Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review - Miracles are for Real by James L. Garlow and Keith Wall

In the book Miracles are for Real the authors, James L. Garlow and Keith Wall, set out to prove exactly what the title says, that you and I can expect to receive miracles today. I came into the book already believing in miracles. I have seen them in my life and in the life of my family and friends. I had hoped that the authors would have clearly laid out proof of them founded in Scripture. I knew that there would be stories interspersed throughout but wanted to find backing in the Bible. Ultimately my hopes were dashed.

Every chapter had multiple examples of what people considered to be miracles but with very little support from Scripture. I know that there are those, even Christians, who don’t need or want Biblical proof of what they experience miraculously. They expect people to take them at their word. I and the Apostle Paul couldn’t disagree more. In Acts 17:11 we read that the Bereans were noble because they studied the Bible daily to see if what they were told by the Apostle Paul was true. We are not to take anyone’s word as truth when it comes to Spiritual workings, even the Apostle Paul’s. So we shouldn’t take the stories found in this book as truth unless they can be proven, particularly in Scripture.

In the chapter titled “Back from the Dead” they tell the story of Milton Green, a man had a heart attack that many claimed was dead and brought back to life. Unfortunately no medical professional had ever officially declared him dead, a point the authors make on page 158, so to say Mr. Green was miraculously brought back to life just isn’t verifiable. For a book whose main purpose is to prove miracles still occur giving examples of true miracles is a must.

They devote another chapter to “Heavens Special Forces” - angels. They give stories from people who say they have had the aid of angels. They write about “Angels on Assignment” and use Biblical text’s to support all of the examples of angelic helpers. The problem is that the Scripture references given do not show us that angles help us like the examples given. They have twisted Scripture to fit their ideas of miracles. That is a major problem throughout.

Case-in-point - in a later chapter they write about people (singular) who just seem to have miracle after miracle happen to them. These people they call “miracle magnets.” The authors believe we all can be like this and use Acts 2:43 as proof. Here is the text of that passage, “And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles (plural).” How does this passage support miracle magnets? This passage talks about a collective group of people not a singular person. I understand that signs and wonders could be miracles but this passage in no way proof that we should have regular miracles happen to us.

These are just a few examples of not having Biblical proof for their assertions. I did find it interesting that on page 187 they state that we must carefully examine all miracles yet they failed to do so in this book (see above reference on Acts 17:11).

For 236 pages the authors lay out what they believe to be proof of miracles and by implication urge us to seek them. Then in the last chapter that is just 5 pages long they tell us not to chase after miracles but after character with no mention how to do that. They also say on page 241 that we should expect miracles but that they shouldn’t be our ultimate goal that “they can’t compete with the miracle of an authentic life and a focus on always seeking to do the right thing," again with no mention of how to do that.

For the believer and unbeliever alike I can’t recommend this book. Unbelievers will only find ammo against those that do believe in miracles. Believers won’t find any Scriptural support for something that is clearly from God. I do wish the book would have been about the miracle of sanctification, it may have been a better, more encouraging read.

Disclaimer- I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review.