This is a continuation of the 50 supposed questions Christians could not answer. You can find the full list here.
4. Why did the little old lady that God healed one Sunday need her walker to get around again next Sunday? Was she only temporarily worthy of a healing?
*Healings we do see are faked
*God can’t really heal anyone
*God does not exist
My initial reaction was to ask, “Exactly what little old lady are you talking about? What church was this. Give me a date, time, witnesses to back up what your implying.”
Unfortunately, those kinds of faked healings do take place, and aside from putting money in the pocket of some dishonest people, they do nothing to give credence to miraculous healings that do occur. Understandably, those who are skeptical of miraculous healings ask for specific documentation that would ‘prove’ the healing actually occurred. They want x-rays that show the broken bone or cancerous tumor. They want proof that the x-ray they are viewing is of the person who was healed, and want to see the evidence that shows the ailment just prior to the healing. Frankly, I am no different.
Skeptics want eyewitness testimony from the nurses and physicians, and documentation from the x-ray technician and the radiologist that confirm what took place. Who can blame them for asking? The lame can walk, the blind can see, those stories are a dime a dozen and rarely have any documentation to back them up. Couple that with the infrequent times they do provide any documentation, more often than not, its creditably comes into question, so who can blame them for doubting?
Even as a believers in miraculous healings, when we hear of one, we want to see proof with our own eyes. And if we become convinced, only those who know us well will believe us. This has become an unmistakable necessity for twenty and thirty somethings, due in part to the Internet.
Electronic Arts or EA Games had a motto for years: “Challenge Everything”. A generation of teens grew up seeing and hearing that slogan whenever they started to play Battle Field, or any one of a dozen other EA titles that sold millions, despite the fact that they were voted the worst company in America in 2012, just beating out Bank of America. 1 I am not a fan of EA games, but I have spent many hours playing some of their titles with friends online.
With messages like that pixilized into the brains of a generation, coupled with photo shopped images covering Facebook, the YouTube phenomena with illusionary and deceptive video graphics, (here is a great example), it should not be surprising we have a generation of skeptics who doubt everything. Or worse, believe everything they see on the Internet. I would imagine thousands of gallons of water were cleaned up in kitchens as unsuspecting teens tried over and over to do the above water trick.
Whether or not healings actually do take place is not only a debate between Christians and atheists, but a debate between Christians themselves. Much like the young earth vs. old earth in-house debate, Christians find themselves divided over the topic of cessationism, which is the view that miraculous gifts ended when the apostles passed away. Most cessationists believe that God can still act in miraculous ways, and does at times, but individuals are no longer used, or are able to perform miracles. 2
We live in a universe where miracles are not only possible, but actual. Norman Geisler pointed out that, “Indeed, the greatest miracle of all – creation of the universe out of nothing – has already occurred.” 3 So raising someone from the dead is small fries compared to creating the universe out of nothing. When you raise someone from the dead, at least you have a dead body to start with, but something from nothing, that is a real trick.
On July 22nd, 2013, the Bishop of Pavita made official the 69th miracle had taken place at Lourdes. Lourdes is a town in Southern France where, in the 1950’s, the Virgin Mary was supposedly seen by a peasant girl multiple times. Since then, this small town of about 15, 000, is host to over five million visitors every year.
Many visit with the hopes of being healed from just about every ailment you can think of. The Catholic Church has investigated over 7000 cases of healings, with most taking over 20 years to investigate. Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis, head of the medical branch, stated in the final meeting with more than 100 physicians and nurses, they finally approved Danila Castelli’s cure as being miraculous. He said ,“This lady was judged, indeed certified cured in a way unexplained by current medical scientific knowledge.” 4
Some may point out, and rightfully so, that the illustration of the Catholic church might not be the best source for an example of healing. Yes, I get that, but one only need to do a little research to see the great lengths the church goes to verify the healings at Lourdes. It would be fair to say they already challenged everything prior to claiming that a healing took place. Now I am not saying the waters themselves have healing power, or it has to do with the location, or even the appearances of the Virgin Mary, but I am saying I believe healings have taken place. Healings that can’t be explained by the natural world.
