Updated: Jul 30, 2019
The following is the thirteenth post in a series looking closely at the teachings of Robert Henderson found in his book Operating in the Courts of Heaven. I first suggest some theological questions that require answers before the teaching is embraced whole-heartedly, then evaluate the biblical passages used to back-up the teaching.
On the Courtroom model of intercessory prayer, the simplicity of prayer is lost and the ministry made, if not completely inaccessible, then mysterious to ordinary and rational persons. The model of prayer clearly taught by Jesus himself, and more rooted in the biblical and historical tradition of the church which I have called the Father model of prayer, should be preferred.
There are other theological problems in the book than the ones I have chosen to highlight. The ones I have outlined are to my mind the more egregious and warrant a careful response by Henderson if he is to uphold the model as compatible with Christian orthodoxy. Caution is recommended before accepting it, even if it is to be taken as metaphorical in nature rather than literally; as it appears to be taught. Such errors also warrant closer examination of the biblical texts used to justify the Courtroom model, as attempted in the latter posts of this series.
The examination of Henderson’s biblical interpretation has reinforced serious doubts. Operating in the Courts of Heaven is a work that provides a good example of proof-texting, taking verses out of context, and reading into them meaning the original authors did not intend. Being a work for popular audiences, rigorous argumentation for this novel approach to prayer was not expected. One does minimally expect however that the scriptural references provided justify the claims made of them. The vast majority did not. One also expects to see more details provided on Jesus’s teaching on prayer, of which there was none.
We would do well to await further clarification of the model before believing it. And when given such clarification, think of it as a non-biblical model of prayer.
In “The Courtroom on Trial?” series of posts, some theological problems with the Courtroom model of intercessory prayer are discussed. These include;
- Is the nature of the Courts of Heaven obscured by the limitations of human language?
- Does the courtroom model suggest God is not the ultimate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest either God is not all-knowing or heaven is imperfect?
- Does the courtroom model suggest Christ’s atoning death on the cross was inadequate?
- Does the courtroom model suggest a theology of works?
- Does Operating in the Courts of Heaven imply a theological method that prioritises personal experiences over biblical revelation?
Following these the exegetical problems are discussed. These include;
- The persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8)
- The heavenly books
- Heaven’s council
- The five stage process (Romans 8:29-30)
- Simon Peter’s courtroom trial (Luke 22:31-32)
Finally, I provide my own conclusion and recommendations.