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Hearing the “Voice of God”

hearing the voice of god

Spend enough time around Evangelicals and you will learn that not only do they talk to God, but they also “hear” God talk to them. In any other setting, “hearing” voices will land you in the hospital on a 72-hour psych hold, but if the voice being heard is GOD, then hearers of this silent utterance are considered sane, rational beings. Evangelicals believe God not only speaks to them through the words in the Bible, but he also audibly, yet silently, speaks to them during prayer and meditation and at random moments throughout the day. Evidently, the Christian God is able to carry on millions of silent conversations with his followers at the same time. Awesome, right? Too bad this same God is not very good at making sure everyone he is talking to is hearing the same message.

Evangelicals say they hear the voice of God, but often other followers of Jesus hear different things, often wildly contrary to what God told someone else. I noticed this particularly during church business meetings. Members were expected to pray and seek the will of God on the matter of business before the church. After, “hearing” from God, members were expected to be of one mind — Greek for “agreeing with the pastor.” As anyone who has ever attended a Baptist business meeting will tell you, unity of mind is rarely on display. If everyone is supposedly “hearing” the voice of God, why are there so many competing viewpoints? What color should we paint the auditorium, the pastor asks? Let’s seek God’s mind on the matter! You would think that God would tell everyone BLUE. Nope. God, ever the jokester, whispers to various members different colors, sowing discord among the brethren.

Years ago, I started Somerset Baptist Church — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation in southeast Ohio. The congregation first met in an empty storefront. After a few months, we moved to what was then called the Landmark Building. We rented the entire second floor for $200 a month. One day, I was out and about and stumbled upon an old abandoned Methodist church building — five miles east of Somerset, on top of Sego Hill. I made some inquiries about the building, and found out that it was for sale. I told the congregation about my exciting find, asking that they would pray about us buying the building. After a week or so, I held a business meeting, thinking God had told congregants the same thing he told me: buy the building! Imagine my surprise when it became clear to me that the church was NOT in favor of buying the building. I was so depressed. How could they NOT hear God’s voice? I thought. Yes, the building was $20,000, a large sum for a fledgling church, but I believed God never ordered anything he didn’t pay for. Dejected, I called the Methodists and told them we wouldn’t be buying the building.

Several weeks later, the Methodists called me and asked me if the church had changed its mind about buying the building. Before I could respond, the man said, make us an offer, Bruce. I shot a quick prayer to Jesus, asking him what I should do. As sure as I am sitting here today, I heard him say, offer them $5,000. I thought, $5,000? The Methodists will never accept such a low offer. But, not wanting to disappoint Jesus, I made the $5,000 offer. The man said, we will talk it over. Sure enough, a few days later, the Methodists called to tell me that they accepted my offer! I thought, PRAISE JESUS, we are going to have our own building. All I had to do is convince the congregation that the voice they thought they heard at the business meeting was not God’s; either that, or in the intervening weeks God had changed his mind. Fortunately, the church heard MY voice, and we bought the building.

Silly story, I know, but I think it aptly illustrates the idea that God speaks to people. I wanted something — a church building — and I got my way. I heard the voice of God countless times during the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry, and, without exception, what God was saying almost always perfectly aligned with what I wanted, needed, or desired. God’s will be done, as Evangelicals are wont to say, was actually Bruce’s will be done. 

In late 1993, Pastor Pat Horner and Community Baptist Church in Elmendorf, Texas, extended to me an invitation to become their co-pastor. I prayed about the matter, deciding that God wanted me to stay as pastor of Somerset Baptist Church. I “wanted” to move to Texas, but God said NO, or so I told myself anyway. Several weeks later, I was pondering the future of Somerset Baptist, and all of a sudden, I started crying. In that moment God spoke to me, telling me he wanted me to move my family to San Antonio, Texas so I could become the co-pastor of Community Baptist. Wait a minute, didn’t God “tell” you several weeks before that he wanted me to stay in Ohio? Yes, he did, but evidently, he changed his mind. Never mind the fact that the Bible says, I am the Lord thy God and I changeth not and Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I called Pat Horner and asked if the offer was still open. It was. You see, God had told them that I was going to be their co-pastor, so me — uh, I mean God — changing his mind was just confirmation to them of what he said to them. Two months later, I packed up my family and worldly goods and moved to Texas. My tenure at Community lasted all of seven months — an unmitigated disaster.

