A Still Small Voice (And Its Epistemology)

So I’m a constructivist when it comes to theology. I think there are different ways of framing psychological and spiritual experiences, and there’s not necessarily one right way to understand the interaction between God and people. But we all have our personal theological leanings, even if we acknowledge that they stand among many that can stand the test of Scripture. What causes us to lean a certain way? Can we get locked into a particular way of thinking about a phenomenon like how God speaks to us and miss out on the richness of seeing the mountain’s majesty from the opposite slope?

As finite humans beings, we can’t grasp the infinite. So we build. We build systems in our minds for interpreting an unfathomably complex (and perhaps illogical) universe.

For me, historically, I’ve shied away from the idea of God “speaking” to us because I’ve wanted to stray away from presumption. After all, if you start wondering if every chemical fluctuation in your brain is the voice of God, pretty soon you start following advice from melancholy indie songs and the after-taco bubble guts. It made more sense to me to say that, since we can’t KNOW whether we’re hearing from God, we should assume we’re not, unless something really, insanely, obviously supernatural happens.

Like a Trump/Hillary race in November. Don’t know who Matt Damon-ed that one out of the Adjustment Bureau, but geez.

Anyway, that’s how theology evolves, right? Out of a desire to buffer ourselves against unhealthy ways of thinking. Not necessarily a bad thing. So instead of framing God’s communion with us as listening for a “still, small voice,” I’ve thought of it in more practical terms: If you don’t have some grandiose dream, vision, or audible experience, you’re probably not hearing from God, and you should just use the information you have available to make your decisions.

That being said, lately I’ve found myself returning to the Shire, so to speak, after a long and rewarding journey to the edges of epistemology. There and back again. Lately, it’s been more efficacious for me to enjoy the idea of life being a dynamic conversation with the realm of the Holy. We can let our intuitive sense of His direction guide us–because God uses that just as much as He uses reason. And, just like reason, instinct is something we have to hone. A friend from seminary wrote the following blog post for those of you who like the idea of “discerning God’s voice.” I think she has some excellent insight, and it’s definitely worth a read:

Did God Tell Me That? – Discerning God’s Voice” 


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