was an ordinary practice; any and every Christian had the confidence to pray for the sick and cast out demons. For two centuries, they had all the writings we call the Bible, as well. They also had major persecution from the Roman federal government. The church was well on its way to winning the world for Christ.
After the Roman emperor Constantine declared himself converted in the year 312, Christianity became legalized. It became more or less fashionable to be a Christian. The union of church and state changed both. Emperor Constantine's counselors were still occultists. He was baptized as a Christian only on his deathbed.
All other religions became illegal. The federal government demanded everyone to be baptized and come to their official churches weekly as proof they were Christian. The federal government created a "clergy" class called "priests" as enforcers. Everyone else was designated "laity." New Testament type churches were broken up. Evangelism stopped.
Gradually, healing prayer was restricted only to clergy, then only to bishops, then only to kings and then to nobody. Likewise exorcism. Likewise the Bible. Thus the government and its agents became the final authority instead of the Holy Spirit.The Jesuit heresy hunters wiped out people with any disagreement with the Roman doctrine of the church.
The big change occurred when the Muslims attacked Europe. They conquered North Africa, Asia Minor, Spain, Portugal, Armenia, some of France, some of Austria, Hungary and Sicily. The only European armed force big enough to stop them were the Jesuits. As the Muslim war see-sawed across Europe, two Catholic priests spoke in disagreement with the Roman church - Martin Luther and John Calvin. Their protesting movements built power bases to defend themselves if the Jesuits won. They knew they were dead anyway if the Jesuits lost. When the Jesuits won, the Roman church was too weak to attack these protestors. Roman fascism was not the great indomitable. But the protestant churches acted like small versions of the Roman church. Other national churches started up in the same way.
The next big change was in north America. Europeans came to America partly for religious liberty. England and the church of England tried to subdue these people and failed. They wrote a constitution that expressly stated that there would be no national church like in Europe. There would be a separation of church and state.
Anyone with a Bible who could draw a crowd could be a preacher and start a church. Most of them failed, but some bore fruit and built denominations from their churches. Egalitarianism had come to flower in Christianity. When the popular preachers grew old and died, the churches and denominations had to sink or swim on their doctrine and policies. They had to compete on that level as well.
Since all they had was the Bible, most doctrines had nothing to say about Christian signs and wonders. Gradually, some Christians tried out the parts of the Bible that referred to signs and wonders - and got results. But the established denominations didn't like having their doctrines questioned. Catholic fascism is still around - in the organizations.
Satan has given priority to discourage or crush the American Christianity since it is so fruitful around the world. But persecution is causing Christianity to be refined by fire. The lame versions are dying; the fruitful versions are still growing. The Pentecostal, socially relevant and small group oriented churches are still growing.
Even today there are those who try to corrupt or destroy Christian signs & wonders. Even today they try to corrupt or destroy the Bible. Even today they try to suppress or discourage exorcism. Even today they try to bring occult religions into the churches.
Francis rewrote this book four times before he was satisfied with it. Even so, this message must have been painful to write because he is a Roman Catholic ex-priest and seminary teacher. Praise God, he followed truth wherever it led.
This book is available in paperback and kindle.