Lesson 7: Expect Your Miracle – Magic

Perhaps the most dangerous contemporary bad doctrine believes faith provides miracles, in the sense that faith makes miracles happen. The salvation of the individual sinner is the greatest one but this is followed by a lifetime of unending supernatural acts.

This involves a complete redefining of miracle. Biblical ones are mighty acts serving as signs that God has come to heal his people and creation. Faith responds in thanksgiving to God’s creative actions by joining him in the redemption of the world.

The new definition sees miracle overcoming scientific law to get what you want. It is so self-centered that “Expect YOUR Miracle” is a prevalent slogan. Hymns repeat, “It is mine. It is mine. I claim it.” Miracle is no longer the spontaneous and free gift from God, but the power that goes with correct belief. You readily discern the crassness of this listening to Ernest Angley offer a one minute healing for any disease. It leaves you wondering if you should laugh or cry.

In fact, the believer is actually in control, because miracle is simply one of the “Laws of Creation”. If you set the process in motion correctly, then God will do what you want. This is so mechanical and automatic some, such as Kenneth Copeland, claim you can set the time and place for your miracle.

It is usually described as exorcism that frees a person from Satan’s power. He has bound you so you can not do God’s will or enjoy his gifts. It can be said in all seriousness that “The Devil made me do it.”

Miracles usually center on a celebrity-based ministry. A charismatic person becomes a channel for healings and Words of Knowledge. The latter are direct messages from God.

This leads to a problematic lifestyle: 1) Christian living practices magic. Remember magic always involves having special insider knowledge that makes the extraordinary happen. If you rub the magic lamp, a genie appears to grant your wishes. Magic invites you into a fantasy world that enables believers to overcome normal human limitations much as technology overcomes the limits of time and space.

2) Although I have always felt bad reporting this, I find those who are obsessed with miracles are usually troubled individuals who show some symptoms of a) paranoia that sees danger everywhere. Life is a constant battle against the powers of darkness. The threat of the enemy rather than the need of the neighbor becomes the focus. Gone is the security that overcomes anxiety. and b) schizophrenia which lives in conflicting worlds. I was always puzzled at Pentecostal prayer meetings to find engineers claiming photos of cloud formations looked like Jesus and indicated the imminent end of the world. That went, as well, for hearing scientists speak of being protected by angels.

3) Magic enables all sorts of fraud and manipulation. The magician can blame any failure on your lack of faith. He can claim a”Word of Knowledge” that you have no way to disprove. It can be as absurd as Oral Roberts reporting God told him he had to die if his followers did not come up with two million dollars.

4) But worst of all, it leads to living as if faith is the polar opposite of reason and Christianity is an enemy of science. Myron listed several abuses resulting from this non-biblical caricature of faith, among them presenting a straw man vulnerable to the attack of militant atheists. Bob responded that we get what we ask for in a consumer-based religious environment- simple, doable rules with guaranteed results. It is what Dietrich Bonheoffer meant by cheap grace, a religion that takes the benefits without the burdens. And Mike reported a number of evangelicals have begun to critique and challenge this cheap grace for refusing to let God be God. Bertha Paulson, the first sociologist at Gettysburg Seminary used to say we should not worry so much about the new churches, because they will slowly reform themselves as all previous movements have.

I think we can ponder a number of questions including: Is God still working miracles? How would you identify them? What is the problem of making them the basis of your faith? Do you have any experience with miracle workers? How about Words of Knowledge? Has God ever spoken directly to you? If so, what was said?

1. Ernest Angley http://www.ernestangley.org/miracles/
Put hand against mine and cure of anything

2. Kenneth Copeland how to get a miracle http://www.kcm.org/real-help/article/how-receive-healing
Activate the miracle

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