Re: [asa] Hiding the miraculous?

From: Chris Barden <>
Date: Wed Jun 13 2007 - 13:49:14 EDT

Merv asked that I make a comment he sent to me part of the list's
conversation -- the unquoted lines are his, not mine:

Quoting Chris Barden <>:

> Pancreatic cancer is close to mind because I recently had an aunt
> succumb to the disease. She was a strong Christian, so I tried to
> focus on her future hope as solace for her present pain. I was well
> aware of her extremely poor prognosis, and did not pray for healing as
> the solution to her pain. But others in my family were praying
> fervently for healing, and they were crushed when it did not happen.

Sorry to hear about your aunt. I had a similar experience when my nephew
succumbed to his brain tumor almost a month ago now. Many were praying hard
for him, but when he continued to degenerate, the general tone of prayers I
heard had less emphasis on requesting miraculous intervention and more
emphasis on God working his will whichever way that would be, and that He
would be glorified and would comfort the family even if Nathan died. And his
parents were among those who were praying this way.

> We Christians are in tension. We say that faith as small as a mustard
> seed can move mountains. We hear and read anecdotes about faith
> healings, like in Nepal as an excerpt of Yancey's book indicates:
> "Nepalese church leaders estimate that 80 per cent of converts have
> resulted from physical healings." We want to believe this _could_
> happen, but we also know things usually happen in accordance with
> natural laws. What I don't know about this subject could fill
> volumes, but I'm pretty sure a clinical survey of Nepalese showing P <
> 0.001 significance in spontaneous healings would be front-page news.
> So can we say, then, that if God has worked this many miracles in
> Nepal, that he has chosen them over some other group? And would a
> clinical survey demonstrate this, i.e. a rise in healings in Nepal
> balanced by a drop somewhere else? I'm inclined to think not, that in
> fact most of these healings in Nepal are not low-probability events
> and would therefore not be applicable to this test. But I'm curious.
> Chris

I suspect (& also with volumes unknown) that God's providence is at work in
healings with both the prayed-for and the not-prayed-for. (Sun & rain come
down the same on the righteous and the wicked...) But then this makes it
sound like prayer makes no difference -- but I believe it does. It's easy to
say the primary difference occurs in the one praying ... in their own
attitude, coping, and all that. But even that is not quite satisfactory, if
one stops there. I have faith it makes a difference even in that
scientifically unexplainable sense to the person prayed for as well. But as
you suggest, that is probably impossible to pin down statistically. The main
evidence is anecdotal which scientifically minded people have good reasons for
rejecting. But Christians should not limit themselves to scientifically
empirical evidence. The evidence of testimony does count for us. As Paul
Brand suggests in some of his writings, the power of the mind and of positive
faith should not be underestimated, and to attribute healings to that is NOT
to deny God's role in that healing, since God created our minds with their
powerful effects on our bodies. It is all in His providence.


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Received on Wed Jun 13 13:49:42 2007

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