Every day unexplained events of healing take place, and most do not go beyond family or close friends. My own daughter Sarah, when she was an infant, had a period of months where she was sickly. Coughs, colds, and croup. She began to look sickly, was not sleeping well, and lost all of her baby fat. We took her to the doctor more than once, but she never improved.
I remember once he prescribed albuterol, which we gave her. A short time later she literally began running from one wall to the next, totally wired. Sure enough her cough went away, but she was acting as if we gave her crack. For hours, she just ran around the room unable to control herself. I called the doctor, and had a brief conversation I will never forget. Without going into the details, we never went back to him.
At the end of our rope, we had an elder from church come pray over Sarah. Larry Briney, the same dear gentleman who married Gloria and I. After a brief conversation and a simple prayer, he left. That night Sarah slept for hours, and so did Gloria and I. She quickly improved and has not had any lengthy illness since then.
I have no other explanation for her healing, nor do I offer one. Skeptics can claim it was a matter of coincidence, but after several months of illness, I find it a bit of a stretch to claim it was simply coincidental with the prayer of Larry Briney. It could not have been the albuterol because it is not an antibiotic. It is used to open airways for a few hours to aid breathing. After the prayer, she was healed of what ever ailment she had.
Craig Keener wrote a book titled Miracles. He wrote it to fill a void in biblical academia which was lacking work on the subject of contemporary miracles. It is over flowing with accounts of miraculous healings in third world countries, and in the western world. One account of hundreds he offers was from a Carl Cocherell. In 2006, while working on his car he broke his ankle. X-rays confirmed the break and he was ordered, due to the severity of the break, to stay over night in the hospital by the orthopedist and he would need months of therapy.
During the night, he said the Lord told him it was not broken. The next day Carl had more x-rays, which were requested by his family physician. After the x-rays, his physician’s office called him in, and his physician told Carl there was no break, showing him the x-rays. In fact, there was not even a sign of a break. Carl offered the first x-rays, which were confirmed to be a broken ankle, but Carl was healed. 5
James Spiegel, author of The Making of an Atheist, has an interesting take on the atheist world view. He pointed out that the popular position of scientists being objective in their research and having a Spock-like view, who just report the information, facts, and statistics, without any bias or preconceived notions, is far from the truth.
Muslims, Christians, atheists, and scientists all hold onto views of the world that are reinforced by family, friends, and culture. Shifting out of a strongly held view that often influences our daily lives, can be likened to the duck/rabbit illustration of the ‘gestalt switch’.
He wrote, “Notice that while you can see the figure as a duck or a rabbit, you cannot see it simultaneously as both. A wholesale conversion of perspective is necessary to shift from one to the other.” 6 Christian’s are not above having a bias toward their world view, but too many have a faith that is easily swayed.
Often Christians have been raised by well meaning parents who have gone to great lengths to ‘isolate’ their children from secular world views. I would recommend, as Greg Koukl has put it, to ‘inoculate’ your children. Provide them with evidence for their faith so that when they arrive in high school or college, the views from teachers and professors will not come as a shock. Rather, their faith, having been inoculated with reasons, grounded in facts, supported by science, will not be shaken loose. That is what apologetics can do for our youth. Challenges about miracles, about belief in God, will not trigger a gestalt switch in faith.
Why did the little old lady that God healed one Sunday need her walker to get around again next Sunday? I have no idea, but what does this generic question have to do with the miracles at Lourdes? Or with my own personal experiences, and experiences others share with us? With the unparalleled academic work by Keener? The miraculous accounts we hear about on a daily basis are far too many to be accredited with coincidence and greed.
1. Morran, Chris. “The Voters Have Spoken: EA Is Your Worst Company In America For 2012” The Consumerist. consumerist.com, 4 April. 2012. Web. 7 June. 2014.
2. “Is cessationism biblical? What is a cessationist?” Got Questions. gotquestions.org, 2014. Web.
3. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.
4. “Lourdes shrine officially records 69th miracle. Catholic News Agency. Catholicnewsagency.com. 22 July, 2013. Web. 6 July, 2014.
5. Keener, Craig S. Miracles. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011. Print.
6. Spiegel, James. The Making of an Atheist. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010. Print.
47 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.