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Biblical Support

Theophostic Prayer and Biblical Support

Critic’s concern: Is there a biblical model for this modality of healing?  There is a physical model but is there a prayer model for helping alleviate emotional pain?

You used the word healing in your question which is actually not descriptive of what is accomplished in a TPM session. First, we must be careful that we not confuse physical healing with mind renewal. Theophostic Prayer does not heal the mind but rather is instrumental in helping a person to identify his or her lie-based thinking and then in helping them to connect with the presence of the Holy Spirit to find truth. TPM is focused on information replacement and not healing anything. What happens in a TPM session is about exposing lies and having them divinely replaced with His truth. When a person holds their falsehood up to the Lord and He grants a change in thinking, it is renewal of the mind that occurs, not healing. Healing is taking something and restoring it back to a healthy position.

For example, should my kidneys fail and I receive a kidney transplant you would not call the operation healing but rather replacement surgery. However, if the elders of the church anointed me with oil and suddenly my kidneys started working this would be considered healing. Mind renewal is not about restoring my mind back to a healthy place, but rather replacing or renewing my old thinking with new. The Holy Spirit does not heal my thinking, but rather replaces my thinking. An exchange takes place of my falsehood for His truth. Mind renewal occurs as the truth of God replaces the falsehoods people believe. When the truth is realized experientially, it replaces the lies in a painful memory and a place of darkness and bondage is transformed by the Lord’s light and release. A true metamorphosis or transformation should then become evident in that area of a person’s life. One of the clearest examples of this is 2 Timothy 2:25-26 where God grants the person repentance (the Greek word here means simply change of thought) resulting in freedom.

Mind renewal is not about healing something but rather renewing the mind with truth. Jesus did do this. In the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus they were suffering greatly from the thoughts that they were pondering. They believed Jesus was dead and that the tides had turned out of favor with them. However, as Jesus shared the truth with them they had a transformation in thought and in feeling (Luke 24:13).When Jesus was with his disciples out in the storm in the little boat the disciples cried out “We are all going to perish!” This was their perspective but not the truth. When Jesus calmed the water He gave them truth of who He was. The story of the restoration of Peter on the beach following the Resurrection is a great passage where Jesus speaks truth into Peter’s life and He is transformed.

We are commanded and expected to participate in mind renewal.  It is the means by which we are to come into transformation ( Rom. 12:2).  However, the bible did not give us nor has it restricted us in how we are to accomplish this specifically.  In the same way that we are expected to take the Gospel to all people we are not limited as to how we might creatively accomplish this.  The modality is not the command but the doing thereof.

I fully recognize that what occurs in a TPM is only a part of what needs to happen in mind renewal.  I also recognize that what happens in a TPM session can and does occur in many other modes of ministry and prayer.  Growing in biblical knowledge and understanding plays a vital role in Christian growth and discipleship.  TPM does not attempt to replace this in any form.

Critic’s concern: Are some of the biblical conclusions that Smith has come to in his exegesis of Scripture his reading into the text his Theophostic perspective (eisegesis), or presuming his Theophostic views when applying a text?
Ed Smith’s response:. I am a Southern Baptist and maintain that doctrinal position for the most part. However, there is very little in the basic foundational teachings of TPM that people are suggesting is problematic. I surveyed 150 pastors (from about every denomination under the sun) asking them if they had theological problems with the core teaching of TPM and found that Nearly 85% said that they were able to integrate the core teaching of TPM without any problem whatsoever. 13% said that they had had some theological issue but minimal.

What is interesting with the responses to this question is the fact that though there was some theological issue with TPM, 100% of those surveyed said that they recommend TPM to others, 98% personally benefited from it, 96% found highly effective outcomes, 90% reported life transformation in the people who had received ministry, and 96% said that people came to complete resolution in the memory being dealt with at least 50% of the time! It appears that even with the diverse theological differences represented in this cross cut sampling of ministers in the Body of Christ, there is a unity that is grounded in the centrality of Christ as is foundational in this ministry approach. I also found it interesting that 100% said they would recommend this process to others. If they had major theological issue this would have not been so.

I also submitted myself and these teachings to an organization know for its veracity in uncovering “heresy” in ministries.  Christian Research Institute (CRI) contacted this ministry with the desire to take an in-depth look at what is taught in the core teaching of Theophostic Prayer Ministry. Elliot Miller, the chief editor for the CRI Journal did the investigative research. He committed hundreds of hours in dialogue with me. He also carefully read through the revised 2005 edition of the Basic Training Seminar Manual clarifying with me any troublesome issue that he found. In addition to all of the above he invested three days in observing me do actual ministry with people so that he could witness the process first hand.

