Douglas Groothuis

Defending Christian Faith, October 26, 2004




part 1



I.          Miracles and Christian Apologetics


A.        Miracles in the Bible: a necessary feature of biblical Christianity


1.         Apologetic asset:  confirming signs of God’s action


2.         Apologetic liability:  skepticism


B.        Miracles in church history and today. See Craig Keener, Gift Giver (Baker Books, 2001), chapters 3-5, especially


C.        Miracle claims in other religions


II.        What is a Miracle?


A.        Edward John Carnell’s definition of miracle, “An extraordinary visible act of divine power, wrought by the effective agency of the will of God, through secondary means accompanied by valid, covenantal revelation, and having as it final cause the vindication of the righteousness of the triune God” (Christian Apologetics).  Any problems?


B.        Biblical: sign or mighty act of God


C.        Miracles and the laws of nature


1.         The regularities of nature and God’s providence


2.         Miracles as supernatural agency involving the natural world


3.         Are miracles a “violation” of natural law?


4.         Miracles that do not require direct supernatural agency:  “special providences” or “constellation miracles” (W. Corduan)


D.        Miracles and worldviews


1.         Theism: miracles are possible


2.         Agnosticism:  miracles are possible


3.         Naturalism:  miracles are impossible


4.         Pantheism:  miracles are impossible:  No personal God to work them in God’s creation.  Nevertheless, pantheists claims extraordinary spiritual phenomena (“the paranormal”)