Chapter 15 & 16
Christians do not need to deny that it is possible that miracles have occurred in non-Christian religions, but the probability for Christian miracles is intrinsically higher since they are interlocked with each other and are part of a coherent plan. There are different ways of organizing Christ’s miracles, but we will divide them into the two major camps of “Miracles of the Old Creation” and “Miracles of the New Creation.” When a miracle is connected to things that God does already (but in different ways) it is of the Old Creation, but when a miracle steps beyond anything that happens already, it is of the New Creation.
God turns water into wine all the time though a series of natural processes. Jesus short-circuited the process, but the result was the same. Christ multiplied loaves and fishes, but we get crops from previous crops, and the fish have always been under the command to be fruitful and multiply. Even in the virgin conception we need to remember that no conception (either human or animal) ever occurs without God’s agency. Everyone who is ever healed is healed because God has put restorative power in the body. No doctor or treatment can heal a corpse. Medicine can only be effective by working with the body’s resources. God ends storms every time there is one. Yet nobody walks on water. When Christ walked on water he was showing a glimpse of what the new nature will be like. Dead people do not come back to life in the Old Creation: resurrection is part of the new order of things.
The resurrection is the central part of the Christian message. It is not just about the act of Jesus coming back from the dead, but about his entering into a brand new state of existence. In the resurrection Christ does something that nobody else had ever done, and he defeated death and opened up a new era. The resurrection is not about the soul’s immortality—Jesus is raised in a glorified body. This is not what we would have expected. We are comfortable with thinking that a higher plane would be transcendent or purely spiritual, but we find that the new state is still partly material. The new nature is something that we don’t understand very well, but seems in some ways to be a step between the old nature and a purely spiritual dimension. The physical and spiritual are still joined in the new state. Christ is healing the division between the physical and spiritual, our bodies and our souls. For us, Heaven is not a state of mind, or even a state for our spirits: it is a state for our body, too.