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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The No-Gut Check Method of Doing God’s Will

freewayA commenter by the name of Keo left some thoughtful opinions under my Gut Check Spirituality post:

I'm not fond of relying on emotion, either, but I think you overestimate Christians' ability to receive direction from God only through the Bible.

Usually what is in mind with this kind of objection is that the person is thinking I am saying the Bible provides us with specific detailed instructions about making decisions. Because the Bible doesn’t specifically tell a young man to marry Ethel Peppercorn, obviously it is overestimating the Christian young man’s ability to receive direction from God “only through the Bible.” Hence: the young man has to depend upon some godly emotional impulse to pursue the female of his desire.

Moving along, my commenter notes,

Most people I know who talk about God speaking to them through the Bible are really talking about either the same kind of "gut feelings" (maybe just the frozen pizza or maybe it really is the Holy Spirit) or their own desires, shellacked with a few vague phrases from a Psalm here, a Proverb there.

Regrettably, that is certainly true. Like I pointed out in my post, even the most diehard Calvinist will often think in these terms when it comes to making life defining decisions such as whether or not to marry Ethel Peppercorn.

Keo addresses a real life illustration:

Using the Bible Only method, how exactly could that guy have learned that God wanted him to move to California and join your church? Unless, of course, you really mean that God would never tell anyone anything so specific today, and that God only tells us "clearly in His Word" true-for-everyone statements about morality or history or eschatology

In response, allow me to provide my own testimony in this matter because I was once a guy that moved to California and joined the church where I am currently a member with my family.

While at college in Arkansas I came to know the Lord. I was slowly discipled by godly pastors and other older friends. One of those friends introduced me to the preaching ministry of John MacArthur, as well as a number of other sound Bible teachers. John’s radio ministry had a tape lending library where I could check out preaching tapes via mail at a nominal cost in postage. For at least 3 years or so I listened faithfully to sermon tapes on the various books of Scripture and theological subjects John had preached to his home congregation. God used his teaching to help me solidify my theology and overall thinking about the Bible.

As I was growing in the Lord, I also enjoyed imparting the theology I was learning to other believers. In other words, I liked teaching and preaching. Granted, I was extremely rough and amateurish, but it was something that delighted my soul. As I approached my graduation from college, my interest in radio and television as a field of work waned and my interest in a full time ministry of teaching the Word of God strengthened. One could say I had a growing “desire.”

I knew I needed to receive a good seminary education, so my thoughts began to turn to post graduate theological studies. My church had an affiliation with a seminary in Memphis and it was the obvious choice for me, especially seeing that my church offered to pay some of the tuition if I decided to attend. I also knew John MacArthur was president of the Master’s Seminary in California, but for a guy from Po-dunk Arkansas, it might as well have been on the moon. I had no money to pay the cost of living in Southern California, and the thought of moving out of state away from close friends and family was a bit unnerving; plus, with an obvious choice of a seminary nearby, the thought of moving was unnecessary.

The friend who introduced me to John’s sermon ministry had also introduced his teaching to the associate pastor of John’s church at the time. I had a “desire” to begin building a theological library for teaching resources and I was curious as to which commentaries and commentators John used in his sermon prep. So, I got the associate pastor’s phone number and gave him a call. We talked about commentaries and sermon prep for a bit, and then he asked me, “Are you interested in going to seminary?” I told him yes and told him my plans to go to Memphis and he responded, “Well, I went to that seminary for a bit and I can tell you they aren’t going to teach you how to preach the Bible.” Intrigued by his opinion, I asked him to elaborate, and after he gave me an ear full from his personal experience at that school, I relayed to him my concerns with moving to California. He recommended that I at least call the office of TMS, get an application, fill it out and send it in, and see how the Lord may lead.

Now, I can testify that after that phone call was finished I was emotional. I had an inflamed “desire” to move to California. I prayed, made preparations, worked, saved money, and eventually, in August of 1992, I moved to California. The rest they say is history.

Bringing it back around to Keo’s ending questions:

Are you saying that the Bible alone TELLS us that this is how God now speaks to us? Or is that an opinion from an extra-biblical source?

