Pukeko has a great post at:
Acts [of] great healing and restoration can happen in Christ: but they are called miracles, and they are unusual. Those who seek this power alone fall into the error of Simon Magus: those who saw Jesus as another healer (and went to him as a physician, requiring his services ) did not see the Messiah. For there is another meaning of the phrase, and it is an implied criticism. It may be that for some the signs and wonders, like the food Jesus provided, were the reason to be there.
And Jesus is saying that this is not the correct reason.
The Gospel is about the glory of God and the reconciliation of a fallen world with its creator.It is not about healing, though healing occurs. It’s not about doing good, though good things will occur. And it is definitely not about saving society, or making it democratic, although historically both have happened.
So in this passage three things happened: an official came to faith, his son was healed, and the crowd were rebuked by the words of Christ and the lack of spectacle.
We need to be careful, within the church, of our love for spectacle, for the special, for the emotions. And I am saying that as one of my sons is finishing his time at Parachute, where there used to be fantastic worship, but now there is but music.
to which I commented:
If we compare “signs and wonders” to a medicine, both an under-dose and an over-dose can harm the patient.
There’s more to spirituality than psychical research, but denying the psychical component of spirituality can also lead a church astray.
A church that denies the importance of “signs and wonders” can become an atheistic society for self-righteous busybodies. Conversely, a church that attaches too much importance to “signs and wonders” can become a cult of thrill-seekers.
There are a lot of ways in which Christianity can go wrong when people stop caring about miracles and “gifts of the Spirit.”
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
When we do carpentry, we see the wood we are working with, and we can draw up a blueprint well in advance. We have a range of tools laid out on the bench – hammer, saw, sandpaper – and we can choose which tool we want to use.
Conversely, when we get a gift from the spirit, we don’t choose which gift we get, and we don’t design our own blueprint.
A lot of Christians worry about “magic” or “occult” studies, because it seems to them that the “magician” is trying to choose gifts of the spirit, when he ought to simply accept whatever spirit gives with great passivity. There is also the problem that most Christians admit that the Holy Spirit is not the only spirit that can grant gifts, and spirits don’t come with photo-ID cards!
I recognize that occultism has its pitfalls. But, as the title of this post has expressed, even the “signs and wonders” which come from dubious spirits are more spiritual than the hot air and mob psychology that come from faithful congregations that imagine themselves to be holier than shamans.
[That last sentence might look trivial, but actually it’s a bold theological claim that I ought to justify with a detailed theological argument at some point in the future. For the moment, we can introduce the mischief of mobs by examining Jim Donald’s examples, below.]
Jim Donald has addressed the problem of pseudo-Christians who think themselves holier than Jesus:
Back then the regnant left thought of themselves as Christian, and, indeed, much holier than Jesus, and continued to do so perhaps as recently as the 1940s.
The transition to American centered rule could also be said to have taken place as late as after World War I. It was a gradual process without well defined dramatic transitions.
The transition from thinking of themselves as Christian, and indeed much holier than those horrid hateful reactionaries, Jesus and the Disciples, to thinking of themselves as anti Christian, took place after left wing power became centered in America.
Religions are of course in large part synthetic tribes, hence the tendency to theocracy. If the theocracy recruits on sincerity and zeal, you get the left singularity as the ruling class rapidly becomes holier than Jesus, and shortly thereafter holier still.
When progressives, still at that time pretending to be Christians, defined temperance as absolute no alcohol, leading to prohibition, we should have noticed that they were claiming to be holier than Jesus and the apostles, a claim they had already made in relation to slavery and female emancipation, and ridiculed them accordingly. We did not.
Kevin MacDonald has also addressed how Christianity can enable white people to construct internal “cultures of critique,” such as Transcendental philosophy:
Pukeko had previous addressed “signs and wonders” here:
You cannot assume that a person performing healing or miracles or teaching on spirituality or spiritual warfare is of Christ. For many false teachers will do all these things. Signs and wonders mean nothing.
22“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’
24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!”
28Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 29for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
We have, in the church, the authority of Jesus. We are his servants, and we better take that seriously. If we do not, we become a scandal.
So … the church has the authority of Jesus, but the church is still capable of screwing up, and all the individuals in the church are still capable of falling from grace.
So … the authority of Jesus doesn’t really add up to anything visible in the short term. Maybe it will count for something on the Day of Judgement, but right now it’s not making the blind to see and the lame to walk.
It’s all very well to say that Jesus is the Son of God, but you wouldn’t know that if not for all those signs and wonders he did! If people hadn’t paid attention to Jesus’ signs and wonders, they would still be arguing back and forth about whether the Pharisees or the Sadducees were more impressive than Jesus.
So while signs and wonders might be done by sinners, or by devils, they are considerably more effective than the hot air and cloud-cuckoo-lands peddled by preachers who can’t work signs and wonders.
The presence of signs and wonders doesn’t prove that you’re doing the will of God, and the absence of signs and wonders doesn’t prove that you’re not doing the will of God. But when I look at the world, I have no problem finding people who work with spirit and who can provide practical evidence of that. Swedenborg is one example; there are countless others, some of whom might offend the Church. In fact, even Swedenborg might offend the Church. I’m willing to risk giving offense.