Another silly story, I know, but it again illustrates how crazy it is to think God “speaks” to anyone. God didn’t tell me not to move, nor did he tell me to move. There is no God, so the only voice I was hearing was my own. The NO and YES were in my mind and reflected the struggle I was having about whether I wanted to continue pastoring Somerset Baptist Church. I spent eleven years at Somerset Baptist, living in poverty the whole time. For five years, my family and I — all eight of us — lived in a 12×60 mobile home fifty feet from the church building. I was worn out, burned out, and tired of being poor, yet I loved the congregation. What was it then that caused me to change my mind?

We heated our mobile home with coal and wood. We also heated the church and school building the same way.  We were running out of wood, so I asked a man in the church if he could get some wood for us to burn, He said, sure. Several days later, the man dumped a pickup load of wood in the parking lot and quickly left. I thought, it would have been nice if he had stacked it, but okay, he at least got the wood for us. I gathered up some of the wood, took it inside, and put it in our Warm Morning stove. I quickly found out that wood was unusable — too wet and green to burn. At first, I was angry over the wet wood, but then I began to cry. This one event — not a big deal in and of itself — pushed me over the proverbial edge. I was done. Is it any surprise, then, that God changed his mind and told me he wanted me to move to Texas? A good salary and a new 14×70 mobile home awaited me. A congregation thrilled over the prospect of me being their co-pastor awaited me. A young, fast-growing congregation awaited me. New challenges and opportunities awaited me. I said NO to all of this because I had a sense of loyalty to the people at Somerset Baptist. Most of them had been members for years and walked beside me as we built the church. I felt guilty over thinking about leaving them so I could have a better life; so my family would no longer have to live in poverty. But when the wet, green wood was dumped in the parking lot, my thinking changed. Enough, I thought, and God agreed with me.

Now, I am sure that my critics will pick these stories apart, suggesting that I was the problem, not God; that the voice I was hearing was self, and that if I had been more spiritual, I would have heard God’s voice and he was would have directed me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. I don’t believe that for a moment. There is no God, so I couldn’t have heard his voice. All my decisions reflected were the struggles I was having over life and the ministry. The voice I heard was my own, giving life to my wants, needs, and desires.

Bruce, I don’t care what happened in your life, I KNOW God speaks to me. How do you KNOW it is God’s voice you are hearing? What evidence can you give for such a claim? Why do God’s silent utterances to you almost always match your own wants, needs, and desires? Have you ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe the voice you are hearing is your own? Yes, the Bible contains stories about God speaking to people — from God speaking to Moses from a burning bush, to God telling Abraham to murder his son Isaac, to God speaking to the crowd at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus told his disciples: my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. How can any of us know that it is God speaking? There’s absolutely zero evidence for God speaking to anyone. Evangelicals are free to believe that they have heard the voice of God, but they can’t expect non-believers to accept their stories as true without some sort of verifiable proof.

Believing God speaks to you is a matter of faith, a faith I do not have. Most often, hearing the voice of God is harmless, but there are times when hearing his voice leads to dangerous, harmful behavior — including murdering your children or taking a twelve-year-old girl as your virgin bride. Evangelical missionaries John Allen Chau and Charles Wesco lost their lives because they believed that they had heard the voice of God commanding them to go reach the lost for Jesus in dangerous foreign lands. Why would God tell these men to leave their houses and lands and go to the mission field only to kill them days later? What a cruel, schizophrenic God. Or, perhaps God has nothing to do with this; perhaps the only voices these men heard were their own; perhaps their deaths rest on the shoulders of the myriad of pastors, professors, and parents who whispered in their ears about the wonders of serving God in a foreign land and the rewards that would await them if they became missionaries.

Think I am wrong? Just ask God to tell me.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    Becky Wiren

    I remember years ago being in great distress and crying while driving to work. I “heard” God say, “Everything will be all right.” Really heard it, seemed outside of myself. Funny thing though…God’s voice sounded like mine. Hmm.

