If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
PROPHECY - THE ONLY SIGN?
Isaiah 48 - Hear this, O House of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel. The former things I declared of old, they went forth from my mouth and I made them known; then suddenly I did them and they came to pass. Because I know that you are obstinate, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, "My idol did them, my graven image and my molten image commanded them."
God is speaking in the Bible as above. He says he communicates in words and clearly. He argues that he predicts the future correctly for that stops anybody thinking their idol has miracle powers. He is saying he understands if people think idols can answer prayers and do miracles. He is arguing that the only thing that nobody can think an idol can do is be right about the future. Obviously, the people were aware that idolatrous fortune-tellers were useless.
A miracle is an event that is not naturally possible. That does not mean it is necessarily impossible. There could be a power greater than nature such as a god that can do it. A miracle is supernatural. God supposedly does miracles so that we can learn his revelation from them. We can learn what he has revealed.
Some say that there is only one sign from God. And that is predicting the future accurately. But when the message would be a miracle how could it be a sign? The Devil could make prophecies and then rig them to come to pass so prophecy does not prove the existence of a being that knows the future. Religion responds that God would never let the Devil do a miracle that does not give some indication that it is not from God. In other words, when the miracle fits religious dogma and morals and has wholesome spiritual consequences it is from God. But in the first instance they are saying that a miracle is only true if it fits their dogma which is a denial that miracles are signs from Heaven for they will not consider any miracle that does not fit this mould. And they are admitting that they are going to be unduly biased in favour of their own side – which renders any of the evidences for miracles they give unreliable at best. In the second instance, you never know if the spiritual fruits are divine because every religion admits that the world is full of false teachers who look like butter wouldn’t melt and Jesus said that it was wrong to wear your virtue on your sleeve. Religion does not believe in the second excuse. The only thing that that miracles imply is that we should be dishonest thinkers and show-offs. They encourage all the bloodshed that religion has started through its defilement of goodness.
Some Christians say that according to the Bible, prophecy alone, accurate foretelling of the future, is the only test if God has spoken. The Bible says a prophet should only be listened to if he is totally accurate and if he makes one error he is to be rejected even if all the rest of his prophecies come true and even if he does miracles (Deuteronomy 18). God said a prophet doing great miracles who then says, “Come on let us pray to other Gods”, is a fake and to be stoned to death. This plainly implies that prophecy is superior to miracle. I know prophecy is a miracle so perhaps we should say prophecy is the only miracle worth paying attention to.
Many Catholic theologians believe that if an apparition is from God it will give short-term prophecies that the witness and others can see fulfilled so that they know quickly that the manifestation is from God and anybody can see for themselves that the miracle is genuine. This is only commonsense for God’s test shows he does not expect us to believe in prophets unless they can show that he really gave them information about the future. The problem with long-term prophecies is that people have to wait for perhaps centuries to see the results. Why not predict something to people that they will see fulfilled in their lifetime?
Many of the Bible prophets did not make any short-term prophecies and for any that did, there is the question if the prophecies were written or not after the event.
Some argue, "The decision that a miracle has happened should be the decision of each individual person so a miracle that needs a team of investigators and theologians and experts is dubious. It only leads to people following “experts” or men rather than God. The investigation must be put into the hands of the people.
But when you depend on investigators and experts, you are still making your decision to believe. It is better to believe because of them than act like you know better than they do.
If the Devil can do miracles he can make a prediction and use miracles to make it seem that the prophecy came true. But though prophecies prove nothing they are better than just miracles for they can be more difficult to fulfil. Jesus gave no evidence of being able to foretell the future in a supernatural way. The prophecies he made about his resurrection could have been made after the event. Paul gave no evidence of being a prophet and yet he takes up most of the New Testament. The Book of Revelation has plenty of prophecy but none of it is impressive for it is too obscure so we don’t know if it was fulfilled or not. They all failed the best test and yet there have been scores of miracles reported since their time verifying that they were prophets and that Jesus rose. Only the Devil could verify their claims and the resurrection with inferior miracles and we know that we can’t rely on him at all.
