Miracles: A Review
There's a book that just came out today, and you should read it. Either tell your library to get it, steal it from your friend, or just buy it yourself. No matter your means, you need to read this book.
I got an early copy for being a part of the author's launch team, but that does not mean that I'm required to say anything positive. The only requirement was to read the book as quickly as possible and let him and his team know what I thought throughout the process.
As of now, I'm almost halfway through it. But I wanted to go ahead and give you guys some of my thoughts on it, since it comes out today. After I finish the book I'll update this post with my final thoughts. So here we go...
Who is the author?
Miracles is written by Eric Metaxas. Metaxas also wrote a biography of Deitrich Bonhoeffer, which I really enjoyed. He's a New York Time bestselling author and speaker. (Fun fact: He also wrote for VeggieTales.)
What is the book about?
The first half of the book discusses miracles in a more academic way. He addresses the topic theologically and covers the apologetic issues associated with it. He addresses the question of what a miracle is, and isn't, and whether or not it is rational, in an age of science, to believe in them. He also discusses why they happen, what they mean, and why some people experience them while others don't. I find all of these questions incredibly important, so I'm thankful he addressed them. And I have to say he addressed them fairly well.
The second half of the book is a series of miracle stories. In it he discusses people in his life that have encountered miracles. I haven't made it to this part, so I can't comment on it much.
Really solid thoughts
There are several points in what I've read so far that really got me excited, and ultimately make it a book I want to recommend.
- In his chapter on miracles and science, he gives a really solid argument for why miracles are not opposed to science. (Much of it echoes, I believe on purpose, what C.S. Lewis argues about miracles in his book of the same title.) He also shows how science actually points us to a God outside of our world that is completely capable of reaching into it. He ends the chapter with this quotation from John Lennox, "The more we get to kow about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a creator God, who destined the universe for a purpose, gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here."
- In the chapter "Questions about Miracles" he addresses the very dangerous, yet ridiculously common, idea that we can make miracles happen; that it is our faith that makes it happen, and not God's will. As Metaxas puts it, "Though we are exhorted by God to pray to him, we cannot compel him to do what we wish." God is not our butler, he is the creator of the universe. We need to give God the respect he deserves. We need to pray in faith that the miracle we request can happen, but also in obedience to the one who is wise enough to know what's best.
- "In the case of real miracles, they are never in danger of disappearing just because we look at them. If they are real miracles and are from God, they can stand being poked at and examined." Amen.
- And lastly (for now), this passage is just fantastic. I debated just inserting a part of it, but the whole thing is just amazingly stated.
"Mark Twain said that if you dissect a joke, you kill it, just as you must kill a frog before dissecting it. Of course there's some truth to this. As a sometime humorist, I well know how this can work with jokes. If you must explain why something is funny, you will almost certainly kill the humor. There are many who say the same thing about faith and miracles. They are in love with the idea of believing, with the ineffable magic of it, and don't think any of it should be examined too closely. For these people, exactly what one believes in matters less than belief itself, and they don't want to get too close to the details of it, lest they eff the inneffable and the fairy dust be blown away. But true belief is really not like frogs and jokes at all. We must examine what we believe. We must blow away the fairy dust. Though there is great mystery involved, it's not all mystery. Exactly what we believe is vitally important. Do we believe in something that's really true? Or are we afraid to find out? We have to separate the fake miracles from the real ones, or we do the real ones a grave injustice and do the truth itself an injustice too."
Man that's good...
Problems so far
So far, the only problem I have with the book is that it's a bit wordy. Metaxas is a great writer, and can string together a great sentence, (I mean, come on, "...lest they eff the inneffable and the fairy dust be blown away" is a fantasticly creative and powerful line.) but I think he includes more information than is necessary. Although he does this much more so in Bonhoeffer, (Thankfully there is an abridged version now.) I think the little over a hundred pages I've read so far could have been cut down to about eighty or so. (Just don't ask me to try to do it, because I'm not that good.)
So far, this is a fantastic book. My guess is that it's going to be incredibly popular, and probably another NYT best seller. Metaxas can write a good sentence, and he has some great things to say - some things the church in our culture really needs to hear.
I think you'll be challenged by this book. I know I have been.
So I recommend you get it, and let me know what you think.