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Theological Forum discuss Grudem's Definition of Miracles in the Theology forums; Wayne Grudem's definition of miracles: We may define a miracle as follows: A miracle is a less common kind of God's activity in which he ...

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    Grudem's Definition of Miracles

    Wayne Grudem's definition of miracles:

    We may define a miracle as follows: A miracle is a less common kind of God's activity in which he arouses people's awe and wonder and bears witness to himself. Systematic Theology; chapter 17 (I still don't know how to make proper Kindle citations)
    Notice his definition does not mention anything about the use of 'means'.

    Grudem continues,

    Another definition is "God working in the world without using means to brings about the results he wishes." Yet to speak of God working "without means" leaves us with very few miracles in the Bible, for it is hard to think of a miracle that came about with no means at all: in the healing of people, for example, some of the physical properties of the sick person's body were doubtless involved as part of the healing. When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, he at least used the original five loaves and two fishes that were there. When he changed water to wine, he used water and made it become wine. This definition seems to be inadequate.
    It seems to me that Grudem is redefining "means". Jesus did not use the bread and fish to make more bread and fish. Jesus did not use the water to change the water into wine. His objection to the more traditional definition of miracles seems confused.

    Am I missing something?


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    Well Grudem is a Pentecostal. His view of prophecy - which is a type of miracle - that true prophecy can contain error is even more troubling.

    See O. Palmer Robertson's "The Final Word" (BoT) on Grudem's view of prophecy.

    He may be influenced in his interpretation of Scripture on these matters by his experience of counterfeit "miracles" and counterfeit "prophecy" in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches.

    In many other ways Grudem's Systematic Theology is a good book.
    Richard Tallach
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    Knox Free Church,
    Perth, Scotland GB

    His Name forever shall endure;
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    and blessed all nations shall Him call (Ps. 72:17)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Tallach View Post
    Well Grudem is a Pentecostal.
    Actually, I think he is a Third Waver.


    Village Community Church of Wrightwood

    Transformation Ministries

    "Preparing a sermon is like cooking a meal. You need pots and pans and utensils, but you don't bring them out to the table where people are eating." Derek Thomas


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    John Brown of Haddington on miracles:

    God’s miraculous providence is that in which his agency surpasseth, or is contrary to, the influence of of second causes, and stated rules of his common operation;-as in stopping the course of the sun,-dividing seas,-raising dead persons,-or giving sight to such as were born blind, &c.-God doth not exert more power in working miracles, than in common providence, but merely suspends his ordinary influence or counteracts the natural or common influence of second causes. Compendious View…; pg 204
    It appears that John Brown would agree with Grudem in his definition of miracles.


    Village Community Church of Wrightwood

    Transformation Ministries

    "Preparing a sermon is like cooking a meal. You need pots and pans and utensils, but you don't bring them out to the table where people are eating." Derek Thomas


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    A miracle does involve God working in a way different to His normal working by "natural", "scientific" law. There is a particular purpose or lesson behind the miracle which goes beyond what is achieved through the miracle. E.g. Jesus didn't turn the water into wine only in order to provide wine for the guests but to teach about Himself as the Creator and about His Kingdom.
    Richard Tallach
    communicant member,
    Knox Free Church,
    Perth, Scotland GB

    His Name forever shall endure;
    last like the sun it shall:
    Men shall be blessed in Him,
    and blessed all nations shall Him call (Ps. 72:17)

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    Westminster Confession of Faith

    Chapter V
    Of Providence

    ....
    I. God the great Creator of all things does uphold,[1] direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things,[2] from the greatest even to the least,[3] by His most wise and holy providence,[4] according to His infallible foreknowledge,[5] and the free and immutable counsel of His own will,[6] to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.[7]

    II. Although, in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly;[8] yet, by the same providence, He orders them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.[9]

    III. God, in His ordinary providence, makes use of means,[10] yet is free to work without,[11] above,[12] and against them,[13] at His pleasure.
    The Westminster context and definition of miracles is quite helpful.
    Scott
    PCA
    North Carolina


    Post Tenebras Lux; "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4
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