Friday 30 June 2006

Two views of miracles

Here are two quotes on miracles by Roman Catholic theologians—I agree strongly with one, and disagree just as strongly with the other!

“There is, no doubt, nothing more in the miracle than in the least of ordinary facts. But also there is nothing less in the most ordinary fact than in the miracle.”
—Maurice Blondel, Action (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), p. 365.

“The special quality of the miracle is that, because of the entire context within which an incident of this kind takes place, God himself wishes to communicate something to us in the miracle—in it, he really addresses us. There is an intention in the event and this personal intention transcends the normal possibilities of nature. For anyone who is open and listens to it, the natural event expresses more than it is able to express in itself—it is the visible aspect of the free act of God.”
—Edward Schillebeeckx, World and Church (London: Sheed & Ward, 1971), pp. 255-56.


gracie said...

hmmm... me too... but you didn't say which was which!!!
I love what Schillebeeckx says - the miracle becomes more than a coincidence or a random act of God but intentional communication. Love it.

Fred said...

the first quote needs a bit more context.

Ben Myers said...

Sorry if I made Blondel sound silly -- this wasn't my intention! In context, he's pointing out (quite eloquently, I thought) that God is always acting in creation. I agree with his first statement: from the standpoint of natural processes, there is nothing more in a miracle than in any other event. But I disagree with his second statement, since I don't think God is always disclosing himself in the normal events of nature.

But as for Schillebeeckx, I agree wholeheartedly with his description of the communicative and intentional nature of miracles. And in context, Schillebeeckx is explaining why it is that scientists can interpret a "miracle" naturalistically without undermining the miracle-characater of the event. The intentional or communicative aspect of the event is, by definition, beyond the scope of historical or scientific inquiry.

Fred said...

Blondel nonetheless presents the traditional understanding of the created world.


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