TB Joshua and deliverance. Is it biblical?


Britain has Jeremy Kyle, America has Jerry Springer, Nigeria has TB Joshua. What do these three have in common? They are widely broadcast men who have many troubled people come to them for “deliverance” of some sort which is broadcast to an international audience. These troubled people inevitably embarrass themselves on TV, much to the delight of the audience who are not sure whether to be amused or disgusted, but like the proverbial car wreck can’t keep their eyes off the undignified way the people on screen are behaving. Finally, all these shows have a “saviour”. A man who is there to solve the problems these troubled people have, and the only person who comes out the other side looking good. In short, these men come out the only real winners.

A response on twitter to one of TB Joshua’s deliverance videos (not recommended viewing)

Deliverance is biblical, Jesus is recorded delivering many people from demons. However, the way Jesus delivered people restored their dignity, it didn’t rob them of any shreds of it they had left. For example, a well known exorcism is the naked man whose demons are cast out and enter the pigs. In this incident (Mark 5:1-20) a crowd gathers and are amazed (in fact, so amazed the bible says they were afraid), but they’re not amazed at the spectacle of the deliverance, they’re amazed that this man is now sitting fully clothed and in his right mind – the crowd witnessed the change in the man, but were not permitted to see the deliverance itself.

Another spectacular deliverance recorded in scripture is the demon possessed boy in Mark 9:14-29. It says that “When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.” Sounds rather like an episode of Emmanuel TV so far, until Jesus notices a crowd running to the scene, so quickly and instantly rebukes the demon and sets the boy free. Again, Jesus is careful not to make a spectacle of this poor boy’s condition.

Jesus’ deliverances are shown in scripture to be quick, direct (“He [Jesus] drove out the spirits with a word” Matthew 8:16) and they restore soundness of mind and dignity to the individual. TB Joshua’s make a mockery of the person, and in at least one high profile case, they make no difference at all (as reported by Giles here, and here). In another case, ex disciple Graham reported that another highly publicised healing/deliverance that happened privately was reenacted on camera so it could be broadcast (the boy with the blocked throat). Can anyone imagine Jesus engaging in this kind of deception? (Note from the editor: We now have indisputable indisputable proof that Emmanuel TV engages in deceptive video editing)

If someone has a gift of deliverance, then of course he should be using it, but use it in the way modelled by Jesus, not in a way that is self serving and turns sick individuals into mini internet sensations after being delivered in an undignified way, or having a youtube video put out about their addiction to sniffing faeces, eating foam matresses, bedwetting or drinking kerosene (all genuine Emmanuel TV deliverances, easily confirmed via google, but we won’t dignify them with links).

A common reaction to this kind of argument is the pragmatic one: “His deliverance’s work don’t they?”. If you go only by what you see on Emmanuel TV, then of course you’ll believe that. The true fruit won’t be evident for days, weeks, months or even years after the supposed deliverance – and it won’t be seen on camera.

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