Let’s think about how we believe. No, not “what we believe” or “why we believe it.” How we believe is what I want to discuss with you.

Craig Keener visited the Credo House last week. On Friday, he gave a presentation on miracles to a packed house. It was based on his excellent work, titled Miracles. During this presentation, Keener shared the fruit of his research; among other things, he has catalogued what he believes to be legitimate attestable miracles from God that have occurred around the world. In the book and presentation he gave examples and demonstrated how these miracles can and should be believed due to the testimonies and evidence he gathered for each. And the evidence, for many of them, was very compelling . . . or at least it should have been.

I have trouble believing things. So when Keener was sharing his stories, even though I am the one who brought him in to give this presentation, I found them all hard to believe. Why? I don’t know. I am skeptical. I don’t normally believe people, when they tell me this or that about how God intervened in a supernatural way. In the back of my mind, I am patting them on the head saying, “I am glad you believe this and I am not going to do anything to take away from your belief, but I don’t.” Maybe “don’t” is not the best word. It is more that I reserve my right to suspend judgment on this “miracle.”

But in truth, I need to believe more of these miracle stories. There are so many for which I don’t have any other legitimate explanation. For example (and this was not part of Keener’s presentation), J. P. Moreland once told me, when I asked him why God does not heal amputees, a story that is continually in my mind when these kind of things are on the table. He said he once witnessed a guy who was missing an ear (there was just skin where the ear should be) and saw it grow back as people (including Moreland) prayed for him. He said they watched as there was a break in his skin, blood came out, and a slight “ear” formed. What is interesting about this story is that the ear did not grow completely back. When the miracle was over, he just had a hole there, a bit of an ear, and could hear out of it.

This is one story I think I believe. Or, at least, I believe it somewhat.

I suspend belief on “miracle” stories for many reasons. One is that most of the stories I hear are not falsifiable. In other words, they can’t be proven wrong. I think this is convenient for fabrications and misunderstandings. After all, back pain, hurt knees, and short legs are very hard to verify. I am not saying healings do not happen. Perhaps many of these are true and I am missing some information that might give some more substance to my faith. But, seeing as how most of the stories are not falsifiable, I wonder why God would perform so many unsubstantiated (from a verification standpoint) miracles and be so absent (relatively speaking) from miracles that would leave everyone speechless. You know, I am referring to miracles such as raising the dead, healing the blind, and making a paralytic walk. Those are the things we see in the New Testament and, more importantly for me, these are the ones that are hard to deny.

The second reason I suspend belief is because I don’t, in most cases, trust the person telling the story. I don’t know his or her character.  I don’t know if they have integrity in this area (not that I am claiming much), I don’t know whether they are critical enough to share these claims. Maybe they just want it to be true so they pass it on (albeit in a more objective sense). It takes awhile for me to trust people, especially when it comes to this stuff. Claims of God’s intervention are too important for me to “just believe.” For me, it is dishonoring to God for me to believe something just because I want it to be true, or because it fits into a worldview I desire to be true. Therefore, I suspend belief because, at least in my mind, I am honoring God. For me to really trust someone takes time. It takes an experience of a person’s honest character, willing to wrestle with weaknesses, able to admit shortcomings. and not believing things just because they fit into a desired framework that makes him feel better.

J. P. Moreland, however, told a story that has all the makings for my belief. Therefore, I think I believe it. The story was certainly not something that was obscure like back pain. As I mentioned earlier, he related how he watched an ear grow back (at least in part). Moreland is no lightweight uncritical scholar. Over the years he has gained my trust, both through personal interaction with him and via his scholarly writings. He has also had the courage to change his theological position on some things that would otherwise be hard to change. Furthermore, the story itself contains an element of embarrassment in that the ear only grew back partially!

So, I think to myself: He is either lying, misunderstood what he saw, or it happened. Assuming I understood the story he told (and I sometimes doubt that), these are the only three conceivable alternatives. The first two are very hard to believe. Therefore, I think I believe the third.

This is the way it is with so many of the stories in Keener’s book. They seem so legit. I think I believe them. I want to believe them.

Then why is my belief so tentative in things like this? If it stands up to scrutiny (which I think it does), why not really believe it? The answer, I believe, comes down to an understanding of how I believe. The what and why are in place. They are defined and strong. But the how is getting in the way of my full commitment here.

Experiences such as these are not and will never be the foundation of my faith (at least I hope). Neither should they be the foundation of yours. However, they do turn a two-dimensional faith into a three-dimensional one. I do want to believe them (at least the ones that legitimately reveal God’s presence in the world). And you should, too. After all, if God is working in miraculous ways in the world today (and I believe he is), we need to be able to rejoice about such actions, even if we never experience them firsthand.

In the next blog post I am going to try to do what I originally intended here and explain more about how we believe.

I suppose, for now, a good question would be this: do you believe the Moreland story? Why or why not?

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C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    130 replies to "J. P. Moreland’s Story About God Healing an Amputee"

    • Indeed a “negative” for me on the Moreland Stories, and not just because I tend to cessation as to outright or “biblical” miracles today, but more because of my Biblical epistemology. Surely God DOES do miracles, but more in the spiritual and salvific realm; the greatest miracle is the Grace and Salvation of God, ‘In Christ’!

    • Daniel

      Yes, I tend to believe his story. Why? I believe God exists, that he wants to heal, that he hears prayer, and that he sometimes does heal. I also agree that a critical scholar with a reputation to uphold is less likely to communicate something that he thinks will make him sound bizarre and insane unless it were true. And yes, while it’s possible, a story of a partial ear is less likely to be fabricated.

      I’m not gonna lie, though. A half-grown back ear is weird. It raises questions – Why didn’t God go all the way? Was there not enough faith present? Was God trying to communicate something by that in particular? Maybe something about spiritual “hearing” as he did in Mark 8:23 regarding spiritual sight (I believe)?

      • Shannon

        Hey, it worked, didn’t it? That’s the primary function of the ear, so it’s a good bet he’s happy with it. So long as he doesn’t wear glasses.

    • Michael T.

      I think this could, in the context of the whole cessationism vs. charismaticism debate, raise an interesting question as to place of experience in our theology. Generally most Evangelical theologians would put experience as the lowest influence. Often I’ve been told it is something that we should not let influence our theology and in fact have argued this myself in a number of contexts. On the other hand if I literally and personally watched a persons ear grow back, or limb, or something drastic like that I can’t deny that it would have a pretty drastic effect on how I thought about the issue. The question then becomes where to draw the line….

    • Nelson Banuchi

      Michael asked the question, “[D]o you believe the Moreland story? Why or why not?”

      I would answer wth another, “Why not believe it?” Why even refuse to believe it? If God is a good, all-power, a God to wom we seng “does wonders”, what legitimate reason is there not to believe it?

      Because God doesn’t do miracles anymore? What? Has God lost his power? Does God change? If God is the “same yesterday, today, and forever, as we assert, why can’t he do the miracles he did in the OT, the NT, and do it now?

      Because “the greatest miracle is the Grace and Salvation of God, ‘In Christ’!” does that mean God can’t, suspends, or refuses to do the “lesser” miracles in answer to faith?

      Jesus didn’t perform miracles to primarily or only prove he was God, but simply because he is love; that was his prime and sole motivation. Loves is his prime and sole motivation today…to deliver, heal, save…

    • Missy M

      Every Biblical account of healing is whole. No healing event in Scripture ended with an incomplete healing of the ailment. The man’s ear is not healed.

      To accept incomplete healing of an illness as miraculous is to misunderstand both the purpose of healings as authentication of the message and authority/divinity of source, never mind what a divine healing miracle is.

      This appears to be a poor substitute and someone having believed to see something which was a parlor trick or saw something but misinterpreted it.

      But you make a very bad investigator of truth. You should be pursuing this matter with an aggressive series of questions and independent accounts of other witnesses just to start with. None of which you presented as part of the presentation and your reception of it.

      And if you cannot do this, just as a start, and until you do, appealing to how it just seems plausible because your source is reliable and it just seems the math is there without further investigation leaves you as credible as The Globe. You want, it seems, so bad to believe something is true instead if that which simply is true no matter what it is.

    • Brian

      First off, thanks for writing this Michael. I am totally with you on your thinking.

      Second, I can neither believe or dis-believe Moreland as the story is second hand. I did not see the mans ear prior to the alleged miracle. Therefore I can not make the determination.

      I can tell you that I have come out of the “prophetic” vein of the charismatic group. And what you say here, “For me it is dishonoring to God for me to believe something just because I want it to be true or because it fits into a worldview I desire to be true.” I can not tell you the degree to which that is rampant in Charismaticism.

      But does that negate the alleged miracles? No. But if the bible is our source for these things there are two aspects to consider.

      1) The miracles of Jesus were verified by his proponents and detractors. They were indisputable.

      2) There are those who are not of the household of God who can do “miracles.” (I suppose someone could say this passively concedes God does miracles too.) But I believe there are supernatural events that can take place in the last days that will lead believers away from God.

      Which is something I think about. It seems like there is this issue of whether someone believes or not and the role the miraculous plays into that. Like do miracles help people believe in God differently or will it only cement what they already believe (if you disbelieve you would discount the miracle).

    • Jay Saldana

      This is always an interesting topic becasue it is filled with TV images, and folklore tales and out right fabrications from those who mean well but are doing the Evil Ones work.
      First off, let me say, I believe the correct translation for the words we translate as Faith is “belief as a verb.” Belief acted on is faith. Faith, then, is not a object but an action.
      A miracle is a suspension of the natural order. The natural order or way General Revelation is set up to express itself as we understand it. Some tricky words there. Nature (General Revelation) has an order or process. But we add the mystery addendum of “how we understand it”. Medicine and Science complicate our understanding by implying that my understanding as a doctor may be different than your understanding as an Indigenous person of the Borneo jungle. So to keep true to the working definitions, in one event, I may have a miracle and you may not. The critical factor is belief in the suspension of the natural order.
      The Roman Church spends much time and treasure investigating these type of events and seldom agrees they occur as a true suspension of the natural order beyond any doubt or point of view. About 1 in a 1000 according to my research. Yet they do so affirm.
      So what are we left with then? We are left with the natural revelation that God called “Good” and the process it represents. We are left with the statement of God’s inspired word that they do happen and more importantly that God does do them at His will for His own purposes. We are left, that for whatever reason, those who believe that God has ceased to express Himself miraculously some 1500 years ago and those who say His power is expressed on going. We are left with an uneasy war between what we do for ourselves out of our own power (natural order) and what we believe God does for us (Holy Spirit).
      (End Part one)

      Jay Saldana

    • Michael T.

