Paul On The Resurrection Of Christ -- By: Charles Marsh Mead

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:267 (Jul 1910)
Article: Paul On The Resurrection Of Christ
Author: Charles Marsh Mead

Paul On The Resurrection Of Christ

Prof. Charles Marsh Mead

There has been of late a growing tendency to discredit the occurrence of miracles in general, and of the Christian miracles in particular. Doubt or disbelief of them is entertained not only by avowed agnostics or free-thinkers, but even by many conservative Christians. Once it was no uncommon thing for doubters to question only certain classes of the Christian miracles, whereas others were accepted as real. Now the tendency is to make no exceptions, and to declare all miracles impossible or incredible.

This extreme attitude is, no doubt, in part a reaction from an undue stress formerly laid upon belief in miracles, as if such belief were essential to orthodoxy, or even to salvation. But Dr. G. A. Gordon, in his recent work on “Religion and Miracle,” has, with his usual vigor and impressiveness, shown that belief in miracles is religiously of very small account, and argues that, even if they were generally disregarded, yet all that is really vital in religion can be retained. This, as a general proposition, may be, and should be, frankly admitted. Religious faith, as a source and feature of the moral and spiritual life, is essentially independent of belief in miracles. Its essence consists in repentance, trust, and love toward God, and need not have any direct reference to miraculous events. This concession to the spirit of disbelief in the supernatural,

however, as Dr. Gordon also affirms, does not require us to assume that miracles are impossible or incredible. It only puts them where they belong, as events for the occurrence of which the evidence is to be dispassionately examined. If they are found to be probably or certainly historical, they may turn out to have also a real, though indirect and subordinate, value, for religious faith. I propose now to consider the evidence for one — the most prominent one — of the Christian miracles.

First, however, it is proper to make a preliminary remark about certain prepossessions that affect the weight of the evidence in question. Whether miracles in general are regarded as a priori credible, depends largely upon one’s conception of God. Those to whom he is only a blind Force must of necessity hold all miracles to be impossible. But whoever regards the universe as made and controlled by a Divine Person cannot well deny the possibility of miracles. If, as is most commonly held by theists, the so-called “laws of nature” are nothing but God’s orderly method of working, then it must be as possible for him occasionally to deviate from that ordinary method as it is for a human person, when occasion requires it, to depart from his ordinary rules of conduct....

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