One of my fondest childhood memories involves singing a song entitled, The Creation, published in Service in Song by American Printing Co. and republished in The Little Golden Book of Hymns, Golden Book Publishing, Inc. Copyright 1947. The song features the following words:
And God said the sun should shine, the rain should fall, the flowers should grow
And God said, the birds should sing, And it was so, was so!
And God said the grass should grow, the trees bear fruit, the winds should blow
And God said, the streams should flow, And it was so, was so!
Fast forward to the Spring of 2014. Eleven people gathered to engage in interfaith dialogue concerning the opening texts of Genesis—Jews, Christians, and Muslims. While watching video clips of biblical scholars discussing selected texts in Genesis everyone in the group heard these words over and over … “And God said …”
After several weekly meetings, the facilitator asked a pointed question. “I’m just curious,” he said. “Has anyone in this group actually heard the voice of God?” Without hesitancy, six people raised their hands. The facilitator asked the six people, “Did you hear actual words?” All six nodded in the affirmative. “In what language?” Each person indicated that God’s voice was heard in their own native language—and there were different languages represented in the group.
I believe that the spirit of God can and does communicate with the human mind and heart, even though many people question the truth of this phenomenon today. I also believe that God’s voice is not heard by everyone. So, why do some people hear while others do not? Who knows? Even though I believe God’s voice speaks and is heard, I don’t believe that we control whether we hear it or what is spoken. My own experience suggests that hearing God’s voice is very much beyond the realm of human control.
Lately, many people publicly express disbelief when people claim to hear the voice of God. “Nonsense!” they say. “That’s delusional thinking!” More recently, scientists have suggested that brain research will eventually lead to the discovery of a “God spot”—an area of the human brain capable of imagining or perceiving the hearing of God’s voice. Whether this discovery proves anything remains a mystery.
So … how should people of faith respond when people claim to hear God’s voice?
When someone publicly alleges to have heard God’s voice, I believe it is our shared spiritual responsibility to investigate and test the evidence that supports the claim.
- Is the imparted information in keeping with the benevolent character of God?
- Is the person making the claim an otherwise credible person in all other aspects of life?
- Is the imparted information intended for personal edification or public awareness?
- Does the revelation offer insight or intellectual assistance that would benefit the spiritual journey of humanity?
If we can’t answer “Yes” to these few questions, then whatever was heard or perceived may not have been the voice of God. On the other hand, if we can confidently answer “Yes” to these questions, then the revelation or illumination could be worthy of our attention. Moreover, our curiosity should be especially piqued if the imparted evidence is not what we expect hear or see. After all, how many people missed the idea that Jesus might be the long awaited messiah simply because he wasn’t the messiah figure anyone expected! And what did Jesus say about staying awake and watchful?
Is God still speaking?
Thoughts along the way,
SUBSCRIBE Carol Wimmer is the author of the acclaimed poem When I say I am a Christian, and three books entitled: The Net—An Organizational Vision for the Church of Tomorrow; The Clock—A Timekeeping Tool for the Church of Tomorrow; and The Key—A Spiritual Language for the Church of Tomorrow