      @Nelson

      I am not CMP. Completely different Michael

    • Jay Saldana

      Part Two:

      The solution is divided into two contrasting categories, as I see it, (1) those that seek empirical proof (put my fingers into His wounds) (2) Those that believe becasue of a personal experience of whatever kind with the power of God and a sense of His on going participation.

      [Some who seek to belong to this second category would seek to define it to special acts but I see them as part of the first group not the second.] This group merely accepts God without reservations. (This can make for a dangerous belief system bordering on the superstitious but that is another conversation.)
      So then in my argument for the miraculous it comes down to what we are willing to accept. Did not Jesus say in His home town that what He could do was limited by the belief of the observers who came to see Him just before he healed the paralytic let down from the ceiling.
      So then I would ask you, “Will you be the learned visiting with the Lord or will you be a paralytic let down from the ceiling acting on your belief?”
      The choice is clearly ours. There is no error on the other side simply a smaller meal with no desert.

      Have a God filled Day,
      Your brother,
      Jay Saldana

    • Caleb G.

      I must say that I am rather skeptical of such stories. Not because I don’t want them to be true. I wish they were because it seems this would provide irrefutable evidence of God working in the world. But there are lots of eyewitness reports of strange and mysterious phenomena around the world, that I don’t know I should believe it.
      I am wondering what to think about similar reports of healing through Marian apparitions, such as at Lourdes or Medjugorje. Some of these healings have been verified by doctors as having no possible medical explanations. If those reports are true, then my theology needs serious modification. If those healings, in spite of being studied and subjected to more analysis than perhaps any mysterious/paranormal activity, are not from God, then how would these reports of healing stand up to scrutiny? I ask this as one really desiring to know, not as one trying score points in some online battle of wits.

      • Shannon

        When Jesus healed someone, he usually told them to keep it a secret. Just saying.

    • bethyada

      Assuming you are not making this up just to test our credibility, then I have no problem believing Moreland’s story, nor the partial healing. I have heard similar stories about partial healing at least twice before. Both in books. One was partial because they did not follow through on praying further once God started to work (John White about another) and one was a reminder by God, though the limb was now functional (Gulshan Esther about herself).

      Of the questions has God healed this person and why does God not heal more people the second seems more difficult to me

    • Scott

      Michael T (comment #3) –

      I think we do a disservice to our faith if we say that it is to be completely & solely grounded “in Scripture”. Please do know that I think Scripture is of primary importance. But I’ve come to realize that something like the Wesleyan quadrilateral provides a more holistic approach to how we come to know the revelation of God: Scripture, tradition, experience & reason.

      In the end, whether we like it or not, experience is a part of our coming to know God in Christ. It doesn’t mean it takes primary place. But it is real. I know for myself that I did not come to know & believe in Jesus Christ because of some objective apologetic presentation proving something from Scripture. I heard a man’s storied account of how he came to Christ (his family Iranian refugees to the States) and it drew me to Christ. Of course, I subsequently have studied Scripture and theology with great interest. But that came after the “experience” of meeting Christ. I suppose it’s similar to coming to love and know my wife was to be my wife. Of course I have many “proofs” of her love for me. But it isn’t some fully objective engagement. And there are times that “doubt” comes in, i.e., when we have a great argument, when we see our failure, when we struggle with our parenting, etc, you ask questions. But I’m still convinced of the life-long love relationship we are in. It is true.

      Of course, not every illustration is perfect. But I think we get the point.

      I think the church in the west has been deceived to think we can fully come to know the truth of God in some post-Enlightenment, modernist way. We apply the scientific method to our journey of faith in Christ, when it is always going to be hard to apply such a method to a faith journey. It doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable pointers. But this is a journey of faith.

    • Scott

      Missy M –

      You said: Every Biblical account of healing is whole. No healing event in Scripture ended with an incomplete healing of the ailment. The man’s ear is not healed.

      Actually, we do find in Mark 8:22-26 in which a person wasn’t healed fully on the first “attempt” – and this by Jesus. So I won’t be surprised if he is healed more “fully” at a later time.

      Not to mention that you have instances when people weren’t healed – i.e., the great thorn in Paul’s flesh, whatever it might have been.

      To not be healed is to not be “wholly” healed.

      Or what of prophecy that is to be from the Spirit of God himself, yet we are told it is only “partial,” as in seeing in a mirror dimly. Sometimes, in a fallen world, we don’t see the full restoration & revelation of God.

      Now, I’m not saying this has to be THE final answer. But such a straightforward proclamation that you’ve given fails on many accounts, especially noting that we are not God and don’t always know what is going on in the larger and fuller picture, or in the future.

      Blessings

    • a.

      “do you believe the Moreland story?
      After all, if God is working in miraculous ways in the world today”

      agreeing, first, with Fr. Robert: the Lord is raising from the dead every day;our God is in the heavens doing whatever He pleases-the perfect Father giving only what is good, supplying the exact need. Some need to see His sovereignty/some His supremacy (a Beth Moore statement recalled often); He is still speaking about the kingdom of God and curing those who have need of healing. Eph 2:4-6; Ps 115:3 ; Matt 7:11; Phil 4:19; Luke 9:11

      re: believing the story, thinking the best way to honor another is to believe them (unless it contradicted the Lord’s word)

    • Missy M

      Scott

      And you imagined I had not considered this in my claim? But hey, what is bait other than to capture its object. I am glad you seized the cheese.

      As a charismatic I expect nothing more than you eisegetical narrative that somehow Jesus failed to fully heal. First, you miss the obvious and second you miss its theology.

      You imagine Jesus either impotent or the man as having some causality. The text provides neither suggestion. What we do have however, is understand the nature and purpose of healing, to reveal the person of Christ.

      The text presents Jesus communicating through his healing, hence in this case that Christ is more than what many may see. How do we know this. By what follows.

      Immediately after this Jesus then questions his disciples, “who do people say I am” with the answer coming, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And then our Lord asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” and Peter answers “You are the Christ.”

      Christ did not partially heal anyone, he healed him wholly but used the process to communicate something about himself.

      This is both the context and message of the healing which continues to be harmonious and consistent with the understanding that these miracles were not an end in themselves but the divine authority of the person and in this case, even greater, the divine person.

      As for your appeal to Paul, that is a complete fail. Paul prayed for a removal of a thorn in the flesh. He does not use the word heal, no one tried to heal him, thus argue, at best, from silence but worse by changing Paul’s own words of asking that the thorn in the flesh which was a messenger to harass him which he prayed for God that it leave him to a prayer of healing and a failed attempt. But even from silence, not precise on what the thorn was, no one tried to heal Paul and Paul did not pray to be healed. There was no partial or failed healing.

    • a.

      forgive me above, I believe I misstated the first part ‘Some need to see His sufficiency’

      …although in everything His sovereignty

    • “Missy M” seems to have gotten the issue best here! 🙂

      And Scott your confusing biblical epistemology (how we understand and believe… and here the Word and Revelation of God is always central and “centre”), and the “ordo” of salvation, indeed “Regeneration” simply must precede any true Christian experience!

      On the fly here.. this A.M. (time change)! 😉

    • T

      Good post, Michael. I look forward to the next post. Yes, our personal experience matters, and for some more than others. Thomas said he wouldn’t believe the reports of his closest companions until he personally stuck his hands in the risen Christ’s wounds. Others didn’t need this. So be it. Our “how’s” may differ. The quadrilateral is a good way to discuss these things. Experience is a factor for us all, which is fine if we keep putting scripture in the chief place.

    • Mike O

      Was it a miracle? If he didn’t have an ear, and now he does, and it happened while people were praying for him (and not in surgery), then it was a miracle.

      I think the best approach is the one taken by the blind man healed in John chapter 9.

      24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

      Was it a miracle? I don’t know. All I know is he didn’t have an ear, and now he does (assuming the the sources can be trusted).

      I said all of that to say this – I’m not in the business of trying to wrap my theology around real life. If it happened, it was a miracle regardless of how I put the theological pieces together. If it didn’t, then it wasn’t.

    • Mike O

      Short answer – I do believe miracles happen today, but there are more gullible people than there are miracles. So that confuses the matter 🙂

    • Djony

      I followed the Keener’s presentation last week through livestream and I really enjoyed the session. It’s a blessing that God is using Keener and more people to talk about Miracles especially related to the Christianity faith. I’m coming from Eastern hemisphere with the Eastern culture and in Asia, miracles are already part of our life in many forms. I think the background from Asia is more from Pantheistic while in the West is more Rationalistic. We don’t even know David Hume at all. In Asia Miracles blend together with Mysticism and even most Christian with wrong worldview can’t discern it well. Charismatic denomination is everywhere and “healing” is already as a brand. My past church even witnessed people raised from the dead, etc. All of this is done for the good and bad reasons.

      The only problem I think is not about eye witness. Miracle can be seen as an experience and philosophically is very subjective. Skeptics will not so much bother with the eyewitness but on the bias, presupposition and the subjective of the person of the eyewitness, and that is beyond the science and philosophy. So I hope, there will more discussion on how to challenge the subjectivity of it.

    • Scott

      Missy –

      Thank you for your kind & gracious response. I do admit that I’m not always certain in a comment box what people have considered & have not. But I appreciate the interaction. I would encourage us to engage in a way that is Christlike. Eisegesis could well be all that I’m doing here, with you fully engaging in exegesis. But let’s have some constructive engagement here, rather than a bit of “name-calling”.

      I never said Jesus failed to fully heal, nor that he is impotent. I do certainly believe the man was healed, as the text goes on to state. But, considering who Jesus is, it is interesting there was even some kind of “delay,” albeit not very long. Notice the text says that Jesus performed the action again. There were 2 instances. I’m not even setting this out as THE example. I simply point out some kind of delay here, even with Christ. It’s possible this can happen as well for us fallen & finite people who long to see God’s power at work in our lives in all its various manners, but who don’t see it come about all the time.

      I think we will also do a disservice to somehow split the miraculous healing of God into 2 categories: a) by prayer and b) by proclamation. What is prayer? What is proclamation? Both are (or should be) involved in calling on & speaking the word of God. To split apart what we find in Acts and what we find in, say, James 5, I believe, is to bring a dichotomy God does not consider. So, Paul, the great apostle did not see relief from this thorn. Trophimus was left sick (2 Tim 4:20). Etc.

