Video Transcript: Credibility of Miracles

Video Transcript: Credibility of Miracles

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig keener. In his teaching and the book of Acts. This  is session number four, credibility of miracles.  

Dr. Keener - In previous sessions, we've looked at some historical features of  Luke and Acts. And these are, these are important insofar as we're interested in historical information, which we should be at least somewhat looking at the book of Acts, since it's a historical monograph. Keep in mind, that when we're talking about historical information, there's a lot more that happened in history than  what we can demonstrate historically, and that texts themselves by historians  are a form of evidence. So the problem is that when we're looking for corroborating evidence, we don't always have it. So as far as we can say, in historical terms, Luke is a very good historian. As Christians, we may be inclined to save Well, we are inclined to save more than that. I mean, Acts is part of our canon, we believe that a God speaks to us through this as Christians, but what I was trying to do was to survey how we can approach this using historical methods available to us. 

But now I want to look at something characteristic of Luke's writing, Luke is writing a two volume work. And there actually was, there  actually was a genre of parallel works. Plutarch would write parallel biographies  of say, Alexander and Caesar are Greek conqueror and a Roman conqueror. Comparisons were not entirely well deserved, Caesar just had some good  propaganda. But in any case, he often had parallel Greek and Roman  biographies. And it was so popular that some people even wrote imitation works  of his. In the Old Testament, you see, Elijah, and then you see Elisha, repeating many of Elijah's works, you don't have two volumes for that. You also have Joshua repeating some of Moses works like the parting of the Jordan. It's not  like the parting of the of the Yama Suf the sea, but the parting of the Jordan,  nonetheless. And sometimes there are literary parallels between them. But  Greeks develop this to a great, a great extent. And Luke is able to make use of  that kind of technique. It's not that, you know, he leaves out anything that there's no parallel for. But Luke likes to emphasize parallels where he's got material that fits that. So it helps us to read Luke and Acts together. 

Now, obviously, in the  level of authorship, there's very little question. Luke wrote both volumes. But in  terms of parallel lives, there are a lot of similarities between the volume of  Luke's volume and the book of Acts. Obviously, the setting is quite different. Rural Galilee for much of the gospel and, and urban centers in the eastern Mediterranean world for much of the Second Volume starting with Jerusalem, but it's two volume work. And the examples of parallel lives that we have, Jesus  is anointed. And that language is used especially for for Jesus, Isaiah 61 And  Luke 4, and then it's applied to Jesus again and his speech in Acts 10:38. But  also the church is empowered by the Spirit, Joel 2 being quoted in Acts 2, you've got to toward the beginning of their public ministries, programmatic statement  from the Old Testament for Jesus, Isaiah 61. And for the church, Joel 2, you have Jesus signs, many of those are repeated with Peter's and Paul's signs of  the healing of a paralyzed person, for example, you have three trials on Jesus.  This is in Luke's gospel and only Luke's Gospel, three, three trials of Jesus two  before a governor, one before Herod. In that case, it's Herod Antipas, three trials of Paul toward the end of Acts there are actually other trials on the way  through but three trials to the end to before governors, and one before a Herod  in this case, Herod Agrippa II. Father, forgive them for they don't know what  they're doing. Luke chapter 24. And of the four Gospels, it's only in Luke. Well,  how does the first martyr in Acts respond?, Lord lay not the sin to their charge.  Father, Jesus says, into your hands, I commit my spirit. And Stephen, following  the example of his Lord, in Acts 7, Lord received my spirit. So you have these  parallels. Now, you can, some, some people will look at the parallels and say,  okay, that must just be made up. However, things like into your hands I commit my spirit. Luke doesn't make a deal of this, Luke may not have even known this.  But we have evidence that at that time of day, that was one of the prayers that  Jewish people regularly prayed from from a Psalm that says, I commit myself to  you. So that language would fit for Jesus, it fits Jesus's own historical context. And would a martyr want to follow the example of Jesus? Well, usually, when  you were persecuted, we tried to follow Jesus example today. So why not. But in any case, the fact that Luke emphasizes the connection is the point that I want  to bring out. 

Length. Often writers created symmetry books of roughly equal  length when you when you have multiple volumes. In fact, they were often limited to certain lengths. That's why Josephus, when he gets to the end of a  volume, one of the volumes in one of his works, he says, Oops, ran out of space to talk to you again, in the next volume. Just you had to be careful, you only had  so much space in the volume, Luke, and Acts, if you count up the number of  words in them, and count up the number of words in in Matthew's Gospel,  they're each roughly of the same length, as each of the others, Mark is roughly half that length, John is roughly two thirds that length, we're dealing probably with standardized lengths of scrolls. And those could be very expensive. Again,  Romans, it's just 16 chapters about the length of Mark. Romans, it's been  estimated by some recent scholars, that Romans would be something like  $2,000 in current US currency, in terms of the price of the papyrus, and the scribe, and so on, although the scribe there Tertius, since Romans 16:22, was a volunteer, most likely, but he's a believer, for sure. But in the case of the  Gospels, these are these are major literary undertakings for people who weren't  part of the elite. So they're probably using scrolls of standardized length. And Matthew, Luke, and Acts were each close to the maximum length for normal scrolls between 32 and 35 feet long. Acts was probably about 32 feet long, it was on the shorter end of that continuum. Some people think that the book of Acts is unfinished in certain places. I'm not sure that that's the case. But that's  what some, some have argued. It's certainly tempted scribe in the western text to expand the the text of Acts, although some people think Luke added that later but I think probably it was later tradition. 

