I just ran out of words on Monday.
I spent the weekend and most of Monday writing a 9-page position paper for my Systematic Theology class, and when I finally finished and submitted that, I just couldn’t bring myself to put my fingers to the keys. So that’s why there was no post Monday.
The paper was about the role of what I called “extra-Biblical personal divine communication” in the life of believers. Basically, does the Bible give Christians the expectation that we will get whisperings and mumblings (attributed to the Holy Spirit) about the daily decisions of our life?
This is a very popular belief that is actually Charismatic/Pentecostal in origin, but it has increasingly spread throughout the groundwater of the evangelical church. Even denominations that are firmly grounded on sola Scriptura and the sufficiency of the inerrant, infallible Scriptures are making allowances for potentially errant and fallible impressions that may or may not be from God and need to be tested for confirmation of divine origin.
I just don’t see that in the Bible. (Thankfully, I’m not the only one.)
But what frustrates me is just how many believers, how many pastors and theologians, how many friends whose judgment and spiritual maturity I rely upon, hold firmly to the idea that the same God, who spoke in clear and uncertain terms during the Old and New Testament period, now mumbles.
I’ve been honest about my Buzzkill tendencies, but from time to time, you start to wonder if you’re just tilting at windmills. I mean, if this many trusted, mature, wise spiritual friends and mentors disagree with my understanding on an issue like this, perhaps I’m the one who needs to reexamine it. They may be right. I may be crazy.
On Sunday, I was introduced to a woman (we’ll call her “M.”) who came out of a Muslim background and testifies to having had dreams and visions about things she couldn’t have known otherwise, and hearing inaudible, indelible “promptings” from the Spirit. I listened for 15 minutes as she talked about how these extra-Biblical phenomena were part of her process of coming to Christ and her life as a follower of Jesus. I had no way of confirming or denying any of her stories. I couldn’t look her in the eye and say, “You didn’t hear from God, and you didn’t receive any dreams.” Maybe others can do that with confidence; I couldn’t. I just sat and listened to a very earnest fellow believer, and I wondered what this means for me, if anything.
I’m not throwing over my entire understanding of Scripture over the testimony of one person. That would be utterly foolish. But my certainty in the rightness of my convictions was shaken a bit.
If there is a point to the post, maybe it’s this: When your confirmed beliefs are worn down by going against the grain of your own religious culture, or you get knocked sideways by something unexpected that tilted your world a bit, the best thing to do as a follower of Jesus is go to the more sure word: the Bible. People change, movements shift, cultures evolve—but the Bible remains the same. That is the beauty and power of the perfect, infallible Word. It is living and active, but it is not fickle.
And if everyone around you tells you that you’re crazy for holding to your belief in what the Bible says—even if they also claim the same Scriptures—well, at least you can be crazy for the right reasons.