      Again, prophecy comes partially, our teaching of Scripture comes as partial in comparison with the knowledge of God, etc. So, at times, miraculous healing might not come in full (at least not yet). It’s like a doctor providing medical care – At times, one ailment might be dealt with, but another cannot/is not. And I think doctors are also a gift of God. God works in all things. But we live in a fallen world where we do not always…

    • Humananimal

      In reply to OP question, NO I do not believe the Moreland story. My litmus test: could I tell it to my unbeliever friend or colleague tomorrow, and defend it saying “I know it is true”? Of course not, what difference does it make if the witness is a PhD or a shepherd, contemporary or ancient? I would never say I have faith in Dr Moreland in the same way I can easily defend my lack of 100% eyewitness type certainty of the divinity of Jesus, and that he has saved me. So, no, I do not believe that story.

      Does that mean I say that story is a lie? Nope. I remain agnostic, and it does not bother me a bit. Not knowing in this case is fine, so would criticism towards my stance. Label, Christian punk rocker available?

      Very interesting question though, like the topic and thoughts on it!

      Everlasting peace folks.

    • Missy M

      Scott

      Save the unchristian finger wag for someone else, posturing always indicates you are about to delivery empty rhetoric.

      As to the text, there was a delay but the context shows us what our Lord was communicating, the argument you clearly ignore and cannot rebut but instead pretend the context of our Lord cannot be understood, again, just as pointed to by the conversation with the disciples and this event fresh in their minds and instead you suddenly dump the context and opt for a claim that this is intended to be presented as a template for healing.

      Second, your prayer/ proclamation dichotomy is a non sequitur in and of itself. But to Paul, no matter how many times you invoke his thorn you don’t know what it was with certainty and with certainty he did not ask for or pray to be healed and Trophimus left sick isjust that, someone not healed, partially or whole.

      Finally, your injection of matters of prophecy onto this context are both irrelevant and foreign to any orthodox hermeneutic. It is just a made-up rationalism which assumes you get to carry the alleged arguments of a different issue and context into another.

      To me you have a paper pope called charismatism to which your allegiance forces your inadequate, rationalistic, and unorthodox arguments.

    • Mike O

      Wow, Missy. What’s with all the belittling and name-calling? Do you even realize everything you said in your first paragraph to Scott, you did in the remaining paragraphs?? Talk about “finger wag.” I think Jesus’ speck/beam analogy applies here.

      You’re just being flat-out mean.

    • Missy M

      I called no one a name. You are bearing false witness. Now deal with the issue of the discussion.

    • I kind of agree with “Missy” here, we are talking about a subject that demands theological study and historical inquiry. And in such surely polemics & argumentation are fair play! Btw, our friend Scott believes in the office and gift of Apostles for today. This is not exactly mainstream Christianity!

    • Cory

      It is easy for me to want to view everything in the academic sense. In an academic sense it is difficult for me to believe nearly anything based on the witness of another, especially when there is so many passionate people that I respect involved in the opposite perspectives (cessationism/continuationism).

      What if the immediate reason that God heals or performs miracles is to display his grace and love toward people by giving them something good (Matt 7:11, 1 Cor 12:4-7). I think that it is beneficial to consider why miracles or healings even happen. What if the main reason for miracles is not to validate a message or for God to display himself to the world as real, but to display His love toward the recipients and witnesses (there are numerous overlaps and reasons).

      J.P. Moreland and the other witnesses believed that it was a miracle; the person healed either knows that there was a miracle or not, and whether it happened or not is completely independent of whether I believe it or not. So instead of going to extremes in my response to the testimony of this miracle by either:
      1. Denying that it happened all together
      or
      2. Basing my hope on this testimony

      I will simply rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15) and praise God for this testimony.

      As for the sarcastic and snarky comments… pathetic.

    • MWorrell

      Apart from contradicting his own character (telling a lie, etc.), I believe God can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants. The Bible is prescriptive for us, but it is not descriptive of the totality of God. In fact, the Bible plainly tells us that we are not provided with all of the information as it relates to God, only what is sufficient to know and obey Him. Any attempt to restrict God’s prerogatives by appealing to a systematic theology is misguided, IMHO.

    • Scott

      Missy –

      Thank you again for your kind & gentle response. I enjoy healthy theological engagement.

      Going back to your comment #15, you provided nothing that tells us why there was a delay. Yes, I agree with the statement that the words & acts of Jesus are to show he is God’s Messiah. And Mark 8:22-26 was a kind of enacted parable to teach the “half-blind” disciples. But, in the midst of the Gospel teaching of who Jesus is, the delay is still present. So delays can and have happened. And don’t forget Naaman who was asked by Elisha to wash 7 times (1 Kgs 5) – why the delay, in that he wasn’t healed on the first wash?

      The comment about Paul’s thorn actually is pertinent to the discussion – that we should not divide God’s works into a prayer category and a proclamation category. All instances come from our good God responding to people. Not to mention that 2 Cor 12:8 states: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.” What is prayer? It comes in all forms. So speaking aloud, bowing down with eyes closed, prayer silently or pleading – they all fall within the realm of prayer communication with God. We don’t know which one Paul took up, but whatever he did, he prayed/called out unto the Lord.

      And the point of noting the non-healings is that this is the reality of living in a fallen world – we don’t always see the fruit of the final restored heaven and earth. We get tastes, but not always – even for Paul, not just us. This is why prophecy also related, since Paul himself told us that even the revelation we do receive from the Lord is partial (1 Cor 13:9-10). In the end, all healings are partial in this age because we all end up dying – like Lazarus, Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20), etc.

      If we know him in part, if we prophesy in part, if we are at times not healed, if we at times don’t see prayers answered, if we don’t grasp the almighty One in full, I think it does follow that we can consider that a healing might…

    • Scott

      Robert –

      But belief in apostles today is not anti-orthodox nor heresy, since I don’t believe this means we are to add to Scripture or that God continues to give redemptive revelation. Scripture is closed as a canon (measuring stick) and God’s redemptive revelation is finalized in Jesus Christ. However, God does speak/reveal non-redemptively (since there were plenty of prophecies we read of para-Scripture, alongside Scripture, that were not recorded in Scripture – like those given to Timothy).

      So this is very orthodox in regards to both God’s redemptive revelation closed in Christ and the canon of Scripture being our primary source of God’s revelation.

      In the end, we need to ask what an apostle is? I think, though we argue against Rome in many ways, we create our own popes within evangelicalism.

    • Missy M

      Scott

      You still don’t get it. The context of the event explains the delay. You are welcome to try and repeat the context but you would have to be Jesus and use this to communicate to your disciples in the miracle, your divine authority and person. You don’t get to remove it out of the context unless it is prescribing this, it us not.

      As to the washing in 1 Kings, again it has its own context and because you cannot or will not determine what it is, it does not permit you to depart the text with an assumption this is prescriptive simply by asking, “what about this…” and assuming by asking this you get to simply then think that is a sufficient treatment and may now be taken out of context to agree with your thoughts.

    • Then indeed you don’t really believe fully in NT Apostles still today! Paul could claim the gift of prophecy, and the understanding of all mysteries (in the sense of revelation), and all knowledge (again in revelation), (1 Cor. 13: 2). But Christian Love, that must proceed all, as he reveals most fully in the whole chapter of 1 Cor. 13!

      And btw, we Protestant Evangelical’s.. have known in the past at least, that the Roman Papacy is quite beyond the revelation of Holy Scripture! As are our new-age “emergents” in much of todays so-called Evangelicals! But indeed its back to the most Holy Scripture…Ad Fontes! The Revelational position of the “Ecclesia semper reformada” – always reforming by Spirit & Truth remains!

    • Scott

      Missy –

      There is a fuller context to always be considered. I noted that with Jesus in Mark 8. I’m not removing it – I really am acknowledging what you have said. And I agree. I like Craig Keener’s comment about this being something to teach the “half-blind” disciples. However, the detail is still in the account. You still have to look at that detail within the great context. Why is their a delay? So even if the delay is there to teach a point – it’s still there and we need to note it happened and, thus, it can happen.

      This is important for hermeneutics and exegesis.

      Just like when I engage Genesis 1. I look at the big picture of what ancient near eastern Hebrews are communicating. I ask questions in relation to their day and culture, the greater point of the Pentateuch, the greater point of Genesis as a whole, the greater point of Genesis pre-Abraham (chs.1-11), the greater point of the Hexaemeron (chs.1-3), etc. But I can also ask what about a particular phrase or verse.

      That’s what I’m pointing out in Mark 8:24. I note that context preceding where Jesus asks: Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see? (8:17-18). And I note the question about who Jesus is.

      But I still look at the detail of an actual and real delay set forth by the inspired writer Mark in 8:24.

      I think this a worthy task to consider.

    • Scott

      Robert –

      Paul never claimed to understand all mysteries. It’s a hyperbolic statement not expected. That’s why he said we know in part and prophesy in part. To claim to be able to actually understand all mysteries would be to claim divinity, which would be unorthodox.

    • Brian

      I want to make a comment about the previous discussion on experience. Doesn’t that argument cut both ways? I mean, if we can say experiencing something is a real method of discovering truth, then NOT experiencing would also stand to be a real method of truth. So I think when it comes to the miraculous more people have NOT experienced it, than those that have. I would go so far as to say that the successful experience rate is really very very low. Which is to say that those who have sought out the miraculous for some reason – money, health, etc – have NOT experienced it. At least not in the dramatic fashion claimed to be normative by charismatics.

    • Scott

      Brian –

      I think you bring up a very important and valid point. I would say cessationists, however much they do, will also focus on the experience aspect. For many, they have not experienced and don’t know anyone who has (though, I’ve oddly come across people who claim to be cessationists but have seen healings!?).

      Now, I don’t want to create a 2-tier group like some of my charismatic brothers and sisters have. Some identify this as the “haves” and “have nots”. I think that terribly unhelpful.

      But there are a host of factors of why we don’t see a healing: we live in a fallen world still awaiting the final consummation of God’s rule on earth as in heaven, lack of faith (this is Scriptural, but we need pastoral wisdom), we don’t know why and we trust God’s sovereignty, etc.

