Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An Interview With Craig Keener On Miracles

Michael Brown just interviewed Craig Keener on his recent book about the historicity of miracles.


  1. As I've mentioned before, I'm not only a Calvinist (15 years), but also a Charismatic (~22 years). There aren't many people who are both, but there's a growing number of "Reformed and Charismatic" Christians. Notable Calvinists who were/are also continuationists include:

    Andrew Murray, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Sam Storms, Matt Slick, James K. A. Smith, Vincent Cheung.
    [they may not identify themselves as "Charismatic" or don't like (or are hesitant to use) the term]

    Here's a link to one of my blogs where there are additional links to their websites, biographies and books.

    I'm among those who believe that the use of signs and wonders for *evangelism* is seriously under appreciated in the church. However, I'm not so sure whether they are useful for (or authorized by God for) apologetics in light of passages like Matt. 12:29; 16:4 where Jesus says "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah."

    Having said that, there are a number of Christian ministers who I personally believe successfully and regularly operate in the supernatural. Not just supernaturally, but (IMHO) specifically by the power of God in distinction from demonically empowered thaumaturgical activity.

    Among those who I could mention (and I'm tempted to mention more than one), the most respectable and reputable I can think of is Charismatic minister Roger Sapp. "He honorably retired from the U.S. Army in 1993 and was a theology professor for 5 years until he began to travel in ministry. He holds a Bachelor, a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees."

    Here are some of the drawbacks to his ministry. He's self-consciously not a Calvinist. He associates with "Toronto Blessing" (and similar) folk (though he's much more conservative, reserved even orthodox than most of them). Finally, he believes that it is ALWAYS God's will to heal the sick. Nevertheless, I do believe God uses him to minister healing and deliverance to people (both Christian and non-Christian).

    As many know, Calvinists tend to be cessationists and strict cessationists (or sometimes semi-cessationists, the "Open But Cautious" view). Just as Charismatics tend to be anti-Calvinistic. My personal belief, and the way I've personally synthesized my Charismatic and Calvinistic heritage is to believe that it is always God's Revealed Will to heal, even if it isn't always God's (secret) intention to heal according to His Will of Decree (AKA secret/hidden sovereign will). I'm using the Calvinistic distinction between 1. God's Revealed (preceptive, prescriptive) Will and 2. Decreed Will in my synthesis in the area of *HEALING* the same way Calvinists use it for the area of *SALVATION*. While according to God's decreed will, He only purposes to save some, it is nevertheless God's revealed will that all who come to Christ for salvation shall be saved. So, just as we should never counsel anyone not to believe in Christ for their salvation until they are assured that God has decreed them to be saved, in the same way we should never counsel anyone not to believe for healing or expect healing until they know God has decreed that they shall be healed or healed at a particular time. Rather, we should encourage people to expect and believe for healing. The only possible (but not necessary) downside to this kind of approach is if someone expects himself or someone else (e.g. a family member) to be healed and gets disappointed or is caught unprepared for a death.

  2. I do believe that if anyone has "enough" faith, healing will ALWAYS happen (James 5:13-16; John 14:12-14; Mark 9:23; Matt. 17:19-21; 21:21-22; Luke 17:6) whether instantaneously or gradually. In that way, I agree with the old line Pentecostals, even if many modern Pentacostals and (especially) the more theologically sophisticated Charismatics disagree. However, AS A CALVINIST, I also believe that faith IS ITSELF the gift of God and therefore healing is ultimately in God's sovereign hands either to grant or withhold. As Calvinists we are not supposed to try to divine God's hidden will, but press on to achieve and receive God's revealed will. It's God's revealed will that we live perfectly holy (Matt. 5:48). Because of that, we ought to strive for moral perfection regardless of whether we actually attain it. In the same way, we ought to ask/strive healing and health regardless of whether we actually attain it here on earth (fully or partially). God's redemptive names still apply whether it be Jehovah-Tsidkenu (The LORD our Righteousness/Justification), Jehovah-Mekoddishkem (The LORD our Sanctifier) AND EVEN Jehovah-Rapha (The LORD our Healer) [or the other Jehovah compound names].

    By the way, God can also heal in the absence of strong faith. Walter Martin once testified how a lady in a church meeting asked him to pray for her and he had near zero faith for it. Yet, the lady was miraculously healed to his own amazement. Soon afterward (in a matter of days), some parents asked him to pray for their son and he felt he had an enormous amount of faith to get the child well. But he prayed and nothing happened.

    Here are some online books by Calvinists on the application of the supernatural

    Andrew Murray's classic book "Divine Healing" alternative link

    Vincent Cheung's
    Biblical Healing
    Faith to Move Mountains

  3. The following are some links to Roger Sapp's audio/video material. His website has many freely downloadable files www.allnationsmin.org

    There are other websites that freely offer his audios/videos including:

    An Interview on the TV show It's Supernatural

    A radio interview on Messianic Vision

    Sermon "Creating the Right Spiritual Chemistry for Healing"

    Search the sermons that are available

    Search the sermons that are available

    Examples of healings on YouTube
    example # 1
    This one shows how he's not the typical flashly, con artist looking "Faith Healer" we're all accustomed to seeing on TV.

    example # 2

    example # 3

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvSKu0KClgU&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLFF5E9FE77F76CCF7>example # 4</a>

  4. Here's the working link to example # 4

    While there are many more books I could recommend, here's another title from Calvinist author Sam Storms, "The Beginner's Guide to Spiritual Gifts" (amazon.com link)

  5. Here are two articles by Calvinist (some say Hyper-Calvinist) Vincent Cheung where he argues against cessationism. I think his criticisms of cessationists and cessationism is too harsh. Nevertheless, I think his core and essential points are valid.

    Cessationism and Rebellion

    Cessationism and Speaking in Tongues

    I agree with his position that there's no Biblical warrant for cessationism and that ministers of the Gospel should "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons". The Lord Jesus set the example and He is our model that we ought to strive for even if we fail.

    12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.- John 14:12-14

    A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.- Luke 6:40

    24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.-
    Matthew 10:24-25b

    15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.- John 13:15-17

    Calvin said, "You know however that our duties by no means depend on our hopes of success, but that it behooves us to accomplish what God requires of us, even when we are in the greatest despair respecting the results."--John Calvin, letter to Philip Melanchthon, March 5, 1555
    (Jules Bonnet, ed., Letters of John Calvin, vol. 6, p. 158).

    I wish more Calvinist would apply this in the area of the supernatural. In the Great Commission (Matt. 28) Christ said, "observe all that I have commanded you." I would assume that would include preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom with signs and wonders.

    7And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,b cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, nor two tunicsc nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.-Matthew 10:7-10

    This is exactly what the early church did even to the time of the writing of the Didache.

    Here's my article The "Charismatic" Gifts Documented Down Through Church History

    Here's a link to Steve's blog on Reformed Cessationism where I also make some comments at the bottom.