Christians 'don't need flu shots'

TV preacher Gloria Copeland says inoculate yourself

“There is no flu season,” says TV preacher Gloria Copeland. A strain of flu nicknamed “Australian Flu” allegedly from Down Under is currently ravaging North America and Europe.

But, in fact, we have already had our shots, according to Copeland. “Jesus Himself gave us the flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of flu. And we receive it and we take it and we are healed by His stripes.” Copeland tells her listeners to tell themselves they will never get the flu, and to take that stance based on the word of God.

“We’ve already had our shot. He bore out sicknesses and carried our diseases. That’s what we stand on. And by His stripes, we are healed.”

We are commanded to pray for healing.

She is referring to a suffering servant passage in Isaiah, which is a prophecy concerning the benefits purchased by Jesus on the cross. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5). It is often cited by Christians involved in active healing ministries.

But in calling for Christians not to have flu shots – and making this a sign of faithfulness to God’s word –  Copeland is taking an extreme position. Many Christian ministries, including the Church Missionary Society, Hillsong Church and Bible Society, have offered staff (and students) free flu shots.

An over-exaggerated presentation of God’s promises of healing can be a key threat to the flourishing of charismatic and pentecostal Christianity.

One leading Pentecostal academic, Professor Stephen Fogarty, Chief Executive Officer of Alphacrucis College, told me that an exaggerated presentation of God’s promises of healing can be a key threat to the flourishing of Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity.

We are commanded to pray for healing. And the leadership of the local church needs to take part. “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:14 NIV)

Yet famously Paul did not receive healing from his “thorn in his side,” and gave Timothy medical advice: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.” (1 Timothy 5:23 NIV)

Having weighed up these Scriptures, not every Christian will end up in exactly the same place on this subject. But we all should be ready for our amazing God to challenge our thinking, because he “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Eternity has published several accounts of healing – including the well-attested account of Sean George a WA doctor who flatlined for 55 minutes and has the monitor printout to show it. (The full account is in Sheridan Voysey’s “Open House 3” book).

And we have reported the amazing testimony of Professor Shane Clifton, Director of Research in the theology faculty of Alphacrucis College – who teaches from his wheelchair.