The Christian Religion And The Christian Miracles -- By: Stephen G. Barnes

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:268 (Oct 1910)
Article: The Christian Religion And The Christian Miracles
Author: Stephen G. Barnes


The Christian Religion And The Christian Miracles

Reverend Stephen G. Barnes

This last year has been marked by a wide-spread discussion of miracles. It would be hard to find a religious weekly that has not given editorial expression to its views on the supernatural, and opened its columns to arguments pro and con; and ministerial associations in all parts of the land have threshed the question out anew. “Cui bono? no one has changed his mind.” Probably no one has changed sides, but probably everyone has somewhat changed his mind; men on both sides have come to a clearer understanding of their reason for believing as they do; and many men have come to a better understanding of the strength of the argument for the belief that they do not accept. It is good to be more rational one’s self, and more sympathetic with one’s opponent. It is said that Phillips Brooks hated controversy, and was accustomed to declare “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.” The spirit of controversy is verily evil, but the spirit of brotherly discussion is not only good, it is indispensable for the progress of truth. There is indeed no use in seeking the final word upon the miracle, for two opposite types of mind here face each other, each seeing a portion of the truth. All argumentation is fragmentary; but, as Dr. Gordon says in his discussion of Kant, an imperfect argument has a right to existence. It may be added that it has the right to

the growth that comes with restatement; it is well, therefore, to “make up one’s mind” providing the door is left hospitably open for the further contributions of the future.

We are all fortunate in the occasion of this discussion, the book by Dr. G. A. Gordon on “Religion and Miracle.”1 The author’s position as a Christian and preacher and theologian is secure; no one thinks of assailing him personally, or questioning the devoutness of his mind. The whole discussion is therefore lifted above the plane where men challenge each other’s Christianity or impugn each other’s motives. The question is everywhere accepted as one upon which Christians may honestly differ, in which men may radically oppose each other and still retain full respect for each other. No one doubts that the value of miracles, as evidence, has been overemphasized in the past; the present disposition to set them aside is a natural reaction. Nevertheless the historical presumption is heavily against the new school of thought which is ready to dispense with the miracles as belonging only to “the fringe of Christianity.” Not so thought the Apostles and the early church; not so have thought the leaders of the...

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