It was as a child that I became fascinated with magic. I remember being completely mesmerized by David Copperfield and his incredible ability at sleight of hand. Even as a child I knew I was being deceived but that was part of the fun. I wanted to be deceived. Trying to work out how he did his tricks was enjoyable.
As I have got older my love of magic has been paired by an outrage for those who use magic and mentalism to attempt to convince people they have special powers that they know fully well they do not have. There are a good many people out there claiming to be psychic or able to have supernatural knowledge about other people who are merely abusing techniques that are well known by professional magicians, can be performed much better by professional magicians, and which have a very natural explanation. This deception also extends into the Christian church without doubt.
One person I have long respected for exposing such practices is the British magician and mentalist Derren Brown. In recent years Brown has regularly exposed frauds due to his professional expertise, knowledge, and careful research. You could say he is Britain’s answer to James Randi. If there are Christian leaders caught using such techniques then it seems fair that they should be publicly challenged and that is the intention here. Terry Virgo is a well known Christian preacher and church planter in the charismatic tradition here in the UK. You can find out more about him here:
I am not claiming to know for certain, or to have proven beyond doubt, that Terry Virgo performed nothing more than a visual deception. I do, however, encourage you to carefully compare the two video clips below.
First I would like you to watch this clip from the Derren Brown’s expose called Miracles for Sale. This was a programme where Brown trains a non-religious person to become a fake Christian miracle healer using lots of showmanship. This particular clip is where Brown explains how to give the illusion that a leg has been lengthened.
Now I would like you to compare Brown’s tutorial with this clip of Terry Virgo supposedly healing a man’s leg by lengthening it. The clip of Virgo begins at 1:33 minutes in:
If you watch the second video back carefully and pick a mark on the carpet behind the man’s left shoe you can actually see that it is the left shoe that is being pushed back rather than the man’s right leg being lengthened (as Virgo is praying out loud for). This is why, if you stop the video at 2:26 you will see the man’s left foot is left in a ridiculous angle compared with his right. This angle is not at all odd if the heel has been pushed in. This would strongly suggest that we have an example of the shoe on the normal leg being pushed in rather than the short leg being lengthened. The evidence certainly suggests to me that this was not a miracle healing but a visual trick. This would also explain why the gentleman in question appeared to be unaware of the difference in length between his feet (which appears more than a little odd) and also his apathy at having been ‘healed.’ If you listen to their conversation we are being asked to believe that the man being healed was completely unaware of a one inch difference in the length of his legs! I find that hard to take seriously. When I was a child (thirty years ago) there was a boy in my class who had this problem and even then he wore a shoe with a thicker sole to solve the problem. Are we really to believe this poor chap has been wandering around with this problem in normal shoes his whole life?
If it can be demonstrated that this was not a sleight of hand magic trick then I will remove this post and I will write a retraction and a full apology. Until I see evidence to the contrary I am afraid the evidence suggests this is not a genuine healing. Worse than that it appears to be a deliberate and premeditated attempt to fool people into thinking a healing took place when that was not the case.
As the theologian Roger Olson has said:
“I never believed in “leg lengthening ministry.” Can God heal a short leg to make it normal? I don’t doubt it. Does he give that gift to certain healing evangelists? Are there thousands of people being healed in that manner in charismatic healing revivals? I don’t believe it. Never have.”