I have a confession to make. I am not the type of person to get all worked up over the possibility of meeting a celebrity musician, or famous actor, or superhuman sports star. Bring a noted Bible scholar into town, however, and I’m the guy asking for autographs on my commentaries. Take Craig Keener, for instance. This past year my seminary hired on the brilliant socio-rhetorical Bible scholar, albeit at the campus in Wilmore, Kentucky. Not long ago, however, I received an email welcoming his visit to the Florida campus, and I showed up the next day to my Greek class toting his commentary on Matthew. My intent was to track him down after class and ask him to sign it. Unfortunately, I missed him.
The truth is, I have been using Keener’s IVP Bible Background Commentary since my undergraduate days circa 1998-2003. I also own a copy of his insightful commentary on Matthew, which become a primary resource for my series on the Sermon on the Mount. In addition to other noteworthy commentaries, he just released what is already an award-winning book defending the reality of miracles. His website and blog is a treasure trove of exegetical information, and he recently published an article with the Huffington Post highlighting the key areas of his most recent book. The following excerpt is from that article.
Many people today are familiar with miracle stories in the Bible — the parting of a sea, water turned to wine, and, most frequently in the New Testament, healings, even of blindness, leprosy, and the reversal of recent death.
Yet it is not just people in the first century who have believed in miracles. Various polls peg U.S. belief in miracles at roughly 80 percent. One survey suggested that 73 percent of U.S. physicians believe in miracles, and 55 percent claim to have personally witnessed treatment results they consider miraculous.
Even more striking than the number of people who believe in miracles is the number who claim to have witnessed or experienced them. For example, a 2006 Pew Forum survey studied charismatic and Pentecostal Christians in 10 countries. From these 10 countries alone, the number of charismatic Christians who claim to have witnessed or experienced divine healing comes out to roughly 200 million people. This estimate was not, however, the most surprising finding of the survey. The same survey showed that more than one-third of Christians in these same countries who do not claim to be charismatic or Pentecostal report witnessing or experiencing divine healing.
And the reports in these countries appear to be merely the tip of the iceberg. The survey did not include China, where one report from the China Christian Council over a decade ago attributed roughly half of all new Christian conversions to “faith healing experiences.” Another report from a different source in China suggested an even higher figure. Clearly many people around the world experience what they consider miracles, sometimes in life-changing ways.
What are we to make of such claims?
For the rest of the article, I encourage you to visit Craig Keener’s site. Or, you can go straight to the Huffington Post article, but you really should come back and poke around on his blog, as it is chock full of some great exegetical resources. Check it out!
And when you get back, let us know what you think!
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