In this episode, the group discuses why we don’t see the evidence of God healing amputees and if divine miracles still occur today.
- David Hume, Philosopher
- C.S. Lewis – “The Last Battle”
- Craig Keener – “Miracles: The Credibility Of The New Testament Accounts”
- Article On Mozambique Healings
Transcript: Why Doesn’t God Heal Amputees?
00:00:00:07 – 00:00:22:05
Why doesn’t God heal amputees? Today on Where We Begin.
00:00:22:05 – 00:00:33:07
Hey, welcome back to where we begin. I’m your host, Derek Caldwell, joined again by Alycia Wood, Lou Phillips, and Xandra Carroll. How’s everyone doing?
00:00:33:07 – 00:00:35:15
Hey, pretty good. We are back again.
00:00:35:15 – 00:00:36:23
00:00:36:23 – 00:00:39:13
Yeah, Lou, can you let us know when you get to dress up next time?
00:00:40:18 – 00:00:42:23
Right? Like a tie and everything.
00:00:42:23 – 00:00:49:23
I’m just always trying to make myself look better. Not than anybody else, Derek, just in general. I just want to look better. That’s all.
00:00:49:23 – 00:01:23:14
Yeah. No good. You got the memo. Yeah. Well, today, so today the topic that we have today is we’ve actually the very nice people watching and listening to this right now don’t know that we’ve talked about this before. And but I wanted to bring it back up today and see if, you know, with some reflection because the first time we all chatted about it kind of caught everyone by guard. Not everyone was aware of it, but it’s this website that basically asked the question, “Why won’t God heal amputees?”
00:01:23:16 – 00:01:25:05
OK. Yeah, I remember that.
00:01:25:11 – 00:02:23:21
And so this is a website that was built by an atheist, actually the same guy who created the How Stuff Works website. And essentially, it’s meant to challenge that there is a God who actively answers prayers because a lot of the prayers that we say are answered can’t really be verified quite as much as a limb that grows back, that would be pretty miraculous. So while, you know, while some people could ask it sort of, you know, sarcastically, like, I think this is, you know, they’re sort of saying, we know this God doesn’t exist, and here’s our proof for it. There would be a lot of people who ask it out of a real place of like hurt and really wanting God to answer prayers. So essentially, we’re asking about God and answering prayers and miracles today. So Lou, what would you…?
00:02:24:15 – 00:03:15:06
Thanks for throwing it to me first. Yeah, I really appreciate because you remember how much I struggled with this question when we first wrestled or first talked about it because this was the first time I ever heard. I mean, the audience doesn’t know. I told Derek as like most of the time the questions you hear. You’ve heard so many times and I was like, I doubt if you’re going to ask me a question that I haven’t heard like some version of. And technically, it is on like healing, but in general, it’s like I kind of sat for a few minutes and I didn’t know what I would say. And like, yeah, because I see why that’s problematic. I see why that would be like a yeah, all the types of healings you say that happen. It happens each year. I mean, internally, it might be a medical anomaly, but like an actual arm growing back from something, it would be a really just blatant miracle. And so, yeah, I just want to honor the question saying, I get how difficult um, I get how like significant the question is. So.
00:03:16:04 – 00:03:55:00
Yeah. Well, it’s a really powerful question. I think even the visual of it, it does make people’s step back like, yeah, that that is difficult for me to answer. But I get so the first question, though, going into it is what is it because there are different opinions in the Christian community on whether miracles can even still happen. Are we out of the age of miracles? We don’t necessarily have to get into those debates, but what would you know anyone here? Just what are your views even on that? Maybe before we get into it? Do healings still happen? Divine, miraculous healings?
00:03:55:03 – 00:03:57:07
I would say yes. I do believe they do happen.
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Yeah, I’m of the same opinion.
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Yeah, I’m absolutely of the same opinion, for sure.
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We have a nice, diverse group here today. Maybe we all agree on it.
00:04:06:18 – 00:04:36:06
I wasn’t so sure like beforehand. And then I spent some time in another country working with a family, and I saw some things and experienced some things that changed my view on the Holy Spirit and changed my view on miracles. So it really reshaped my theology just by virtue of experiences that I had and things that I saw with my own eyes. So I yeah, at this point in my life, I’m absolutely convinced that miracles do happen today. Yeah.
00:04:36:06 – 00:05:08:15
Yeah, I know sometimes when people talk about evangelism, they say, Well, you know, first give them like, try to be rational, logical leave kind of the weird God stories to the side first, because you know, it can make people uncomfortable. But we want to – let’s start with the weird God stories today. Would you be willing to share just a few of those? Yeah. What were those experiences that you because you’re a scientist. You have a science background. You need to empirically verify things. You get all that, but you saw things that, to you, really gave flesh in a sense to your theology.
