Introduction to Miracles – Eric Metaxas
OCTOBER 31, 2014
Listening to people tell these stories of God’s direct intervention in their lives was tremendously affecting. It is humbling and exhilarating and it can be simultaneously enlightening and stupefying, because the idea that the God of the universe would humble himself to touch the lives of any of us is, in the end, far beyond our full comprehension.
Most readers will consider this volume a departure from my previous oeuvre, and from my recent biographies it is certainly a departure. In fact, the subjects of those books, William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, do not seem to have had any experiences that could be described as miraculous, at least not in the sense of that word as it is used in this book.
Their deeply inspiring lives—their extraordinary actions and accomplishments—were manifestly fueled by their passionate faith in the God of the Bible, yet we have no record of that God speaking to them or revealing himself to them in any ways that would qualify for mention in a book like this. So perhaps we should let their exemplary lives stand as evidence that one can have a world-changing and even saintly life of faith without miraculous experiences. This is a helpful counterpoint to the thinking that these experiences are the ne plus ultra of the Christian faith. On the other hand, let this book and the accounts herein stand as a helpful counterpoint to those who believe such stories impossible.
In considering what form this book should take, I felt a large part of it should be miracle stories themselves, since they are perhaps the best evidence we can have for miracles. (Some readers may wish to skip directly to those stories and read the first part of this book second, a choice I would cheerfully countenance.) I decided to limit the book to only the stories of people I knew personally. This naturally limits the scope of what stories I could include, but the advantage is that I wouldn’t have to wonder about the character and credibility of the people telling these stories. It also underscores how tremendously prevalent such stories are. I did not scour the known world for these tales but only asked people I knew well enough to trust their accounts. There are many friends and acquaintances I did not ask because it became clear to me that had I asked every friend for stories like these, I would have had far too much material for this book and might never have finished it. But the wealth of the miracle stories I was able to find within a fairly close circle of friends makes one wonder how many other stories are out there among my friends, and yours.
I vetted these stories and all their details as carefully as possible. It was vital to me to get as much specificity as I could, and anything that did not seem clearly to be a miracle, I simply did not include. I often asked questions to get clarification on things. Many times the person telling the story was assuming something that—unless I teased it out and made it explicit—would have felt like a hole, whether in the logic of the story or in the artistic shape of it, or both. I asked questions I thought the reader would ask and tried to answer them in the course of telling the story.
I heard some stories that very likely were miracles but that might have been natural coincidences. The slightest question in my mind whether something was genuinely miraculous eliminated it from consideration. But all in all, listening to people tell these stories of God’s direct intervention in their lives was tremendously affecting. It is humbling and exhilarating and it can be simultaneously enlightening and stupefying, because the idea that the God of the universe would humble himself to touch the lives of any of us is, in the end, far beyond our full comprehension.
To those who might think these stories merely subjective accounts and not objective evidence, it must be said that history comprises the subjective accounts of human beings; and from these subjective accounts we arrive at an “objective” truth—which is itself still somehow and to some extent subjective. There can never be a question whether such things are subjective; the only real question can be whether those subjective accounts are reliable. Answers to that question are themselves subjective, depending on the point of view and presumptions of the person making that judgment. This is not to say that there is no such thing as objective truth, or to lead us into a swamp of relativism. On the contrary, it is to say that we must do the hard work of sifting what information we have, of carefully considering the witnesses, as it were. This is what every jury must do when it decides a case in law, and it is what every person must do in deciding what to make of any story. Here we stand. We can do no other. To shrink from that task is to shrink from life itself.
Taken from Miracles by Eric Metaxas.