But in any case, the publication of the  book of Acts, Well, normally ancient works, were published, so to speak, after  they were written, they might have to two original copies. There would be public  readings at dinner parties. While the church also had their group dinner, the  Lord's Supper was kind of a banquet in the early house churches. So some, some banquets, they would have entertainment, they in the entertainment, could be dancing, be music, usually it was music, but it also could often be readings.  And in this case, the early church, they wouldn't be having entertainment, but  they would be having readings, readings from the scriptures that they had,  which was the Old Testament, but also readings as Justin Martyr says from the  from the Memoirs of the Apostles, which would include well, he especially met  the Gospels, apparently. Because of the feedback that writers would get during  these readings, they often were able to revise them and sometimes would  release them in various editions. And as people heard about these, the people that really liked them could have other copies made. Of course, you didn't have  ways to mass produce them except for somebody who was, you know, you  might have one person reading it in a room full of scribes writing it down, that  was the closest they had to mass production. Usually things were just copied from one scroll to another. 

Well, one of the possible purposes for Acts is legal.  Not necessarily for Paul's trial, per se, but but to record consistent legal  precedents in favor of early Christians. Every Roman court that's reported in the  book of Acts, and as well as in the Gospel of Luke, declares the not guilty. Some think that Acts was a court brief for Paul, that's probably exaggerated. But it was  written probably for the same reason as Josephus as precedents for Judaism, to argue that Christianity should be legal and not be prosecuted. Legal ammunition for when you're in the circumstance, like Luke 21:15, you're brought before  governors and rulers for for my namesake. Don't, you don't have to think  beforehand of what you'll say. But this will give you equipment in advance on  which you can draw. And this paves the way for later Christian lawyers and  philosophers, people like Tertullian and Justin, who were arguing against Christians having to be persecuted. 

This leads us to talk about the apologetic  purpose. It was done in different fronts, Roman law courts, Greek philosophers, rural Asian farmers. And in Jewish objections, the Jewish objections are actually  relevant to the Roman law courts too, because it was important to show that the  the people who were bringing them before these Roman law courts, were not  the ones being consistent with their ancient tradition. It was actually Jesus  followers who were being consistent with the ancient tradition that was an in-house Jewish debate. 

One of the themes in the book of Acts is that nothing  can stop it. The word hinder and unhindered appears just a few times in the  book of Acts. You know, what, what can hinder me from being baptized? The  African court official says in Acts chapter eight, or in Acts chapter 8 or in Acts chapter 10, who can who can forbid that they received baptism, but in Acts  chapter 28, verse, verse 31, I mean, it ends on on this note that Paul continued  to share the gospel openly and unhindered, you know, as long as you're just  dealing with the normal Roman system, and not after Nero had gone mad, and  everybody viewed him as, as being just totally abusive and tyrannical. They  were able to do things openly and unhindered. So, the relationship to Judaism was also very important. ancient religions were respected for their age. And  believers in Jesus were able to say the Old Testament is our book. And we are  an authentic voice of Judaism too or more precisely, they would say we are the  authentic voice of the law and the prophets. So Luke naturally emphasizes the  fulfillment of Old Testament motifs. He does it a bit differently than Matthew  does. But both of them are emphasizing the fulfillment of God's promises. And of course, Luke is also writing, because he cares about history. Otherwise, he  wouldn't choose this genre in which to write.

The message of Luke Acts. I'm going to mention just a few of the themes. Not all of them, but just just as some  samples. Prayer was a huge issue in Luke Acts, Luke 1, Luke 3, Luke 5, Luke 6, Luke, Luke 9, and so on. Signs and wonders are a major feature for getting  attention for the gospel. We can talk about that later. The Spirit is mentioned over 70 times in Luke Acts. Obviously, Luke has a heavy emphasis on the Spirit. And also the Spirit performing signs and wonders in the Spirit moving people in  prayer and so forth. evangelism or witness appears nearly 30 times. Well, the  term witness appears nearly 30 times evangelism is more widespread than that. The marginalized, of course, that's a major emphasis in Luke's gospel,  emphasis on the poor and so on. You have that some in the book of Acts, but  the main marginalized group that's being emphasized in the book of Acts is the  Gentiles. So in Luke's Gospel, Jesus spends time with sinners who are morally  marginalized, and the fairest. sees mark this Pharisees complain about this, you come to the book of Acts, and the Spirit moves Peter, in responding to the needs of Gentiles for the gospel. And in Acts chapter 11 around verse 3, he's called on the carpet by his fellow believers. The problem with the Pharisees wasn't that  they were Jewish. The problem with the Pharisees wasn't even that they were  Pharisees. The problem with the Pharisees was that sometimes as religious  people, we get our ideas of the way things should be done, and God doesn't  always work within our boxes. So in Acts, you have the people of the Jerusalem  church, Jewish believers in Jesus, who disapprove of what Peter does, until he's able to convince them, oh, look, God, God made me do this. And in the Spirit  was poured out in these people, God wanted to reach these people. You have  the emphasis on the marginalized, you also have a heavy emphasis on cross  cultural communication. 