To clarify: I am telling you that Scripture provides for us a foundation for how we must shape our thinking about God. The work of spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit to enlighten a sinner’s darkened mind to think God’s thoughts after him provides a person with the ability to now be oriented, as it were, to the will of God. God provides for us through the teaching of Scripture those principles we use to renew our minds or what we could also define as “retraining” our minds to think godly thoughts rather than worldly thoughts. As we seek this renewing by learning Scripture, we will be filled with the Spirit. This is where one’s “desires” come into play. We need to trust the Spirit to be giving us the right desires as we are filled with the knowledge of God’s revealed Word. We then apply that knowledge to the desires we regularly experience, so as to make wise, biblically informed decisions. God’s providence takes care of the blind spots we may not necessarily “see” when we are acting with faith upon our biblically informed decisions.

In my case as a budding young Bible teacher:

- I was growing in the knowledge and understanding of the Lord.

- I had a growing “desire” to attend seminary.

- I was planning on attending a school in Memphis.

- Through the encouraging counsel of a friend of a friend, my desire was moved to attend seminary in California.

- Acting upon that desire, I made necessary wise choices to fulfill that desire.

- God in His providence directed me in seeing that desire accomplished.

The thing to keep in mind is that I was making biblically informed decisions based upon the application of simple, everyday wisdom. Think about it: God didn’t tell me anything via any “gut feeling.” I wanted to attend a seminary that upheld the Word of God, taught it as authoritative, and held to a high view of God, Jesus Christ, and the Christian Church. There wasn’t anything particularly more “spiritual” with attending Master’s Seminary over other ones I considered, but it was where I had a desire to attend. God blessed that desire and I can attest to His providential leading over the years since moving here.

How exactly do I know of that providence? After I had been attending seminary for just a few months, I could not find a job. It was a bit frustrating because I was the only guy in my immediate circle of seminary friends who could not find a job. I began to doubt my decision to move to California as I was swiftly running low on funds. So: I had to make a series of decisions. In my thinking, I figured that if God wanted me in California He would provide the necessary means for me to live there without acquiring substantial amounts of loan debt. I had enough funds on hand to finish my first year, but if I didn’t have a job at the end of the school year, I would transfer back to Arkansas. Yet low and behold, within 48 hours of determining that choice, God provided a job for me at Grace to You, where I continue to serve the Lord to this day. No mystical experiences or checking my gut; just the application of wise, common sense choices and trusting the Lord’s provision, which He most certainly did. And would you believe it, the same method of decision making applies to those big decisions like marrying Ethel Peppercorn.

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23 Comments:

Blogger The Squirrel said...

Who is Ethel Peppercorn? I thought your wife's name was Brenda...

I'm so confused...

Squirrel

8:53 PM, September 25, 2010  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

Hal Lindsey explains what you said well in his book Faith for Earth's Final Hour. It explains how Christians are to walk by the Divine View Point and not the Human View Point. It's similar to flying an air plane by insturments during a storm. You have to put your faith in God's promises and not your own feelings.

9:04 PM, September 25, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

It's a lovely testimony, but it isn't a very satisfying answer to the questions. More specifically, it doesn't justify your sarcasm towards Christians (wacko cases excepted) who apparently are guilty of little more than using the word "feelings" instead of (your word) "desires" or even the more-intellectual-sounding "thoughts" when giving their own testimony of how God guided them. I assume that most Christians read the Bible, so they could similarly claim that their "desires" are biblically informed and the result of the Holy Spirit's transforming work and guidance.

Among the real issues on the table, consider two:

1) Is it charitable for a "biblically informed" Christian to insist that another Christian is only using their feelings when their opinions diverge, and then to mock them for this?

2) What is the clear Scriptural basis for *insisting* that God only speaks or guides us through the Bible (whatever that might actually mean in any number of complicated contexts) today and not through prayer, or through circumstances / "providence," or through any other means that the Holy Spirit might choose to employ?

You talk about providence and desires and being filled with the Spirit, and yet you asked the question, "Why wasn't Scripture alone sufficient enough to provide some direction in the first place?" Is it Scripture alone, or is it the full meal deal, Fred?

7:12 AM, September 27, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

My words weren’t meant to be sarcastic, at least in the mean, biting way.
At any rate, perhaps I am not being as thorough as I need to be in my articulation. Desires, feelings, or the intellectually sounding “thoughts” are not bad things. What I have been attempting to argue is that desires have to be submitted to a sound understanding of Scripture. Would you agree or disagree? Are you also of the opinion those desires and feelings are infallible and from God or can they fail, which if that is the case would look rather dumb for God giving such desires in the first place?

