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God Told Me To...

Message Dennis Diehl

"Abbas said that at Aqaba, Bush promised to speak with Sharon about the siege on Arafat. He said nobody can speak to or pressure Sharon except the Americans.

According to Abbas, immediately thereafter Bush said: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." June 26, 2006 Ha'aretz.

I don't know if the President told these people this or not. I suspect he did but it received little or no play in the American Press. I personally suspect he did say it, or is quite capable of believing this about himself. Needless to say, it is disturbing to think we have a President and probably many in his administratin who hear the voice of God in their heads and base American foreign policy upon that voice. Just an observation on my part, but it seems when men hear the voice of God, lots of people get killed or at least you lose a good portion of your income to the church that wants to obey that voice.

"God told me," or "God has revealed to me," or "God has shown me," or "God is now causing, " or "God will now," or "God demands that we," and all the other "God speaks to me," concepts one can come up with are probably some of the most chilling words one can hear.

God tells a lot of people to do a lot of things. Women have drown their children because "God told me to." Men have killed others, either as individuals or in whole groups because "God told me to." Moses made an entire career out of "Thus saith the Lord," along with borderline schizophrenics like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel who , whether one wishes to admit it or not, were also very wrong in their pronouncement at times, and yet are often used today by preachers who fancy themselves in the spirit and power of these men. Well perhaps they are, but not in a good way. God was always telling Moses, or Joshua or David who needed killin and who need to merely be driven from the land. I often wondered as a kid if God just started talking to them and they took notes, or actually didn't hear God literally, but rather figured if they thought it up, it must be from God. It is this latter understanding that I have since adopted as what most likely happens when one hears the voice of God. How often that voice just happens to agree 100% with how the receiver is thinking on that topic as well. How convenient.

I pastored in a denomination that has spun off more offshoots than zuchinni growing in compost. Each one feels of course that , "God told me, or us..." to do this. I'm so glad that God never found the need or time to corner me and tell me to start my own reconstituted Church of God. I think he knew I was outgrowing the foolishness, antics and downright scary pronouncements of God's newly chosen leaders, so he thought it best not to talk to me. Why can't we understand that when we talk to God, that's called prayer and relatively harmless. But that when God talks to us, we might be dealing with a whole new ball game here and some red lights might need to start flashing. How often to members of thousands of churches, weekly sit and listen to their pastor recall how God has told him this or that and no one even considers what the man is really saying. I have to admit, after 26 years as a minister, nce spoke to me personally. I used to feel badly about that, but now, after knowing guys that hear God's voice in their heads quite often, am glad to have been out of the loop.

Thomas Paine, in The Age of Reason, made some interesting observations about the obligation those who do not hear the voice of God directly have to obey the words of the one who says God did talk to THEM personally.

"No one will deny or dispute the power of the Almighty to make such a communication, if he pleases. But admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and consequently they are not obliged to believe it.

It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication — after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.

When Moses told the children of Israel that he received the two tables of the commandments from the hands of God, they were not obliged to believe him, because they had no other authority for it than his telling them so; and I have no other authority for it than some historian telling me so. The commandments carry no internal evidence of divinity with them; they contain some good moral precepts, such as any man qualified to be a lawgiver, or a legislator, could produce himself, without having recourse to supernatural intervention. "

Plainly put, if you didn't hear it from God, you don't have to believe it! How simple. How much misery could be saved if we could look those in the eye who say God speaks to them and say, "well, I'm glad for you, but don't expect me to give up my job, money, home, family, my vote or my life because God told you to tell me to....Because if he can take the time to have a direct chat with you about these, he can take a few extra minutes and come over to see me too." This way there won't be any room for doubt and I can make up my own mind as to whether that was really God or not. I'd tend to vote no.

While we might kid about those through whom God channels his will to us, without verification, it's not all that funny when things go wrong with misdirected religious organizations and self appointed Apostles, Watchers and Prophets. We do have our Jonestowns and Wacos to haunt us. But it is almost a habit of mind for those that follow others in their religious perspectives to agree with everything they say or do simply because they are told it the context of "God told me," or "God wants us to.." etc and never think a critical thought asking if that really be so.

Remember what the scripture says..."In the last days, narcissists and schizophrenics shall wax worse and worse and shall deceive many...and if they say, "lo hath God told me this or that, believe it not, give not of thine shekels nor offer up thine children on hearsay and much speculation as if it were from God. For it prolly be not of God and thou shalt save thineself and all thy household with thee..."

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Dennis Diehl is a former pastor of 26 years,  who outgrew the Literalism of Fundamentalism.  He writes about Pastoral and Church abuse and is available to speak on such topics or be helpful to any church suffering under abusive (more...)

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