Archive for April 26, 2009
Questions often lead to even more fundamental questions. If, for instance, you ask, “How reliable are the Gospel documents about Jesus?”, it leads to the more fundamental question, “Are the stories about Jesus even theoretically possible or are they intrinsically impossible?” If you conclude that miracles – at least in theory – are not unreasonable, you might then draw the conclusion that the actual event of a miracle depends on the existence of God. And this, of course, leads to the question, “Is there a God?”
But what kind of God? People have all kinds of ideas as to what or who God is. To say, without further explanation, that miracles depend on the existence of God is therefore meaningless. We might just as well say that miracles depend on the existence of Blank. We need to know what we mean when we use the word God. What kind of God could conceivably exist and be such a God as to work miracles?—to act into Nature?
Yet another issue is not only the nature of God but also, as it were, the nature of Nature. What does creation have to be like so that God can act into it?
A good illustration of such a God and such Nature can be found in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia is a world with a linear history, with a beginning and an end, and with (so to speak) a Story Writer within the story. By that I mean a character in the books who made up the whole of Narnia as an author makes up a story.
This Story Writer is Aslan the Lion, the King of Narnia and son of the Emperor-over-the-Sea. It was he who, at the beginning, called up the stars and the sun with a song so beautiful that one could hardly bear it. It was he whose wild tunes made the grassy land bubble “like water in a pot” until it burst and let the animals appear. It was he who chose some of the animals and endowed them with speech and intelligence. It was he who was always on the move when wrong needed to be turned into right. And it was he who, after the sun and the moon had become “one huge ball like a burning coal,” commanded Father Time to make an end of Narnia.
In this brief overview of Narnian history we have already stumbled upon three essential doctrines that Narnia exemplifies: that history is linear, that the world is real (not an illusion as in some Eastern worldviews), and that the world drama has a Story Writer who can act into the world.
Only this God can be a miracle worker. Only He can act into His creation in a meaningful way. If He were not the Source of all creation, then His miraculous powers would be limited, just as our miraculous powers are limited. We would not have discovered miracles beyond our own ability to work miracles, that is, to act into Nature as a force partially independent from Nature. Only a God completely independent from Nature can work completely independently into Nature.
And if the world were not real but an illusion, any talk of miracles would be nonsensical. There can be no miracles in an illusory world. If ordinary Nature did not exist, neither could extraordinary (miraculous) events exist in that Nature.