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What is a miracle?

MANY wonder about the miracles recorded in the Bible. Did the Red Sea actually open for Moses and the Israelites in their flight from the Egyptians? Did Jesus actually raise Lazarus after Lazarus had been dead four days? Such events seem beyond the comprehension of even some deeply religious individuals. But there is an explanation that makes miracles understandable. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, defines ``miracle'' as ``that which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science.'' 1 This definition points to a more spiritual concept of God than that of a manlike being, looking down on His world and occasionally rescuing His children from evil. Christian Science accepts literally the Biblical teaching that God is supreme and wholly good; therefore it concludes that whatever does not express His goodness cannot, in the final analysis, have true, lasting existence, but is a deception. It accepts also that the man of God's creating must be completely spiritual, expressing the nature of his creator, divine Spirit. It teaches that this is our actual selfhood, as indestructible as our creator, and that the mortal, material sense of man is a mistaken concept, a false view, to be progressively overcome, or ``put off,'' as Paul says. Referring to God as Spirit and Mind, Mrs. Eddy writes: ``From beginning to end, the Scriptures are full of accounts of the triumph of Spirit, Mind, over matter. Moses proved the power of Mind by what men called miracles; so did Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha.'' 2 The Christian Science viewpoint on miracles is radically different, then, from other views because of the premise from which it starts: the allness of God, or Mind, and the consequent nothingness of all that would oppose Him; the supremacy of Spirit and the impotence of matter. In Exodus we read that Moses led the Israelites through the Red Sea when the Egyptian armies were pursuing and there seemed no way out. The sea parted, and they walked across on dry land.3 This event may seem a myth to one accustomed to trusting only the evidence of his material senses, unaware of the power of Spirit. But Moses understood the oneness and allness of God, and this enabled him to see a solution to what seemed an impossible situation. The Israelites obeyed the command to ``go forward,'' and mindless matter was unable to resist the power of ever-present Spirit. The sea opened. Through deep study of the Bible in its spiritual sense, Mrs. Eddy came to realize the insubstantiality of material conditions and the infinitude of Spirit. And she confirmed her discovery by impressive proofs of physical healing. She recognized that Christ Jesus performed his wonderful healings through reliance on a divine Principle, on God Himself. Jesus fully understood the divine nature which Moses and the prophets had glimpsed. She declares: ``The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural.'' 4 ``Supremely natural'' rather than supernatural--what a liberating thought, giving us a new view of miracles! It brings us an expectation that the so-called miracles of Biblical times can be repeated. They have, in fact, been repeated, to a degree, in healings of all types of difficulties. The last chapter of Science and Health contains many remarkable and authenticated healings. And spiritual healing continues today; it is recorded in every issue of the Christian Science periodicals, which contain testimonies of the healing of diseases as well as of other troubles through the realization of the presence of the Christ and of God's perfect spiritual creation. Accounts of healings are also given at Wednesday evening testimony meetings in all Churches of Christ, Scientist. As our understanding of God's law of good grows, we can expect these ``supremely natural'' healings to increase. Jesus said, ``He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.'' 5 1 Science and Health, p. 591. 2 Ibid., p. 139. 3 See Exodus 14:13-30. 4 Science and Health, p. xi. 5 John 14:12.