      However, if you have experienced it – personally or seen it happen – it’s very, very, very hard to cast it aside. You can. Nine of the 10 lepers didn’t return to Christ. That’s disturbing. But I know what I’ve seen and experienced and nothing could deter me from believing that God still acts today in miraculous ways, he still speaks today, etc. So I think we keep pursuing him with those who also desire to pursue him and we’ll trust his good work. As one pastor friend of mine said: “All I know is that we are called to pray for the sick. We aren’t promised they will always be healed. But we are to simply call on healing from the Lord and entrust him to know what he’s doing.”

      I find strength in that.

      Blessings

    • Brian

      I am at a bit of a loss to the point of the academic debate going on here. We are talking about something that does or does not happen in real life right now.

      For those that claim the miraculous happens today would surely be able to provide their own proof (not second hand) of supernatural healing? Should they not be able to demonstrate their reasoning in their theological position? I mean, isn’t that the point of the theological position? If we really want to be cynical about this than both Moses and Jesus proved it to their detractors. So its biblical!

      In the end, who cares? If God doesn’t do the miraculous today than most of Christianity and the world would not be affected. The miraculous does not seem to be the means by which people get saved (bit of snark there). It does not seem to be the means by which people grow in Christ. It seems that for most believers who are in need of something major, God handles them just fine without the miraculous as it is claimed. The question I have for those that believe in continuationism is this. What if you are wrong. What of God did stop. How does that affect what you believe about God? Does it rob you of hope?

      If God DOES do the miraculous than great. I shall ask God for those things to happen for me as I have need and want. But in the mean time I will continue to get by doing what I have been doing. I will do so because if experience and history do teach us, than the lesson is the miraculous is not normative.

    • Brian

      Something I am also confused about is the logic for categorizing the supernatural.

      We put raising someone from the dead over here in this column. We put healing and miracles over here in this column, then we put prophecy, dreams and visions over here in this column.

      The cessationist says none of this happens. It all stopped. is that right? Well, what about answered prayer? What box does that go in? Did that stop too? What about coincidence after coincidence happening for a believer? I’ve had clients come to me and keeping me financially afloat for years after my layoff. It has always seemed like God to me. Isn’t that supernatural?

      I mean, don’t all those categories qualify as God altering physical reality by his supernatural divine means? Or does the cessationist say that reality is no longer altered in any way by the divine power of God? Which just seems crazy, cause don’t we believe God upholds all the universe by his power? He didn’t stop that did he?

      It seems to me that the “miraculous” categories seem to have a point about them that served the mission of Jesus. If there was a logic to columnizing the miraculous this would be mine.

      It seems to me that raising the dead had about a point about Christ being Life and master over death. He defeated it. A very important about his divinity and messianic call.

      It seems to me that giving sight to the blind was very important metaphor about Christ being the Light and overcoming darkness.

      It seems to me that restoring limbs was about restoring us completely – physically and spiritually.

      If God wants to make a point he can when he wants to. But it is his point to make and not one we should expect happens normatively. Is this cessationist or continuationist?

      Do those things differing from the revelatory gifts? Perhaps they do. I believe God hears me when I pray and often answers those prayers. How much harder is it to think God would put something on someone’s heart to tell or share with…

    • Note Scott, I prefaced Paul’s “gifts” here by his written Revelation! Don’t PUT other words into my mouth please! 😉

    • And I quite agree with “Missy”, Scott, you just don’t get it, but then you don’t really want to, for then.. there goes your ballgame! 😉

    • Scott

      Brian –

      I would say that miraculous happenings can be the means by which someone comes into Christ. I think we see this in Scripture. I also believe these things can help us grow in our faith. That’s where I think many cessationists miss the fuller biblical picture of miraculous works. Yes, they did work as attesting signs to the gospel message. And I still believe they do such. But they also function in an edifying sense – building up people. That’s Paul’s thrust in 1 Cor 12.

      If God did stop doing these, then I suppose myself & many are misinterpreting what we’ve seen happen. In the end, I have to set aside Scripture, history & experience to say this doesn’t happen.

      Now, if God had stopped & this was attested by never seeing such things happen (as well as being convinced in Scripture), then I’d be ok with that. But when these things happen, you’re conclusion is that they still happen. Is it “normative”? Well, not in the individualized sense of the west. We look at Scripture and say Paul did this, Philip did this, Agabus did this, etc. But I think God looks at it & says my people do this, my people do that. Of course, individuals are used. But this is much bigger than me & my small pocket. So, when there is are Christians nearing 2 billion, I expect these things are happening regularly, though it’s not everyday in my corner.

      On the category aspect, I think you are right that we need to guard against the categories we create in the west. This was what I was getting at above – whether by prayer or spoken proclamation, a healing is a healing in which God miraculously works. But one thing we need to recognize is that the way the word “miracle” and “healing” is used in Scripture is different from how we might use it. Even Paul distinguishes between a miracle and a healing. And he distinguishes between a prophecy and a word of knowledge. So, in some ways there are “categories” to consider, but the biblical ones are quite different than what we…

    • Scott

      Robert –

      I’m happy to continue to not get it. But I still know what Scripture teaches, what history attests and what I’ve seen in action from the living God. Somehow God will use the weak and ignoble for his glory. Somehow.

    • Derek

      I was just discussing this issue with a group of guys in my local study group last week.

      Similar to yourself, I’m skeptical of miraculous accounts. One of the other guys in my group, while having his own share of skepticism, is more willing than I am to believe miraculous accounts depending on various aspects of the story. This prompted me to pose the following question: When presented with claims of miracles occurring today, should our default position be to believe, to doubt, or to remain neutral? Of course, other factors will alter our default position (how well you trust the source, if you’ve witnessed miracles before, etc.), but the question was really about our default disposition.

      Personally, my default position is to doubt such claims. The first reason, because I’ve never personally witnessed anything I would consider to be a miracle. If you or I were a traveling companion of someone who’s ministry were accompanied by frequent miracles, it would be reasonable to trust the reports of other miracles accompanying their ministry in our absence, and perhaps the ministries of others.

      The second reason, I have come to believe that all of humankind is exceedingly susceptible to being deceived … including myself.

      Third, whether we believe the genuine exists today or not, counterfeit miracles most certainly exist.

      Forth, we are called to test such things. Anything that is un-testable (i.e. not falsifiable) gets my default disposition.

      Of course, this raises the question of whether I believe in the miracles of the Scriptures and how that’s any different for me, being I wasn’t there. The only answer I can give is that I believe this is part of the faith God has given me accompanying salvation. Perhaps that’s a foolish answer, but I believe in the death, burial, and resurrection, not because of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, but because of a circumcision of the heart. I simply don’t have a supernatural confirmation about these other claims.

    • Scott: I too see myself as one within Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 1: 25 thru 31! Read it in the Greek Text! And note too, election is found here also, 1: 24. Indeed a most awesome section! … From God in the hand and revelation of St. Paul, the great Gentile Apostle (Gentiles, you and I… I suspect! 😉 )

    • thom waters

      The difficulty with the j p moreland story deals with the apparent selectivity of this God to whom you might attribute such a miracle. Since many like-minded believers pray for similar miracles and they do not come to pass, it makes this God appear to be somewhat frivolous and unpredictable, raising legitimate questions concerning why some miracles happen and others do not. This God appears to be whimsical and simply too unpredictable, certainly no one you can count on in any meaningful way.

    • Brian

      “what I’ve seen in action from the living God.” – Scott

      And what have you seen specifically?

    • Btw Scott, your quite able I know to get this, but your choice and presupposition is turned to the so-called Charismatic, rather than the biblical text foremost, (at least in my opinion). Note again, I am a cessionist as to the so-called sign gifts, but I do (as I have said before) practice the gift of “glossolalia” (tongues) as a mystical prayer element, (1 Cor. 14: 2), in my private prayer closet. But, at least by desire, I like to preach also as old Paul! (1 Cor. 14: 3-4-5)

    • And this Moreland deal is quite dead to my mind! “Missy M” has quite hammered that! When God does heal – in the biblical reality – there are no doubts at all; its done!

    • And I don’t see the judgment of Acts 5: 1-12 ; nor verse 15, etc. still happening today either! Surely the Book of Acts is a Book and Revelation of God from Old Testament ground, to the New Testament or Covenant! Mosaic Law to the Gospel of Grace & Glory!

    • Missy M

      Scott

      You said, “You have to look at the detail in the greater context”, right! And that greater context is Christ, not just his communicating his person but his entire advent!

      Your theology is subject to so many whimsical insertions of rationalism and heterodoxical hermeneutics.

    • Michael T.

      In the earlier question I asked the question of the effect of experience on our theology. I must admit that the point I was getting at has somewhat played out here. There seems to be a faction that says that Moreland MUST have been lying or misinterpreted things. The reason for this is simply that the interpretation and understanding one has of Scripture demands this conclusion. I just wonder how something like this would effect you if you personally had been there. If you had personally witnessed the ear partially regrow? Would it change your mind?

      I personally probably fall into the de facto cessationist category. Unlike some I don’t see all charismatics as dangerous heretics (though certainly some are). I just am a highly skeptical person and have never witnessed a genuine sign gift. That being said when I read through the original post and the responses a few questions come to mind.

      1. Does God still perform miracles today?
      2. If not what is the purpose of praying that God heal somebody? What of the evidence presented by Keener and others?
      3. Is it possible that God may still heal today, but have a different purpose in healing somebody today than He did in Scripture? For instance is it possible for God to will somebody to be sick, and then miraculously heal them later knowing that this will strengthen the persons faith and lead to them doing great things for God as opposed to a sign to others?
      4. Is it really impossible for God to imperfectly heal somebody and have a reason for doing so?

      I’m always a bit skeptical when the phrase “God can’t” is followed by anything other than a logical impossibility (e.g. square circle, married bachelor, [I would argue based on the nature of evil] do evil, etc.). I’m just a little disturbed that people would assume that a man such as Moreland, who has been a tireless defender of the faith, must be lying or deceived, based purely on theological presuppositions.

    • Luke

      I’m inclined to believe Dr. Moreland’s attestation. I was raised a cessationist, but converted to Orthodoxy a few years ago. I’ve encountered a pair of icons in Taylor, Pennsylvania which have pretty much constantly exuded myrrh at widely varying rates for over two years now (itself a miraculous event which my rational mind resists wrapping around), and numerous miracles of healing have been attested.

      -Those who needed constant bottled oxygen have no longer needed it after breathing the fragrance.

      -Recently, a stroke victim went from catatonic to sitting up and conversing with those around her in less than an hour after being anointed with myrrh from one of the icons.