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Yeah. What were those?
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So, what I guess what was in my mind when I just mentioned it just now was some time that I spent in Honduras and we were going to do sort of like a luncheon for some women who were living in a mountain community nearby, and so we got up early that morning and we were preparing some food to take to the women, and we made some extra knowing that a lot of them would have children and a lot of them are very malnourished. They don’t have. There’s a whole back story, but this particular people group are not in a good way. I mean, a lot of them are just living in mud huts and just trying to make ends meet, and it’s a really, really bad scenario there in that particular area of the mountains. So we prepared 40 meals, expecting 10 to 15 people to show up. And when we arrived, there were lots of people. And so I got up and gave my talk as we had planned and then we got all the stuff set up to give the food to these women. And we had prepared double what we were expecting. So we prepared 40 meals and I had prepared the food with my own hands. I knew exactly how much we had. And there were 80 people who were there and I was seeing this line form. And you know, there were three or four of us there at the table and we were preparing like they’re called Baleadas. So we’re preparing the baleadas as they were coming through. And every person got one and I was just in my heart feeling this like desperation because I was looking at these people who were emaciated and I was looking at these children who were so hungry. And I was in my heart, I was praying, and I was just crying out to God and saying, This is so awful. I mean, poverty is so awful. I feel like it strips people of their humanity. And I I felt like I was going to break down and cry because I knew that we were going to have to turn away half of these people. But as the line kept coming through and we had the bowls of food in front of us and we kept preparing the baleadas as they were coming through. And I didn’t even realize until everyone had come through and the last person came through and we had exactly enough food to prepare for that last person. And then the food was gone. And I just went home and cried because I was so amazed at the love of God and how he prepared for these people in a very tangible way when I mean, I experienced something that I had never seen before. I mean, I had heard the story in the Bible of Jesus providing food where there wasn’t. And but I did not know that that happens. That still happens today and that really affected me. It affected my view of God.
00:08:05:10 – 00:08:33:12
Yeah, that’s interesting, yeah, that biblical miracle kind of showing up again in kind of contemporary life. I wonder what – Do you think that do miracles happen less today than they did in the Bible, or is the Bible just sort of truncated history? So we see a lot of miracles, but you’re not living the many days in between where maybe there weren’t miracles going on, you’re just getting like the greatest hits of history at that point. What is the difference?
00:08:33:12 – 00:09:22:12
I think there’s I mean, I do think we get a little like a lot of people even refer back to the Old Testament. Look at all the times that God did these miraculous things like that was the time he’s going to do it. So clearly it did actually happen. And now we’re at a time where, yeah, that’s not happening. And it’s just like, I think miracles are happening far less than people assumed then and probably more than you’re assuming today. I mean, there’s even Psalms where like, he’s like, I will think of the days of old when you were when you were doing things, is what he’s saying. There were these hundreds of years of silence from God. So I do think it’s that like you, you look at something like the Old Testament and you see these miraculous things. Then you look at that very small period of the New Testament. And again, what is what’s Christ role? What’s he trying to do? What’s he showing? Why did he come in the first place?
00:09:22:22 – 00:10:11:03
I do think there’s an elevated like, look at that. But um, I’m very convinced that miracles are still happening today. In a vast, like in a variety of ways all across the world, but like I think the most interesting part of it is why does it seem like there isn’t as much in the West? And I think that’s probably I mean, a point that I get a lot to, it’s like, why do you always have to go to a third world country to show me what a miracle is? Like, doesn’t that just undermine your argument all the more? So, yeah, I don’t know. I think there’s something there, but I’m convinced that it just it really wasn’t like. I think there are still many happening today, and I think we just elevate what could have happened in a certain period.
