Date of Award
The eighteenth century marked a critical point in the history of the biblical subject of miracles , It ushered in the Enlightenment movement which initiated and fostered a scientific mentality. Under the guise of deism, the movement cl aimed that, in a scientific age, so-called divine revelation was inadequate for values, faith and conduct. On the other hand , the Church contended that divine revelation was indeed adequate and that reason and science did not in any way invalidate that claim.
This response by the Church did very little to quench the escalating heat of biblical criticism. The critics' assault continued even over into the twentieth century. It predetermined. the scope of concentration and study by the pro-miracle advocates, The result was the development of a limited scriptural view of miracles which was chiefly apologetic. The view asserts that miracles as supernatural deeds are designed to authenticate and to distinguish Christianity as the sole guardian of religious truth and faith , Like the critics, such a view undermines miracles, but unwittingly. It suggests that there is no need for miracles now that Christianity has been universally recognized, This undoubtedly is erroneous and constitutes the underlying motive for the burden of this study, The study is an attempt to show then that miracles serve some wider design --an apologetical as well as a soteriological one. They are employed by the Godhead to implement his redemptive plan, to unfold it and to conclude it. Also, they are employed for the purpose of enlisting followers and adherents into the kingdom of faith. As such they served an evangelistic end. The accomplishment of this task is facilitated by a simple structure. The study is divided into two main parts for proper development. The biblical dimension surveys and explains both the concept and deeds of miracles, while the theological analyzes and develops the main conclusions on the soteriological value of miracles.
Out of this study emerged a number of important themes or major findings. Dominant among them is the doctrine of revelation. In this respect, it is observed that miracles are utilized as a medium. They serve to mediate divine truth pertinent to God's saving work for mankind. Thus, they reveal salvation as deliverance from sin, darkness and death. Also they serve to signal the time and arrival of salvation. They reveal to the Jews the fulfillment of prophecy and thus conform to their expectation and hopes. In addition, miracles reveal God as the author and means necessary for man's salvation.
Secondly, redemption as a theme is very prominent. This is connected with the more spectacular and famous miracles such as the incarnation, the crucifixion and the resurrection. The primary role of these miracles consists of providing and effecting the main acts of redemption. The incarnation provides the divine agent, the Lamb of God. The crucifixion slays him and accomplishes the act of atonement, while the resurrection defeats death, despair and their powerful agent the Devil. Lastly, it is quite evident that miracles are associated with the themes of evangelism and discipleship. They call upon men to accept God's offer of salvation and to surrender to him in faith.
Finally, the writer believes that this extensive and strategic use of miracles declares their indispensable and fundamental character to salvation . He believes that it is an error to ignore or reject their relevance , and that instead they must be given a place of prominence in the doctrine of salvation . He believes also, that they must be allowed to play their catechitical and didactic roles, both in the life and conduct of the Church.
Smithen, Vernon, "The Soteriological Design of Miracles" (1979). Western Evangelical Seminary Theses. 168.