From the outside, you’d be forgiven for thinking God gave up doing miracles a little under 2,000 years ago. Hardly a page in the Bible goes by without something ordinarily impossible happening, and there are a lot of pages in the Bible to account for. But today we just hear of miracles through hearsay and sermons: someone who heard a story of someone who knew a person who was at a large meeting where healing was happening from the front of the stage.
For many Christians, it can feel they’re at seven degrees of separation from the supernatural.
One of those people was Lee Strobel.
Author of the bestseller The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel set to apply the rigours of journalistic investigation to the evidence for Jesus’ existence. His book became a sensation in America, putting apologetics firmly on the NYT Bestsellers list. But in doing so, he inadvertently opened up a bifurcating web of other investigations. If Christ was proved to be true, was else is or isn’t true?
The Case for Miracles is his most ambitious investigation yet. Every Christian believes in Christ, but not every Christian believes miracles still happen today. This means that as well as arguing to convince non-Christians, he has to persuade a number of Christians too. This split between believers who are convinced miracles still happen and those that don’t is a source of huge controversy; not because God is not powerful enough, but because there are people who have muddied the waters of miracles. This is what The Case for Miracles seeks to clear up:
Does God still work miracles today?
Separating the reality from the charade, Lee Strobel opens by investigating the case against the miraculous. He interviews Dr Michael Shermer, whose own personal tragedy acted as the instigator of his scepticism. The two discuss the hows and whys of Shermer’s disbelief from the offices of Skeptic Magazine, where the walls are lined with countless books and the shelves are adorned with “Wash Away Your Sin” soap, and a beer bottle labelled “Polygamy Peter: Why Just Stop At One”.
This conversation served to reaffirm Lee Strobel’s visit with someone so utterly non-theist. The margins of his notebook during the conversation read “Any credible book on miracles must deal with the ones that never happen”.
The miracle that didn’t happen was the one which caused Shermer to shed his faith. It concerned Shermer’s college girlfriend, Maureen, whose van veered off of a highway one night, leaving her with a broken back. Unable to walk, Maureen spent six months in the hospital, each day visited by Michael Shermer who cycled 25 miles to get there. Despite having an already waning faith, Shermer still pleaded with God for a miracle. “Sometimes tragedy”, Lee Strobel writes, “awakens faith.” And Maureen’s injury, for a brief moment in his life, awoke the desperate faith of Michael Shermer:
“I took a knee and bowed my head. I was as sincere as I had ever been. I asked God to overlook my doubts for the sake of Maureen, to heal her, to breathe life into her. As best I could at that moment, I believed. I wanted to believe.”
But nothing happened. Michael Shermer didn’t get his miracle.
This left him not so much bitter, for bitterness implies someone to be bitter about, but just more convinced than ever that there was no God. “I wasn’t very surprised. I thought, Well, there probably is no God. Stuff just happens”.
Millions of people have experienced the exact same chain of events. A miracle was what was needed, but not what was received. For Lee Strobel, entering into a discussion not only with someone at the receiving end of incredible pain but also who is so very articulate in their non-belief, was always bound to be a daunting experience.
But any reasonable argument doesn’t start with proclaiming one side to be right and the other wrong. Making a case for miracles involves asking hard questions, complex questions. Telling someone who has been dealt a hand of deep loss that miracles happen, just not to them, is not what this book is seeking. If anything, it’s wholly insensitive to even utter.
Investigating miracles means more than proving they are real. It involves asking why they don’t happen when they are most needed. Why some people experience healing and some don't.
Lee Strobel’s journey into the heart of God’s supernatural acts is his most ambitious to date. It’s a case that can change more than one’s faith. It has the power to change how you see the limits of what’s possible, and whether those limits should even exist in the first place.
The Case for Miracles by Lee Strobel is available to order today.
April 26th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Aaron Lewendon