Case in point: There have been a number of times in my distant past as a young college kid that I have had an affection for particular young ladies who didn’t return a like affection for me. In my mind, my desire was God leading me to marry them. I would argue now, looking back on such past embarrassing expressions of my passions, that I had an extremely unbiblical understanding of what it was to be a husband, not to mention what I needed as a wife. None of those girls met any biblical criteria for being a godly wife. Were my “feelings” from the Lord anyways?

1) Is it charitable for a "biblically informed" Christian to insist that another Christian is only using their feelings when their opinions diverge, and then to mock them for this?

Only if that other Christian is about to make a disastrous, sinful decision based upon those “feelings.” Another case in point: A couple of years ago a single fellow I knew as an acquaintance informed me he was pursuing a lady with the intentions of marrying her. When I asked about how they met and so forth, it comes to find out she was separated and in the process of getting a divorce. I told him it would be extremely unwise to pursue her at this time because of her circumstances, yet he persisted in seeking to marry her because he felt it was God’s will to do so. His pursuit of this woman, who was still married legally to her husband was clearly a bad decision, and I would even say a sinful one given the circumstances. Was that divergent opinion a good thing from God or a bad thing? How exactly would I determine if it were?

2) What is the clear Scriptural basis for *insisting* that God only speaks or guides us through the Bible …today and not through prayer, or through circumstances / "providence,"…?

Ephesians 5:18 States: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” yet in a similar word to the Colossian Christians Paul writes in 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Being filled with the Spirit is likened to being filled with the Word of Christ. How exactly do we know Christ? By what is revealed of Him in Scripture. The Word of Christ is to dwell in us richly in all wisdom, meaning an application with regards to that knowledge we require through the Word. Certainly God leads through desires, but those desires must be informed with the Word of God. Can circumstances direct us? Perhaps, but there is no guarantee those circumstances are directing you specifically in the will of God. Moreover, circumstances have to be interpreted to some degree. I would further say that providence and circumstances are one and the same, but we can’t see providence in the moment so as to make a decisions on our desires. Usually the providence is witnessed after the events have transpired and a Christian can look back and see God at work.

… Is it Scripture alone, or is it the full meal deal, Fred?

The Bible alone is sufficient in that the Word of God provides for us the overall foundation, or filter, through which our desires are built upon or filtered through. I am not against a person having desires, but those desires must be directed and informed by our clear understanding of what God has revealed in Scripture.

8:04 AM, September 27, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Glad to hear about your intended tone. I could barely get through the original teampyro post without vomiting from all the ill will and arrogant bluster.

Of course I agree that our desires aren't to be king, and that our desires can be wrong. I think the same thing about our thoughts, and also about some of our interpretations of the Bible, however. I don't see a position of spiritual or intellectual superiority, based on a claim of being more Bible-based than thou, as any less proud and foolish.

Though I generally agree with the truth of your application, I suspect that Paul wasn't using "word of Christ" as a synonym for "the Bible." Conflating "Bible" with every mention of "word" is an unfortunate interpretation error made by many well-meaning Christians.

I think that we know Christ by more than just reading about him, particularly if the unsaved can't understand the Scriptures -- as MacArthur said on the radio this morning. How could they know him if not by some sort of miraculous not-Bible intervention? How could those who can't read, or the church past and present that doesn't have access to the Bible in their own language, moreover? What about the Spirit that we have received? Or prayer? And, of course, the Bible certainly doesn't say that the Bible is the only way to know Christ. Important, sure, but not the only way.

Really what we are both describing now is a less-reductionistic mixture of miraculous experience of God, providence, thoughts and feelings, AND our sometimes-fallible reading of the Bible. All interpretations must be submitted to our understanding of Scripture, and perhaps better submitted to God directly through prayer, while we're at it. Correct interpretation of the Bible, however, depends on revelation from God, perhaps coupled with paying attention to what God has already revealed through circumstances, creation, prayer, church tradition, etc. I have no problem with such a view of how God guides us. Neither would some of the most charismatic of our fellow Christians, however.

All factions should realize the need for humility and grace as we seek to test our various interpretations, understanding that full proof and certainty might not be given this side of heaven.

9:37 AM, September 27, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Glad to hear about your intended tone. I could barely get through the original teampyro post without vomiting from all the ill will and arrogant bluster.

Well. At the risk of receiving a severe, burning wedgie from you, I agree with pretty much everything those Teampyro posts say.

