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#21 Christian

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:21 PM

The problem with Option 1 is that you are forced to conclude that God no longer works in the way that he worked for thousands/millions of years (depending on where you fall in the Young Earth/Evolution debate). And I've yet to hear a compelling reason for why this might be so.


You might not find it compelling, but it has to do with one's view of the authority of Scripture. (I'm speaking for myself, not for Greg, who can chime in as he sees fit.)

Claiming that God spoke to them then but not now to us seems to be an even more untenable position.

Why's it untenable? What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you? You've got everything you need.

Should you have peanut butter and jelly for lunch? If it sounds good, sure. Or, as R.C. Sproul once said, should you marry Sally or Jane? Marry the one you find more attractive.

#22 Greg P

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

Greg, based on your posts here and the long Fresh Air interview with Luhrmann, I'm guessing you'd really enjoy her book.

I listened to the NPR stream today and was surprised how charitable she was to the Vineyard movement. She seems to have been genuinely touched by the things she saw in her research.

He communicates with all sorts of folks. And he doesn't always speak with the voice of thunder and terror. Sometimes he speaks with a still, small voice. He even speaks through a donkey, which, I assume, brought its own elements of pathos and humor to the proceedings.

My OT reading has always been weak, but I can recall only one specific narrative when God spoke with a "still, small voice." On the flipside, God speaking with a thunder clap of doom is not all that prevalent either.

What I think we see in the OT-- and in the NT as well--is God speaking to a variety of people, in different ways-- quietly, loudly, with fire, in a cloud, in a vision-- but the most typical human response was fear. If that word causes a knee jerk reaction (and it does with me, I admit) then maybe it's better to just say folks were frequently surprised and unsettled after an encounter with God. Even when God's messengers appeared in peace and said "fear not, brothers" in the most amicable Mr Rogers manner, men were still afraid. Something about God's voice and/or message caused people to be seriously startled. Comfort came later. But Fear was the primal instinct.

Are there exceptions to this? A few. But I think the bulk of man/God encounters described in the bible narratives are ones showing profound fear/surprise/prostration. There are a few encounters-- Daniel's vision comes to mind-- where he was so unsettled by hearing God's message that he was physically ill for days afterwards. The guys who talked with God were grizzled, rough-hewn weirdos for a reason.

There is something about the casual familiarity and placid nature of modern "God talk" that betrays everything in those bible narratives, in my opinion. I'm not advocating a mean, hellfire christianity-- i think everyone here knows I dont believe in a literal hell and my theological leanings are more liberal than most here. I don't believe that God speaks very often through special revelation. But when he does, brother I believe people KNOW it... and if the bible narratives are any indication, even the special ones God singled out could only handle one or two such encounters in their life. And that was more than enough, I believe.

I dont specifically believe God stopped speaking to mankind. I don't believe God stopped anything. This idea that the supernatural was commonplace back then, is a romanticized view of scripture. I believe the Bible narratives cover thousands of years of human existence, and in those pages a FEW men encountered God and were sometimes caught up in supernatural events. Proportionally, very few. I believe the same is true today. God speaks directly to people when He wants. Sometimes his dealings include hundreds of years of SILENCE among the general population. This whole movement emphasizing pursuing a word from God daily, via special revelation, seems completely out of whack and dangerous. Again I ask, if God wants to speak in a revelatory way to us, in a some kind of daily normative sense, then why does he NEVER tell us about the whereabouts of missing children in our neighborhoods... or other truly important matters. Why is it always personal Hallmark messages about our devotional life and such? C'mon? How can this be so?

Edited by Greg P, 10 April 2012 - 04:24 PM.


#23 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 08:33 PM

The problem with Option 1 is that you are forced to conclude that God no longer works in the way that he worked for thousands/millions of years (depending on where you fall in the Young Earth/Evolution debate). And I've yet to hear a compelling reason for why this might be so.

Well, you could always distinguish that you aren't forced to conclude that God never materializes into physical form and speaks with an actual voice (vibrating through the air of our own universe) to men or women. The majority of evidence is simply that this occurred more often before the entirety of Scripture was completed (and before an oral tradition culture changed into a writing tradition culture). There is no passage in Scripture that says that it never happens anymore. There are passages in Scripture that say the history of mankind falls into different phases (or dispensations, or covenants, or time periods, or whatever else you want to call it).

