Does God speak?

There were a couple of posts on about whether God speaks to people today. I think that these two posts are great examples of a key failure of modern reformed thinking.

Does God exist? Is he an actual person? Could he speak to people if he chose to? Has he ever spoken to anybody (maybe Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Paul, or John)? If so, those possible examples are at least hundreds of years apart. What accent did he use then?

The title of this post notwithstanding, I am not going to argue here that God does or does not speak to anybody in modern times. Whether he does or not, the approach taken by the two posts I linked to above are inappropriate. They argue that God doesn’t speak, or didn’t in some examples, for the following reasons:

  • By implication, that God can’t speak because he might use an accent.
  • That saying that God spoke to a particular person is unwise because people might think they can hear the voice of God.
  • That saying that God spoke to someone is unanswerable and inherently subjective.
  • That it sets a dangerous precedent for future decisions.

The problem is that none of these objections have anything to do with whether or not God actually spoke in the anecdotes that they use as examples. And that is the real question. God is real. He can speak if he wants to. Does he? Did he in these situations?

If so, the fact that somebody thinks its funny to think about God’s accent, or thinks it is unfair because he didn’t want to break up with his girlfriend, or thinks it is dangerous are all entirely beside the point. If God spoke in these situations, than it is God speaking. Whether you like it or not isn’t important.

If God did not speak in these situations, than these people are sadly and dangerously mistaken. Claiming that some message is from God when it is not is serious. In that case, too, the objections raised by these two writers are completely beside the point.

When someone says that they received a message from God, the entire question is whether or not they did, not whether we think it is a good idea or a bad one. This is true of Jason Meyer. It is true of Carl Trueman’s old girlfriend. If God has spoken, it is not manipulative to act on what he has said, and God is not obligate to also speak to anyone else. If God did not speak, we are on very dangerous ground to claim that he has. Claiming that God has spoken where he has not is not in the category of “no harm is really done.” On the other side of that coin, if God really spoke to someone, claiming that it is manipulative to follow God’s leading is beyond offensive (see Matthew 12).

If you have a theological point to make, make it from Scripture. God is real. He has given us measures by which to weigh claims that he is speaking. He speaks for himself. Everything that he has said or will ever say is consistent, because God speaks truly. Everything that he will say is consistent with his portrayal of himself. Everything that he does is consistent with the way he has said that he will act.

A significant problem with reformed thinking is that too often it speaks and acts like God isn’t a real part of the equation, like he is a philosophical or religious abstract. If there is Scriptural reason to believe that God does not currently speak to his children other than through Scripture, point that out and by all means stick to that belief. If anyone says they have heard personally from God, weigh that by the standards God has given and shown in the Word. Don’t tell us whether you think it is a good idea or not. God is not obligated to do what you think is wise.

Most of all, please don’t dishonor God by acting like he’s an abstraction. God is alive. The Father and Holy Spirit and Jesus are real Persons. God is sovereign, and will speak and act as he pleases. Please speak of him as if he is alive and what he says matters, because he is alive, and what he says is all that matters.

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