Book Review Christ The Healer F. F. Bosworth pt. 1


As we have seen so far, the three major powers in the pre-Pentecostal movement was Frank W. Sandford, E. W. Kenyon, and John Alexander Dowie.

We have seen how Charles Fox Parham independently went from his own church, to Sandford’s Shiloh, then after a disagreement, went to Zion City, then went to start his new Bible Institute, where he would teach, having gleaned fro these two men.

We’ve seen how William Seymour went forth from Parham to start (eventually) the Azuza Street Mission, which gave birth to the Pentecostal movement, completely by-passing Parham.

What we do not have is something tying together E. W Kenyon and the Pentecostal movement. It is often attributed much later to Kenneth Hagin – and that is correct. However, the seeds for Hagin to discover originally came from F. F. Bosworth, one of the founding members of the Assemblies of God denomination.

F. F. Bosworth continued the seeds planted by Dowie at Zion City in his “Christ the Healer” book. Bosworth is an integral part of the puzzle. But Bosworth had connections to E. W. Kenyon as well. It is Bosworth who finally connects Unitarianism, New Thought, Theosophy, Swedenborgianism, and Christian Science with the Sandford/Dowie Pentecostalism. This book would have an influence on many faith healers, and would serve as the catalyst for Kenneth Hagin to plagiarize Kenyon later on.

Christ The Healer (F. F. Bosworth, Fleming H. Revell Publishing, 9th Ed. 1977)

The book is highly repetitive, repeating entire sentences, passages and illustrations over and over again. It’s obvious to me that Bosworth originally strung this together from the texts of his sermons, often using sermon illustrations… the same ones over and over again. This is why you hear so many repeated phrases throughout the book.

His reasoning is based upon faulty isogesis and bad arguments from bad analogy. Rather than refute EVERY error in the book, I will deal with highlights and examples, to show how this book serves almost as a blueprint for the Word-Faith movement.

Bosworth makes the classic mistake by assuming the one time use of the serpent of the pole by Moses was for all times. Was there not lepers in Israel, when they had Nehushtan? And blind men? If Nehustan did not heal at that time, why should we assume it is different today?

During this dispensation, God is more concerned with the salvation of our souls than with a temporary healing. What difference does it make if you are healed, and then go into Hell?

Before quoting from this chapter, may I state that the Hebrew words choli and makob have been incorrectly translated “griefs” and “sorrows.”

— so now F F Bosworth is claiming to know more Hebrew than the translators of the King James?

Isa. 53 is about the Messiah atoning for our sins. It is not about sickness. To claim that is to cheapen the Gospel message.

The greatest barrier to the faith of many seeking bodily healing in our day is the uncertainty in their minds as to it being the will of God to heal all. – pg. 47

Bosworth paves the way for the modern Word Faith, by placing the blame squarely upon the afflicted

His present attitude is revealed by the fact that healing is a part of the Gospel of the Great Commission that Christ commanded to be preached. This commission is followed by the promise “they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:15, 18).

Bosworth here neglects to cite the rest of it, as they all usually do. Verse 18 reads,

18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. Mark 16:18 (KJV)

I do not see Bosworth advocating Snake Handling nor poison drinking. If the last half of the verse is for today, so is the first.

These verses refer to Apostolic Gifts. They were only for the Apostles. If the other Christians could heal, we fail to see that except in one case, the healing of Paul. Why did this happen? The other apostles were afraid of Paul at that time. 26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. Acts 9:26 (KJV)

During the seven weeks of the meeting, six thousand came for healing, and about twelve thousand for salvation. Pg. 75

Before leaving the city, many hundreds of written testimonies were received.

If six thousand came forth for healing, why were six thousand not healed? When the Lord healed people, everyone was healed whom He desired to heal. Not ten percent, ALL.

And again, where are the names, the testimonies? There are alleged testimonies of just over a dozen people in Bosworth’s book – yet he claims over ten thousand in attendance in one service!

“So many times ministers have said in these days that we do not need miracles now. They think of miracles only as signs to prove the Lord’s deity, etc. I have said to them, “If you had a cancer eat your head off, you would need a miracle, would you not?” Most people today are so in the dark on this subject that it never occurs to them that there is mercy also for the sick. They never think of the gifts of healing and miracles as being the manifestation of Christ’s compassion. Hour after hour, and day after day, for three years, He healed all who came to Him because of His compassion. Are not the needs of sufferers today the same as they were in that day? Do they not need as much compassion as in the past?”

Bosworth again manages to miss the point. Through rebellion and spiritual immaturity, he neglects to understand the importance of the wondrous cross – Jesus came to set men free, to pay for their sins! It’s astounding to me! Bosworth neglects to notice that the Lord Jesus actually turned people away. The healing of the sick was very much secondary for the Lord – the primary thing was the forgiveness of sins. The Gospel remains this to this day.

