Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Does God Speak to Me? (Abridged)

I think the long version was a little overwhelming, so here's a shorter version.

My view is that God does speak to us today. Here are a few ways that He does this:

1. First, we see in the Bible cases where it appears that God spoke in an audible voice with human language. For instance, the prophen Habakkuk writes that "the LORD answered me and said, 'Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets . . .'" The instances I am referring to are not just vague "feelings" or "senses" that God was saying something, but clear linguistic communication.

2. Second, God speaks through the medium of written language. Certainly God's Word is, indirectly, God speaking. God has brought it about that his intentions, commands, thoughts, etc. are communicated to us by means of written language.

3. Third, I think God speaks to believers intuitively. By this I mean to capture things like impressions during prayer, or when God speaks personally through the Word. When we experience intuitive communication, we sometimes say that we have a sense of God's leading or his direction on a matter. We don't hear or see any language, but we just know. Sometimes this is called tacit knowing. You may not know how you know, but you just know. Perhaps an example of this is in Acts when the elders of the church said that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . ."

4. Fourth, God can speak to us through other people. This one is akin to the first, since it generally involves hearing an audible voice, but not God's voice. The prophets are good examples of this type, as are angels. God once got his message across to Balam by means of a donkey! Recall, though, that it was the donkey's words, not God being "channeled" through the donkey.

5. Fifth, I think God can speak to us through circumstances or through creation. "Dat to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge." (Ps. 19) This psalm is metaphorical, but the idea is that God is attempting to say something by means of creation. There is content -- they tell of the glory of God. Another example might be Jonah and the vine.

So, all these examples are well and good, but does God still speak to us today, as he did in the Bible? I think the answer has to be "yes," but with one caveat. Let's distinguish between two kinds of information or message-content that God might transmit to us. I will call the first "gnostic" information and the second "biblical." What I mean by "gnostic" is secret, privileged information that God gives to a very limited number of persons. Gnostic information consists of propositions that are not contained in, nor can be inferred from the Bible. In fact, they may even be contrary to the Bible.

Biblical information, on the other hand, is intended to be public, consistent with and very often echoing Scripture. God's speaking to a person should not be considered strictly a private matter, but ultimately for the building up of the body as a whole community. I am extremely skeptical of any alleged "divine message," the content of which is something that no Christian could ever have known or discerned apart from the revelation of the message. That is, I believe that when God speaks, he will simply be recapitulating what he has already said, in one way or another.

Obviously, much more needs to be said, but this will do for now.


Anonymous Curtis said...

I commented on the longer post. Thought that might be a better place to hold discussion.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a blogger but woke up and typed God speak to me, and your blog came up. It was extremely interesting to me and I was touched especially by Curtis's comment on the longer post.
"The tenets of the Christian faith are not things that can be proven or known, but they are instead things that are to be believed. Just as it takes faith to believe that God has the capacity and the audacity to enter His creation and be one of us--God among us--Emmanuel, it takes faith to believe that God can author a true story so intricate and so laced with beauty and meaning and then convey this to men to take account for us to use as a source from which the Spirit speaks and to gain an understanding of God and His purposes." I can't wait to present this tonight at dinner. The kids are finally getting old enough to be truely in awe of God. Thank you both for letting God speak to me through you, this morning.

7:41 AM  
Blogger ericharris2006 said...

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9:56 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Eric -- If you would like to contact me, just send an email to chris.gadsden AT

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Trisha said...

Hi, I"m one of the curious people who God gives revelations to, I'm glad to have came across your site. I'm an inventor. Nice to see positive responce to your writing. Nice Bible refrences.

1:21 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

My experience with Baptist/evangelical theology can best be described as a wild Roller Coaster ride: a lot of great psychological, emotional, and spiritual highs and a lot of deep psychological, emotional, and spiritual lows. Why?

In Baptist/evangelical theology, your Justification and your Sanctification---your essence as a follower of Christ...if you boil it all really dependent on you and your feelings. Your salvation is based on you performing an action: making the correct decision… for Christ. And your assurance of salvation is based on you maintaining a sufficient level of feeling Christ’s presence within you that confirms that your previous “decision for Christ” was done correctly and sincerely. Why else would so many Baptists and evangelicals report having multiple “born again” experiences?

Do I feel saved? Do I feel I really repented in my born again experience? Do I feel that I truly had faith when I made a decision for Christ; when I prayed a version of the Sinner's Prayer? If I am really saved, why do I feel at times that my faith is so weak? Maybe I need to do the born again experience again; maybe I need to pray the Sinner's Prayer again, just to be 100% sure that I am saved. I want to know without any doubt that I am saved, and if I do not feel saved, I begin to doubt my salvation.

Baptist/evangelical theology tells me that I will always feel Christ's presence and strength inside me...if I am a true believer. But what if I don't feel him there sometimes? If it is true that I should always be able to hear God speak to me, in an inner voice or feel his inner presence move me/lead me to do his will, what is going on when I don't hear anything or feel anything? Have I committed some unknown sin and he is refusing to hear me? Or is the reason that I don't hear or feel him present within me... is because I'm not really saved!

I was so incredibly happy to find orthodox (confessional) Lutheranism and find out that my feelings have nothing to do with my Justification, my salvation, nor with my Sanctification, my walk with my Savior and Lord! My salvation was accomplished 100% by God. He placed the free gift of salvation in my "lap" before I even considered asking for it. He wrapped me in the "blanket" of salvation without my assistance. I am God's by his choice, not mine!

11:16 PM  

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