On Miracles: Part 1, Building Bridges

One of the least talked about fissures within Christianity, running through denominations, local churches, friendships, families and marriages, is the division between an enchanted and a disenchanted Christianity.

And in my church experience this fissure is often associated with socioeconomic status. On the one hand you have educated, liberal elites who embrace the demythologized theology found among mainline Protestants. A disenchanted spirituality that doesn't have much truck with angels, the Devil or miracles.

On the other hand, you have blue collar and lower income Christians who give witness to an enchanted Christianity, a religious experience full of spiritual warfare and praying for miracles.

If you go to a socioeconomically and educationally diverse church you're likely living with this divide. Some even experience it in their own homes. I have married friends where one partner has a very enchanted spirituality and the other is disenchanted. These couples struggle a bit, finding it difficult to get their Christianity on the same page.

As I recount in Reviving Old Scratch, over the last few years I've been spending more time in enchanted Christian contexts, sharing life out at the prison and at our mission church plant Freedom Fellowship. As a skeptical disenchanted believer Reviving Old Scratch tells the story of how I built bridges to talk about the Devil in enchanted places.

But the Devil isn't the only thing you need to learn to talk about as a disenchanted Christian sharing life with enchanted believers. Beyond the Devil you also have to learn to talk about miracles.

Confession time. As an elite, educated and disenchanted believer I spent years being dismissive of Christians who spoke of God's daily miraculous interventions in the most mundane of circumstance. Praising God for helping find a good parking spot. For changing a red light to green. For finding a lost item in the house.

Over the years I've heard things that sound a whole lot like random or fortuitous coincidences described as God's miraculous intervention. And it can be hard for both intellectual and theological reasons to take these stories seriously.

But when you share life with enchanted believers you're going to be awash in miracles stories, from the grand to the trivial. And given that these miracles stories are being shared from the socioeconomic margins, my commitment to God's preferential option for the poor has caused me to stop rolling my eyes.

So like I did with the Devil in Reviving Old Scratch I've also had to rethink miracles. I don't want to listen to a miracle story, even the most trivial, with the elitist condescension of a theological snob.

If the poor are getting into the kingdom of heaven before the educated than I need to check my disenchanted tendencies when it comes to miracles stories.

But how to do that with theological and intellectual integrity?

In these posts I'd like to do with miracles what I did with the Devil in Reviving Old Scratch, I'd like to build some bridges between our disenchanted and enchanted worlds.

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