I don't see a position of spiritual or intellectual superiority, based on a claim of being more Bible-based than thou, as any less proud and foolish.

Seriously? You don’t believe a person’s theological views will cause him to be more Bible based and less prone to being led astray into error with regards to decision making?

Though I generally agree with the truth of your application, I suspect that Paul wasn't using "word of Christ" as a synonym for "the Bible." Conflating "Bible" with every mention of "word" is an unfortunate interpretation error made by many well-meaning Christians.

Can you elaborate on that? I don’t see it as an unfortunate interpretation, because Word equates closer to the idea of revelation, something direct and infallible from God. Seeing that God’s revelation is encapsulated in the written Word we know as the Bible, and God has established that as the authoritative source of information for the believer, how exactly am I missing the mark here?

… the Bible certainly doesn't say that the Bible is the only way to know Christ. Important, sure, but not the only way.

You’re bouncing dangerously close to the idea of inclusivism, that people who have never heard of Christ can still know him and be saved apart from a proper understanding of the Gospel. I’ll grant that God saves people who can’t read, but what they believe upon is not devoid of any meaningful content. The content has to come from somewhere and I know of only one infallible source.

Really what we are both describing now is a less-reductionistic mixture of miraculous experience of God, providence, thoughts and feelings, AND our sometimes-fallible reading of the Bible.

But if God directs through these feelings, thoughts, and a sometime fallible reading of the Bible, you’re going to have to provide an account of whether or not those feelings and thoughts are “infallible” for the person. In other words, will the person be sinning against God if he doesn’t act upon those feelings and thoughts.

10:37 AM, September 27, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Seriously? You don’t believe a person’s theological views will cause him to be more Bible based and less prone to being led astray into error with regards to decision making?

I don't believe a Christian who insists that his only knowledge of God is from the Bible is necessarily more accurate in his interpretations than another Christian who believes that God speaks through the Bible AND prayer, for example. And I don't think the first Christian gets extra points for insisting that, while his faith is 100% Bible-based, his so-called sister's faith is an 80/20 mix. Attributing some of God's speech to other sources is nothing to be proud of.

...how exactly am I missing the mark here?

I'm surprised you never heard the "written word = living Word" line in your KJVO days. Do you really think Paul meant "our Jewish OT" when he said "word of Christ"?

You’re bouncing dangerously close to the idea of inclusivism.

Not at all. I'm saying that the Bible doesn't make the claim that it itself is the only source of knowledge about God.

I know of only one infallible source.

That's pretty sad, given that our reading and interpreting skills are so fallible and so reliant on our education and upbringing, and especially given that the Bible doesn't claim (the circular argument) that God only speaks through the Bible now. I'd like to think you would consider the possibility that the living God himself is also a source for our knowledge of him, especially for those who can't read well or who don't have the luxury of the Bible glut that we enjoy here and today. I understand the importance of the Bible, but you're putting a lot of eggs in a single basket that I don't think Jesus asked you to.

I'd also like to think that most Christians would see the superiority of not having to rely on man's interpretations of the Bible -- if and when God chose to speak to them directly. Real communication, mind you, not interpreting the tea leaves or divining the twinges in the belly. Especially when that lone source hasn't kept equally-saved, intelligent Christians from coming to completely opposite interpretations of the same texts on crucial issues like salvation, hell, and the trinity. What do you make of that? That people don't know how to read? That the devil is blinding them?

But if God directs through these feelings, thoughts, and a sometime fallible reading of the Bible, you’re going to have to provide an account of whether or not those feelings and thoughts are “infallible” for the person.

Not sure exactly how you mean that. God speaking doesn't mean we understand him perfectly, as was true even when Jesus spoke face to face with his own disciples. God is infallible but our understanding is not. We're sinning if we disobey God, yes, regardless of the means God chooses to speak to us. I'm sure he can make himself heard when he wants to; what I'd like to avoid is keeping my fingers in my ears while insisting that God can only speak to me in this way or that way.

3:25 PM, September 27, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

And I might add that MacArthur this morning on the radio said, "I not only have the page in my hand but I have the author in my heart. Because the Spirit of God is the teacher." Sounds like knowing the author is a second way to get knowledge. Of course, this implies that we can know God in some sort of spiritual / miraculous revelation / heart knowledge way, independent of (not in contradiction to) and maybe even superior to knowledge from reading the Bible. If we had to choose the Bible only or God only? Secondary source or primary source? No question.

