Kathryn Kuhlman: Healer and New Age diva

science | Dec 12, 2007 | By Robert Duncan

Kathryn Kuhlman was a founding member of a New Age movement that synchronized Christianity and spiritualism together with pop psychology and a lavish serving of capitalism. Thanks to Kuhlman's pop status, websites now sell the claim of  being personally transformed and healed by practicing Christian yoga.
 
It is thanks to Kuhlman that the practise of being "slain in the spirit" is said to have been made more popular in evangelical circles, and where attendees of her crusades passed out on the floor, saying they had been touched by the Holy Spirit. Kuhlman could be an original mega-church pastor, from her 2,000-seat Denver Tabernacle, to her top billing at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. While Kuhlman received an Honorary Doctorate from Oral Roberts and being a Baptist, it was with the Pentacostal movement that she is often associated, despite her divorce and view on speaking in tongues - which she didn't normally allow at her services. 
 
Time Magazine once called her a "veritable one-woman Shrine of Lourdes," such was the fervor that Kathyrn Kuhlman (1907-1976) garnered. Wayne E. Warner, in his book "The Woman Behind The Miracles," goes so far to claim that Catholics would prefer to save money and attend a Kuhlman crusade than travel to a Marian shrine.
 
With the public came the television and fame - and money, including an investigation by the IRS. Kulman's biographer and friend Jamie Buckingham admitted that "she loved her expensive clothes, precious jewels, luxury hotels, and first class travel."
 
But it wasn't just the luxury that created a fog around Kuhlman. Some critics claimed Kuhlman's slaying was the work of unholy spirits. 
 
Despite being a Baptist preacher, many of Kuhlman's critics came from her own quarters. Among some of the harsher criticisms was the view that she was soft on Catholics.
 
In response to reports that she had a private audience October 11, 1972 with Pope Paul VI, some extreme Protestants still find their blood  boiling: "Katherine Kuhlman was a witch that was accepted by many. Do you suppose that the Pope blessed her for serving Jesus? Or could it be that an anti-christ was blessing one of his own servants."
 
Buckingham writes in her book "Daughter Of Destiny," that Kuhlman had "a special love for doctors, and wanted them either on the stage or on the front rows of the auditorium. The same was true of priests and nuns -  especially if they were ‘in uniform’. Nothing thrilled Kathryn more than to have thirty or forty Catholic clergymen, especially if they wore clerical collars or, better yet, cassocks, sitting behind her while she ministered. Somehow it seemed to lend authenticity to what she was doing — and helped create the proper climate of a trust and understanding which was so necessary for a miracle service."
 
Warner, in the aforementioned book "The Woman Behind The Miracles," also noted Kuhlman's attraction to Catholics.
 
"Kathryn had but one pass through Las Vegas, and she would deliver the gospel with power! Hundreds of people in Las Vegas as well as the faithful in Youngstown, Pittsburgh, and Franklin had agreed to pray that the Holy Spirit would stir the city. Not far away a Roman Catholic priest said a Mass for the meeting the day before," wrote Warner.
 
It's often reported that Kuhlman's first church was in Franklin, Pennsylvania - something that isn't entirely correct. More apt, perhaps would be to say that the Franklin church was where a re-born Kuhlman was launched.
 
Kohlman was born in Concordia, Missouri to German parents and said she was born-again at the age of 14 in her home town Methodist Church.
 
"It was the beginning of something that changed my whole life," said Kuhlman. "All that I knew was the glorious new birth experience, and (as a young girl) when I went to preach to those farmers in Idaho, I could tell them nothing more than what I had experienced: that Jesus would forgive their sins. So, I preached salvation all across Idaho to every farmer, to everyone who would listen; but gradually I began to realize there was someone besides the Father and the Son - there was this Third Person of the Trinity. I felt compelled to know more regarding Him and, as I began searching and studying God's Word, I could see that divine healing also was in the atonement."
 
Finishing the 10th grade, Kuhlman began to preach when she was just 16. "At about age 21 Kathryn set out on her own to preach the gospel. Kathryn’s first 'congregation' were the customers at a small, dirty pool hall in a run-down section of Boise, Idaho. Kathryn’s name became well-known as she preached in tents and barns in Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. In 1933 Miss Kuhlman’s traveling revivals settled in and she opened her own church in a Montgomery Ward’s Essortment website. In Denver that Kuhlman's ministry experienced an early setback.
 
According to Wikipedia, "In the mid-1930's, Kuhlman met evangelist Burroughs A. Waltrip, whom she invited to preach at the Denver Tabernacle where she was the founder and pastor. Waltrip left his wife and two sons to form a professional alliance with Kuhlman, and after his divorce was final, married her in October 1938. This resulted in the deterioration of Kuhlman's ministry in Denver and Waltrip's in Mason City, Iowa. They left Mason City and traveled throughout the country, always dogged by news about their past. Kuhlman finally left Waltrip in 1944, and in 1948 Waltrip divorced Kuhlman. Moving to Franklin, Pennsylvania, Kathryn put the marriage behind her and thereafter
presented herself as Miss Kuhlman."
 
