Friday, March 22, 2013

Some Questions About Gut-Check Spirituality- Fred Butler

The greater question, however, is how can these divine gut feelings be so right in one instance, yet so wrong in another? If a person is “feeling” God is telling him to do such and such, I would think there would be some sort of infallible authority attached to the feeling, right? Meaning a couple of things: It’s from God, so it can’t be wrong and it’s from God, so it will be clear. But apparently, with all the dumb decisions that result from people following their guts, I get the picture that God mumbles a whole lot and tends to be vague.
This is certainly one of the big problems with leaning on the nudgings or 'leadings' of God versus the way we see His leading characterized, especially in the Book of Acts. The leading in Acts (and the whole Bible) shows that when God wants His message heard AND obeyed, He is always clear, and there is no question it is God. However, these days, the nudges of God are filled with silly decisions and a lack of clarity. It is freeing make wise decisions and trust God's Providence.

I have been mulling over an excellent post from Danfrom earlier this week that generated almost 200 comments worth of discussion.
The basics of the post had to do with how the Koran burning preacher down in Florida claimed God was telling him to do it, and his claim that he was being led by God is really no different from the charismatic’s view of the gift of prophecy being a means for God to lead the average Christians today by their “gut feelings.”
Specifically, Dan addresses the “Reformed” charismatics among us who are suppose to have a high view of Scripture and at the same time believe the gift of prophecy leads the “guts” of your average Christian on a daily basis; yet recoil from the nonsensical applications the “gut feelings” version of prophecy may have among crackpot publicity seekers. However, when we get down to the brass tacks of the discussion, there really isn’t much difference between the “Reformed” charismatics saying God speaks to them through their “gut feelings” and crackpot preachers saying God speaks to them through the same “gut” method.
But it has been my experience these 20 plus years of walking with the Lord that this “gut check” view of God’s leading is not limited to charismatics and wack-a-doodle preachers burning Korans.
I have encountered many, many Christians of all denominational stripes who frequently employ the gut check view of God’s leading on a regular basis in their lives. Either for making insane, disastrous decisions like marrying a person who is a full blown idiot because he or she “feels” God is leading in the decision, or remaining lazy and apathetic in helping around their local church because they don’t “feel” God leading them to cut the grass in the cemetery out back.Additionally, if the gut check view of spiritual leading turns out beneficial for the person, even though everyone pretty much agrees in the back of their minds it was the most stupid and foolishly risky thing they have ever seen anyone do, the person is heralded as having a close walk with Jesus and depending upon the Lord.
If, on the other hand, the person’s gut check spiritual leading led him down a path to ridiculing folly that only resulted in him having boos and hisses heaped upon his head, the person is said to have been NOT walking with Jesus, being out of God’s will, and acting selfishly.
A case in point from my college days: I recall coming to church one Wednesday evening to attend our mid-week Bible study. There hanging around the church was some young guy no one had ever seen before. As we make our introductions, he begins to tell us this glory bump raising story of why he was at our church.
He was originally from North Carolina. He had listened to Michael W. Smith’s song “Go West, Young Man,” and couldn’t get it out of his head. So. Believing in his gut his constant humming of this song was God prompting him to “Go West,” he began to pray and fast as to where in the west he was to go. I mean, think about it: Pretty much everywhere in America is west of North Carolina. Then one day he happens upon a satellite broadcast of one of our church services, which were televised for the ACTS network in those days. He watches our service for the entire 30 minutes and his gut tells him this is God giving him the key to unlock the next level in his journey.
So. He packs what meager things he owned into his run down Escort and headed west to our church in Arkansas. And after a harrowing three day journey of fixing flat tires, over heating engines, a broken air conditioner, sleeping in his car at rest stops, and battling other attempts by Satanic forces to hinder him for accomplishing God’s will for his life, he pulls up to our church maybe an hour before services started. And can you believe it?! It just so happened we were having a pot-luck that evening right before church started, so he got a free, warm meal for being faithful in his gut check adventure.
Everyone marveled at his story. A few folks even let loose some “praise the Lords” and “amens.” It was such a powerful testimony to taking steps of faith and trusting the Lord when you don’t know what may happen the next day. Everyone secretly wished God would lead them in such dramatic, awesome ways.
Now.
I imagine some are reading this thinking I am going to reveal how he turned out to be a wacko who either left on some other weird adventure to Alaska or was found out to be a criminal fleeing the law, but such was not the case. He moved in with some guys who needed a roommate, worked at a local restaurant for a while as I recall, and then got a job as a counselor/teacher at a Christian camp for troubled youth. I’m not sure what happened to him after that.
“But Fred,” you ask, “Isn’t the fact that everything turned up roses for this guy clear confirmation God was leading him?” No. But it is confirmation that God can be gracious to us in spite of our stupidity. Believe me, for every story I could tell where some spiritual naif quit his job as a high paid CPA on the whim of “feelings” and yet fell backwards into all sorts of blessings, I can recall a dozen or more with individuals who made just as equally appalling decisions that led to their ruin.
The greater question, however, is how can these divine gut feelings be so right in one instance, yet so wrong in another? If a person is “feeling” God is telling him to do such and such, I would think there would be some sort of infallible authority attached to the feeling, right? Meaning a couple of things: It’s from God, so it can’t be wrong and it’s from God, so it will be clear. But apparently, with all the dumb decisions that result from people following their guts, I get the picture that God mumbles a whole lot and tends to be vague.
Without getting into the entire discussion about the continuation or cessation of the gift of prophecy in the Church, I had a few questions:
If the gift of prophecy is for today, and people having wiggles in their tummy is indication of God nudging people in a particular direction, why is discovering exactly what God wants for the person and where God is leading him or her like trying to figure out how to get to the next level in Super Mario Bros.? “That’s when you submit your feelings to Scripture, Fred.” Really? Why wasn’t Scripture alone sufficient enough to provide some direction in the first place? Why is there first a need for the tummy tickle before one goes to Scripture? What more could God possibly tell you with your guts that He hasn’t already told you clearly in His Word?

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