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    I was taught that it’s either God talking to you or Satan talking to you, and darned if it isn’t hard to tell the difference.

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    When we think about something we are actually having a conversation with ourself. All one needs to do to have a God delusion is to lower your reflective voice an octave and voila! Instant conversation with God! Of course this also explains why what God wants is always what you want and is often at odds with what others think God wants. It also explains how God can tell multiple Republican candidates to run for President and then none of them win.

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    mary g

    still struggling with the childhood indoctrination. my family moved all over after dad hearing from god that he should pastor yet another church. 20 yrs plus roaming around the usa,and most of these churches are now non-existent. what a sham. dad just wanted to move to satisfy some longing he had. glad I have been able to see thru all this and have managed to create a stable life. refuse to have anything to do w/organized religion now. realize it is a scam, but still struggle w/fear and or the idea of hearing from god. know it is false on a logic level,but it is still difficult. parents still in this and are still unstable. thanks for taking the time to write. hope you are feeling better bruce.

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    This exact thing was a huge factor in destroying my faith. I thought God was telling me he wanted me to pastor a church and things just seem to fall into place with this one little rural church. I served there 3 1/2 years. The first 6 months were pretty good, like a honeymoon period. Then after that it was a grueling hell. I’ve never been so miserable in my life. I prayed for God to give me permission to leave. So I set up a list of things that if they were to happen I would leave. Really, it was my list, not God’s list. So I said, “God this is it, if it happens I am gone.” And they happened. I left. They sold the church and the buyers tore it down. I was so confused – why would God do this? Why would he put me in a position to lead a stubborn, self-centered congregation and then have the church destroyed?

    One of the final straws was another area of ministry. I served under the Chaplain in the local Detention Center for 10 years (pastoring my little church and working a sales job through it). Everybody – multiple church leaders, my family, inmates and most importantly the chaplain – said I had a calling on my life for the chaplaincy. The Chaplain trained me up because he planned on retiring and wanted me to replace him. He retired at the end of last year. The board of directors overrode his recommendations and insistence I was called to that ministry. They brought in a guy that had never worked in that jail but was good friends with several of them. I don’t know how to express what it made me feel – broken hearted? Defeated? I walked away from the jail altogether and have never looked back. Honestly, I feel like it was one of the best decisions I made. I felt like flipping a middle finger at God while I left. I didn’t pray or anything about it. I just know I was done.

    I guess all of those years I was just like Bruce – hallucinating the voice of God for my own will.

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        Man that is so true. You see I have a problem, I don’t conform easily. I have authority issues and I don’t kiss anybody’s backside. I have a near 30 year successful career in sales and I am highly respected by my company and even my competitors. I got here by working hard. You are 100% right ministry is different. It’s put me in conflict with numerous leaders and church members. I didn’t think about the impact of that.

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    I was raised baptist but in college I became pentecostal, and the hearing voices thing really increased. At first I prayed to hear God’s voice, because every one else was hearing it or claiming to, and then it started happening and I began to find it unwelcome. So be careful what you pray for.

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      I have some Pentecostals in my family as well, including a second cousin who began hearing “the voice of God” in his late teens. He and his family came to believe he was some sort of prophet, and he even had his own church for a time. Then he began hearing other voices, coming from the walls of his house. He became convinced that these voices were the voices of demons, and his “god voice” apparently told him that the only way to be rid of the demons was to burn down his house, so he did…fortunately his wife and kids got out in time. He was arrested for arson, but never went to trial because two court psychiatrists determined he had one of the worst cases of schizophrenia they had ever seen. He remains in a mental institution to this day, a tragic case all around. So anytime someone claims “the voice of god” is calling them to do something, I have to admit, I question their mental health…there seems to be a very, very fine line between religious zealotry and mental illness at times.

