Slide 1

Examples, Congo- Brazzaville

Mama Jeane Mabiala (2/3 accounts)

Marie- not eaten for three weeks, laid dead on mat

A baby born dead, umbilical cord around neck, coffin being built

Mile Grace, (1000-fold grace) now in school

Slide 2

Corpse brought to him after morning of failures with witch doctor

His wife also prayed, another raised

My brother-in-law’s parents-in-law

Slide 3

Therese Magnouha

2 years old

Stopped breathing about 3 hours

Restarted when Ngoma Moise prayed over her

Fine the next day

Finished seminary in Cameroon

My wife’s sister

Slide 4

Sarah Speer, Canadian nurse in Congo

Also reports raising of a baby through prayer twenty minutes after her medical team had given up on him.

Slide 5

Reports of nature miracles

Slide 6

Indonesian revival in the 1960’s- 1970s

Massive reports of miracles

Previously doubtful W. researcher (Kurt Koch) saw a number of blind eyes opened and saw water turned to wine.

Slide 7

Donna Aruka, Papua New Guinea, 1997

Worst drought I memory

Well nearby dry (just mud at the bottom)

Kindwa prayed, and in morning well was full and clear

Normally only like that after rain- but hadn’t rained in months

Slide 8

Watchman Nee though more healings associated with John Sung


Slide 9

Dr. Emmanuel Itapson (ECWA)

c. 1975, his father told skeptics that it would not rain in village for four days, though rainy season

For four days, water fell around village while village remained dry

After four days only one person in village still non-Christian

Slide 10

Scholars who claimed that eyewitnesses could not report experiences such as these simply reveal their own very limited exposure to the world!

Slide 11

Problem today: from David Hume (1711-1776)

Miracles are not part of human experience

Slide 12

David Hume

Regarded miracles as violations of natural law

As if God would be “breaking” a law to do them!

Against earlier thinkers

Most early Enlightenment scientists were Christians

This is a philosophic, not scientific, issue

Slide 13

The way he argued:

Miracles violate natural law

Natural law cannot be violated

Therefore, miracles don’t happen

But WHO SAYS that God cannot act upon, change or “violate” natural law if he wills? Hume simply presupposes this without admitting that he’s doing so. This is a statement of Hume’s opinion, not an argument.

Slide 14

Much of it depends on miracles violating natural law

But modern physics undermines Hume’s prescriptive conception of natural law

Slide 15

Supposedly inductive, but (often noted) actually circular

“Experience” shows no miracles

Therefore: Well-supported eyewitness claims for miracles must be rejected because miracles do not happen

Slide 16

Rejected: Healing of niece’s running eye sore



Queen Mother’s physician

Slide 17

Presupposes atheism or deism

Hume explicitly framed his argument against contemporary Christian science and philosophy

Slide 18

Recent major philosophic challenges to Hume on miracles

J. Houston, Reported Miracles: A critique of Hume (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1994)

David Johnson, Hume, Holism, and Miracles (Cornell Studies in the Philosophy of Religion; Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999)

John Earman, Hume’s Abject Failure (Oxford, 2000 not from Christian view)

Much of Richard Swinburne, The Concept of Miracle (New Studies in the Philosophy of Religion; London: Macmillan and Co., 1970)

Slide 19

Hume only “ignorant and barbarous nations affirm miracles

If someone said this today, we would call him/her ethnocentric

Slide 20

P. Bultmann: “mature” modern people do not believe in miracles

“It is impossible to use the electric light and the wireless… and…. to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles.”

Slide 21

Excludes from the “modern” world:

All traditional Jews

Traditional Christians

Traditional Muslims

Traditional tribal religionists

Spiritists; etc.

Limits the modern world to:

Westerners (and those influenced by them) shaped by the radical enlightenment: Deists and atheists (including Marxist derivatives)

Slide 22

Justo Gonzalez (citing Latin churches):

“what Bultmann declares to be impossible not just possible, but even frequent

Hwa Yung, retired Methodist bishop of Malaysia

Bultmann’s issue is W., not relevant in Asia

Philip Jenkins:

Christianity in the global South is quite interested in “the immediate workings of the supernatural”

John S. Mbiti:

Most western scholars “expose their own ignorance, false ideas, exaggerated prejudices and a derogatory attitude that fails to take seriously genuine experiences pervasive in Africa

Slide 23

How widespread are healing claims?

(Starting with churches known for that emphasis)

Slide 24

Review slide @ 30.44 in the video for all the stats in the countries represented

Slide 25


For these countries, and for Pentecostals and Protestant charismatics in these countries alone

The estimated total of these people claiming to have “witnessed divine healings” comes out to somewhere around 202,141,082, 1.e., about 200 million

Slide 26

More Surprising. “other Christians”

Somewhere around 39% in these countries claiming to have “witnessed divine healings”

Thus perhaps over one-third of Christians worldwide who do not identify themselves as Pentecostal or charismatic claim to have “witnessed divine healings” (presumably many more than this)

Slide 27

Even in U.S.: A 2008 Pew Forum survey revealed:

34% of Americans claim to have witnessed or experienced divine or supernatural healing

