J.P. Moreland’s New Book Sheds Light on God’s Miraculous Work in the World
J.P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, has been rigorously putting out Christian intellectual work for years, combining the keen mind of a philosopher with the gentle heart of a man who cares first and foremost about loving God and encouraging others. Moreland wrote a deeply personal testimonial in 2019 about his lifelong struggle with anxiety, highlighting the reality that Christians can and often do deal with mental health issues. Now, he has expounded upon his experience and study of miracles, both defending their viability and recounting personal encounters with the supernatural in the new book: A Simple Guide to Experience Miracles: Instruction and Inspiration for Living Supernaturally in Christ.
Moreland’s intention in the book is spelled out promptly at its beginning and is very simple indeed. He hopes the book will increase the reader’s “attachment love” for God. “We were created to function best in loving relational dependence on God, and attaching to him in love is one of the central aims of Christianity” (p. 3). Recounting dozens of stories of miracles, healings, and amazing answers to prayer, Moreland’s first intention is to show us that God is good and works in miraculous ways to illustrate his deep love for his children and for the whole world.
While the goal of the book is simple, the book does require some preliminary intellectual effort to understand God’s nature, what a miracle is and is not, and the question of the efficacy of prayer. Moreland is careful to frame the discussion of miracles by first addressing some common questions about prayer, and why sometimes they go unanswered. In addition, he discusses some of the reasons Westerners are so skeptical of supernatural claims, and furthermore, why even many American Christians are embarrassed by Christianity’s overt supernaturalism.
“We do absorb a naturalist view of things if we’re not careful,” said Moreland in an interview. He added:
“We tend to think as naturalists. Secondly, we think these things are rare, but they’re not. They happen all the time. We’re afraid to talk about it because we don’t want to seem weird. Third, there’s a lot of goofiness associated with the supernatural. Unfortunately, that’s caused a lot of people to throw the baby out of the bathwater.”
Admittedly, I personally grew up more skeptical and even embarrassed by Christianity’s supernaturalism. In my mind, “miracles” were associated with sham televangelists and revivalists who faked healings in tent meetings. I was under the impression that, if it didn’t pertain to spiritual “salvation,” God probably wasn’t involved. How naïve I was! It was only when my sister-in-law, Cierra, experienced a miraculous healing of her leg after ten years of limitation and pain that I started to reexamine my understandings of the miraculous. There was simply no way to explain away Cierra’s sudden recovery. I started to read the New Testament in a new light, realizing just how central miracles, healings, and exorcisms were to the ministry of Jesus and to the advancement of God’s Kingdom on earth. I read about the visions many Muslims were experiencing in the Middle East, turning to the biblical God and giving their lives to Christ despite the political and social risks of persecution. My own faith, which was struggling at the time, was deeply encouraged by the miraculous healing, which is why I was so excited to discover Moreland’s new title on the topic.
If anything, people should read this book to be encouraged. Moreland is one of the most respected philosophers in the country, and his multiple accounts of the miraculous, he assures, have been vetted and confirmed. “I queried and got eyewitnesses and there’s just no way to explain them away” he said.
For any who may be doubting God’s provision or care, Moreland’s new book will most certainly be a source of comfort and encouragement. In addition to recounting stories of miracles and healings, Moreland also discusses “near death experiences” (NDEs), in which he shows how countless people have experienced post-mortem awareness and “returned” sharing observations about the world that would otherwise be impossible to make. These accounts, too, have been vetted and verified by the author.
For me, the book made me realize just how often I live apart from an awareness of God’s interactive presence in the world. I say I believe in God but usually live as a “functional atheist,” denying that God is working powerfully in the world all around me. Moreland comments in the book,
“A Christian worldview used to be the default position of most people in America, even many unbelievers….Since the 1930s, however, the default worldview has increasingly shifted toward a more naturalistic one. We believe science tells us what is real—and indeed, all that is real, and thus the only way to know reality is through the hard sciences” (p. 15).
Moreland reminds us that it’s rational to believe in God and shows us the manifold ways his kingdom is advancing in the world today. Skeptics who read the book (and I sincerely think all of them should!) will have to decide what to do with the many credible stories therein, while believers can be encouraged and renewed in the knowledge that God is truly working miraculously throughout the globe. We can also stand assured that, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to participate in his work, just as Jesus depended on the Spirit to work miracles in his own earthly ministry. I strongly urge anyone reading this to purchase the book, read it, and share it with whoever might need it: friends, family, skeptics, etc. It will change the way you perceive “ordinary” reality and may just encourage you to take more risks in your own walk with Christ. As Francis Shaeffer wrote, “He is there, and he is not silent.”
A Simple Guide to Experience Miracles is now available everywhere.Peter Biles
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois in 2019 and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is the author of Hillbilly Hymn (Resource Publications, 2022) and Keep and Other Stories (Resource Publications, 2022). He has also written for a variety of publications, including Plough, Dappled Things, The Gospel Coalition, and Breaking Ground. Born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma, he currently serves as Content & Communications Fellow for the Chesterton House, a Christian Study Center at Cornell University.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/a-simple-guide-to-experience-miracles