By Elizabeth Prata
Ever since the Henry Blackaby and Claude King book “Experiencing God” was published in 1976, and swept conservative churches in the late 1980s and 1990s, people, especially women, especially have been told that it is normal to experience God in various ways – including Him speaking to us.
There’s always a track-back, or a ground zero for false notions to sweep the visible church, and Experiencing God was seminal in opening the door to hearing from God. The book instructs readers to “listen for God in your quiet time, and immediately write down what He said.” There are similar instructions throughout the book. The book’s instructions for decision-making is faulty and leads to notions of God and our relationship with Him that are errant.
9Marks review of Experiencing God
Stand to Reason review of Experiencing God
In both those reviews, you will notice that the reviewer praises much in the book. The best falsity comes into the church when it’s wrapped in truth. This is why we all need to hone our discernment. Satan isn’t going to sidle up to you with pitchfork in one hand and a steaming green odious plate of poison to give you in the other. He masquerades as an angel of light and so his lies are wrapped in a bit of truth. His lies will be pleasant, not initially hurtful. But they will give pain in the end.
This 1987 movie, though secular, has a speech in the middle where one of the main characters describes how the devil works in the world. The pair had been struggling with an overall shifting view of how to deliver the news; whether anchor men should be substantive reporters or flashy salesmen on camera delivering lines of which they know nothing. Aaron describes how easy it will be to accept the incremental lowering of standards for their profession, because the devil makes it pleasant- and desirable, even.
Experiencing God spawned a cottage industry of books, studies, workbooks, leader books, devotionals, journals, and the like, up until this day. Editions keep getting revised and expanded, reissued and repurposed. This would not happen if there was not an audience for it. Blackaby’s book itself opened the door for lots of other books urging women to listen for God. Sarah Young seemingly took Blackaby’s suggestion to listen for God and write down what He said to heart and spawned her own cottage industry for women with her “Jesus Calling” books, studies, leader books, curricula, devotionals and so on.
and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3).
What happens when for an entire generation you have been taught that God speaks to you? What are we to expect when you have women like Beth Moore prancing around flinging out God-quotes from pillar to post, and no one rebukes her? What do ladies see when women like Joanna Gaines have a slickly produced ‘testimony’ from Baylor College extolling her audible conversation with God (in a garden no less) where He bargains with her, offering her fame if she would just quit her store and stay home with her kids for a bit? You have a generation of women who believe that God does speak, directly instruct, converse daily, and that it’s normal. Like this women who contacted me from my blog:
Comment: Elizabeth Prata. Re: Beth Moore bus stop miracle. I believe the reason we don’t hear more stories like this is because we quench the Holy Spirit, we (Christians) attack people who claim they have heard from God, just like the ungodly. What makes us different from them. Just because we know everything about the Bible doesn’t make us a follower. We have far too many “Christians” who are tearing down instead of building up the body of Christ. In the end times WOMEN and men will prophesy see visions and dream dreams and He will pour out His Spirit. Just wait for it!!!
This comment has all the markings of the usual talking points of attempted rebuttals to the fact that God isn’t speaking now. 1. To refute a false teacher is ‘attacking a Christian’. 2. To point out a false teacher’s false doctrine is ‘tearing them down’. 3. Misinterpreting Bible verses, usually ‘my sheep hear my voice’ from John 10:27, ‘judge not’ from Matthew 7:1, and Acts 2:16-18‘s quote from Joel 2, as this woman did.
Thanks for the comment! I understand what you’re saying about quenching the Spirit, but it doesn’t really mean we have the power to stop the Spirit from doing anything. We don’t have power to ‘douse’ him and we can’t quench Him. The word in Greek is actually grieve, not quench, and it means to grieve or to distress the Spirit- usually by our sinning ways.
The reason we don’t hear about these kind of stories where God allegedly speaks personally to people, or directs them here or there audibly, is because He is not speaking now. Moore’s story is either a lie, satanically inspired, or she has convinced herself this delusion is true.
The Bible says Jesus has spoken many different ways in the past, but has in these last days spoken in His word. (Hebrews 1:1–2). Beth Moore’s bus stop story isn’t in the Bible, so we cannot know that Jesus said it.
The canon is closed, the last word is written and it’s in Revelation. In fact, people who claim to be adding God’s words to His final word (or taking away from His word) are actually cursed, as Revelation 22:18-19 states.
Yes it’s true the verse from Acts 2 says in the end times people will prophesy, but let’s look at that verse in context. It’s in all caps because it’s a prophecy from Joel 2, about the end of the last days,
‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
‘THAT I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS WILL PROPHESY,
AND YOUR YOUNG MEN WILL SEE VISIONS,
AND EVEN ON MY MALE AND FEMALE SERVANTS
I WILL POUR OUT MY SPIRIT IN THOSE DAYS,
And they will prophesy.
‘AND I WILL DISPLAY WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
BLOOD, FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.
‘THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS
AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD,
BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD COMES.
We haven’t seen blood and smoke and a sun turned dark, or the sky with signs, have we? No. Beth Moore’s prophesying is false. That’s because the verse refers to the Tribulation period, which is a resumption of the Old Testament days and God re-focuses on the Israelites (and also pours out wrath on the unbelieving world- the church will have been raptured).
I agree that too many people ‘tear down’ other Christians, as you phrased it. However, identifying a false teacher and warning about her- and Beth Moore IS false- is actually a building up exercise because it protects the flock and strengthens the sheep so they know not to inhale a false teacher’s poisonous food.
So that’s what I wrote. It’s still an issue to battle against- people thinking they are hearing personal revelations from God is alive and well. If anyone has questions about any of the concepts here or any of the verses, please contact me and I will be happy to explain in more detail. In the meantime, this blog today has been another gentle warning not to seek God’s voice audibly, but to seek His word in print. It is sufficient.
2 thoughts on “If you think direct revelation isn’t still an issue, it is”
Thank you Elizabeth for not wavering on this very important issue and for speaking truth firmly but gently. I’ve included several resources for your review. Blessings always!
HENRY BLACKABY AND “EXPERIENCING GOD
“EXPERIENCING GOD” BY HENRY BLACKABY: HOW MYSTICISM MISLEADS CHRISTIANS
The Problem With Personal Words From God
The Demise of Gospel Preaching in the Modern Evangelical Church
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