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        howitis, I have written before about my uncle who heard God convicting him of the masses of lost people in Brantford, Ontario. He took to the streets to save them and did not find a way to balance his concerns for lost souls with his basic self-care. He ended up on Lithium to control his behavior and never came back from his ‘mission’. Belief systems like Pentecostal Christianity encourage imbalance and are tools used to go over the edge. Sometimes you hear of a case where somebody claims Jesus cured their mental illness but if you follow-up, the case is more truly described as jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The fire is tax-free in our deluded society and it offers retty robes and stained glass views. Regardless the fact there has never been any reliable truth about God, people still bring all their garbage to the altar to offer it up. Your last line in your comment says it very clearly.

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          “Belief systems like Pentecostal Christianity encourage imbalance and are tools used to go over the edge. ”

          Yeah, be on fire, not lukewarm. i.e. radicalized

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    I was raised Catholic. I never heard the voice of any heavenly being, neither God, Mary, nor a saint…But not for want of asking. I remember one afternoon, in the church next to the Catholic elementary school I attended, kneeling for a long time in a corner of the area in front of the pews, praying my heart out for guidance. It never came.

    Years later, I took a self-hypnosis class to help with weight loss. The instructor went down the foremost row of three (small classroom), where I was sitting, and raised the student’s right arms. I immediately put mine down again. She then announced that the two or three of us who put our arms down were probably not good hypnosis candidates. Maybe that correlates with never hearing God’s voice. Certainly, I got nothing from the class.

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    I can’t even tell you how many times I wanted to hear from God. I never, not one time in allll those religious years, heard anything. Nothing of comfort, advice, support… nothing.

    I did all the stuff I was supposed to, gave money I didn’t have, even as a child, prayed and tried to live the way HE wanted me to, was kind to others, even signed up for some spots in our annual 24 hour church prayer vigil when I was 12.

    And I never heard a damn thing.

    It would have been good to know back then that there wasn’t something wrong with me. That childhood indoctrination takes a lot of work to dump, though.

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    I condemn ‘God’ by shouting into the Nothing. Sometimes I do it in the car so as to protect others from my dump of emotion. God is a fucking sheet metal garbage can for human whelming-over. God is a blank slate we write on with language unexplainable. God is coyote turd on the driveway. I don’t wonder for a minute about the actual existence of the can or the slate because I know that it is as real as dreams are, as fantasies and things that go bump in the night.
    Go on harming the children, I say. Go on Christians and Muslims, Buddhists and Bahais. Keep on instilling fear and suffering because that is what you endured and it is your choice. This hurts you more than it hurts them, sure, you bet.
    Beat me with the book. Prey for me.

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    No, Bruce, you’re right. When I started my first fundagelical church, they said over and over, “You can hear God’s voice!” Then I had a Bible study leader who was into contemplative prayer and taught it to me. I spent 1-3 hours a night (sometimes more) in prayer, worship and study, “listening to the Lord.” Four years later, a series of events showed me in concrete, no-excuses ways that it was all a bunch of crap, and I was talking only to myself. I cannot explain how hurt I was that I had tried so hard to know and get close to God, and it was all for nothing. Now I know that all those people saying “The Lord told me” are about as accurate as that 8-ball game.

    It was come here and read your story, Bruce, and the other stories. Sad to say, I’m not alone in this.

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    I read about a scientific study a couple or so years ago. Scientists have literally pinpointed an area of the brain that, when stimulated, gives us a sense of God, or that we’re not alone, that something is near. Fascinating to think that humans have this region of their brain developed like t

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    It’s a bit hard to comment on this since I don’t want to discourage people from leaving abusing versions of Christianity. I agree with many things that people said here – projecting own thoughts to be the voice of God, mental diseases, etc. (+ making it all up to manipulate other people). I have experienced all of it myself.

    On the other hand, I choose to go where the evidence takes me. I want to know the truth no matter what it is and no matter where the search takes me.

    Bruce asked – “What evidence can you give for such a claim?”

    I don’t want to convince anyone, I am just sharing. We had been praying with a friend regarding a certain issue for about 270 days. He was shown a very very improbable scenario in what I would call a very short vision. This scenario happened 4 days later. It was not like he guessed the scenario 10 times before and this was the first time it did happen. 4 days is about 1.5% from 270 days. It is extremely improbable to just guess such unlikely thing within a 4 day time frame. I don’t claim this proves the existence of God, but I remember it like yesterday. On Thursday he had the “short vision” in my room where I sit now and type this. On Sunday the scenario happened.

