Around the Blogosphere I’ve found numerous posts about the issue of divine guidance and how this plays out in everyday affairs. Some of the best blogs can be found here and here. Others cloud the issue by throwing in the bible as a help, but as Thinking Man says over at deConversion blog,
….even those who advocate that the Holy Book’s teaching is clear, are inconsistent in the parts they seek to enforce and edit out parts that seem culturally unacceptable to many today. So for example, some Christians pounce on verses in Leviticus 18 to condemn homosexual practice, and yet fail to get excited about the commandments to refrain from sex during menstruation from the same chapter or the eating of blood from the same book. And few Christians today would advocate stoning those caught in adultery, the plucking out of eyes because of lust, or the regular washing of each other’s feet, or insist that Church services be held on Saturday rather than Sunday (despite many serious commands to honour the Sabbath). If we can pick and choose, how can the meaning be clear?
Here, the bible, is the point of contention for all who would debate religion. This is the ground on which evangelicals stand but on which others don’t see anything but shifting sand. Forget all the supposed arguments for “God” which can never be known or proven with any certainty whatsoever, I’m with Jon when he writes,
As I think back over my years sitting in churches, I can safely say that this was done upside down. The focus was on words (on the Word of God, in fact), which was elevated to near idolatrous proportions. What we could know about God and of God was focussed on this book they called the Bible, which they then renamed the “Word of God”. This was the central cog around which the entire christian machine turned.
I was taught in my church youth group that we were like a train: Faith was the locomotive, then Reason, and lastly Feelings. Feelings were last! If any of my feelings were telling me something different to my “Faith”, then my Feelings were not to be trusted, but coerced into line with the “Word of God”! Same with Experience. Everything had to be aligned (or forced to align) with the Word of God.
My feelings were telling me that we were all One, that God was in and around every person. Other people’s Words forced me to supress those feelings and accept another “truth” – that we were not all One, but Two. Saved and Dammed. Right and Wrong. Christian and Non-Christian.
I want to re-learn how to listen to my Feelings, learn to “hear” my Feelings, rebuild that bond of intimacy and trust.
Our own experiences are the only thing we are going to, and should, listen to anyway when all is said and done. We can find out what others say, read what others have said (in the bible), or even pray about it, but when the decision has to be made it’s up to us to make it based on our feelings. Silly Old Bear, in his blog reviewing Dawkins’ The God Delusion writes,
No two people experience their surroundings identically. That is simply not possible. But the same Aurora Borealis can very well evoke completely contradictory responses. To argue that similar experiences by necessity should lead to the same response in two different people only shows the Dawkins in his quest for proof that he is right, rather than a scientific exploration of the evidence – which at best would lead him down an agnostic path, is very much employing presuppositions about the nature of empirical data arrived through non-scientific means. Or in short – Dawkins assumes that the interpretation of the experience of the Anglican Priest, which lead him to belief in G-d is wrong, simply because it lead to something Dawkins cannot accept.
And so it goes with all of us who believe in Divine Guidance. We cannot accept how another person finds it, but we insist our own method is the answer. In fact, all of religion is like that. Live and let live and be confirmed in your own mind. That’s the method of true spiritual agnosticism.