40 Questions to Ask Christians: Communication with God
After a one year absence from apologetics blogging, I have returned, inspired by this hub from Thomas Swan. Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion. Sadly, these academic decorations do not give him the ability to generate better questions about religion than my 7 year old.
As infantile as the understanding of Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? and God is Imaginary websites’ understanding of prayer was, I think it was deeper and better-reasoned than Dr. Swan’s. So let’s get to the questions.
How can you tell the voice of God from a voice in your head? How can you tell the voice of God from the voice of the Devil?
I’m considering these two questions together because they are really the same question asked two different ways. The essence is how I can tell that God is speaking to me, versus a mental disturbance or the devil.
I don’t believe that God speaks directly to me. Therefore, any voice in my head would be a mental disturbance by definition.
I believe that we should seek the will of God through prayer (speaking) and meditation (listening). If God doesn’t speak using words or a voice, then what am I listening to and how am I listening to it?
God “speaks” through inspiration. Sometimes, I just feel a pull in a specific direction or I’m inexplicably drawn to a certain choice. I know my Bible pretty well, so I know if this inspiration is consistent with God’s word on the matter. This is the “voice” of God in me.
If this inspiration isn’t consistent with the Bible, then it came from somewhere else.
The obvious objection would be the Bible depicting God speaking to people like Adam, Noah, Moses, and others in actual words. In the case of Moses, God appeared as a burning bush. So it is certainly possible for God to speak to someone using words or theophonies.
Possibility isn’t the same as probability. These were special people selected for key missions in God’s plan for humanity. I am not arrogant enough to think that I fit that bill.
Would you find it easier to kill someone if you believed God supported you in the act? If God told you to kill an atheist, would you?
I’m considering these questions together because they are tightly related.
The first question is loaded — the phrasing assumes that I’d have no qualms about killing someone at all. But that’s not true; I would feel horrible for the rest of my life even if I took a life in self-defense.
God commands his followers not to commit murder (Ex 20:13). Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Mt 5:43-48). Paul says we shouldn’t avenge ourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God (Rom 12:19-20). We are to follow the example of God, who allows the wicked to partake in all the riches of the earth the same as the righteous.
As previously discussed, God speaks not in words but inspiration. An inspiration to kill anyone is inconsistent with the commands given in the Bible and therefore would not be coming from God. I wouldn’t carry this inspiration out and I would have no fear that I am disobeying God.
What about the genocides that God commanded in the Bible? One possible answer has already been suggested. God commanded the genocides in direct words to prophets. Again, I am not so arrogant as to believe that I warrant a personal appearance from God. So I won’t be exhorting genocide on behalf of God any time soon.
But the larger question would be why I can read a passage about obliterating the women, children, and even the livestock of Midianites and still think that God commanding murder is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible. I’ve already discussed that here.
Well, these questions vex me far less than trying to decide on a new theme for my re-emergence on the blogging scene. Let’s hope the next part gives me a greater challenge!