THE DOCTRINE OF THE SPITTLE AND THE CLAY (Part 1 of 2) 

1.       Every Light is not the Sun 

Being an ‘eye witness’ is not always sufficient claim to truth, all the truth.  Doctrines made out of personal encounters, no matter how spectacular the encounter, do not always constitute universal truth.  A lamp to “my feet” is not the sun in the sky; the “light to MY path” is not the clock of the world (Psalm 119:105). 

There are lights, there are “great lights,” and there are “greater lights,” each to its own measure in its own sphere.  All light is light, but all lights are not equal in strength and scope.  Every light rules, but every light does not “rule” in every space.  True lights of God know their space and their schedules, their place and their times (Genesis 1:14-18; 1 Corinthians 15:40-41). 

2.       Practice or Principle? 

Once upon a time, Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida.  He started the healing process first by taking the man by the hand, leading him out of town, spitting on the blind eyes, putting His hands upon the man, and finally asking him if he could see anything (Mark 8:22-24).  An undiscerning bigot who had ‘personally witnessed’ that spectacular intervention of divine healing from no less a preacher than the very Son of God from Heaven, might have run off into Galilee to start a movement founded on the doctrine of the spittle; the doctrine of healing strictly by taking the sick person by the hand, leading them out of town (or at least out of congregational view), spitting on their sick spot, and proceeding to ask questions on the status of the healing from their lavish impartation of saliva – the Ministry of Holy Saliva.   

Would such a doctrine have been based on an authentic encounter?  Yes.  Would it have been applicable to every other sick person in every other place at every other time?  No.  Could it therefore become a valid universal doctrine or practice?  No.  To insist that the ‘spittle approach’ is the unquestionable ‘word of God’ that everyone must practise would be the start of a great error; it would be to miss the principle while insisting on the practice, which would be flesh without the spirit, which would be death (James 2:26).  Such a practice would be very religious but not spiritual.  With time, it would calcify into ‘the tradition of the elders,’ a stronger law to be obeyed than the Law of the Lord. 

Would such a doctrine be the “doctrines of devils,” according to 1 Timothy 4:1-3?  No.  It has not originated from devils (like some doctrines) but from ignorance, zealous ignorance.  When such sincere ignorance further becomes arrogant because of its spectacular and privileged Bethsaida origins, is unwilling to learn, and cannot sit down with ‘inferior revelations,’ it could become a hostile cult.   

Disable doctrines arise out of rare encounters because of disregard to principles in blind pursuit of practice, because of critical details missed in the excitement about encounters.  In the Bethsaida story, for example, the people who took the blind man to Jesus had specifically “besought him to touch him (Mark 8:22).  Besides the apparent need for a healing, they had particularly asked for a touch, to which Jesus kindly obliged when He took the blind man by the hand.  But that was not how He healed every sick person.

3.       Half-Way Disciples and the Doctrine of Siloam  

On another occasion, Jesus had healed another blind man by spitting on the ground, making a clay with the spittle and the earth, anointing the blind eyes with that compound of two elements, then asking him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7).  That is where there might have been a fight between Bethsaida Disciples and Siloam Believers as to the ‘correct’ doctrine on healing; the ‘right method’ for dealing with blind eyes ‘exactly as Jesus did’:  healing by spitting only, or healing by spittle plus earth, then washing in a pool, a specific pool? 

Each theological camp would have had the irrefutable ‘scripture’ of a unique ‘encounter with Jesus’ to quote as the authority for their position.  Each would have been right, but only partly so, having followed Jesus only in Bethsaida or Siloam, and only for that duration.  It is the danger of half-way disciples.  That is why, when the apostles were going to get a replacement for Judas Iscariot, they insisted that whoever would fill the spot had to be someone who had been a witness and a follower all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us” (Acts 1:21, NKJV), not someone who had joined midway, or joined at the climactic tail of the tale, even if so with fantastic narrations of how they had witnessed the earthquakes and thunders and eclipse at the Death and Resurrection.

Part truth told as if it were all the truth; part truth held with a fanaticism that brooks no other view, is often more dangerous than blatant lies.  Experience is sometimes no less critical than anointing, and experience is not cheap.  When Jesus would arrest the fish with His urgent money in its mouth, whom He sent with a fishing hook to the sea was Peter the fisherman, not Matthew the tax collector (Matthew 17:27).  Both were anointed though.

4.       Ephphatha Fanatics 

Aside from Bethsaida and Siloam fanatics of half revelations, we could also consider those I would call the Ephphatha Fanatics.  Jesus had healed a deaf and dumb man by touching the dumb tongue with His own spittle and saying the words “Ephphatha” (Mark 7:33-35) – apologies to WHO ‘sanitary’ officers and advocates of ‘social distancing.’  If that had been in some country today, they might have fried that unhygienic ‘Healer’ in their social media pans.

Ephphatha Fanatics who have witnessed only the healing of dumb and deaf cases might have insisted that Jesus NEVER opened blind eyes; that He was a ‘Specialist’ of dead and dumb cases only.  They would have had video proofs on their ‘how’ to open deaf ears – the ‘only’ way Jesus did it.   They wouldn’t have been lying, yet they wouldn’t have been entirely right.

‘How’ does Jesus heal the sick?  What is The right way to open blind eyes?  What is the ‘most powerful’ prayer method? What is The ‘scriptural’ process for raising the dead?  Who holds the ‘correct’ doctrine on Jesus: those who speak from Bethsaida, or those standing by the Pool of Siloam?  Who of them heard God well, or hears God better than the other?

    From The Preacher’s diary,
November 1, 2022. 

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