If only (certain MacArthur devotees and those who agree with them) would think through the meaning of that part of the sermon and give up their sport of belittling fellow Christians who find the "God only speaks through the Bible today" mantra to be spiritually simplistic and Biblically unprovable.

6:59 AM, September 28, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

keo,

2 Tim 3:16

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

So there Paul says that Scripture will thoroughly equip the man of God for every good work.
Wherein the need for further revelation?

Hebrews 1:1-2

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

And here the writer says that God used to speak in various ways, but now He has spoken through his Son.

So there, in both passages, if the answer to where the Bible claims to be the only source of revelation about God that does not condemn.
Romans 1, it's true, tells us that creation testifies to God's eternal attributes, but it also tells us that is is only sufficient to condemn.

I'm curious where you find in Scripture either the directive to listen for God's promptings or voice, and, where you find that we are told to expect those things.

Again, recalling that we already know that Paul told Timothy that Scripture is sufficient to equip us for everything.
What else, then, is there that we need special equipping for?

8:04 AM, September 28, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Hi Daryl,

Of course I know those two passages, but you're reading words into them that aren't actually there, and ignoring other passages completely.

2 Timothy 3:16, in your translation, says "useful," rather than "all-sufficient." Saying a tool is useful is not the same as saying that it is the only tool that can do the job, or that all other tools no longer exist. Grammatically, the cause of the "thorough equipping" appears to be the rebuking, correcting, etc. not the scripture itself; it is useful for those four things that lead to the thorough equipping. A --> B --> C rather than A --> C. This doesn't mean that nothing else is useful for getting to B or C. And, technically, all the books of the Bible hadn't been written yet, making it a little far-fetched to assume without better Scriptural evidence that both Paul and Timothy were referring to the 66-book canon (assuming you're from the 66-book canon *tradition*, that is, rather than that of the rest of the church throughout the world and throughout history).

Hebrews 1 does NOT say that "and will ONLY speak through the Bible from now on" or any words to that effect. The passage doesn't even mention the non-prophets that God spoke to in the past, so it obviously isn't an exhaustive list of how God communicates. It only says that God has spoken through his son; that's neither a promise to never speak any other way again nor even a claim that he has already stopped using any other means to communicate or guide.

If Hebrews has to be interpreted your way, then why would God have continued using dreams / visions / direct intervention (Acts 10, 2 Corinthians 12, REVELATION, Acts 22, numerous other places in the NT), even after Jesus had arrived, died, and returned to heaven -- after the Father had, in other words, already spoken through his Son? Keep in mind that some books of the Bible hadn't even been written yet, so there has to be some more non-Bible-only communication....

Really, that's the clearest God has been about telling us to forget everything else we know about how he communicated throughout the rest of the Bible and assume that now we only have our own ability to read and interpret the Scriptures? Those two verses?

The rest of your argument falls apart from there, but what do you make of MacArthur's claim that we have "the author in our heart" to teach us, or is he wrong? This doesn't sound different from just reading the Bible, to you? If it isn't reading the Bible ONLY, then we're back to Bible PLUS (the Holy Spirit, etc.), the pattern we find in the actual Scriptures.

12:36 PM, September 28, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

keo,

Hebrew 1 says exactly that.

What would it mean if I said:

Before now, I drove my car to work. But now I drive my truck.

Well, that would mean, clearly, that I don't drive my car anymore.

Sounds to me, a lot like:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, BUT in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

Couple that with this from John 16

"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come."

Even granting (as we should) that Jesus spoke those words to His disciples, and not to all believers, I don't think it's a stretch to say that if the Holy Spirit only reminded the disciples what Jesus had already told them, then why would we imagine that He would tell us anything else?

And if we already have Jesus teaching preserved in the NT, what would the Holy Spirit say to us, except to bring that same Scripture to mind?

6:18 AM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Hi Daryl,

Well, if that's all you want to respond to....

Consider: In the past, I only ate vegetables, but now I eat meat. Or: I used to have two daughters, but now I have a son.

Neither final clause necessitates the abandoning or negation of the verb in the initial clause.

"What would the Holy Spirit say to us, except to bring that same Scripture to mind?"

You might want to look again at John 16:12, the part about "much more to say to you." Doesn't that suggest that the HS will tell us about more than "only what Jesus had already told them"?

