There are many religions in the world today, all claiming to be true. Many were founded by individuals who claimed to be ‘prophets’ of God – or of the gods, depending. In this context, why be a Christian at all? Why not be a Moslem, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, an animist or whatever sort?
How could a man who founded a specific religion – or a woman, for that matter, and I am thinking of Mrs. Ellen White, who founded the Adventists of the Seventh Day, or Madam Blavatsky of Theosophy, for instance – how would such a person prove the authenticity of his or her message? One could use fire and sword like Mohammed, or present an attractive philosophy of theology like any Tom, dick or Harriet these days, and one finds people following.
But why should you be a Christian? I would like to present three good reasons to show that Christ’s message contained the fullness of truth about God, life and salvation. And we’ll consider them in this section, one by one, in due course. Here they are:
- If the founder of your religion claimed to be not merely a prophet of God, but the Son of God, just as divine as His Father, and proved it by performing miracles; that’s a pretty good indication that He’s the real McCoy;
- If the books about Him are authentic and tell the truth about Him, and His life was prophesied in detail centuries before he was born;
- If he foresaw his own death by murder and said He would rise again – and He did! – then you are out of excuses not to follow Him as your true guide and savior. Nobody can beat that!
In the first place, how do we assess the veracity of otherwise of a person claiming to speak on God’s behalf? First of all, we must investigate if the doctrine is worthy of the alleged Author, that is, it should be serious, trustworthy, elevated, as it befits a messenger from God, and not silly, trivial, let alone ridiculous or nonsensical. Secondly, the alleged ‘prophet’ must prove his mission, in a way that leaves no shadow of doubt as to his authenticity. Since fire and sword are only the argument of those who have no argument and impose their beliefs by force, the best way to prove one’s mission is to perform miracles and/or be the object of previous prophecies.
Let us begin with miracles. What is a miracle? A simple definition: a fact, an occurrence, a reality that happens outside of the course of nature and can only be explained by the intervention of a divine action.
So, since a miracle-worker does not waste God’s power to perform miracles just for fun, he does so to prove the truthfulness of his message. When God intervenes in human history to perform the miracle, it proves that the teaching is true, because God would not testify to a lie or an error.
Now, are miracle possible at all? If you do not admit the existence of God, then no, they are not possible, because there would be nobody to intervene in history to perform the miracle. That’s why you do not waste your time trying to prove a miracle to an atheist. But to anyone who believes in God’s existence, in a Superior Being who created the universe and established all of its physical and other laws, He can naturally alter or suspend or just change the course of nature at will. Why not? If you are in charge you can do it. So, when we talk about a particular miracle, we do not discuss the possibility of its happening, since God exists and can do it; we discuss its reality, that is, whether it happened or not. A miracle is proved, therefore, by its evidence, not by the good will or credulity of the people who talk about it.
Something evident can be seen – vident means a seer – that is to say, it must be perceptible by the senses of the body, not by one’s good faith. For instance, the miracle of the transubstantiation in the Eucharist is not perceptible by the senses, it is believed by faith, by the word of Jesus, and therefore cannot be cited as an example to prove miracles here. We are talking about those events that cannot be explained by the normal course of nature.
Take, for example, an alleged miraculous cure that happened in Lourdes. A blind man washed his eyes in the water and came out seeing. OK, how could we investigate the reality or otherwise of that alleged miracle?
Who are the witnesses? Did they see the miracle? Are they trustworthy? Was the alleged ‘miracle’ verifiable as outside the laws of nature? This last question is most important since because we do not know everything about nature, there are things that to our eyes cannot be explained, and yet they are not miracles. For instance, the bumble bee is not supposed to fly, according to all laws of aerodynamics. Wings are too small, body too fat and heavy, muscles linking the wings to the body too are tender, etc., etc., so it should not fly – but it does. And it is not a miracle. So, caution is required in this area. But caution is not incredulity or agnosticism.
However, there are things we know that never happen in nature, such as, a blind man washes his eyes in common water and starts seeing. No water can do that, for sure! If the man was truly blind, and if the water was truly common, and if the washing of the eyes restored his sight instantly, then we know that it was an intervention of God in history. It was a miracle.
Then comes the second question: was that miracle supposed to happen to prove a certain truth, or doctrine, proposed by the miracle-worker? Lourdes proves beyond any shadow of doubt the doctrine of Mary’s intercession, and the miracles performed by St Peter proved the truth of his doctrine s well.
So, miracles are proof positive that the teaching proposed by the miracle-worker is true. You don’t just have to take his word for it. That why Jesus, to prove His oneness with God the Father, said to the Jews:
“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (St John 10:37-38).
Next article: Responding to objections.
Raymond de Souza KM is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Please email SacredHertMedia@Outlook.com or visit http://www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.