It was there at the Franklin church in 1946 when it was claimed that a woman was healed of a tumor while attending one a Kuhlman service, and which in turn would become a key ingredient in her well-known "Miracle Services." According to Kuhlman, "It was in Franklin, Pennsylvania in the old Billy Sunday Tabernacle. I had gone to Franklin by faith (l946), not knowing what I would find there. It was in the third service, as I was preaching on the Holy Spirit, sharing with the people the little that I knew about that Third Person of the Trinity - a woman stood up and testified to her healing of a tumor. That was the first healing that took place in this ministry. It happened without the laying on of hands, without any special prayer; it just happened as a woman sat in the audience while I was preaching on the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Since that time, there have been thousands and thousands of healings. What is the secret? It is the Third Person of the Trinity - the Holy Spirit!" John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
 
 John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
 John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of
mine, and shall shew [it] unto you. The Holy Spirit's Chief Office
 
A Sermon(No. 2382)
Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, October 14th, 1894,
 
Delivered By C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, On Thursday Evening, July 26th, 1888.
 
"He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you"—John 16:14-15.
 
T IS the CHIEF office of the Holy Spirit to glorify Christ. He does many things, but this is what he aims at in all of them, to glorify Christ. Brethren, what the Holy Ghost does must be right for us to imitate: therefore, let us endeavour to glorify Christ. To what higher ends can we "devote ourselves, than to something to which God the Holy Ghost devotes himself? Be this, then, your emotional prayer, "Blessed Spirit, help me ever to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ!" 
 
From the Franklin church, Kuhlman soon moved to Pittsburg where by late 1946 she was holding on average 125 healing meetings per year. According to the Kuhlman website, "It was on July 4, 1948 that the first Kathryn Kuhlman "miracle service" was held at Carnegie Hall, North Side - the first of many such services to be held regularly over the years of her ministry in Pittsburgh." Those meetings followed a certain pattern, which even in later years was kept on television.
 
"After a fantastic organ prelude, Kathryn would appear on the stage dressed in a long blue or white robe,” according to the testimony on one website. "Everyone would stand up. She would say: 'How glad I am to have you all here. The Holy Spirit will perform a great work among you.' The atmosphere was heightened by an introductory hymn sung by thousands of expectant people. This was followed by prayer and a short sermon. Then Kathryn would suddenly announce, 'Up there in the second row of the balcony a man has just been healed of cancer. Please come down to the platform,' or 'a girl in the seventeenth row has just been healed of a lung disease.' It would continue in the same way for several hours. The people who had been healed came to the platform. Kathryn would hold her hands about six inches above the head of each and pray. They then would fall backwards to the floor. Two attendants would catch them as they fell, so they would not hurt themselves. The people who had been healed would lay for ten to thirty seconds unconscious on the floor. When they stood up, they would say that they had a wonderful feeling. While I was watching, I saw even ministers falling to the floor unconscious, one of them a Catholic priest.”
 
Such behaviour caused some to suspect that her power wasn't from the Holy Spirit, but rather Kuhlman was a spiritist.
 
In one fan's account, “In 1966 Frank my husband took me to a Kathryn Kuhlman Miracle Service in Pittsburgh Penn. We waited for hours on a cold spring morning in May. We watched thousands of sick people gather on the steps, the yard and the street of the 1st Presbyterian Church. We arrived there approximately 12:00 Midnight, not ever imagining the direction or adventures God would take us on.”
 
The account continues: “About 4:00 a.m. I saw two huge angels, or what I believed to be angels standing at each end of the street looking and watching over us. Their features were big and bold and strong, but also gentle like a mother hen over her chicks. I saw them standing there until we went into the building. I've never told anyone these things. They have always seemed so private to me. They were at least 25 feet tall and neither one of them spoke, but you could tell they knew what the other one knew. They just watched. Ambulances would pull up to the front of the church and the attendants  would unload their patients. Nurses all dressed in white would assist them as they lay lifeless on the stretchers and then suddenly the people would disappear. What I didn't know was there was a small door that opened on the street level with a make shill ramp going under the porch and steps of the  church into the basement. The stretchers and wheel chairs would enter there and sit in the downstairs of the church during the service. From time to time someone would run upstairs and testify' of their glorious healing that just occurred down there. There was so much going on the time slipped by and
you never got tired. People waiting out there all night were so sick, in the natural they could never have made it, but the Holy Spirit was there giving strength. When we saw how much the one next to us needed to be healed we forgot about ourselves. (Remember this. I believe it to be an important key.) Suddenly the great thick oak doors were pushed open and the crowd, hurried in to find a seat. It was the first time I had ever waited all night at a church, or seen people run to get onthe front row. I was in amazement and excited and thrilled and expectant and scared. I did not know what to expect. I had never seen anything in my life like this. JESUS WAS REALLY THERE, and the moment I sat down, I closed my eyes and started to cry. I FELT A LIGHT BEAM ON MY HEAD THAT FILLED MY ENTIRE BODY. I felt illuminated, I felt love and security and needed and grateful and special and unworthy and strong and weak and warm and wonderful, and like I never wanted to leave that place. I wanted time to stop so I never had to leave that moment. I knew God was changing my life and healing my body. I also knew inside my spirit I had a choice to receive what God was doing for me or to reject what he was doing for me. No one told me that;I JUST KNEW.”
 
