I have read numerous books that deal with the subject of miracles and whether or not our universe is a closed system of cause and effect–or if rather–supernatural power can be infused from the outside.
I agree with the author that this is a topic that needs to be discussed on our society. Too often, the idea of miracles is swept aside and talking about anything that smacks of the supernatural is considered to be like wearing white after labor day. But, the question must be asked: Even if people dont think miracles can happen, does this mean that miracles arent real? Metaxas takes this question head on and delves into the evidence.
I appreciate the fact that Metaxas begins the book with an overview of what the Bible has to say regarding miracles. He also talks about the supposed war between science and religion (which is non existent). He then tackles the real war which is between naturalism and theism. In doing so, Metaxas writes with clear lucidity and has an overwhelming knack for explaining complex topics in a way that are graspable by the layman. I would compare his ability to explain the complex to the likes of John Lennox, Stephen C. Meyer, or David Berlinski. His use of humor, personal experience, and the inclusion of a variety of personal accounts by his colleagues and friends are what set this book apart from others who deal with this topic.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the book is that it demonstrates a pathos about the truth, but at the same operates with an ethos that makes the author trustworthy. At no time does Metaxas berate or criticize those who come to this area with skepticism. It sort of says to them, “I know you have trouble believing this stuff…so did I. Hang in there, and lets follow the evidence where it leads.”
Metaxas offers several arguments about miracles and their veracity, including evidence from science, arguments from philosophy, and of course–personal experience. I think this was wise. We all speak different languages, and Metaxas was right to look at miracles from a variety of perspectives, in order to be able to communicate with both the intellectual and the layman.
One issue that Metaxas looks at is the idea of faith. Many people (and sadly…Christians) really believe that faith is believing in something that isn’t there. Metaxas demolishes this faulty thinking, and instead shows that faith is trust in a person (based on evidence)–in a God who is there and who wants to have relationship with his created. For some, this may be a turning point in the book. To realize that faith in Christ isn’t a leap into the dark, but a confident step into the light can revolutionize what life is all about.
One of the better chapters in the book was on the Resurrection of Jesus. Many people are not aware that there is overwhelming evidence for the veracity of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. While this book doesn’t treat that subject exhaustively, it does present evidence (widely accepted by MOST critical Historical Jesus scholars) for what could be considered one of the greatest miracles of all. Here, where someone like Gary Habermas or William Lane Craig develop arguments over 600 pages, Metaxas gives us the pertinent data in about 20. This is a nice primer to this area of study and should prompt the reader to investigate more!
The personal accounts are written in a way that whets the appetite for what is to come. His personal account of the cook in a kitchen he worked at as a child will knock your socks off. When I read the conclusion of that story, I found myself going, “No way!.” All the stories in the book are just as gripping. You will find the second half of the book to be a delight to read, and find it difficult to put the book down.
If I were to be critical of the book, it would only be that I wish Metaxas had included footnotes, or at least suggested a bibliography for us to investigate (although he DOES include suggestions throughout). I think the hardcover jacket is beautiful and as I was reading it, the title alone sparked several conversations with total strangers.
I have no problem giving this book an unapologetic 5/5. Well done, Eric.
If you are a skeptic, I say, read it and give it a chance. It is clear that the author wrote it intending you as its primary audience. If you are a Christian, there will surely be something in this book that will both challenge your faith and help it to grow stronger.