In the essay I study how three church leaders view miracles: Surprise Sithole, charismatic apostolic leader in southern Africa, K.G. Hammar, archbishop emeritus of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and pope Francis. I’ve already presented to you the miracles of Surprise Sithole and pope Francis’ view on miracles on this blog. The viewpoint of K.G. Hammar, however, is radically different – he doesn’t believe that miracles in the traditional, supernatural sense exists. I have tried to identify what arguments each church leader uses to defend their viewpoint, and then I analyze whether these arguments are reasonable and sound.
Surprise Sithole is a strong believer in miracles, basing this on his miraculous experiences and a literal reading of the Bible. K.G. Hammar does not believe that miracles happen, based on science, his metaphorical Bible reading and non-supernaturalist experiences. Pope Francis believes, like Sithole, in miracles both as Biblical and contemporary events, and like Hammar, he believes that science confirms his view. He interprets the Bible both literally and metaphorically, and his experience and church tradition confirm his supernaturalist belief.
These three viewpoints corresponds roughly to each church leader’s church tradition, which is not very surprising. Although most charismatics are not making as astonishing claims as Sithole does, and many Lutherans would not be as naturalist as Hammar is, they reflect the charismatic movement’s positivism and the Lutheran tradition’s skepticism towards miracles. Likewise, the pope reflects the official Catholic teaching, even though there are probably many Catholics who would not express themselves as he does.
Proving that miracles exist is difficult – whether one interprets inexplicable phenomena as divine intervention or unknown natural processes depends on one’s faith. It is easier to argue that Christians must believe in at least one miracle, resurrection from the dead. While K.G. Hammar seems to deny this, Sithole and Francis acknowledges it and generalizes this so that they believe in all kinds of miracles as existing historical and contemporary events.
Feel free to read the essay and spread it on. Blessings!