Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Supernatural Manifestations met with a Skepticism gone too far?

Let's try to be clear about this:  The Harbinger makes an extremely unusual claim, something unprecedented as far as I know, a claim that God Himself has acted to bring about certain signs or harbingers in America, that carry the message of judgment to come unless the nation repents. 

This is a claim of supernatural intervention that simply does not happen in this world according to our usual expectations.  As I say, I don't think something like this has happened before.  We have to acknowledge that this is extremely unusual.  Therefore it would only make sense if people are skeptical of such a claim.

Yet as the facts are presented I also don't see how they can be denied.  The efforts to deny them by the critics come across as trumped-up to my mind.  They are trying to MAKE the facts fit their theology, and it is apparently a theology that denies the possibility of such a supernatural intervention by God in our world.  At least since apostolic times.  If it isn't that then I don't know how to explain their determination to interpret the harbingers in such a way that they become illusions, mere meaningless coincidences.

This is beyond cessationism.  Cessationism says that the gifts of the Spirit to individuals are no longer in operation.  It doesn't necessarily deny that God may intervene in this world supernaturally, or even that individuals may on occasion receive a supernatural power.  I posted a quote here some time back by the early Protestant reformer Jan Hus saying that God had told him that in a hundred years' time He would raise up a "swan" who could not be silenced as he, Hus, "the goose" was silenced in his day.  This was clearly a prophecy of the future Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, and I don't see how even a cessationist could deny that Hus did in fact hear from God in this way.

Let's be clear about this too while we're at it:  There is NOTHING in The Harbinger that attributes supernatural powers or acts of any kind whatever to any human being.  "The Prophet" does not prophesy anything, he simply passes on information about Isaiah 9 and its relation to America in our time, bringing the biblical message and its manifestation in real events in America to the attention of Nouriel the journalist and therefore to the reader of the book.  He's called a prophet but he doesn't DO what prophets do, and for the critics to take him as some kind of apologetic for the gift of prophecy today is to be peculiarly blind to what is actually going on in this book. 

As for the harbingers, there is no way any human agent could have planned to bring them about, so there is no apologetic there either for any of the supernatural gifts.  If you believe that God is sovereign over all things, that nothing happens without Him then you MUST believe that He brought about these harbingers. 

What's the alternative?  Chance?  Then you don't believe in an all-sovereign God.  Satan?  He'd have had to scramble mightily in order to deploy his armies to bring about all these harbingers but I suppose it's possible.  But if it's Satan, 1) he can't act unless God allows it, which means God is in charge here too; or 2)  what would Satan accomplish by assembling all these harbingers to prove that America is under God's judgment?  I wouldn't put it past him if it would serve his purposes but I can't think what purposes it could serve.

Certainly, God's planting a collection of visible documentable signs in our world that clearly reflect an Old Testament verse IS a very unusual occurrence in our time.  Of course if they are merely illusions that's something else and the critics have worked quite strenuously to prove that this is all they are,  that the signs or harbingers don't even really exist, it's all a mirage. 

I've worked through these arguments and keep coming back to their undeniable material reality myself.  One problem is that even if some of it is an illusion the fact is that Isaiah 9:10 only too perfectly describes America's attitude of defiance instead of repentance, just as it describes that of ancient Israel in similar circumstances, AND American political leaders actually quoted that verse, all of which along with the bricks and stones and trees amount to a mutually-confirming set of events.  If some of it's illusion the rest of it isn't, but since some of it is undeniable that to my mind supports the whole picture, all of it coming together as a whole.

But the critics try to minimize all this.  It's all "coincidence."  Or the verse was ONLY to Israel, they say.  Or it doesn't apply because our leaders weren't intentionally being defiant and so on (however, they were defiant in exactly the sense meant in Isaiah 9:10, as were the leaders of Israel). 

Well, I've answered all this and will probably go on answering it, but I did want to acknowledge that we're talking about something supernatural here and skepticism has to be expected.

Sometimes it seems that the critics are like the anti-Christian skeptics who simply refuse to consider for a moment that supernatural claims could have any reality whatever, and they are very adept at multiplying arguments to "prove" that they don't.