No one denies that the Bible contains accounts of miracles. Furthermore, no one denies that people claim to experience or witness miracles even today. The question is whether putative miracles are supernatural works of God or merely anomalies that await a natural explanation.
In 2011, New Testament scholar Craig S. Keener published Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. He offered a robust scholarly defense of two claims: (1) “eyewitnesses do offer miracle claims” and (2) “supernatural explanations … should be welcome on the scholarly table along with other explanations often discussed.” Unfortunately, the book’s size (1,200+ pages) and cost ($75) put it out of the reach of non-academic readers.
With Miracles Today, Keener offers an apologetic for miracles that is accessible to a larger audience in terms of both size (300 pages) and cost ($24.99). It is not an abridgment of the two-volume work, however. Rather, it is an original work with new accounts of contemporary miracles not included in the academic study.
Keener organizes his material in seven parts. Parts 1 and 7 deal with philosophical and theological issues. Parts 2–6 offer scores of documented, contemporary, eyewitness accounts of healings, resurrections, and nature miracles from around the world. The healing miracles include cures of multiple sclerosis, cancer, blindness, disability, and skin diseases.
Keener scrupulously footnotes his sources, some of whom are known to him personally. Wherever possible, he includes the testimony of doctors and notes whether the miracle was instantaneous or took time, whether it was total or partial, and whether the patient remained symptom free over a long period of time.
One of the most striking accounts is the healing of Barbara Commiskey Snyder, who from ages 15 to 31 suffered from multiple sclerosis. Prior to her healing, she had been confined to her bed for four years, unable to care for herself at all. Then, on June 7, 1981 — Pentecost Sunday — Snyder heard an audible voice say, “My child: Get up and walk.” And she did. Her doctor documented her case, and Keener interviewed her in 2015 — still free of MS 34 years later!
Keener does not deny that some apparent miracles have natural explanations, such as psychosomatic cures, spontaneous remission of cancers, and the like. (Nor does he deny that even miracle-believers face difficult questions, such as why God doesn’t heal in some cases.) However, accounts like Snyder’s — and many others in the book — strain the credibility of natural explanations for all of them. Whether people accept or reject miracle claims, then, depends on the background assumptions they bring to these accounts.
Those with an open mind just might find Keener’s apologetic persuasive.
Craig S. Keener, Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2021).
P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.
P.P.S. I wrote this review for the fall 2021 issue of Influence magazine. It is posted here by permission.