Signs and Guidance

Signs and Guidance

Last night in our Tuesday night group we discussed signs and guidance. How does one get and follow the right guidance from God?

We were reading the Matthew 2:1-12, and following my gospel parallels, I suggested a parallel reading of Luke 2:8-20, which we did. You have various signs, a report of scriptural interpretation, dreams, and angels between the two stories. There are some remarkable parallels of content, along with some substantial differences, fitted to the message of each gospel writer.

But being a person who likes to set off discussion I asked about our individual ability to hear from God. How would we feel about the various means of receiving a message from God? How would we discern whether a message really was from God.

Pretty much everyone had experienced the twin claims about hardships. On the one hand people will claim that you’re obviously getting close to something big, and the devil is trying to prevent you from getting there. On the other, there are those who would say that if you’re on the right path, things will be easy, so you should correct course.

The same sign seems to mean two different things.

We mentioned some responses at the time to the fire at Notre Dame cathedral. Any lover of art and architecture can hardly help but be saddened by that fire. Yet it immediately has become a “sign” for many things.

At Energion, we’re releasing a book titled Ditch the Building on May 17. It’s available for pre-order now. It’s definitely not connected. But in some people’s minds, it could be. The fire has been seen as a sign of the times, of disasters to come for our planet. It’s been seen as a sort of judgment on dead religion. My Facebook feed is littered with lessons being learned with varying degrees of actual connection. Well, really very little connection.

As I said in my book When People Speak for God, the last person who has to hear from God is you.

No matter whether you are listening to a new idea, a message someone claims to have received directly from God, or the interpretation of a passage of scripture, your individual mind, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, is the final filter to separate sense from nonsense. The last person, and the decisive person, to hear from God is you. Even the firmest believer in the detailed accuracy of the text of scripture will realize that many interpretations of that scripture are nonsense.

… This is the other end of the telephone cord. Inspiration is not just about God. It is about how God communicates with human beings. Thus it is not just about God’s perfection; it is also about humanity’s imperfection. It is not just about God’s infinite perspective; it is also about humanity’s finite capacity to understand.

The human mind is probably the most neglected part of God’s creation….

Henry Neufeld, When People Speak for God, 4.

One thought on “Signs and Guidance

  1. Why does God make us tease out the meanings of esoteric nudging? Why do people who receive direct communication from God disagree about the meaning of the message? Why do people who think God has taught them something think it’s meant for everyone? Why does God communicate indirectly and not directly? Or is it that General Revelation is all there is? (Barth, stop spinning.) Plug: your book, “When People Speak for God,” goes a long way to addressing these questions.

    In my view, the Bible has proved to be an imperfect messenger. (No consensus of meaning.) It can be made to prove whatever one wishes to believe. Orthodoxy is a top-down insistence of proper belief forced on the masses on pain of excommunication. Too many Christians “go along to get along” not able to verbalize the faith for themselves. And faith has been reduced to mere belief in the correct doctrines.

    It’s becoming clear to me that propositional communication from God is a dead end. Jesus’ message seems to come down to the Golden Rule. The degree to which it is followed, guided by the two Great Commandments, is the measure of how well we are listening to God. (Yes, I know these are propositions. However, they arose in Hebrew thought through observations of the wise. Bottom up, so to speak. This may be God’s only and continuous nudging. It seems most of the world’s great religions are listening.)

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