Skepticism About the Bible and Miracles
p. 45 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield admits that the early church’s faith in Mark 16:9-20, and especially v. 17, where Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe,” is what gave them justification for the belief that miracles could be worked by any Christian; and not just the Biblical prophets and apostles. But Warfield, after the manner of a liberal Bible critic, said, “Christ did not utter these words…We see, however, that the belief that Christ uttered these words was a powerful cooperating cause inducing belief in the actual occurrence of the alleged marvels.” That is, the healing miracles witnessed by Augustine and mentioned in book 22 of his City of God and Severus’ Life of Martin. So, this is how Warfield allows himself to continue in this line of thought throughout his whole book, by stating outright that Jesus never really said what was contained in Mark 16:17. This is a satanic maneuver. In Genesis 3:1, the devil said to Eve, “Did God really say?” That’s what he does; he gets you to question the Bible; and to question supernatural interventions of God. And now he would have Christians to even disbelieve the miracle testimonies of Augustine on the basis of German higher criticism. Warfield makes a poor Calvinist to put such a low esteem on Augustine: he’s the guy they base their theology on. Warfield is published by The Banner of Truth Trust, if you didn’t know: which is a strange thought. He’s a hero over at Westminster Theological Seminary and so is Charles Hodge, even though both men accepted theistic evolution. These men are not really conservative Bible believers. They have their extremely weak spots for sure; and it is folly to trust in their teachings wholesale. If a man were to listen to them uncritically, he’d end up a Christian deist, practical atheist, a mainline liberal, a theistic evolutionist, and a Bible critic! “Christ did not utter these words,” he says. Well, then how can he trust the Scripture to be God’s Word? He’s picking and choosing just like a liberal! Just like John Dominic Crossan and the Jesus Seminar! And yet, most Baptists, fundamentalists, Calvinists, Presbyterians, and so-called conservative evangelicals like John MacArthur BASE their anti-Pentecostal cessationist theology on this book!
p. 46 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield quotes Chrysostom making cessationist comments, saying that miracles don’t happen anymore. But just a few pages earlier, he refers to the Life of Martin, who was a contemporary of him, and whose life is filled with miracle stories. Chrysostom (d. 407) lived in Constantinople and Martin of Tours (d. 397) lived in Candes, France. They lived in the same time period: the 4th century. Martin was only 10 or 20 years older than Chrysostom. BUT they lived about 28 hours of driving time away from one another. Since they had no cars back then, that might as well be on the other side of the world. It’s clear that Chrysostom’s comments are no proof for the worldwide cessation of miracles, but proof that in the 4th century, as today, that there were different kinds of pastors and churches: those that lean more in the rationalistic, theological direction and those that lean more in the mystical, charismatic direction. A certain degree of openness is needed to experience miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Martin apparently had that, but Chrysostom didn’t. Martin was like Mike Bickle. Chrysostom was like John MacArthur. They were living at the same time, but they had different beliefs about miracles–and those beliefs determined what kinds of experiences they had. Remember that Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matt. 9:29).
Catholic Miracle Workers Were Not Always 100% Pure
p. 58 of Counterfeit Miracles – Warfield does, however, make a good point on this page. And that is, that no honest Protestant should naively and uncritically accept all reports of Catholic miracles as coming from God, and never as coming from the devil. In my judgment, medieval Catholic miracles were a mixture. Much like the charismatic movement today. You will find miracles of healing and deliverance done in the name of Jesus; and many other wonders in the name of Jesus and to the glory of the Trinity. But you will also find miracles which support doctrines that contradict Scripture. Healings and visions, etc that seem to suggest that its God’s will to pray to certain dead saints and ask them to intercede for you (a kind of Catholic spiritism); for you to pay homage to the Virgin Mary like a goddess; for you to believe in transubstantiation rather than consubstantiation as taught in John 6:63; for you to beat your body with whips; to believe in Purgatory; and to reject justification by faith alone. Whenever a Catholic miracle supports false doctrines such as these, you have my permission to consider it a demonic counterfeit. But here’s the thing, and I know this sounds crazy: I believe that the same Catholic saints that experienced some demonic miracles had also experienced Holy Spirit miracles. It was a mixture. Isn’t it the same with Pentecostals and charismatics today? Don’t you think that when a revival of mystical experiences comes to a church leader, and God starts to give him miraculous gifts: do you think the devil is going to just sit on the sidelines, and let that happen, without him trying to butt in and cause confusion? Nobody’s perfect. It would require perfect holiness and perfect theology to discount demonic miracles and doctrines every single time in your life.
Even the Best Pentecostal Healers Were Not 100% Pure
Look at Smith Wigglesworth for example. No Pentecostal would say he wasn’t used by God’s Spirit to heal thousands of people; and yet, there were many times when he felt a compulsion to punch people where they hurt the most, and this would be followed by a healing! To me, that is a far cry from Jesus putting mud on a blind person’s eyes. That seems to be a mixture of demonic influence with the gifts of the Spirit. On no one point has Wigglesworth received more criticism than on this one: mainly because the rudeness of the action is so contrary to the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, etc. Many charismatics revere Derek Prince as the man who revived deliverance ministry in the 1970s; but Prince fell into errors just like the rest of us. For a while, his teachings sparked the shepherding movement, which led to an excessive authoritarianism in charismatic churches. When he saw how bad it had gotten, he repented and publicly apologized for it. Prince also believed that demons were the disembodied spirits of a pre-Adamite race of men; that is, the ghosts of evil Neanderthals (or something like that), that lived before Adam and Eve. This belief in a pre-Adamite race was popularized by a number of people before Prince, who believed in theistic evolution, including the fundamentalist R. A. Torrey. But no serious charismatic Christian would say that Prince was not a prince among men who had prevailed with God. There has arisen no one else with a more legitimate deliverance ministry, in power, scope, and influence than him; at least in recent times. Every person that has sought to cast out demons since the ’70s has looked back to him for influence and guidance in some way.
B. B. Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1918.