A “seemingly” dead man raised to life?

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TylerR's picture

Editor

Platt is a very solid, good man. He has a PhD from New Orleans, and I don't think he'd be given to spreading ridiculous lies. I'm saying that he is a sensible man, not a looney. I'd be interested to know more about this one. 

I would also stress that the article headline is misleading. The missionaries don't claim they raised the man from the dead. They were simply praying for the villagers, and they report the alleged miracle happened at that time.

Although, because the SBC now allows charismatic missionaries on the field, this could simply be nonsense amd Wally couldd be quite right. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

M. Osborne's picture

@WallyMorris:

I'm still digesting and evaluating the story myself.

In the meanwhile, questions for you:

  1. At what point do you begin to see evidence of problems, or, what aspects of the story do you doubt? Do you doubt that this occurred at all? Do you doubt the villagers' understanding of what happened? Do you doubt the missionaries' understanding of what happened?
  2. Can you articulate the nature of the "problems"?
  3. Out of curiosity, if someone you knew and trusted reported that they were present at such a sequence of events, how would you respond to that person?

 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Darrell Post's picture

In the article it does seem to indicate that the missionaries were open to the idea that the man was never dead. At another point they seem to try and heighten the drama by saying “at villages like this, they know how to recognize death...” Really? Anyone who regularly follows the news headlines can attest to the somewhat frequent stories from 3rd or 2nd world countries how they were carrying the body for burial and the person suddenly awakens and is found to actually still be alive. If anything, these countries seem to sometimes struggle to identify the difference between 'mostly dead' and 'all dead.'

For this story in particular, I would want to know how long the person was laid out for viewers to see. The article says the custom is to do this for several days...but did the man revive early into the first day? Or was it near the end of two days?

Furthermore, nowhere in the article did any of them claim to have the NT gift of healing. They took whatever happened as an answer to prayer, and that is still quite a bit different than someone claiming to have exercised the gift of healing. But again, without adequate information on this, it would appear to have been a case of 'mostly dead,' which as we all know, is really 'slightly alive.'

 

 

 

 

Bert Perry's picture

Really, we have here a case where we don't know, and won't know, if anyone as much as took a pulse or performed a credit check for buying a car (held a mirror to see if it steamed up due to breathing).  And really, I seem to remember hearing occasionally about people in our country waking up in a morgue--it's not just a "third world" phenomenon.

What we've got is at least a wonderful apparent recovery, though.  I don't know that we've got to endorse all the excesses of much of charismatic or pentacostal theology to say that if indeed we pray for healing after hearing the weekly "organ recital" at prayer meeting, God may from time to time answer with a "yes". 

(my personal position is "mild cessationist"--I won't deny God can do a lot of these miracles/tongues/whatever, but I don't see a lot of evidence of them these days that fits the Biblical model, and I'm open to the idea that 1 Cor. 13 did indeed close the window to at least a lot of this)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

M. Osborne's picture

I think the minimalist reading is this:

  1. This was an unreached group of people. God's special revelation was brand new to them.
  2. Circumstances occurred that they interpreted badly: they thought the local deities/spirits were angry with them and killed the leader. I agree that per Romans 1, they're without excuse, but it's still no surprise that they'd interpret the man's apparent death this way.
  3. At the very moment the missionaries were praying, the man revived. This is at the least meticulous Providence, and God was clearly at work to reverse their original interpretation. The results was that He confirmed His Word and the missionaries were able to share the gospel. Honestly, this is a Halleljuah moment whether it's meticulous Providence or a miracle....kinda like the time on my first job that I prayed one night for a chance to share the gospel, and moments later was asked, "What religion are you?" Huh. Maybe there's a God.

