For a generation, C. S. Lewis’ Miracles: A Preliminary Study was, at a popular level, the best book on the subject of miracles. Last fall Eric Metaxas published Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. His work probably will be the new standard. Here’s just a brief excerpt:
“What if we could accept that our childhood love of Santa Claus was indeed fantasy but not merely fantasy? What if we could accept that although Santa Claus didn’t really exist as Socrates existed, our desire for him to exist pointed to something that did exist, pointed to something that Socrates himself had longed for? What if those who simply believed in anything were only half- wrong, because their desire to believe pointed to something that was true, not just in the world itself but inside them?
And what if those who knew Santa Claus didn’t really exist were themselves only half-wrong, because their rejection of that kind of sloppy, childish belief pointed to a desire to only believe in what was real, what was really real and not just a myth or a childhood story, a desire to believe in things that are as true as the facts in history books and as real as the atoms and molecules we learned about in science books? What if the half-truth of the desire for something beyond us could meet up with the half-truth of the desire for only what is really real and true, which we can know and see and touch in this world too? What if those two halves could touch and become the one true truth we were both looking for?”
What if the superstitious peasant is only half wrong? Yes, those who will believe anything are mistaken. But so are those who believe nothing. Metaxas demonstrates that the Bible teaches that there is a discerning, seeking, middle ground. Miracles is thoughtful, provocative, and very fun to read. I recommend it highly.
“Missionaries profoundly shaped modernity.” This is the provocative conclusion made by Robert Woodberry, as he delivered this year’s Carver-Barnes lecture for the L Rush Bush Center for Faith and Culture. Woodberry, a sociologist at the Univ. of Notre Dame, makes a compelling argument that many of the positive features generally associated with the Enlightenment–worldwide advances in literacy, health care, and human rights–were actually accomplished primarily by evangelical missionaries.
To make his case, Woodberry has amassed a remarkable amount of data. But he presents the material in a manner that is both accessible and engaging. If you care about the Great Commission then you’ll want to watch his lecture. Enjoy.