Last week out evangelizing door-to-door in the Carson River Valley in Nevada, I talked to a professing pagan, who confirmed her faith with inner divine messages from Mother Earth. She referred to her god as "she." This might surprise you, but I'm open to the potential truthfulness of such people, which means that I'm open minded. What I tried to do was understand whether such thinking could be validated as true. I couldn't. There was no reason to believe it, because it was so entirely subjective. The only way to believe it was to presuppose it and then invent it, afterward referring to its teachings like Mother Earth delivered them. I believe that the teachings of Mother Earth are nothing but doctrines of demons, even as the Bible, which is confirmed as truth, tells us.
I also talked to a man, who one could characterize as a late fifty-something hippie, who has spun his own religion, which is a combination of what is called NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, and some form of Buddhism. In this hybrid personal belief, no one can judge anything, because absolutely everything is only a perception. No one can move outside of this perception, as NLP is the way by which everyone interprets what he encounters or doesn't encounter, depending upon whether it is real. In common with me, this man accepted supernaturalism. However, his "god" leaves everyone in a similar condition -- assigning meaning based only upon his perception of reality.
As is fairly normal, I talked to a few Charismatics. Charismatics hear God speaking to them, which is confirmed by their experiences. I talked to a woman who was directed by a feeling in her intestines, which sent her messages she interpreted as divine. That reminded me of the LDS "burning in the bosom." Both the signs and the voices Charismatics hear are lies. Even if what someone "hears" is a true message, that does not authenticate it as God Himself. We know it is a lie because the signs contradict scriptural signs, sign gifts have ceased, and God has concluded His special revelation with the last book of the New Testament.
Although I reject Mormonism, the Mormons attempt to impersonate witnesses by including them at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. They say that Joseph Smith got that book from God and that they were there to validate it. The inner voice of many, including independent Baptists, has no validation except for the person hearing the voice. When I have questioned Charismatics, they almost unanimously accuse me of lacking in love. The only acceptable manifestation of love to them is acceptance of their experience as true. That also contradicts scripture in a number of ways, but that is not different than independent Baptists, who think I deny their personal relationship with God, when I question the voice in their heads.
Independent Baptists, fundamentalists, and evangelicals will say that their experiences and the voices they hear line up with scripture, which validates them as true. I have often found this not to be the case. I hear messages preached that are unscriptural given to the Baptist by God through the inner voice. It sometimes has the imprimatur of the "leading of the Spirit." I've heard it called "Holy Spirit preaching." If you doubt it, you are questioning the authority of the man of God or in my case intruding in the autonomy of a church.
The fraudulent signs of Charismaticism are lies. They are not true. God is the God of truth, Who does not lie. True worship is characterized by truth, not lies. It cannot be of God if it is a lie. Saying that you hear the voice of God or are called by God in some type of inner voice is not true. It is a lie. There is no basis for believing it. Even if the teaching were to line up with scripture, the experience itself is a lie.
Normally, if someone has an experience, I tell that person to judge it based upon scripture. He will believe right and do right if he does what God's completed Word says. However, there is still the matter of the experience itself. A person perceives God speaking to him. I recognize that some might be semantics here. When someone says "God spoke to his heart," he means that the Holy Spirit convicted him through the Word of God. That's fine. However, there is such an overlap between these acceptable descriptions of God's work and the untrue ones, that the untrue ones are given credence by the true ones.
Even if someone agrees with what I've been writing in this series, the theological and exegetical sloppiness harms discernment in many. They do not confine themselves to scripture as divine, authoritative, and sufficient. They open the door for people to add or take away from scripture, take more authority upon themselves than what God has given, and to validate false doctrine as being true. Even if you deny specific instances, you should admit that this happens on a regular basis in churches and in the world. This is how Satan and his demons start false religions.
I was talking to a Roman Catholic lady this week, who said she wouldn't leave the Catholic church, but she wished to continue in a parachurch Bible study led by one of her children's mother-in-law. She feels comfortable in this study, she said, but she didn't want to leave the Roman Catholic Church, even though she disagrees with a lot in and with it. I asked her if she would reject Roman Catholicism where it contradicted the Bible. She said that's what she was trying to learn, that is, what the Bible taught and how it differed than her religion. I also told her that the Roman Catholic Church doesn't say that the Bible is its authority. It says that tradition is its authority. Tradition alone, of course, if it is not scriptural, has no authority, so tradition itself has no authority. There is a danger looking to something as an authority that is not authority. The Roman Catholic Church became a false religion by depending on tradition instead of the Bible.
There is danger too for any Baptist, fundamentalist, evangelical, or where the former three will overlap to look to something as an authority that is not an authority. A voice in the head is not an authority. I know in fact that allowing for that as the possibility of God speaking has led to an abundance of false teaching and practice. It is itself a false teaching and practice.
I surmise that many do not want to repudiate what I am exposing. They might even characterize what I'm writing as false, perhaps with the designation of it as cold, intellectual, logical, or unspiritual. They do not want to lose their doctrine of the voice in the head being God speaking to them. If they say what I'm writing is true, they will have to admit that they have been at least less than precise in their speaking. Often church leaders, who fear admission of at least their imprecision, think that admission will result in a diminishing of their authority and/or an exodus of a family or more that enjoy hearing from God directly in their heads. They don't know if either will happen, but they will continue embracing these "revelations" to avoid these two threats.
Part of church growth includes closer alignment to scripture. Church leaders should lead their people to anticipate changes in light of biblical teaching. If the Bible really is the sole authority for faith and practice, greater understanding of the Bible will bring changes that please God. This is living by faith. Living by faith is not a threat to the church.
The voice in the head takes less work than studying the Bible according to the ordinary means. The voice in the head bypasses the labor and the accountability. When someone depends on the voice in the head, at that moment he and those who agree have canonized the message of the voice. They have agreed it is God talking, saying something not found in scripture. Someone might say no new scripture has been written. However, something given the authority of scripture has been practiced. This rejects the sole authority and the sufficiency of scripture. That itself is a false doctrine. It also rejects a biblical and historical doctrine of canonicity. No one is allowed to continue to canonize new words from God on the spot and in this age since the completion of God's Word.
A professing evangelist or missionary could go to Mexico or Brazil or Belize. He goes to Brazil and he says that he went because God told him. How did God tell him and how did he know it was God? What is the basis for knowing? I contend there is no basis for knowing, except that the doctrine of God talking to a person individually is true. He says God told him or called him. That has become an acceptable means for discerning God's will. It should be repudiated. God talks only through scripture. He is free to go to Mexico or Brazil or Belize according to the liberty he receives from Christ and the ordinary scriptural means that God uses to direct people in a church.