Paul has been widely studied as a theologian; however his views on the miraculous have been often neglected. Twelftree attempts to alleviate this situation by addressing to what extent Paul’s ministry and teaching included the miraculous. A guiding principle in deciphering the historical Paul is that Paul’s life and work are as important as his theological contributions. The book consists of 5 parts addressing the person of Paul, Paul’s inheritance, Paul’s testimony, Paul’s interpreters, and Paul’s relationship to the miraculous. Will Twelftree agree with the majority view that Paul excised Christianity of the miraculous or will he take up arms to defend the charismatic view that Paul was comfortable with the miraculous? Read the rest of this entry »
Posts Tagged ‘miracles’
This collection of eighteen essays, edited by Regent University’s Distinguished Professor of New Testament Graham Twelftree, examines miracles from a range of perspectives. It includes critical approaches (involving authors skeptical about miracles as well as others who engage with historical figures like Hume, Spinoza, and Voltaire), religiously-informed approaches (that accept the actuality of such occurrences on the basis of their tradition-based and philosophical reasonings with historical proponents like Aquinas in Christianity, Vasubandhu in Buddhism, and Maimonides in Jewish thought), and interdisciplinary approaches (explaining miracles in philosophical debates, and its application for those in palliative care, i.e., care-givers to patients who desire miraculous cures for their ailments). While not organized as sections dealing with critical, confessional/religious, and interdisciplinary approaches, this threefold categorization helped me as a reader to appreciate the complexity behind the volume’s efforts in making sense of the miraculous. Read the rest of this entry »
In the interest in full disclosure, Dr. Clark [mentioned below] recently had some sharp words for our own Dr. Dale Coulter. While this post was initiated by reading Dr. Clark’s blog as a result of his prior comments about Dr. Coulter’s earlier blog, this post is in no way a response to or attack of Dr. Clark for his previous comments.
Recently I read a blog article written by Westminster Seminary California Church Historian Dr. R. Scott Clark entitled “Rome, Pentecostals, and Credulity” and was very surprised to read that he thinks that the one thing “Romanists and Pentecostals” share is our creepy miracles. On this topic Clark writes “I use the pejorative adjective intentionally because, at bottom, despite the formal differences between them, both are peddling magic and superstition and that’s creepy.”
Are “Pentecostal/Charismatic” miracles really creepy?
I could argue against this sort of simplistic perception using exegetical arguments or by lowering myself to the same sort of rhetoric that Dr. Clark resorts to, but I am sure that this approach would just send us around the merry-go-round again and again, so instead I want to approach this by providing a testimonial. I know, the appeal to personal experience is so anti-intellectual, but let’s leave the enlightenment need to rationalize everything here for a minute and deal with the existential realities of human experience, however subjective this form of argument may be. This does not mean, as many Pentecostals and Charismatics are accused of, that we leave our minds behind, but I am asking that we set aside the old way of using our minds for just a few minutes. I do not intend to address all of Dr. Clark’s statements in this post, but I intend only to offer a story about how the love of Christ has manifested itself in my life with the hopes of opening a dialog whereby ones lack of analogous experience does not serve as justification for immolation.
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In order to understand the problem one must first understand a little bit about the cultural climate in which Paul lived. The Roman Empire, in Jesus and Paul’s day, controlled everything from Spain in the west to the Arabian Peninsula in the east. Each territory of the Roman Empire was ultimately under the rule of the Caesar who appointed Governors to ensure order was maintained throughout the Empire. These governors were famous for using their vast military might to crush uprisings with brute force. Any hint of an uprising or any question of who the real ruler of the Empire was and the Governor was likely to squash you and your group with swift and decisive action. These were the likely events that surrounded Jesus’ own crucifixion, of which Jesus’ followers were all too familiar. Even Paul, who was not one of Jesus’ followers at the time of his death but who claims to have seen the resurrected Jesus (Gal 1:11-17; 1 Cor 9:1; 1 Cor 15:8-11), knew what happened when someone was proclaiming the coming of a new kingdom with a new king. It would follow then that Paul, cognizant of his surroundings, would have taken care not to write anything that might be intercepted and traced back to him as some kind of clarion call to begin a battle against Rome and inaugurate a new kingdom. Furthermore, Paul was often writing to a mixed Jewish and Gentile audience. It is likely that the Gentile audience would not have understood a discussion of the kingdom of God in the way that Paul would have intended it, and so in most instances, Paul refrains from talking about the kingdom of God. The question remains though, did Paul know anything about Jesus’ kingdom message?
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