we look at the specific points we have observed in the ‘Content' part
The age of miracles seems to have died out.
Because the author goes backwards and forwards in this subject, it
might be easier if we made some generalisations all together here
at the beginning of the chapter, that we might refer back to in subsequent
If we accept the
definition touched on later, that a miracle is a change in the natural
order, then I am utterly convinced that they do happen. Apart from
a variety of things I could cite in my own experience, if I thought
it of value, I have friends who have travelled abroad, friends who
I would in no way describe as gullible, who have witnessed first hand,
for days on end, particular healing ministries where the ‘impossible'
happened before heir eyes. I remember a young Christian on a trip
I was involved in, in the interior of Sarawak, who prayed for a blind
person and the blind person saw. Without going into the details that
I checked, I have no question of the reality of what happened.
You can't turn on miracles.
If, as Christians believe, miracles occur at the hand of God, then
you are talking about a person and not a machine or mechanism. Thus
the demand for miracles is a futile demand.
Miracles can be counterfeited. As
much as I believe in the power of God, I must believe in occult powers,
especially in the light of limited demonic experience in this country,
and wider occult experiences abroad. Thus I have no problem with accepting
that Pharaoh's magicians could counterfeit or copy the early miracles
performed by Moses. It is interesting to note that after a while he
was moving in a realm beyond them.
Miracles are virtually impossible to believe in unless you've been
I accept that it is almost impossible to believe in the impossible
unless you see it with your own eyes. By definition, a miracle goes
against what is naturally possible. My friends, who I referred to
above, said that their biggest difficulties for the first three days
was in getting their minds to catch up with what their eyes were seeing.
It is almost impossible to ‘prove' that something was a miracle, unless
you have just witnessed it, and even then, sometimes, it is difficult
to know if it was a specific act of God, or whether it was the way
God had designed the body to act.
Healing ‘miracles' can happen naturally.
I fully accept that sometimes
the human body seems to completely reverse the natural downward trend
in an illness, apparently without cause. However, it is a wrong assumption
to say that therefore all such ‘miracles' are just the way the body
works. When a cancer has been completely eradicated, when ulcers are
completely removed, or when a cripple is made completely well, all
immediately in answer to brief prayer, I'm not sure the point of debating
know of all of these experiences and many more. When there is total
transformation, a total reversal of the natural, then it is only the
stubborn anti-God brigade that wants to debate the issue. To this
list I would also add the matter of raising the dead. The sceptic
says, “Well of course they weren't dead,” but when a doctor certifies
that pulse and heart beat have stopped and have stopped for over an
hour, and someone comes and commands life in the name of Jesus and
the person immediately gets up, you've really got to have a degree
in scepticism to reject the evidence. As I have commented about prayer
before, I agree with a friend who used to say, “Well, all I know is
that when I stop praying the coincidences stop happening.”
Present day miracles aren't needed for Christian faith. As
much as I am convinced that God does intervene in His world when He
deems it right, neither I nor any person in my church ‘need' miracles
today to believe. Our faith is built on the historical evidence of
the Bible and specifically of Jesus Christ.
Superstitious ‘faith' looks for miracles. Around
the world there are indeed some weird and wonderful things that go
on. I don't pretend to understand them all by any means. I,
and most Christians that I know personally, do not go looking for
miracles. I am sure there are counterfeits (see above) and I am sure
there a natural explanations and I am equally sure there are miracles.
Where ‘faith' is weak, and in certain parts of the world where, I
believe, Christian faith appears as a form of religion without the
reality of it, it can often be akin to superstition, and superstitious
people look for ‘good miracles' to bolster their weak and often fearful
beliefs. That has nothing to do with genuine faith.
Human beings look for meaning in natural disasters.
Although this may not fit exactly in the definition of a miracle,
I believe there is a natural tendency to look to put blame for a natural
disaster. Does God bring natural disasters? Yes, I'm convinced that
sometimes He does. I feel more comfortable with the thought that He
does in that He has designed this world to work in certain ways and
that does include the existence or reality of spiritual powers (which
I think the occult around the world reveals). Where sin is especially
prevalent that, I suspect, opens up the way for ‘natural upheavals'
to occur, but I still also believe that sometimes He specifically
brings such things, to bring a people to its senses (which such events
manage to do like few other things.) As for blaming God for such things
because of specific sins, such as the downward moral spiral witnessed
by specific practices that run contrary to God's design laws in the
Bible, the bigger issue is why isn't the church being a voice that
spoke long ago and stopped this downward spiral. Judgement is something
every human being has to face on death. The Christian faith is all
about how that judgement need not be feared. Jesus himself was loath
to attribute disasters as a form of blame. See Luke 13:1-5. The call
is for all to repent, not just those of some of the more obvious and
The tawdriness of so many weird and wonderful ‘miracles' .
A general chunter here about myths of history. Odd use of the word
‘levitation' which has a completely different meaning to the usual
word ‘resurrection' which applies more in the Bible.
