How non-Charismatic Protestants should view Craig Keener’s "Miracles"

Dear Readers:

If you have been following this blog for the last week or so, you know that I have been reviewing Christian Bible scholar, Craig Keener’s book entitled, “Miracles”, in which Keener gives page after page of modern miracle claims in two thick volumes.  This book was recommended to me by Christian apologist Nick Peters of Theology Web.  Nick repeatedly uses the alleged miracles in Keener’s book as support for the probability of the greatest alleged Christian miracle:  the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Nick asserts that if so many miracles are happening today, why should we doubt Jesus’ miracles in the Gospels?

I think his argument is a canard.

I left the comment below on Theology Web:

Gary:

 Dear Protestant friends:

Would you go to a stock broker who tried to push a stock on you to purchase that he himself hadn’t purchased? Would you take his advice on anything? So why listen to someone who is pushing the reality of the claims of modern faith-healers when he himself does not attend a Church that believes in faith healers??

Nick doesn’t attend a Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, or Orthodox church. He attends a LUTHERAN church. Other than the Calvinists, you can’t get much more anti-faith healer than the Lutherans. I recommend we not believe Nick’s claims of modern faith healing until Nick puts his money where his mouth is!

I believe that Nick is using Keener’s unsubstantiated, anecdotal, third-hand at best miracle claims as a canard. He doesn’t really believe them. He just wants to use them to prop up his weak argument for the Resurrection.

My Protestant friends: Get out your history books. Take a look at western society prior to Martin Luther. It was a THREE-RING CIRCUS! Practically every church on the planet, Catholic or Orthodox, had a relic or an icon with magical powers. Some churches claimed to have nails from the cross; the blood that was mopped up at the foot of the cross; thorns from the crown of thorns; and of course, Jesus’ burial clothes. So many churches claimed to have pieces of the cross itself that you could have constructed a two story house from all the wood! Multiple churches claimed to have the baby teeth, hair, and foreskin of Jesus! Magic tricks and relic shows were on every street corner!

Do you really want to turn western society back into that kind of a mystical/hocus-pocus carnival side show??

Well that is what Keener and his fellow charismatics are tying to accomplish. They want to overturn rational thinking with magic and hocus pocus. They want to find something mystical under every rock and wood pile. They want to turn the art of healing into an hysteria-driven, holy-roller spectacle.

Believe in the miracles of Jesus by faith, my Protestant friends, but don’t buy this unscientific, third-hand, anecdotal, Pentecostal nonsense, that Keener and Nick are peddling!

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19 thoughts on “How non-Charismatic Protestants should view Craig Keener’s "Miracles"

  1. < < Take a look at western society prior to Martin Luther. It was a THREE-RING CIRCUS! Practically every church on the planet, Catholic or Orthodox, had a relic or an icon with magical powers.>>

    What do you mean “prior to Luther” vs. “Orthodox churches”?

    <>

    In contrast, being surrounded by demons and throwing ink at them was not par for the course with Orthodox, even if that kind of thing happened to them too sometimes.

    I would say that Calvin was the one who relied on materialistic reasoning. But with no magic show, things weren't as fun anymore, so maybe this explains why Calvin killed “heretics” to focus his energy.

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  2. < < Take a look at western society prior to Martin Luther. It was a THREE-RING CIRCUS! Practically every church on the planet, Catholic or Orthodox, had a relic or an icon with magical powers.>>

    What do you mean “prior to Luther” vs. “Orthodox churches”?

    (((Since his childhood Luther was pestered by devils, evil spirits, and demons. He reported about such occurrences during his later life as well, these fears of being attacked increased especially during his time of seclusion at the Wartburg, Luther ascribed his depressions and mood swings to these ‘evil spirits’.

    This constant fear of Satan is normal for the late-Middle Ages and rooted in the religious upbringing within his home and at school.

