February 04, 2007
Dr. Burke's premise is that there are a lot of people claiming miracles where they don't exist. He doesn't say that God doesn't do miracles today -- he is simply saying that a lot of what we think are miracles are not. The problem lies in how we define a miracle.
C.S. Lewis defined miracles as "... an interference with Nature by supernatural power." Dr. Burke goes a bit further, agreeing with John MacArthur's definition of a miracle as "an extraordinary event wrought by God through human agency, an event that cannot be explained by natural forces." For the purposes of the discussion in this book, with the types of miracle claims Burke is examining, MacArthur's definition serves the purpose better than Lewis'. Burke is attempting to examine specific miracles of healing, especially as manifested among faith-healing televangelists like Benny Hinn.
Many people have examined the faith-healing phenomenon before. The value in a book such as this is that the faith healers are being examined not by an agnostic or an atheist, but by a Christian. The goal is not to debunk belief in God, but to show that the "miracles" wrought by faith healers do not fit the definition -- they are explainable by natural forces, when they are verifiable at all.
The most fascinating part of the book for me was the discussion of the psychological aspects of healing, especially when connected with faith healers. We tend to forget that we've been designed by the ultimate Designer, and He has equipped us with the ability to heal ourselves in many, many cases. Dr. Burke presents a very persuasive case that many people who experience miraculous healings have, in fact, simply allowed their bodies to do what God designed them to do.
Word of faith folks will not like this book -- Burke skewers their "name it, claim it" theology quite well, giving examples of people whose faith is never in doubt but who did not receive the expected physical healing. He reminds us of faith healers who apparently didn't have enough faith to be healed themselves, because they died of heart disease, cancer, etc. And we're reminded that Christ's miracles were done with one purpose -- to give glorify God. Too often, modern miracles are done to glorify the man. That, in and of itself, should be a warning sign to discerning Christians.
Dr. Burke has done the Christian community a valuable service with this book, and the series that it's a part of, An MD Examines. The books are very easy to read, but contain important information that all Christians should have.
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