John 16:13 says "all truth." John 20:30 and 21:25 clearly suggest that the gospels are not exhaustive. We don't have all of Jesus' teaching preserved in the NT, so "all truth" is more than what we have recorded. John 16:15 suggests that "all that belongs to the Father" is available for the Spirit to speak about, in addition to the smaller number of things that are recorded in the Scriptures.

"Why would we imagine that He would tell us anything else?"

Because he tells the church through the rest of the Bible more than just what was already recorded in the Scriptures and more than what Jesus had already told them. "Go to the street called Straight," for a simple example (Acts 9:10).

Out of curiosity, what if you were to see the flaws in your interpretations of any other verses you might trot out? Or if someone with better knowledge of Greek, etc. were to tell you that your reading was unsophisticated and correct you? Are you really so opposed to the possibility that God might speak to you today, or so wedded to whoever told you what to believe? Theoretically, I mean. Does that threaten your view of God?

Frankly, I don't see why people would bother praying for guidance, or obeying James 1:5, if they didn't think God might speak to them. Save the time and just read more, you know? Or maybe the prayer is just, "Please show me which verse gives me the answer to which cancer treatment we should choose for our child?" Although I guess that even such an answer would also have to come through another verse, if God couldn't speak directly to tell you where to read."

9:13 AM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Keo says,
I'm saying that the Bible doesn't make the claim that it itself is the only source of knowledge about God.

I’m confused. I am not talking about how we know God, but whether or not God speaks directly to our decisions apart from being grounded in His Word.

I wrote,
I know of only one infallible source.

Keo says,
That's pretty sad, given that our reading and interpreting skills are so fallible and so reliant on our education and upbringing, and especially given that the Bible doesn't claim (the circular argument) that God only speaks through the Bible now

So if someone provides you with some off the wall idea that God allegedly gave him, with what would you evaluate its legitimacy?

And again,
I'd also like to think that most Christians would see the superiority of not having to rely on man's interpretations of the Bible -- if and when God chose to speak to them directly.

And again, by what means do you judge the infallibility of such direct speaking?

Keo says,
Real communication, mind you, not interpreting the tea leaves or divining the twinges in the belly.

Define “real communication.” Do you mean God speaking directly to a person?

Especially when that lone source hasn't kept equally-saved, intelligent Christians from coming to completely opposite interpretations of the same texts on crucial issues like salvation, hell, and the trinity. What do you make of that? That people don't know how to read? That the devil is blinding them?

You genuinely believe Arius, Socinius, and Joseph Smith were equally saved, intelligent Christians? There are multiple interpretations of how we understand the doctrines of salvation, hell, and the Trinity?

God speaking doesn't mean we understand him perfectly, as was true even when Jesus spoke face to face with his own disciples. God is infallible but our understanding is not. We're sinning if we disobey God, yes, regardless of the means God chooses to speak to us. I'm sure he can make himself heard when he wants to

If God can make himself heard when he wants to, as you say, how can a person NOT understand him perfectly the first time? Regardless of how fallible my understanding may be, if God says “Go to this place” how is that hard to understand? This comment seems a bit convoluted.

12:26 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

"I could barely get through the original teampyro post without vomiting from all the ill will and arrogant bluster."

You know this is slander and you need to repent? How do you know Fred's motives?

6:41 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

I want to know why people look to their feelings but ignore the practical advice in the Bible.

for by wise guidance you can wage your war,and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.

6:44 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

keo,

No. It wouldn't threaten my view of God. In fact, I spent most of my Christian life believing what you believe. And it almost destroyed me.

Really.

But I never let it go until I was taught, correctly, that God speaks through His word, and I need not stress about hearing something that might be Him, and deciding if "move to London" is His voice or not.

John 16 also features Jesus talking to His disciples, not Christians in general. And so He was faithful. The Spirit taught them all truth, and they wrote it down for all to see.

No doubt I am unsophisticated. No doubt at all.

Just because God spoke to Paul or Ananias is not a reason to believe He'll speak to me outside of Scripture. It was a different era.
God's not sending laws down from Mt. Sinai either, and no one seems to want to argue that point.
Ok well, actually they are. I have a friend who is an elder in my church. He's been beating himself up for a year now over a decision he never made last year. See he believes God spoke to him and told him to do something.
So my friend is carrying that around on the level with "Thou shalt not commit adultery".

