Posts tagged ‘miracles’
So this Sunday we had a guest priest do a sermon. [For those who don’t know, I go to church because my family believes, and because there are good people there whom I count my friends.] The priest rambles a little, then gets to what he really wants to tell us about. Two “miracles” that he has seen in the last few months.
“Miracle” 1: A ten-year-old girl had a stroke and was comatose. The priest went to see her in the hospital a day or two after the stroke. While he was praying, he gets to a point in the prayer where any Orthodox knows to cross oneself. The little girl, though still comatose, crosses herself. At the end of the prayer she does so again. (This is labeled “a miracle”.) Over the next days and weeks the “miracle” continues as she wakes up, sits up, and begins to regain control of her body.
“Miracle” 2: The priest is at a shopping center and is in his car. He puts the car in gear and pulls out of his parking spot to go across the lot to pick up his son, who he believes is playing in the snow at the far end of the lot. The priest feels his front and back wheels bump over something and jumps out to see what it is. Unbeknownst to him, the boy was right next to the car and was knocked down and run over by the wheels (at <5 MPH obviously). The priest panics and yanks the boy off the ground into a big hug and cries out. The boy gives a gasp and opens his eyes; he is apparently unharmed. They go to the hospital and doctors confirm that the boy has suffered to harm.
Now I’ve had emergency medical training and have been a biomed researcher for years. So out of curiosity, do those of you without benefit of such background see some problems with labeling these two events as “miracles”?…
This story is heartbreaking. When Danny and Danielle learned that the baby Danielle was carrying had hydrocephalus, Danny was livid at Danielle’s god. Understandably so. Doctors told the couple that the baby would either be stillborn or would only live for a short time.
Enter the Christians. A compassionate pastor and a group of friendly church people befriended the couple. Church members raised money to help pay mounting medical bills. The pastor and the church members kept in touch with Danny and Danielle throughout the pregnancy. Eventually, Bobbi was born alive; she lived for 18 months. And, in that time, Danny became a born-again Christian.
I’ve got four things to say about this story. First, I commend the Christians for behaving according to their creed. Their religion commands them to love others and they did so. They gave both practical and spiritual support to people who were in great need emotionally and financially. Good for them.
Second, I can’t imagine the hell that Danny and Danielle endured and I understand how the support of a loving community made the difference between surviving their ordeal and sinking into despondency. When Danny and Danielle were in need, a nice group of people helped them and loved them. I also understand that even just a few short months of life with their child was better than never having that relationship at all. And, I understand the attraction that a group of kind people and their faith had for a couple searching for answers to some of life’s most profound and painful questions.
Third, I’m not at all impressed with the god of this story. He didn’t perform any miracles. Doctors predicted either a stillbirth or a short life. The baby lived, as predicted, a short life. Poor Danny asked for a miracle and this was what he got…
I wrote this just about a year ago when I was trying to explain my doubts and thoughts on another site. Some responses to the recent “slain the spirit” post brought it back to mind.
There are certain responses that I get to my rather simple idea that a God who wants people to believe in Him and worship Him, ought to give us clear proof of His existence. By clear proof, I mean things like supernatural events, visitations, visions, revelations, and so on. And of course, I also mean that they need to be things that we can be sure are real and not just illusions, delusions, wishful thinking, or what have you.
The two main types of responses that keep coming up are what I’m calling the “normal miracles” and the “you just won’t buy it” responses.
The first goes something like, “Just look around. There are miracles you’re missing every day.” This will usually be followed by examples of what they mean by miracles, which tend to include sunsets, babies being borne, life, stars, breathing, and so on. I call this the “normal miracles response”. This response is easy to dispense with so I’m dispensing with it first.
The problem with the “normal miracles response” is that the person giving it ignores what I’m talking about and ignores the accepted definition of “miracle”…
Earlier this week on The Today Show, Robert Robertson, a pilot who survived a plane crash by landing his plane a few feet away from I-95 in Florida said he was no longer an agnostic. His survival was truly a miracle since his plane literally disintegrated around him and he was left sitting in his seat dazed but ok.
In cases like this, it’s easy to conclude “divine intervention.”
Psalms 91 is a beautiful Psalm talking about the God’s protection for those who “dwell in the secret place of the Most High.”
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you…
Norway is a constitutional monarchy without separation of Church and State. The constitution declares the “Evangelical-Lutheran religion” to be the State’s religion, and also requires the king to hold to and protect this religion. You can imagine, then, that when Princess Märtha Louise (who, had not law at the time of her birth favored males, would have been heir to the throne) decides to start up an independent school which will educate its students in such New Age concepts as healing, reading and contact with angels, by media dubbed “the angel school”, there’s gonna be some public discussion. When this occurs during summer—when there’s simply less news for the media to write about—it’s caused massive media coverage.
Reactions are varied, of course: a televangelist condemned her as being a demon from Hell; a range of people condemned her as a fraud and for immorally profitting from people’s spiritual needs (some of them hypocritically looking the other way when they, as employees of the State Church, do the same); a lot of people demanded that she withdraw her membership in Den Norske Kirke, the State Church; the Princess herself thinks that, had she lived some hundred years past, she would’ve been burned as a witch; and a lot of people, including Crown Princess Mette-Marit, spoke out in her defence.
As an atheist, this fight between religions is both amusing and depressing. In my eyes, Christianity and New Age-style healing, miracles, contact with angels and the like are all contestants on the same, irrational game field…
A poster on XnForums who goes by the handle of Jimmy Page, gave us this list of “heroes of faith” from Christianity’s Charismatic/Pentecostal/Word of Faith camp. This is not an exhaustive list and I can think of many “heroes” who should be added to this list.
David Hogan–”Faith Healer” who became popular during the Pensacola Revival at Brownsville, Assemblies of God, who claimed to have resurrected some 200 stiffs, who claims to have a vehicle that was/is able to drive under water (by the power of the Holy Spirit, of course), and a host of other claims too numerous to list here.
Kim Clement–The rockin’ rappin prophet who has made so many false predictions that it beggars my ability to list them. A favorite of TBN’s Jan Crouch, this South African-born “prophet” has been making bad predictions for years and, to no one’s surprise who knows the charismatic world, has not been called to answer for them…