    Second experience happened in May 2015. A guy (who is now my friend) I had then seen for the third time in my life went to have lunch with me and my friend. Out of the blue he gave me what is often referred to as “word of knowledge.” He said something from my past that he had absolutely no way of knowing. And I’m not talking about generic things like “you went to school” or “you have a driving licence.” He said a name (including the surname), described this person, things related to him, etc. I am a scientist, I am a very skeptical person. Very very few people know this about my past, there was almost zero chance he met someone, found out and then tried to impress me. This guy is a foreigner, he visited my city just for a few days and basically did not know me at all. Actually, none of the people that knew this about me knew this guy at the time. Despite the fact I asked them about it. No one told him. Plus, there was no motive at all; the things he told me were unrelated to him; he didn’t get any money from me, nothing. Actually, we were having lunch because I and my friend wanted something from him (so I payed for his meal, but I would have done so anyway). I even asked him about it later and he was laughing and amused that I invested so much effort to check things out. There was absolutely nothing suspicious about his behavior. He doesn’t even remember what he told me and he said he is not clever enough to orchestrate things like this in advance (he didn’t know me back then and was staying just for a few days). Other similar things happened just a few weeks ago since he was visiting my country again. I am not saying this is a proof of God, but it is evidence I can’t deny no matter how hard would try. I wouldn’t be an honest skeptic if I ignored it. Maybe he just has the ability to look into my memory through my eyes and it will be explained by science years from now. I don’t know. But the things he said and their timing point to an intelligence intervening at that moment in my life. It was not just some random stuff from my past.

    To conclude, I’m not trying to convince anyone there is a God. I’m perfectly happy that Bruce is an atheist and helps loads of people to leave religion that hurts them. I love this site, these blogs, I agree with almost everything he says and I’ve experienced most of the religious abusive rules he writes about as well. For me, Bruce amazingly describes what the “true God” is not like. I believe that Jesus who walked the sands of Israel years ago would be proud of his work here.

    So it’s a bit schizophrenic. I honestly wanted to share my experience in this discussion where everyone mentions only the negative stuff (and rightly so!), but at the same time I don’t want people to doubt their atheism if that’s a mentally healthier place to be for them. The version of God that I believe in is more interested in people than in herself/himself/itself, cause the God I now believe in is not a dick. But I had loads of terrible experiences with all the dick versions… sadly…

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      Bruce Gerencser

      I’m content to leave such rare, random experiences to greater examination. Since that’s impossible for me to do, I certainly wouldn’t see them as proof of the existence of God.

      Things happen that “seem” supernatural when, in fact, they are not. At best, such things are currently unexplainable, and certainly no evidence at all for the Christian God. You”might” be able to argue for the existence of some life force” but the Christian God?No.

      And if it is indeed the Christian God, he is subject to the same critiques as the Evangelical God; that he makes rare, often silly, interventions, yet day in and day out doesn’t give a shit about pain, suffering, hunger, or death. Not a deity worthy of worship.

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      Grammar Gramma

      Henriette, I don’t think you need to worry about people doubting their atheism. Most readers here who are atheists have come to their atheism after many years of doubting gods and struggling with religion. Most of them feel that atheism is a far healthier place for them to be mentally than in a religion. Your version of your god is just that – your version. I’m not sure you can square that up with the biblical version of god, but if that is a healthier place for you to be mentally, then more power to you. But please do not come here patronizing atheists, most of whom see the biblical god as a real dick.

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        Grammar Gramma,
        there was absolutely nothing patronizing in my comment. That’s your projection; I don’t feel superior to anybody here in any way; I learn so much from people here and receive a lot of healing through posts and comments I read (I just don’t share the atheistic point of view). What I wrote was motivated by an absolutely honest concern. I know the endless anxiety of “what if this” and “what if that.” Pascal’s wager which Bruce often refers to is the best example of what keeps people within religion. I hate that and I just don’t want to trigger it in anyone. I meant what I said – I just wanted to contribute to the discussion. Maybe Bruce’s question was rhetorical, maybe not. Nevertheless, I shared my experience. I also have many negative experiences full of errors, mistakes and pain, but I thought there is enough of that stuff here already. Thanks for the power wish. I’m quite close to becoming a version of agnostic at this time in my life. If evidence, experience and honesty brings me there I have no problem in admitting I was wrong – I was and will be many times in my life. (I’m not sure there really is a consistent biblical version of god as Jesus’ version is quite contrary to the OT version… and it also depends on which Jesus’ version one means…and which OT version as well)