Though Mr. Miller and I do not agree theologically on all points, the discussion was a warm and healthy exchange that resulted in Mr. Miller being able to give a more knowledgeable report on what this ministry teaches. I appreciated his spirit and willingness to do this. Also at our request, Mr. Miller provided critique and made many suggestions concerning the 2005 revised edition of the Basic Seminar Manual.

CRI Summary Statements of Published Evaluations

"After an exhaustive evaluation, CRI detects nothing unbiblical about the core theory and practice of Theophostic Prayer Ministry (TPM). The theory is elegant in its profound simplicity, and the anecdotal reports of its effectiveness in practice justify further investigation; nonetheless, much more scientific research needs to be done before even the more modest claims of TPM can be validated, and some of the extravagant claims seem unlikely ever to be established..."

"...CRI finds nothing inconsistent with Scripture in TPM's core theory and practice. It certainly fits the biblical worldview to hold that believing lies oppresses or injures people and replacing those lies with truth frees or heals them. The theory that the emotional pain that haunts so many people's lives (including Christians) is rooted in false beliefs associated with past experiences rather than the experiences themselves seems elegant in its profound simplicity, and the proposal that Satan is often the source of those lies while Jesus supplies the truth that dispels them is again consistent with Scripture (e.g., John 8:44; 14:6; 18:37). This emphasis on conforming one's beliefs to truth is entirely biblical (Ps. 43:3; 51:6; Prov. 23:23; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:14–15, 25; 5: 8; 6:1411), and the complete dependence on Christ in ministry to the hurting that TPM advocates, to the point of giving Him the central place in that ministry, is commendable at least in concept and warrants consideration..."

"...CRI is also intrigued by the numerous public testimonies of practitioners and recipients for TPM's lasting efficacy in dealing with a wide variety of emotional and behavioral problems, including depression, general anxiety, anger issues, phobias, panic attacks, sexual addiction, and eating disorders. The frequency of such testimonies calls for further investigation, but anecdotal evidence is entirely insufficient to establish TPM's claims. To demonstrate that TPM gets results superior to all or most other varieties of inner healing/therapy and is not simply reaping the common benefits of counseling (e.g., the placebo effect and the therapeutic value of catharsis in a caring environment), rigorous scientific testing is needed. Researchers have already conducted some surveys and case study research that provide favorable results for TPM,B but much more extensive and rigorous testing (e.g., randomized control group studies) will be required to establish its claims. CRI thus finds no problem with Christians engaging in TPM per se, but at this early stage of the research we are unable to endorse TPM's specific claims of efficacy..."

I do understand the principles of Biblical interpretation and do understand that there is one valid interpretation howbeit many applications. I say in the Basic Manual,

“All Scripture must be interpreted in its proper context and first be understood by its literal meaning. Although it has only one true contextual interpretation, it may have many applications. This does not mean that we should take liberties to make the Bible say whatever we want it to say. However, we see that it contains many principles that can be applied to various situations beyond its literal meaning and original context.For example, Deuteronomy 25:4 declares that “you should not muzzle the ox while it threshes out the wheat.” The literal meaning of this passage is simple, “Let the ox eat while he works.” However, the Apostle Paul later applied this to financial compensation for church leadership, moving from its literal meaning to its principles (1 Corinthians 9:9-12). Similarly, TPM draws from the principles of God’s Word and seeks to apply them rightly.

Critic’s concerns: Smith asserts that “most inappropriate behavior is motivated by lie-based pain” (Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts, section title, p. 72). Is this not a move away from the traditional thought that sin is rooted in the heart and a minimizing of the seriousness of sin?

Ed Smith’s response: You have taken a statement out of context and have come to an inaccurate understanding of my position on sin. I am doctrinally a Southern Baptist, seminary trained. I do not minimize sin but do see the correlation between making sinful choices and the futile attempt in medicating the emotional pain in our lives. It is no new revelation that much of what we do sinfully (if not most of) is emotionally motivated. Have you ever stood in front of your refrigerator looking for something to eat when you knew good and well that you weren’t even hungry? If you slow that picture down you may find a negative emotion stirred you are trying to squelch with food. Stress, worry, fear, depression, etc are often driven by lie-based thinking that we try to cover over with sinful choices. I have challenged groups who have attended seminar where I was teaching on sin to think about the times when they are the most tempted to see if they were not also stirred up emotionally. When our emotional pain is triggered we tend to either seek to medicate it, stuff it or share it. All three options fall “short of the glory of God” and thus make them sinful.

