Appeared in Summer 2001, Vol. XXVI, No. 2
“Miracles have ceased,” wrote Charles Kingsley to a friend in 1859; he continued, “I said to myself then perhaps too much after the fashion of a German critic, I will not believe that the man who wrote the chapters in Austin’s City of God, ever wrote the passages critics attribute to him. I know from reason that passage to be a direct lie. I will not believe Augustine ever told one…. I will not believe it.” For the purposes of this paper it might be useful to state Kingsley’s argument. Miracles had ceased. Any report of a miracle must therefore be a lie. Augustine never told a lie, so he did not write the passages which contain accounts of miracles.
Most of Kingsley’s contemporaries would have agreed with his judgment, except for the comment on the unspecified “German critic.” Since the sixteenth century, Protestant apologists had generally agreed that miracles had come to an end by the fourth century, with the establishment of Christianity. Reports of later miracles were to be explained by natural causes that were not understood at the time of their occurrence, or as the result of papist lies and fabrications.
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