Sunday, October 27, 2013

Demarcating miracles

I notice that MacArthurite cessationists define miracles in two different ways.
On the one hand, they distinguish between direct miracles and indirect miracles. Direct miracles are miracles which God himself performs apart from human agency, whereas indirect miracles employ divinely-empowered human agents. 
MacArthurites sometimes say they are cessationists respecting indirect miracles rather than direct miracles. 
On the other hand, they also distinguish between apostolic miracles and modern miracles by claiming that apostolic miracles are top-of-the-line miracles: complete, permanent, undeniable, spectacular, viz. raising the dead, regenerating amputees, restoring sight to the congenitally blind. 
But in that case, they aren't drawing the line between direct and indirect miracles, but between low-grade and high-grade indirect miracles. 
Even though demarcating miracles is essential to their position, MacArthurites present a moving target on this issue. I assume the reason for this confusion is that MacArthurites are improvising. They have a clearer idea of what they oppose than what they believe in. They begin with what they oppose, then define their position by what they oppose. By process of elimination, they work back to what they believe in: whatever's left over. As a result, their definitions are makeshift and contradictory, because they have a clearer sense of the starting-point than the destination. 

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