Thursday, July 13, 2006

Did God Say That?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently featured an article on the growing number of pastors claiming direct communication with God when it comes to their views on everything from politics to preaching. The instances of such claims, it seems, are legion:

In May, the Rev. O'Neal Dozier, pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, Fla., told an audience that Jesus had appeared to him in a dream and told him that the next governor of that state would be a Republican.

In March, spiritual guru Neale Donald Walsch published “Home With God” and announced that it would be the final chapter in his best-selling “Conversations With God” trilogy, in which he claims to talk to the Almighty.

Last November, J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, wrote a column complaining about pastors taking their revelations too far. He cited one charismatic pastor who told his congregation that a new revelation from the Bible allowed him to have more than one wife. Another said his “anointing” allowed him to have more than one sexual partner.

You know things are bad when a prominent, generally uncritical/undiscerning charismatic magazine chastens people for going too far! One pastor offered an explanation for the phenomenon:

The Rev. Paul Morton, founder of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, says he can tell when God is speaking to him. He compares it to knowing the voice of a loved one. Morton's Full Gospel message insists that God communicates with Baptists through the “full' gifts of the Holy Spirit: speaking in tongues, healing and revelations.”

It's not a white horse or anything written in the sky, “Morton says about hearing God's voice. "He impresses something in your spirit." Morton says God gives him signs to validate his message. He says God recently told him to expand his New Orleans' megachurch, Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, to Atlanta.

He expects God to reward his move with another sign. "There's no vision without provision," he says. "He's not going to let you down midstream."

Just one word: It's a wicked and perverse generation that looks for a sign (Matt. 12:39, 16:4).

Well, a second word: "If what a prophet claims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deut. 18:22).

My heart breaks for those who give their lives to such deceitful plotting. What must we do to help our people and others see the danger and falsehood in such views of God that portray the Lord of the universe as a chatty chum with a special interest in church buildings, political candidates, and "I'm okay, you're okay" permissiveness toward our favorite sins?

No comments: