Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not a Tame Lion

The C.S.Lewis quote has been echoing in my mond so often recently that it strikes me as a mantra.
Found in The Last Battle, they say: "Is it not told in all the old stories that He is not a tame lion...."

As far as I have known/been taught there are certain boxes and categories, and even those who decry these labels are called "non-conformist".

Even God has certain limits and things that are not done.

For instance: God speaking

God does not speak. It is a given in my circle. People who claim visions or extra-biblical revelation are written off as some sort of unbiblical/unscholarly imaginer.

Yet: He is not a tame lion

I myself once experienced God in a way not in order with my theological persuasions. I was at first completely unsure of how to communicate it. (I also at first completely doubted that it WAS God)
I then did not want to tell anyone lest I meet with lectures or a reputation as someone who was easily swayed by emtional teaching. I refused for some time to accept my own analysis of the place and situation.

However, the fact remained: God had spoken.

Over and over in the past year and 5 months He has affirmed to me that it was Him, and what He said has been affirmed as many times. Since Journey I have had a new clarity of insight, and I also place greater emphasis on Lewis' insight. God does not do boxes. God is so beyond the boxes of "conformity" or "non-conformity" that it isn't even logical to deal with Him on that sphere. One of the most authentic people I know "speaks" ("" is for those of you shaking your heads right now) with God.
(Also, the generic label of "speaking" is a human term which is not able to describe things not on a human realm)

Dear readers: Do not put human insight above God. Do not doubt, O you of little faith.


Team Patterson Handyman Services said...

Interesting. I would wonder though if Lewis is as much an authority on God as Scripture - which you used none of in this definitive statement about the nature and processes of the Almighty. Should we start memorizing Lewis in order to learn the Knowledge of The Holy, instead of Scripture?

Diyarniger said...

I used to believe that God had said everything He ever needed to in Scripture, and doubted anytime someone felt that He spoke to them extra-biblically.

But you know, the closer I get to His heart, the more I step into the relationship of walking with Him, the more I find that He speaks. It has changed my perspective on God's methods of communication. He is not abstracted - He is Emmanuel, in a way that goes beyond what we perceive as personal. Beyond the Bible, beyond others' words, through both, and yet more than them... when God offers intimacy, He truly offers it.

He's not tame. Everytime I think I start to understand or trace His ways, I have to step back and remind myself that He claims beyond-understandingness as intrinsic to His Godhead. :) He also claims a complete love for me. What a calling - to be set free by a God whose ways are so far beyond our interpretations of, our attempts to categorize, them!

Diyarniger said...

Jen, these verses came to my mind as I read your post:

Job 36:23 "Who has prescribed His ways for Him, or said 'You have done wrong'?"

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts."

One of the most thought-provoking revelations of God's wildness (out-of-the-box-ness) to me, in Scripture, is this:

Job 42:1-5
"Then Job replied to the LORD : "I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures My counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, 'Listen now, and I will SPEAK; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.'My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Just look at the unexpected, personal revelation of God to Job. God didn't need to do that. God didn't have to answer Job. But God "spoke", Job did not just "hear of" (which is what the Bible does, it causes us to hear of God) but Job experienced God on a personal level. God came to Job. And He came in Jesus. And He comes in the Spirit He has given us to lead us (John 14:15-17) and live in us. He's not just God to us, He's God with us. I think that sometimes I dishonor God more by limiting Him in what I think He can't or won't do. His ways are beyond finding out, beyond my conceptions of them... but He is LOVE, and with a passionate purpose, unthwarted, He pursues our hearts. He spoke to Job, why would He not speak to me? He gives salvation, why would He not give surety through a personal word? Yes, you test the spirits. Of course. But you learn to listen for His Voice. Why else would He say,

"The sheep listen for [their shepherd's] voice...I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father... I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice..." John 10: 4, 14, 15, 16

He wants to know us. It's a relationship, like His relationship with His Father. We learn to know His voice. It comes in many forms. We learn to recognize Him - not to put Him in a pattern, but to know the Voice so that we no longer rely solely on the pattern.

Warbler said...

God did give me Job 42:5 about a week ago. It is amazing how so many people are saying the same things that He is!!! I find they are usually people I had thought of before as "close to God". ( hehe now you know what I think of you darling!! <3)
Now that I am closer to Him than ever, I agree so much with them!!

Team Patterson Handyman Services said...

"he spoke to Job, why not to me?"
Because, "in times past, God spoke in various ways to the prophets, but NOW speaks through Son!" God has given much information in the Scripture about how He will "speak" in these times. His Spirit?? "The Spirit will guide us to all Truth!" The spirit does not speak other than to show us God's revealed teachings in Scripture, so that we can use His Word, to make choices which show our love for Him.
As for the verses noted, they are very taken out of context if intended to say that God gives specific new information directly to individuals. They DO refer to the circumstances and events God brings into our lives, but not to contradict other Scripture which defines how God is "speaking" in this time. We need to get closer to His Word, and that will lead us closer to His real heart. He is the God of Truth, not mysticism.

