The Greatest Miracle: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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26 Responses

  1. Linn says:

    Duane,

    When my niece was 5 and very attentive in Sunday School, she learned about Joshua and the sun standing still. We were on our way home from school, and she couldn’t get comfortable in the back seat of the station wagon because the sun was in her eyes. She finally said, “Aunt LInn, can’t we ask God to make the sun stand still in the right place like he did for Joshua?” I stifled a laugh and said that was an extraordinary show of God’s power for a big group of people. She had already drifted off to sleep, so I was off the theological hook for the rest of the ride home.

    I sent two nephews to the wars in the Middle East. They were both in perilous situations over three tours of duty each. One came back; the other is buried on the East Coast where his mother lives. The only explanation I have is that God is sovereign in His will as we navigate our broken world. The one nephew that returned wasn’t spared, either, as he has suffered through terrible PTSD (but is improving).

    The great miracle of the incarnation, that God would come to live with us, suffer for us, rise again, and then live IN us (at least for me) makes up for all the other craziness of the world. I do pray and I have seen God intervene miraculously in my life and circumstances. However, more often than not, it’s trusting Him to take me through those circumstances as He grows me into His image. By the way, I love Hebrews 11, but we often don’t pay enough attention to the last part. starting in v. 35.

  2. Em says:

    Linn @ 8:24. 👍 👍
    Going through a test of my Faith this week – an injured son
    Thank you for the reminder

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Sorry not to be engaged, but we had bad windstorms which knocked out power and internet for a day and a half… thankful for candles, kerosene lamps and our local Starbuck’s for essential coffee…

  4. JD says:

    Em,
    Praying for your son.
    JD

  5. Linn says:

    Em,
    i’m praying for your son, too! It’s hard to have hurting loved ones this time of the year.
    2 Corinthians 1:3-5

  6. Linn says:

    Duane,
    Glad you have power again! It is raining again in California-we need a lot more, but anything is good at this point!!!

  7. Em says:

    JD and Linn – thank you
    Yes, Linn, he lives on one of the San Juan islands up here and was to join us for Christmas. Perhaps his sister who lives on the mainland can bring him – dunno
    Hard indeed
    We ordered a rib roast and nearly passed out when the butcher said it would be $500 to feed our gathering…. maybe settle for beef Wellington. LOL

  8. Em says:

    Dr. Duane, a tree brought down our utility lines and we were in the dark for five plus hours.. didn’t know how fortunate we were
    Linn, I think your rain is being dumped in Hawaii this year

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Em

    After a day of candles, flashlights, etc… I was ready for modern life again.

  10. Officerhoppy says:

    I dunno…I think a lot of what you described, doc, are at best, definite hands of God but not necessarily a miracle.

    We tend to throw that term “miracle” around very loosely. I don’t know how you define a miracle but I think there has to be clear evidence of other world involvement—something that couldn’t happen without without other world action. For instance, Jesus calming a storm is a clear miracle. Controlling the elements requires direct involvement by God (and as you know that was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles. There were evidence He was from God or actually was God. The question off all the gospels that has to be answered is “who is this man that can do these things”).

    Having a check appear in the mail box at a time you need money for rent may be the hand of God but doesn’t necessarily fit, IMO, in the category of a miracle. Same with your examples, “ It was a miracle. I prayed that my child would not catch measles and she was the only one in her play group not to get it…”

    “I prayed that my son would come home safely from Iraq and when his platoon was attacked, he was the only survivor…”

    So there may be a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word “miracle”.

    That’s my take. So how do you define it?

  11. Michael says:

    I think the broader word is “providence”.

    When I was Reformed, this was probably our bedrock doctrine…the “meticulous” providence of God in all things.

    It was comforting…but probably wrong…

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    Officerhoppy

    “Does God intervene in the natural world and the world of humanity through occasional acts that are beyond our sensible awareness of cause and effect?”

    …And I might have added, “Does this happen regularly?”

  13. Michael says:

    “Does God intervene in the natural world and the world of humanity through occasional acts that are beyond our sensible awareness of cause and effect?”

    …And I might have added, “Does this happen regularly?”

    I think the answer is yes to both questions…the real question is why doesn’t it happen more and why is one delivered and another not?

    I had good answers when I was Reformed…not so much now…

  14. Em says:

    God is not capricious. If He intervenes in the flow of history, it is necessary and for a good reason….
    However…. we had a fire sweep through this valley. A strong wind came up, threatening some homes. I stood outside at midnight singing, “the winds and waves shall obey My will, peace be still…'” The wind stopped dead…. ULP

  15. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael,

    The answer is indeed, Yes… but with a lot of wonder and a good many unknowns…

  16. Officerhoppy says:

    Doc
    So are you saying that because he may intervene on our world beyond our senses that by my definition (albeit a poor one), that any interaction of God is otherworldly and therefore, a miracle?

    I that is what you are suggesting then isn’t everything a miracle? And if so, why even use the word to distinguish an act above another?

