Archive for the ‘Supernaturalism’ Category

Cessationism must account for the Supernatural work of the Spirit

December 17, 2013

Douglas Brown (Baptist minister under whose preaching the Revival at Lowestoft in 1921 came) was staying at the (Oulton) Rectory during this week of meetings and in the early hours of Thursday morning he was awakened by a voice saying. ‘Thou shalt see greater things than these.’ (John 14:12) He slipped quietly down to the study to pray and soon the door opened and the Rector appeared. He too had been awakened and had received the same message from John’s Gospel1.


1Stanley C Griffin, A Forgotten Revival: Recollections of the great Revivals of East Anglia and North East Scotland of 1921 (DayOne Publications: 2000)

The Lowestoft Revival of 1921 was indisputably a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. Surely a cessationist cannot dismiss such supernatural workings of the Spirit but must accommodate them within his theology of the Spirit.

Long, long ago, a frog lived at the bottom of a well. One day, the frog looked up and saw a turtle from the Eastern Sea silhouetted against the sky at the edge of the well

November 17, 2009

Long, long ago, a frog lived at the bottom of a well. One day, the frog looked up and saw a turtle from the Eastern Sea silhouetted against the sky at the edge of the well. He tried to convince the turtle to join him in his wonderful well, of which he was the master. The turtle started to descend into the well, but she realized it was too narrow and she would get stuck. So she withdrew and told the frog instead about how deep and wide the sea is. The frog was left dumfounded. He could not imagine the immensity and magnitude of the sea, as he has never seen it. The idiom “frog at the bottom of a well,” or “looking at the sky from the bottom of a well,” which grew out of this Daoist fable, has come to represent a state of limited vision and even ignorance — of not being able to see outside of one’s own immediate environment.

A story by Zhuangzi (c. 369-295 BC), one of the founders of Daoism, sheds light on the ancient Chinese concept of the World (Zhuangzi, Chapter 17: “The Floods of Autumn”).

The Naturalist, life the frog, cannot conceive of miracles because they do not fit his ‘vision’ of the world. They are ‘impossible’ because he knows, as the frog ‘knew’ that the sea cannot be vast, that miracles cannot occur.

Harnack’s Inconsistency

September 10, 2009

We are firmly convinced that what happens in space and time is subject to the general laws of motion, and that in the sense, as an interruption of the order of nature, there can be no such things as miracles (Adolph Harnock, Das Wesen des Christenums [Leipzig, 1933], p. 17).

But he still wanted to salvage something: “That the earth on its course stood still; that a she-ass spoke; that a storm was quieted by a word, we do not belive, and we shall never again believe; but that the lame walked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard will not be so summarily dismissed as an illusion. (Harnack, What is Christianity?)

in R. Abba, Nature and Authority of the Bible, p.153

Harnack’s inconsistency is plain to true believer and atheist alike. Why believe in Christ’s miracles and deny the Old Testament miracles? If God be God, why can he do the the former and not the latter. If God is not, then neither set of miracles are really miracles but merely await a naturalistic explanation.

Liberalism tried to cosy up to the zeitgeist of Modernism whilst trying to retain a sanctuary of belief – a miserable, compromising failure.

Miracles are restoration of nature’s laws, not violation

September 10, 2009

There is a disturbing element in the world…a principle at work absolutely contrary to the principle of Law – what the bible calls sin…If miracle seems abitrary and violent, may it not be because some forcible method is necessary to redress the balance already upset by the introduction of evil into a world originally ‘very good’?…When the physician…restores the body to health, although he forcibly interrupts a series of physical processes which apart from him must have worked themselves out, he is really ranged on the side of the natural and normal…May we not say then that in the sphere of biblical miracle the real intervention is not the intervention of grace, but that of the sin that required it?

J.R.Dummelow in R.Abba, Nature and Authority of the Bible, p.138

Naturalism in Liberal Theology

September 9, 2009

This closedness (of the universe) means that the continuum of historical happenings cannot be rent by the interference of supernatural, transcendent powers and that therefore there is no ‘miracle’ in this sense of the word.

[Rudolf Bultmann, Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, ed.Hans WernerBartsch, trans. Reginald H. Fuller, (London: Billing and Sons, 1954), p. 292.]

1. This viewpoint is passé, or should be.

2. It’s another reminder not to be wedded to the spirit of the age because his thinking, though ‘cutting edge’ and trendy then, is very much ‘widowed’ now

Naturalism and Supernaturalism

October 3, 2008

The distinction between “natural” and “supernatural” does not mean, indeed, that nature is independent of God; it does not mean that while God brings to pass supernatural events, natural events are not brought to pass by Him. On the contrary, the believer in the supernatural regards everything that is done as being the work of God. Only, he believes that in the events called natural, God uses means, whereas in the events called supernatural He uses no means, but puts forth His creative power. The distinction between the natural and the supernatural, in other words, is simply the distinction between God’s works of providence and God’s work of creation; a miracle is a work of creation just as truly as the mysterious act which produced the world.

J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, ch.4