I am no friend to the charismatic movement. But I also think a default position of unbelief toward a professing believer's report of God at work in an objective sequence of events is spiritually dangerous. A fellow church member recently returned from a mission trip to Africa. During a worship service, she held a baby who had some kind of congenital back problem, something like a twisted spine. When she handed the baby back to the mother, the mother was astounded and pointed out that the baby's back was now healthy and normal. What happened? My fellow church member leans charismatic, and yet how would her beliefs change what did or didn't happen to a baby's physiology? The back was deformed, and then it was not. That's the report. My fellow church member is not a liar, not a lunatic, so...my default is to believe her and praise God.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

WallyMorris's picture

One problem I am referring to when I use the word "problems" is the growing acceptance in the SBC of charismatic theology, no doubt influenced by John Piper to some extent, although he does not refer to himself with that label. The original article/event will be used by those in the SBC to continue to promote aspects of charismatic theology, no matter what really happened to this person. Platt is open to this, of course, since he is allowing these changes in IMB. The SBC has placed people like Platt in positions of leadership, which over time will change the SBC. We can nuance this story all we want, the fact remains that the SBC now allows its missionaries to believe certain aspects of charismatic theology. This will impact the SBC in negative ways.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

M. Osborne's picture

Wally Morris wrote, "The original article/event will be used by those in the SBC to continue to promote aspects of charismatic theology, no matter what really happened to this person."

Should it have been hushed up, then?

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Mark_Smith's picture

as I understand it, is the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are no longer in operation through individuals. This definition does not limit God from acting miraculously.

Wally Morris seems to be endorsing a stronger version that God no longer does the miraculous. 

Is that what you are saying Wally?

Darrell Post's picture

"as I understand it, is the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are no longer in operation through individuals. This definition does not limit God from acting miraculously."

This is correct. If you believe that the Spirit no longer gives the gift of healing to men who then are empowered to heal the sick as they choose, and if you believe the Spirit no longer gives the gift of prophecy so that believers no longer stand up and utter new words from God, and if you believe the gift of apostleship has ceased, and that no longer does the Spirit give the gift to believers to be able to speak truth in human languages they did not learn, then you are a cessationist. If God wishes to directly heal someone as an answer to the prayers of His people, then praise God--He gets all the glory. But that is God healing, and not part of the cessationist/continuationist debate.

WallyMorris's picture

How anyone could think that I believe God no longer does miracles, based on what I have written here, amazes me. Faith Healers? No. Does/Can God heal? Of course. Speaking in tongues? No. Perhaps it is not I who should clarify comments, but Platt. He is sufficiently vague to create questions. To wonder about "hushing up" the event is to reach for a conclusion I neither suggested nor implied. Various people within the SBC will use this event to promote their own charismatic agenda within the SBC. And the SBC will not oppose it since they are already allowing it among their missionaries. And that is part of the "problem". However, since I left the SBC many years ago, this is a problem I will not have to deal with. But those Fundamentalists who are involving themselves with the SBC will have to deal with it sooner or later.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

Rolland McCune's picture

Over the years one hears of incidents like this and the usual conundrums emerge, such as their credibility, the believability of the reports and the reporters, the validity of the criteria used to make a comment or declaration, the fear held out by some that a negative reaction is blaspheming the Spirit's work and His name, and on and on. Some years ago reports came out describing a great revival in Indonesia (?) that miracles were occurring, including a resurrection or two. I personally heard a report that circulated among a pocket of Bible-believers of someone in Africa walking on red-hot coals to back his Christian message. This account drew thunderous Amens. Here I would like to sketch a few biblical/theological points that I always apply to such reports, basically regarding the nature and purpose of biblical miracles.

Biblical miracles were of a sensational nature that forced an acknowledgment that they were from God (John 3:2; Acts 3:1-10, 4:13-17(esp. v. 17). They were public,verifiable and undeniable (Acts 3:1-10; 4:13-17, esp. v. 17). They were not done in secret, nor were they of the Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread variety.

The purpose of miracles was to accredit a messenger of God with an authoritative message (fundamentally new revelation) from God (John 3:2; Heb 2:1-4). They did not compel belief but were designed to foster faith; sort of faith-helping crutches as it were. They were not designed simply to feed the hungry, bring sound and sight to those in need, and the like. Such were happy by-products indeed, but were not incorporated into the ongoing message and program of the NT ekklesia.

