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New Series: Catechesis on the Miracles of Jesus
We begin a new series on how to catechise about the miracles of Jesus. Let us begin with some general comments since in our present climate serious questions have been raised concerning the historicity of the miracles in the Gospels, and the very nature and possibility of miracles. The question of the historicity of Jesus’ miracles was highlighted recently by the publication of The Gospel according to Judas: By Benjamin Iscariot, by Jeffrey Archer and Frank Moloney. The latter is a Catholic Scripture scholar. At the time of publication, Moloney stated in an interview that the majority of scripture scholars today are agreed that Jesus did not perform any of the nature miracles. The nature miracles presumably include the stilling of the storm, walking on water, the feeding of the five thousand, and the changing of water into wine at Cana. Apart from such expressions of the, allegedly, prevailing view among scholars, there is also a good deal of scepticism about miracles at the popular level. The prevailing culture is to be sceptical about anything that appears not to be capable of scientific verification: both scholarly opinion and popular culture are a manifestation of the same ideological mentality of positivism. This is the continuing legacy of the Enlightenment with its denial of the possibility of divine intervention in the world. How should we respond to this scepticism? One of the best treatments of miracles is the classic text by C.S.Lewis, Miracles. Even today it is probably true that Lewis’ treatment of miracles is not surpassed. His discussion takes place by way of an argument with a number of key steps. In the next issue of The Sower, we shall look closely at Lewis’ case for the reality of miracles and his arguments against the modern scepticism regarding the possibility of miracles. In this article, though, I want to consider three key themes, mainly drawn from Lewis, which can help us in our general catechesis on miracles.