Today I give you a post from Fr. Stephen Freeman. Freeman is one of the most influential Orthodox bloggers, and he blogs at Glory to God for All Things.
In this post, entitled “When Miracles Ceased“, Freeman takes on the secularist way of looking at things that is endemic to all of Western culture. Basically, the default setting of Western life is that the world is, to borrow the words of Max Weber, “disenchanted”. Things in the world around us are basically just that–things. Some of those things just happen to live and move and breathe and think and eat. All within the boundaries and limits of the laws of nature. In this view of things, if God is ever to be known or perceived by us then he must disturb the laws of nature or become another object bound by the laws of nature.
All of this had its roots in the Reformation. The Reformation came upon a Western culture that was all about the miraculous–visions, weeping statues, saints’ lives, and other such things–and basically shoved it all aside as fabrications of a corrupt priesthood. What supplanted all of that was a notion of the Bible as the answer book for everything concerned with salvation. Over time, this was codified in some corners of Protestantism into the notion of “cessationism”–the belief that all miracles, spiritual gifts, etc. ceased upon completion of the Scriptural canon. If it’s all there within the covers of your Bible, then who needs miracles? What’s more, miracles are potentially very dangerous, especially if people imagine them to carry a weight equal to or greater than that of Scripture.
Freeman then contrasts this with the Orthodox view of things: Only God is self-existing. Everything else in the universe is dependent upon Him for its very existence. Thus the world itself is a manifestation of God working. To be cessationist would be to cease to exist. Not only do miracles continue, but on a certain level, everything is a miracle.