      -Also recently, Muslim man who had denounced the icons as blasphemous to Allah stood fixated in front of them, then broke down into sobs. He related that the entire time he stood there he felt a warmth in his chest. A subsequent doctor’s visit showed that he now had the heart of a 20-year old, and no longer needed the six medications he had been taking for it. He is now preparing for baptism.

      -A man from my church who had needed 8 major abdominal surgeries in 18 months due to continual complications related that when he kissed the icon, some myrrh squirted into his mouth. He didn’t know what to do, so he swallowed it, and the pain instantly went away. He cried for about the next hour. He had been hoping to get some myrrh earlier (the priest carries one of the icons around and allows the myrrh to drip onto peoples’ outstretched hands), but he wasn’t close enough, and figured then that it just wasn’t his time to be healed. It’s been about 18 months since that happened. He subsequently needed minor (for him, anyway) surgery to correct a hernia, but he’s otherwise been pain- and problem-free since.

      I remain skeptical of unverifiable miracles (especially of the ecstatic charismatic sort), but the personal experience of these icons is difficult to explain away.

    • Leyda Mendez

      I believe in miracles. I don’t believe everything that people report as miracles, but I’ve seen miracles with my own eyes. In my town there was once a very renown preacher who got some condition that put him in a wheelchair. When I gave my heart to Jesus, I always heard the story about how during a service, when no one thought he would ever walk again, all of a sudden he stood up and started walking around never to go back to the chair again. I didn’t get to see that. But, there was this lady that my pastor would visit to invite her and her family to church. She wouldn’t go. One day we got the news that her husband had ran his car over her once, backed up over her, and then ran over her again. She was left badly twisted, in a way that from her waist down, the front of her legs were facing backwards. Though she survived, the doctors said she would never walk again. When she recovered, she finally visited church and in that service, you could feel the presence of the Lord as in many other services. Without no one putting a hand on her, she stood up, walked to the altar and never went back to her wheelchair. She serves the Lord till this day. I would not have believed it, if I didn’t know the details of her case and seen it with my own eyes. I think the Lord does miracles still, but it is us who do not allow for the miraculous to take place with our unbelief and our lack of dedication to God. I’m talking about myself.

    • Derek

      “I’m always a bit skeptical when the phrase “God can’t” is followed by anything other than a logical impossibility”

      I’m right there with you, Michael, but I don’t believe anyone here has argued that God can’t work in a particular way, only that they don’t believe He has chosen to act in a particular way based upon their reading of the scriptures, their experiences, etc.

      Perhaps you’re referring primarily to those who’ve set forth the partial healing aspect of the account as reason for their unbelief. If so, I would say that we should be careful not to presume that just because someone has a believe about how God does things based on their reading of scripture and their experiences means that they believe He is somehow bound to working in that way.

      While the reasons that I set forth for doubting second-hand claims of miracles was irrespective of the particular person or claim, the fact that the alleged miracle was only partial personally gives me pause. Nevertheless, I would never say that God couldn’t do something like this.

      Concerning the logical implications of what one’s believe of a given miraculous claim should say about the conclusions they would have to draw about the witness, while certain conclusions may very well be a logical necessity, we are illogical beings and perfectly capable of stopping short of such reasoning and even of embracing cognitive dissonance.

      For instance, you’ve said “I have never experienced such gifts in a way that would compel me to believe that these gifts, as they are expressed today, are legitimate.” and recently “I now have a relationship with many of these guys and call them friends … [but] … I have not been convinced by them”. Sam Storms believes the gifts occur legitimately today. The logical conclusion: You believe Sam Storms is deceived. While this may be the logical conclusion, it doesn’t mean that’s how you sum up his character. I think the same courtesy should be extended to your readers here.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “I suppose, for now, a good question would be this: do you believe the Moreland story? Why or why not?”

      This would help me a little: Do we have a Before and After picture? Along with credible medical testimony?

      Like a picture dated September 10, 2001, and a subsequent picture dated September 12, 2001. I would find such visual evidence as helpful.

    • Michael T.

      @ Derek,

      I am not the original author (who is C. Michael Patton). Different person entirely. My thoughts are quite separate from his. CMP is a soft cessationist I am more of a de facto cessationist. Additionally I was more responding to others and not you directly. There appears to be a faction that believe that God only performed miracles for one purpose in the Bible and that those miracles were always complete. I was pointing out that even if true it would be fallacious reasoning to presume that as a result God can not today perform miracles for different purposes and to varying levels of completion according to those purposes.

    • Derek

      Oh, how embarrassing! My apologizes to both of you for the confusion.

      Nevertheless, I would still advise the same thing to anyone. It shouldn’t be assumed that someone believes God can’t do something because they believe He isn’t currently doing something and we should be cautious at drawing logical conclusions about how people feel about one another based on their disagreements.

    • Michael T.

      Perhaps it would be better to say that the faction believes that God “would not” (as opposed to “can not”) perform miracles in such a manner today. The reasoning, I think, would be non-sequitur in any case.

    • Brian

      Here is an accounting of some of the things (charismatic) I’ve seen and done.

      -When I got saved I felt the person of Jesus standing where the pastor was seated speaking to us. It was as if God was standing there speaking to me.
      -Praying in tongues.
      -Have prayed with someone and felt impressions inside me about things to say to them and about them.
      -I have given one prophetic (foretelling) word. It did come to pass, but Im not sure if the timing I gave was exactly right.
      -I have seen tongues and interpretations.
      -I have had sleep dreams that metaphorically foretold my life and they have actually come to pass.
      -I have had prophetic (forthtelling) words spoken to me that were encouraging. But nothing particularly foretelling that I recall.
      -I have seen pictures in my mind while praying for someone or for myself. Visions?
      -When my wife was pregnant with our first child I was praying for her, the child, and saw what she would looked like at about age 5 in my mind. She wound up looking just like what I saw.
      -Once at an ‘open mic night’ at a pentacostal church I said a prayer and felt, quite literally, like warm golden oil pour over my head.
      -Twice I had very painful stomach aches, but believed God would heal me, got up and got ready to do my day and the pain went away. Very possible they might have gone away anyways had I gotten up and moved around.
      -I once was “slain in the spirit.” It felt like getting knocked out by happy gas.
      -I once get “drunk in the spirit.” I felt joy and and laughter welling up in me. I couldnt stop. And I couldnt really walk. I was dizzy.
      -I have never seen anyone raised from the dead.
      -I have never seen a body part grow.
      -I have never seen a fatal disease (cancer) miraculously disappear.
      -I have never been visited by an angel, demon or Jesus.
      -I have never been teleported to other places.
      -i have never seen a demon speak or be cast out.
      I have never seen gold teeth, gold dust, gems or feathers on or near me or…

    • I don’t see anyone seeking to speak to the issues I expressed in my # 50? And I too would be a more defacto cessionist myself also. At least to the idea that God chooses “not to” do so-called “biblical” miracles today! I would base this more on the so-called essence of Canon, and Holy Scripture.

      Btw, let me recommend one of the finest books I have seen and read this year (2013), called: Logic, A God-Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought, (Crossway, by Vern Poythress…733 pages!)

    • Michael T.

      @ Fr. Robert

      Not sure I follow…..

    • @Michael T.: I am one of those NT Canon rules guy! This surely is the essence of St. Paul’s ministry and writings, especially the so-called Prison Epistles! This makes me somewhat of a “Dispensatinalist”, though for the most part.. I am of the Progressive nature. Though Ryrie’s Revised and Expanded version of his Dispensationalism should be read by every Christian theolog today! – “No one, whether friend or foe of dispensationalism, can avoid consideration of this important work.” (Bibliotheca Sacra)

      Btw, it appears Moreland has somewhat lost the wheels here?

    • Luke

      @ Fr. Robert (Anglican):

      One reason why we see less miraculous healing today is that we need less of it; we can cure or better cope with much of what was previously incurable without resorting to the supernatural. Another reason is general lack of belief (even Jesus could perform few miracles in Nazareth due to their unbelief).

      In Cappadocia 100-150 years ago, there was no access to modern doctors; all the villagers had was St. Arsenios, a priest-monk. If a sick person was brought to him, he would effect cures by praying or reading the Gospel over the sick person. If a request was sent to him, he would write out a prayer which would effect a cure when recited over the sick person. On Wednesdays and Fridays, he would spend the entire day locked in his cell in prayer. In that case, villagers would take some dirt from his doorstep; mixed with water, drinking it would effect a cure.

      I don’t know of people dropping over dead because they lied, but I do know of three quite independent recent instances where a holy monk or priest could discern someone’s thoughts, which would make detecting lies certain.

    • @Luke: You should go then with “Catholicism”, if this is your conscience and theology? I am quite Reformational and somewhat Reformed (neo-Calvinist) myself. 🙂

    • Luke

      @ Fr. Robert (Anglican): I’m having trouble grasping how your post relates to mine. I’m not here to proselytize; I was just trying to give an answer to your post #50 after you had commented (#61) that no one had yet addressed it.

    • @Luke: I was raised Irish Roman Catholic in Ireland, and even somewhat educated there. So my point had nothing to do with proselytizing, but the “theology” you were presenting there with the so-called priest-monk and the confessional and healing. This has been supposedly common in Roman Catholic history & ecclesiology, with priest-monks and laity, etc. But of course not part of classic Protestant and Reformational theology.

    • Luke

      @ Fr. Robert (Anglican): Thanks for the clarification. I am quite happily Orthodox, which has quite a rich tradition of spiritual gifts (including healing) throughout history. I agree that classical Protestantism has not typically had these gifts. St. Arsenios was indeed both a priest and a monk (in Orthodoxy, priests are quite frequently married, thus the distinction); why do you feel the need to dispute that, of all things?

      By the way, only one of the three recent instances of people being able to read thoughts to which I referred was limited to confession (and Orthodoxy does not use confessionals).

    • Scott

      Brian –

      You asked what I had seen. Sorry for the late reply. It’s been busy. I’m moving country in a few weeks!

      I personally haven’t been used in miracles and healings. I have been used in prophecy and tongues. But I’ve never been strongly used in some of these more “power” or “miraculous” gifts (though I’m not sure those adjectives are the best descriptors).

      What I do know is that I have been in meetings where God’s miracle work has been at work as some of my pastor friends have prayed for people. I’ve known very direct prophetic words spoken to me and others, ones that were so direct and clear that it would take God to make it happen. And it did.

      I also note some of my friend’s testimonies on my blog. Here is a video story from a close pastor friend of mine. Here you’ll find a very powerful account of a pastor contact from Malawi, a very powerful testimony. I suppose I could link to more, but you’ll find stuff under the “videos” category under the drop-down menu on the right side bar.

