Post Author: Bill Pratt
I was once having an impassioned discussion with a fellow Christian about the curriculum of the upcoming discipleship classes to be held at our church. This Christian brother wanted to focus the curriculum on the subject of prayer, while I was adamant that we should teach a class on the attributes of God, which did not strictly align with the topic of prayer.
During our conversation, my friend made a statement to me which he believed should have ended the conversation, a statement which I sometimes hear other Christians make. He said, in effect, “I’ve been praying about this and God has told me that the curriculum on prayer is what He wants us to teach.”
My response to him, which admittedly was a bit contentious, was, “God told me to teach about His attributes, so it looks we have a stalemate!” I knew that a contest between the two of us about which idea God really preferred, based on our own subjective feelings, was pointless, but I wanted my friend to see where his comment would logically lead us.
The truth is that God speaks to us, foremost, from His word in the Bible. The Bible speaks about both the subject of prayer and the subject of God’s attributes. Nowhere, however, do you find a verse in the Bible telling our specific church which topic should be taught in the upcoming semester! Given that we are limited in space, we cannot teach everything and choices have to be made, but those choices will have to be made without pointing to any one Bible verse.
It concerns me when Christians claim God told them something that cannot be found in the Bible, and especially when they are using this claim to shut off debate. There are many subjects that the Bible covers which are not up for debate, but there are many subjects which the Bible does not cover which are up for debate (e.g., choosing a discipleship curriculum). For those topics, we should have the debate and pray for wisdom to come to a reasonable answer, but we should not play the “God told me” card.
I am personally very uncomfortable claiming God told me things which I cannot point to in Scripture. Who am I to represent new revelation from God? If you are one of these Christians who find yourself saying this kind of thing frequently, ask yourself why. If it is to cut off debate where debate is perfectly acceptable, then stop! Argue your point of view, but don’t claim that God is somehow on your side when you have no objective way of knowing that.