Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Different Ways God Talks To Us

Heres a fun experiment... Go out and ask 100 evangelicals to explain how God talks to them. Hell, this day in age when sentimentalism is so rampant go ask 100 American Catholics (sadly the answers wont vary much). I was a little disillusioned at first when I came to the Church and even jokingly poked at my Protestant friend that the Catholic Chuch was "like Church, but for grownups". However, going through the RCIA process has made it evident that sentimentalism is nearly as strong in the Catholic Church as in the Protestant ones. (I'm comparing Catholic andReformed here particularly since that's my background but from Catholics to say Baptists there'd be no comparison concerning the level of sentimentalism).

Ok back to our experiment. Here's what 99% of them will say "I don't hear an audible voice but its that still small voice inside me" Uh yea thats called your own thought process you should try to use it more often! (The actual distribution may be something closer to this):

Christian Men Who Believe
God Talks to them Using An Inaudible Voice: 67 out of 100

Christian Women Who Believe
God Talks to them Using An Inaudible Voice: 98 out of 100

Well we have all heard many different ways in which God speaks to us. Lets summarize a few of them. He talks through burning bushes, He talks through an audible voice that sounds close to a human voice (see Samuel's story), He blinds us unexpectedly and then speaks to us, and He uses a 'still small voice' inside our head to communicate with us. Now all of these methods have one thing in common: Biblical examples of occurances. Oh wait! Not all of them have been recorded in Scripture as a way in which God uses to speak to us. Can you guess which one has no known occurances in Scripture?

In every Biblical example of God communicating with man in which we know the means He used to communicate, it is an unambiguous (often intruding) experience in which the listener has no question in his mind whatsoever that God has spoken. Quite often in fact, His voice is accompanied by a miraculous sign (such as the burning bush or the blinding of Saul) and apparently, it's usually audible. The only uncertain occasions (and these are very few) are the post-ressurection New Testament occurances in which the Holy Spirit is said to have "told" or "led" someone to do something. With the few unknown occasions, doesn't it make sense to assume that the methods used would be similar to the methods used in the many known occasions? And what does the Church say?

'but we do not hear the Spirit himself' -Catechism 687

The danger in so many people claiming that God speaks to them through some 'still small voice' is that it put these individuals up high on their own little pedestal. Suddenly, their thoughts and opinions become equal with God's Word. (Here lies the problem with Protestantism in general but I digress.)

My uncle is a professional pianist. He told me how once, early on in his career, he had auditioned/interviewed for the pianist position at 4 different churches in one week. Each of them got back with him and told him that they felt "God was calling him to their church". So now we see the danger of where this kind of lie leads to. Without realizing it, the sentimentalist is now claiming God's authority on their own trivial feelings, opinions and desires. This is very dangerous. This even becomes a way of speaking. "I feel God leading me to... " or "I feel God calling me to..." have now become part of the sentimentalist's vocabulary to the point where there are merely replacements for what an atheist might say: "I want to do this..." but there is no supernatural in most of these cases I'm sure.

Another pathetic line I hear a lot is "you just have to learn how to listen". If you, a fallen man, can communicate to me without any problems, then why is God having such a difficult time getting in touch with me? Can't He just learn to speak how I will understand? Did God speak to Moses in Swahili and expect Moses to learn it if he wanted to understand? Did He speak to Saul in a still small voice disguised as Paul's own thoughts and feelings & Paul just had to learn to recognize those 'special feelings'? God always has and always will speak to us how we are already capable of understanding. We needn't help Him out in any way. He is fully capable of delivering His message.

Now I am by no means claiming that God cannot / does not speak to us. This article on Greg Koukl's website was pretty interesting. He writes:

I had a friend once that told me about how she really felt God wanted her to go and talk to a friend of hers who was a non-Christian that she worked with and tell him that God loved him. After much consternation and fighting she said, "Okay, God, I give in." She got up out of bed in middle of the night, drove to his house, knocked on his door. He answered the door and she said, "Well, I just have to tell you that God loves you"--she felt pretty silly. The guy broke down and cried--he had been contemplating suicide. In kind of a last ditch effort at contacting God he said, "God, if you don't stop me I'm going to kill myself tonight." Then he gets a knock on the door; this woman says, "God sent me over here to tell you He loves you." Pretty remarkable!

I reccommend reading the entire article. I have had a similiar experience myself but I wont get into it now. I certainly believe that they happen but that they are special instances... not some every day occurance. The Holy Spirit indeed leads us and speaks to us through various circumstances etc... but don't confuse His voice with your own opinions and thoughts!

Here's my conclusion on the matter: God’s voice is not a ‘still small voice’ inside you. God is not a cosmic machine that is constantly trying it’s hardest to make contact with man. Man needs no training, practice or spiritual gift to hear the voice of God and God needs no help to make His voice heard. If man be competent to communicate with another man, how much more competent is the Creator of man? Furthermore, the Holy Spirit can never contradict Himself.

1 comment:

mojoala said...

Congratualations on your attempt to cross the Tiber.