Why Do Some Reject the Miracles of the Bible?
Miracles are one of the main features of the Bible. Although there were periods of Biblical history where miraculous events were more common, the Bible without miracles is just another man-made book. Why do some reject the miracles of the Bible? Their motives and reasoning vary from person to person.
Some reject the occurrences of miracles in the Bible because of their belief in naturalism. Naturalists believe that everything that happens or has happened can be explained through the laws of nature or has a scientific explanation. Therefore, supernatural events are excluded from their view of reality. They believe that the more mankind advances in their knowledge of nature or the laws of science, the more they are able to explain assumed supernatural phenomena. Those who think the events are miraculous are just ignorant.
■ Ignorance of the Supernatural
The naturalist addresses every miracle with a skeptic mind-set. They are ignorant of God and His power.
This has resulted in faulty definitions of a miracle. Schleiermacher defined a miracle as the “religious name for any event…a miracle was simply the natural seen through consecrated eyes” (Carnell, The Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, p. 18). In our everyday conversations, the term “miracle” is often used for unexpected or unexplainable events. We often hear people say such things as: “It’s a miracle anyone survived the accident” or “his recovery from cancer is nothing short of a miracle.” Even a series of coincidences are viewed as a miracle.
Perhaps a good working definition of a miracle is in order. In his book The Faith of a Modern Christian James Orr, “any deviation from or transcendence of the order of nature, due to the interposition of a supernatural cause …The miracle is not a greater manifestation of God’s power than those ordinary and ever-repeated processes; but it is a different manifestation” (Orr 65,10).
Science deals only with the nature. Therefore, science is not able to explain the supernatural. A natural explanation of a miracle is therefore impossible. God created nature and all the laws of true science. God is not governed by these laws; He is sovereign over all His creation. God has the right to supersede the laws of nature and perform by His power a supernatural act – miracle.
There are many claims today of people witnessing miracles or finding extra-biblical proof of such occurrences in modern times. For example:
“Estill Springs, Tn. – Hundreds of people have been gathering outside Arlene Gardner’s trailer of later to see a ‘miracle’ – a bearded image some believe to be the face of Jesus on a major appliance. Since last week alone, Gardner says, 2,000 people have parked their cars along the narrow country road here and crowded on the gravel driveway to gaze upon the upright General Electric freezer on her front deck. The image emerges just after dark when a neighbor’s bright porch light casts a mixture of light and shadows on the smooth side of the white, 5-foot-tall freezer.” (The Tennessean [29 May 1987], p. 1-A).
Others have reported seeing the face of Jesus on a tortilla and claiming such to be a miracle. However, no one really knows what Jesus looked like. Once a member of the congregation where I preach had me look at the door to the communion prep room. Jokingly he said the wood grain outlined the image of Jesus and Mary. After I looked at it, my observation was that it was Charles Manson holding the head of a snowman.
When Peter and John ran to the tomb of Jesus on the Sunday morning of the resurrection, John arrived first and “stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself” (John 20:5-7).
Some have claimed that the Shroud of Turin has the negative image of the crucified Christ. However, the spike marks are shown in the palms of the hands. The Romans knew that a nail placed here would not support the weight of the one crucified or last the duration of a crucifixion. The spikes were placed in the wrists, so the executed could not pull free. This is a telling mistake of a fraudulent piece of evidence.
The claims of the miraculous listed above have resulted in many dismissing all miraculous events, even those of the Bible, to be frauds.
■ The Need to Explain the Unexplainable
As mentioned above, supernatural events like a miracle cannot be explained by way of natural laws. Yet some people demand to know how a miracle was done before they are willing to accept it. God does not explain how He performs miracles. All our limited finite minds can grasp is “with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). If God thought it was our business to know or we needed to know the spiritual mechanics of miracles, He would have revealed it. Remember, “the secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Dt. 29:29). Let’s face it, no one needs to know how their electricity is produced in order to pay their bill. One does not need to know the exact way a medicine cures their illness in order to get better.
■ The Need to Personally Experience a Miracle
Once an atheist argued that he could not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, because he himself had never witnessed a resurrection. No one living today has experienced a miracle such as those recorded in the pages of the Bible. Having never personally witnessed an event does not keep us from believing in all the events of history. I have never been to Sodom and Gomorrah as they were destroyed with fire and brimstone from God or witnessed the gassing of Jews during the holocaust or met the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Yet I believe in all of these historical places, peoples and events.
Many miracles of Jesus and God are recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Luke explains in the beginning that he labored diligently to give a first-rate historical count from many witnesses. “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:1-4).
■ Their Concept of God is Too Small
MacCartney wrote in Christian Faith and the Spirit of the Age, “when you face this question of miracles, it all depends upon what kind of a God you believe in, and whether or not you spell his name with a Capital G” (70-71). If God can create the universe and all the laws of nature, surely He is able to perform a little miracle such as is found in the Bible. If He created all the fruit trees, He can turn water into grape juice. If He can separate the dry land from the waters, He can part the Red Sea so the Israelites can cross on dry ground. If He can say “let there be light” and the light came, He can bring light to the eyes of the blind.
The skeptic’s problem is not with believing in the miracles of the Bible, but a failure to believe in the God of the Bible. Jesus answered the Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection, saying “you are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Mt. 22:29).
– Daniel R. Vess