What are miracles?
I must define each subsection of Supernatural Theology before I can adequately study it and so that you (the reader) can understand what I’m talking about. I don’t think anyone would say they don’t understand what a miracle is or that they could not recognize one, but in order to better understand them I’ve decided to use a system of classification when talking about miracles. And this system that I will use is presented by CS Lewis in his book Miracles. (I’ll call this the Lewis System of Classifying Miracles.)
Before I lay out this classification system, let me say a quick word about miracles and the Laws of Nature. At first look, a person may be tempted to say that a miracles breaks the Laws of Nature, but this is not so. God is the author of the Laws of Nature, and as their creator he cannot break them no more than an artist can’t make changes to his own piece of art. So in regards to the Laws of Nature, God either abides by them or is acting by the laws of a different nature that we don’t understand.
You’ll understand better as I go through the classification system.
Miracles of the Old Creation (MOC)
Miracles of the Old Creation are miracles that abide by our current Laws of Nature. The thing that causes the miracle is simply the introduction of something new or different, to which the Laws of Nature take over and simply do what they do.
For example, consider the Virgin Birth. The miracle was in no way the development and birth of Jesus, the miracle was in the conception. God introduced unique genetic material to Mary’s womb. The Laws of Nature took over from there. There was a standard nine month pregnancy followed by a normal birth.
So now within the Miracles of the Old Creation, there are a few subcategories.
- Miracles of Fertility – These are miracles that either introduce something new to the Laws of Nature or skip a step in the natural process. Either way, the result is what would be expected if left to its natural course. (Virgin Birth, water into wine, ect.)
- Miracles of Healing – Similar to a Miracle of Fertility, this is specific to the health and wellness to a person. This does not undermine the natural healing process, but adds to the body what is necessary for the body to heal itself. Steps may be skipped along the way, or even accelerated, but the result is what could be expected of a natural healing. (Healing the sick, lame, and blind.)
- Miracles of Destruction – Similar to a Miracle of Healing, this skips a step or accelerate the natural process of death, decay, and destruction. (Cursing the fig tree.)
- Miracles of the Dominion Over the Inorganic – (can also be a Miracle of the New Creation) – This type of miracle is where power or dominion is exerted over a natural inorganic thing. As a MOC, this miracle simply accelerates what would otherwise be a natural process. (Calming the sea.)
Miracles of the New Creation (MNC)
These types of miracles are to be viewed as stemming from a different nature, or set of natural laws, as the one we currently live in. It was Lewis’ opinion that the nature exhibited in these miracles was of the Glorified new creation, which we will all enjoy upon the destruction and remaking of the world as seen in Revelation. They don’t break our Laws of Nature because they are beyond and apart from our Laws of Nature. Subcategories include:
- Miracles of the Dominion Over the Inorganic – Unlike the MOC version, this miracle would seem to defy what would be natural to us in it’s power over something inorganic. (Walking on water.)
- Miracles of Reversal – Often related to healing, the miracle seems to actually reverse what would otherwise be an irreversible natural process. (Raising Lazarus from the dead.)
- Miracles of Perfecting or Glorification – This miracle is seen almost exclusively in Jesus and is a momentary or permanent glimpse of the New Nature of God’s glorification. (Transfiguration, Ascension.)
Everybody got it? So when I begin discussing miracles and I say something like, “Some people consider the miracle of Moses parting the water as a MNC of Dominion, but some geologist claim it could have been a MOC of Dominion,” then you’ll know what I’m talking about, right?