Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spirituality Update

A couple of days ago, I posted about my desire to find true spirituality. I thought I might take today to update about what I've found.

I am starting to recover the feeling that God speaks to us in prayer. The first class that I took in seminary was on revelation--not the book of the Bible, but on the process by which God reveals Himself to mankind. In this class we learned that God always reveals truth--i.e. if God says something, it happens. If someone claims that they heard something from God, and it doesn't happen, then it didn't come from God. Fair enough. Further, we looked at Deuteronomy 18:20, "But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death." (NIV) From this verse we inferred that God doesn't want us to say things such as "The Lord told me . . . " unless He really did tell us something. They used to kill people for using that phrase wrong. As a result, the cessationists tend to discount any kind of "word from the Lord" that people receive outside of the pages of Scripture.

I understand where the cessationists are coming from. Most of the spiritual three ring circuses that I see on television look very little like Christianity and very much like a money-making productions. It also irritates me when people use the phrase "The Lord told me that you should . . . " as a spiritual power play. There is plenty of room for abuse when you grant that the Lord can speak to people in a personal way.

On the other hand, I think they may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. I walked away from seminary thinking that God only reveals himself to us in nature and through the Bible, and that only the elementary truths about God can be gleaned from nature. I am starting to doubt whether this is true. (On a side note, there is just as much room for spiritual abuse in this system. If God is best known through the Bible, then who knows God the best? The guy who knows the Bible best, i.e. the pastor.)

I don't know exactly what it looks like, but I have to believe that God speaks to us in prayer. Christ mysticism was too big a part of Paul's theology, and too big a part of historical Christianity to be illegitmate. On the one hand, that sounds pretty elementary. On the other hand, it is surprising how many people disagree with that or who don't take advantage of it. I have really turned up my prayer life over this past week, and it's amazing what it has done to my perception of God's presence. Further, I have returned to reading Scripture to hear God's voice (rather than just to prepare a sermon) and that has had an impact as well. I am still trying to figure out what it "sounds" like when God speaks to us, and how we can discern His voice from our own, but I am almost convinced that He does speak to us.

I still have a lot to figure out, but I am convinced that there is a legitimate mystical angle to Christianity that I have been missing for the past few years.

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