The Idiocy of “The Spirit Told Me” Defense

I have read a couple of books by two guys who diverged into a new theology of the rapture. What they believe is not important enough to get into, nor is it the point. When the one guy started believing this new thing he was fired from the ministry he was on and it caused waves.

Both men write books with the same tone–passive aggressive, in your face while behind your back, backed into a corner look how cool and lone rangerish we are while being so humble, and maintaining the ever so sweet “the Holy Spirit gave me this light while you wallow in darkness and I only pray that He sheds His light on you too so you can join us in our angsty coolness.”

It’s really quite irritating.

Doctrinal divisions are necessary and yet generally always look stupid because the people involved have this assurance of rightness while maintaining an assurance of fallibility, but mostly in others. The timing of the rapture has some implications, but it smacks of guys arguing calls in church softball–honestly, does it matter that much?

Apparently one of the positive points of arguing is that both sides get to feel important and embroiled in vital controversial matters. Each side stays up all night studying and praying and feeling godly, and then they smash each other with their take on how God came through for them.

I don’t mind doctrinal disagreements, but I do mind when people take a high road with their opinions. The claims that “the Spirit showed me this” are used way too much. If the Spirit truly showed all these people all these things then everyone would be in agreement.

That’s not to say the Spirit doesn’t teach people doctrines, He does. Doctrines are also “taught” by misreading the Bible, using poor translations, applying sloppy reasoning, not having enough information, having bad teachers, and various and numerous other causes.

How does one know if the Spirit has taught you something? That’s a tough one to answer. Seems to me all that the Spirit does is to grow the believer into the perfect man Christ Jesus. Any doctrine that leads to ungodly living is not from the Spirit and, even more mildly, any doctrine that does not lead to growth in Christ is wrong.

But we will disagree even on what this means. That being the case, everyone should drop this “I prayed and the Spirit taught me so shut up and listen to me” stuff. It smacks of papal infallibility. Stay humble, admit you have been wrong in the past and quite possibly may be again. In the end, drive yourself and others to fellowship and growth and even more so as we see the day approaching.

2 thoughts on “The Idiocy of “The Spirit Told Me” Defense”

  1. I’ve heard another take on this one: “I prayed about it and God told me…” In other words, “anyone who disagrees with me is fighting against God!”

    In our church we studied the topic about the different ways God speaks to us. We broke them down into two categories: objective and subjective.

    Objective witnesses are not dependent upon me. They come from outside of me, and are not influenced by my feelings, impressions, thoughts, desires or fears. In this category fall: the principles of the written Word of God and the counsel of experienced brethren and sisters.

    Subjective witnesses are directly involved with me, for they are dependent upon my perceptions, way of thinking, and memory. In this category are: my past experiences, the circumstances through which it appears to me that God is leading me, the voice of the Spirit to my heart, the “spoken” word, the impressions of the Spirit on my conscience, dreams, the voice of God in nature, feelings of sympathy.

    With subjective witnesses, they should be tested and verified by the objective witnesses. This helps prevent an unhealthy individualism, or fanaticism. Now if people are unwilling to test their subjective witnesses with the objective ones, then there is a problem right there.

    Martin Luther, who was considered to be in error, was willing to submit to the objective witnesses. He wanted his doctrines to be tested by the word. The problem is that the church leaders didn’t want that, because their false teachings could not be easily supported from the pure gospel. So in this case, the leaders of the Catholic church were not at all “the counsel of experienced brethren”, but rather “false leaders.”

    Luther, however, did have some witnesses from experienced believers: the other reformers who taught the same gospel, the witness of Huss and Jerome, and Wycliffe, and perhaps men like Staupitz, who although they did not go as far as him, did point him in the right direction.

    Useful as these guidelines may be, you can never establish a set of laws that will guide an evil heart to be faultless and pure! Even these guidelines can be misapplied. So I agree with the words of your last paragraph: “Stay humble”.

    “The meek will He teach His way.”

  2. One more point I forgot. With the “counsel of experienced believers” the individual still has their own duty to take the matter to God and make their decision.

    Unhealthy independence means not listening to the counsel of other believers. This makes weak people.

    Unhealthy dependence means just doing whatever experienced believers tell me to do, without exercising my own responsibility to bring the matter back to God and learn to follow His voice. This also makes weak people.

    God wants us to be strong! Dependent upon Him, yet working together in harmony with the church.

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