What do you think of this video?
I don't think cynicism or skepticism is a fruit of the Spirit, but I do think a healthy concern for truth is. Would it please God if I accepted this report without any further evidence than the report itself? I don't know. I know God values faith, but He values faith in Himself, not necessarily faith in what I hear on youtube. Do I want this report to be true? Absolutely. Do I think it is? Maybe. I feel like the father of the demon-possessed boy in Mark 9: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
The report claims that 500 people received new limbs. Limbs! We're not talking about people in wheelchairs unsteadily rising to their feet when the adrenaline is pumping. We're not talking about people with uneven legs suddenly having even ones (which, I have to say, is a terribly unconvincing "miracle" in every video I've ever seen). We're talking about people who don't have arms and legs getting arms and legs. And 500 of them at that. This is a truly incredible claim.
Stuff like this stirs up mixed emotions for me. I have spent the last five years of my life in full-time ministry and much of that time has been spent trying to witness to highly skeptical people. As far as these people are concerned, nothing miraculous or supernatural has ever occurred or ever will occur. Paranormal claims, they say, never hold up under scrutiny. Even though I have fundamental disagreements with these people, I have to admit that when it comes to my own personal research I have also found that most "supernatural" claims are easily dismissed. With a few questionable exceptions, most remarkable claims turn out to have natural explanations, as much as I would prefer otherwise.
So, when I hear a report like this, you'll have to forgive me if my first reaction isn't "Hallelujah!" Instead I find myself wondering: Did no one in the crowd have the presence of mind to realize that this event was worth documenting? Maybe 20 years ago "no one had a video camera" would be a legitimate excuse, but not today. I realize Nigeria isn't exactly smartphone central, but this report was coming from American missionaries. Did no one take a video? I've googled "limbs regrown in Nigeria" and looked on youtube but I can't find anything.
If 500 people really received new limbs, I'm sure many of those people have family members who can testify to the fact that, not long ago, they didn't have those limbs. I'm sure there is photographic (and video) evidence proving that many of these people once did not have limbs. Out of 500 people, surely there is at least one person who's transition from no-limb to limb can be proven. Never mind just one - there should be dozens.
Do people not realize that all it takes is one documented case of a limb growing back to destroy the entire philosophy of atheistic materialism? Right now, millions (maybe even billions?) of educated people hide from God by saying that the material world is the only thing that exists, but if 500 people had limbs grow back in a revival meeting that philosophy should be finished. Who, in the face of that evidence, would be able to maintain a purely naturalistic worldview? Only the absurdly obstinate.
If this really happened, where are the news reports? In this time of global interconnectedness, why can't I find anything on Google? Why isn't half of National Geographic's staff in Nigeria investigating? There should be thousands of witnesses and an incontrovertible amount of evidence demonstrating that 500 people did not have limbs and now they do. Is anyone looking into this? If not, I'd be glad to. Just tell me where to go and take care of my finances, please!
There is a well-known atheist website called "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" If God really does heal people, the site asks, then why are there no cases of Him healing amputees? The reason, they say, is because God doesn't exist and the healing of an amputee is one of the few "miracles" that can't be faked or achieved through natural means or chance. I disagree that "God doesn't exist" follows from the premise "amputees aren't healed," but that's beside the point. If this event actually took place, it's time for this site to come down. Has anyone informed the webmaster?
I don't mean to sound sarcastic. I just can't comprehend how an event so miraculous could occur and only be known to a handful of "wacky charismatics" (and I use that term lovingly, believe me). What is going on here? I can only think of four legitimate options:
(1) The event never took place.
(2) The Devil controls the media and the scientific establishment in a way that prevents this sort of event from being verified and reported.
(3) God only performs these kinds of miracles when circumstances prevent them from being reported/verified because He doesn't want them to be known.
(4) The events will be verified and reported around the world, this just hasn't happened yet.
My favorite option is #4, but I actually think it's the least likely. The video was posted two and a half months ago. Surely that's enough time for some sort of report to emerge. I really hope #1 is not the answer, but if I'm honest I have to admit it's the option I consider most likely given my history of seeing supernatural claims dissolve under scrutiny. Both #2 and #3 are frustrating. If #2 is true, I can't help but wonder why God allows the Devil that degree of influence. If #3 is true, I'm left baffled by God's ways (what's new?).
How about you? Do you lean toward one of the options I've suggested? Do you think there is another option (or options)?