Mission is the central emphasis, I would say, of the  book of Acts. And again, that's something that we'll talk about more soon. Looking, in particular, just some some of the samples of the issue of prayer.  Luke 1:10, Zachariah’s praying in the temple, when the Spirit comes on Jesus, in Luke 3:21. Luke is the only one to mention that at his baptism Jesus was  praying. And we have this number of other times, his disciples asked Him, Luke  11, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples, they wait till he's finished.  They're very respectful about it. Luke chapter 18:1, people always ought to pray  and not to faint. Luke 19:46, the house of prayer, Luke 21:36, watch and pray.  Luke 22, he calls the disciples to watch and pray, Acts 1:14, they're gathered together in prayer waiting for the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:42. Again, they're, they're the disciples the all the believers are praying together. And Acts 3:1 during the hour of prayer, give him your specific example of how they were  going to pray together. And then God does a miracle. Act 6, they pray before the appoint successors Acts 8. Also, in verses 22, and 24, they pray before the Spirit is poured out. Acts 9:11. saw Paul is praying before before he received the Spirit and the healing of his sight. Acts 10, Acts 11, Acts 12, and so forth. Just a lot on  prayer. It's a big theme in the book of Acts. There's also a major focus on  evangelizing the world. And this I think, is the major emphasis in Acts Spirit  empowered evangelism across cultural boundaries, Acts 1:8. 

Now, moving on,  to the question of miracles, it's a big issue. If speeches take up one quarter of  the book of Acts, miracle stories and exorcism stories take up about 1/5 of the  book of Acts. And that's why I did some special research on this, my two volume  book on miracles actually was meant to be just part of my Acts commentary, it was originally going to be a footnote in my Acts commentary. But after the  chapter got to be about 200 pages, we realized it needed to be a separate book. And then when the book came out by then it was 1100 pages would have been  even more if I kept writing it instead of being published, because there's just so  much you can say, and so much material you can work with but in any case,  because because of that interest. In the book of Acts, I started researching on miracles, including Jesus miracles, well, how reliable are the sources? Well, we have good reason to believe that because we're dealing with ancient  biographies in the case of the Gospels, or an ancient historical monograph in  case of Acts. The sources are reliable. And we're dealing with sources that we  have reason to believe are careful with the sources the way Luke edits, the  miracles he takes over from Mark, for example, Luke isn't adding a whole lot of new information. He may say, Everybody glorified the Lord, even if Mark didn't  say it, but I mean, if people see a miracle, what are they going to do? And some  people became hostile, but most people are going to give thanks to God if they  believe in God. So looking at Jesus miracles, miracle stories constitute about a  quarter, sorry about 1/3 of Mark's gospel and about 20% of the book of Acts. But in the West, we have a circular problem. One of the reasons that Western  scholars questioned the Gospels and Acts to begin with, is it they include  miracle reports. Well, what's wrong with miracle reports? Earlier Western  scholars said that I witnesses never claimed dramatic miracles, such as those in the gospels, were they correct? Well, in many parts of the world, people would say that's absurd. That's not correct. This is Western problem. So if you are from a part of the world where you say that's absurd, at least, what I'll be giving you is if you run into some people who have been trained in the west, to think the way Westerners think, you will have some good responses for them. And if you're in  the West, well, you may, you may profit from this in particular. 

But David  Friedrich Strauss, in the 1800s, argued that what we have in the gospels, we  have a lot of myth, and legend. Because these things would arise over the  course of multiple generations. No eyewitnesses would actually claim these  kinds of miracles. These these had to be stories had to grew up from, from  nothing, or just something very small. What most people don't know about  Strauss is that Strauss had a friend by the name of Edward Morica, Morica had  a diagnosed spinal problem, on account of which he was unable to walk. But  after Morica had spent some time with Johann Christoph Blumhardt, a German  Lutheran pastor known for prayer for the sick and for exorcism, strokes, his friend, Morica was cured. Next letter Strauss gets from he's hiking in the  mountains. And Strauss writes a letter to another mutual friend and says, Oh,  we've lost Morica. Morica has gone over to superstition now. Now, think of this.  Strauss says that miracles must arise only from legendary accretions. Or many  of the kinds of miracles we have in the gospels would just be myth are  legendary accretions. And yet, one of Strauss's own friends was healed. Strauss attributed it to purely psychosomatic causes despite the medical diagnosis. But  Strauss did not say, Well, this is merely a legend that took generations to evolve. Are there credible eyewitness reports today. 

Let's look first at some of the  medical sources. Dr. Rex Gardner wrote a book called Healing Miracles. And he, he's a physician himself. He wrote about some of this also for the British Medical Journal. But one of his accounts is of a nine year old girl. She was deaf from  auditory nerve damage. As long as she didn't have her hearing aids, she  couldn't hear anything, but praying for healing. She was instantly healed. The audiologist who had tested her just the day before she was healed said that's impossible. This is auditory nerve damage. It doesn't just go away. But she was  instantly healed. The audiologist said I have no explanation for this. This is just  incredible. Because the next day tests showed that her hearing was normal. 

