By definition, a miracle is a purposeful act which involves the interruption of the accepted laws of nature.
People often refer to “the miracle of childbirth,” but childbirth is as far as you can get from a miracle because it is the law of nature, not an interruption of the law of nature.
Not long ago a college basketball player hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to win a game for his team. The ESPN announcer called it a “miraculous” shot. He was wrong. It was unlikely, yes. Improbable, for sure. But nothing about the shot constituted an interruption of the accepted laws of nature.
A new medication that is effective in treating a dreaded disease is often called a “miracle drug.” It isn’t. All medications–even the new ones that make headlines–operate according to the laws of nature, not in spite of them.
I’m not sure there’s a religious word that is more misused and abused than the word “miracle.”
Enter Benny Hinn.
In case you missed it, this past Sunday afternoon the controversial evangelist remarried the woman he divorced in 2011. The ceremony was two hours long and was held at The Holy Land Experience here in Orlando. About a thousand people attended the ceremony, including several celebrity pastors. Two of those celebrity pastors, Jack Hayford and Reinhard Bonnke, repeatedly referred to the Hinns’ remarriage as a miracle.*
When I read that, I thought, “Here we go again!”
For the record, I am happy for the Hinns. I have many a theological bone to pick with Benny, but I sincerely rejoice that he and his wife were able to work out their problems and agree to remarry each other. But please, don’t try to tell me it was a miracle. It may have involved a lot of things, including confession of sin, repentance, prayer, improved communication, etc. But don’t tell me it was a miracle unless the bride and groom were flying around the chapel like birds when they renewed their vows.
Sometimes I wonder if the reason why so many Christians are anxious to call every little oddity a miracle is because they think God needs the public relations help.
God has performed more than enough real miracles to solidly establish his credentials. He’ll perform more in the future, when he sees fit. In the meantime, when we misuse the word, all we do is further the misunderstanding and obscure God’s real miracles with a lot of mildly interesting fluff.
For further reflection read Hebrews 2:4, 3:9 and Psalm 78:42-43,
*Reported on March 4, 2013 by Steve Strang in CharismaNews