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Tuesday
Jan142014

Theological Term of the Week 

This is not an easy term to define. Theologians I respect define “miracle” differently, and all have reasons for their particular definition. 

miracle
“[T]hose [events] not explainable solely by natural processes but which require the direct causal agency of a supernatural being, usually God”1; “an out-of-the-ordinary direct and divine intervention in the world”2; “any event within the sphere of human observation which is brought about by the direct volition of God, normally, but not always, as distinguished from the ordinary manifestations of divine power operating according to intelligible laws … “3; see other definitions under Learn more below.

  • From scripture, one of Jesus’ miracles:
    Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her andsaid to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. (Luke 7:11-17, ESV)
  • From the Westminster Confession of Faith:
    Chapter 5
    Of Providence
    III. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at His pleasure.
  • From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton:
    We frequently distinguish natural and supernatural causes, but this … may reflect the false choice of attributing circumstances either to God or to nature. The Scriptures know nothing of a creation or a history that is at a single moment independent of God’s agency. The question is not whether God is involved in every aspect of our lives but how God is involved. Therefore, with respect to providence, the question is never whether causes are exclusively natural or supernatural, but whether God’s involvement in every moment is providential or miraculous.

Learn more:

  1. Easton Bible Dictionary: Miracle
  2. ESV MacArthur Study Bible Notes: The Miracles of Jesus
  3. Justin Holcomb: How Is God Working in the World? Understanding Miracles and Providence
  4. S. Lewis Johnson: Divine Providence, or What About Miracles?
  5. Hampton Keathley IVIntroduction to the Miracles of Jesus

Related terms:

Filed under God’s Nature and His Work

1 From Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.

2 From CARM’s Dictionary of Theology.

3 From In Understanding Be Men by T. C. Hammond.

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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