    Not looking to fight….just clarification.

    My disclaimer is that a lot of what we call a miracle is definitely the work of God but thru normal every day occupancies and thus not necessarily miraculous. But I could be wrong!

  17. Em says:

    Officerhoppy @ 3:17
    good ponders – IMHO 🙂

  18. Michael says:

    I think there are just different levels of the miraculous happening everyday…and we participate in some as extensions of the Incarnation.

    The miracles of Jesus weren’t always or just for a forensic purpose…sometimes He just was showing the compassion of God…and compassion was reason enough…

  19. Em says:

    “we participate in some as extensions of the incarnation.”
    Not sure I get the point, can you elaborate a bit? ? ?

  20. Michael says:

    Jesus inaugurated the kingdom in His Incarnation and we are, as followers of Him, extensions of His presence and the kingdom that has come but not in it’s fullness.

    When we are the hands that deliver some needed grace or compassion, we are acting in His stead…as extensions of the Incarnation.

  21. Em says:

    Thank you, Michael and amen… grace and compassion… not to be confused with enabling from lack of conviction….

  22. Owen Wells says:

    Duane, thank your for this article, it comes at the right time….

    I find that sometimes, all we are left with is the promise that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

    I often find child-like faith difficult, because it requires the humility to recognize that we were never meant to understand everything.

    I found a song a while ago that’s been helpful to me.

    “This is what it means to be held,
    how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life,
    and you survive.
    This is what it means to be loved, and to know
    that the promise was, when everything fell,
    we’d be held.”

    (Nichole Nordeman)

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    Owen

    “I often find child-like faith difficult, because it requires the humility to recognize that we were never meant to understand everything.”

    Exactly so…

  24. Shawn says:

    “…the greatest miracle, the fusion in one life of the unlimited love and life of God within the boundaries and limitations of a body and a mind and a human soul.  All the other miraculous elements in the Gospels take second place to the Incarnation and, indeed, find their source in it.”

     

    Excellent thoughts especially the quote above. Many years ago, I was struck by the lyrics of “All the Heavens” by Third Day:

     

    All the heavens cannot hold You, Lord

    How much less to dwell in me?

    I can only make my one desire

    Holding on to Thee

     

    All the angels exalt You on high

    What a kingdom to depart!

    But You left Your throne in the sky

    Just to live inside my heart

     

    All the heavens cannot hold You, Lord

    How much less to dwell in me?

    I can only make my one desire

    Holding on to Thee

     

    All the angels exalt You on high

    What a kingdom to depart!

    But You left Your throne in the sky

    Just to live inside my heart

     

    It is sad that a Christian rock song inspired me to think more deeply about the theology of the Incarnation and Indwelling than all the classes I took and sermons I listened to while in Bible College and serving in the ministry. While at this point, I am not sure that I agree with that final line the way it is written, “…just to live inside my heart,” as it far too egocentric for my taste. Nonetheless it was a seminal moment in my personal journey.

     

    There are so many implications to the Incarnation. I think you hit the nail on the head. It seems that a large swath of Christians approach the miraculous in an either an egocentric or animistic fashion. What’s even worse is when only the favorable or positive responses to prayer are cherry picked as being miraculous. Yet, that is another subject for another day.

     

    My final thought is an extension that is rooted in your observation above: The miraculous work of Christ was not merely limited to when He answered prayer but every moment from His birth until His ascension was the embodiment of the greatest miracle: the co-joining of the Divine person into the fragility of human flesh and allowing it to be subjected to all that it entails despite having the power to not do so. The God of the universe who set the created order into motion not only identified with what it means to be human but was subjected to the sum total of its experience which included many less than favorable aspects such as ridicule, injustice, and submission to being murdered.

     

    After reading the responses to your post which included several great musings a fleeting thought came to my mind: all miracles appear to function outside the perceived way that things are known to work, at least from a human perspective, yet they may not be so from God’s perspective and function instead as the Divine MO (Modus Operandi) or Standard Operating Procedure.

     

    Okay now “Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it’s off to work I go.” There is nothing miraculous about my work day of listing, photographing, and shipping used books on eBay. Aha! Maybe that is the point of the Incarnation- God’s entrance into the mundane. Oh well, I will take it even if it is a little deluded or egocentric (I love how I can contradict myself in a matter of minutes). Lol.

     

    Thanks for getting the gears turning.

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Shawn

    “Maybe that is the point of the Incarnation- God’s entrance into the mundane.”

    …And, perhaps, making the mundane sacred…

  26. Shawn says:

    Why did you have to go and do that? I like complaining about the dull and rote tasks of this life. Now I might find purpose, meaning, and God Himself in them? It’s almost too much to bear. Lol. All kidding aside, I appreciate that thought. Maybe I should look at it this way: I am reflecting God’s creative activity every time I go through the process of creating and listing items. I guess I cannot have the glory of a sale without the mundane task that proceeds it just as it is in the created order. It’s part and parcel of the process. Good talk Doc!

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