But the evangelical people Luhrmann talks about in her interview are not saying they actually hear God's voice. Instead, they are being taught to train their minds to distinguish between their thoughts and God's thoughts. Instead they are being taught to "pretend" that God is there talking to them. It is not a coincidence that Luhrmann, even undisparagingly, compares this to self-help/therapy/meditation. But, there is no evidence that the Holy Spirit ever speaks to us with a "voice," instead we are told that He leads and convicts us - something that is at a much deeper level than abstract thoughts. A corollary to this is that we have certain guidelines on how to represent the work of the Holy Spirit to unbelievers (I Corinthians 14, for example). It is disappointing, if not surprising, that the churches Luhrmann visited for her study were not following these guidelines. If a Christian knows he is being led in a specific direction by the Holy Spirit, that is still not a reason for him to attach "God said" or "God told me to" at the beginning of what he is about to say.

#24 Ryan H.

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 05:31 AM

There is something about the casual familiarity and placid nature of modern "God talk" that betrays everything in those bible narratives, in my opinion.

Yep. God's talk has some bite. And this was true for folks like Moses, just as it was true for Paul.

#25 David Smedberg

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:07 AM


Claiming that God spoke to them then but not now to us seems to be an even more untenable position.

Why's it untenable? What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you? You've got everything you need.

Should you have peanut butter and jelly for lunch? If it sounds good, sure. Or, as R.C. Sproul once said, should you marry Sally or Jane? Marry the one you find more attractive.

The concept of vocation runs so deep for me that I'm finding this POV very challenging.

I ask myself, God's calling for me doesn't factor into some of my most important decisions? (Since you asked what Jesus didn't already tell me.) When I was trying to decide whether to be a priest or not, I should have decided based on what was more attractive to me? Similarly, if later in life I decide whether to join the military/marry (at all)/adopt a child/run for political office/do anything which involves significant personal sacrifice, I should see that, not as a calling from God, but as a personal preference?

In case it's not already clear, I am not talking to hear myself talk here, either. You encouraged me to become more involved at A&F, and I am trying. Posted Image

#26 Andy Whitman

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:00 AM



Claiming that God spoke to them then but not now to us seems to be an even more untenable position.

Why's it untenable? What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you? You've got everything you need.

Should you have peanut butter and jelly for lunch? If it sounds good, sure. Or, as R.C. Sproul once said, should you marry Sally or Jane? Marry the one you find more attractive.

The concept of vocation runs so deep for me that I'm finding this POV very challenging.

I ask myself, God's calling for me doesn't factor into some of my most important decisions? (Since you asked what Jesus didn't already tell me.) When I was trying to decide whether to be a priest or not, I should have decided based on what was more attractive to me? Similarly, if later in life I decide whether to join the military/marry (at all)/adopt a child/run for political office/do anything which involves significant personal sacrifice, I should see that, not as a calling from God, but as a personal preference?

In case it's not already clear, I am not talking to hear myself talk here, either. You encouraged me to become more involved at A&F, and I am trying. Posted Image

And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.

Sproul's answer is really kind of flippant, isn't it? It may not be flippant in terms of peanut butter and jelly, but it may very well be flippant when it comes to the person you should marry. Just marry the person you find most attractive. Really? Is that the answer? More importantly, is that God's answer, as if God couldn't be bothered by such "trivial" issues? Go away, kid, you bother me.

There are all kinds of issues in life where God's will, even when biblical principles are applied, is not clearcut. I witnessed one such occasion Sunday evening, when a group of friends came over to talk and pray. One of those friends is a brilliant guy, an adjunct philosophy professor at Stanford University. The problem is that he lives in Columbus, Ohio, where his wife is the main breadwinner (because brilliant philosophy professors make $14,000 per year), and where his kids are happy and settled. The dilemma that he's facing: get off the treadmill of academia and take a much better paying job locally, or give up "the dream." What is God's will here? And where do you find it in the completed, totally comprehensive revelation of Scripture?

One possible solution is that God may have a specific answer for this specific person. And so we prayed. We tried to discern. We tried to hear God's "voice," if you will, because we believe he has a voice, and that he might be willing to reveal his will in this situation. More specifically, we tried to ask open-ended questions so our friend could hear God's voice. This is his decision, not ours. We tried to facilitate the process, but it's not our place to dictate what he should do. And we believe that God can reveal his will to him.

I was intrigued by the Luhrmann interview on NPR. I should probably state at the outset that Lurhmann's "subjects," her laboratory mice, are part of the same church tradition as mine. These are my peeps. So I know this world, and I understand the worldview she encountered. Parts of it are really weird. But aside from some questionable language (particularly the words "pretend" and "imaginary"; you think that might reveal a bias?) I thought her comments were fair and incisive.

