Wednesday, April 6, 2016

De-confusing Miracles

Last week, I wrote a post called De-confusing the Bible, which laid out Webb's concept of the reading Scripture in light of the redemptive arc. As I mentioned at the time, I had not fully processed it but think it has tremendous explanatory power.

As I have further reflected, I think it has a great power to explain the ongoing concern of miracles.


First, though, a quick reminder.

The general concept of the Redemptive Arc theory is that not only is the meta-narrative of the Bible Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration, but also this same arc can be applied to any number of sub-narratives of the Bible, such as slavery, treatment of women, and sexuality.

Visually I showed it using a graphic of four trees (see right).

To put it in a graph/timeline form, you could look at it like the below:















So then, we begin with Creation/Paradise in the Garden. During the Fall, we find ourselves in Paradise Lost, and one day we are promised we will have Paradise Restored. In-between, we find God working on the redemption of paradise through the Scriptural laws and eventually, grace.

So what has this to do with miracles?


Well, typically when people talk about miracles, they describe them as a "violation of natural law"--it is God overruling the laws He created in order to bring about some particular effect.

But what if the miracle is actually a part of the Redemptive Arc? What if we think of it along those terms?


My new way of viewing miracles is this:  a miracle is a sneak peek of the Restoration, breaking through into human history. It is a shadow cast on our world by the bright light which is coming in Restoration.

It is as though Restoration is shrouded from our sight by the veil of time, and a miracle is when a small pinprick opens in that veil, allowing the Future to shine through.


Viewed this way, I think we find extraordinary explanatory power of what miracles are. Miracles are nothing less than God allowing temporarily some of the coming Restoration to happen early.

For example:

  • When Jesus or the apostles/prophets heal the lame, the blind, the leper, or the sick, it is a momentary flash revealing a future in which God removes all pain and suffering (Rev 21:4).
  • When Jesus turns water into wine, or calms the storm, it is a momentary flash revealing a future in which all of nature is made new and for the glory of God (Rev 21:5)
  • When Jesus raises people (and when Jesus Himself is raised) from the dead, it is a momentary flash revealing a future in which the grave will be opened and all men stand in new bodies before God (Rev 20:13)
  • When Joshua sees the sun stand still, it is a momentary flash revealing a future in which God Himself is the physical light and we need no sun to provide our vision (Rev 21:23)
  • When Jesus became incarnate as a baby to walk among us, it is a momentary flash revealing a future in which God will live and walk among us (Rev 21:3)

Graphically then, we could picture it like this:














We tend to view the world as run by a series of mechanical laws, and occasionally God waves a magic wand and interrupts the natural flow of things.

Slightly better is to view it as a broken machine, an old jalopy clunk-clunk-clunking along, which God organizes so that occasionally as needed everything aligns just so and we get a brief instant of pure and proper running without vibration or inefficiency or flaw...a taste of how the machine is supposed to run.

Best of all is to view us as a dead tree which is being healed, life beginning to grow, and every now and then God allows a whisper of the Future ahead of us to move backward into history and--just for the briefest of historical moments--we get a breathtaking view of what Eternity will actually be like.




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