Jesus’ preference for miracles than for prophecy shows he
couldn’t really have been the miracle working son of God. He made no provable
prophecies that show the marks of being supernatural. He certainly failed the
tests spelled out by the Law of Moses which he declared to be his mentor and
credential. He mistakenly thought a resurrection from the dead would be enough
to mark him out as the Son of God and saviour of the world. The Law denies this
for it says that if a prophet does miracles and predicts the future correctly
all the time but makes one mistake in such predicting that prophet is a fraud
(Deuteronomy 18). Isaiah wrote that anybody who claims to be a prophet and does
not speak according to the Law and the testimony of the prophets is not of God
and is to be ignored. Jesus’ resurrection testifies to us that belief in life
after death in Heaven is good for us but it is not for it runs down the value of
our lives here and now. Read my The Gospel According to Atheism. To say the
resurrection is a sign from God is evil. The resurrection then is a false
prophecy expressed in happenings not in words. I mean it is saying belief in a
delightful hereafter is good and it is not.
The Bible condemns prophets who lead people away from
God. Jesus led men away from God for he said he was the only one who could tell
you want God wants and what God is like. That is the idolatry of seeing God
through Jesus’ eyes. It is making God in Jesus’ image, just as much as it would
be idolatry to make an image of God of gold and to worship that. If Jesus
claimed to be God then it gets worse.
If there is a God then the only miracle we would get from
him is prophecy. The prophecy would be provably made before the event and not be
good guessing but something provably miraculous. The fact that many Bible books
cannot be definitely pre-dated to their prophecies shows they are false
scriptures. Prophecy is the best that God can do though it is not perfect. But
it is better than resurrections from the dead and strange girls appearing in
grottos and tumours that supposedly dissolve into fresh air. Prophecy would back
up a very very simple gospel message for when things get complicated there is
always trouble. The Devil would want and encourage complexity in religion. It is
good for implementing confusion. But something simple and true is hard to refute
and would be less an incentive to division and the machinations of deceivers.
The miracles of the world happen only in complex religions which shows that
whatever they come from it is not a God of love.
There is a huge rise in prophecy that claims to be conditional. For example, disasters have been predicted at Catholic apparition sites. When the disaster does not happen, the apparition or the seer will say it was averted by prayer and fasting. This opens the door for any fake to claim to be a prophet. It has led to people being told not to drive into town on Tuesday or they will die in a car crash. If they listen then they will never know if the prophet was a crank or not. If they go to town in the car and nothing happens they will be told that the seer misunderstood what he was told or the disaster was cancelled by God because somebody prayed. It is bizarre how these seers will say, "I warn people because I love them and do not want anything bad to happen to them." It is bizarre how the bad things can be really bad if God can plan them and cancel them if somebody prays. If God is that capricious he is no example of love so how much does the seer really love? Is it love to entrust people to a God like that?
Further Reading ~
A Christian Faith for Today, W Montgomery Watt, Routledge, London, 2002
Answers to Tough Questions, Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Scripture Press, Bucks, 1980
Apparitions, Healings and Weeping Madonnas, Lisa J Schwebel, Paulist Press, New York, 2004
A Summary of Christian Doctrine, Louis Berkhof, The Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1971
Catechism of the Catholic Church, Veritas, Dublin, 1995
Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1988
Enchiridion Symbolorum Et Definitionum, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus Books, New York, 1993
Miracles, Rev Ronald A Knox, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1937
Miracles in Dispute, Ernst and Marie-Luise Keller, SCM Press Ltd, London, 1969
Lourdes, Antonio Bernardo, A. Doucet Publications, Lourdes, 1987
Medjugorje, David Baldwin, Catholic Truth Society, London, 2002
Miraculous Divine Healing, Connie W Adams, Guardian of Truth Publications, KY, undated
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
Raised From the Dead, Father Albert J Hebert SM, TAN, Illinois 1986
Science and the Paranormal, Edited by George O Abell and Barry Singer, Junction Books, London, 1981
The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan, Headline, London, 1997
The Book of Miracles, Stuart Gordon, Headline, London, 1996
The Case for Faith, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
The Encyclopaedia of Unbelief Volume 1, Gordon Stein, Editor, Prometheus Books, New York, 1985
The Hidden Power, Brian Inglis, Jonathan Cape, London, 1986
The Stigmata and Modern Science, Rev Charles Carty, TAN, Illinois, 1974
Twenty Questions About Medjugorje, Kevin Orlin Johnson, Ph.D. Pangaeus Press, Dallas, 1999
Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer, Freeman, New York, 1997