Miracles and different traditions

Hi all,

I have recently been reading “Miracles” by Craig Keener and it is a very interesting book. However, it has got me thinking, how do others understand the occurrence of contemporary miracles in traditions different from their own. In the book, based on the results from a Pew survey of the US and the “Global South” it was estimated that some 200 million Pentecostal’s and charismatics (note, charismatics also include charismatic renewal Catholics) claim to have personally experienced or witnessed divine healing. While not all of these claims would be legitimate, it would be foolish to think that all of them are not.

What do Catholics think of miracles occurring in Christian contexts different from their own? One verse that could come to mind is Matt 7:22 which suggests that even those not in a good relationship with God have the capability of casting out demons and doing mighty works in Jesus name. Conversely, Mark 9:38-41 suggests that all those who do such things in Jesus name are not “against us” and “will by no means lose his reward”.

What do Protestants think of the undoubtedly miraculous events surrounding the lives of the saints and also the Marian apparitions at Guadalupe and Fatima?

Any book suggestions exploring the theology of this topic would also be appreciated.

God bless

The short of it, miracles do happen. The Church acknowledges miracles which are found to be authentic that have passed through strict tests both in its authenticity and also the test of time, usually ten years. There are many miracles that are unreported and yet no less genuine.

Why miracles happen? It’s because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is with us till the end of time and when he has gone to the Father, he has sent the Holy Spirit to us. So it is not surprising, and perhaps expected, that miracles happen today, even in our time.

What about the miracles purported to happen in other Christian denominations? I can’t say with certainty as I don’t know much what’s happening there but it is not surprising should they experience them too. We cannot limit the Lord’s generosity, compassion, forgiveness and mercy. They are given to those he wants to. So if miracles should happen among them, then they (miracles) can still be from the Lord’s.

In my opinion Cathlolic people do not study the mystcal side of our religion enough. If they did they would see everyday miracles as they truly are.

As an ex Protestant, I can tell you that miracles are observed, experienced, and treasured by all denominations - not just the healing ones, but the miracles of meeting, provision, mercy, rescue, and all those happenings that are so much more than coincidences.

Mother Mary is almost disregarded by many Protestants, as a person in her own right, and the Marian Apparitions are mostly regarded with great suspicion.

A relationship with Mary is often the biggest obstacle in a conversion - I certainly found it so - fortunately she has infinite patience.:slight_smile:

Don’t limit God

…he can work through Catholic and catholic. Mark 9 below…

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
39 Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.
40 For whoever is not against us is for us.

…Jesus also works miracles through his mother, calling us to him. To be obtuse to this is to limit God and risk being Catholic. :wink:

Thanks all for your responses, they pretty much line up with what I was thinking, namely that God’s mercy and love is not restricted to Catholic or non-Catholic, or along denominational lines.

Porknpie, you’ll notice I mentioned Mark 9 in my original post - I am certainly not keen to put limits on God! :slight_smile:

It seems from the Gospel and contemporary accounts that all is required is a child-like faith and trust in His providential goodness. What is perhaps more challenging are the well-attested accounts from contemporary anthropology of supernatural occurences surrounding shamans and spiritists - how do we collectively as Christians consider these events? They are not as numerous as Christian accounts from what I have read, and fraud is no doubt a part of a lot of this kind of thing, but again, it would seem that there is some genuine supernatural occurences going on here. Would we refer to these as demonic activity, or is there any room for consideration that God could even act through well meaning and loving shaman’s and spiritist healers?

(Please note: I am not trying to challenge orthodoxy here, I am just performing some Socractic questioning here to try to get a better understanding of the issues for apologetic reasons).

Falco, I am from Maryborough in Queensland and also an ex-Protestant, good to see you on catholic.com :slight_smile:

You say here other Christian religions but I in fact, thought of this today again. How about perceived miracles in Islam? I was looking for a picture, could not find it but these are similar:


Article on: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_view_of_miracles

I was looking for this one, the trees, in Arabic writing.


These are akin to finding ‘pictures’ of Mary in burnt toast, lichen on fence posts, and water stains on walls - a happenstance! I saw a perfect portrait of the wife of a friend in a pigeon poo on the windscreen - everyone in the car recognised it at once, and laughed themselves silly. It wasn’t a miracle, I’m sure - but what are the odds that a pigeon poo would make a face - and one that we all knew? Long odds, but it did happen. But still no miracle.

Apparitions do appear to others outside Christianity - I had a friend who became a Baha’i because their prophet appeared to him personally - so I would say that other spirits are at work here. Not good ones according to our beliefs.

Thanks all.

Some further thoughts - after reading Keener’s book some more, it is clear that many, many miracles are occurring in “missionary territory” i.e. India, Nepal, China, Africa etc. and as a result, new churches are springing up rapidly - akin to the period documented in Acts. I’m not sure of the extent of Catholic evangelism in that area, but there appears to be an explosion of new pentecostal, baptist and other evangelical churches in these areas because of these miraculous occurrences.

I think we probably agree that we should consider these miracles as genuinely from God. However, how are we as Catholics to understand this - if God is supplying the power for these miracles, He also must will the creation and spread of protestant (as well as Catholic) Christians and churches?

Any thoughts?

Hi AndyT,

Personally I believe non-Catholic Christians have and do perform miracles, however, I personally do not know of one.