Eye witnesses some of whom I know, report the healing of Deaf non Christians in Jesus name in Mozambique. People will go into villages where there's no church, and they'll preach about Jesus will show the Jesus film. And sometimes  people are. Sometimes they call people forward for prayer, and they're healed.  And sometimes they're just preaching about Jesus. And before they are finished  with their preaching, some people start getting healed. And I've talked with  eyewitnesses of this. It's it's been so dramatic, especially with healings of  deafness, that one entire region that was classified as not Christian is now classified as predominantly Christian. It was documented with some medical tests. The information was published in the Southern Medical Journal in the United States in September of 2010. Naturally, some critics who were not  pleased with this approach, responded, especially in the internet, responded well, the testing conditions are not Ideal in rural Mozambique. Now, it may be  different by the time that you're watching this, but certainly, at least at the time that these tests were undertaken, its true testing conditions were not ideal in rural Mozambique. But one of the authors of the study professor at Indiana  University, published a book Testing Prayer published by Harvard University Press in 2012. She doesn't say, okay, these were miracles wrought by God. But  she gives the evidence, some more of the evidence behind the study. And it's,  well, I think it's quite convincing. I think that if you don't start with an opera or a  bias that miracles can't happen if you're open to the possibility that even that  they might happen, which is kind of a neutral starting point, right? If you start  even with that possibility, you would be convinced that people went from being  deaf to hearing from blind to seeing when they were prayed for because the  testing was done both before and after. 

Lisa Larios was dying with a  degenerative bone disease. parents hadn't even told her she was dying. They  took her to a meeting of a healing evangelist. And whatever you think of healing  evangelists isn't really relevant in this case, because the healing evangelist  didn't actually have a chance to pray for her. But in this atmosphere where  people were praying and talking about praying for healing, Lisa Larios suddenly  jumped out of her wheelchair and ran around. Well, you say maybe that was she had, because of psychosomatic reasons, she just had a burst of adrenaline, but  she wasn't physically capable of doing that before. She was tested afterwards.  And the testing showed that not only was she healed from the disease, but even where her bones had degenerated, her bones had been healed. That is not  something that naturally happens on its own. 

Bruce Van Nata was crushed when the semi truck fell on him. And most of his small intestine was destroyed. After several surgeries, he had maybe a quarter of the small intestine left. And for part of his intestine that was necessary, the ileum he had just 25 centimeters left, it's  normally 350 centimeters. So not even 10% He dropped to 180 pounds, it  dropped from 180 pounds to 125 pounds, as he was slowly starving. But  someone felt led to fly from their home in New York to Wisconsin, and pray for Bruce, and came to him in the hospital. And he felt led to command his small  intestine to grow in Jesus name. And Bruce felt something like an electric jolt through his body. The medical documentation which is available, we have the  medical documentation, medical documentation. This is something like you  know, you hear about, well, people sometimes say, Well, if God does miracles why don't we ever have like an amputated limb growing back? Well, we don't  have any of those reported in the book of Acts or in the gospels either. But this is something equivalent to an amputated limb growing back. The small intestine  is not its full length, but its full length is longer than it needs to be to function  what it what it can normally do. It's now about half the normal length. It's fully functional. It grew from 116 centimeters long, to somewhere between 275 and  300 centimeters long, so far more than than doubled. The small intestine can  widen in an adult, but it can't grow longer. So this was a miracle. And there's no  there's no other medical explanation for it. 

It's healing of a broken back. Dr. Nombera from Nigeria provided that one of a number of other accounts from  doctors healing of deep gash wounds. Carl Cockerell, a member of an American Baptist Church in Michigan. He broke his his ankle in Missouri and was put in a cast held in the hospital overnight, felt like the Lord appeared to him and healed him. So the doctor in Missouri said okay, you can go back to Michigan if you want to. You can't drive yourself but your wife can drive it the car if you want to.  And but immediately you need to see the doctor, your own doctor there, follows  up the doctor there. They did a new radiology report, and the doctor looked at  the new radiology report. just taken eight days after the first one, and said, well, not only do you not have a broken ankle, this shows that you've never had a broken ankle. 

Another case, Joy Wanafrid, who had a classic case of vertical  heterophoria so classic, in fact, that it was her picture that was used on the  pamphlet, advertising the condition. And yet, when a student at Taylor University, was praying for her, she was instantly and completely healed after years of this  condition. And she also had a dramatic spiritual encounter, then those are  frequent in these things too, but I'm just trying to stay with the topic. She no longer needed glasses, unlike me, she now had 2020 vision, she was healed of all the other matters of vertical heterophoria. Now, when I give you the medical documentation, the medical documents, even though I have the original form  with all the names in them, it's considered appropriate in in the United States.  And it's also legal requirements, as I understand it from privacy laws. I've  omitted the physicians names, but I do have the originals that have the  information. 

Another doctor from Cuba was sharing with me about severe burns that instantly, not instantly but but within half an hour of prayer, the  hand became completely normal as if it hadn't been burned. Catholic, the Catholic Church has kept careful medical documentation for many miracles that  it reports and in very many cases, these are, these are very convincing.  Eyewitness testimony is also important even for people who are not doctors.  Eyewitness testimony is a form of evidence in sociology, anthropology,  journalism historiography, which is very relevant here. And in law, there are  many things we couldn't do, we couldn't know, if we couldn't use eyewitness  evidence, and miracles being events within history, unique events within history,  they're not something replicable, you can't experiment on them and, and do  them over again, if somebody the same as if somebody died, you can't kill them, again, to see how it was done. But you can, you can depend to a great degree  on eyewitnesses. And we do that ordinarily, for other things. And we should do  that also for events, such as miracles. And I'm going to give some examples  from my interviews or published sources that I have been reasonably reliable. 