The odds for miracles. Rather
an inappropriate use of the word ‘likelihood' in a section that speaks
about the odds of a ‘miracle' being supernatural or of being a delusion.
See my note above about the impossibility of believing.
Miracles and Magic .
An explanation (at least I think it is) of some ‘blood-on-hands' type
miracles as clever magic. He might be right, but it might also be
occult counterfeit stuff.
Resurrection and the New Testament. Here
he goes back to this strange reference to the professor who came to
see that not all the Bible should be there – or at least that is how
the author tries to spin it. The same comment applies to the very
end of Mark's Gospel as applies to that covered at the end of two
chapters ago with the woman caught in adultery. The fact that there
are such notes in the Bible adds to the integrity of the rest. Observe
the emotively demeaning words that this author uses when referring
to the raising of Lazarus: “Jesus managed it twice…” This
makes it sound like a big effort, which for God it is not! The comments
about Lazarus and Jairus seem rather silly: “nobody seems to have
thought it worthwhile to interview either survivor.”
daughter & Lazarus :
In the case of Jairus's daughter she had been a little girl at the
time and her father would have naturally protected him from prying
minds. Lazarus could have become a sightseeing feature if the whole
upheaval involving Jesus' death hadn't have happened within weeks
of his being raised from the dead. It is likely that he died some
time in the next forty years because each of the Synoptic Gospels
grant him ongoing anonymity and it is only John, who writes much later,
who mentions him, because now probably he was dead. There are plenty
of people today who have near death experiences, but mostly anything
they say about the experience is soon forgotten. There is really little
to say about it.
As to the reference to the resurrected bodies at the moment of Jesus'
death, Matthew 27:52,53 reads, “ The
tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were
raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection
they went into the holy city and appeared to many people .”
Now if that seems weird to you, it is maybe that it does because you
don't believe Jesus is who he said he was, God's unique Son, God in
the flesh. What is strange about Matthew's account is that no explanation
is given, which actually adds to the authenticity of it. If Matthew
was making up a myth he would have explained why such a thing happened,
but he doesn't. It is only when we see this in the light of subsequent
teaching, that we see this incredible event (see above about difficulty
in believing miracles) revealing the incredible effect of Jesus' death
teaching said that when Jesus died on the Cross he took all our sins
so that whoever would come to God through him would receive eternal
life and so, after physical death, would be raised up in heaven with
a new body (as the author later comments upon). Yes, this account
is narrated in the same matter of fact way as the earthquake and no
great deal is made of it. It just happened. Which is why no further
comment is made, and the reality is probably that these resurrected
bodies were then taken by God afterwards back to heaven.
The apostle Paul taught, “ So will
it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is
perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it
is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body .”
(1 Cor 15:42 -44).
Some very unclear writing follows, but it is clear that the author
has never really thought through the resurrection accounts. A number
of years ago, a solicitor by the name of Frank Morrison set out to
debunk the resurrection story, but the more he did so, the more he
realised that it was a true account. He thus wrote Who Moved the
Stone , which has probably been one of the most thorough and
comprehensive books on the subject. If you would like to read an extract
of this book in note layout, then please CLICK
Dubious press reporting and UFOs. The
author moves on to denounce his own profession of journalism for distorting
reports in the press. On the few occasions I have been in a position
to check press accounts with what I knew happened, I would have to
agree with him. He uses this to lead us into ponderings about UFOs
for which I have no comment as they seem to have little relevance
to the subject of God.
Sainthood, Mother Teresa, the Catholic Church and Malcolm Muggeridge
. Very soon he moves
on to a lengthy section about sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
Honesty compels me to say I don't understand the Catholic Church's
idea of creating special people, unless it is simply to honour them
for their great lives. It does seem, however, that it must be an attempt
at bringing glory to God through the miracles he worked in certain
people's lives, a somewhat questionable idea because glory is never
given in Scripture to men or women, only to God, and it does seem
that ‘saints' do get a lot of unwarranted homage! The tricky bit is
that ALL Christians in the New Testament are called ‘saints' meaning
simply a holy person, which is what all Christians are, a matter of
status, not quality, please note.
Mother Teresa was an amazingly good woman I have no doubt. Did she
shine with holy light or was it Kodak paper. Nobody knows, to quote
the author from earlier on. It could have been either. It's a silly
thing to argue about. As the author could have suggested, that one
illustration was not what made her special. If anything it demeans
Natural Disasters & human desires for answers. For
this part see my comment (h) above.
The author's experience of Marxism; a passing fad. The
chapter closes with the author recounting his own past beliefs about
Marxism and some quotes from Trotsky to show his foresight. I think
in some strange way the author tries to link his abandoning Marxism
for reality as a plea to believers to abandon their beliefs, not realising
that they Christian faith actually has the best description of the
plight of humanity that is found anywhere – and the answer to that
plight. Fleeing from that as the author does, is fleeing from reality.