      Blessings!

    • @Luke: You sure appeared Roman Catholic to me? Btw, I am somewhat EO friendly, but I don’t see the so-called overt miraculous in their history, not like the RC claims anyway! I mean how do we ever verify any of this, without investigation? At least Rome tries to verify.

    • Btw the EO St. Arsenios, or Arsenios the Cappadocian (1840-1924), is it appears a rather new EO Saint from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, 1986. And today Nov. 10th is his Day!

      This is quite unknown to us in the West!

    • And btw, all the true Christians are “saints”, simply and profoundly ‘In Christ’! (Romans 1: 7 / 1 Cor. 1: 2) This is quite the true “Biblicism”!

    • Luke

      @ Fr. Robert (Anglican):

      I agree, all true Christians are “saints” (though we regularly fall far short of “holy”). As Orthdox, I can ask any Christian, whether living or fallen asleep, to intercede for me in prayer. The Church reserves liturgical veneration for martyrs and those who have been well attested as effectual intercessors. The investigative process is less formalized than Roman Catholic canonization, but it certainly does happen (I’ve read a book on St. Arsenios the Cappadocian, for example, which is based on an investigation of his life).

    • @Luke: Indeed as a Protestant Evangelical Christian I reject prayers to the dead, or the belief in any intercession, save that of Christ! (1 Tim. 2: 5-6…note the connection between Christ’s Intercession and the Atonement)…Literally “one mediator”, as “one Savior”!

    • thom waters

      Should we believe the J P Moreland story about the ear coming back after prayer and supplicaiton? Sure, why not. Believe what you want. In the end, how much difference does it make in how you live your life? And, after all, isn’t that what most matters?

      And while your at it, why not believe that upon the death of Jesus the curtain in the Temple was torn, there was an earthquake, the graves opened, many of God’s saints were raised from their sleep, and they paraded around the Holy City where many saw them.

      Does this discussion get anybody anywhere? Seems unlikely.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “the graves opened, many of God’s saints were raised from their sleep, and they paraded around the Holy City where many saw them.

      Zombies!!

      Ultimately, the plants won in Plants versus Zombies. At least when I play.

    • Yes, indeed it really does matter how we approach the Holy Scripture, both theologically and historically. But this history always includes the proper biblical genre. See btw, again see Michael Locona’s book: The Resurrection of Christ, and note how he sees these verses in Matt. 27: 52-53, in the great Apocalyptic genre and reality! Yes, the more literal is also an interpretation, but there are historical and hermeneutical problems, in verses 52 and 53. And these certain texts are alone seen in Matthew’s Gospel.

      Sorry no Zombies here! 😉

    • Michael T.

      @ Fr Robert

      You are aware that Licona basically got fired from his job and taken to woodshed by Geisler for advocating the non-literal interpretation of those verses? I actually think Licona’s view makes more sense logically speaking, however I don’t know enough to speak authoritatively on the matter. What bothered me more than anything regarding the back and forth was that the whole thing seemed to revolve around whether or not Licona’s view violated the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, rather than whether or not Licona’s views were well supported and correct.

    • @Michael T: Yes, I am quite aware of the whole Licona/Geisler affair. I was one at first who had taken the more classic literal position, but upon further study (then), and reading Licona’s book on the Resurrection (then), I changed to the Jewish Apocalyptic position. The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, has some good points, but it is hardly the last statement itself. Here we have on this whole subject the great subjects of much in biblical mystery, even in epistemology. As I have said, Christ is always both the eternal Logos, and the Rhema, and both are incarnational!

      Btw, I should surely note.. that there are places and aspects in Licona’s book on the Resurrection (IVP/Apollos, 2010), that I don’t agree with, but these are within some of the aspects of the historiography in Licona’s use and conclusions. I would always take the more presuppositional approach toward Holy Scripture, but then I am too always a classic Thirty-nine Article Anglican, which includes a form of Neo-Calvinism, noting the great beauty of Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election.

    • Strange? I wrote an exegetical piece on Matt. 27: 52-53, etc., that went who knows where?

      These verses are part of the Jewish form of the “midrash”. A kind of Jewish cosmic portent, in the apocalyptic.

    • thom waters

      And, now, as we are coming to see, it becomes simply a matter of what you believe and figuring out why you believe it. Among other things it is often a matter of convenience and has nothing to do with “truth”. As Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

      Ultimately it seems that we each choose to believe what we want, and it usually is driven by self-interest and self-preservation. And, yes, this even gets us into the area of the Resurrection and the offer made that we can live forever. Why wouldn’t you want to believe this where you wind up in Heaven where the gates are made of pearl and the streets paved in gold?

      And Truth? Where do you find it amidst the different offers and alternatives presented? It might be, and seems somewhat reasonable, that what we ultimately believe says nothing about the truth of our belief, but rather is the result of that which has been most effective in the presentation and packaging of it. In some respects it’s exactly like most of what we buy and buy into, like political parties and economic systems. Packaging is everything, happy to remember how Kennedy overwhelmed NIxon on TV and why so many people voted for him.

      I suspect that what we believe theologically happens in like manner. Even the author of John’s Gospel said as much, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life is his name.” With such a bias and an agenda, might this not give this particular author the license to include some things that might not be true? So many stories and accounts only found in this gospel written so many decades after the events they claim to portray? And what do you believe? And why do you believe it? Belief, rather than Truth, might be the end to which things point.

    • Indeed it is to biblical epistemology (the study of the origin, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge), and here too we are bound by history and exegesis in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Again part of this is also the biblical genre!

      Btw, “belief and truth” are find together in the biblical revelation! Some of us call this approach to Holy Scripture as “presuppositional”, itself!

    • Let’s not forget that biblically and simply, what Jesus Himself said in John, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (14: 6) No need to be a scholar to believe this!

    • Btw, The Book of Revelation has perhaps had more effect on Christian doctrine, art and literature than we realize in the West, with Jesus Christ being Himself THE Revelation and THE Apocalypse… (Rev. 1:1) HE is Himself the greatest “unveiling” of the Incarnation of God, both the Word (Logos), and the Rhema (utterance) of God – Himself! (Rev. 1: 17-18)…”I am the first and the last… Oh the great I Am!

    • Brian

      @Thom Waters, I appreciate your last couple comments here.

      To me reality seems to be the most truthful and logical evidence to this matter of Charismatic occurrences. It lays bare my beliefs in the supernatural. There are either these works or there isn’t. The belief alone requires that I have physical proof. Otherwise its just hearsay or an immaterial belief.

      This is why I asked Scott to list his experiences and I listed mine. I do not know scott, nor his history or belief groups. But his response to my question patterns exactly to my experience. Which is the practices that are more easily produced by human means (words, mental pirctures, etc) are common and experienced while the ones less easily produced (healings, miracles) are not experienced, but typically are hearsay (my friend was at a meeting where …)

      My reaction to my charismatic past has been to burrow into a reality based faith. If a belief has no material affect, what value is it? But I struggle to reconcile this with the fact that Christianity has an alternate (spiritual) and future (heaven) reality component to why it believes.

      I struggle thinking there is no present benefit to Christ. Only a future one. I wish I had a better understanding of what is to come or what it is Jesus has called me to.

      Salvation used to be to get free of some “sin” – drugs, crime, bad lifestyle, etc. But now I’m just like most other regular US citizen making a life for himself and his family. How does “salvation” work for me when Im struggling to pay bills, little league, having a beer with friends, car breakdowns, etc.

      I wish I understood that existence that was bigger than this life. Then I see how I would hope for that alternate/future reality. And this hope (faith) for that future would produce works (revidence in this reality) that demonstrate its validity. This is how I see the apostles doing it.

      But it seems charismatics go the opposite direction with that process. Works produce faith…

    • Wow! “No present benefit to Christ”? Well one thing is sure your never going to find it in just logical evidence! It is here that we must recover the biblical “reality” of the existential and the Christ Who is Himself the Existent One! This reality of faith & experience trumps all, as ‘In Christ’! Philippians chapter 3 might be one of the most important Paul has ever penned for the real Christian life…”that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” (Phil 3: 8-10) Indeed here is the only lasting reality, i.e. Christ and His benefits!

      “To know Christ is to know His benefits.” (Melanchthon)

      And getting contemporary theology to return to this conviction, can ONLY come from the Holy Spirit Himself, the Spirit of Christ!

    • Brian

      Care to explain what benefits you are presently deriving. Thats the only part that really matters. James 2:18.

      It seems to me that the works of Christ are what absolutely gave evidence to his ministry. The fact-based proof of those who he healed threw everyones beliefs about the messiah into a twist.

    • thom waters

      Brian,

      Thanks for your most recent comment. I sense that you are not alone in your struggle as to how your Belief relates to the Now and how your Belief translates to every day life. Much of this, of course, depends on not only what you believe but what you expect, especially as this deals with the notion of the “Living Christ” dwelling in you and living through you. Sorry, maybe this is the work of the Holy Spirit, as Christians might explain it. Not my expertise.

      I can say this about my own belief and what I expect, and my expectation comes not from believing in some theological formulation but simply in what I take to be the bare bones teaching of Jesus himself. I look for and rely on the help and effort of no one but myself. Simply stated: I believe in loving my neighbor as I love myself, and in so doing I believe that completes the admonition to love God, whoever He might be.

      And what is loving my neighbor? It is Luke 10 and it involves two levels.

      1–If I see my neighbor and he needs help, my belief requires that I help him.

      2–It is always wishing and hoping for my neighbor what I wish and hope for myself.

      Anything short of these two things causes me to be deficient in my belief. It involves no specific Faith, as it were, because I am not subscribing to any belief formulation beyond recognizing the solidarity that I share with all men. It also recognizes that I’m not trying to “get anywhere” in so living in this fashion. No Heaven, no reward, nothing to be gained beyond acknowledging that this is an acceptable way to conduct myself, because Jesus, himself, has convinced me of its utility.

      I would suggest that we do well by being suspicious of Faith, as it too often removes us from the task of simply living as we ought. And choose Belief wisely. It seems to me that the best Belief is one that immerses us, not in simply our own lives, but in the lives of others when that immersion seeks to better all. And the ear?

    • Myself, as the Church both Catholic & Reformed, I prefer the biblical Incarnate Christ, especially the Johannine and the Pauline, again the “Logos” and the “Rhema”. Here are our “benefits”!

