Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I Guess That's That!

In Miami, the Associated Press picked up this story about a "political endorsement." Here are the pertinent quotes:
A reverend who introduced Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist during a breakfast with other pastors Monday said the Lord came to him in a dream two years ago and told him Crist would be the state's next governor.

The Lord Jesus spoke to me and he said 'There's something I want you to know,'" said Dozier, pastor of the Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach. "'Charlie Crist will be the next governor of the state of Florida.'"
At a meeting with other pastors, Dozier introduced Crist this way:
"I introduce to you, as the Lord Jesus has said, the next governor of the state of Florida, Charlie Crist," Dozier said.
WOW! Why should we even bother holding an election down there? How did Crist respond?
Crist's first words were, "Well, as they say, the praise doesn't get any higher."

"It's the most amazing thing anyone's every told me," Crist said. "It's beyond overwhelming, but the reverend has a very strong faith in his heart and he's a good man. I'm very grateful for his help and his support and his belief."

And what of his opponent:
Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who is opposing Crist in the primary, wouldn't comment on the remarks after the event.
And why should he? What could he possibly say to a statement like that? Of course, Gallagher and two other candidates were there. They were all running for the same office and it appears that at least Gallagher shares Crist's moral values and Christian beliefs.

This brings up a more important issue. More and more, people are talking like this, invoking God as a source for all sorts of things. Recently, Pat Robertson said that God "told him" that tsunamis will hit the northwest coast of the United States sometime this year.

God told him that in January but Robertson didn't tell anyone until a few weeks ago. When did God get so "fuzzy in the details"? God told Jonah "Forty days and Nineveh is destroyed."

Sometimes, it is not so blatant. When Johnny Hunt nominated Ronnie Floyd for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention, he opened with this statement: “With strong conviction in my heart under God’s Holy Spirit-led leadership, I will nominate Dr. Ronnie W. Floyd…”

Now, this is obviously Hunt's personal conviction but, as another has said, the wording here is subtly implying that to disagree with this nomination is to disagree with the Holy Spirit. What if another pastor, also a believer indwelt by the same Spirit, is "led by the Spirit" to nominate another? Does the Holy Spirit give contradictory "suggestions"?

Later, Hunt said Floyd "called me last Wednesday and informed me that he will humbly accept this nomination due to God speaking to him dramatically through Acts 16:6-10. He never sought it one moment, but was drafted supernaturally to let me nominate him to be our next president."

In the same way, what if another pastor, also a believer indwelt by the same Spirit, is "spoke to dramatically" by this passage to run himself or to nominate another?

The author of this passage had one thing in mind - to tell the readers of the events of Paul's life. That is all that can be inferred from this passage. Interpretation is easy. This passage deals with Paul's unsuccessful attempts to enter Bithynia. Instead, we read that Paul had a vision of man from Macedonia saying "Come over to Macedonia and help us." In verse ten, we see that "After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."

I'm sure that's how Floyd would interpret this passage. However, application is more difficult. Some passages are easy to apply - "steal no longer." This passage is different. It is "descriptive," not "prescriptive." I'm do not think that this passage speaks to the nomination to SBC presidency.

We all get "feelings" but there is just NO WAY to know if that "peace" comes from the Lord or from your own personal desires or maybe from eating a Hershey bar with all those released endorphins running rampant through your system.

Here are three good books that will help you escape the pagan ideas of "iscovering" God's will:
Floyd clarifies some of those quotes here and it is very obvious that he is a man of great character and love for the Lord. The issue I am addressing is not Floyd's ability to be a great leader for the SBC - I'm sure he will be, if elected.

However, the issue that needs to be addressed is the assumption that we can speak for God about anything based on a subjective feeling of "peace" that we can't adequately define. If it is the "peace that passes all understanding," who are we to say we understand it?

We do it all the time, myself included.

I, for one, will attempt to better edit my "theological language."

1 comment:

Jim Pemberton said...

I sometimes hear people use terms like "recieved a word of knowledge" or "recieved a prophesy" without a reference to scripture. This disturbs me.

I once fancied that God could reveal future events or precise direction in decision-making to me. I sought it, but God didn't give it. It's not that He can't, but that He hasn't. The truth is that He gives us what we need to accomplish His purposes, not our own.

However, I have also heard testimony to God's directly speaking to people with compelling results.

One example is from Western Avenue. Richard Current spoke of God revealing the identity of a person to Him while he was speaking in a church in Cuba. He recieved information about this person that he would not have known otherwise. The result was that he was able to minister to this person in a real way.

Another example is Ron Peters, a Christian from Weddington, NC, who was agonizing over a medical situation his son was undergoing. While mowing the grass, he was praying and asked God if his son would survive. He testified that an audible voice said, "yes". His fear immediately abated and he was able to minister to his family effectively as a result.

Yet another example is Pastor Craig Bollinger of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Charlotte. On a misson trip to an orphanage in Guatemala, He testifies that God drew his attention to a girl in the back of the room and audibly spoke to him, "Take your daughter home." God then proceded to open up doors through the red tape and logistical hurdles to allow him to adopt her and bring her home with him in the week-and-a-half he was in Guatemala. What a surprise to his wife - who wasn't with him on the trip. Nevertheless God had already worked in her heart to prepare her for another daughter.

I have a sense of distinguishing the difference between authentic aural theophanies or direct knowledge from God and claims of such based on emotion or desire. However, I haven't had much call to clarify my thinking on it. For myself, if it's not obvious then it's not of God and I must test every tempting thought against the solid hermeneutical evaluation of scripture.