01 December 2011

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

If the doctrine agrees with which has been revealed through Moses, the prophets, Christ, and the apostles, then the miracles also that are performed to confirm that doctrine must be considered divine.  But if that doctrine for whose confirmation miracles are performed, conflicts with the heavenly doctrine revealed to mankind through Moses, the prophets, Christ and the apostles, then we cannot and should not consider them as divine, as we conclude clearly from the statement of Moses (Deut. 13:1-4). -- Blessed Johann Gerhard, On the Church, p. 629.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Miracles are worked to confirm doctrine???

William Weedon said...

Mark 16:20?

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

It doesn't say that's why the miracles were worked.

If confirming doctrine were the purpose of miracles, then what Gerhard says here would completely undermine that purpose. If miracles only confirm doctrine we already accept (which is not what was happening in Mark), if IOW we get to decide which doctrines are being confirmed or not, then the doctrine-confirming value of miracles is reduced to zero.

William Weedon said...

Deut. 13:1-4

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Ummmmm, well, no. It says do not let false signs lead you into idolatry (and, v. 5, put to death anyone who tries to seduce you into idolatry) but it says nothing about doctrinal discernment, say, among Lutherans and Catholics and Methodists, all of whom worship the same Deity.

More to the point, this passage doesn’t say why God works miracles.

Jesus points out that even a person rising from the dead would not convince some. (Luke 16:31)

So what can we say is the real reason for miracles God performs?

William Weedon said...


The miracles of God are, every one of them, testimonies to His fathomless love and mercy toward the miseries of man. But they DO serve a purpose of confirming the truth of doctrine within a limited sphere. Remember how our beloved St. Paul could write: "The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works." (2 Cor. 12:12) Yet, mighty works by themselves can be counterfeit, as he well acknowledges earlier, speaking of how our enemy can cloak himself as an angel of light. So St. Paul preferred to point to a mightier miracle than any of the healings wrought through his hands or clothes - he points to his sufferings, his willingness to bear the cross of Jesus in his body out of love for the Church - and sees this as the greatest sign of all. For, "if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." So miracles - signs of the divine love - may indeed be proofs of apostleship and divine truth, but they are not what they appear IF they contradict the Gospel which the Apostle preached and which the Spirit led him and the rest to write down for us. Pax!

Anastasia Theodoridis said...


The signs of a true apostle didn't entirely convince those Corinthians, did they? or else St. Paul wouldn't have needed to write this whole chapter (or the one(s) preceeding it, justifying his apostleship.

So the doctrine-confirming value of a miracle is so miniscule as to be virtually zero.

But the LOVE-confirming--- ahhhh.

Merry Christmas!