I live among people who constantly talk about "obeying" something which no one can definitively prove is God. And often has no Scriptural basis. So yeah, I guess they do claim that He's still sending laws down from Sinai.

That's not what I believe God only speaks from Scripture, but it is the natural and inevitable result of believing in a still small voice.

As Fred indicated. Where in Scripture do we find God speaking to someone, and they didn't get the message? And yet that's exactly what people are commonly taught will happen, by pastors all over the place.

Has God grown weak? Can He not make Himself heard anymore? And yet invariably, we are taught that in times past God spoke clearly but now you need to listen exactly right or you won't hear.

Where did that idea come from?


Gnosticism.

I'll trust in God, thanks. He doesn't need to provide extra information to get me to do His will. He's perfectly capable of turning my heart where He wants to. (Kind of like Proverbs says He will do...)

7:43 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

Keo,

My last comment got eaten...too long.

I'll just say this.

When Jesus told the disciples that the Spirit would guide them into all truth. He did. In fact, they wrote it down so we could read it.
Jesus wasn't talking to me, He was talking to the disciples there.

No. Non of this will change my view of God. I grew up believing as you do, and, in fact, finally being taught how God speaks finally and now, only, through Scripture, has had the effect of widening my view of God immensely.

He doesn't need me to know anything more than He's already said. He can get me to college or married or whatever, without telling me what He's up to.

One last thing. You and I can't even obey the clearly laid out commands in Scripture. Are you really saying that a fuzzy still small voice that I will miss if I don't "take time to listen" is saying something on par with 'Thou shalt not kill"?

Really?

But I know you are, because I used to believe it and I live among people who do.

There's a word for all that Keo.

Gnosticism.

7:48 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

"Frankly, I don't see why people would bother praying for guidance, or obeying James 1:5, if they didn't think God might speak to them. Save the time and just read more, you know? Or maybe the prayer is just, "Please show me which verse gives me the answer to which cancer treatment we should choose for our child?" Although I guess that even such an answer would also have to come through another verse, if God couldn't speak directly to tell you where to read."

Do you really have such a small view of God, that you think that if He doesn't talk to you, then He can't guide you?

Wow. I’d be afraid if I lived like that.

I know that God orders all things according to His will. So I can make a decision and relax, knowing He’s in control.

The God of the Bible can do anything.

7:51 PM, September 29, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Fred (part 1),

"I’m confused. I am not talking about how we know God, but whether or not God speaks directly to our decisions apart from being grounded in His Word."

Oh, that's all that you're talking about? I was talking about how we know what God wants us to know, not just about decision making. Again, "being grounded in his Word" is not a characteristic of the Christian life that even a charismatic would disagree with. But I don't see how "being grounded" must mean that God's only input is through clear Scriptural mandates. If I thought that, I'd probably stop praying for wisdom (James 1:5) since I already read the Bible. Unless there is a supernatural revelation, beyond reading the Bible, that God can use when he wants to, which I should be asking for on an ongoing basis to supplement my Bible reading.

How do I judge infallibility and legitimacy, you asked? Through a combination of my understanding of Scripture, prayer, a knowledge of how the Body of Christ has thought about the topic, how the rest of the church has interpreted the Bible through the centuries, reason, life experience. Wesley's quadrilateral and prayer, basically.

Of course, I'm going to be slow to tell a fellow believer that I know what God has or hasn't shown him, unless it seems like a clear contradiction to what God has already said. Can I really know for sure whether God has or hasn't spoken to someone in all cases? Am I so sure that my interpretations of the Bible are perfect? I can make an educated guess in many cases, but I might be wrong. I probably would have told Abraham that it wasn't God asking him to sacrifice Isaac if I relied on my own judgment. I would have told Peter that his vision of the unclean animals wasn't really from God. Sounds pretty off the wall, right? I might have reminded Saul of Tarsus that his knowledge of the Scriptures was better than anyone's, so his conclusions about Jesus and persecuting the infidels were sound, Scripturally speaking. See the problem with presuming that we understand God fully and can always judge correctly whether he is or isn't speaking to someone?

You, by contrast, what? Are fully confident that whatever interpretation about the Bible that you currently have from your own experience of reading the Bible or from whatever opinions of other men that you have been taught are sufficient to keep you from error in all your decisions? Your Bible-grounded opinions and interpretations are infallible?

11:25 AM, September 30, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

Fred (part 2)

"Define 'real communication.' Do you mean God speaking directly to a person?"

