…and I (sort of) agree with him!
In the course of a wide-ranging interview with Justin Brierley on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable show, Tom Wright explained why he’s uncomfortable with the word ‘miracle’, as popularly understood. ‘Let’s give up the word “miracle”,’ he said,
The word comes from an Epicurean or deistic worldview which envisages a God who is outside the process and occasionally reaches in, does something funny, and then pushes off again. That’s not what the New Testament is talking about. When people say, “Can we believe in miracles”, I say, “No, because the word “miracle” gives us this sense of a normally absent God sometimes reaching in.
That’s not the God of the Bible. What we have is the launching of space, time and matter in a new mode. It’s not discontinuous with our present space, time and matter, but this is God’s new creation.
The thing about what we call the “miracles” is not that these are radical abnormalities within the old world, but rather that they the things which are starting to be normal in the new world, which we see close and up personal with Jesus, and then which, through the ministry of the gospel thereafter, start to happen in different ways in the wider world. It’s about the launching of the new creation, not about an invasion into the old creation.
(That’s pretty close to a word-for-word quotation).
Well, I’m not quite ready to give up the word ‘miracle’ myself. After all, there do seem to be miracles that do not seem to fit neatly into this ‘launching of the new creation’ scenario (those of the Old Testament, for example). Still, I do think that Wright offers an important corrective to those who think of miracles as divine ‘hit-and-run’ actions. It is, after all, part of the genius of the Old Testament itself to insist that God is Lord of everything, and not just a largely absentee landlord who favours us with an occasional visit.