The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Podcast #22: Miracle Denier vs. Miracle Believer

Podcast #22: Miracle Denier vs. Miracle Believer

Journalist Joe Klein tells us conspiracies and miracles are first cousins. Really?

Dear Friends,

I trust you are all doing well and enjoying, or is it surviving, “March Madness.”

In many ways, the following rebuttal to journalist Joe Klein is appropriate for the Church this Lenten season, with hundreds of its so-called “Shepherds” having abandoned their faith in the risen Christ.

May you be undeterred in experiencing a blessed Holy Week, crowned by a joyful Easter Day, knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ is risen—“He is risen, indeed!”


D. Paul

Miracle Denier vs. Miracle Believer

Isn’t the love of Jesus something wonderful? Romans 5:8 puts it succinctly: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (New International Version.) For those who have “tasted” this love and experienced it in their own lives, nothing else quite compares or satisfies, giving us a hope that never disappoints, “…because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5, NIV).

It’s a miracle, really, reminding me of that old Gospel hymn:

“The love of God, O pow’r divine,
’Tis wonderful to see.
The miracle of grace performed,
Within the heart of me.”

Well, it’s not poetry at its best, but my joyful reflections this past week were interrupted when I read one of Joe Klein’s essays on his Substack site, “Sanity Clause,” March 11, entitled On Miracles and Conspiracy Theories, They’re Both Incredible. I’ve critiqued the prolifically brilliant journalist before, but this recent essay merits a response.

In a rather bizarre comparison, Mr. Klein equates “conspiracy theories” as a “…first cousin to miracle stories—and miracle stories, which I’ve always taken as allegory,” he tells us, “are the point of entry to spirituality for those who take the bible literally. Both conspiracies and miracle stories reassure the least of these, those easily misled. There are those who believe in Jesus because he performed magic acts,” he continues, “like walking on water, raising the dead..or being raised from the dead.” Duh—you think, Joe?

Globally, including myself, there are countless millions who believe in the supernatural acts of Jesus—not as magic, but as actual miracles, which John’s Gospel tells us, “The disciples saw Jesus do,” and “many other miraculous signs…so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name” (John 20:30-31, New Living Translation). If we are to believe John, he and the other apostles and followers of Jesus’s ministry were eyewitnesses to his miracles, not fabulists weaving an allegorical tale to dupe future generations. True, sometimes within the miracle is the greater miracle (e.g., the paralytic who was forgiven of his sins first and then healed, Luke 5:17-26), but it’s the miracle that opens the door to the deeper truth, assuming one has “eyes to see and ears to hear.”

On this, every faithful believer agrees: Jesus the Christ was no carnival barker traveling through the Galilean countryside performing slight-of-hand magic shows for the unsuspecting local yokels. I’m not even sure he “liked” doing miracles; it certainly took a lot out of him. Consider his response when the “unclean” woman with the “issue of blood” is healed after touching the hem of his garment: “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me” (Luke 8:46, NIV). And as he says to a doubting Thomas, who had to put his fingers into Christ’s pierced side before believing in his resurrection, “Because you have seen me (Thomas), you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29, NIV). The truth is, Christianity, as historically embraced by the devout, rises or falls upon the veracity of miracles. The Apostle Paul framed it well 2,000 years ago: “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ” (I Corinthians 15:14-15, King James Bible).

But, in the interest of fairness, there are millions of others—I’ll call them “miracle deniers”—who agree with Klein when he writes, “I consider Jesus the greatest Jewish prophet,” and when he tells us, “The words of an obscure Galilean rabbi became among the most important in history.” Joe caps off his religious bona fides by tipping his hat to the Beatitudes, as if they incapsulated the sum total of the Gospel and biblical narrative. May I be so bold to suggest: Mr. Klein and the other miracle deniers would be well served in revisiting those wise and well-travelled words of C.S. Lewis: “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (“Mere Christianity,” by C.S. Lewis).

I suspect the apologist in Joe Klein might allay our concerns of any “patronizing nonsense” on his part by assuring us (as he does) that he has “…spent a fair amount of time studying real followers of Jesus, saintly ones, people who walked the walk.” Armed with this knowledge, Klein dons the judge’s robe and assumes the divine role of dividing “the sheep from the goats,” never hesitating to paint the evangelical hucksters and charlatans and their minions with the widest of brush strokes, sketching them as “moneychangers, all,” “sleazeball,” “Mephistophelian grifters,” and “waterways for evil,” leaving his strongest judgement for Donald Trump, whom he tells us “…has also taken a wrecking ball to Jesus,” climaxing his indictment with a flourishing, rhetorical verdict: “And Satan? He seems a lot like Trump.”

I pause, dear reader and listener, for us to ponder: regardless of your political persuasion, we’re in tricky territory here, for Christ admonishes us, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:7, NIV). So it is prayerfully, my brothers and sisters, in way of an affectionate defense to “Judge Joe’s” vigorous attacks, that I continue “merrily” on my way.

Klein’s “idea” of conspiracy theories and miracle stories being “first cousins” is a tenuous and oddly incestuous theory at best. The millions of “miracle believers” are, by and large, not conspiracy theorists, and, like yours truly, would have to look up QAnon online to even know who they are and what they did. To my knowledge, I’ve never known nor met one after being part of the evangelical community for nearly eighty years. But all it takes is a few whackos—conspiracy theorists on one side of the political/theological aisle to provoke an equal or greater number of political and theological, conspiratorial theories on the other side. And so, the beat goes on and on and on, and despite eye-witness verification, we will always have the “moon-landing deniers” among us. But it all makes for good copy, doesn’t it ?

As does Mr. Klein’s On Miracles and Conspiracy Theories. But for many of us who have come to a faith anchored in the risen Christ— “Because I live you shall live also!”—it has not been a case of being “easily misled.” By contrast, the prevenient journey has been one of doubt, skepticism, disdain for hypocrisy, an arduous search for what is authentic—true and real—resulting in a relinquishment that simply utters, “Yes, Lord, I believe.” And so, we—the “least of these” (Joe’s right about that!)—the wounded, the hurting, the mourning, those hungry and athirst (for righteousness), join the thief on the cross, Saul of Tarsus, St. Francis of Assisi, C.S. Lewis, and the millions before us who have “fallen at his feet and called him Lord and God.”

The last time Mr. Klein and I saw one another is when we shared the dais at Congregation Rodeph Sholom, a reformed synagogue in NYC, delivering eulogies at Ron Silver’s funeral, the wonderful actor who was a dear, mutual friend to both of us. I doubt, other than by happenstance, that Joe and I will ever meet again. Certainly, neither one will be giving the other’s eulogy. But in spite of my critique, I am deeply appreciative of his admiration for the “followers of Jesus,” whom he “aspire(s) to, but simply can’t approach.” He can’t; neither can I. “For it is by grace that you (we) are saved, through faith—and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV).

If you were to ever read this, Joe, I leave you with a parting thought from the Apostle who persecuted the nascent Church before encountering the risen Lord on the Road to Damascus: “…if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, New Revised Standard Version).

What follows that confession and leap of faith is a miracle, with no conspiracy strings attached.


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Dramatist, D.Paul Thomas, writes and podcasts on the Church's one foundation--Jesus Christ her Lord!