I would have to weigh the alleged miracle on Catholic scales. For example in healing there are a few requirements that the CC deems necessary in order to confirm that a miracle has occurred.

The following conditions must be met:

**1. Theoretically, miracles can be of any type. But in recent years, the vast majority of cases have been miraculous healings of deadly medical conditions.

  1. For a recovery to be declared miraculous, it must be "complete**" “instantaneous” and “durable” – meaning the cured condition doesn’t return – as well as scientifically inexplicable. This sometimes requires monitoring over a period of years, sometimes 20years, sometimes 50years.

  2. A panel of religious and secular Doctors examines the patient, their medical history, records and condition.

  3. After the doctors have signed off, it goes to a panel of theologians who then have to judge whether the miracle is the sort of thing that God would do.

If a Protestant claimed a miracle that met the conditions above and was monitored for a few years by independent Doctors and theologians supported it then I would be willing to consider that a miracle has occurred.

There is a reason why the Church doesn’t recognise miracles on the mere say so of the ‘minister’ and ‘patient’. Even those miracles performed by Catholics are sometimes not recognised as such by the Church for decades or even centuries for some.

This thorough, transparent and lengthy process is designed to sift out fraudsters and liars or placebo effected patients.

Correct, I read a blogger say among other things his child was cured of a serious sickness at Lourdes, it’s been awhile but I don’t know if they even reported it, I heard another case of this about Lourdes.

Lourdes can be of interest because this is where it is required a miracle cure is stringently verified as authentic.

That’s quite a charitable view Ruben, thank you.

Mormons accumulate tons of firsthand accounts of miraculous healings coming shortly after a mormon priesthood blessing of the sick. I’ve personally experienced one myself (although I’d consider it just a little one - more faith-affirming than persuasive proof).

When I encounter stories of miraculous healing, in my faith or in others, I must admit that my first reaction is to consider the placebo effect and the mind-body connection that we still are learning about. But I leave room for the possibility that miracles are exactly that - the power of the Lord being shown on earth for the good of man.

God is everywhere and in everything, so yes, miracles happen everywhere and for all. There is no exclusivity of miracles to any Church.

Relevant Radio does the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 PM CST every weekday, they claim they have miracles.

And thank you to you too for the appreciation. :slight_smile:

I suppose when we speak of miracles here, it is in its general scope and not about specific cases. Miracle is an act of God’s intervention so it comes to reason that it must be prevalent because God, well, is God.

I am glad you have experienced being healed. You are just being humble, it is never ‘just a little one’, and good Christians will certainly not make fun of you.

The placebo effect is always possible and that could be a majority of them. We too can get well from the positiveness of our mind. How many time times doctors would tell us that stress can make us sick and that we can get well just by being positive and onward looking? And you are so right – miracles are just that. Who are we to say by how and what the Lord should do it?

Of course there are many miracles that have undergone careful scrutiny by the professionals and theologians just to ensure that the miraculous healing is truly miraculous. But we would also experience miracles too in our lives. Some would say we experience miracles everyday in our lives. God is good.

Thanks all for the further comments:

LEMAITRE, thanks for the detailed reply. I agree that if the Catholic Church wants to affirm a miracle it must do serious due diligence. I also agree that there are no doubt fraudsters and the placebo effect. However, I think we probably need to consider that the miracles that the Church investigates in canonisation processes are the “tip of the iceberg” of genuine miracles (even within the collection of those associated with particular saints, i.e. Padre Pio). Keener’s work “Miracles” is a scholarly work and he considers the miracle cases that he reports with a scholarly eye. Again, it appears from available statistics and his relatively small and quasi-random sample base, that the cases he has examined are the “tip of the iceberg” - and the cases presented include hundreds (I haven’t actually counted them all in the book as it is very large, but that number would be fair) of miracles within a pentecostal context and probably half of these are very difficult to explain away via the placebo effect, i.e. long term deafness and blindness, long term epilepsy, terminal diseases etc.

I agree, some of these may be the product of the placebo effect and fraudsters, but I think it strains charity and probability to say that a significant proportion of these are not genuine miracles. In fact, many of these miracles are of the same character of those accounted for in Acts, which the early Christians obviously took at face value. So I guess all that brings me round again to my previous question: what are we as Catholics to think of the rapid expansion of pentecostal churches in these parts of the world on the back of these miracles?

Disclaimer: I am a dedicated Catholic who is firmly convinced of the truth of Catholic doctrine, and am no way arguing for any type of universalism. Just trying to find out what the best way of understanding these contemporary events which are occurring outside of our increasingly post-Christian west.


Have you seen the documentaries “Finger of God” or “Furious Love” by Darren Wilson? He documents, among other amazing events, thousands of miracles that accompany Rolland and Heidi Baker’s ministry (www.irismin.org). They even report more than 100 people have been raised from the dead. And the most interesting part is that the orphaned children they care for are active participants in the healing prayers…

I too am VERY interested in dialogue around this topic, hoping to stir conversation and somehow find a common bond of love and connection among Catholics and non-Catholic believers… hoping to stir up greater belief among American Catholics in the REAL power of our faith!

Since she lives in California, have her stop by one of the UCLA hospitals and raise a few people, no, just one person, from the dead that are resting in the morgue.

Fact is, the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on God. No one does. God is everywhere and in all things. Don’t confuse that statement to mean that every religion is equal. But God is indeed present in all things for apart from God, no one and nothing would exist.

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