Colin Brown, “Miracles And The Critical Mind:” A Review Article -- By: William Lane Craig

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 27:4 (Dec 1984)
Article: Colin Brown, “Miracles And The Critical Mind:” A Review Article
Author: William Lane Craig


Colin Brown, “Miracles And The Critical Mind:”
A Review Article

William Lane Craig*

Miracles and the Critical Mind. By Colin Brown. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984, 383 pp.

Though Colin Brown approaches the problem of miracles as a philosopher, theologian and exegete, his work is best assessed, I think, in terms of its value as a piece of historical scholarship and as a critical handling of the issues.

I. History Of The Problem Of Miracles: Positive Misunderstandings

Nine of the eleven chapters deal with the history of the problem of miracles and are primarily expository in character, tracing the debate from the early apologists to the philosophical and theological discussion of this century. Here Brown is at his strongest: His survey is comprehensive, his exposition clear and objective, his research thorough. I think it necessary, however, to point out what I perceive to be some inadequacies in Brown’s treatment of the history of the problem of miracles.

1. Early Church to the Reformation. Brown’s exposition of Augustine’s views on miracle is onesided and hence misleading. According to Brown, miracles are not for Augustine “a foundation of faith. What Augustine offers is a world view in which miracles can be seen to have a part. But the view itself is an explanation offered from the standpoint of faith” (p. 9). Brown thereby minimizes the evidential value of miracles for Augustine. In truth, however, miracles were a central part of Augustine’s apologetic for the Christian faith. As Gerhard Strauss in his study of Augustine’s doctrine of Scripture explains, Augustine held Scripture to be absolutely authoritative in itself, but this does not mean that it carries credibility in itself.1 Therefore there must be certain indicia or signs that make Scripture’s authority evident. The principal signs adduced by Augustine on behalf of the Christian Scriptures are miracle and prophecy.2 The Scriptures alone have the attestation of miracles and fulfilled prophecies that make it clear that the

*William Craig is assistant professor of philosophy of religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.

Scriptures have divine authority and can therefore be believed. Lacking the historical method, Augustine of course had no way to prove that the gospel miracles actually occurred. He honestly admits that the story of Christ belongs to ancient history, which anyone may refuse to believe.3 He therefore appeals to the conte...

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