It may sound callous and cruel, but what good is the healing of a back pain or bad knees – when old age will just bring it right back! What about Paul and his “Messenger in the flesh”? What about “Trophimus I left sick at Miletus?” Why did Paul not urge Timothy and Titus to heal the sick? Those gifts were temporary.

“Just as a little girl’s dress…(pg. 87)”

Argument from bad analogy – See Thouless 38 dishonest tricks of crooked thinking.

“Our redemptive blessings are conditional. (pg. 88)”

It always comes down to this! “I’m a healer. If you didn’t get healed, that’s your fault.” I can think of nothing so cruel to say to someone with some crippling injury or illness.

“God always moves after our move.” Pg. 99

REALLY??? You’ve got to be kidding me. This book was written shortly after Bosworth’s Zion City years.

I’m sure if I started Chronologically through the Bible, I could demolish this argument quickly. Let’s see…

1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. Exodus 3:1-15 (KJV)

Analyzing this, did Moses begin trying to seek the Lord first, or did the Lord appear in the Burning Bush first? The answer – first. Moses had already tried in the flesh, and failed. I think everyone would agree on that. Years later, the Lord calls Moses.

30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32 Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Acts 7:30-32 (KJV)

So, the Bible agrees that the Lord moved first.

10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. 16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. Genesis 28:10-16 (KJV)

Again, in this instance, the Lord moved first. So, twice now we have demonstrated that Bosworth is wrong.

5 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. 6 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: 7 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. 8 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. 9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? 11 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying. Genesis 37:5-11 (KJV)

Again, in this instance, the Lord moved first. So Bosworth demonstrably is wrong on this premise. We need to understand that the Lord operates on foreknowledge. The entire controversial “Election” doctrine, so misunderstood by Calvinists, hinges on the fact that the Lord knows all of history. He’s God, He can do that. God is Omnipotent.

God knows in advance every person who will and will not respond to the Gospel. God also knows in advance every person who will not accept the Gospel and will reject the Lord Jesus Christ. God knew all of that and STILL died for every person Universally. Does this mean that there is a Universal Salvation for every man, regardless of whether or not he accepts the Gospel? The answer sadly is “No.” The Gospel is freely given to every man. Whether one accepts it or not is their own choice. It is like a sinking ship, where rescuers wait nearby, life rings already in the water – and the majority of the passengers deciding to swim to shore instead, because being saved would be an admission they are incapable of swimming across the ocean. The swimmers will all eventually drown. So too will every man who attempts to work his way into salvation will find himself burning in Hell.

As someone in my Seminary once commented that the office of salvation is the election – when the Bible speaks of someone in the Elect, it refers to those who have chosen that office. It is a profound way to explain the election conundrum.

In this same manner, the Lord knew that Jacob would be true to the Lord in the last half of his life. We may not like that, seeing that Jacob was something of a scoundrel the first half of his life. However, we too are usually scoundrels the first half of our lives. The Lord shows the same love and understanding of a man who comes to Christ at age 20, and remains true for seventy years, as for someone saved at age 90 and stays true for a day before succumbing to natural events, and ascending to his heavenly rewards.

“This is the acting out of a “full assurance” produced alone by His promise before we see the answer to our prayer.” Pg. 99 At last, the doctrine of “You must sow a faith seed” and “you must continue in faith to keep your blessing” raises its ugly head.

“Our ‘work of faith’ sets God to working.” (pg. 99)

Again, it seems that Bosworth is working on E. W. Kenyon style faith teaching.

“While in the Chicago area, Bosworth also met E. W. Kenyon. It is unclear whether his meeting with Kenyon was before his move to Texas, since he had returned to the Chicago area by 1924.” (Wikipedia article on F. F. Bosworth)

“Hebrews 13:15 teaches us that our thank offering, our “sacrifice of praise,” is to be offered in advance for the blessing God has promised. It is only then that we can expect an answer.” (pg. 99)

No, no it does not. This reminds me of so much old Chassidic tradition that says one must read aloud the entire book of Psalms before making special prayers. This is why Chassidic prayerbooks (Siddur) often have the entire Book of Psalms in the back of them – so that while you’re sitting in an Emergency room waiting to hear if someone is going to live , you can recite the entire book of Psalms and hope God is going to listen. The entire “Pay your vows first” tradition is a major part of Word Faith – all designed to soak the patsy (I mean, believer) for every penny the tithe check didn’t cover.

As Justin Peters dryly observes in his video series, A Call To Discernment, Word Faith teachers either quote only the part of the verse that fits their preconcieved doctrine, or else they quote a verse taken out of its context, without any clear teaching on that context. This is fortune cookie-Scripture, pulling a verse out, looking at it and wondering, “What is my fortune?” It is clearly not rightly dividing the word of God, nor is it studying to shew thyself approved. It also places Bosworth into that category of people unfit for the ministry – “Greedy of filthy lucre”, as 1 Timothy 3:8 describes it.

