"Why should it be thought a thing incredible, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8)
"The raising of the dead is a miracle which, astonishing as it is, has been performed hundreds of times since the days of Christ. Our Lord told His Apostles to raise the dead (Matthew 10:8)." – excerpt from Saints who Raised the Dead, by Father Albert Hebert.
"Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do." (John 14: 11-12)
Today it seems more and more people, including Christians, do not believe in miracles. As such, believing that someone could be raised from the dead is very difficult, especially in cases where a "regular person" raises up a "regular person." Of course, most Christians believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, and they also believe the Gospel recordings of Jesus raising others from the dead. But, have people over the past 2,000 years, in the name of God, raised others back to life?
Miscellaneous statements and validations about raising of the dead:
- St. Irenaeus (c. 130-220), Bishop of Lyons, stated "Some persons that were dead have been raised again and have continued among us many years..." and in a separate document, "So far are they ("magicians") from raising the dead, as Our Lord raised them, and as the Apostles did by prayer, and as in the brotherhood oftentimes is done...."
- St. Augustine (354-430) stated "The truth is that even today miracles are being wrought in the Name of Christ... Only, such miracles do not strike the imagination with the same flashing brilliance as the earlier miracles, and so they do not get the same flashing publicity as the others did...." And, in speaking about those in his day who denied miracles, "It is sometimes objected that the miracles which Christians claim, no longer happen... However the malice of the objection is in the insinuation that not even the earlier miracles ought to be believed...." (Here we note that the general belief of Christians back in the 4thand 5thcentury is not that different from the notions of today.)
A few notable occurrences of the dead being raised, after Biblical times:
- Vincent Ferrer (1350-1419) raised at least 28 persons from the dead, especially revolving around his preaching to the Moors.
- St. Julian (d. 117), Bishop of Mans, converted numerous through his raising of the dead. There were two young boys in Mans and Champagne who were raised, according to D. Poilin's historical volumes.
- St. Nicholas of Bari, Bishop of Myra who lived in the fourth century, raised three children from the dead, who were allegedly killed by an evil innkeeper. There is a painting in the Church of St. Goar (Germany) which depicts this event.
In the book noted above by Father Hebert there are over 400 listed occurrences of persons being raised back to life. Many of these miracles happened in the first 1,000 or so years of the Church. Very few have happened, it seems, over the past 100-200 years. Regardless, even if most happened over 1,000 years ago and even if many or most were exaggerations, myths, or frauds (not my opinion but might be an opinion of some)—as long as there is one, or five, or ten actual events in history where someone was raised from them dead, this proves without a doubt that supernatural miracles can and DO occur.
It is my opinion that many Christians today read the Bible and believe that miracles and God's interventions happened only in the Old and New Testaments. That is not the case. As referenced by Jesus himself, and elsewhere in the New Testament, and also via the early Church Fathers, the most miraculous feat—someone being raised back to life after dying—can and has happened.
Believing in this fact allows a more concrete belief in the eventual general resurrection at the end of days. If Peter and other godly men over the centuries can facilitate and pray for this miracle, surely the Creator of the world can do the same. And it is that final hope which gives Christians the comforting assurance of our Faith.
– Ken Lambert has been writing for both secular and religious publications for several years. He co-authored the book "Top 10 Most Influential Christians Since the Apostles" and holds a Doctorate in Ministry. He resides in southern New Hampshire.