Why Do Miracles Occur Outside the Church
Q: My question concerns a seemingly well-documented case of a woman’s healing that was reported on Earl Paulk’s TV show and ABC news. If the Catholic Church is the one, true Church, as I believe it is, how do miracles performed outside it help demonstrate that? I am very pleased about her healing. Why does it happen, and how does that bring people to the faith?
A: This is an especially useful question for me to answer since I happen to be a convert. When I was 20 I became a Christian, and when I was 27 I became a Catholic. God often leads people into his truth in stages, as in my case. Thus Jesus told his disciples, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13a, RSV). By leading people into the Christian faith in general first, God makes it easier to lead them into the fullness of truth — Catholicism. Thus insofar as miracles occur outside the Catholic community and insofar as they are intended for apologetic purposes, they are intended to lead people into partial truth, though partial truth is not meant to be a stopping point.
However, miracles are not meant to be strictly apologetic. God gives miracles also because he loves his people and wants them to be free of suffering. Thus during his ministry Jesus often did healings as acts of mercy, yet told people not to publicize the fact, killing the apologetic purpose of the miracle (except for the recipient). However, some people insisted on publicizing the healings Jesus had done for them anyway. There is no reason a parallel phenomena cannot occur today. God may heal people today yet not intend the miracle to be widely publicized, especially on the show of a fraud like Earl Paulk.
This brings up a final point. There may have been no miracle at all. Preachers like Earl Paulk can have almost zero confidence placed in the miracles reported on their shows. ABC news is not much better. ;-D