Now, when I'm doing this. Keep in mind that, you know, the book is 1100 pages  long, I've gotten more material since then. So these are just samples, the  medical documentation with samples. These examples are also samples. 

But  one principle that I'm following is that a smaller number of eyewitnesses should  count more heavily than a greater number of skeptical non witnesses. And we  would apply that to most other kinds of claims. For example, at least in my culture, if there's a traffic accident, the police officer will want to interview  witnesses who were present at the accident. So what happens if somebody  comes up and says, That's not what happened? I know, that's not what  happened. And the officer says, Well, sir, or Ma'am, can you tell me what you saw happen? Well, I didn't see anything happen. I wasn't there. That's why I  knew it didn't happen. We would not take that very seriously. Why would we take it seriously? If somebody says, Well, I know miracles don't happen? Because  I've never seen any. When we have, as we'll find out millions of people who do  claim that they have seen some Shouldn't we start by at least exploring some of  those claims. And some of those claims may or may not prove to be genuine  miracles. But what if some do if any, claims do prove to be genuine miracles,  then we have to take miracles very seriously. Now, I don't want you to  misunderstand me. I'm not claiming that everyone prayed for gets healed. You  can see that I have male pattern balding. I have to wear glasses. And on a more serious note. My wife and I have experienced miscarriages wasn't that we didn't pray wasn't that we didn't have faith. Not everybody that's prayed for gets healed all the time. But God sometimes does it and sometimes does it in dramatic ways. 

Sometimes people have said, well, you don't have any credible  witnesses. That was David Hume. Sorry. given no credible witnesses with  something to lose, once a can, Julie Ma, I would think should be regarded as  credible. Wansook is the director for Oxford Centre for mission studies where  Julie also teaches, they both have PhDs. And of course Oxford Centre for  mission studies is at Oxford I was talking about this at Oxford University at a  conference one time and and walked over to the Oxford Centre for mission studies during a break and said, Hey, once took this, I just shared your story. But in any case, they reported seeing a number of healings, but one of the healings  they reported seeing was one that you don't really have to be a doctor to to  recognize that this was something dramatic, a large goiter instantly disappeared  while they were praying. They were witnesses or others present to witnesses.  

Another case, Luther O'Connor. He's assistant professor of Methodist studies,  United Methodist studies at United Theological Seminary. He prayed for a  woman in the Philippines. And she had an unbendable metal implant in her leg.  She had not been able to bend her leg and you can see the scar was put in.  Well, he prayed for her. And she felt heat in her leg. And suddenly, she was she  was astonished. And she squatted down, which normally you would think  she wouldn't have been able to have done. She squatted down. And then you see that she was completely healed if you can show that she was able to bend  her leg. Now. I don't have the medical results here. I can't tell you whether the  metal implant disappeared. But if it was still there, it was now a bendable metal  implant because she was able to bend her leg.

I asked Danny McCain because we worked together in Nigeria for three three summers, but he had been there for for decades doing ministry there. I assumed he was going to give me some  eyewitness report from Nigeria. He's a Wesleyan minister, just trying to show you that this is reported in a wide range of different kinds of Christian circles.  Well, Danny said Now, I can give you I can give you an account from something that I witnessed in the United States. When I was a boy my baby brother fell into a tub with scalding hot water he was burned so badly with this very hot water that had been put there. Danny went into details about how this how this was  done back then. But he was scalded so badly that as the doctors were trying to  take his clothes off, his skin was tearing. So they were praying for his baby  brother. And while they were praying, he suddenly noticed that his baby brother  had stopped crying. And he he looked up and he saw that his baby brother's  skin which had been scalded all over. That was very severely burned. Now was  bright pink, completely new. Danny says I remember it as if it were yesterday.  And of course there were many other witnesses present for this. 

My brother  Chris, and I witnessed something when I was still young Christian and my  brother Chris was also young Christian. Chris has gone on to do a PhD in  physics, which was what I had been interested in doing at the time. But we we  witnessed this. We were both new believers fairly much we were helping in a nursing home Bible study. And there was a woman there named Barbara. And  every week Barbara was saying, I wish I could walk I wish I could walk. Well,  one day, the leader of the Bible study, Don said, I'm tired of this. And he walked  over to Barbara and grabbed her by the hand. He said in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. I was horrified. If faith can be said to be a bias, I can't be accused of it. In this case, I could tell by the expression on her  face. She was horrified too if this was psychosomatic, it wasn't because she had any faith was because Don did and that's not how psychosomatic is supposed to work. But in any case, I thought she was going to fall flat from the expression on her face. I thought she thought she was going to fall flat but he walked around  the room. And from then on, Barbara can walk.

Healed blindness. Just going to  give some different categories of this now, I found some 350 reports of cured  blindness. Some of them I wouldn't know how to To evaluate them, but some of  them very trustworthy. Again, some of them from Rex Gardner, Dr. Rex Gardner. But I'm going to focus on some accounts that haven't been published in other places, accounts of people that I know directly, who witnessed this. In 2004, Flint McLaughlin, who was or who is director of transforming Business Institute at Cambridge University, he prayed for a blind man in Northern India with clouded eyes. And the man was instantly healed. It was not only Flint who was there, but some other eye witnesses who have since shared with me their accounts of this, this is the field where the man ran in circles, praising God. And this is where he  was telling his story. I believe this may have been an orphanage or something but wherever it was, he was telling a story. And he began to weep. And one  of the Americans who was there said, Why, why are you weeping? He said,  because I've always heard children, but I've never before seen their faces. And  so, here are a couple of the Americans with him. 