What is at stake here is the very notion of whether God can be known. Not known about, not studied like an academic course, but known. It touches on the nature and purpose of prayer. It touches on the nature and purpose of revelation. It touches on the nature and purpose of the Holy Spirit. It's the difference between the distant, uninvolved, unknowable God of Deism and the God of Christianity.

I don't believe God is distant. I don't believe he's uninvolved or unknowable. So if there are potential traps and pitfalls in the approach that seeks to hear God's voice (and there are), I find them infinitely preferable to the hands-off approach that studies God and doctrine, and participates in some communal activities, and assumes that that is sufficient, and all we can really expect. God's voice, God's personal leading, does not take place outside the context of the Church, the sacraments, the Bible, good teaching, community. All those things are necessary. And although I think it's supremely weird to "have coffee with Jesus," I also think that the basic impetus behind the concept -- the idea that God can be experienced and known -- is completely true. I'm not sure why anyone would bother if you don't believe that. Just stay home and do the Sunday crossword puzzle, or go play golf. You're wasting your time.

I've had enough of studying God to last me for a lifetime. I want to know God. And yes, that certainly has an experiential component. The Christian faith is about far more than experiencing God, "feeling" God. But it is not about less than that, either. I'm fairly certain that the subjects of Luhrmann's anthropological study believe that as well.

#27 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 10:45 AM

What is at stake here is the very notion of whether God can be known. Not known about, not studied like an academic course, but known. It touches on the nature and purpose of prayer. It touches on the nature and purpose of revelation. It touches on the nature and purpose of the Holy Spirit. It's the difference between the distant, uninvolved, unknowable God of Deism and the God of Christianity.

I don't believe God is distant. I don't believe he's uninvolved or unknowable. So if there are potential traps and pitfalls in the approach that seeks to hear God's voice (and there are), I find them infinitely preferable to the hands-off approach that studies God and doctrine, and participates in some communal activities, and assumes that that is sufficient, and all we can really expect. God's voice, God's personal leading, does not take place outside the context of the Church, the sacraments, the Bible, good teaching, community. All those things are necessary. And although I think it's supremely weird to "have coffee with Jesus," I also think that the basic impetus behind the concept -- the idea that God can be experienced and known -- is completely true. I'm not sure why anyone would bother if you don't believe that. Just stay home and do the Sunday crossword puzzle, or go play golf. You're wasting your time.

I've had enough of studying God to last me for a lifetime. I want to know God. And yes, that certainly has an experiential component. The Christian faith is about far more than experiencing God, "feeling" God. But it is not about less than that, either. I'm fairly certain that the subjects of Luhrmann's anthropological study believe that as well.



YES and Amen.

If God didn't want us to hear his still small voice, (and I can attest that it doesn't have bite..... far from it, it's the most gentle and loving presence)....... then why did he send us the Holy Spirit and tell us that it would be our comforter? Christ said that he would be leaving us but not to feel bad because he would send the Spirit. What would be the purpose of sending the Spirit if it wasn't going to really do anything?

In John 8: 28 Jesus talks about speaking what the father told him to speak. Jesus was God communicating to mankind, and not everything he said was full of bite, yes there was bite to some of it, but the vast majority of what Jesus was saying was full of love and grace, and sometimes even humour. Jesus was God communicating to us.

Then in 1 Corinthians we have Paul talking about prophesying what God is speaking to the person.... He says this.

14: 1.... Be pursuing love. Yet be zealous for spiritual endowments, yet rather that you may be pophesying........ Yet he who is prophesying is speaking to men for edification, and consolation, and comfort.


In case some might be saying that prophesying is merely preaching..... the text clearly says that it's a spiritual endowment..... and the result is edification, consolation, and comfort.


Now I'm not one to set out an extra cup of coffee so I can drink it with and imaginary Jesus, but I have heard God's Spirit (not really in an audible voice).... and I know that what these Vineyard people are saying is at it's core basically legitimate, and truthful to how God's communication operates. It is full of unconditional love, edification, comfort, joy, gentleness. Also, yes from time to time there might be conviction (always done in love and encouragement) but there will never be condemnation. This is in line with the fact that the Bible says that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, and that satan is the condemner of the brethern. If one is "hearing" something that is condemning then it isn't from God.

What I'm talking about doesn't have to be weirdish like taking Jesus out on a date, it's as simple as learning how to quieten ourselves and really listen.