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    I agree. In the most raw sense there can’t even be a single definition of a Christian God or an Evangelical God because in the end everyone has their own definition that differs from the definitions of others.
    When I was very young I tried my best to follow all the fundamentalist rules I was taught to follow, but then I started to understand the conflict. If I had evangelized all people to follow that “version of God” everybody would lose their identities and become machines looking and acting the same, slaves to horrifying and silly rules. I realized “that version of God” was a monster who just pretends to love people, but actually hates them and paid a blood sacrifice just to buy slaves to manipulate. Loads of “fuck you’s” followed (a forbidden word at the time of course); sadness turned into tears; gradually the ability to cry was gone; then emotions turned into emptiness; then emptiness turned into depression; then I became a machine with almost no feelings whatsoever and heavy depression (I fully realized only later that this was truly a form of mental illness).
    It’s a very long story and generally there is very little difference between your views and mine. But in a sense I can’t deny the existence of something higher and bigger that for lack of other terms I would simply call – God. And I am still observing all my experiences and trying to find out what it is and how it works. Unlike most Christians, I’ve developed the ability to have the freedom to reject it any time. It was not easy because of depression, fear of Hell, fear of this, fear of that, anxieties and all the things you write about so well. I know how hard it is to leave religion and even to this day I experience what you call “fundamentalist hangovers.” I went through years and years of that shit and I clearly understand what you mean by the difference between true atheists and NONE’s.
    Despite all of this I see too much evidence for a GOOD higher being. If I find out this being is a dick I have the freedom to show it one big and satisfying middle finger, but at the moment I’m more inclined to think He’s not a dick (although I honestly have doubts all the time – as I said before, I am a very skeptical person). I don’t think that religion nor non-religion is an answer. Monstrous things have been done both in the name of religion and non-religion (communism, Nazism, fascism, etc.). If there is a good higher being he doesn’t give a fuck whether you deny him because a truly good being is not self-centered and prideful (so many versions of the Christian God are!!!). That’s why I said that I think the Jesus from centuries ago would be proud of you, because you criticize abusing versions of religion and care about people and practical everyday love, and you are persecuted and hated for it (righteousness). You carry this burden, Bruce, and refuse to put it down even if your “supposed” friends leave you for it. They crucify you over and over again while you’re doing the very thing Jesus taught – you love the person next to you.

    Suffering is a huge problem… I am generally inclined to believe that it’s a consequence of misuse of the powers we humans possess and that is why people suffer from consequences of actions of other people that were before them. That’s the only version of “original sin” I am willing to accept. It’s not our fault that this Earth was passed to us in such a fucked up state. What about earthquakes and hurricanes? If people cared about the earth years and years ago maybe they wouldn’t happen. If we pollute the sees and people four generations from now suffer from it in ways we can’t know is it the fault of a higher being? No, it’s our fault. We have the power to do something about it. This higher being decided he didn’t want machines so here we go – with free will. This being reveres our free will to such extent he allows us to lie about him, write forgeries in his name and modify letters written about him by other people (I’m referring to all the Ehrman stuff).
    I believe this being decided to visit us and live it just like one of us cause it’s pretty easy to boast from above and never live the shit we do. But still, our free will remained. That’s why I find it very liberating to discover that the Bible contains so many mistakes – it’s a very human book, just as Bart puts it! One can find as many versions of Jesus there as he’s willing to invent. That’s why Bible alone is very weak (but at least an attempt) to describe what Jesus was. I certainly do not think the Gospels are a sufficient instrument to grasp what he was.
    At the moment I think the higher being is still communicating with me in a way I am empirically trying to grasp. The two coincidences I mentioned above are just a tip of an iceberg of many other coincidences that happened to me along the way. One of them was me discovering this blog. It was a complete coincidence. I was not searching anything connected to atheism or religion at all. I just googled A.C.E. because I attended A.C.E. as a kid. I came across this blog and fell in love with it (although it took me some time to realize you really are a loving person, Bruce). So, yes, where the Gospels lack, you certainly help me to understand what Jesus was not like. I couldn’t agree more with “Why I hate Jesus.” Maybe the way I discovered your blog is just a random coincidence or maybe it’s a part of my journey and one of those silly rare shitty interventions the higher being makes according to my free will decisions to find out who Jesus really was. Who the fuck knows? At the moment there’s still more evidence for me that it is the higher being, so I continue my search. Maybe I’ll become an agnostic 3 months from now. Then I’ll come back and comment here that I became one. What I am certain of, Bruce, is that we fight for the same and most important thing – love the person that you’re with!

