Miracles--Real or Contrived?
We used to wonder whether Jesus’ miracles could be myth. But as we studied the evidence and logic for the truth claims of Christianity, we became convinced that the miracles related in the Bible actually happened! Here are 10 reasons why:
1. Some people want to give naturalistic or scientific explanations for the miracles. But miracles, by definition, fall outside scientific explanations. Miracles are God’s intervention in nature. If God exists, miracles are possible—even probable. To say that miracles can’t exist is really atheism.
2. If God could create the universe out of nothing, His other miracles would be a piece of cake.
3. The factual nature of the miracle stories is evident from the text of Scripture. Some people think that perhaps, for example, the people Jesus healed were not really sick in the first place. But such explanations are not faithful to the text. There were witnesses to the healings—before and after. Or to say that Jesus’ turning water into wine can be explained by some sleight of hand is specious. There is nothing in the description of the miracle events that remotely suggests that we should look for naturalistic explanations for the miracles. They are presented in the text as truly supernatural.
4. The miracle stories are not embellished like mythology. They are straight-forward matter-of-fact historical narrative accounts. As C. S. Lewis, a professor of Medieval and Renaissance English, stated, “I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this [the biblical miracles].” (Quote from Lewis’ essay, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism.”)
5. There was not enough time after the events took place for myths to have crept into the accounts. As we discuss elsewhere on our site the New Testament was written entirely by eyewitnesses or interviewers of eyewitnesses (http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/questions-of-christians/how-do-you-know-that-the-bible-is-true and http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps). The miracle accounts are part of the text from the very beginning.
6. Not only did the writers of the Bible attest to Jesus’ miracles (John 2:11, etc.) but Jesus himself based his claim of divinity partly on his miracles (John 10:25, 38, John 14:11, John 15:24)! Was Jesus a fraud? We think not. It is clear from the biblical texts, that the writers of the New Testament considered the miracles genuine evidence for Christ's divinity. They considered them to be from God (John 3:2, John 20:30-31, Acts 2:22), “convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3, Hebrews 2:3-4) and not “cleverly devised myths” (2 Peter 1:16). If this evidence comes unglued, so does much of the story of who Jesus is! But it does not come unglued—it stands firm in light of examination (http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/questions-of-christians/how-can-you-say-that-jesus-is-god).
7. Jesus’ greatest miracle, the resurrection, has overwhelming evidence in its favor. We discuss this in an article “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ” (http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/contemporary-scholarship). Certainly, if the resurrection is a fact of history, Jesus’ other miracles are believable.
8. St. Paul flatly states (1 Corinthians 15:14) that if the resurrection is not a fact of history, our faith is in vain. Thus, he insists that to deny the resurrection is to deny the Christian faith. But Paul makes it a point to say that there were over 500 witnesses who actually saw Jesus after the resurrection, and that many were still alive at the time of his writing—so doubters could go check it out with the survivors (1 Corinthians 15:8). Note: Read all of the passage 1 Corinthians 15:1-8.
9. To deny the miracles leaves the Bible as a secular book, which gives one the option of ignoring it. If you start throwing out the miracles, you will likely begin picking and choosing among other things you like or don’t like in the Bible. Speaking now to those professing Christians who want to dismiss the miracle accounts, we believe you do so at the risk of making Christianity devoid of its power. Why not dismiss anything you don’t like or find difficult to believe or to do? What about Jesus’ other extraordinary teachings? If we don’t like to love our enemies, let’s just ignore that one! Or if we don’t believe in God’s wrath, let’s just toss that idea too. Or what about the afterlife—that one is difficult to swallow for some, so why not dismiss that idea as unscientific as well? It seems to us, that the Christian faith does not leave room for picking and choosing doctrines without emasculating the faith. Further, if God does not intervene in history, he does not intervene in your life either—and your prayers are empty petitions to a God who does not care or is impotent to act. And your hope of eternal life is not much more than a psychological crutch.
10. There is no compelling reason to doubt the Bible. The evidence supports the reliability of Scripture throughout (http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/questions-of-christians/how-do-you-know-that-the-bible-is-true and http://www.faithfacts.org/search-for-truth/maps). As put by scholar Norman Geisler in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, a “demythological approach to miracles and the New Testament documents in general is unjustified. First and foremost, it is contrary to the overwhelming evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament documents.” A high view of Scripture is demonstrably correct from the evidence. A high view of Scripture demands that the miracles happened. Again speaking especially to Christians who have a low view of Scripture, everything we know about Jesus comes from the Bible. So a low view of the Bible leaves one with no sound basis for believing anything even about Jesus.
In summary, there is no valid reason to doubt the miracle accounts, and many good reasons to believe that they actually happened—just as the Bible says.
This article is reprinted along with additional facts about the resurrection in our Q and A section under Jesus' Miracles.
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