In contrast to [John Dominic] Crossan’s negative understanding of Jesus’ power to heal bodies as well as spirits and relationships, I believe we need to take a new look at the healing stories in the gospels and consider the possibility that Jesus both cured and healed people. Crossan is correct in opposing supernatural explanations of Jesus’ cures, but perhaps Crossan is surprisingly at bit too conservative in his evaluation of the scope of Jesus’ healing ministry. As I suggested last week, we can speak of healings and miracles without supernaturalism; we can see Jesus’ physical, emotional, and spiritual healings as resulting from his connection with the deeper energies (chi, prana, ruach) of creation, the primordial energies of the “big bang,” within which we “live and move and have our being.” From this perspective, we can appropriately speak of transformative energies that emerge when persons are in synch with the energies of the universe or God’s aim at abundant life in mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Jesus’ healings are not supernatural or counter to natural cause and effect relationships, but represent a confluence of energies, quite “natural” to the human condition but typically beyond normal human powers.
I am fine with the notion of ‘supernatural.’ But beyond that it’s striking how he is making a space in his thinking for the healings of Jesus to be more than stories. The focus on energies reminds me of the distinction in St Gregory Palamas between the Divine Essence (which is unknowable to us) and the Divine Energies that flow through all things. I wonder if what Epperly calls the ‘deeper energies of creation’ are simply the Divine Energies.