Dr. Katho, Bungishabaku Katho, a  friend of mine, we work together on ethnic reconciliation issues. Well, that's what we're working on. He's from. He's president of Shalom University in Bunya,  Congo DRC. But because I was writing this book in miracles at this point, I asked him, Well, have you ever seen anything? He said, Oh, yeah. years ago.  When I was much younger, I and some of my friends were out doing evangelism in a village. And they brought to us a woman in her 60s or so who was blind, and asked us if we would pray for her, said nothing else has helped her medical  help, hasn't worked. The shamans and traditional healers haven't helped. Can  you do anything? They said, we've never tried this before. This wasn't part of  their church tradition. We prayed that God's name might be glorified. So let's just pray and see what he might do. They prayed for about two minutes and she  began shouting, I can see I can see and dancing around. She remains sighted  for the rest of her life. 

One of my students, a Baptist from Cameroon, he did his  Doctor of Ministry degree at a seminary where I used to teach Paul Mokake, he  prayed for somebody with blind eyes and the blind eyes were open. Well, he  had a number of different miracle stories. So this wasn't one he brought to my attention. But one of my other students, an African American student, named  Yolanda happened to be visiting Cameron happened to witness this. She told us about it. So I asked Paul, and he said, Yeah, that happened. We have an  accounts from Gabriel Waldo in Ethiopia. A number of other accounts. I'm going  on to an account though, from Greg Spencer. Greg Spencer, was one was going blind, because of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is not something  that normally reverses itself. So he was going blind. He already at this point  was, was legally blind, and had been put on disability and had received some  training for how to function as someone who was blind. He went to a retreat, where he was praying for the healing of his mind. He wasn't praying for the  healing of his sight. But God gave him an extra benefit. God not only healed his  mind, but when he opened his eyes, he realized he could see. he was tested. They agreed that he could see but the Social Security Administration, which had told him while you don't have to work, you're on disability. This is something in  the United States where where we take care of people in need to be taken care  of. He he realized he could see, but they were not readily persuaded because  they said no, this this must have been fraud. You must have just been  pretending not to be able to see because macular degeneration does not go  away. But after a year of study, after consulting all the doctors, they finally issued a report. And they said, Well, he's experienced a remarkable return on his visual acuity. And, therefore he's no longer going to receive disability. He needs to go back to work. 

I'm going to give some other accounts of something  that is not normally considered psychosomatic. Usually, the healing of blindness  is not psychosomatic, it's only very rarely, that person might be  psychosomatically blind, especially in cases of cataracts or macular  degeneration. And we have accounts of people being healed in those kinds of  circumstances, raising the dead normally people are not considered to be  psychosomatically dead. Now, person can be misdiagnosed as dead sometimes it's wrongly assumed that somebody's dead. But we don't assume that that  happens on a very common basis, because if it did, well, then we would have  been burying a lot of people prematurely. So you know, I don't know how often it  happens, but you wouldn't expect it unless we're burying lots and lots of people prematurely, you wouldn't expect it to happen. Say more than, you know, one  person in 10 would know somebody that had happened to or that witnessed it happening. And yet, when I began asking around, and I didn't know this before, because I had asked, but when I began asking around between my wife and me, we knew at least 10 people in those are people we knew fairly well, we  could expand it beyond that, but we knew about 10 people who had witnessed  or experienced such resuscitations. 

Now, what are the odds if you say one  chance in 10, that we would know somebody, then, which I think is pretty  generous, because probably the odds are lower than that. Unless we really are  burying a lot of people prematurely. If the odds are one chance and 10. Then for  us to know about 10 people, the odds would be something like one in 10,000,000,000 or 1 in 10 or 1 to the 10th power. You know, there's no way to precisely calculate the odds. But what I'm trying to point out is, this is probably not just a coincidence, that in circles where people pray, that sometimes these kinds of things happen. They seem to cluster in circles where people pray. And I just happened to be the one writing this book, so that makes it even more  improbable is a coincidence. We have a number of these reports through history. We have this report in the church fathers, number of times Irenaeus talks about this one part of the church, he's condemning people, he says they're schizomatic and have false doctrine, he says, but there's this other part of the  church that's part of the true church. And they reported number of raising so  God is clearly working the true Church. John Wesley, there's an experience that  appears to be a raising in his in his journal. So this is like firsthand recorded  when it happened. December 25 1742, he prayed for Mr. Meyrick who appeared to be dead. And he revived. 