Yes. And I wasn't limiting the topic to decision making.

"You genuinely believe Arius, Socinius, and Joseph Smith were equally saved, intelligent Christians? There are multiple interpretations of how we understand the doctrines of salvation, hell, and the Trinity?"

I was thinking of more compelling cases such as Luther and Calvin, Whitefield and Wesley, or various Puritan ministers' arguments about salvation, for example. We all have our favorites, but it's hard to argue that they weren't smart Christians, trying their best to understand what they saw in the Bible.

Actually, your choice of Arius is interesting, given that his conflict was before the establishment of the (non-Protestant, mind you) canon. Does his heresy make you question his intelligence or his salvation? I hope one doesn't have to understand the trinity correctly to be saved, because I know a lot of Bible-believing Christians with a lot of confusion about that, still.

"If God can make himself heard when he wants to, as you say, how can a person NOT understand him perfectly the first time?"

Hearing and understanding aren’t the same thing. People in the Bible usually knew when God was speaking, yes? Not always immediately (Samuel, as a child, and Balaam) and sometimes only by extreme methods (Saul on the road to Damascus). This doesn't mean everyone believed him immediately (Gideon) or understood him fully (the disciples). I don't think God has changed or that we have changed, so I expect the same mix of understanding and error as we seek to listen more carefully and learn to understand him better.

What do you think? The disciples did understand everything Jesus told them? Or the Bible now is clearer than Jesus was, face to face, back then? Or God doesn't speak clearly today, either, so we muddle along as best we can? Again, is it your position that your interpretation of the Bible gives you 100% infallibility? If you were ever wrong in your interpretation, if you ever misread your “filter,” would that be sin?

11:28 AM, September 30, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

(pardon the partial comment to Daryl if that got published before this one)

Hi Daryl,

Wow. Sounds like you've had some miserable experiences within the church. I'm sorry to hear that.

As for the rest of your comments, I know that I'm not a gnostic, as you accuse; and I'm pretty sure that I do NOT believe as you believed, as you assume. I never mentioned anything about a "fuzzy still small voice," and I don't believe that's the way God guides us. As a result, I think we'd have to back up a bunch of steps to get this conversation going in a more productive direction.

Yes, the God of the Bible can indeed do anything, "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine," even. Keep seeking him, brother.

11:49 AM, September 30, 2010  
Blogger Daryl said...

keo,

We'll not settle this here, no doubt. But your insistence that you need on-going supernatural revelation to supplement your bible reading sure is a small view of God and His Word and His guidance.

No, I didn't have a particularly bad experience in church. It was just the belief you describe, the need to further revelation, that caused my trouble.

Revelation has something to say about those seeking more revelation. Something not adding to it.

1:32 PM, September 30, 2010  
Blogger keo said...

John MacArthur said the following on his radio program this morning:

"You know, there's a subjective element to this, too. As a Christian we have the Holy Spirit. I John 2:20 says the Spirit dwells within us. I John 2:27 says we have an anointing from God, we don't need human wisdom, the Holy Spirit will teach us. And what happens is, when you study the Bible, the Holy Spirit in you takes the word of God and makes a personal application that will give you guidance. It's an incredible combination to have the truth and the resident truth teacher. And in combination they guide the believer."

Hmmm. To me this sounds like another vote for Bible PLUS God himself, still, with the "resident truth teacher" as a source of guidance different from what we could get from the Bible alone.

I guess the question is what this "subjective element" and this "personal application" look or feel like. They should be different from just our own thoughts as we read the Bible, I assume. If so, is that actually different from personal revelation? Furthermore, are we "infallible" in hearing the subjective application from the Holy Spirit? Can we know whether someone else has or has not heard a personal application from the Holy Spirit -- even "Move to London," as Daryl suggested? Such extreme directions may not be normal, but are they possible? And are we sinning if we don't obey the personal application that the Holy Spirit gives us?

Say what you will about the nutcases, but fundamentally it seems that we're still in the same boat with the charismatics and everyone else who acknowledges a "subjective element" to God's guidance. We're at different points on a spectrum, merely. We are all unable to judge conclusively whether someone has or hasn't really heard from God in all cases, and all unable to agree on everything God says even when we read the same Bible.

Any more wisdom, Fred? Or response to all the clarification you've asked me for? It's a crucial topic.

2:53 PM, October 06, 2010  

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