A posting on Facebook by an evangelical in the American South leads to this blog post. American evangelicals have a warped view of miracles and it often leads to problems. Too often too much is interpreted of minor happenstance or circumstances. All too often it leaves people to eventually be emotionally crushed. This post looks at the problems when it comes to Evangelical Christians and miracles.
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.“
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Romans 5:10 NIV
This is a post that I have been meaning to do for a while now. A few months back I was deep into Facebook researching a situation I was writing about. I came across something that bothered me. It was about how an evangelical in the South looked at a situation as a miracle from God. If you look at that picture up above you will see a Bible on the back of the bumper of a pick-up truck. In the Facebook post this is what was said. “Last night I sat my Bible on the rear bumper while getting something out of the bed. I forgot it there, drove 20 minutes away, 20 minutes back, and then to a hunting spot this morning and it never moved. God’s power can split the sea, move a mountain , and even hold His word on the back of a truck going 60 mph down a highway.” I was deeply troubled when I saw that and it led to a topic that I have been meaning to focus on for a while. In between all the other posts I want to squeeze this out and be done with it. There are a number of problems with evangelicals when it comes to miracles. Let’s explore some of them.
The Power of Group Think in a Bubble
Many evangelicals live and thrive in a bubble. They are around a group of people who have similar views who reinforce each other. They tell the same stories and make statements that are supported and reinforced by scripture or more. Often times something will happen and many people think its God at work. The problem of course is that while it works inside a bubble it doesn’t stand the light of day outside that environment. If I remember correctly the picture above came from a guy in his mid 20’s who was active in an evangelical church. So that has all the ingredients of group think and more.
Over Reading Too Much into Small Developments
Another factor is that evangelicals make a major deal over small issues. For example as I sit here an type this up here are some of things I heard in Bible studies for nearly 15 years, or just by being in evangelicalism.
- I was praying for a parking spot and God opened up a space at the mall.
- I paid a bill with a check but it wasn’t cashed. The Lord is looking out for me and re-warding me for tithing. (The company if I remember correctly lost the check.)
- I was praying for a particular question on a test so I could pass.
- I prayed and got this really cool seat at this Christian concert. God opened up the doors in a mighty way.
- I was praying for money for a Crusade position in Minneapolis and I got the check I needed and the Lord answered my prayers. (This was a staff worker who spent every waking minute in Crusade talking about how he wanted to move to Minneapolis for nearly a year. Someone donated the money and that allowed him to leave Milwaukee.
- There was a fire in a church but one Bible survived so God is might and working hard.
There is a major emphasis on the minor situations. Too much faith is leaning upon one small issue. Evangelicals are interpreting too much into day to day things that are often happenstance or circumstance. Too often this leads to a dangerous cushion because something difficult happens and they are expecting God to move in a way that doesn’t happen. Leaning upon “signs” is dangerous and sets up people for failure. Plus it also guilts the others who do not have signs.
When God Spares One While 70 are Killed…
Here is another aspect that is troubling as well. From time to time there will be a situation like the following. There was a plane crash, a bus crash or a train wreck. A large number of lives were lost. Yet there might be one or two Christians that are saved. A church or a ministry will talk about the situation and say something like the following. “There was a train crash in country ___________ there were many fatalities and lives lost but our missionary partner survived as God was looking out for him.” So let me explain this another way. “There was a train crash in country ________ 245 were killed and 400 wounded but missionary ________ walked away and is fine. God loved him and God didn’t love the 245 who were killed or the 400 who were wounded.” In Philip Yancey’s “Disappointment with God” he tells the story of Richard a man in a faith crisis. Richard is repulsed when in a church service someone describes what happened above except it was a plane crash. A person survived while the others were killed. It led to Richard if I remember correctly to be physically sick. For me I am repulsed in the same way. Evangelical Christian thinking in this way can be deeply warped.
This Kid and Other Evangelicals Are Going to be in a World of Hurt One Day
The person of that Facebook post is going to be in a world of hurt one day. At one point someone he loves will be in the Intensive Care Unit dealing with a terminal illness or medical condition. God has enough power to keep a Bible in place on a bumper of a truck but God can’t help someone in a dire medical situation in a hospital. With the coronavirus pandemic I wonder how many are having their bubble being popped now. In those situations that type of thinking will crush him just as a shoe can crush a dandelion. It will be brutal, hard and the person will be asking, “But God where were you?” Simplistic and cheap thinking can have devastating consequences. Life is much more complex then what the person expects. When that miracle didn’t happen another consequence is that the system will turn on the person and claim that he lacked faith. That he was not sincere. Because what he did to others will happen now to him. Its viscous and cruel. But its classic evangelical mindset. I wish there was a way to re-visit this guy in about 20 or 30 years and chances are you will see how this thinking worked against him. However, he probably will not want to re-visit or talk about it out of embarrassment.