How can we dismiss any miracle stories if we accept the resurrection?

I received a question asking how we can dismiss stories of Catholic miracles if we accept the resurrection.

My response is below:

Your question seems to have two parts.  First you want to ask how we can disregard any miraculous claims if we accept the resurrection.  Second you make a point arguing that Catholics know where the Bible comes from but Protestants don’t have a basis for saying that the Bible is the word of God.

When it comes to your first claim, you are absolutely right that we cannot dismiss miraculous claims a priori.  If someone claims that they have experienced a miracle, we can’t just assume that they are wrong.  What is helpful to keep in mind is that we do not accept the resurrection a priori.  We accept the resurrection on the basis of the evidence.  So although we would not dismiss miracle claims a priori, neither would we accept them without looking at the evidence.  Both the resurrection and other miracle claims can be evaluated and accepted or dismissed a posteriori, after the evidence has been examined.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the best explanation of the available historical evidence, and thus we are rational for accepting it.

This also leads to both the Protestant and Catholic understanding of scripture as the word of God.  It all hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.  He affirmed the Old Testament in the form that they had during his life, and he granted authority to his followers to speak on his behalf (making them apostles).  The Hebrew concept of the apostle, the “shaliah”, is much like a power of attorney in modern parlance.  The early church also recognized the authoritative nature of the documents comprising the New Testament as we have the early church fathers quoting them in their writings and the earliest canonical lists contain the documents we recognize today.  In short, the process for the canon is not different for Catholics and Protestants as it relates to the books recognized by both groups.  It just happens to be the case that Catholics incorporated the Apocrypha into their canon in the mid 1500s, but prior to that all Christians recognized the same biblical texts as the word of God.

Matt Bilyeu

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