Nevertheless, in fairness to all, I will own what I need to in not being as clear as I should have in the earlier manual (1999). If you are using the older training materials I can understand how you may have come to the conclusions that you did. In the earlier issues I made the assumption that the reader held a traditional view of sin (which I have always held) and that teaching this would not be redundant. With TPM my focus was on the issue of lie-based thinking. Because I did not clarify my view of sin, some people came to wrong conclusions.

I teach that sin and lies is not an either or question. Sin and deception are two “ugly sisters” and both must be addressed. You would also be hard pressed to find a sinful act that did not have some measure of deception running through it. Many people have been overbalanced in the “sin is the root of all” and never addressed the lie/deception issue. That is not to say that sin is not a part of the lie-based issue for it very well may be. However, just confessing sin and repenting and trying harder will only carry you so far if you also have lies that you are holding onto causing emotional pain in your life. We are not “wired” to carry lie-based pain and we will do whatever we can to eliminate or medicate it. Pain managing behaviors (usually sinful) are a common remedy. God wants us free from sin and false thinking. Theophostic seeks to address the issue of lie-based thinking while assuming that the cross of Jesus is the remedy for sin. I have dedicated an entire chapter to this in the new training manual. Here is a small portion of what I say,

“God designed us to feel bad when we sin. This inbuilt negative reaction to sin is compounded by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was sent in part to convict the world of sin (John 16:8). In a general sense, everyone innately knows right and wrong. This is why all people fall under judgment, whether they have ever heard the biblical revelation.

When people sin and do not feel bad about it, there is good reason to assume that they have hardened their heart to convicting feelings. However, for those of us who sin and then regret doing so, apart from the Cross of Jesus there is still nothing we can personally do to remove the shame or guilt that stains our soul. Only His shed blood can “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

When I came to Christ over 35 years ago I received His grace by faith (Romans 5:1) and became a new creation. Even though there was a radical transformation in my heart or inner self, my mind was not significantly renewed in that moment. My self-sufficient thoughts did change to the awareness of my need for a Savior. But, most of my lie-based beliefs remained untouched then, and many of my lie-based beliefs remain untouched even now.

Mind renewal is not salvation, nor does a lack of mind renewal affect my inheritance of eternal life. It is possible to be saved and experience limited mind renewal through life. We are saved by choosing to accept by faith what Christ accomplished for us on the cross.

However, I do believe that mind renewal will affect the quality of our future existence, because everything that has worth in God’s sight has eternal value. Also, to the degree that we experientially know His truth, we will walk in more consistent victory in this life. Mind renewal follows our regeneration as we progressively come into the knowledge of the One who saved us.

Theophostic Prayer Ministry focuses on mind renewal, but does not minimize sin. It is not a matter of one or the other; we must attend to both. The writer of Hebrews said that we must “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). In other words, deal with both the lie-based pain that is weighing us down and the sin that is a snare to us.

If a believer is choosing to sin, it will seriously affect the success of the ministry session. The Theophostic process will not move forward until the recipients choose to deal with any sin that is hindering them from receiving God’s truth. When a child of God has willful sin harbored in his heart his fellowship with God is hampered. John the Apostle says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jo. 1:6-7).

I was ministering with a man who clearly identified lies in a childhood memory that were causing him great distress, without being able to receive truth. Finally, I asked him to look inward to see if there was any known sin that he needed to bring before the Lord. He reluctantly confessed to an unrighteous relationship, but was unwilling to choose to break it off. The session did not move forward; and, as far as I know he is still carrying the lie-based pain of his childhood.

We are not in any way devaluing the power of the cross when we say that our mind remains in need of renewal. The cross of Christ restored our fractured relationship with God and the resurrection is the power to live out this victory. However, the truth of the resurrected and living Christ must still be applied to renew our thinking.

Salvation occurs in a moment in time when we are “rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred … into the kingdom of His Beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). In contrast, mind renewal is a life-long process, for we “have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10).”]

TPM does not try to re-teach all of the primary elements and concepts that are universally embraced by the Church at large concerning sin or many other issues. However, to be sure that I would not be misunderstood because of the absence of this in earlier materials, I have made a chapter out of it in the 2007 edition of the Basic Training Seminar Manual. However, addressing the issue of self-medication as a motivation for sinning has not been well addressed by the church and thus many remain in a constant struggle.









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