Re: [asa] Hiding the miraculous?

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Date: Tue Jun 12 2007 - 15:12:01 EDT

Philip Yancey in a recent book on prayer (I think that was the title in fact)
wrestles with these very questions. And he isn't the type to offer formulaic
answers, but he is informed by the experiences and correspondences of many who
confide with him positively and negatively regarding prayer and miracles. I
find his writings to have integrity and to be impossible to put in a box.

I find the objections against the apparent "inconsistencies" of answered
Christian prayer to themselves, be shortsighted and inconsistent according to
their own assumptions. The logical conclusion (if there was one) of their
objection to non-universal healings or "sparings" is that nobody can ever die
unless it be some form of "ideal" or peaceful death in bed -- which others
would then, in any case, find objectionable. Moreover nothing bad could ever
happen in the world because if it did, then those subjected would have been
unfairly treated by God. Christians (and to my knowledge --nobody) has ever
claimed the world should exist in this ridiculously absurd and unimaginable
state. It's basically nonsense, and Dawkins or others would be unable to
answer the question: So what would the world have to be like before you would
say "OK, now God is consistently answering prayer." They construct an
illogical & undefinable ideal and then hold Christianity in contempt for not
achieving it.

An aside: I seem to remember Yancey using Pancreatic cancer as one of the
cancers he has never ever heard of any healing or documented remissions from
from among the thousands of accounts he does have of apparent answers to
prayer. Apparently that is one of the deadlier cancers -- it would be
interesting to self-proclaimed hear faith healers comment on it.

Here is one other memory from Yancey's reflections. A high profile faith
healer once traveled from the U.S. to (Cambodia, I think) and prior to his
going, the advance notice spread around the nation that people could come
expecting to be healed of their physical ailments. Peasants (many of whom had
lost limbs to land mines) literally sold their farms and worldly goods to make
the trip to the city. When the big day came, it became apparent that restored
limbs & such were not going to be among the healings that would happen. There
was rioting and the evangelist had to be airlifted out of the situation and
removed back to the U.S. Missionaries who had been and who remained in that
country said the setback for Christianity from that is lasting. And no one
could claim that these peasants did not have the faith to be healed. This is
what we Christians who claim faith will move mountains have to answer for.
But the problem is more with ill-given promises and western-style expectations
toward some vague notion of a utopia that never quite comes into focus. I
don't have answers either -- other than not to promise any. Sometimes the
only compassionate response we can offer somebody who, say, lost a loved one,
is to cry and rail at God with them.


Quoting Chris Barden <>:

> After watching the McGrath-Dawkins interview that Iain helpfully
> provided the link for, I began to think of an issue tangentially
> touched upon in their discussion about the tsunami. Many children
> died in the tsunami, and those who did not were said some of their
> parents to be "saved by God." Dawkins takes McGrath much to task for
> agreeing with these parents, because of its (apparent) implication
> that God chose not to save all those others. On the one hand, McGrath
> argues for the fallen nature of the world accounting for natural evil;
> on the other, he asserts it is God's right to intervene, which strikes
> Dawkins as inconsistent.
> A similar, though not quite parallel, case can be made concerning
> so-called "terminal" illnesses. In certain infections or end-stage
> cancers, the recovery of the patient is highly improbable, and so
> those who do recover are often said to have been "miraculously
> healed." To which Dawkins might ask: couldn't they just be lucky? A
> probability of 0.001 is still greater than a probability of zero,
> after all. This explanation is made stronger by the observation that
> rate of spontaneous healings can be predicted to occur in, say, 1 in
> 1000 and remain constant. For example, if God healed more people of
> pancreatic cancer in 2005 than in 2006, we should be able to see this
> effect; yet it eludes us.
> A possible answer: Could it be that, while God generally respects the
> boundaries of the fallen world and does not intervene against the
> process (e.g. the 1 in 1000), he nevertheless does directly choose the
> 1 who survives? Certain readings of Scripture might suggest that,
> especially as regards remnant theology and of the Urim and Thummim.
> But I haven't come across this particular answer in any apologetic
> materials I've read. Does anyone know of any work grappling with this
> answer?
> Chris
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Received on Tue Jun 12 15:12:36 2007

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