I realize that most people here have probably already made their minds up, and that it's probably pointless for me to keep on yacking about this, but in case anybody is interested here are some good books. These people are writing about the subject, not just for the good of their health, but because this is a very real part of a great many Christian's experience and we need encouragement.... and yes guidance..... in it. This also is not merely happening in North American, in fact it is often more prominent with Christians in Third World countries, because they haven't been as influenced by the "age of reason" as us, they have seen more of the supernatural, and also a great deal of them have a greater need for God's communication and guidance..... it's harder for some of them to live without it.


Anyhow some books.


the Power of a Whisper


Listening Prayer


Can you hear me - Tuning in to the God that Speaks.

Edited by Attica, 11 April 2012 - 12:41 PM.


#28 jfutral

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

We tried to facilitate the process,...

I want to know God. And yes, that certainly has an experiential component. The Christian faith is about far more than experiencing God, "feeling" God. But it is not about less than that, either. I'm fairly certain that the subjects of Luhrmann's anthropological study believe that as well.


Some musings.

I think most people are torn in this tension of free-will/predetermination. God loves us, so we have to have free will or the love isn't free. God loves us, so he has everything determined for us so that we can freely love him. We are stuck between being in process but afraid of mistakes along the way. But if God loves us why would he let us make mistakes?

One of my favourite quotes, now, is from a recent episode of Once Upon a Time, "You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magic solution for their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” - Jefferson (The Mad Hatter).

What's the only way to solve writer's block (or any other artistic block)? Keep writing. Keep creating. Don't stop. Don't let lack of clarity or certainty hold you from making decisions, even if they are mistakes. At least you can learn from mistakes.

Process...

I could be wrong, but I think protestants (particularly free-willers like myself) are more predisposed to this kind of thinking because we have this idea of a puncticular salvation, there is this one moment in time where we are "saved". Never mind all the work, the process, the Spirit did to get us to that point. Almost as if it were some sort of abstract leap of faith, sans process. Is it still free will if God is the one who brought us to the point of that decision? Even C. S. Lewis pointed out, "How could I have chosen otherwise?" (my paraphrase).

Another protestant inclination, what is it we are so enamored with words? Supposedly words are clear, concise, explicit. If God speaks we will know precisely what we should do. I have no doubt this issue, even as it is "grounded" in the supernatural, appeals to our natural intellect. Maybe what we really want is freedom from the responsibility of making our own decisions.

But God gives us the desires of our heart. So why would it be wrong to marry the one we find most attractive (keeping in mind, "most attractive" does not have to mean "most physically attractive"). Who am I to say it wasn't God who molded me in a way to find one more attractive than the other?

Trust...
Process...

But the path to hell is paved with good intentions, right?

I'm one of those who believe there is more supernatural to the natural than we may think. Or maybe it is the other way around. Anyway. I have no doubt, when all is revealed, we will be surely surprised by how many times God _did_ speak to us.

There ain't nothing easy about this topic.

Joe

#29 Greg P

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:56 AM

And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.


I agree that the Bible doesn't even begin to tell us exactly who to marry or where to go to college or which job to take, but these questions are based on false premises, IMO-- namely that God wants us to know these things with certainty and that by divining the proper Answer, it will somehow afford us greater success or happiness.

This perspective presupposes that
1) God has a specific will for us in regard to a mate, job, car, etc...,
2) that there's ONE best path for such decisions (why not lunch menu too, then?)
3) and that He desires to tell us precisely what that is.

There are some gargantuan presumptions in this logic. Also, a serious downvoting of true free-will.

The great mystery and joy in life is NOT knowing what exactly is around the corner and having the God-given freedom to choose the road or roads I want to travel on... minute by minute, every day. And that no matter who I marry, or what shitty job I pass up or take, I am never condemned by God and NOTHING shall separate me from His Love. Success or failure-- mistakes are guaranteed, some massive and others inconsequential. And if I find I am on a path that's crumbling beneath me off the dropside of yonder, I can always stop and choose to get off that trail.

Sure, this freedom thing gets messy with some issues in life, particularly when others are directly involved and affected by our decisions... and sometimes extricating yourself from a dead end path seems nigh impossible, but that comes with the free-will territory. Who are we to demand that God help us bypass this human grappling with the unknown?