    • Oh the myth of the so-called Historical Jesus, verses the biblical revelatory “Christ Jesus”, of the Apostle Paul. And we simply cannot escape the great doctrine theological of God, i.e. the study of the revelation of God In Christ!

    • Luke

      @ thom waters:

      Ignoring God in favor of relying on yourself and being manifestly uninterested in understanding Him is an odd way to show love for Him, to say the least. As for myself, I would be foolish to rely on myself only, as I quite frequently fail to measure up to the standard. Faith serves to steer me in the direction of what I should do.

    • thom waters

      Luke,

      Perhaps you have missed the larger point or I have simply failed to express it sufficiently.

      Loving your neighbor as you love yourself seems to fall quite squarely into the area of following God’s admonition as to how we should live our lives. It hardly smacks of “ignoring God”. That I simply choose to follow the directive, as it might be called, relying on simply my own devices, will, and strength of character hardly seems to represent an uninterest in Him. It only makes a statement about how I choose to live my life, nothing more. As well, it makes no statement regarding my success or failure in so doing.

      Your comment about it “. . . would be foolish to rely on myself only .. .” seems more a statement about one thinking about the theological concept of Salvation and can someone “save” themselves. The notion of failing to measure up to some standard suggests that your standard is beyond your reach. And who sets this standard and why do you find it so necessary to live up to it, especially if you define it as “perfection”?

      Remember, I have no motive in mind beyond living as I think one ought. Should I fail at some point to measure up to the concept of “perfection” is to acknowledge nothing more than my humanity. Does this cause me to despair? Hardly. It only reiterates what the Apostle Paul claims himself in Romans 7, when he does the very thing he tries to avoid. We find ourselves in the same boat, believers or not, saved or not.

      Live your life as best you can. Let the chips fall where they might. Try to avoid the arrogance and condesension that so often accompanies Faith, as if your efforts have received some seal of approval beyond the rest of us who trudge through life as best we can with no motives beyond following the admontion to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And we respond to it because it seems a reasonable and productive way to live. At least we won’t portray ourselves as different than we are.

    • True faith does not exist with “arrogance and condescension”, as faith itself is a gift from God! (Eph. 2: 8)

      “Now faith is the assurance (substance) of things hoped (or expected) for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen. For by it men of old gained approval.” (Heb. 11: 1-2)

      Indeed biblical faith is always something that God does give Himself, in his assurance, substance and hope in God’s own expectation in the evidence and conviction in the things that only God can give. With open and even empty hands, we receive and believe! And this gives us a productive way and life “alone”, through “Faith alone”!

    • Luke

      @ thom waters:

      You say, ” That I simply choose to follow the directive, as it might be called, relying on simply my own devices, will, and strength of character hardly seems to represent an uninterest in Him. It only makes a statement about how I choose to live my life, nothing more. As well, it makes no statement regarding my success or failure in so doing.”

      You protest too much. Relying simply on your own devices makes God irrelevant. Are those you love irrelevant?

      You also say,

      “Your comment about it “. . . would be foolish to rely on myself only .. .” seems more a statement about one thinking about the theological concept of Salvation and can someone “save” themselves.”

      While it is true of salvation, it is also true of my life here and now.

      You say further, “The notion of failing to measure up to some standard suggests that your standard is beyond your reach. And who sets this standard and why do you find it so necessary to live up to it, especially if you define it as “perfection”?”

      God sets the standard (which He defines, not me). With His help, I can reach it, provided I only keep trying. I try because I love Him, for He is willing to save (and is saving) me.

      Anyone who draws close to God has no room for arrogance or condescension, because the closer one gets to God, the more clearly one sees one’s own shortcomings.

    • thom waters

      The arrogance and condescension to which I refer relates to the notion of “rightness” with regard to Faith, and the apparent need of believers, whatever the faith, to be “right”, especially as it relates to theology. I suspect without actually knowing you or talking with you in person that you are absolutely convinced in the “rightness” of your Faith. Such certainty has an unattractive way of turning into and expressing itself as arrogance and condescension. Just an observation. If, as a believer, you can manage to avoid such pitfalls, then you are to be congratulated. This might even include an avoidance of consigning those who do not agree with you to an “everlasting hell.” Such a belief seems hardly to be void of the arrogance and condescension to which I refer.

      Interesting to note that seemingly all faiths ultimately have the believer’s best interests in mind. It smacks of solipsistic motives where much is driven by the notion of “What do I get out of this?” I wonder how much commitment you could get from people promoting a faith that had no substantial reward to it beyond doing what seemed to be the right thing to do as it relates to the simple solidarity we have with each other? Just a thought.

      Faith is never an end in itself. Love, on the other hand, is or should always be an end in itself. I’ll opt for the latter every time.

    • @tm.. St. Paul connects “faith, hope, love” (1 Cor. 13: 13) as a great and beautiful triad! And whatever YOUR spinning here?..sure isn’t Christianity! And for Judeo-Christianity, there is only ONE Saving Faith! (John 14: 6)

    • thom waters

      Thanks for making my point for me with that last comment, especially to the reference of the “One Saving Faith”.

      With regard to what I’m “spinning” here, I suppose if promoting the notion of loving your neighbor as you love yourself can be explained as “spinning” something, then I’m spinning the second admonition of Jesus with regard to commandments. “Spinning” seems to detract somewhat from its utility, however, and it would not be my choice of words. “Promoting” seems to fit better, although I’ll give it some more thought. Perhaps I can find an even better word.

      Paul’s “triad” is an interesting one and I’ll side with the enduring nature of Love. And, here, I suspect we’re talking of agape, not eros or phileo. It’s a tough assignment, but we’ll do our best and muddle through like Paul himself apparently did.

    • @tw: If you are trying to play devils advocate? Your missing it, for your not speaking clearly or purposefully, at least to my mind. And Jesus kept the Law of God vicariously for His people, the Gospel has moral elements.. but the essence is not morality, but redemption!

    • Yes, Agape and agapao! But always too the Moral Law of God.

    • Btw, our Reformers only “promoted” the Law/Gospel approach in both preaching and discipleship. And for the early NT Church, then, to preach the Gospel was by no means the same thing as to deliver moral instruction or exhortation. While the Church was concerned to hand on the teaching of the Lord, it was not by this that it made converts, It was by “kerygma” (Gospel), says Paul, not by “didache”, that it pleased God to save men. See, 1 Cor. 1:21…the word here translated “preaching,” kerygma, signifies not the action of the preacher, but that which he preaches, his “message”. And of course his message was “Christ” Himself! And here of course is found God’s great message of Agape, sacrificial love itself… the Person & Work of Christ.

    • thom waters

      You seem insistent on arguing theology, and, again, serves to express the over-riding need to be right, which is exactly the point of theology and Faith, if you will. It also is a reminder that Faith always seems to have as its object the one who expresses faith. The expression of faith always has a reward of some kind attached to it, or so it seems. Sure, I’ll have Faith because of what it will get me. Even call it Redemption if you must. The point is still the same. “I’ll do it, but there has to be something in it for me. Otherwise, forget it.” As for me, as I have tried to indicate before, I simply choose Love over Faith. It seems to be a more honest expression of my humanity and how one ought to live. People have done too many wicked and evil things in the name of Faith. Not many buildings get blown up in the name of Love. Just my preference. No devil’s advocating here.

    • @tw: Indeed us “theologs” have our idiosyncrasies, I mean were still sinners! But indeed hopefully we who are, ‘In Christ’, are after ‘faith, hope and love!’ It does appear your right about not being a so-called “devil’s advocate” after all, you have now shown a psychological “preference”, which to me is even worse! Sadly the psychobabble has come to stay it seems. And preference surely is much more deceptive here, then theology, but then that is my opinion too as a pastor.

    • Luke

      @ thom waters: I can only guess that you have no idea how arrogant and condescending you’re appearing here. We get that you’re convinced that faith is beneath you. Meanwhile, we’ve wandered rather far afield from the topic at hand. Like J. P. Moreland, I have experienced what cannot rationally be explained.

    • Indeed “tw” is quite exhibiting much non-Christian language and lack of biblical theology, real ignorance here! Who cares what HE thinks personally, when it rejects faith and truth. His “tradition” seems to be himself. Which btw, simply is modernism-modernity & post-modernity!

    • thom waters

      Luke,

      You are quite right that we have drifted far afield of “how” we experience what we believe. That you have experienced something that you cannot explain rationally is something for yourself to figure out and deal with, as you choose.

      With regard to the pastor’s most recent remarks much could be said. I will be brief:

      1–There might be, and I believe there is, a difference between rejecting biblical theology and an ignorance of it.

      2–Standing in the tradition of Jesus’ teaching to love your neighbor as you love yourself seems to be something quite different than one adopting one’s self as your tradition.

      3–Back to 1. It might be that the biblical theology you refer to is actually the “Christ of Faith” so promoted by the Apostle Paul. That gets us deeper into the theological world of which you appear to be so inclined. You seem to be committed to the “rightness” of your theological beliefs. Nothing wrong with that as long as you do no physical harm to another or wish ill upon your neighbor who might not see things as you do or believe what you believe.

      4–I was going to respond to the well-meant and charitable remark about “psychobabble”. I will allow others to reach their own conclusions about it. As I have tried to express before, we are all in this together and we all choose our paths for negotiating the terrain. If I find little room for Faith in traversing the ground, I would like to think that others might respect that decision.

      5–When you talk about rejecting Truth, it reminds me of what I had said earlier about Belief and believers. Every Belief system seems to seek this Truth Seal of Approval to support it. That is to be expected. The operative question to be asked ultimately is this: What do we actually know to be true? This is where you must begin and the starting point to this for Christianity seems to be the Resurrection of Jesus. It is here where your search to answer this question must begin.

    • Brian

      It sure isn’t hard to sit back and estimate who is acting more like Christ in this comment thread in what they are saying and how they are saying it. I know who I am more inclined to listen to. (John 9:25) There is a difference between rightness and righteous which “christians” seem to forget.

