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There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe
me, than in half the creeds. - Tennyson
Arguments Concerning God
Talking with Individuals
One can ask the question as to why God would bother to
talk with individuals when almost no one is listening to the profound
message given by the words and life of Jesus.
During his life on earth, Jesus said nothing about the
myriad aspects of life with which we are faced. Nothing about how to be
a better wife or husband, better parent, better boss or worker. Nothing
about how to be a better citizen, political or religious leader. He said
nothing about science, cosmology, creationism versus evolution, nothing
about health, diet or hygiene, nothing about abortion ethics, civic
principles or the lessons of history, etc., ad nauseam. See:
What Jesus Didn't Say Anything About,
What Jesus Did NOT Instruct Us to
Do, What Jesus Didn't Teach Us
to Know. His message was
not about COPING with the challenges and vicissitudes of life but was
about something even better, TRIUMPHING over the human condition!
And, of course, he said NOTHING about God talking with us!
Voices in the head
A multitude of people hear voices in their head. These
voices are for the most part very troublesome. Sometimes the voice tells
the person to do outlandish, savage things like kill their mother or
their uncle. Often the voice urges the individual to do something rash,
like do something that would kill themselves. The tenor of the
communicational content ranges from the very bad, through the neutral,
to the good. Of course, evidently most everyone is predisposed to think that God
would talk with them, and when the messages are good this conclusion is
almost inescapable for many. When the urgings or messages are bad or
dangerous, most Christians are predisposed to think that the evil one
planted the suggestion in their mind, or even about devil
possession as the cause.
Sometimes the voice gives information that turns out to
be right. Often there are people that get messages for others such as
friends, relatives, and neighbors. These messages are indistinguishable
from psychic insights, and yet a true believer just "knows" they are
from God. But why would God communicate such a message through another
person and not directly? This added link of communication introduces some very
ranging from confusion to chicanery. Personally, I could never take seriously a
message from God that came through another person!
There is a contingent of most every Christian
sect or denomination that is involved in what is euphemistically called
"deliverance ministry", in other words, exorcism or something
comparable. When the "deliverance
ministers" pay attention to a person with troubling voices or messages
and troubled behavior, and cast out the demons with prayer and commands
in the name of Jesus, they generally get good results, temporarily. They
don't ever talk about the recidivism rate. The
funny thing is that a psychologist administering a psychotropic drug
also gets good results. Knocks the demons right down! Temporarily.
Amazing how the voice of God or demons is so susceptible to being
neutralized by a chemical!
Insult or Compliment?
Another question that can be asked is why would any
self-respecting person admit that God talks with them unless it is to
inflate their own ego? Too many times in the New Testament when God
talks with individuals it is akin to an unflattering implication. The most egregious case
is that of Peter refusing to talk with the Gentile Greeks who came to
consult with him about Jesus. Can we not see that Peter is being incredibly
obtuse and dense? During his ministry, Jesus not only talked with
publicans and prostitutes but he hung out with them! He talked with revolutionaries, Samaritans, Romans and Greeks,
and he healed people from each of these groups. One of his final
proclamations was that now his converts could "go and make disciples in every
nation", every "kindred, tongue and people".
With all this on top of Jesus' exhortations to "pull up
their tethering stake" and not cling to their old religion, Peter is now not
even willing to talk with some Greeks and share information about Jesus?!
Incredible! Ostensibly God had to give him a special vision to shake him
loose even to the degree that he was willing to share information about
Jesus and his message! Pathetic! In this context God taling to you in a
dream or vision can't be considered as a compliment!
Also Peter went right out and violated Jesus advice on letting
your words be "yea" or "nay" or not
casting pearls before swine, and got tossed into prison and had to be
rescued. Any talking with this man by God, whether done while Jesus was
around or later didn't seem to have done much good for Peter. The final
travesty perpetrated by this ebullient ignorant fisherman prone to
misunderstanding is that he became the leader of
the band, something that laid the foundation for him to be considered to be the first Pope, and to
become Christendom's most popular and familiar disciple. You would
almost think that Jesus said, "The worst shall be the first."
No, the overall result is that all of this so-called God
talking has done little or nothing more than distract the attention away
from the ultimate issues and away from an adequate understanding of Jesus
and his message. Why would God support such an ineffective approach? It's
all so underwhelming, to say the least!