Sunday, June 18, 2006

Book Review: God Talk

We have all heard people talking about hearing God "speak" to them -- and possibly done it ourselves. 'God led me to do this job'; 'God impressed me to speak to that person'; 'God told me to go there'; 'I knew God was speaking to me'. Go into any Christian bookstore and the shelves are brimming with spiritual advice on how to commune with God; hear God's voice more clearly; obtain guidance from God for decisions; and listen to God in prayer. Ruth Tucker, in her deeply needed book God Talk: Cautions for Those Who Hear God's Voice, observes how '[o]ur reported words from God often sound eerily like our own. God's opinions and priorities are ours, and we expect customer care. Just as we pick up a phone or go online to order from a garden or fashion catalog, we dial a prayer and God becomes yet another mail-order outlet.' (p. 8) With all the talk of God speaking to individuals, those of us who don't experience the same "clarity" of communication from God can feel as though we are somehow lesser Christians than those who seem to have direct access to the awesome God of the universe. But are all these communications actually from God? Does God really speak to us today? And if God does speak, how does God do that? Ruth Tucker tackles these questions head on and her answers may surprise you. She provides an illuminating critique of the privatised spirituality that dominates writing on this subject and explores the way that God has communicated in silence throughout history. Tucker reinforces the Scriptures as the way that God has spoken to God's people and ties Scripture, prayer, and silence into a deep and powerful understanding of the manner in which the God of history communicates with us. God Talk also tackles such difficult questions as expressing anger at God and the relationship of nature to God's self-revelation. God does communicate; God is active; but the way God communicates must be informed by his revelation in Scripture. When we expose our preconceptions to the light of revelation we will move to a deeper, more profound, and more hopeful relationship with God than ever before. We will come to appreciate that God communicates in silence rather than the constant self-absorbed chatter modeled on our egocentric culture that privileges verbal communication over any other. God communicates primarily in silence. Tucker finishes her book with these words:
God is God. As mere creatures we have difficulty with that. We want to worship a golden calf and turn God into our closest buddy. Indeed, it is all too tempting to fashion God in our own image. God is God, and with that recognition we must accept the silence of God. Truly, we are safe in the silence of God.
For a deeply encouraging book for those of us that struggle to hear God's voice in the way described in so many positive "testimonies", don't miss out on reading God Talk. Related Links

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