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Conspiracy of Silence

August 11, 2005

Readers Note: What follows is a lot of philosophy. Please read to the bottom. The conclusion might be helpful.

I am asked frequently, “Why do most churches not teach that we can individually hear God’s Voice?” As regular readers of this blog know, I teach and write regularly on the skill sets needed to hear God effectively. People who come from Christian traditions which don’t teach on this subject are often confused as to why there is such silence on this issue. There are many reasons, and I advise anyone who wants a complete explanation to pick up Dr. Jack Deere’s book “Surprised by the Voice of God.”

But the roots of this problem lie with a philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard. In his day, Modernism was blooming – with Hegel, Kant and Hume leading the way in implying that unless something can be proven by scientific means, it has no existence, no importance to the lives of ordinary human beings. In essence, they reacted to the ridiculous over-exuberance of the Rennaisance in its love-affair with all things Greek and ethereal. These philosophers rejected a “spiritual realm” and locked modernism forever into the study of the physical dimension.

This created what Francis Schaeffer calls “The Line of Despair”. They claimed an uncrossable line between the natural and the Supernatural (notice it is no longer called the “spiritual”…by calling it “supernatural” they defined the spirit realm in terms of the physical, and therefore had an easy time eliminating it). The Enlightenment taught that nothing crosses the line between the natural and the Supernatural. Even if the Supernatural realm exists (which none of them accepted) nothing crosses that line, so it is as if nothing above the line is even there.

Schaeffer calls it a “line of despair” because not only does this line eliminate miracles, healing, and the Divine Origin of Man, it also prevents man from having any transcendent meaning. If our lives are to have meaning, then it must come from something that is outside of ourselves. That is what it means to “transcend”. The ultimate end of a philosophy that teaches we have no transcendent meaning is Existentialism. In existentialism, we are meaningless sacks of chemicals that only fool ourselves into thinking our actions have meaning. Most existentialists are depressed. Small wonder.

Into the early stages of the Enlightenment came Soren Kierkegaard. He believed we have meaning. He believed in the Supernatural realm. Unfortunately, he also blithely accepted the Line between the natural and Supernatural. Kierkegaard saw three stages in human development. First, is the meaning found in the Arts and Pleasure. He criticized Hegel and others for settling on this stage as the ultimate meaning of man. He called them Neo-Hedonists. (He was right btw.) The second stage was that of moral and ethical development. He urged his fellow philosophers to see the need to have an absolute moral base upon which to build modern society. Eventually some of the Naturalists came to agree with him, but more on that another time…that had its own problems. The third stage was the stage of Transcendent Meaning. Kierkegaard believed that unless one accepted the existence and supremacy of God, there could be no transcendent meaning. I don’t disagree with that. But then he said, in essence, because there is a line between the natural and the supernatural, we have to take a “leap of faith” in order to enter this third phase of development.

This is where a good portion of the church went off base. Whereas some parts of the church just followed the school of thought that the natural and the supernatural never meet (thus eliminating miracles, the Divine authorship of the Bible, the Divinity of Christ, God Speaking to people), another subset of the church held onto these as an EXCEPTION. God sort of rubs out the line until the Bible is written and then closes it up again. No more miracles, no more Voice of God, No more of anything divine entering into this world. Faith in Christ was pictured as this “leap of faith”.

They began to teach that God does not speak any more. The only reason God spoke at all was to write the Scriptures and then when the last Apostle died, God became silent again. Though I doubt anyone would state it that baldly, that is the essence of what is believed and taught in many seminaries today.

How then is God the “same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)? How did the writers of Scripture get their inspiration if God “does not speak”? And why should we just accept that God only opened up the window of His Voice for that short period of time? Doesn’t John 10 tell us “My sheep hear my voice”?

The silence of the church is understandable. If you are taught that God doesn’t speak, then when God does speak you will interpret it as something else. Even in Jesus’ day, when God spoke out loud, some said it was an angel and other said they heard thunder. Modernism’s greatest blow against God’s people, removing the belief in hearing God, was performed by one who believed in God. That makes me want to scream and cry at the same time.

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4 comments

  1. I was brought up in church being told God does not speak to me. Now, when I want to hear God, I find that I can’t. I guess I could resent those who taught me wrong, but I choose not to. Thanks for these philosophical insights, even if they are a little hard to follow. I didn’t pay much attention in Philosophy courses.


  2. In response to Anonymous number 1, I would like to ask: “How did you accept Christ? What were the circumstances, and did you feel or hear anything that seemed to draw you into accepting Him?” Could that be considered “Hearing God’s Voice”? I don’t say that hearing Him is easy, I’m just pointing out that the effort is not just one-sided. God is pursuing you just like He did when you first accepted Him and when you make the effort to listen, He is also making the effort to speak. Don’t you think that this combination could be successful? Just some things to think about. 🙂


  3. Anonymous 2:
    I was told that there is something called being “moved by the Spirit”. I can see that this may just be different terminology for saying that God speaks to us today. I really do believe that God speaks…I am having a hard time with thinking I wasted 40 years of my life believing otherwise before coming to the church I am now a part of


  4. Um, nothing is a waste when God is involved – as He is – in your life. Struggling to hear his voice in big life decisions is going to be just that – a struggle. But there still has to be a trust in your heart that no matter which path you take in the decisions of life (as long as you have decided to continue being His child) He’s going to point you to the things He wants you to do. Period. He’s God and we’re not. He knows what we can handle in the future and his love is bigger than our struggles to hear him.



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