00:10:12:05 – 00:12:13:04
And if I could just add on, I have had an experience similar to Xandra, where I was doing ministry at a particular university and ordered a kind of food for this particular event, thinking we’d have, you know, I don’t know, 80 people or whatever. So I think the amount of food you order fed like 80 to 100 and the next, you know, there’s like 100 and I don’t even know 30-ish some-odd people that were there for. And I’m sweating bullets. I’m like, Oh my goodness, we’re gonna run out of food, run out of food. And then watching this line of people just going through and I’m like, Oh, my goodness. And then next, you know, at the end, we had extra food. There was still more food there, and I was like, I don’t understand this is happening. And it happened two days. It wasn’t like a one-day thing. It happened two days where I did the same thing and it’s kind of the same amount. And then we had another crowd of like that size, and I just was like, I can’t explain how that happened. And that was like the first time I feel like I had that experience. You were God, actually, it felt like multiplied that for that. Now is that empirical? Is that something that we can test and prove? And, you know, people say, well, maybe that maybe the people who made the food actually thought it was only 80 to 100 but really it could feed 150. And I think we can say that about anything. You know, I don’t think that we always need this kind of conclusive 100%. Can we test it? Can we verify it? To believe that something actually happened? You know, I think that there’s ways that we come to truth. And I will say this, I think there’s times when we aren’t considered ludicrous for believing in something without concrete evidence, just for the simple thing of saying, like if I would say to Lou, Tell me about your mother, he would tell me, you know, maybe that she cooked him certain meals from her, told me the pictures about her and all these things, but nobody would look at him as a nut if he didn’t DNA test her, right? That’s going to be more scientific kind of things. Nobody would say it’s irrational for him to think, I know she’s my mother because of all these different things. And so I think that when it comes to things that would be supernatural, we have to have that understanding that the natural methods to which we test fall short of testing anything supernatural.
00:12:14:00 – 00:12:50:03
By that token, though, I was and I agree with you completely. But I did read an article recently out of a very prestigious medical journal, and it was a group of people who had heard that miracles were basically happening in this particular region of Mozambique. And so they wanted to observe the sociological effects and all of this of prayer, what they were calling Proximal Prayer. And so they looked at many different demographics for blindness and deafness, and these were different age groups, men and women.
00:12:50:11 – 00:13:11:15
And they came back with the results published in this study, and it’s really interesting to read that. And the conclusion of that paper I find absolutely fascinating because they do show a correlation, a very high correlation between people who lay their hands on someone and pray for healing in the name of Jesus and healing of blindness and
00:13:11:15 – 00:13:43:09
deafness, which are very rarely irreversible and certainly without any sort of medical technology, typically irreversible. So I found that paper really intriguing in the fact that it’s published in this medical journal as so people are actually making scientific observations of it as well. But that’s not to negate your point, Alycia, but just to add another layer onto it that that’s something that my for myself as a scientist, I find that really fascinating, that people are actually observing these events and they’re appearing in medical journals.
00:13:43:09 – 00:14:43:19
Right, and I think that just shows that there are some things that we can that we don’t aren’t able to test scientifically to know whether or not it really is a miracle. But then there’s other things that we can. Like the example that I often tell people of Delia Knox, who was a woman that I, goodness, knew like 20 some-odd years ago who was paralyzed from a drunk driving accident. She suffered traumatic brain injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. And I knew her as a person in a wheelchair who sang around the world. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we she was friends of, really good friends, with friends of mine. And she would be at my church and that kind of thing, and she would travel around and speak. And for years, people prayed for her for years people prayed for her. And all of a sudden, they’re at one prayer service and she literally gets up and walks. And the video is on YouTube. Like she literally gets up and starts walking around, and she went home back to her city in New York. And then she is walking in the city of, you know, the people in Buffalo, New York, are there. The local news and all this stuff like that is verifiable.
00:14:43:19 – 00:14:44:00
00:14:44:16 – 00:14:45:01
00:14:45:01 – 00:14:58:04
And I do think it comes at like, so what I’m thinking about the question that’s even behind that question in many ways because like, one, do you know for sure that there aren’t people that are whose limbs haven’t grown back? That’s a.
00:14:58:09 – 00:14:59:09
Yes, there definitely are.
00:14:59:09 – 00:15:52:15
One, you have to prove that. That there isn’t. And I know it seems like a ridiculous claim because it would be something miraculous, right? We’re not claiming this. We’re not saying this happens all the time, but say it did happen once you still have to explain that. It comes down more to. Why do? I think that question is really getting to the heart of like, “Why does God choose to heal sometimes and not others?” And maybe we’ll get into that another time, but I just like that’s the question I would be asking behind that because even say, if like this person asking the question, why doesn’t God heal more amputees? Well, actually, I have a friend that who is God like grew his arm back. What do you do with that at that point? Well, one’s not enough. Well, how many is enough? Is there actually a number that convinces you or what are we really asking here? Because I do think it comes down to. Yeah, just a question behind that is where I would start.
