In recent years, some churches have alligned themselves with something known as ‘Over-Realized Eschatology.’ The Longmont Pastor website describes it like this:…
A belief that the future hope of Christianity is already here…(and that because) Jesus has come and the Kingdom has come…there should no longer be evil in the world, everyone should be healed of sickness, there should be no poverty or suffering, and everything should be the way that God designed it to be (because) if you believe well enough, or have enough faith, you will experience it.’
Okay, that’s pretty straight forward and you may already have come across this type of thinking in things like ‘prosperity gospel’ where christians believe they have the right to ‘name and claim’ anything in their prayer requests to God. The aim of this short series is to consider the rational plausibility of miracles occuring in the 21st Century because just as a belief in God requires an act of faith, so too does believing in miracles, even for those who may have experienced them at first hand.
In the Gospel of Matthew (Ch 3 v13-17), when John baptises Jesus in the River Jordon we are informed that as ‘Jesus (came) up out of the water… heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. A voice came from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Fast forward a few years and John the Baptist is now in prison awaiting execution. Perplexed, he sends his disciples to ask Jesus: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” (Matt 11v3) which suggests John had his doubts even though he was a witness to the event himself. Why? Because the miracle was insufficient in and of itself to garner belief.
Likewise, in the Gospel of John (12 v28-30) we are told God speaks from heaven reassuring Jesus that “I have glorified My name, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that is present hear it, (but some) think it thundered (while) others said an angel had spoken to him.
So there we have our starting point: by granting each of us freewill, God has given us the ability to believe and/or disbelieve in equal measure. Whatever truth we do or do not witness is affected by human fraility, pride, confusion, fear, doubt etc.. So with this in mind let us consider in the next few posts the problematic issues connected with evidence for miracles and whether these are still relevant in the 21st Century?