Tag Archives: Miracles

Did First Century Christians Believe in Miracles Because They Were Pre-Scientific?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I just finished reading a wonderful book by New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg, called The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.  In his chapter where he discusses the miracles recorded in the Gospels, he had this to say about the scientific objection to miracles.

In short, the scientific objection to the credibility of miracles is that the discovery of the natural, physical laws by which the universe operates has proved them impossible.  Those who hold this view sometimes go on to explain that people used to believe in miracles because they had only a primitive scientific understanding.  The Christian doctrines of the virgin birth and resurrection, for example, could spring from just such a pre-scientific milieu.  Only a moment’s thought is required, however, to realize that people of every age have known that two human parents are needed for conception and that death is irreversible! (emphasis mine)

Well put, Dr. Blomberg.  Well put.

Is Historical Evidence Convincing to Skeptics of Christianity?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Only if the skeptic is open to the existence of a God who can intervene in the affairs of the world.

I have discussed the historical reliability of the New Testament with many skeptics over the years.  The skeptics I typically speak to inevitably dismiss or downplay much of the historical evidence that I present.  They argue that ancient writers didn’t understand the difference between history and myth, that mythical stories of gods were rampant in the ancient world, that ancients were credulous and unsophisticated, and so on.

As soon as I respond to one of these arguments, they have another one along the same line.  It turns out, however, that the reason most of them don’t believe the Bible is historically reliable is because they don’t believe the miracles included in the Bible could possibly have occurred.  They don’t believe the miracles could have occurred because they don’t believe a God exists who can perform miracles.

Obviously, if no God exists who can perform miracles, then miracles cannot occur!

On the contrary, those who are open to the God of Christianity existing often find the historical evidence to be quite impressive.  Why?  Because they believe that a God who can perform miracles might exist.  They may not be totally convinced, but they don’t dismiss it out of hand.

My advice to any Christian who is discussing the historical reliability of the Bible with a skeptic is to pause and ask the skeptic if they believe in the real possibility of a God who can intervene miraculously in the world.  If they don’t, you need to drop back and discuss that issue first.  Otherwise, you may very well be wasting your time.

How Would You Respond to a Miracle?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

I just finished a detailed study of the seven miraculous signs Jesus performed in the Gospel of John.  If you don’t recall, they are:

  1. The Miracle of Turning Water Into Wine
  2. The Miracle of Healing the Nobleman’s Son
  3. The Miracle of Healing the Man at the Pool of Bethesda
  4. The Miracle of Feeding Five Thousand
  5. The Miracle of Walking on Water
  6. The Miracle of Healing the Blind Man
  7. The Miracle of Raising Lazarus from the Dead

The fascinating thing about these miracle accounts is how people reacted to them.  There is a wide cross-section of responses.  The way I would summarize the responses is in the following way:

  1. Some people responded by believing in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, and dedicating their lives to him, which is exactly the purpose John gives for writing his Gospel (see John 20:30-31).
  2. Some people responded by believing in Jesus, but only in a shallow way.  These people would have eternal life, but their growth as followers of Jesus was static and stunted.  They did not move beyond their initial belief.
  3. Some people responded by believing in Jesus as a political figure who could solve their earthly problems for them.  They did not believe in him as the Messiah and Son of God.
  4. Some people responded in disbelief and outright hatred and rejection.  These people felt threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity and his rejection of their traditions.  Ultimately,  some of these people had Jesus executed.

It is my contention that these miracles act like a mirror for each person that saw them.  The miracles, for those who loved God and were willing, confirmed their hope for a true Messiah.

For those who wanted a political savior, Jesus’ miracles confirmed their hope in him as a “political Messiah.”

For those who wanted to retain their own autonomy and power, Jesus’ miracles did nothing but agitate them.  There was no miracle he could perform that would convince them.

Where the heart is willing,  evidence, such as miracles, can be quite convincing.  Where the heart is not willing, no amount of evidence will do.

As an apologist, this frustrates me to no end.  I have spent years amassing evidence for Christianity, which I think is thoroughly convincing, but many times I present that evidence to people who are completely unwilling to listen.  I’ve just learned to roll with it, though, because I also present evidence to people who are willing to listen, and that always makes my day!

Which kind of person are you?  Which group would you fall in?  If you are someone who no amount of evidence can convince, then why is that?

Just some food for thought.

If Only I Could See a Miracle, I Would Believe

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

If you are a person who says this about Christianity, excuse me for being skeptical.

God performed miracles through Moses, and yet Pharaoh did not believe.

God performed miracles through Elijah, and yet Jezebel did not believe.

Jesus performed numerous miracles that confirmed his power over sickness, weather, and even death.  Ultimately he rose from the dead.  Yet still some who saw these miracles did not believe.

God has provided plenty of evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and rose from the dead.  If you are a person who has heard the gospel message and understood it, but you continue to demand more evidence in the form of miracles, ask yourself if there isn’t another problem.

Is it possible that you just don’t want to believe?  Is it possible that no matter how much evidence you are shown, that no matter how many times God reveals himself to you, that you just will not believe?

If that is the case, search your own heart and figure out why you don’t want to believe.  Where is this barrier of belief coming from?  We can answer your questions about Christianity, but until you deal with your will, our answers will remain unpersuasive.