Around 100 years ago, when the Pentecostal movement began to grow rapidly, B. B. Warfield (among others) noticed some beliefs and practices of the movement that were quite unbiblical. In fact, he gave a series of lectures on miracles, healing, gifts, etc. at Columbia Theological Seminary. Those lectures are now found in his book, Counterfeit Miracles. The book is not very easy to read since many persons, beliefs, and practices that Warfield examined and critiqued are no longer well-known. If you read this book, remember that he was addressing the issues of his day, so some parts of it are outdated.
However, the theological aspects of the book are outstanding. One section that sticks out for me is the end of his chapter on faith healing where he summarizes his arguments (pp. 190-195 or so). Below is part of his summary which I’ve edited for the purpose of the blog. The main charismatic argument Warfield critiques is this: if you have enough faith, you will be healed. In other words, if you are not healed of your infirmity, you do not have enough faith. Here is Warfield’s critique.
1) Such a miraculous method of action on God’s part would be wholly unnecessary for the production of the effect desired; God can heal the bodily hurt of his people without miracle (by means such as medicine, doctors, and the body’s own healing capabilities).
2) The employment of a the ‘miracle’ of faith-healing is contrary to the analogy of God’s mode of working in other spheres of his activity, namely how he uses secondary causes to accomplish his purposes.
3) It is contrary to the very purpose of a miracle. If miracles are to be common, every-day occurrences, normal and not extraordinary, they cease to attract attention, and lose their very reason of existence. What is normal is according to law. If miracles are the law of the Christian life then they cease to serve their chief end.
4) The miraculous gifts in the New Testament were the credential of an apostle, and were confined to those to whom the apostles had conveyed them. Therefore it is presumptuous to argue that they should continue after the apostolic age.
5) Paul did not tell Timothy he needed more faith to be healed. He told Timothy to drink wine for his ailments (1 Tim. 5.23).
6) The belief in faith-healing presupposes or leads to many false doctrines. Namely, a) Assuming all sickness is specifically related to sin. Jesus denied this in John 9:3; b) Belief in faith-healing is like believing in perfectionism, the teaching that a Christian in this life can be perfect. However, the Bible says Christians will always struggle with sin and sickness in this life and these things will not be totally gone until the new creation; c) Faith-healing wrongly assumes that sickness and suffering are evil and from the devil alone. However, the Bible teaches that God sometimes afflicts his children to wean them from the world and make them more dependent upon his grace, which is sufficient. Though illness is not pleasant, God can and does use it for his glory and the good of his people.
7) The belief in faith-healing leads to contempt for God’s appointed means. This leads to the fanatical attitude of demanding from God apart from all means something which he has said only comes through his appointed providential means. We are not to refuse to cultivate the soil and then demand to be fed by miracle.
8) The faith-healing practice leads to the production of ‘professionals’ who stand between God and the Christian. There is grave danger in permitting an unauthorized intermediary to take up a position between man and the gracious activity of God towards him. The evil sacerdotalism of Rome is an example this. Furthermore, it leaves the faith-healer prone to pride and autocracy, which kills his own spiritual life and leads to other terrible things.
Again, I’ve summarized and edited Warfield’s summary a bit. If this interests you, I recommend reading this chapter (and book) by Warfield. I believe his arguments are solid, valid, and biblical. To be sure, faith-healing is something that is still prevalent today. Christians should be able to confront this distortion of Christianity in a biblical and loving way. Even though Counterfeit Miracles is somewhat difficult to read, it is a good resource to have.