Natural Supernaturalism

Consistent with his defense of the Reformation view of the nature/grace relation, Bavinck argues that miracles are actually not unnatural:

Revelation and creation are not opposed to each other, for creation itself is a revelation. Revelation was present before the fall. Even now revelation is present still in all the works of God’s hand in nature and history; his external power and deity are perceived and understood from his creatures. And even supernatural revelation as such is so far from being in conflict with nature that every human in the core of his or her being is a supernaturalist and believes in a direct operative presence of God in this world. The inspiration of heroes and artists, the marvelous powers that are sometimes observed, though certainly not identical with the facts of revelation reported in Scripture, do nevertheless point back to another and higher order of things than that which holds sway in the mechanical causality of the natural phenomena perceptible by the senses. Belief in a special revelation is universal in the religions [of the world], and the phenomena of divination and magic, though a caricature, still bear resemblance to, and therefore serve as indirect confirmations of, the true prophecy and real miracles that Scripture discloses to us. [361-362]

Supernatural revelation is entirely compatible with such a worldview. In it, after all, nature does not for a moment exist independently of God but lives and moves in him. Every force that asserts itself in it originates from him and works according to the law he has put in it. God does not stand outside of nature and is not excluded from it by a hedge of laws but is present in it and sustains it by the word of his power. He works from within and can generate new forces, which in nature and operation are distinct from the existing ones… . Miracles do not bring about a change in the forces inherent in nature nor in the laws according to which they operate. The only thing that happens in a miracle is that the operation of the forces of nature is suspended at a given point as the result of the appearance of another force which works according to a law of its own and produces an effect of its own. [370-371]

This, of course, has application to the political dispute between Roman Catholicism and the Magisterial Reformation, and to the philosophical between materialism and Christianity on scientific matters.