Saturday, May 05, 2007

10 Questions That Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer, Question 1: Why won't God heal amputees?

Well, the video's first question is its best question.
So here is question #1: Why won't God heal amputees?

It's a simple question, isn't it? We all know that amputated legs do not spontaneously regenerate in response to prayer. Amputees get no miracles from God.

If you are an intelligent person, you have to admit that it's an interesting question On the one hand, you believe that God answers prayers and performs miracles. On the other hand, you know that God completely ignores amputees when they pray for miracles.

How do you deal with this discrepancy? As an intelligent person, you have to deal with it, because it makes no sense. In order to handle it, notice that you have to create some kind of rationalization. You have to invent an excuse on God's behalf to explain this strange fact of life. You might say, "well, God must have some kind of special plan for amputees." So you invent your excuse, whatever it is, and then you stop thinking about it because it is uncomfortable.

In the entire scope of redemptive history, miracles are very rare.

I'm not talking about extraordinary things which happen through Divine Providence. Examples of this use of the word "miracle" would be something like God arranging a bunch of naturally occurring things to, for instance, get the British troops out of Dunkirk. Or having a really cold winter to stymie the Nazi forces in the Soviet Union. Or cancer that goes away. I wouldn't classify those as miracles, even when they occur by God's decree. No, a miracle would be, and I'm using imprecise philosophical language, events caused by God where he sets aside the normal laws of nature. The Resurrection of Jesus would be one such example. Healing a person born blind would be another.

Miracles, of the type I just defined and described, are rare, even in the Bible. If Abraham is somewhere around 1600 BC and the New Testament is done by about 70-100 AD, we do not see that many miracles relative to the amount of time. The Bible is not a 24-hour news channel, reporting "news" even when there isn't news. The Bible is only highlighting things for our own edification.

And in the Bible we still see something else. In my reckoning, and correct me if I'm wrong, there are bursts of miraculous activity. The main eras of miracles are 1) Moses 2) Elijah 3) Jesus.

Miracles seem to occur to mark new eras in redemptive history, affirming the message for the people of God of new revelation. But as Jesus said, "a wicked and adulterous generation seek a sign." Jesus didn't heal everyone he met. He didn't perform miracles until the wedding at Cana, which was toward the beginning of his ministry.

For that reason, I don't expect to see many miracles today. John MacArthur has a pretty good summary of what I've inadequately tried to express here. I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to say there is no possibility of miracles today, but I wouldn't expect them.

To make it harder on myself, I would like to say that there are some passages which a surface reading suggests that we can get anything we want out of prayer if we have enough faith. God is not at our beckon call. He is a holy Lord whose ways are above our ways. He is not a cosmic bellhop. But I suggest reading this and this and this if interested in how to interpret those verses in context of the overall Bible, of those particular sections of Scripture, and of the Jewish culture of the day.

I don't mean to be flippant about any of these answers. I consulted with a dear brother in the faith who is born with birth defects and has suffered much medically over the last year. But his suffering has not been meaningless. It has been to God's glory.


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