When my 7-year old daughter asks me "Daddy, what color crayon do you want me to draw with?", I know she is beginning her art project on a very limited path, one based on fear of botching up the drawing and not one of playfulness and freedom, which are essential elements to the creative process. I affirm to her that making art is an ongoing negotiation, that there's no such thing as "perfect" and that she can and should use whatever colors she wants to and I will encourage and be proud of her.

I believe this is God's perspective with Christians too in a limited sense-- at least in matters of our daily living-- and I say this as one who has obviously tunneled through a fairly tormented Evangelical upbringing which did NOT teach me to think so.

Edited by Greg P, 11 April 2012 - 12:25 PM.


#30 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:04 PM

Another protestant inclination, what is it we are so enamored with words? Supposedly words are clear, concise, explicit. If God speaks we will know precisely what we should do. I have no doubt this issue, even as it is "grounded" in the supernatural, appeals to our natural intellect. Maybe what we really want is freedom from the responsibility of making our own decisions.

But God gives us the desires of our heart. So why would it be wrong to marry the one we find most attractive (keeping in mind, "most attractive" does not have to mean "most physically attractive"). Who am I to say it wasn't God who molded me in a way to find one more attractive than the other?


I'm one of those who believe there is more supernatural to the natural than we may think. Or maybe it is the other way around. Anyway. I have no doubt, when all is revealed, we will be surely surprised by how many times God _did_ speak to us.

There ain't nothing easy about this topic.

Joe



Good points Joe. When I talk about God's communication I'm not saying that we don't have the freedom to reject his guidance, only that it is probably in our best interest to pay attention to it. I'm also certainly not discounting the idea that there is more supernatural to the natural than we might think. I completely concur, in fact I would say that the Holy Spirit can sometimes help us to understand what's supernaturally happening behind the natural.

Also when I talk about "hearing" from God I'm not saying that everything is always clear cut. It can be.... but often it is impressions and such that need to be wrote down, and put upon the shelf (so to speak) in order to be processed and later discerned with the help of other communications from God, or events in our lives, or fellow Christians (possibly who are also hearing from God).... what have you. This stuff often isn't cut and dried... and often needs to be dealt with thoughtfully and responsibly.

Just because some Christians haven't been responsible with this kind of stuff doesn't mean that it isn't valid. That's like saying that none of us should drive a car because somebody was speeding. The answer isn't to get rid of cars, but to train up people to be better, more responsible, drivers. One doesn't train them up by rejecting it.

#31 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:11 PM

And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.


I agree that the Bible doesn't even begin to tell us exactly who to marry or where to go to college or which job to take, but these questions are based on false premises, IMO-- namely that God wants us to know these things with certainty and that by divining the proper Answer, it will somehow afford us greater success or happiness.

This perspective presupposes that
1) God has a specific will for us in regard to a mate, job, car, etc...,
2) that there's ONE best path for such decisions (why not lunch menu too, then?)
3) and that He desires to tell us precisely what that is.

There are some gargantuan presumptions in this logic. Also, a serious downvoting of true free-will.

The great mystery and joy in life is NOT knowing what exactly is around the corner and having the God-given freedom to choose the road or roads I want to travel on... minute by minute, every day. And that no matter who I marry, or what shitty job I pass up or take, I am never condemned by God and NOTHING shall separate me from His Love. Success or failure-- mistakes are guaranteed, some massive and others inconsequential. And if I find I am on a path that's crumbling beneath me off the dropside of yonder, I can always stop and choose to get off that trail.

Sure, this freedom thing gets messy with some issues in life, particularly when others are directly involved and affected by our decisions... and sometimes extricating yourself from a dead end path seems nigh impossible, but that comes with the free-will territory. Who are we to demand that God help us bypass this human grappling with the unknown?

When my 7-year old daughter asks me "Daddy, what color crayon do you want me to draw with?", I know she is beginning her art project on a very limited path, one based on fear of botching up the drawing and not one of playfulness and freedom, which are essential elements to the creative process. I affirm to her that making art is an ongoing negotiation, that there's no such thing as "perfect" and that she can and should use whatever colors she wants to and I will encourage and be proud of her.

I believe this is God's perspective with Christians too, in matters of our daily life, and I say this as one who has obviously tunneled through a fairly tormented Evangelical upbringing which did NOT teach me to think so.



