It might be argued that the rise of pentecostalism, in part, was a needed corrective to the scepticism so prevalant within modern, Enlightenment-influenced ways of thinking and perceiving reality. The same could also be said of the "charismatic movement" and of the so-called "third wave" -- efforts to restore signs and wonders to the message of "good news" as taught by Jesus.
The importance of signs and wonders figures prominently in the Book of Acts, and seems to be indicative of the ministry of the early church.
Charles Talbert, in his commentary on Acts, draws attention to a chiasm that forms the the summary statement of Acts 2:41-47. Here is the pattern as it was layed out:
.....vs.42 common life
..........vs.43 signs and wonders
.....vs.44-47a common life
Signs and wonders stand not only at the center of this chiastic structure, but also appear here as the third time the phenomenon is mentioned in chapter 2 (v.19, v.22, v.43). This clearly lifts the phrase to a place of special emphasis within the text. And the context suggests that signs and wonders were instrumental in the spreading of the gospel and the growth of the church.
But what about now? With modernity slowing give place to postmodernity, what role might signs and wonders play in the missional efforts of the Church? Although we recently discussed whether or not we have become too sophisticated for healing, signs and wonders here constitutes a much broader range of supernatural phenomenon, and therefore I'm wondering...
Are we afraid to let go and trust the Holy Spirit with anything supernatural? Were signs and wonders simply the "language" ancient peoples could best understand, but which is no longer true of people living in the 21st century? Or... do signs and wonders constitute a vital component in God's restorative plan for humankind, somewhat similar to how we must each rely on the Holy Spirit's help in our pursuit of sanctification/theosis?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
(illustration from Google images)