God said to me…
God spoke to me….
The Lord is leading….
Statements like these are common, every day statements made by millions of Christians. They sincerely believe God (the Lord, Jesus) talks to them.
Sometimes the Lord speaks to Christians audibly, though most often the Lord speaks to their heart.
When Christians say that the Lord is speaking to their hearts what do they mean? What is the heart? Where is the heart found?
Most Christians believe that a human being is made up of a body/soul/spirit. Some Christians believe that a human being is made up of a body and sprit. When they speak of the heart they are talking about the innermost part of a human being, the place were the will is found. (the heart being the essence of who and what you are)
The heart is given a mystical quality, with many Christians unsure of exactly what the heart is. I have heard countless preachers warn people about making a head rather than heart profession. Many people will miss heaven because they made a head profession rather than a heart profession, or so they say.
The Bible is fairly clear about the heart. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he, the Bible says. Countless verses show very clearly that when the Bible talks about the heart it is talking about the mind. (and I am aware that not every verse that uses the word heart can be interpreted this way)
When a person decides to become a Christian they make an intellectual decision to believe the Christian gospel. They “believe in their heart” that the gospel message us true.
Of course Christians, like all of us, are emotional beings. Every day our emotions influence the decisions we make. There is no such thing as making an emotion-free decision. Most people understand this but the Christian is often told that emotions can deceive a person and they should never be relied upon.
There is some truth to the notion that emotions can, and do, cause us to do things that are against our best interest or harmful to others. Prisons are filled with people who, in a moment of extreme emotion, hurt or killed someone else. That said, without emotions rarely would human beings rise to the occasion and do anything of meaningful value. Emotions are the fuel by which great things are accomplished.
The next time a Christian says to you that God is speaking to them, leading them, etc ask them to explain what they mean. How do they know it God leading/directing/speaking?
Most often a Christian will say I just KNOW. Many Christians will couch their God interaction in Bible verses and theological justifications. They are told that emotions can lead them astray and that they must ever “trust” their emotions so they attempt to give “biblical” justification for God speaking to them, leading them, etc.
Regardless of Christians suggesting otherwise, God leading, God speaking is an emotional experience.There is no empirical proof to the contrary. None. When a person says God told me to _______________, what proof do they have that it was God speaking to them?
We all have stories of emotional experiences we could tell. I had many, many emotional experiences when I was a Christian. I remember “God” coming upon me and leading me to preach a particular sermon or “God” leading me to have the church do this or that. I have sat in countless services and “felt” the presence of God. I just KNEW God was in our midst. I have been in services where it was evident that the room was thick with God’s presence. I have preached sermons that God used in mighty ways, with countless people professing faith in Christ or getting right with God.
Were these emotional experiences real? Sure they were. Not the God “speaking” aspect of it, but the emotional experiences themselves were real. That’s the nature of emotional experiences. I don’t criticize the emotional experiences of others as long as they don’t use those experiences to “prove” there is a God. (or prove anything else for that matter)
Since emotional experiences cannot be proved they have no value in the God debate. As an atheist I have emotional experiences quite often. Watch a movie .Listen to a song. Go to a place that brings back fond memories. Read a book. Sit in the yard and watch the wildlife. Observe my grandkids playing. The list is endless. All of these things can, and do,elicit an emotional response. from me. I desire and even want to make an emotional connection with the things that make up my wife but I do not make a huge leap in logic and think that when I have an emotional experience that it is God speaking to me. Emotional experiences remind me I am alive, however they do not speak to whether or not God exists.