Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jesus Calling review, and why 'hearing' God is a bad thing

Here is a review of the book Jesus Calling by Michael Horton. I liked the review and liked just as much the clarification comment Mr Horton made at the comment section, which I excised and placed after the link to his review. Jesus Calling is another book which calls for your discernment because of the casual way the author 'hears' God and uses His word to legitimize what is beyond scripture. This blog entry is also an overall caution about hearing audible or inner 'voices' in either yourself or from other teachers.

FYI, here is the link to a very thoughtful and biblical review of this book.

Review of Jesus Calling
By Mike Horton
Excerpt: "In terms of method, then, Jesus Calling is a “something more” book. At the very least, I believe that it encourages believers to see God’s Word as hum-drum and to ascend into the heavens or descend to the depths to discover a word that will make Jesus more present in our daily lives. According to the Reformation stream of evangelicalism, God speaks to us in his Word (the arrow pointing down from God to us) and we speak to him in prayer (the arrow directed up to God). However, Jesus Calling confuses the direction of these arrows, blurring the distinction between God’s speech and our response."
In the ensuing discussion of the book review in the comment section, there was a growing outcry from the commenters who began vehemently disagreeing with Mr Horton's stance that God does not speak audibly today, in this era. Mr Horton made the following response in clarifying his stance and responding to the objections--

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Thanks for the interaction.

A number of responses have objected to restricting the Spirit’s communication to his Word. We don’t seem to disagree over whether Scripture is the infallible rule, but whether it’s sufficient: that is, whether we need or should expect other avenues of divine communication today. Let me first clarify the point and then defend it briefly.

It’s not a question of what God can do, but what he’s promised to do. Tomorrow morning, Jesus could speak to me in audible words outside of Scripture, but why to me and not to someone else? Scripture is a public book that may be accessed anytime. Jesus, who rose again publicly in history, certified the Old Testament and commissioned his apostles to speak his words in his name. Preaching is a public event. This public character of the gospel distinguishes Christianity from every other religion. I’ll leave it to others to discern whether Sarah Young tends to treat Scripture and preaching as “humdrum,” given her clear statement in the introduction that she was seeking more communication—something more personal—from Jesus than she had found in reading the Bible. (She doesn’t even mention preaching, as I recall.)

Now to the defense. To be sure, there are myriad examples of God speaking directly to people in the Old and New Testaments. After all, that’s how we got Scripture in the first place. However, Jesus equated the words of the prophets with the very word of God and submitted himself to the Scriptures (Mt 4:4, 7, 10; 5:17-20; 19:4-6; 26:31, 52-54; Lk 4:16-21; 16:17; 18:31-33; 22:37; 24:25-27, 45-47; Jn 10:35-38). He also drew a qualitative distinction between “word of God” and “the tradition of the elders” (Mt 15:2, 6). The one is God’s infallible word and the other is a fallible interpretation of God’s word. Yet the words of Christ and his apostles in Scripture are also the very word of God for the new covenant era: “God-breathed” and therefore sufficient (2 Tim 3:16). The Old and New Testaments form the biblical canon—like a constitution—that cannot be altered (Dt 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18-19).

Like the era of the prophets, the era of the apostles is unique. Paul distinguishes between the foundation-laying era of the apostles and the ordinary ministers who follow (1 Cor 3:11-12). The scriptures are inspired by the Spirit; we are illumined by the same Spirit to understand them. Just as the prophetic era was followed by the teachers (rabbis) who interpreted their inspired writing, the apostolic era was followed by pastors and teachers. The apostles said and did things that the Spirit did not deem necessary for us to know, as did those who prophesied in the Book of Acts. However, Paul warns, “Do not go beyond what is written,” since appeals to private revelation breed factions (1 Cor 4:6).

Churches of the Reformation hold that when this Word is faithfully preached, Christ himself speaks. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). It is through the preaching of the gospel that the Spirit creates and sustains our faith in Christ (Is 55:10-11; Ezek 37; Acts 2:14-36; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 4:3, 6; 1 Pet 1:23-25).

In short, as Luther and Calvin both said, to look for another path, another means of communication from our Lord, is to “seek him outside the way.” The only safe place to find a holy God in mercy, clothed in his gospel, is where he has promised to meet us in peace.

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I thought his review (linked to his blog, above) and the clarification of the audible or inner hearing of God as a voice was extremely well-articulated. I have great concern when I hear and see the elders of our faith going forward with audible voices and lengthy, specific conversations with Jesus. Beth Moore is one of those. Pastor Mike Abendroth addressed her penchant for conversations with God in his 90-second video here. Basing doctrine, decisions, writings, teachings, or theology on supposed audible or inner hearings of God denies the sufficiency of God. Puritan Thomas Manton wrote in the mid-1600s of apostasy,

"The apostasy from the Lord will be determined chiefly by these two things: — (1.) By undermining his authority; (2.) Or destroying the interests of his kingdom. By these two we may understand the falling away, which is to come first."

By claiming that God speaks to you personally it destroys the interests of the kingdom by making private the word of God (since as Mr Horton reminds us, appeals to private revelation breed factions, 1 Cor 4:6), and undermining His authority, by which God spoke through His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2.)

3 comments:

  1. God does speak to me not in an audible voice but through the holy spirit. I know this is so because every time it happens it is mind blowing. No specific examples come to mind but this is the process that has happened numerous times only in the last year when I finally reached breaking point in my life and finally submitted my will to gods. Throughout the day curiosity on a subject will arise, I will pray for insight, and usually within a week God answers either through Sunday sermon, the radio ministers-j.Mcdonald., swindall, or w.Kroell. ive even had a few times where I cant sleep at 3am get up open n.t. and its on the very page opened. Usually the question is answered in less than 2days. I seem to recall that you don't particularly agree with j.mcdonald- but I know that the holy spirit is at work through his ministry because I have witnessed this. I really enjoy your blog but please be careful about hanging a person because of one comment or action. Saul was a murderer- and yet God used this sinful person to build his church.
    Cool site keep up the good work- tj

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  2. I liked this devotional. It was a good reminder that Jesus is with us everyday and he calls us to live in his glory. However, this book needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The reader needs to understand that the author is not actually "speaking for God" or re-writing God's Word but rather just expressing what she learned through scripture readings and prayer.

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    Replies
    1. Justin, why would the reader "understand" that when Ms Young makes the opposite claim with every page in her book? As a matter of fact, Ms Young IS saying she is speaking for God when she uses "I" as a pronoun. This is blasphemy.

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