Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obfuscations II

So I was having conversation with a pastor friend from the old charismania days, and it occurred to me we have fundamental differences between his take on Scripture and that of mine.

For him, God speaks through Scripture and God speaks also outside of Scripture. This is obfuscating because it is so easy to mistake our own intuition for the voice of God. Not only is it allowed that God speaks outside Scripture, it may, without much thought, even contradict it in some places and situations.

Let me give an example of this principle. One can think of any sense of leading as a leading of God. Another friend of mine when he was flying over Nevada, felt God speaking to him to sell his house and become a missionary there. He did, with much consternation of his wife, moved out of Australia to go to USA. For some reason, this missionary activity fizzled off and he winded up going to some province in the Philippines claiming that God had instead directed him there to do the work of an "evangelist" there. I am heart broken to say that the marriage broke, alienating him from his wife and children. Today my friend from time to time would ask for support for his work, I get text messages to that effect. I confess I do not respond with an encouragement spiritually nor financially. My point is that I do not want to be a party in his reading that my support is an act in line with the desires of God, because honestly, I don't believe he has truly heard Him well.

Funny, but when I was in charismania, I did not detect the subjective and unreliable nature of these seeming voices from God. Today I look un-spiritual and not "spirit filled" to some of my friends, I have become "carnal".

6 comments:

Steve Martin said...

I hate to say this, but I think you have the same kind of goofy Evangelical friends that I have.

"God told me this." or "God told me that."

I say, "are you sure it wasn't last night's pizza talking to you?"

"How do you know it wasn't the devil?"

St. Paul reminds us that the devil can appear as an angel of light.

To avoid this kind of wacky adventure...the Lord has given us the sacraments and the freedom to be ourselves.

Not some super-pious, super-spiritual, Bible totin' superhero.

Xan said...

Lito, and Steve,

It has always made me very uneasy when people say "God told me ...". Thanks for articulating this unease, and for some excellent conversation ideas also.

A pastor once told me that we don't want to say that this kind of thing can't happen, but that if somebody tells you to do something based on what God told him, run.

But on the flip side, isn't Scripture loaded with places where God tells people to do things? Just to pull a NT example at random, the Magi being told to take a different way home? Perhaps we're saying that doesn't happen in these latter days. (I always wondered how the Evangelist came to know that about the Magi, btw.)

L P said...

Xan/SM,

I was just reading Heb 5 (last paragraph). I believe it is the word of God that helps us to discern good from evil and may be applied to test our inner voices.

Definitely such voices are quite subjective. My experience though is that such attentiveness to analysing God's will for a certain situation may predominate and become the default practice. Rather than trusting that God will never leave us nor forsake us because he has already done that to Christ so that he may not have to do it to us.

This presupposes of course that we will not knowingly violate God's known will in Scripture to get to where we want to be.

Another is the motivation for such inquiry. For example, take the case of whether or not one should accept a job offer. We do want to know God's will for this. But to what intent, is it because his will wants us to have the "best"? There is the notion that if we are aligning ourselves with God's will it will go good for us. This then becomes the pre-occupation.

Rather, I see it that our lack is the fear, love and trusting of God. In Heb 5:14, the Word of God is to be used to soak us so that in the end it may lead us to wisdom i.e lead us to peace. It is rather a worry if we are getting so called leadings without mediation of God's Word.

And this is what I believe happens in evangelia. Because they do not have the notion of means of grace, God is immediate to them. Hence no "mysteria".

It is not direct voices that we get when we are exercised by Scripture, rather our senses gets sharpened or trained to see from a far what is good and what is evil.

I am not so sure if I articulated this well enough but have a go at this and comeback for some more elaboration.

LPC

Steve Martin said...

Xan,

God does speak to us. He does so, and may do so in many ways. But the onle way we can know for sure that it is God speaking to us is in His Word. Preaching and teaching (based on the Bible), and in His sacraments.

Other than that, we cannot know if it was from God, or the devil, with any certainty.

And then, we use our Christian freedom to step out and act..to make choices in accordance with His will (love God and your neighbor as yourself) and trust that He will be there for us in all of it (our sin as well).

Xan said...

I have to plead confusion on this one.

If I hear a voice, and I have no way to know whether it's God, Satan, or my own intuition, I simply have to ignore it, and do whatever I think is best. This is the same reason Firefox throws a fit when an SSL certificate doesn't match: without authentication, your secure connection is meaningless.

On the flip side, when you challenge our friends who hear God telling them things like to abandon their family to start missions in Nevada or the Philippines, they can simply say their trained senses told them it was God, and that they used their Christian freedom to step out and act.

L P said...

Xan,

You bring out a good point. The thing is why do we have to drag God into the picture or spiritualize our decisions?

The problem is it puts a lot of guilt and condemnation if you claim you heard God's voice and disobeyed. This practice may be linked to decision theology. People making decisions for the Lord in an altar call often hear a voice telling them to go forward. Same sort appears to repeat on such occassions.

LPC