00:15:52:21 – 00:17:31:22
Well, that’s a good question. Is there actually enough evidence that would prove or were there always be a way out of that? Like, but before we get, I would like to talk about because I think you bring up something interesting because in the Bible, you see a lot of miracles happening around the time of Moses, Elijah, and then when Jesus comes, you see kind of three specific times where there’s a lot of miracles going on. So then you sort of get the impression that there is this purpose to miracles, which God has compassion and wants to help people, but that there are times when it seems like there’s this other thing going on where there is an intent to them. It’s to verify a message that’s being given, perhaps. And so that, combine that then with one of the reasons in the West we so doubt miracle claims. A lot of times comes from David Hume, who said that it goes against uniform human experience. But by that, it was this very ethnocentric because uniform human experience, if you look at every culture in the world, they have these miracle claims. It doesn’t mean they’re all true, but it does seem to say that there is this universal testimony to that. So what? So I guess let’s put those together. Is there? Do you think that is sort of what’s behind where? Because I think you’ve all mentioned, you know, people or some of you do who have witnessed a limb growing back.
00:17:33:20 – 00:18:01:03
Craig Keener in his tome On Miracles. Excellent scholar. He said it’s very rare, but there are, I think he said, maybe two or three instances where it does seem like and he tries to verify it, like a scientist would and doesn’t include the ones that he can’t verify. Do you think there is a reason, I guess, to that? Is there something going on in certain parts of the world that just isn’t going on here?
00:18:01:17 – 00:20:10:17
I mean, I definitely think there’s a reason. I just think it’s, you know, our answers are oftentimes just going to be speculative, right? Unless God in some way tells us, you know, why it is that it’s happening there versus here, I think, you know, we can only take guesses. And I think that there is an extent into which I honestly don’t think having more miracles here will actually be beneficial. And you know, and I think you’re kind of alluding to Derek. Because it talks about like even Jesus talks about how you know he’s doing miracles to give evidence that he actually is who he says he is. It’s helping bring people, not only helping the person who is blind, but it’s helping people to realize that there’s actually truth to this gospel. And I don’t and I wonder if in the West that if we saw a miracle, we would actually believe. And I honestly would not have said that maybe six, seven years ago. But after doing ministry for several years, I have run across people that will watch the video of Delia, who’s paralyzed 20 some-odd years, watch her stand up and walk and say, well, her brain could have spontaneously healed her. In other words, when they see the miracle, they still have another explanation. And so to me, it seems like it actually doesn’t have to do with the miracle itself. It has to do with whether or not somebody is going to allow a convincing of their mind. And you see that even in John 11. Like when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. You know, everybody knows Lazarus is dead. People in the community know Lazarus is dead. He’s been dead for several days and he’s in his tomb and Jesus raised him from the dead. And when you keep reading on past that initial story, you’ll read that after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Pharisees plotted how they might kill Jesus for raising him from the dead and how they might kill Lazarus again for a second time. And so it’s like he raised somebody from the dead, this should be a sign for you guys that this man is more than just a mere man, and their response is not belief. And I just wonder if in our culture here we have that same kind of response where it’s like their hearts were so hardened towards the truth of him that no matter what he was giving them, they didn’t want to believe. And that’s just one possible reason why in the West, we oftentimes don’t see as many miracle because it isn’t really something that’s going to help us.
00:20:12:13 – 00:21:45:07
Yeah, that’s good. Let’s I want to keep that in mind, because, right, so far we have we’ve talked about we’ve essentially challenged the assumption in the question on the miraculous side of things, but there is this extra maybe the main part too of God answering prayers. Because that is really, that’s another part of the painful thing. When you know, I’m going to read a little bit here from John 14. “Believe me, when I say that I am in the father and the father is in me, or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly. I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the father and I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the father may be glorified in the son. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” So it’s statements like these where I think it gets very difficult, very bold, strong statements about what prayer does. But yet we know, even in the pages of Scripture itself, not every prayer is answered. Paul prays for a thorn to be removed, and it never is. So what would you say? What’s a better way, maybe to understand passages like that? Have we missed something? What’s going on there with prayer?
00:21:47:12 – 00:23:25:00
Well, I wonder if part of it has to come back to will. So there’s a piece there where Jesus is talking about abiding. Like, if you abide in me and ask anything, it will be done. And I think we can ask God for all kinds of things and not be in the right place with him. You can ask God for stuff and not even believe that God exists. You can. In just a moment of, you know, intense desire or whatever. Say, God, just give me this thing. I just want this thing or something. So I think when we’re abiding in him and he’s abiding in us, there’s something that happens to our, not necessarily maybe our will, maybe that’s wrong, but we’re praying in alignment with the desires of God more than we would be praying in alignment with our own desires. And that doesn’t mean that when we pray and ask God for healing that we are sinning or we’re going outside of his will. We know that Jesus came to conquer death and he came to heal. And we have the promise that ultimately, we will all receive healing. Maybe not in this life, but we have been promised full healing. Full restoration. So we know that that’s the will of God. So I think what he was saying by, you know, ask it in my name and it will be given to you goes back to how we pray in accordance with the Holy Spirit and follow him into our prayers. Verses like God, give me a big fancy car or a big fancy house.