30% for Hindus

34% for members of the Orthodox churches

27% for Catholics

54% for historic African-American churches

50% for evangelicals

Slide 28

The point

Is not what proportion of these claims involve divine activity or miracles

The point is whether Hume can legitimately start from the premise that “uniform human experience” includes miracles

Slide 29

Millions of non-Christians convinced

Changed centuries of ancestral beliefs because of extraordinary healings

Slide 30

China (not in survey) c. 2000

One official source: roughly 50 percent

House church estimate: roughly 90 percent

Not starting with Christian premises

Slide 31

Pastor Israel, one of my past seminarians from India

Through prayer for the sick

His Baptist church grew from a handful to about 600 (mostly Hindu converts)

Slide 32

J.P. Moreland:

Rapid evangelical growth in past three decades

Up to 70% of it “intimately connected to signs and wonders”

Even 3 decades ago:

1981 Fuller thesis, Christiaan De Wet:

surveyed over 350 theses representing most of the world, plus interviewing many missionaries

more reports of signs and wonders contributing to church growth than he could use

Slide 33

Not exclusively, but most often

Ground breaking evangelism in relatively new areas

God may answer prayer anywhere

But special “signs” most often reported during evangelism in largely unevangelized regions

Slide 34

Also in past:

Many church fathers claim to be eyewitnesses of healings and exorcisms that were converting many polytheists

Leading cause of conversion in 3rd and 4th centuries

Slide 35

Prominent feature of Korean revival (early 1900s, mainly Presbyterian)

Slide 36

Unity of Luke-Acts


Slide 37

Mary and Zechariah (Lk 1)

1:12: the vision’s recipient troubled1:29 the vision’s recipient troubled

1:13: Don’t fear                                                      1:30: Don’t fear

1:13 reason for miracle                                          1:30 reason for miracle

1:13 child’s name (John)                                        1:31 child’s name (Jesus)

1:15 child will be great                                            1:32 child will be great

1:15 filled with HS from womb                                1:35 conceived through HS

1:16-17 mission                                                      1:32-33 mission

1:18 question                                                          1:34 question

1:19-20 proof or explanation                                   1:35-37 proof or explanation

1:20 Zechariah muted for unbelief                          1:38 Mary praised for her faith

1:80 child grows                                                      2:40,52 child grows

Slide 38

Luke and Acts Parallels

See many comparison spreadsheets @42:45 – 47:11 on the video

Slide 39

My own interest

Evangelism on the street, campuses

Starting small groups

Discovered the need for scholarship

Slide 40

Prayer before Holy Spirit

A frequent theme in Luke-Acts

Spirit on Jesus “praying” (Lk 3:21-22)

Prayed, filled (Acts 4:31)

Prayed for Samaritans to receive (8:15)

Saul praying (9:11), filled (9:17)

Cornelius praying (10:30), filled (10:44)

Slide 41

Callings – e.g., Exod 3-4; Luke 5; Acts 9

But also 1 Tim 3:1

Prayer and fasting (Acts 13:2-4)

Luke 10:2: abundant harvest but few laborers

Slide 42

1.    Who to Be

a.    Paul the same on ship and in Malta- serves people (Acts 27-28)

b.    Paul’s character

-       i. Calling matters more than life itself (20:24)

-       ii. Warning each with tears (20:31)

-       lll. Not covetous (20:33-35; 3:6)- important where many charatans

Slide 43

2.    How to evangelize

a.    More detail here

b.    Evangelism not church planting

-       Different gifts: cf. Philip before Caesarea

c.     Ideally, for long-range multiplication

-       Robert Coleman: Multiplication more than addition

-       Establish disciples who can carry on the mission not just converts (thus Acts 14:22; follow up with sound teaching, warning against false teaching,15:41)

Slide 44

Of course, obstacles

Persecution (Acts 3-5)

Internal strife (Acts 6:1)

More persecution (Acts 7:58-8:3)

More divisions (Acts 15); etc.


-       Who says we can win and disciple just two people to Christ a year?

Slide 45

How to evangelize

A.    Content: The Gospel Message

1.    Contextualized:

-       Synagogues (Acts 13)

-       Farmers (Acts 14)

-       Philosophers (Acts 17)

2.    But the central message remains:

-       Jesus died and rose

-       (+, for non-monotheists, God)

Slide 46

Getting attention

Contextualize: allow for local culture (Acts 15:20)

-       Jesuits in China and Vatican

Paul rarely missed an opportunity to speak of Christ (cf. 22:1-21; 27:21-25)

-       Introduced the gospel only briefly where he was driven out quickly (cf. CIM)

-       But stayed longer where he could (18 months in Corinth, 2.5 years in Ephesus)- got to know people, culture

-       Churches usually grown in communities only after pastor stays for 5 years- know the community

Slide 47

a.    Synagogues: already belief in one God, Scripture, God-fearers

b.    Public discussion forums

-       On street; Ac 14:9

-       Educated: Stephen, Paul, Apollos

-       Ac 17: philosophers, Areopagus

-       Ac 19:9: philosophic school (Christian philosophy)

c.     Relational networks




Last modified: Sunday, April 7, 2019, 2:32 PM