Here is the verse in its entirety…

15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15 (KJV)

What did Bosworth leave out? “that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Hebrews 13:15 does NOT teach the prior paying of a vow to get our for wish. Rather, Hebrews 13:15 is discussing that which we obviously thought – that our saying thanks to the Lord is the same as a thanksgiving offering under the old Levitical law.

“It means to come to Him with thanksgiving for healing before being healed. ‘Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise.'” (pg. 99)

Again Bosworth is stretching verses to fit where they do not belong. He cites a verse – out of context, as mentioned previously, and describes it as concerning what we must do before our healing can take place. He does not even give us the Bible Address so we can verify it ourselves. ALWAYS be suspicious when someone does that! It may be merely an oversight – or it may be the forcing of a Scripture to apply where it obviously does not! We know it’s in the Bible – it sounds familiar, and it must be in the Bible, so he must be right! After all, he went to Seminary and everything, right? No. Bosworth never attended seminary. It is another case of the untrained and unstable wresting Scriptures to their own destruction… and leading many astray while doing it.

Here is all of this Psalm, so that you can read it yourself.

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. 5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:1-5 (KJV)

This is about entering the Temple of the Lord with thanksgiving. Indeed, it would be good for the churches to read these verses, and apply it to entering their own sanctuary. But there is nothing in this Psalm about healing. At all. Tell me if you can find anything in this Psalm about healing, and whether you MUST offer your praise before you can receive your healing from the Lord!!!

This is another case of poor isogesis at the hands of F. F. Bosworth, who is well known among Christians for this very book! You can still find it for sale on the “cheap” table at Christian bookstores, like Sheldon’s “In His Footsteps” and Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening.”

And so, many Charismatics are drawn to it, seeing the Title “Christ The Healer” and are led further astray, seeing something in an old book that seems to support the rantings of Kenneth Copeland and Knneth Hagin and Benny Hinn. “Why this must be part of Classical Chrstianity!” They think, looking at the age of it – forgetting the book came out ten years after Azuza Street.

Pg. 99-100 of the book is full of other examples of Bosworth’s stretching Scriptures to support his contentions where they obviously do not apply. In the very next paragraph, he lists Isa. 60:1 (“Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.”), Joel 2:21 (“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.”), and Luke 24:53 (“And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.”), without giving the address – all in the attempt at reinforcing this doctrine we must give thanks for the healing BEFORE the healing occurs – or it will not occur!

This is truly the worst kind of Isogesis possible. Mr. Bosworth will have a LOT of explaining to do at the Believer’s Judgment, if he is there. The horrible tragedy is this is almost the kind of Scripture twisting an unsaved person might do which hopefully here is not the case. I cannot imagine anything more horrifying than a person thinking they were saved going into eternal torment.

On page 105, Bosworth continues with this kind of Scripture Twisting, but this time he uses a different form of twisting – the adding of words in brackets to force a verse to fit his meaning. “He [God] therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit [the Spirit is the Miracle-Worker], and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing [message] of faith? Even as Abraham believed God” (Gal. 3:5-6).

5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Galatians 3:5-6 (KJV)

With the verses quoted as the Lord had said them, we see the “Message of Faith” removed – it is a subtle deception. With his added words removed, we get a somewhat different message.

Bosworth then turns to Moffat’s translation to see if it better supports his meaning – and thus a generation of Pentecostal pastors were trained to first arrive at a message, then search various translations to see which one better seems to fit that preconceived conclusion. Kind of like shooting holes in the target, and then drawing the circles around it!

After being anointed and prayed for, instead of rejoicing in the promise of God, I have heard some say in disappointment, “I thought sure I was going to be healed.” I knew instantly that they had never caught the idea of what faith is. (Pg 108)

No… Rather, Bosworth should have realized there was a MAJOR problem with his faith doctrine. His faith doctrine is this:

  1. God heals everyone by faith if they are saved.
  2. I perform miracles.
  3. So if you’re not healed, you don’t have enough faith
  4. or you’re not saved.

we see that Bosworth is DIRECTLY responsible for the doctrines of Katherine Kuhlman, and by implication, by Benny Hinn – as Hinn copied everything Kuhlman did down to the punctuation – just as Kuhlman copied Aimee Semple McPherson. And all three apparently were led astray by this book, and by E. W. Kenyon.

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Author: philipdean2013

Seminary graduate with a Ba. in Theology/Pastoral Studies, Happily married, Independent Baptist. I can't keep silent about what I see going on in Christianity any longer! Apostasy reigns around us, churches are sliding into worldiness, a whitewashed Gospel is preached everywhere... "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) So, I'm speaking out. ...Why aren't you???

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