We have reports from doctors. One of these is from Dr. Chauncey Crandall who is a cardiologist in West Palm Beach. A man named Jeff Markin there, checked himself into the hospital. He had been dead for 40 minutes. By the time Dr. Crandall was called this is dead, meaning flatline. He  had no no heartbeat. They had been trying to revive him trying to revive him, but he had no heartbeat. And there was nothing they could do. So Dr. Crandall was  called in to certify the obvious as a cardiologist. And he certified it. He was going back to his rounds in another part of the hospital, when he felt like the Holy Spirit prompted him to go back and pray for this man to have another chance. Now, this is obviously very rare people normally do not get another chance. But he  went back. And one of his colleagues walked in with him. And he prayed for the  man and said, God, if you want this man to have another chance to know you, I  pray that you'll raise him from the dead. The nurse was glaring at him. Like he  was crazy. But Dr. Crandall turned to his colleague and said shock them with a  paddle one more time they hadn't taken all the apparatus off of yet or the nurse was starting to get the body ready for the morgue. And the and the the other  doctor was like, we all agreed that he's, he's dead. I mean, you could look at his  at his hands. Dr. Crandall told me that his fingers were already black from  cyanosis. But he shocked him with a paddle one more time and something  remarkable happened something that normally doesn't happened even after a person has been flatlined for a minute. Immediately the man had a normal  heartbeat. And the nurse began screaming Dr. Crandall, Dr. Crandall, what have you done six minutes with no oxygen, a person should have irreparable brain  damage at best if they can be revived at all. But this was a Saturday, and on  Monday, Dr. Crandall returned to the hospital, he went in to visit the man. And  they were talking the man didn't have brain damage and recovered. And this is a picture of Dr. Crandall participating. in Jeff Markin's baptism, he did have  another chance. And he did come to know the Lord. 

Dr. Sean George, a doctor  in Australia. He died. In the presence of fellow doctors, he was having a heart  attack, he checked himself in and they spent 55 minutes trying to revive him. He was their colleague, he was precious to them. But finally, you know, his organs  were failing, there was nothing they could do. They said to his wife, who was was with him, you need to go in and say your goodbye. And then we'll take him  off life support because there's no hope. She knelt down and she prayed that  God would restore him. Immediately, his heart started beating. One of his  colleagues later said, that's the worst thing I could imagine happening because,  you know, his heart starts beating sooner or later, he's gonna have to be taken  off life support, because at this point his brain is a vegetable. I mean, there's no  way that he's going to be restored. Well, it did take a while for his restoration to  be complete, but he had no brain damage. And he's he's practicing medicine  again. 

For those who say that these things would never happen in the United  States. Dr. Deborah Watson, she was my colleague in New Testament, one of  my colleagues in New Testament at a seminary where I used to teach and  Debbie grew up in the home of a Baptist minister, her father was a Baptist  minister. And her little sister, when she was a baby was on was was in a  bassinet that was pushed very high. And somehow, it moved, and her baby  sister fell over. From very high, she landed on a concrete floor on the back of her head. And they ran to her. No sound, no movement, the father picked her  up, it felt like the back of her skull was crushed. They took her to the doctor,  frantically praying all the way. And the doctor took her, took her aside to work on  her and then came out after a few minutes and said, Where did you say you felt  that her skull was crushed. And he put his hand back under the back of her neck and the back of her head and there was nothing wrong. And she was fine. From  then on. And the picture that I that I showed is a picture of them. When they  were together as a family. One Thanksgiving. She's now in her 40s At least last I checked. 

We have a number of claims of raisings from India. In one, one  dissertation talking about the beginning of a people movement of people turning  to to faith in Christ among the Nishi tribal people back when there were very few Christians, or few, if any Christians among the Nishi tribal people, there was a  government official whose son was dying, and sacrifices to different gods had  failed. The no medical help had worked. And the pharmacist suggested Well,  why don't you try praying to Jesus, the Christian God had said that he raised  someone named Lazarus from the dead. So the official went back as far as they  could tell, his son was now dead. And he he said, Jesus, you the Christian God  who raised Lazarus from the dead, I will follow you if you raise my son. 

Now, I'm  not pretending that this is something that will always work that this always  happens but that's what he said in that case. His son was raised he became a  believer. It began a people movement among the Nishi tribal people. And this is  what the the spreading of the gospel among this people group has been attributed to. And this is in recent times, two Western sociologists, these were  both Christians. They're not Pentecostals, but they were studying global  Pentecostalism. The interview Good local people in one community including  Hindi village elder, where it was reported that a woman who returned to life after  being pronounced dead with no breathing or pulse. In another case, an Indian  pastor prayed for a girl who was dead with worms coming out of her nose. Probably the death was not a misdiagnosis. In that case, probably she was  rather severely dead. She came back to life, she reported her afterlife  experience. local newspapers covered the story. So it was well known in the  local community. 

A pastor in Mumbai, shared with me an account that happened  to a retreat center. This was a retreat center, not just for Christians, it was for  everyone. And they were having a church retreat there. But there were other  families there, they found a Hindu boy, Vikram lying at the bottom of a pool. And  so one of them a nurse, and another intercessor took the boy off to try to take  him to a hospital, while the rest of the group stayed behind and and prayed for  him. Well, they, they got to the hospital, the first doctor said, this child is dead,  there's nothing I can do just I can't deal with this. They took them to another  doctor and that doctor tried his best valiantly to revive the boy but nothing could  be done. So an hour and a half later, they're coming back and they they bring  Vikram back to where the others are praying and Vikram is now alive. And in fact, these pictures that you saw and are now seeing a Vikram, after he was  revived. Sometimes in the case of Coldwater drowning, you can have a person  survive quite some time after the drowning. But even then it takes a while for the person to to be revived and to fully recover. He was fully recovered. And the  water was not cold. It wasn't a cold water, drowning, no ice in it anything like  that. He said that he heard the name Jesus, and then was delivered his parents  who were Hindu, now that that he had never heard this name before. And here are some pictures of Vikram and his family, joining the Christians and their  worship service. 

