Even though belief in powers beyond this world is common to Christians and other supernaturalists, there are still huge divisions between Christianity and all other religious traditions. Moreover, there are divisions within Christianity concerning the reality and nature of supernatural occurrences today, particularly when they involve the Blessed Virgin. It’s to these differences among Christians that we now turn.
All orthodox Christians believe in the miraculous, for they believe that the Something beyond nature intervened in nature by taking on human flesh and being born at Bethlehem. However, not all Christians believe the miraculous occurs today. One school of thought among some Protestants is that God stopped doing miraculous things once the Bible had been written. The notion is that the Bible is God’s supreme miracle and that, after it, no other miracle is necessary. Therefore, according to this theory, miracles such as Marian apparitions can’t happen because no miracles are happening anymore. Faced with facts like the healings at Lourdes, such Christians let their theory trump reality, just like Zola did. Only they do so because their God is small, not because, as in Zola’s case, he’s non-existent.
Other Christians believe that the God who worked signs and wonders in the pages of Scripture is still doing so today. In addition to Catholic stories of the miraculous, various Evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic congregations are bulging with testimonies to God’s supernatural power at work in the present hour. And with good reason, since God doesn’t appear to be picky about sharing his wonders with Christians of various traditions. This was abundantly demonstrated recently near my home town of Seattle when a Redmond teenager named Laura Hatch—who was in an accident and trapped in her car for eight days—was rescued in an extraordinary way:
Last night, more than 100 friends and acquaintances from Creekside Covenant Church cheered and sang at a celebratory prayer service that had been scheduled as a vigil before Hatch was found.
Church member Sha Nohr, whose daughter is friends with Laura Hatch, told the congregation how a vision led her to the lost teen.
Nohr said her teenage daughter, distraught over her missing friend, showed Nohr a photo of Hatch on Saturday and asked what they could do to find her. Nohr said she told her daughter all they could do was pray.
That night, Nohr, who belongs to an online prayer group for women, said she had several vivid dreams of a wooded area.
In the dreams, she said, she heard the message “Keep going. Keep going.”
Yesterday morning, Nohr said, she woke up and felt an urgency to look for Hatch. She asked her daughter to go along.
They drove to the Union Hill area and pulled over. Nohr said she got out, but “it just didn’t feel right.”
So the two drove farther and stopped again in about the 20200 block of Northeast Union Hill Road. All the while, Nohr said, she prayed. “I just thought, ‘Let her speak out to us.’”
At one spot, Nohr said she felt something draw her down a steep embankment. Her daughter waited up on the road while Nohr scrambled over a concrete barrier and inched her way more than 100 feet down through thick vegetation.
At the bottom, Nohr said, she saw nothing at first. She was about to leave, thinking she was wrong, when through the trees, she said, she saw what looked like a car.
It was Hatch’s, crumpled so badly that it looked like “modern art,” said Randy Phillips, the family’s pastor.
Nohr said she called up to her daughter to get help. Her daughter stopped a passing motorist because she didn’t know the name of the road they were on.
A man climbed down to help Nohr get close to Hatch, who was in the back seat.
“I told her that people were looking for her and they loved her,” Nohr recalled. “And she said, ‘I think I might be late for curfew.’”
While emergency crews were on the way, Nohr said, she used her cellphone to call Hatch’s father, Todd Hatch.
Loved ones yesterday called the ending a miracle and spent several hours at Washington Cathedral in Redmond giving thanks.
As a Pentecostal pastor I once knew said, “That sort of thing changes your theology.”
However, for some reason, even Protestants who are convinced of the reality of God’s signs and wonders being manifested throughout history usually draw the line at apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Of which more next time.