    • @tw: I see that you said nothing about “modernity and postmodernity”? Which is where I see “your” sort of epistemology, i.e. theory or study of understanding and belief. And surely here is where modern psychology, especially psychoanalysis & psychotherapy reside! I somewhat respect clinical psychology (note I am a hospital chaplain now, as semi-retired), but psychotherapeutics has been a failure in my opinion! And I have had academic studies in both Freudian and Jungian disciplines or studies. But indeed my doctorates are in philosophy & theology. So it is there that I see the real discipline, i.e. Biblical Divinity and Dogmatics! So here I place the great premium on epistemology, knowledge and its methods to know and understand! Indeed we are human beings, but fallen so, and so it is only to God In Christ that we can turn and truly know! That’s the way I see it at least. 😉

    • Btw, so-called “sloppy agape” is not real love to me, I never saw it on the literal battlefield that’s for sure, nor on or in the true/real “battlefield” of life! Truth demands much more reality…

      “Love is a grave and ruthless passion, unlimited in self-giving and unlimited in demand.” (Evelyn Underhill)

    • thom waters

      In a nutshell.

      What do we actually know to be true?

      Once we begin to answer this question it seems to throw light onto the place and role that Belief and Faith play in our lives.

      We know, for example, that each of us is going to die. Belief and Faith are in large measure responses to what we “know”. And the answer or the response? Live forever. Ray Bradbury, the great Sci-Fi author said that as a young boy the most influential idea he ever encountered was the idea of “live forever”. It motivated him throughout his entrie life. And who of us isn’t happy to trade what we “know” for the belief of “live forever”? You still have to muddle through the nuts and bolts of everyday life. How best to accomplish this knowing that we do so in community?

      I am not familiar with the concept of “sloppy agape”. It sounds somewhat derrogatory. If the Good Samaritan is guilty of it in Luke 10, then I can only hope to measure up to it. At the very least, it is a good measuring stick. I have thought for some time that the most telling aspect of the story is the Samaritan’s willingness to pay for additional expenses that might be assessed for the man’s care. What qualifies as “sloppy”?

    • Luke

      @ thom waters:

      You said, ” If I find little room for Faith in traversing the ground, I would like to think that others might respect that decision. ”

      That would be rather less difficult for Christians to do here if you didn’t disrespect our decision to live by faith in your posts. Just sayin’.

    • Brian

      Luke,

      I think you are personalizing his comments.

      Thom said “Live your life as best you can. Let the chips fall where they might. Try to avoid the arrogance and condesension that so often accompanies Faith, as if your efforts have received some seal of approval beyond the rest of us who trudge through life as best we can with no motives beyond following the admontion to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And we respond to it because it seems a reasonable and productive way to live. At least we won’t portray ourselves as different than we are.”

      The You here is generally speaking and not aimed at you personally.

      I think that comment generally can be very fitting for Christians.

      Even if its a judgement, acknowledge there is validity, for truth’s sake and not put yourself as a defender of something that is not in keeping with Christ. Unless you would like to argue that believing humans do not have legalistic and rightness (not righteousness) tendencies.

    • @tw: It seems in every biblical reference you make, it is towards some aspect of moral behavior, and surely Christian or Christ-like ethics is important, but it is not way of salvation itself! This has always been the problem with the “worlds” idea of human salvation, i.e. a works righteousness. And part of this battle was seen in the Reformation, and still exists today! But faith itself is always God’s gift, and our response is the out-working of this grace itself, as we can see in Eph. 2: 8-9-10, with Phil. 2: 12-13…”work out your salvation with fear and trembling (awe & responsibility), for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for HIS good pleasure.” (Phil. 2: 11-12) We must not get the cart before the horse, however, Christian salvation is never a “works righteousness”, but God’s grace at work “in us”, that is always seen in repentance & faith. As St. Paul teaches in justification & sanctification, Romans chapter 5 thru 8! But again as our Reformers taught, we see this in the preaching and teaching of Law & Gospel. Law must always precede the Gospel or Good News, as we can see in Gal. 4: 1-7, noting the NT doctrines of imputation and adoption!

      The Pauline Gospel honours and fulfills Law/Gospel ‘In Christ’! And again, this is the Gospel of our Reformers! No dishonor, or “sloppy” so-called agape, but the Gospel and Righteousness of Christ! (Rom. 1: 16-17)

    • Btw, in this day and age, the Reformation (Luther and the Lutheran) Gospel, as the Reformed Gospel, (Calvin and the Geneva/Genevan) Gospel, is sadly fully seen or quite understood! One can surely see this, i.e. lack of.. on this blog also!

    • Luke

      @ brian:

      You said, “The You here is generally speaking and not aimed at you personally.”

      Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

      I will grant that some people of faith come across as arrogant and condescending. I point out in turn that 99% or thereabouts of the people of non-faith that I encounter here and elsewhere (mostly elsewhere) are at least equally prone to such display. As far as I can see, arrogance and condescension are human traits, not traits of faith per se.

      I will try not to respond to further off-topic comments; this isn’t the discussion I came here to have.

    • Brian

      “Thanks for pointing out the obvious.” -Luke.

      You make the point perfectly.

      So you agree that humans all act the same. Just some use Christ as a means for their arrogance. Great. What then was your disagreement about?

    • Wow! Then old St. Paul was one arrogant dude, with this logic… amazing!

    • thom waters

      Sorry to have intruded into this thread.

      And Luke, forgive me if at any point I indicated or gave you the impression that I was disrespecting in any way people of Faith, whatever the Faith. That was never my intention. I still find disagreement with the “rightness” of their approach where they seem to be the curators of Truth and the rest of us are viewed as mere saps.

      And pastor, thanks for excusing my lack of faith and placing it squarely in the hands of God, absolving me of any responsibility when you remind us that ” . . . faith, itself, is always God’s gift . . . ” Nice to be chosen. Mr. Rogers thought that we were all “special”. Maybe not.

    • It appears they have shut the blog comments off now? They do that sometimes.

    • Not sure, since I wrote a rather longer piece (just before my last), and it went who knows where?

    • Btw, people should note.. I am rather critical of all para-church structures, even P&P. Though I like CMP personally, I am certainly not a fan of evidential apologetics!

      Just shooting straight! 🙂

    • Luke

      @ brian: Your mischaracterization of my words is duly noted.

    • Btw tw, GOD does not “absolve” per se any of us, the question is, have we absolved ourselves ‘In Christ’? It is an I/thou relationship! And only the elect-sinner can say, “I know in Whom I have believed!” (2 Tim. 1:12)…”and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed (entrusted) unto Him against that day.”

    • JB Chappell

      I’m not familiar with the story in question, but with claims like this I always wonder – why no documentation? I have heard people claim all sorts of medical wonders have occurred to them, and I have always urged them to get their medical records together, because it is something that should be shared. But they never do. Of course, there are always those who might claim a photo or X-ray was photoshopped, but there are ways of determining that as well. But myself, it seems to me far more likely that someone thought they saw something they didn’t, or is lying, as opposed to an actual miracle having occurred.

    • Luke

      @ JB Chappell: You think that it’s “far more likely” that J. P. Moreland is lying or hallucinated about seeing an ear form than an actual miracle occurred?

    • JB Chappell

      @Luke

      That’s not quite what I said, but yes. There are more options than lying or hallucinating. Just being wrong is one of them. Perhaps he did see an ear grow (partially) back, but there’s a perfectly natural explanation for that. The difficulty with supernatural explanations is that they so often have become an unnecessary add-on to what laws of nature can explain. Is God behind the rainbow? Perhaps, but it isn’t necessary to go there, although we can understand why people may have done so in the past.

      Of course, the truth of the matter is that I have no idea what the probability of a miracle in this matter is, and I doubt anyone else does. So when we say “more likely”, it’s a completely subjective evaluation. In my experience, when people claim miracles happen, they are either appealing to the supernatural for something rather mundane (easily explained by coincidence), lying, or otherwise mislead/ing, etc. and so the collection of these possibilities outweigh the probability of a miracle.

      Which isn’t to say that I am not open to evidence. I would love to see medical records, photographs, or other evidence (other than anecdotes) of the account in question here.

    • Shane

      Yes, I believe the Moreland story about the ear. I’ve heard about partial healings before. God must have a reason for not doing a full restoration. God seems to do some strange things sometimes…..for reasons we don’t understand. Gulshan Esther, a Muslim woman who prayed to Jesus for 3 years for healing, finally got healed but it was not a 100% healing. She asked why? And the reply was because Jesus wanted her to be His witness. Gulshan’s story is available on Wikipedia. She became a Christian through her experience. Maybe the partial ear restoration was for the same purpose. Anyway, regardless of the reason (we won’t know until we go to Heaven), the main thing is that the man was able to hear again through that ear. God bless.

    • Gary Sellars

      It’s bad enough when pagan mockers refuse to believe, but when people who call themselves “Christians,” in light of the clear and unequivocal promises of God that He will do *ANYTHING* that we ask believing, I marvel at the “Christians” who are PROUD to add their names to the long line of “I don’t believe it” and make excuses why God doesn’t, when the fact is stinking unbelief only means the “unbelieving believer” won’t see any miracles.

      I’ve seen dozens right in front of my face and heard of far more and since I’m a “believing one,” I don’t have any problem believing that, since the Bible really is true, it’s only unbelief standing between “Christians” and miracles.

      That’s so simple that one would think one would have to have help to misunderstand it, yet, I hear Jesus saying, “When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Yes, Lord. I’ll believe for miracles and I know many others will too. It just seems the unbelieving believers like to be so vocal about their unbelief.

      It was that way when Jesus was walking the earth and since Mark 16:17-18 is still in Bible, and (for a second witness) we were told that God never changes, and (for a third witness), the Master Himself told us in Mark 11:23 that whatever we say and believe and doubt not, it will happen.

      Yet, interestingly, the same “unbelieving believers” not only pretend that Mark 11:23-24 doesn’t exist, they blaspheme the people who believe and disparagingly refers to GENUINE BELIEVERS as “blab it and grab it heretics” when the heretic is the one who refuses to believe the Bible.

      Oh, wait… that’s not a heretic; that’s an unbeliever, right?

    • Kevin Harris

      There may be precedence for a progressive healing from Christ and could apply to the partial-ear healing. In Mark 8:23-25 Jesus touches the blind man and he can partially see (“men look like trees”). Jesus touches him again and the restoration is complete. Why the two-stage miracle? (Did someone already mention this and I missed it?)
      As a side note, I’ve often thought that a radical healing (like an amputated limb growing back) could be extremely hard on the person healed. I think if it happened to me, I would be too overwhelmed to ever have a “normal” day again! It would probably throw me into a radical mindset that would make me hard to be around! My whole world would be so centered around the event that everything else would become mundane! I would be unable to balance my checkbook or engage day-to-day necessities. Maybe that’s just me, but if God did something like that for me, he would have to give me the grace to handle it as well.

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