There's a sister that I interviewed in the Philippines, she was  diagnosed with liver cancer in 1983. But unable to afford the treatment, I think  she had maybe one aspirin the whole time. The next year, she was taken to the hospital simply to finish dying. Her abdomen had swelled. She was pronounced dead and sent to the morgue. An hour and 45 minutes later in the morgue. A  Baptist minister was praying there with one of her friends. And I said what was the Baptist minister praying for? Was she praying that you would be revived or what she said I don't think that's what she was praying for. But I really don't  know what she was praying for. I was dead. So some people report a post mortem experience. In this case, my my friend said, I didn't experience anything. I just it was like I was asleep and then I woke up. But in any case, she returned  to life her abdomen was no longer swelled, she no longer had the cancer. And the doctor who told her she was going to die initially didn't believe it was she.  And when she recovered it was she the doctor was converted. 

This next account I received from one of my neighbors. My neighbor is from Indonesia. And the  account that he gave me was from a close friend of his I'm going to show some  pictures of this. But please close your eyes during this. If you are not good at  handling the sight of blood. The original scene was actually bloodier, but the body had been moved. As you can see, Dominguez had his neck cut. And in a  way that normally a person could not survive. And the people transporting his  body were transporting his body as if he they weren't expecting him to be alive.  Now, these are pictures that were taken from the news. He did need medical  intervention. But the doctors initially thought he was dead but he had had a vision of heaven would send him back into the body. And so when the doctors realized he was alive, they sewed his neck back. They did a great job with that  he still has the scar to show it, but he's alive. 

I was I was giving some of these  accounts at a scholars conference. Because, you know scholars in the West  often don't believe in these things. We come to the miracle stories in the gospels or Acts and treat them as if they're problematic. So I was suggesting that maybe  we, if we listened to more to some accounts from the majority world, we might,  we might learn some things about, you know, at least a different way of looking  at this. And when I finished, one of the people who, who had a question or comment was Professor Ayodeji Adewuya, or IO, we call him, he stood up in the  back. And he said, Well, actually, he's a professor in the US now, but he's from Nigeria. He said, When my, when my son was born in 1981, he was pronounced dead at birth. We prayed for him for half an hour. Originally, I'd written down 20  minutes. He said, No, no, it's 30 minutes. But they prayed for him for half an hour. And his son came back to life. His son had no brain damage. And his son has now finished his Master of Science degree at the University of London.  

Another friend, this is one that I worked with for three summers in Nigeria. And  he's a research officer for a ministry there had done a lot of ministry in different  parts of the country and a lot of research in different parts of the country. So I  thought, Well, no, I'm working on this book in miracles. Let me just ask Leo. So I just was asking around from some African friends, do you have any accounts?  Leo, do you have any accounts? And Leo said, well, not very many. So he sent  me just seven pages of reports of miracles that he knew of directly. And one of  them was in a village in northern Nigeria, where he was doing research. His  hosts neighbors handed him their dead child, or at least as far as anybody could tell the child was dead. And he took the child aside and prayed for a few hours,  he said, and then finally handed the child back to the parents alive. 

Another,  another example, somebody I knew from the same ministry. Now, in his case, I  didn't even think to ask him, but some other people I knew mentioned, or you  should ask him because this happened to him. Timothy Olonade, he, I had seen  the scar that he had, but I never asked him what it was about. And we hadn't been talking about miracles. So I'd never asked him, Have you seen any  miracles, but some other people informed me so I wrote to him, and he, he told  me about it. In 1985, he was in a serious car accident. And there were two  people, one from each vehicle, who was pronounced dead, the other person with him in his vehicle, lost his legs, but he was pronounced dead. The police  found no pulse or heartbeat, they took him to the hospital from the hospital, he  was on the mortuary around 3am. In the mortuary, they found him moving and sent him back to the hospital. He had been in the state for about eight hours.  And now the doctors assumed that he would have severe brain damage. He did need medical help. He was in the hospital for three weeks before he was  released. But he was alive didn't have permanent brain damage. And the  surgeon who was also a medical school professor there, said, there's no other  way to explain this, except is a miracle. And Timothy is now a leader in the  Nigerian missions movement. And I talked for three summers and and know him very well. He's also an Anglican priest at this point. 

Now, you know, you could  say, Well, maybe if you if you just pray for everybody who dies, once in a while, you're going to have somebody come back to life. So sometimes I asked people, I asked Leo, did you ever pray for anybody else to be raised? He said in his  case, yes. Once I prayed for my best friend who died and he did not come back  to life. But one out of two isn't too bad. I mean, when when the gospel was at  stake in a village, that time the person came back. I asked Chauncey Crandall, the cardiologist he said, Yes, once before that. My own son died of leukemia. And it was it was devastating. I prayed you didn't come back. But I determined  that I was going to trust God no matter what because God is worthy of our trust, whether he does something that we asked for or not, and that's why I was ready. When I felt the Spirit lead me there. pray for somebody else. In that case, it was the Spirit directly leading him to do it. Now, in the next session, I'm going to give you some more accounts. These accounts are accounts that I know from within  my own family, my relatives, my wife's family, especially, I could give you one  from my side that it's like, something my brother knows rather than something is  direct. So just just all this to say, this is probably more than coincidence that  these are circles where, for the gospel sake or with the Spirit’s direct leading, God did raise somebody up. We'll talk more about that in the next session.  

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig keener. In his teaching and the book of Acts. This is session number four credibility of miracles.

Last modified: Tuesday, May 2, 2023, 1:47 PM