Diyarniger said...

Mr. Patterson, thank you for your comment. I do agree with you that God speaks through His Son, and that His Spirit points us to the Truth, which has been revealed in and through Jesus Christ and the written Word of God. I know that you've studied these things far longer and more in depth than I have. I will be the first to say that my understanding is limited and that I am just beginning to learn to walk with God, while you have been a believer for many more years than I and have significantly more experience with which to approach what we read in the Bible. With that in mind, I hope that you will read my questions with patience for my youth, and with the understanding that I do not intend any sort of disrespect by asking them, but am simply seeking to understand the truth.

I agree that the Spirit of God will not contradict Himself as revealed in Scripture. However, is it possible that He could contradict how we interpret that revelation if our interpretation is not in line with what He meant by the words He spoke? And in that case, might He not seem unexpected or strange ("not tame") to us because we are reading Him through the lens of our own understanding?

Might the Spirit also reveal to us on a personal level (through prayer and meditation and through the insight and counsel of others) *how*, practically, to work out His Scriptural commands in the specific situations of our lives?

When the voice of God speaks, whether it be it a command in Scripture or an extra-Biblical reference back to a command given in Scripture, are not both spoken words His own?

Paul went to the Gentiles; Peter to the Jews. My parents served as missionaries in Niger Republic. You and Mrs. Patterson served as missionaries in the Philippines. Winston Churchill commanded Britain. William Carey went to India. C.S. Lewis was a professor at Oxford. Leo Tolstoy lived his entire life in Russia. Graham Greene wrote tragedies. Ira Stanley wrote hymns. Gladys Aylward worked with orphans in China. George Muller founded an orphanage in Germany. Clifford Williams taught college-level logic and philosophy. Francis Chan writes books. Steven Curtis Chapman sings. My friend Sara's father, whom I consider as committed a follower of Christ as my own father, works at a car factory in the US. The guidance of God in *how* to work out His commands over our lives is different for each individual. Thus, it seems to me that while God's absolute and final word is revealed in the Bible, His ongoing guidance can and often is spoken to us in ways that go beyond the Scriptures, because His talentings and giftings to individuals are not just Scripturally-based but also psychologically and physically based. And if His guidance or word to us can be extra-Biblical (for example His guidance to my parents to serve among the Fulani tribe rather than the Hausa tribe), then it follows that He does speak extra-Biblically. Am I reading too much into this, or is my tentative conclusion possibly reasonable?

Wingman said...

Teah Handyman, I believe 1 Tim 3:16-17 would be more helpful than Heb 1:1. Heb 1:1 is not specifically excluding any past forms of communication from the present but neither affirming the same. The point the author makes is that the past forms of communication (prophets, etc) have been superseded by the presence of the Son of God; there is no need for a mediator when the communication can be direct.

Are you now communicating directly with the Son of God, as Heb 1:1 says had happened in those later days? We do however have the scriptures, some of which record His words. But we must not argue that the Word has taken the place of the prophets based on Heb 1:1. The Word of God existed, in a sufficient part, while God used the prophets. It still exists, and we know that it is useful for all teaching, exhortation and instruction. But you will not find in Heb 1:1 support for the idea that God does not speak. Indeed, does it not say that in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son?

Wingman said...

oh, and Tabitha, do you mean to suggest (by his inclusion in the list) that Winston Churchill was a believer? Certainly his heart was directed by the hand of God as a stream. But that is a different matter.

Diyarniger said...

Wingman, I did mean to suggest that Winston Churchill was a follower of Christ. I read a biography of his recently that directed my thinking along those lines. Nonetheless I recognize the potential for bias in any book and am more than happy to be enlighted should the truth be other than what I read. What is your understanding?

Wingman said...

my understanding was and is that he definitely was not, though I do know the issue is controversial. the evidence I have seen paints a picture of a man driven by personal motivation, who had respect for laws of morality, but not necessarily a great deal of respect for their maker. you can find evidence cited to support either direction though. I know Richard Dawkins thought him to be far from a believer.

Anonymous said...

Tab, your points are well made, and - might I add - amazingly respectful in their presentation. My commendations! JW, I support your comments as well. Is not the Son, and the Word, indentifiable as one in the same, as per John 1:1,14; 17:17, 14:6? If so, then direct contact with the Son would be the "perfect which has come", God-breathed Scripture of 1Tim.3:16. I would not argue to separate the two, as does your use of the term "however". However :) I do not think us far apart on these points.
Tab, I might suggest that all the different vocations and locations you noted were not God's direction, but rather each of those men's choices as to how and where they would serve God. I will note that God providentially makes certain information available at certain times, and directes certain circumstances at certain times, which info and circumstances men then use to make choices, such as your fathers choice of which tribe, and ours to choose the Philippines. Although it is colloquial to say "God called us/me to --[place][tribe][job]--" I do not think that such language is based on good interpretation of Scripture as to how God "guides/leads" people. His command is clear, Mat. 28:19-20. Where and how we choose to fulfill it is ours. Most people, however, don't want to take responsibility for their choices, therefore they use the "God called me to..." approach. This shields them from having to give good reasons and evidence for their choices, i.e. testing the spirits.

