Here are some thoughts on a recent article.
This week (I think it was Monday) the Wall Street Journal ran a story on its front page about Bruce Wilkenson (the author of the "Prayer of Jabez"). It chronicled his assurance that God revealed to him the plan to save Africa from poverty, AIDS, and hunger. No mention, of course, about what means God told him...he just mentioned that he kept praying his multi-million dollar prayer. The story goes through Wilkenson doing political wranglings with Swaziland's government and his absolute ignorance of their culture...his grand-sweeping reform must Oral-Roberts-style happen if Africa is to survive. In the end he fails and quits his Africa project altogether convinced that evil men have underhanded him (and, by extension, God).
One of the amazing by-products of the Protestant Reformation is that the ex cathedra authority granted to the Roman Catholic Pope has been democratized amongst the priesthood of all believers. Anyone can "hear" the voice of God and act on it. Those with lots of money and politcal clout are the visionary humanitarians that are truly altruistic: Oral Roberts and George Bush come to mind. Those who lack the blessing of grater-than-Solomon wealth are categorized as loonies and extremists: David Koresh, terrorist groups, etc. The connection between them is that their is only one authority that grants their "hearings" legitimacy: public opinion. If someone is rich and clever enough to pull a P.T. Barnum on enough people, it is amazing how crispy clear the voice of God becomes...and how much it sounds like the one who heard it.
Oliver Cromwell, that not so liked British leader of years past, said something like this: "In the bowels of Christ, consider that you may be mistaken!" (My apologies if I misquoted...spirit of his letter, not the law). Evangelicals and Reformed folk, myself included, have an awful tendency to reject the wisdom of this Puritan leader. Our interpretation (of whatever, the Bible, politics, the economy) is the truth. And we have seen fit to back up our interpretation with threats of hellfire, wars and rumors of wars, or terrorist activity. Funny that the Lord Jesus, when questioned about his authority, gave his life up to those who would take it to prove their authority!
There are many times during each day in which I wish I could hear the voice of God. To hear his word and to follow it! That is what I am after. However, when I encounter his word in his word or his world, through rightly discerning the Bible and the Creation, I cannot hear it...or, better yet, I do not want to hear it. It is too powerful, too challenging, too humiliating. I am all too ready to follow what the self-concerned say is his word--those in polished suits with real worldy power and authority (funny enough, that is exactly the way Matthew portrays Satan in the Wilderness Temptation...actually, that's not funny at all, but truly terrifying).
For the love of Christ (a slight updating on the "bowels" metaphor), Christians, please stop speaking as if you were the carrier of God's word with infallibility and inerrancy!