    Luther defended himself against this constant hostility through prayer, ‘happy song’ or more rigorously by throwing his inkwell. Luther, awakened by the devil during the night, supposedly courageously defended himself against Satan by throwing an inkwell at him. (www.luther.de/e/tintenfass.html))))

    In contrast, being surrounded by demons and throwing ink at them was not par for the course with Orthodox, even if that kind of thing happened to them too sometimes.

    I would say that Calvin was the one who relied on materialistic reasoning. But with no magic show, things weren't as fun anymore, so maybe this explains why Calvin killed “heretics” to focus his energy.

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  3. I think that Martin Luther was mentally ill and I think that Jean Calvin was a sadist. Still, they did the world a great benefit by appealing to Reason over Magic.

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  4. Gary,
    I think you are making a great point in this post that mainstream protestants are skeptical of miracles. But this is really more true of conservative, confessional Calvinism than of Luther with his demons or of Quakers' George Foxe with his visions or prophecies.

    In contrast to Luther's experience, Calvin wrote that exorcists can't give any “specimens” to prove their work. Calvin was categorical when it came to some major issues with the Natural Order. When a Catholic challenged him to show he had done a miracle, to prove if he was sent by God, Calvin replied that the gifts were done with the Aposolic age. It's a big point here, because most US Protestants are Reformed.

    His key terms here are “natural order” and the “laws of nature”, although in debate with Lutherans he denied their claim that he was subjecting Jesus' body to the laws of nature by denying the real presence in the ritual food.

    My personal big reluctance with getting into Calvin's revolution in naturalist thinking about religion is what you said about him being a sadist. It's like having Torquemada be your Bertrand Russell or your Darwin.

    CALVIN'S VICTIMS: THE PROTESTANT INQUISITION
    by the Abbé Julien Rouquette (1871-1927)
    https://sites.google.com/site/atheistresource/calvin-s-victims—the-protestant-inquisition

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  5. Sadism: enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain.

    I would say that receiving a sense of satisfaction is a form of enjoyment. One could deny that Calvin “enjoyed” watching “heretics” burn, but you cannot deny that he obtained satisfaction from his actions.

    Anyone who receives satisfaction from torturing another human being for what that person believes, is a sadist.

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  6. Over and over Calvin connects “pleasure” with “punishment”, Gary.

    “If what I teach is true, that those who perish are destined to death by the eternal good pleasure of God though the reason does not appear, then they are not found but made worthy of destruction.”( Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.121)

    The Roman Catholic system of Soteriology is nicer. You need to encourage your Reformed friends to come home to Mother Church and the See of Peter to save their souls from this spirituality.

    humor, but an aspect of truth.

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  7. The Reformed in England abolished Christmas holidays.

    I think the world is nicer with Christmas, regardless of superstitious aspects.

    “Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” H.L. Mencken

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  8. No.

    I cannot prove that there is no such thing as a soul but neither can I disprove the existence of fairies and leprechauns.

    I can't prove that the soul or other supernatural entities do not exist; but I choose to ignore their possible existence until better evidence is presented for their existence.

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  9. I know firsthand that I, my soul, exists, as distinguishable from my soul, but I don't know firsthand whether you exist outside of my sensations of your being. Nor perhaps can I prove to you using the physical media of this universe that your soul exists separate from your body. Maybe if you die and have out of body experiences and you are aware you're dead, this will be a good proof, but then it won't be me and you typing on the keyboard materially.

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  10. There is me / I and there is the physical world that I'm observing, the physical world that includes my body being distinct from me, “the observer”.

    Not sure if this proves my existence distinct from the physical world.

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  11. ie. My soul, the subject, the observer, might exist together with the world, the physical, my body, the object, but the subject is also distinguishable from the latter.

    It reminds me of the relationship between Brahman and Paratma that I've real about lately. The absolute reality and the supreme soul.

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  12. But Paratma seems maybe not the same concept as God's soul in Christianity. Maybe Hindus debate God's status like Christians have.

    I heard that God's relationship to reality has been seen in different ways by Christians, with Calvinists maintaining a stronger duality between God and his creation that some prior mainstream Christian theologians did. Not sure about this.

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