Diyarniger said...

Anonymous, thank you for your kind words. I can't tell whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with me. Do I correctly understand you to be saying that God speaks in His word, but making information available for our choices constitutes a different kind of guidance that is not appropriately identified as His word to us?

Team Patterson Handyman Services said...

"but making information available for our choices constitutes a different kind of guidance that is not appropriately identified as His word to us?" (BTW, anonymous there is me, Mr. P, somehow the post wouldn't take my sign in that night.) Response: "His word to us" is usually understood to mean something authoritative, also usually understood theologically under the term, "Truth!" As such, "His word" is not debateable as to whether it is right or wrong, but only obey-able. Whereas the circumstances which God puts around us are very debateable as to what they mean. A car accident to one person is Satan trying to keep him from getting where he -or God - wants him to go; to another it is God punishing him for some aspect of failing or weakness; to another yet it is evidence of God's intervening goodness and mercy to produce a greater faith and/or testimony. Same car accident,(circumstance) quite varied - and usually opposing - interpretations. One man's call to missions in Mongolia could just be an escape from difficult circumstances and relationships in his home culture, and I'm sure your father knows of fellow missionaries who were on the field but clearly not because of God's direction. The confusion we propagate with the "God led me" or "God called me" or "God spoke to me" idioms has prevented many people from learning to get counsel and advice about decisions. They should submit their decisions to the body of fellow believers for evaluation and criticism, and make decisions based on the merit or lack of merit of the circumstances and counsel. Then, people need to take ownership of their decisions, and be prepared to show how they applied biblical principles in making those decisions, always being open for more input and advice. But if "God called me" then who is going to challenge such a "call." For the record, I do, and many times have told people that I don't think God did call them. When they ask what basis I have to say that, I respond that I have the same basis they have for saying He DID "call" them. Then I say that since now we are both on equal ground, what are the reasons that you are doing this thing that you claim "calling" for. I think Wingman will remember my discussion with Mils which went that way, as well I think a discussion with him as well, no?

Diyarniger said...

Mr. Patterson, I certainly appreciated your post and your clarifying answers to my questions. It seems that we are discussing whether all the life decisions of true Christians are initiated by and founded upon an understanding of Biblical principles. I hope you will indulge me in what may be redundancy, as I attempt to finally clarify and perhaps resolve this lengthy interchange.

I agree that the concept of "calling" is in many ways a fuzzy one, and apparently an abused one. Unfortunately, nothing in our world escapes the brokenness of the Fall. But God is in the business of redeeming corrupted objects and people, and using broken instruments - even misdirected senses of guidance, or manipulated "calls". There is nothing He claims in which the claim is not contested - particularly, our hearts. Yes, many people who claim a "calling" live lives that deny any validity in their words. Often we claim to worship God and actually worship something else - our personalized concepts of Him, our own desire for relationship or material blessing, or even the self-justification our egos receive when we can tell others that we know Him. We often decide for the comfort, not rightness, of an option. When Christ is not our priority, we experience misguided senses of "calling". That misguidance proves itself in our lives. There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed (Luke 8:17; Luke 12:2). We recognize the veracity of a person's claim to faith by the vivacity of the Life within them pouring out. We guess the sincerity of their love for God or fellow man by the degree of their self-denial. We assess their strength of character by their ability to keep their vows, stand by their promise. We know what they value by what their life revolves around. False callings will always either be redeemed or exposed.

The scientific method of observation and analysis produced much of our modern technology, medicine, and even architecture. Theories of gravity, motion, and electricity underlie vast parts of modern life. Science demonstrates divine design in Creation. Would you agree with me that the scientific method is a very valuable one?

The scientific method has experienced myriad hijackings. Some people wield it as a weapon against truth. It has been used to promote Aryanism, eugenic theories, and genocide. It has been used to deny specific groups of people education, procreation, and in some cases life. It has been used to uphold Darwinism, agnosticism, atheism, Scientology, and even alien-worship cultism. It has been used to devastate ecosystems, create toxic landfills, develop nuclear weaponry, and damage the atmosphere. It has been used to search for aliens and other life-forms (at tax-payers' expense). People do all kinds of unethical, illogical, unscientific things in the name of science.

Diyarniger said...

