What Are Miracles?

Do you know people who never show up for anything on time? Lonely Man at Restaurant Waiting for the GirlfriendIt doesn’t matter when you tell them you’ll meet. If you say, “Come to my house at 1:00,” they’ll show up at 1:30, maybe even 1:45. They seem genetically incapable of arriving on time. Then one day you’re sitting in a restaurant. Your name is on the list for a table. You told your friend to meet you there at 6:30. But of course long before your friend arrives, you fully expect the twenty minute wait to have passed. Before they show up, you’ll be seated, possibly ordering something to drink. Then the door opens, and—what’s this? Your friend walks through and it’s—what? It’s only 6:29! Yep, it’s a miracle.

Or is it?

The great theologian Norman Geisler defines a miracle as “a special act of God that interrupts the normal course of events.” Former atheist Anthony Flew says: “A miracle is something which would never have happened had nature, as it were, been left to its own devices.”

A miracle is rare and unique. It’s a bit more unusual than our chronically late friend showing up on time. A miracle might break what we know as the laws of physics. It might be foreknowledge of future events. It might also be some kind of instantaneous healing that should never have happened. Some skeptics point precisely to this characteristic—the rarity and uniqueness of miracles—as a reason why we can’t believe in them. But this is like saying we can’t believe the universe was created because it happened only once. It was a unique event. So why should we believe it occurred? Yet it did.

So a miracle is an “act of God”. It’s not an autonomous event without cause or purpose. Behind a miracle is intelligence, purpose, and a plan.

But what about a natural event, like a storm, that comes at exactly the right moment? And what if that storm causes a specific outcome that God desires? What do we call that?

In my next post I’ll describe the difference between God’s providence and miracles. I’ll tell an untold tale of how the American colonies were saved from devastation by one act of God after another.


Miracles. What are they? Why do they occur? Are Christians delusional to believe in them? What are some of the miracles of the Bible? Do other religions have miracles and how do they differ? What are the arguments against miracles? Should we expect to see miracles today? These are the topics this blog thread will address.

In The Bonfires of Beltane, I describe miracles that St. Patrick performed. They were taken from legends surrounding him. And in the book’s climax, Taran, the main character, uses the power of God in a way we could call a miracle. (That scene, by the way, was borrowed from one of Patrick’s miracles.)

So can they really happen? Framed another way, the question is this: Can God do the impossible? Or rather, will he do the impossible? Is God inclined, sometimes, to work outside the normal course of events? Miracle-Ahead

Many have trouble believing in miracles. They occur outside the normal order of our world. They break the natural laws we’ve come to expect. The skeptic looks at a miracle, shakes his head, and says, “Only a fool would believe in such a thing.” Yet if we don’t believe that God can do miracles, we cannot believe in the Bible, the revelation that God sent to mankind.

The Bible is replete with the miraculous. Joshua calls upon God and the sun stands still for an entire day. Moses brings ten plagues down upon a hard-hearted Pharaoh, and then parts the Red Sea. A young girl named Mary becomes pregnant with the Savior of the world even though she was a virgin. Jesus himself turns water into wine, feeds thousands from a single basket of fish and bread, walks on water, and raises Lazarus from the dead. Paul even raises Eutychus from the dead after the poor man nods off during one of Paul’s sermons and falls from an upstairs window. The book of Acts is filled with miraculous signs and wonders performed by the Holy Spirit.

So belief in miracles is a prerequisite to faith. If we don’t believe God can perform miracles, we really don’t believe in God.

For the next two months or so, I will be posting at least twice a week on the subject of miracles. The next post will address the question: What is a miracle?

Contract With Lighthouse Publishing Of the Carolinas

I just learned yesterday from my agent that Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas has offered me a contract for “The Epic Tale of Taran Mac Teague”. (New title is “The Bonfires of Beltane”.) The target date for book release is June 2016. Stay tuned…