05/27/2004: So how do you know it's really God talking?
Over at The Village Gate, contributor Renee in Ohio has an interesting musing inspired by George W. Bush's assertions that "God wanted him to be president" and "God wanted him to attack Iraq":
One thing I have noticed about the stories in the Bible about God talking to people and giving them a mission of some sort, is that they are usually reluctant at first. Moses is told that he will lead the people, and he tries to beg out of it--"You don't want me. I'd be no good at that sort of thing. I've got this stutter, you know."I suppose I'd have added the quote I've seen attributed to psychiatrist Thomas Szasz: If you talk to God, you're praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. But then again, I am an atheist....
Jonah, as my kids recently learned in the Veggie Tales movie, was told "Go to Ninevah." Johah says, "Gotcha!" and promptly sets sail--in the opposite direction.
Whether these stories literally happened, or are an allegorical expression of the faith experience of a people, what stands out to me is the fact that God is often seen commissioning people to do things they find difficult. Challenging. Scary. Seemingly impossible, or at least implausible.
God seems pretty unlikely to say, "Attack Iraq, kill thousands of people, get oil contracts for your rich friends." I don't think Bush needed any higher power to tell him to do that. But apparently he needs to invoke a higher power to justify it.
Who does God call, and for what purpose? And what does the call sound like...or feel like? Susan B. Anthony once said,
I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.
That quote reflects my thinking to some extent. Again, in the Bible, we really don't see examples of God calling an individual for some person, where the person says, "Cool! That's what I was planning to do anyway, but now I've got your Divine Stamp of Approval. That's really going to come in handy!"
Len on 05.27.04 @ 01:06 PM CST