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Miracles as Reality: An Interview with Craig S. Keener


PR: What is the most significant thing that you have learned in the process of writing this book?

Some people dismiss miracle claims as being mere statistical anomalies—but the math doesn’t work for that.

Keener: For me personally, the book challenged my own unbelief. By unbelief, I don’t mean that I was not a believer in Christ or in spiritual gifts; but not every claim is accurate, and I was placing a heavy burden of proof on any particular miracle claim. In principle I did believe in miracles, but I was working with a fair degree of methodological skepticism toward individual accounts. I eventually had to surrender that approach to the burden of proof when the evidence that I found became overwhelming. There were too many sincere people reporting too many amazing occurrences. That forced me to go back and think about incidents that I myself had experienced or witnessed, such as a woman that I knew could not walk being able to walk after she had been prayed for. She continued walking thereafter. That is not quite on the level of raisings from the dead or cataracts disappearing, but both kinds of incidents fit a coherent worldview in which God sometimes does do miracles. Whether we describe this as “intervening” or believe that in most cases God works through nature (e.g., the Bible says that He blew back the sea with a strong east wind all night), God sometimes acts in ways that make a point to most open-minded people. The point got through to me and challenged some of the methodological skepticism I had picked up over the years.


PR: What do you hope will be the lasting legacy of this book?

Even the raising of Lazarus did not persuade everyone present.

Keener: I am under no illusion that my book will persuade the majority of those firmly entrenched in Humean convictions. In the Bible, even the raising of Lazarus did not persuade everyone present, and I have not raised Lazarus in front of anyone. But I believe that many people are open-minded enough to listen to evidence they had probably not heard before. I hope that the book will give more people the permission to tell their stories and more scholars the conviction to take a stand rather than thinking that this is just something we are not allowed to talk about in academia (or in certain circles of academia). Of course we must be gracious and dialogue with scholars who have different interpretations of the evidence; God does not coerce people. But I hope that this book will open new lines of research, with more younger scholars pursuing dissertations and other research on healing claims around the world. We can use such research in various disciplines such as theology, sociology, missiology, and we can certainly use input from medical professionals. The accounts are so abundant around the world that there is virtually no limit to what can be explored.



For Further Reading:

MiraclesExcerpts from Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, by Craig S. Keener as appearing in Pneuma Review Fall 2013

More about the book:

Craig S. Keener, “Are Miracles Real?” Huffington Post (Feb 25, 2012).

Craig S. Keener’s homepage:



Special Thanks to John Lathrop for his assistance with this interview.

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Category: Pneuma Review, Spirit, Summer 2012

About the Author: Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic, 2011), the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In addition to having written more than seventy academic articles, several booklets and more than 150 popular-level articles, Craig is is the New Testament editor (and author of most New Testament notes) for the The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. He is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who is from the Republic of Congo, and together they have worked for ethnic reconciliation in North America and Africa. Craig and Médine wrote Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds (Chosen, 2016) to share their story. Twitter: @keener_craig

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