With respect to the claims of Kuhlman's miracles, William Nolen M.D in his 1974 book "Healing: A Doctor in Search of a Miracle", noted, “Finally it was over. There were still long lines of people waiting to get onto the stage and claim their cures, but at five o'clock, with a hymn and final blessing, the show ended. Miss Kuhlman left the stage and the audience left the auditorium.”
 
Nolen continues: "Before going back to talk to Miss Kuhlman I spent a few minutes watching the wheelchair patients leave. All the desperately ill patients who had been in wheelchairs were still in wheelchairs. In fact, the man with the kidney cancer in his spine and hip, the man whom I had helped to the auditorium and who had his borrowed wheelchair brought to the stage and shown to the audience when he had claimed a cure, was now back in the wheelchair. His `cure,' even if only a hysterical one, had been extremely short-lived. "As I stood in the corridor watching the hopeless cases leave, seeing the tears of the parents as they pushed their crippled children to the elevators, I
wished Miss Kuhlman had been with me. She had complained a couple of times during the service of `the responsibility, the enormous responsibility,' and of how her `heart aches for those that weren't cured,' but I wondered how often she had really looked at them. I wondered whether she sincerely felt that the joy of those `cured' of bursitis and arthritis compensated for the anguish of those left with their withered legs, their imbecilic children, their cancers of the liver. "I wondered if she really knew what damage she was doing. I couldn't believe that she did.”
 
Doctor Nolan and others claim that after extensive research and follow-up checks, despite the widely reported claims there has not been one certified case of a miracle being attributed to Kuhlman. 
 
Enter Benny Hinn http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/hinn/ 
 
Perhaps it's not suprising that one of Kuhlman's leading apostles is none other than Benny Hinn, who claims that while attended one of Kuhlman's healing crusades in 1973 he experienced a life-changing moment. Hinn incidentally claims that besides being visited by Jesus, the Old Testament prophet Elijah and others, that Kuhlman has made her appearance several times and speaks to him from beyond the grave. http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/benny_hinn_and_necromancy.htm
 
Hinn's own miracle tours have since become legendary, with obvious similarities to Kuhlman's crusades. “Several months ago, Hinn brought his traveling “healing” road show to an Assembly of God “Signs and Wonders Conference” in Springfield, Mo. At the conclusion of the service, this writer, along with a colleague, waited at the church auditorium’s two exits, watching to see how many empty wheelchairs left the building.”
 
According to that article, “Although dozens of occupied wheelchairs made their way from the crusade, not a single empty one passed through either of the two exits. Not only is what the television audience sees edited, what the live audience sees is carefully staged. Those who are terribly deformed, children with Down’s syndrome, amputees and the like are kept from the stage and out of sight of TV cameras."
 
Continuing, the article notes that Carol McGraw, of the Orange County (California) Register, discovered this painful reality when she reported on Jordan Sheehan. Jordan, at the time of her report, was a 2-year-old who suffered severe brain damage as a result of a fire. He was in a coma for two months. He cannot swallow, talk or move. Jordan’s parents and grandparents thought that if they could get the child to Hinn’s healing crusade and have him prayed over, the miraculous would surely come upon the child. But, according to McGraw’s report, Jordan never experienced the miraculous touch from Hinn, and he and his family were cautiously kept from the stage. (See further, “Faith in His
Hands,” Orange County Register, Dec. 5, 1995, Accent, pp. 1,6.) 
 
What with this history it’s no surprise that Kuhlman is a New Age diva with an influence that continues to be felt long after her death in 1976 in Tulsa, Oklahoma following open-heart surgery.


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Robert Steven Duncan is a consultant and a widely published foreign correspondent who lives in Spain. Besides having articles appearing in WSJ, Barron's, Smart Money, Newsweek, the National Catholic Register and many other places, he has held various leadership posts in the communication sector. He publishes the "RSD Report" at http://www.robertstevenduncan.com

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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