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Book Review: Miracles by Eric Metaxas

Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life
Story:

Here’s an interesting coincidence, especially given that I was reading this book: It took me about 5 weeks to finish the audio version of this book. I listened to it on my commute to and from work. I finished the book on September 12th. On September 11th, I thought about listening to sports radio since I’m a football fan and there’s always interesting sports talk on the radio on Mondays. I decided to listen to this book instead. And what miracle story would I hear on my commute but a story of how a woman escaped from the twin towers on September 11th! I don’t know what to make of this. Was it coincidence? Was it something more? Either way, it’s an interesting story.

Overview:

 

 

There are three major sections to this book aside from the introduction and the conclusion.

The first part deals with the miracle of creation, the fact that there’s something rather than nothing. Metaxas holds to an “old earth” view of the world but that doesn’t stop him from being amazed at creation or calling it anything short of miraculous. The chances of life existing apart from some Divine intervention is impossibly small and Metaxas’s description of this is really well done.

The second part deals with miracles found in the Bible. Here he focuses on God’s purposes in giving miracles: As a sign pointing to Himself.

The third part is a list of modern miracle stories. These stories include conversion miracles, healing miracles, visions of angels, and other stories. Metaxas limited the stories shared to ones that were clearly supernatural (not mere coincidences), were from people he personally knew or got to know, and were from people that he trusted to be telling the truth. The miracle stories were truly compelling stuff.

On credibility

But were the miracle stories true? Metaxas quotes G.K. Chesterton extensively at the start of the book from Orthodoxy. Chesterton argues that it is atheists who don’t take the evidence seriously when it comes to miracle stories. These stories, on their face value, have a ring of truth unless you by faith say that miracles can’t happen. You must either believe that the people telling the stories are either lying or crazy if you want to disbelieve their stories. Certainly, there are those who lie about or imagine such things, but I don’t think it makes sense to discount them all. Furthermore, many of these stories happened in public view and could easily be corroborated. In general, then, I’m inclined to believe them.

I still found myself to be skeptical. Why?

On my own presuppositions

First, I found myself disagreeing quite strongly with Metaxas’s political positions during the 2016 election. Some of his views made me question his judgment and/or honesty. Ultimately, I know that this reasoning is mostly illogical, though. The book should be judged on its own merits.

Second, many of the miracles happened to those of a charismatic and Pentecostal theological persuasion. Maybe I’m skeptical because I’ve seen some of their positions misused. Or maybe I’m skeptical because God’s working specifically in that community could undermine some of my own assumptions. (However, the miracle stories covered happened to charismatics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, and Lutherans alike.)

Third, one of the healing stories happened at a Benny Hinn crusade. This made me cringe. When I shared this with my Sunday night bible study group they helpfully reminded me that God has shown that he can work even through a donkey.

Conclusion

I believe in miracles, especially those miracles found in Scripture. I also believe that God continues to be active in the world today. The stories included in this book are incredible – and credible. The longer-term effect of this book, I believe, is to open my eyes once again to their possibility. Like many Christians, even I can get caught in a materialistic mindset and miss out on the active work of God. This was a good reminded of his continued work, as the one Outside creation, breaking into creation to point humanity back to him.

Book Review: Seven Men by Eric Metaxas

I don’t read many biographies. I tend to read more didactic non-fiction. And so, when I had the opportunity to read Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas, I jumped at the chance to fill this hole in my reading repertoire. I wouldn’t just read one biography, I would read seven!

Seven Men briefly reviews the lives of George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson. These men are a pretty diverse group but they share, at least, two things in common: They were bold in their Christian faith and they were willing to endure significant personal sacrifice for the sake of a greater good.had the opportunity to read Seven Men: And the Secret of their Greatness by Eric Metaxas, I jumped at the chance to fill this hole in my reading repertoire. I wouldn’t just read one biography, I would read seven!

Solidness: Plus+

The beauty of Seven Men is that it teaches great content (boldness, courage, sacrifice, obedience, conviction, compassion, faith, etc.) without ever having to exhort the readers to those virtues. It simply tells the stories of the lives of great men. The stories are interesting and compelling and the men, though not perfect, are worthy of emulation. Metaxas argues in the introduction that we need to recapture the idea of having heroes and the virtues he emphasizes in these seven men all point us to our greatest hero, Jesus Christ.

Freshness: Plus+

The brevity of this work, combined with the fact that it covers seven different individuals, means that for each of the men featured the reader only gets a brief character sketch, just enough for Metaxas to draw out those virtues that the men share in common. Certainly, more detailed biographies can be found elsewhere. Two of the best chapters, those on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce, are those for which Metaxas himself has written full length biographies. I also found the chapters on Liddell and Robinson particularly interesting, in large part because I knew precious little of their stories.

Recommendation:

If you’re interested in biographies, but are relatively new to them, this might be a good place to start. The chapters are brief, readable, and interesting. You’ll be impressed by the men feature and, hopefully, inspired to follow in their courage and sacrifice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255