In his recent writing After You Believe, N.T. Wright calls into question a common western understanding of miracles. As an example, Wright cites Captain Sullenberger’s act of landing a plane into the Hudson River, a task requiring mind-boggling precision. After pointing out all that had to be done in a mere few minutes, Wright makes the following observation:
I suspect that calling such events as the safe landing of Flight 1549 a “miracle” may be a way in which our culture chooses to ignore the real challenge, the real moral message, of that remarkable sort of event. The virtues matter. They matter deeply. When the great door of human nature swings open to reveal its truest secrets, these are the hinges on which it turns (35).
Wright’s point is well-taken. Wright has no problem affirming the role of God in such events, but rightly questions whether western culture has high-jacked the concept of miracles, using it to justify their apathy in seeking godliness. Such a distortion is understandable outside the church, but is incorrigible inside it. While we must strive to have a sober judgment of ourselves, we must with equal vigor oppose using God’s providence as the mechanism which abdicates any responsibility to seek to be like our Lord.