On the need for miracles

This whole passage on miracles is pretty fascinating.

One should beware of taking Bede too seriously in the preface to Cuthbert when he protests the trustworthiness of his material; he was writing, as he himself says with unconscious irony, ‘iuxta morem’. The references to miracles in his theological works bear out the view that in filling the Life of Cuthbert with wonders Bede was satisfying the demands of genre-writing rather than those of faith. In the commentary on the Gospel of St Mark he writes, apropos of Chapter 16: ‘Miracles were necessary in the early days of the Church. She was nourished with them in order that she I might grow in faith. When we plant bushes we water them I until they begin to stand firm, but once they have taken root the watering ceases. For this reason St Paul says the gift of tongues is a sign intended not for the faithful but for unbelievers’ This is a completely orthodox viewpoint, that, in fact, of the fathers of the Early Church who sought to stress the invisible miracles 0f grace within the soul rather than extraordinary visible wonders. Cuthbert’s miracles are nearly always didactic, sometimes pointedly so, and illustrate the remark in Chapter 21 (‘It is hardly strange that the creation should obey the wishes and commands 0£ a man who has dedicated himself with complete sincerity to the I Lord’s service’); but they are intended as much to adorn a tale as to point a moral. They record tradition and satisfy popular demand.

J.F. Webb, Introduction, Lives of the Saints, (p.25)

And so the recorder of a book full of miracles explains his mildly cessationist stand on miracles!

It’s interesting that the church fathers thought that tails of miracles (some of them certainly considered 100% true, but many not so much) would strengthen faith and convince people to become Christians. In our post-enlightenment age, the opposite is pretty much true. To make a claim of miracles is to automatically disqualify yourself in the minds of many listeners. We are limited to only discuss what “Jesus did in my life”. Testimonies must be highly personal to be above reproach. The charismatics have (rightly I think) wanted to highlight how the power of God is something that changes things “out there” too! I think we must break out of the personal box in another direction as well, that is, with testimonies about how God impacts, is impacting, whole families, communities, economies, art, and more.