Sunday Walk 57 – Greg Bahnsen on Miracles

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

Proverbs 26:4-5, King James Bible 1769, and expounded in Greg Bahnsen’s Always Ready.

In one of Jim Lee’s posts he linked to Reconstructionist Radio, a site offering Grey Toombs’ narration of Always Ready, a collection of essays by Greg Bahnsen. Bahnsen was a proponent of Van Til’s presuppositional apologetics. Keeping Proverbs 26:4-5 in mind, this apologetics answers the fool without capitulating to the fool’s presuppositions.

After reading C.S. Lewis’s Miracles, Bahnsen’s essay, The Problem of Miracles, reprinted as Chapter 34, caught my attention.

At the beginning of the essay, Bahnsen explained why miracles are a problem for the modern mind: “Miracles would disrupt our simplistic and impersonalistic views of the predictability and uniformity of the world around us.”

We should be careful not to accept Naturalism’s presuppositions by becoming aware of what they are. For example, there needs to be a reason for the uniformity of nature. Can the Naturalist presupposition of the existence of impersonal laws of nature provide that reason? Given that “impersonal” implies those laws arose by chance, it is not likely. Furthermore as Bahnsen claimed at about 21:30 in the narration of the chapter, “God’s self-revelation in the scriptures offers no support for the idea that there are impersonal laws of nature which make the world operate mechanically and with an inevitability which is free ordinarily from the choices of God’s will.” So, there is no need for a Christian to capitulate to the Naturalist’s presupposition of impersonal laws of nature.

The Christian presupposition is that the Bible is the Word of God. The creation account in Genesis 1-2 provides a reason for the uniformity of nature since the creation was good and Genesis 3 provides a reason for the disorderliness of evil (rebellion) that we also see.

Is the source of the orderliness we experience personal or impersonal? If we accept that it is personal (rather than arising from impersonal chance), does the Bible reveal the true personal source or might there some other source such as panpsychism, Brahma or some Baal? The Christian presupposes that the Bible reveals the true source and, given that source, miracles are possible.

At the end of the chapter, Bahnsen warned us to be careful with miracles. They are possible, but the presence of a miracle, or perhaps better put, a sign or wonder, does not mean that God was responsible for it. Signs or wonders, given the serpent in Genesis 3, may also come from demonic sources seeking to deceive.

Greg Bahnsen, The Uniformity of Nature: Atheism’s Philosophical Problem

All knowledge is deposited in Christ. Man’s knowledge of the truth depends upon God’s prior knowledge, begins with the fear of the Lord, and it requires submission to God’s Word.

Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready, Chapter 6

Weekly Bible Reading:  Psalms (Audio)
Commentary: David Pawson, Hebrew Poetry, Part 30, and Psalms, Part 31, Unlocking the Bible

Author: Frank Hubeny

I enjoy walking, poetry and short prose as well as taking pictures with my phone.

12 thoughts on “Sunday Walk 57 – Greg Bahnsen on Miracles”

  1. When the scriptures talk of signs and wonders, I sometimes have to remember when I see signs, it is good to wonder, and wait.. “Wisdom from above is pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering without hypocrisy. James 3:17.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James,
    Thank you for this succinct summary of the impersonal dimension in naturalism that makes it anathema to a Biblical worldview. Bahnsen does a great service in pointing out how it in effect takes God out of the picture. Naturally miracles then would be unnatural, attacking our faith each time we pray, deceiving us into unbelief and making us double-minded.
    pax,
    dora

    Liked by 1 person

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