Here I go again with a series. Oh well, what can I say? I just love me a good series… This series – titled “There’s a Fine Line…” – is probably going to be spread out. I may not write another post in this series for a while. But several of these topics have been on my mind lately, and I can’t help but think there’s a lesson in here somewhere.
I originally started this blog with the intention of writing about the things God is teaching me on a daily basis. Unfortunately, in the busy-ness of life, it’s kind of gotten away from me. I have strayed a little (okay…a lot) from writing about those daily lessons, and I have suffered for it. But lately, like I said above, I’ve had some things on my mind, and I can’t help but think they are more than just passing thoughts. There’s a reason I can’t get away from them. So I’m going to write, with the hope that I can get better about writing more frequently.
There’s a Fine Line…Between New Revelation and the Leading of the Holy Spirit
Not too long ago, I read about some comments made by pastor and author Mark Driscoll. He said that he “see[s] things…” He has visions, he sees things vividly, like on a TV screen. The examples he gave were all visions of things happening in other people’s lives, mostly during counseling sessions – child molestation, adultery, domestic violence. He said he saw these things happening in front of him, like he was watching a movie, and he related these things back to the people he saw in them. The article I was reading was severely criticizing Driscoll, first for erroneously claiming a spiritual gift of discernment, second for claiming a “signs” gift that is common to Charismatics (though Driscoll claims to not be Charismatic), and finally, for being so explicit in his description of his visions, especially the vision of adultery. Now, Driscoll has a reputation for being a little…crass. He has no problem talking about explicit sexual activities to his congregation on Sunday mornings (or so I’ve heard…I’ve not witnessed this first hand, I’ve only read about it). But the thing that got my attention was that Driscoll is claiming that God is showing Him things – specific things, about specific people – thus, the Lord is giving Driscoll new revelation. Obviously this isn’t universal revelation – for the whole church – but unique and special revelation. And everything in me, and everything I know about the Bible, tells me that this is wrong.
But then I start thinking about things…
A few years ago, I was a middle school science teacher. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like working with the kids – they were the best part of the job! But standing up talking all day (teaching), and being responsible for the behavior of 30 teenagers (who are as irresponsible as human beings can be…), was a little too much for an introvert like me. The job is difficult for everybody, but for me, it was unbearable. I felt like I was aging faster than my years, solely because of stress. So I started back to school, hoping to become a Software Developer. I worked hard in my classes, and I was slated to graduate in December of 2009. The problem came when I realized that I was going to graduate in December, yet the next school year (the public school I taught at) started in August. I knew I would want to find a developer job when I graduated, but I would already be half way through the school year where I was teaching. I wasn’t the kind of person who would quit in the middle of the year and leave my students hanging. On top of all this, my wife and I really wanted her to be able to stay home with our daughter (thus the reason I chose a well-paying career in software). So my wife and I talked about it, and we prayed about it. We begged God to show us (literally, physically show us…through a sign or something) what we should do. It wasn’t likely that I would get a developer job before I graduated, but if I quit my teaching job in the summer, that would leave almost 6 months without me working. And my wife was going to quit, too, so we were about to start swimming up that proverbial creek with no paddle. We wanted a sign that God would take care of us.
No sign came.
But after much prayer and meditation on it, we decided that it would be a bold act of faith to quit our jobs and just trust God to provide for us. We felt a peace about it, and we told ourselves that it was the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the question – what is the difference between what we did and what Mark Driscoll did? Mark Driscoll claimed that the Holy Spirit gave him visions. We were claiming that the Holy Spirit was leading us to make a leap of faith. Both of us are claiming to be communicated to by the Holy Spirit. Are we both wrong? Is there a such thing as “the leading of the Holy Spirit?” If I don’t believe that God gives new revelation, such as “holy” visions, is it hypocritical of me to believe that He communicates with me in leading me this way or that?
Right now, I stand on this fine line, believing that the Holy Spirit does lead us. How He does this, I can’t say. It’s scary, because if we go based on feelings (or intuition), we’re bound to screw up. I am also a strong cessationist, believing that the so-called “signs gifts”, or today called the Charismatic gifts (i.e., tongues, word of knowledge – including visions, etc.), are no longer given to believers. So where does the “leading” of the Spirit end and the beginning of new revelation begin?
Seriously, I want your feedback… Comment away!