I agree with you to a large extent. But even with God communicating to us, there still is a lot of mystery and not knowing what is coming around the corner. There still is free choice, and God allowing us to "use the colours we want to use"..... it's not about that. I'm not viewing this through a perspective that disagrees with this. I'm viewing it through the perspective that sometimes we need God's help and God is our helper. Our lives are a pilgrimage with God and we can live in communication with him in the duration. We can take our joys and sorrows to him and he will be with us and help and comfort us in this. That's a good thing. Wouldn't you want your children to do that with you? Wouldn't you want them to come to you for guidance and advice when you know so much more than them? I really can't see how leaning on your wisdom and guidance would be taking away from their free will.

Just because things are sometimes abused doesn't mean that there is no legitimacy to an unabusive form of it.

Edited by Attica, 11 April 2012 - 12:36 PM.


#32 Andy Whitman

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:38 PM

And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.


I agree that the Bible doesn't even begin to tell us exactly who to marry or where to go to college or which job to take, but these questions are based on false premises, IMO-- namely that God wants us to know these things with certainty and that by divining the proper Answer, it will somehow afford us greater success or happiness.

This perspective presupposes that
1) God has a specific will for us in regard to a mate, job, car, etc...,
2) that there's ONE best path for such decisions (why not lunch menu too, then?)
3) and that He desires to tell us precisely what that is.

There are some gargantuan presumptions in this logic. Also, a serious downvoting of true free-will.

I don't think it presupposes any of those things, Greg, although I understand what you're saying, and I've seen plenty of strange and harmful ways in which those ideas have been manifested.

I think this presupposes that the answers to these questions are NOT clear, and that there are multiple options. In such situations there is confusion. To cite the example of my friend I mentioned earlier today, he has to make a decision, and whatever decision he makes will have both positive and negative repercussions. If he stays in Columbus, he'll make more money and be able to live with his family, but he'll give up his lifelong dream, a profound part of who he is and how God made him. If he continues as an adjunct professor, he won't be able to support his family and he'll continue to live apart from his family, but he'll be able to continue to pursue his lifelong dream.

This is confusing. What is God's will here? I don't know. He doesn't know, either. In such a situation, what is the compelling reason for NOT seeking the specific will of God? It may or may not be revealed, and if it isn't, then he'll continue to remain confused. And if it is, then he'll know what to do, and he'll do it. This isn't a formulaic approach, where we input prayer and God pops out a career decision like a fortune cookie. It's a request. It's a supplication. It's saying, "I don't know; please help me."

Regardless of whether God reveals his will to my friend (and he may not), he has to make a decision. And he will. But God may choose to reveal his specific will in this situation, so we ask. It's as simple as that.

Edited by Andy Whitman, 11 April 2012 - 12:40 PM.


#33 Greg P

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:54 PM

This isn't a formulaic approach, where we input prayer and God pops out a career decision like a fortune cookie. It's a request. It's a supplication. It's saying, "I don't know; please help me."

Gotcha. But to me, praying "I'm confused God, please help me in this process" is vastly different than asking "What is your will for me to do? Tell me."

I dont think the latter is a valid question, because it presupposes that God specifically wants him to do one of those things and that your friend may somehow be able to know this information, even if God did. While it's true, the Bible does tell of God speaking to people about where to go to accomplish certain things, I dont think we can interpret this as the norm for day-to-day living.

I dont mock and I admittedly still struggle with this issue in some ways. But I would ask your friend; "What if you knew God would be very pleased with you no matter which job you chose and that you would grow, learn and be happy on both paths, no matter what? What if you knew that that each one only represented a temporal tour on your journey and that both had their own unique joys and sorrows-- neither one being 'perfect' or 'right'?"

#34 Darren H

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 12:55 PM

This is such a wonderful conversation. Thanks, everyone, for committing the time and thought to it.

#35 Christian

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:01 PM




Claiming that God spoke to them then but not now to us seems to be an even more untenable position.

Why's it untenable? What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you? You've got everything you need.

Should you have peanut butter and jelly for lunch? If it sounds good, sure. Or, as R.C. Sproul once said, should you marry Sally or Jane? Marry the one you find more attractive.

The concept of vocation runs so deep for me that I'm finding this POV very challenging.

I ask myself, God's calling for me doesn't factor into some of my most important decisions? (Since you asked what Jesus didn't already tell me.) When I was trying to decide whether to be a priest or not, I should have decided based on what was more attractive to me? Similarly, if later in life I decide whether to join the military/marry (at all)/adopt a child/run for political office/do anything which involves significant personal sacrifice, I should see that, not as a calling from God, but as a personal preference?

In case it's not already clear, I am not talking to hear myself talk here, either. You encouraged me to become more involved at A&F, and I am trying. Posted Image

And that's really the answer to the "What else do you need to know that Jesus didn't already tell you?" question. Plenty. All kinds of things.

