I couldn’t help but notice that when I had written about my friend Simon Adahl and all the miracles he is experiencing, and the post was share within the MennoNerds network that I am a part of, a brother who has studied theology and is a part of a Mennonite church asked why MennoNerds was sharing stuff like that (“reading it is a waste of time”). I understand that people who have not met Simon or others who experience the power of the Holy Spirit can have a hard time trusting them, but to me it’s very strange for a Christian to think it’s waste of time to read testimonies about miracles. After all, that’s basically what the four gospels are all about.
I won’t speculate in how this individual was thinking, but generally a lot of Christians are impacted by the naturalist worldview that has been quite dominating in Western society for the last two hundred years. Even though it is clearly non-Christian in its reasoning, it has impacted especially academic theology but also “liberal” churches that do not have much charismatic, Spirit-filled life. The consequences is a type of Christianity that is extremely different from the original, biblical Christianity.
In May this year, I had to privilege of holding a lecture at a Christian student organization in my home town of Uppsala, Sweden. I spoke about the supernatural worldview that has been dominating most cultures throughout world history and that most people still believe in today, but that has been challanged in recent years, especially in the Western world, by naturalism. Naturalism is, according to Oxford English Dictionary, “the idea or belief that only laws of nature (physical law) (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) and forces operate in the world; the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world.”
For atheists, this worldview is logical. But few are aware of that the origin of naturalism during the Enlightenment of the 18th century was driven by pantheists (people who believe that God is everything) like Voltaire, or deists (people who believe that God created the world and then left it on its own) like Thomas Jefferson. Voltaire argued that since God is nature, He cannot break natural laws because then He would destroy Himself. Jefferson wrote an account of the gospels where he had cut out all miracles and reference to supernatural phenomena, not leaving much left.
One of the first philosophers who argued for naturalism on atheist grounds was David Hume. He argued that since there had to his knowledge not been a case where there are a sufficient number of witnesses who are sane enough, educated enough and honest enough who together testify of an event that cannot have natural causes, miracles are impossible.
This idea has been criticised several times, partly because it draws a general rule about the impossibility of things simply by Hume’s lack of experience, partly because he also uses a lot of circular reasoning. When I was in South Africa I did meet quite a lot of honest and sane people who together had witnessed pretty heavy stuff, but I don’t think even this would have convinced David. Atheism is a faith, and while I think we all have to admit that there is a lot happening in the world that no one can explain, the atheist would explain it with saying that we will eventually find out. I, on the other hand, have witnessed prophetic visions of Jesus and sensed His power and presence all over me, and I choose to believe in His miraculous reality.