OPINION | Jesse Wayer
Why is it that we are hearing of claims being made for miracles occurring in the Middle East or Africa, but we do not see such claims being made in Western countries such as the U.K. or the U.S.? The answer is simple:
In the West we ask the question does God exist? In the East, they ask the question which God exists?
If there is no God then there can be no miracles. The way that we view the nature of God will entirely dictate how we view the world. To use C.S. Lewis’s work, The Magician’s Nephew, as an example, one of the characters, Uncle Andrew, was unable to hear the talking beasts of Narnia and was unable to see Aslan when confronted by him. Through his experience in Narnia, Andrew did not seek truth for truth’s own sake but sought to conform what he had seen to his preconceived notions and for his profit. Out of Aslan’s kindness, he permits Andrew to fall asleep rather than be in fear of the wonder that was around him.
In the United States, Pew research showed that in the year 2020 of our Lord, 64% of Americans identified as Christian, which has fallen from a near 90% in the 1970s and 80s. (Keep in mind that “identifying” does not necessarily constitute sincere Christian faith). The 64% which was demonstrated in 2020 could be overtaken by what was labeled “religious nones”; which are made up of those who identified as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular by the year 2070. The U.K. is already further ahead in its secularization currently having 52% of its population identifying as not religious, as posted in The Guardian. With such a turning away from God, why would anyone in these societies expect to see a miracle?
Since the French Revolution and the Enlightenment period, Christians have faced a severe confrontation of skepticism from thinkers such as Immanuel Kant and David Hume, as well as others. The philosophies that have come out of this period have constituted the death of God and the rise and triumph of the modern self as explained by author and theologian, Carl Truman in his book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. Societies have turned inwards to elevate themselves and in the process, they have rejected God. With God out of the way, we can focus on our own desires as it has been since the Garden of Eden. What is beautiful about America is that it is a country founded on Judeo-Christian values and those values are embedded in the very essence of what America is. I pray that America repents and turns back before she reaches a state of being too far gone, which I believe is the case in Europe. All that to be said, such a rejection of God would obviously lead to blindness of miracles in the West. Please note that having faith or the rejection of God doesn’t permit miracles to happen; quite frankly, God will not wait for someone to permit Him to act, He will do the goodwill that He pleases. Rather, faith, or the lack thereof is what influences your ability to see miracles happen.
Well to answer that we must first define our terms, what is a miracle? A miracle is an event that is brought about by the power of God that is a temporary exception to the ordinary course of nature for the purpose of showing that God is acting in history, as defined in The Case for Miracles by authors Strobel & Vogel. Miracles should also be separated from what would be known as Divine Providence. Providence is God foreknowing what will be needed and orchestrating things ahead of time for them to happen in such a way. For example, if you need a job and at that time a job came available for someone with your skill set, then that would be God’s providence since God did not likely speak directly to that person to hire you specifically; such as He did for Paul and his meeting with Ananias. (Acts 9) Rather God foreknew your needs and provided the situation to support them.
All that to be said...
In my own opinion, this is occurring due to people earnestly seeking God for whomever He is. They may have an incorrect theology or accept a false god, however, Jesus will make himself known to those who would seek Him. This is taking place in a geography that is overwhelmed by the Islamic worldview, polytheism, and witchcraft. Signs, wonders, and miracles are occurring more in this setting because they are being used by God to intervene in history just as He did with Elijah (I Kings 16) and Moses. (Exodus) God (YHVH) is demonstrating Himself as the One true God for those who would be willing to accept Him as Lord. It is my opinion that God does do this in the West but far less frequently than in the East. It is less frequent in the West, because like Uncle Andrew we are asleep. Or to depart from Lewis’s reference, when the rich ruler asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family of his fate Abraham said, they have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to them. For if they do not respond to Moses or the prophets they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. (Luke 16)
Recommended Reading on the Subject of Miracles and God’s Work in the East