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    MJ Lisbeth

    It’s funny that I’ve come across this an hour after talking to my brother. Before he married my sister-in-law, he was baptized in her church. They attended, though he has never been terribly religious and she wished he would have been more active in that church. She died three years ago. Now he goes to social events, but not services. At one of those events, he met a woman. Things were going well until she talked about God “telling” her one thing or another.

    “I don’t think our relationship will go beyond lunch,” he said.

    “Good thing,” I replied. “Sounds like she needs to take her meds.”

    He laughed. ‘You know, if there had been any concept of “mental illness” in ancient times, we probably wouldn’t have religion.”

    Not bad for a guy who majored in business and took humanities courses only under duress.

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    Thanks for sharing this. I too remember the frustrations of being sure that I was hearing from God, only to find others sure they were hearing from God to counter my plans. How can the same God be sowing such discord? It was so frustrating at the time. Now I just sit back and shake my head when I think about how things like this played out. Neither of us was truly hearing God.

    If I had really heard from God, then I must have been right. God can’t be wrong, and he agrees with me! To someone who observes me saying this, it comes across as arrogance, but to one schooled in the thought that you have a personal relationship with Jesus who tells you these things, it is actually thought to be humility–“I am humbly following what God says to me.”

    I have a similar post to this at my site– –, but in many ways you say it better. I will now link to this post from my post.

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      Hi Merle,
      Always wondered what happens during a football game between two Christian teams, both praying for a win and believing God told them to “give of their best and the victories will come”

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    I try to stay away from people who claim to hear voices. Either they are having a mental illness episode and need help, or they have an agenda.

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    I never heard God’s voice, either audibly or distinctly in my mind like someone else’s thoughts intruding on my own. I doubt most people do, even if they claim otherwise. At least one of my pastors was skeptical of God’s speaking in such a way, leery of any extra-biblical revelation claims. Our congregation was exhorted to pray and look for God’s answer in the Bible, his leading/calling (apparently an emotional response to what we prayed about-that still, silent voice that spoke to Elijah), or through events in life directing towards or away from something.

    Why a personal God doesn’t personally communicate with his ‘friends’ is a stumbling block for me. One I finally could not overcome.

    Finding personal messages in an ages-old document, written to another culture, is a questionable practice. I’ll grant maybe finding general guidelines and principles for the faithful, but claiming to pray about XYZ, then reading a chapter of Micah, or Phillipians, or whatever and finding a crystal-clear passage referencing that very same 21st century situation being prayed for seems much more like reading ‘into’ the text rather than the other way around.

    Likewise, I was taught to ignore the emotional testimonies of other faiths (the LDS ‘burning in the bosom’ for example) because emotions can be deceiving. Yet, feeling called/lead is exactly the same thing. The discerning Christian should then study scripture to confirm that feeling was really in line with God’s declared will, though in practice few seem to do so. The emotions of others are untrustworthy, but not our own.

    Trusting in God to open or close doors in life and guide the believer through circumstance brings you into the same sort if situations described in Bruce’s article.

    If the all-powerful, all-knowing, personal God of the universe won’t clearly communication with his children……Well, I guess John Milius put it best:
    Conan: “(I pray) To Crom, but I seldom pray to him. He doesn’t listen.”
    Subotai: “Then what good is he?”

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