Since the NT gospel message of Jesus Christ being the exclusive way to God the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:12; John 16:8-11) has been fully and finally accredited and the biblical canon closed, the need for miracles has ceased and the desire for miracles is not well-founded (1 Cor 1:18-25).

I would not assent to Platt's report.

Rolland McCune

Mark_Smith's picture

"the need for miracles has ceased".

 

What is the difference between this statement and the claim that God no longer does miracles?

Bert Perry's picture

....perhaps from Dr. McCune, perhaps from others, on this topic.  One thing that comes to mind is that at many times, Jesus tells beneficiaries of His miracles not to tell anyone.  How does that square with the seeming public nature of many/most of His miracles?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Steve Davis's picture

In the main I agree with Dr. McCune's biblical understanding of the place of miracles in the NT. Where we might part ways is whether "the need for miracles has ceased."

I share the concerns of many over the hype with anecdotal evidence of miracles. This is especially true because of the finality and sufficiency of the Word of God. I remain open to God using miraculous means in pioneer gospel encounters where the Word of God is not present, means which are not revelatory in the sense of adding to Scripture.

Several years ago I wrote about this on SI. I stand by it today (or most of it). I am skeptical of most miracle claims at least initially but am not prepared to deny them totally. 

http://sharperiron.org/article/dreams-and-visions

 

Rolland McCune's picture

I need to add a few more thoughts to my sketch re: biblical miracles, hopefully to clarify my earlier thoughts. I am preparing a more lengthy article for another venue on miracles--their purpose, interpretation, cessation and other issues.

Biblical  miracles, as understood here, were accomplished in the physical realm. They transcended, if not contradicted, the laws of physical science and were not reproducible by the principles of modern science. Miracles involved a direct imposition of divine omnipotence into the time-space-mass complex, as over against the work of providence which employed secondary causation.  There are no "miracles of providence." To preserve  their unique, narrow teaching value, God has been very conservative, if not somewhat stingy, with the use of miracles. In keeping with their purpose of attestation and its historical fulfillment, miracles are not needed and thus, in my understanding, are not now occurring. Further, since God's preservation and control of the universe is through secondary causation (e.g., Psalm 148:8), a would-be miracle would be so heavily enmeshed in this almost infinite web of interconnection of cause and effect so as to be impossible to detect.

A divine miracle also needed a divinely-enabled, infallible interpreter or its meaning was lost.This was usually a prophet, apostle or one capable of handling special revelation . E.g., when God testified from the clouds about His Son, by-standers thought it thundered or an angel had spoken (John 12:27-30).  Jesus' words and John's record is proof of miraculous activity. This necessary accompaniment for miracles would seem impossible to provide after the first century.

As to the commands to not spread the news of a miraculous occurrence is concerned, some no doubt were to ward off excessive publicity and the confusion and possible uprising among the populace (e.g., Mark 7:36). Their lack of necessary understanding might have led to a premature  revolution. One incident was a delay so that a testimony could be made to the Levitical priest of what had happened (Matt 8:4).Others took place after incident of the unpardonable sin when the fate of the nation's destruction was sealed (e.g., Matt 16:20; 17:9). The nation's apostate spiritual leadership had pushed it over the point of no return; further signs were no remedy. Thus Paul's strictures against further sign-seeking (1 Cor 1:18-25).

More can be said here--more texts, biblical, theological and historical material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolland McCune

WallyMorris's picture

Dr. McCune's analysis of the subject of miracles is an excellent, balanced approach to this issue. We tend to label so much as "miracle" that we lessen the significance of the word and event. Many people seem to be so anxious for some "sign" to help them through this difficult world that they gravitate toward anything that will give them hope for another day, opening themselves to crooks and deceivers such as Benny Hinn.

Going back to the original article which started this discussion: Platt should explain and clarify his position on this event and what he believes about modern claims of the miraculous.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

TOvermiller's picture

Rolland McCune wrote:

I am preparing a more lengthy article for another venue on miracles--their purpose, interpretation, cessation and other issues.

In what venue will this "more lengthy article" appear, and when?

Thomas Overmiller
Pastor | www.studygodsword.com
Blog & Podcast | www.shepherdthoughts.com