by Rev. Samuel Son
Is it primitive of me to pray for miracles? My faith should be founded on something more constant like scripture reading, right? Wouldn’t Jesus dismiss my request the way he dismissed the crowd of Capernaum because he saw through their heart to their lust for exhibitionism? The supernatural serve as great entertainment. Why seek miracles? Besides, miracles did not bring anyone to repentance. In fact, miracles stood as witness against Capernaum for having seen miracles without any heart change.
Or is all this simply a smokescreen for the fact that we have accepted the naturalistic worldview?
Rudolph Bultmann, a New Testament scholar, said that "one cannot use electric light and radio, call upon modern medicine in case of illness, and at the same time believe in the world of spirits and miracles of the New Testament."
Are we not doing our own demythologization in practice when we don’t pray for God to work even if we say we believe everything in scripture happened as it was told.
I think there is some dishonesty when a person says that Jonah lived in the belly of a fish for three days but miracles don’t happen today as it did in those days. Actually, I don’t think Jonah was in the fish’s belly simply because the way the story is told (allegorical – especially if even cows are repenting in ashes), but I believe Jesus rose from the dead and that he still performs mini-resurrections.
We say our worldview had changed and it does not accept such interpretation. Which is another way to say that people in Jesus time were more easily duped -- the height of the modern man’s arrogance.
Resurrection was as incredible a claim back then as it is today, and so are miracles. But here is Jesus, and then those who were with him, doing things beyond explaining. It forced reexamination of the assumptions of their world view.
We don’t sustain a faith through miracles, but it is a way to be depend on God to change a person’s way of thinking. The apologetics I was taught focused so much on arguments because it actually believed reasoning can persuade a person. Reasoning is the struggle to make one’s assumptions fit with life experiences. And sometimes all the reasoning cannot make one’s assumptions tenable because the assumptions were wrong. But even at that moment of rethinking, no amount of argument can make a person replace their assumptions with that of resurrected Christ as the Son of God. That is a supernatural work. Something happens deep within and it is not the work of any smart human words. And quite often, there is a corresponding external supernatural work. It is a miracle of the body that corresponds with the miracle of the spirit so the person experiencing the supernatural can identify the being behind it all as God. Our witnessing comes into play at this point. We help them to see that it is Christ, the miracle worker who also wants to rescue them.
My grandfather was not convinced by preaching. He was convinced because God shut him up and his lips opened only when the village pastor and his wife, who had been praying for him more than three months while getting beat up, were singing a hymn and he joined them in the third verse. Preaching helped him built that faith, but it was the work of God that shattered his worldview with a new cornerstone.
Not all conversion happens with the same pattern. But it takes the work of God and nothing less. That is simply the affirmation of the doctrine of election, that God calls and regenerates our heart to respond. It also means that most of our witnessing begins in prayer and happens in prayer. Our words are pretty useless unless God speaks. And God speaks when we are listening.
The best apologetics is done on our knees.