C.S. Lewis on Miracles - page 6

 


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From the Fall 2004 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

C.S. Lewis on Miracles

by Art Lindsley, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute

 
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Sometimes the credibility of the miracles is in inverse ratio to the credibility of the religion. Thus, miracles are (in late documents I believe) recorded of the Buddha. But what could be more absurd than that he who came to teach us nature is an illusion from which we must escape should occupy himself in producing effects on the Natural level—which he who comes to wake us from a nightmare should add to the nightmare. The more we respect his teachings the less we could accept his miracles.

  So, miracles do not have the same place and significance—the same fitness in pantheism or paganism as in theism. It is particularly in Christianity that miracles have decisive significance converging on Christ. Prophecies, miracles, and the resurrection all demonstrate that He is one sent by God. In the Old Testament, miracles are present around agents of revelation or as a deliverance of God’s people (i.e. Red Sea) but do not have the same focus as in the New Testament (on Christ). In the Koran, Mohammed does not do any miracles—except the revelation of the Koran; whereas, Jesus is reported there to have done 16 miracles. Only in later Islamic tradition are there reports of miracles done by Mohammed.
  As Lewis says, miracles in the New Testament are greater in their “intrinsic probability” because of the credibility of the historic claims and their “organic connection”—they fit together and converge on Christ. Jesus’ miracles are not just powerful acts but also demonstrate who He is. So the healing of the man who was born blind (John 10) leads to the revelation that He is the light of the world. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (John 11) leads to the proclamation that He is the resurrection and the life, and so on. Miracles are often not only indicative of God’s power but have symbolic significance as well. They fit within the “whole structure” of the religion.

Summary

  To those who would deny the miraculous, C.S. Lewis might say: First, naturalists (who view nature as a closed box) have great difficulty sustaining their position because the credibility of the thinking used to establish the position is severely undermined by their own assumptions. Second, miracles are not impossible because there is no argument to prove that they cannot happen. Third,they are not improbable unless you wrongly oppose instances of natural law to unusual or miraculous events. You need to weigh the historical evidence for each of these unusual events before excluding or accepting them. Fourth, miracles are not inappropriate because there is a unique “fitness” of how miracles relate to Christianity by comparison with other religious systems.


Stuart McAllister

Dr. Arthur W. Lindsley Senior Fellow, C.S. Lewis Institute – Art Lindsley has served at the C.S. Lewis Institute since 1987. Formerly, he was Director of Educational Ministries at the Ligonier Valley Study Center, and Staff Specialist with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He is the author of C.S. Lewis’s Case for Christ, True Truth, Love: The Ultimate Apologetic, and co-author with R.C. Sproul and John Gerstner of Classical Apologetics, and has written numerous articles on theology, apologetics, C.S. Lewis, and the lives and works of many other authors and teachers. Art earned his M.Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently the Vice President of Theological Initiatives for the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics.

 
COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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