Sproul's answer is really kind of flippant, isn't it? It may not be flippant in terms of peanut butter and jelly, but it may very well be flippant when it comes to the person you should marry. Just marry the person you find most attractive. Really? Is that the answer? More importantly, is that God's answer, as if God couldn't be bothered by such "trivial" issues? Go away, kid, you bother me.

Just catching up with the posts in this thread since yesterday, and wish I had more time to respond. But I wanted to say that I appreciate your response, Andy. Because, yes, I think Sproul was being flip, but I think he has a point. He was saying -- and I'm probably not doing it justice -- that unless there's some strong reason to know that you shouldn't marry one person (e.g., she's not a believer), then you have no way of knowing which person to marry. Go with whatever seems right based on factors that play into marriage: attractiveness, personality, whatever. You have no way of knowing if God wants you to marry person 1 or person 2, as frustrating as that might be. Marry the person you're more attracted to, the one you think will be the better mother to your kids, the one who makes you feel the best.

#36 Andy Whitman

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:10 PM

This isn't a formulaic approach, where we input prayer and God pops out a career decision like a fortune cookie. It's a request. It's a supplication. It's saying, "I don't know; please help me."

Gotcha. But to me, praying "I'm confused God, please help me in this process" is vastly different than asking "What is your will for me to do? Tell me."

I dont think the latter is a valid question, because it presupposes that God specifically wants him to do one of those things and that your friend may somehow be able to know this information, even if God did. While it's true, the Bible does tell of God speaking to people about where to go to accomplish certain things, I dont think we can interpret this as the norm for day-to-day living.

I dont mock and I admittedly still struggle with this issue in some ways. But I would ask your friend; "What if you knew God would be very pleased with you no matter which job you chose and that you would grow, learn and be happy on both paths, no matter what? What if you knew that that each one only represented a temporal tour on your journey and that both had their own unique joys and sorrows-- neither one being 'perfect' or 'right'?"

I don't disagree with any of this, and I'm sure my friend understands this as well. But he has to make a decision. What should he do? And that's why we pray. Note that I don't think that necessarily assumes that we'll get an answer. But it's good to ask. It's like praying for healing. Many times such prayer doesn't "work" from any standpoint we can understand. But it's good to ask.

#37 jfutral

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:12 PM

This isn't a formulaic approach, where we input prayer and God pops out a career decision like a fortune cookie. It's a request. It's a supplication. It's saying, "I don't know; please help me."

Gotcha. But to me, praying "I'm confused God, please help me in this process" is vastly different than asking "What is your will for me to do? Tell me."

I dont think the latter is a valid question, because it presupposes that God specifically wants him to do one of those things and that your friend may somehow be able to know this information, even if God did. While it's true, the Bible does tell of God speaking to people about where to go to accomplish certain things, I dont think we can interpret this as the norm for day-to-day living.

I dont mock and I admittedly still struggle with this issue in some ways. But I would ask your friend; "What if you knew God would be very pleased with you no matter which job you chose and that you would grow, learn and be happy on both paths, no matter what? What if you knew that that each one only represented a temporal tour on your journey and that both had their own unique joys and sorrows-- neither one being 'perfect' or 'right'?"

This really resonates with me. I mean at some point a decision has to be made. At that point, if one hasn't heard specifics, I think then the safety net is that God has the ability to redeem bad decisions.

What if, sometimes, God really is giving us a choice, neither decision is wrong?

Quite frankly, I have a strong suspicion that if we _really_ knew what God wanted us to do and specifically what his plan was for us, we would be scared to death and probably try everything in our power to avoid that! Why can't we, at least sometimes, be satisfied in our blissful ignorance? :-)

Joe

#38 Andy Whitman

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:30 PM

Quite frankly, I have a strong suspicion that if we _really_ knew what God wanted us to do and specifically what his plan was for us, we would be scared to death and probably try everything in our power to avoid that! Why can't we, at least sometimes, be satisfied in our blissful ignorance? :-)

I don't know what to say other than it's better to know what God would have us do, and to do it, than to not know. or to know and not do it. I've experienced all three. The first option is definitely preferable.

#39 jfutral

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:48 PM

I don't know what to say other than it's better to know what God would have us do, and to do it, than to not know. or to know and not do it. I've experienced all three. The first option is definitely preferable.