00:23:25:05 – 00:26:00:23
And I also like we immediately I read that in the lens of thinking, “Oh my gosh, what he’s referring to is these great, miraculous things he’s done.” Which he doesn’t, like, specifically say, actually, if you’re looking at what, just take Christ’s words at face value. And I feel like in kingdom economics, he’s constantly flipping what we think is great. What is the version of the like the disciples consciously misunderstood what it meant that he was a king? Like, what’s he referring to is that you’re going to do greater things than I’ve done here. When I look at what the church has done in the last 2,000 years. Fascinating. Look at what the church has in a very powerful way. Has it done? I mean, what started out as this one, small, no name religion in Palestine is now everywhere and growing, and you think of all the good things that the church has done in his name. So I do think that’s fulfilled. I do think but I think we again, we put the lens on that because so often we really are so focused on our lived experience. All we really want our hearts are that we can just somehow harness God’s power to live life in a way that’s comfortable to us, like that’s the human experience. And so one of those ways, and quite legitimately so, is just healing. Life’s difficult when you have an ailment. And so it’s not wrong of us to want that. But you have to ask the greater question is why are we here in the first place? What was the Christ desire in healing? And ultimately, is there an answer to it, like, in the end? Like if this is the only life we have, if this is the only thing Christ suffered and he chooses not to offer healing to certain people, yeah, that seems unfair. It really does. Only if this is it, though. If there’s something greater than this. And in fact, if this is the smallest part of our life, if this is the part that’s actually doesn’t even compare, as Paul would say, you know, your current sufferings don’t even worth mentioning compared to the future glory. Well, then, yeah, like, I’m OK with not knowing that answer, even though I find the question hard, and I find that and I see the point, I see why. No, but specifically this type of ailment, why doesn’t he do that? I can’t answer that specifically, but I do think he’s answered enough with the understanding of resurrected bodies in the end, with the understanding of what we’re going to get in eternity, that it is OK not to have that answer. And we want to really understand why are we here in the first place and what is God trying to accomplish? Because I often think we look into the lens of my goal here is to enjoy my life, to be happy, and to be comfortable. And I just don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.
00:26:01:23 – 00:26:34:19
Yeah, that makes me think of the way C.S. Lewis ended The Chronicles of Narnia. We talked about everything that you’ve read essentially was like the preface or something like that, and that the great the true story, the great story was then going to take place, the one where every chapter is better than the one before. Yeah, beautiful. Well, I was going to ask you to close out with something. Give people some hope, but I think you just did. I think that was great. But if you’d like to say anything else just to, you know, people who are struggling out there that would be wonderful.
00:26:34:21 – 00:28:01:02
Yeah, I just again, I wanted to honor that question because I again, when you first asked me, Derek, I sat there like, “Gosh, that’s hard.” I get it. I see why that’s problematic. And I guess my short answer is, you know, I don’t know why God doesn’t do that more. I do think he does. I really and I don’t have a friend, as some as Alycia said, that she knows someone that does know someone. I don’t have that, but I have seen God work in my own life. I have seen him do miraculous things, and I think my biggest encouragement to those that really are wrestling with that question is, um, only in the Christian worldview are you promised a new glorified body. Truly, I mean, you can wrestle with all the worldviews in the first place and say, like, if this is all nothing anyway, then we can just sit here and just say whatever. It’s really unfortunate. But if you’re going to start picking a religion to say what gives me some hope for the fact that I don’t have a limb, I love the idea that in the end, God’s going to give you a new glorified body, one that works properly. One that is free of ailment. That’s something that I can rest in because ultimately every single one of us have a failing body. Ultimately, we’re all going to die because our bodies fail. Is it any less miraculous to be healed after you pass the space time continuum or now? From my point of view, no, it’s not any less miraculous. The fact that there’s possibly life after death is a beautiful thing, and I think Christ offers that and what he’s done for us. And so, yeah.
00:28:02:00 – 00:28:04:17
All right. Well, thanks, gang.
00:28:04:17 – 00:28:07:00
Thank you, Derek.
00:28:07:00 – 00:28:23:04
That was fun. I hope you guys enjoyed the show today. We’ll be back next week. Feel free to like, comment, and do all those great things. If you want your question answered on the show, email us at email@example.com. We’ll see you guys next week. Thank you.