Category: Miracles

Why do we see so few miracles today?

Miracles: the Bible seems full of them, and yet we see so few today.  How do we account for this?

That question was recently put to John Piper, and here’s the substance of his reply.

1. There were fewer miracles in the Bible than we probably think

See Psalm 77:11 ‘I will remember the works of the Lord. Yes, I will remember the amazing things you did long ago!’

Even in OT times God’s people saw miracles as predominating in days past – especially the days of Moses and Elijah. …

The purpose of miracles

Why did Jesus perform miracles?  A number of reasons may be suggested:-

  1. To authenticate the message of the gospel. This was acknowledged by Nicodemus (Jn 3:2) and affirmed in Heb 2:4.  Miracles ‘give evidence that God is truly at work and so serve to advance the gospel’.  This was true not only in Jesus’ ministry, but also applied in the early church (Acts 8:6–8; 9:35, 42).
  2. To bear witness to the fact that God’s kingdom has come (Mt 10:7f; 12:28; Lk 4:18; 9:1f).

Miracle and metaphor

Marcus J. Borg describes himself as  ‘moderate to liberal’ scholar.  In setting out his ‘appreciative disagreement’ with Tom Wright (in response to the latter’s Jesus and the Victory of God), Borg homes in on the question of miracle.  He sees the Gospels as a combination of ‘history remembered’ and ‘history metaphorized’.  The first of these terms refers to those events that are recorded in the Gospels simply because they actually happened.  The second term refers to other things that are related in the Gospels.  …

“Abraham, kill your son”

The account (in Genesis 22) of how God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, is one of the most problematic in the whole of scripture.  It seems to teach that blind, irrational faith is a ‘good thing’, even the result is that you are willing to slaughter a member of your own family because you think that God has told you to do it.  Of, course, God prevented Abraham from killing Isaac in the end (Gen 22:12), but that does not seem to get us off the hook: we presume that Abraham would have gone through with the terrible deed if God had not intervened.…

Tom Wright doesn’t believe in miracles…

…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.  

Hume and the question of miracles

For many of today’s sceptics, David Hume clinched it: miracles don’t happen.  Miracles (if they occurred) would be violations of the laws of nature, and we know from experience that the laws of natures are not violated.

There are a number of problems with this argument, popular though it is.  For one thing, Hume was himself inconsistent regarding the ‘laws of nature’.  He argues elsewhere that even though we have observed the sun to rise every morning for thousands of years, we cannot infer that it will rise again tomorrow morning.…

Do the resurrection accounts add up?

The difficulties involved in reconciling the details of the resurrection narrative of the four Evangelists are well known.

According to N.T. Wright (Resurrection of the Son of God), ‘the surface inconsistencies between Mark 16:1-8 and its parallels, of which so much is made by those eager to see the accounts as careless fiction, is in fact a strong point in favour of their early character.  The later we imagine them being written up, let alone edited, the more likely it would be that inconsistencies would be ironed out.  …

One language, two religions

It was J. Gresham Machen, in Christianity and Liberalism, who commented that thorough-going theological liberalism is actually a different religion from orthodox Christianity.  It is, in fact, a different kind of religion.

This observation was borne out in a recent discussion on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? show between Ben Witherington III and Stephen Thornton.  Ben is an evangelical biblical scholar, Stephen a retired URC minister of liberal persuasion.

The topic under consideration was the narratives of Jesus’ birth as recorded in Matthew and Luke. …