Let's consider medical practice. Medicine saves lives and ends them. We rescue pre-term babies; we abort pre-term babies. We resuscitate one elderly patient and euthanize another. We administer pain-killers that are also addictive drugs. We regulate women's hormones, and also their conceptions. With medicine, we solve problems and we also create them.

Let's consider internet technology. It accelerates communication and provides information to reduce ignorance. Doctors can use it to communicate with specialists across the globe and save patients' lives this way. Governments use it to track criminals and protect their citizenry. Soldiers overseas can speak with their wives and children on Skype. Husbands, wives, and single people use it to mentally commit adultery. Wiccans use it to explain the process of human sacrifice for any comrades in need of instruction. Gaming addicts use it to feed their compulsive time-wasting. The internet facilitates good and evil.

Because the scientific method, medical practice, and the internet have been abused, shall we then consider them illegitimate and denounce them? Or shall we differentiate between their usages - the good and the bad? If we differentiate, it's clear to see that the rightness or wrongness of the result depends on the starting assumptions, as well as the certainty of obedience to the right procedures. But you don't have to input the same data to the scientific method each time to get the same result. With different data, you get different results - and they can still be right.

What do I mean to suggest by this? I would suggest that perhaps God does give individual calls. Some people approach His guidance with a wrong understanding of who He is. Some approach it without the Biblical concepts necessary to truly know His voice and test the spirits. Some approach it with assumptions of their own rightness, or unrecognized self-worship. And some come to it with open hearts, truly seeking God, knowing what His Word says, and listening for His input as they decide between a number of options that are each Biblically correct. In each case, the results of the "call" bear out whose voice really spoke it.

So, my first question is: Does the abuse of the concept of "calling" negate its possible validity?

Diyarniger said...

My second question derives from my observations of people.

Is it possible that God "speaks" to some people and not to others, simply because of their differing psychologies? One of the strongest Christians I've ever known is not at all a logical person. She feels things very deeply, but thinking in a linear fashion is extremely difficult for her. Another of the Christians I most respect is one of the most logical beings I've ever met. If his levels of logic increased, he would be Spock (from Star Trek). Both of these people spend concentrated time in God's Word and in prayer, but God's guidance to them comes in ways that are very different.

The thinking person considers all sides of a spectrum and comes to a logical conclusion that he can clearly explain from Biblical principles. God's guidance and confirmation is the earmark of his life, and he is above reproach in every way.

The feeling person experiences God on a highly emotional level. While she is firmly grounded in a Biblical understanding, most of her decisions are made in momentary flashes of enlightenment, when she says she suddenly "hears" God's voice. When questioned about her decisions, she can back them up Scripturally, but rarely does an intentional thoughtful consideration of Scripture precede a new conviction or certainty of God's guidance. As with the thinking person I mentioned, her life is one of dynamic service for Christ that defies reproach and constantly motivates those around her to seek God more.

As I consider these contrasting people, I start to wonder whether they experience God differently because God created them with different psychology. There is room for error in both approaches to the Christian life. But that is where we fall back on the grace of God to protect us from what we don't understand. Perhaps we limit God's work in others when we suggest that God's work in them must mirror the processes of God's work in us? After all, He is not only the Lord of the entire Church, but He is the Worker in each one of our hearts.

Thus, my other two questions are as follows:

Is the psychology of each individual the same?

Can we sometimes box God by expecting that His work in each individual follow the same process?

Wingman said...

Mr. P, I dont really recall a conversation with Mils about calling. I do recall a private conversation with you that touched on that subject, though I believe it consisted more of you relating your ideas on calling to me. For you had asked me a question regarding my future goals and intentions and I had told you. I dont believe I used terminology of "calling", and if I did it did not represent a theological view but a vocational one.

Regarding the Son of God and the logos and the aletheia, I agree, as the scriptures say, that Jesus is "he aletheia" and Jesus is "ho logos" and "ho logos ho sos aletheia estin". I believe it error, however, to say that the writer of Hebrews is saying that in these later days God has spoken to us through His word ("scripture", as opposed to "His Son"). If this were mathematics you could use substitution to show that "His Son" equals "His word" equals the scriptures. Of course, this is not mathematics, and the rules here are different.

The writer of Hebrews is starting out his book with a statement of very definite contrast, which lays the foundation for all that follows. He makes the contrast between the old way in which God spoke (really spoke) to His people, and the new way which was seen in Jesus, the man in person. If one were to say, as I believe you have been attempting to, that the writer means to say that in these latter days God has spoken to us through the scriptures, then I would respond that the scriptures have existed, unfinished, since before the incarnate Son of God spoke. The phenomenal event which the writer of Hebrews points to is not the recording of God's specific revelation in scripture, but the man Jesus, Son of God, speaking to us directly.

It is therefore that I say that it is error to substitute for "His Son" (the writers choice of words), the words "the scriptures".