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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Does God Talk to You?


Joy Behar's insensitive "joke" about Vice President Pence's faith has now turned against her, since Oprah Winfrey has declared--more clearly than the VP ever did, I suspect--that she will wait to hear a clear word from God as to whether or not she should run for president. Hypocrisy abounds.

Yet something needs to be said with confessional clarity about the matter of God speaking. We may defend the VP's notion of God talking to him the way Ben Shapiro admirably did the other day, suggesting that it's merely a reference to a rather ordinary and common search for a sense of direction from God. I don't know what the VP actually said, but it's likely to have been something along those lines. And the VP and anyone else who might think that way needs to be defended against unfair charges of mental illness.

But let's be clear, all references to Pence and Oprah aside: anyone who really thinks God is talking to him or directing him through his own feelings or experience or intuition is an enthusiast. And our Confessions condemn enthusiasm. It is a dangerous thing to attempt to divorce God from his Word. Luther, in the Smalcald Articles, says clearly, "“Therefore we ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments.” (Trig. 495.10, 11).

Does God talk to you? He certainly talks to me, but not in feelings or experiences, but every Sunday morning, when I hear (and confess) his audible, human, clear words in the Divine Service. This is why I ought to regard preaching and his word sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.

Burnell Eckardt