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I am wondering why we as Christians are not seeing those great miracles of old and as promised in Mark 11 vs 17 & 18.

Or is it we are failing short or miracles were for a specific period?

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My son, miracles will fall on to you when you least expect it. If you do good don't expect anything in return. –  Marlin Sep 19 '12 at 13:08
    
Similar but yet very different question: Why has God never spoken to me? –  user1054 Sep 19 '12 at 16:40
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Although I do believe (supernatural) miracles happen, any time they get mentioned I can't help but remember the joke about a lady waiting to be rescued. I personally think that most modern 'miracles' tend to be ones of timing/'coincidence'. It's not that God is above using His power (if he deems it necessary), it's that in some ways us Christians are supposed to provide the miracle for others. People naturally want a spectacle, but Christianity is really more about relationships. –  Clockwork-Muse Sep 19 '12 at 21:05
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Welcome to C.SE! This is a good first question. I will warn you that we tend to be more academic than devotional, but I think this one can be answered well. –  Affable Geek Sep 22 '12 at 1:31
    
There is this "Naples's prodigious blood" miracle pertaining to fifth century saint. –  Seek forgiveness Feb 10 at 11:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There are two major views on this, with several subsets.

  • Some (including myself) believe that while miracles do still occur, the kind and frequency is different than we see at the beginning of the church era because the purpose is different; directly binding the occurrences of miracles to the creator. This is generally known as Cessationism, but there are several flavors. The promises you refer to in Mark and elsewhere are understood in a the framework of the Gospel empowering the Kingdom to grow and the greater miracles refer to the kinds of supernatural events we do continue to see regularly: the regeneration of people through the message of the Gospel.

  • Others believe that we don't see as many miracles today because people don't have enough faith; directly relating the spiritual state of people to prevalence of miracles. In this camp (which could be called Continuationism but more often is just known as non-Cessationist or by the names of specific traditions which hold the view) the Holy Spirit is understood to have varying degrees of control over miracles, from bringing them when he will to only being able to bring them when called on in full faith.

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This is a very theological question and not something that can be backed with facts. While it's factual that there are two different views, the question itself is not answerable. –  user1054 Sep 19 '12 at 16:41
    
@Dan I've been arguing for a long time that these kinds of questions MUST be treated as overview questions requiring a look at at least the major views. Anything at all that tries to resolve an issue and arrive at a right answer apart from a specific tradition is automatically not constructive. –  Caleb Sep 19 '12 at 22:31

Caleb's answer is useful.

As an interesting data point, I have a friend, now dead, who was a translator with SIL (Wycliffe) in a Papua New Guinea Villages, very close to the PNG-Irian Jaya border. This area was much more remote than many and so less influenced by western contact. She said that initially miracles of a biblical nature were relatively common amongst thje Christian community, but that it seemed that they decreased as westernisation and familiarity with external contact increased over many years. Obviously with a sample of one area and one person's observations it is not certain how (inversely) causally related the miracles and degree of westernisation were, but worth noting.

As one who is older than young I have noted over many decades that mountains seem to move when viewed from the corner of the eye and are much less likely to do so when stared at. I also find that that which was absolutely certainly miraculous at the time, is much more questionable at a later date, and increasingly so as time progresses. I am not suggesting that the details are less convincing but that as the effect on attitude and behaviour fade and memories of how real an event was that we tend to let the louder less still voices of cynicism and disbelief increasingly attack the memories.

I have personally experienced a few events that seemed to incontrovertibly be miracles by any statistical evaluation - and a few survive as miracles even with long term memory, but even those would have been questioned and / or rejected at the time by those who feel bound to necessarily reject all such events.

I'm an engineer. I tend to informally and even formally assess apparent probabilities of events when they stick well enough out of the noise to be notable. Some few do this really well. I have experienced a number of events which matched specific requests with probabilities I'd rate in the millions to one. And other events of similar probability which were not absolutely identifiable as specific answers but which "worked together for good" at equally large probability ratios.


While minor by most standards the following was interesting to me:

I've never liked "healing" stories which implied a degree of flippancy on God's part (legs being lengthened too much with prayer and needing more prayer to get it right) but even they may have their place.

I personally experienced instantaneous healing of a 'smallish' but significant injury which in normal events would only have been painful and inhibiting while it healed but which was about to cause major problems. I was about to lead a church group on a hiking trip in steep and rugged company with a painful leg injury acquired a few days before through acting extremely stupidly on a motorcycle. My 'fervent' prayer was very specific about why I needed healing and what events had to be covered. Nothing happened and I approached a several day event without healing - I guessed that God's answer at that stage was "No!". At the exact moment of commencement I received essentially complete healing. This lasted for about 3 days and at the exact moment that the "event" ended the healing instantaneously reverted and I then had to heal again in the normal manner. I received exactly what I asked for in order to allow me to meet other people's needs. Interesting.

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Note that even for an engineer, ad-hoc probability estimates are not that reliable because (1) it's hard to remember how big the denominator is--you experience millions of events, so you expect a few "million-to-one" occurrences just by chance, and (2) it's easy to overestimate how improbable something is when you didn't anticipate it. –  Rex Kerr Sep 22 '12 at 18:12

On the contrary, I would suggest that miracles do happen fairly often. There are many testimonies of doctors beginning a massive surgery to remove cancer only to find that the cancer mysteriously disappeared overnight.

Additionally, a significant percentage of Muslims who become Christians do so because of a vision or dream where Jesus Himself appears to them. This certainly could be considered miraculous, as many of them risk their lives to turn to Christianity, which they hated for their entire lives.

Now, the Bible seems to indicate that God responds according to our faith, so the lack of miracles or answered prayer can be an indicator of a lack of faith in a community.

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