Well, the "blissful ignorance" comment wasn't serious, per se. I have no idea what the strolling smiley face guy is about. All I tried to put in was an old fashioned smiley emoticon. I guess all this fancy shmancy HTML stuff these days has no room for us old timers.

But to your point, really the operative phrase there is ", and do it" as opposed to being scared even more and avoid doing it out of fear.

So I suppose if God knows that us knowing what he wants us to do will actually work out to us doing it as opposed to frightening the bejebus out of us... well, I suppose it is all up to him in any regard.

Joe

#40 Attica

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 01:54 PM


This isn't a formulaic approach, where we input prayer and God pops out a career decision like a fortune cookie. It's a request. It's a supplication. It's saying, "I don't know; please help me."

Gotcha. But to me, praying "I'm confused God, please help me in this process" is vastly different than asking "What is your will for me to do? Tell me."

I dont think the latter is a valid question, because it presupposes that God specifically wants him to do one of those things and that your friend may somehow be able to know this information, even if God did. While it's true, the Bible does tell of God speaking to people about where to go to accomplish certain things, I dont think we can interpret this as the norm for day-to-day living.

I dont mock and I admittedly still struggle with this issue in some ways. But I would ask your friend; "What if you knew God would be very pleased with you no matter which job you chose and that you would grow, learn and be happy on both paths, no matter what? What if you knew that that each one only represented a temporal tour on your journey and that both had their own unique joys and sorrows-- neither one being 'perfect' or 'right'?"

This really resonates with me. I mean at some point a decision has to be made. At that point, if one hasn't heard specifics, I think then the safety net is that God has the ability to redeem bad decisions.

What if, sometimes, God really is giving us a choice, neither decision is wrong?

Quite frankly, I have a strong suspicion that if we _really_ knew what God wanted us to do and specifically what his plan was for us, we would be scared to death and probably try everything in our power to avoid that! Why can't we, at least sometimes, be satisfied in our blissful ignorance? :-)

Joe



I would think that is one of the reasons why we know in part. We receive guidance, and possibly some snippets of what is potentially in our future for encouragement... but it's not like opening up a fortune cookie where everything is foretold to us, being that we don't learn to make our own choices and thus learn and grow as human beings It's encouragement to get on with the getting on, our lives have meaning and purpose.

So we fail in following God's guidance for us.... big deal. Greg's right in that we can never fall from God's grace and love.

Look at the Israelites for example when they wanted to have a King. God more or less says to them . " No.. that's a bad idea, your better off with prophets". But they decide to have a King, and he lets them.... and yes there are consequences to this. But yet look at what happens in the end. God works it out so that they have David as King who's seed leads to Christ, the saviour of the world.

Our mistakes or rejection of God's guidance isn't going to stop God from wanting to do something incredible with our lives, and following an incredible purpose for our lives isn't taking away from free will. After all it's something we've chosen to follow. We're always falling off the path. But God always has new paths for us. We don't know exactly where they lead but we can still be encouraged along the way.


I've been thinking a great deal about what Greg had mentioned earlier pertaining to the idea of why God's communication to us wouldn't be helping us find lost children ect. It is a really good comment and I still don't really have an answer. But we don't know that God hasn't at times helped people in this or similar areas. Actually I know of people who have had guidance that has kept them from atrocities, that's fairly common. But then something will happen to them that no guidance had stopped them from falling into. Which leads to the greater question of why God doesn't stop some horrible things. Which of course I don't have a full understanding of.

But I did spend 10 years in a charismatic church (notice I wrote charismatic with a small c.... people in the church weren't rolling around and clucking like chickens), which very much emphasized hearing from God. They had specific workshops teaching on how to hear from God often for the purpose of healing. In these, people who had been through some pretty terrible stuff were having God speak to them, heal them, and comfort them. Holy Spirit was guiding people into praying through, and healing from, terrible things that had happened in their childhood which was causing destruction in their lives.

I don't know why some of these terrible things can and have happened to people, but I do know that God's communication can and does help them and heal them after the fact. People are broken, some very broken, and God's Spirit is in the business of healing them, guiding them, and helping them into living fruitful, joyful lives, and telling them that there is a future with meaning, bringing hope into their lives. They often achieve this through God's loving communication, and a biting, thundering communication doesn't help broken people, a gentle loving communication helps said people. Holy Spirit is in the business of helping and loving on folks.... so that we won't be so broken anymore. God stops sin partially by healing people..... why..... because he loves us.

I see nothing wrong or weird in that.

Edited by Attica, 11 April 2012 - 03:35 PM.