Think you know what God is saying? Don’t be so sure.

I have grown weary of people — both conservative and progressive — who authoritatively claim to know what God wants. ASBO Jesus has once again got it just right.

Here’s one of my guiding principles: my skepticism of one’s position is correlated to the absolute clarity with which it is claimed to agree with God’s will. This does not mean that one should avoid claiming to have a sense of God’s will. Such a position would leave one idle on the Christian pilgrimage. Rather, it means that we should claim to believe what God might be calling us to do, with the humility and charity to admit that we might be wrong. That advice goes for everyone.

It’s easy for me, as a progressive, to poke at conservatives who claim to speak authoritatively for God. But it’s equally important for progressives who lay claim to the call of the Holy Spirit to admit that, if we’re going to ask for a “listening process” it goes both ways. We progressives and liberals had better be willing to admit that we could possibly be wrong, especially when we claim to speak God’s will.

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10 Responses

  1. Well written! Well done!

  2. Chris B says:

    You said the best! I haven’t heard so honestly in a very long time. About as long a time as it has been since we’ve seen real statesmen in our government!

  3. Dan Martins says:

    Well said, Scott. A necessary prelude to impasse-breaking is trust, and a necessary prelude to trust is humility, and both trust and humility need to run in both directions.

  4. Tim Jones says:

    God told me your post is pretty good

  5. Warren Hicks says:

    Spot on Scott. Good comments Dan, Chris and Kurt. Discernment is about community and community is about trust and relationships.

    Thanks to all of you for weighing in.

  6. Matt Gunter says:

    There was a disconcerting amount of such language at some of the hearings at GC this year.

  7. Malcolm says:

    I refer you to the statement at Simple Massing Priest:

    “Comments here do not represent the official views of my parish, my diocese, my bishop or the Anglican Church of Canada. Neither do they purport to represent the official views of God. They are merely the views of this particular opinionated prairie priest – who hopes that his views on issues are generally consonant with God’s views, but claims no certainty on that score.”

  8. Phil Snyder says:

    One of the largest problems with TEC today is that we have exchanged political process for discernment. Thus, the voice of the body politic become the voice of God – as if God spoke in “Resolved that…” language or that God’s voice is heard in a “vote by orders.”

    Given what Fr. Martins has said, how can we regain trust when it has been lost? How can we regain community when we have thrown it away for political victory?

    Phil Snyder

  9. Scott Gunn says:


    I hate to break it to you, but the church has been political for at least 1,600 years, maybe longer. The Nicene Creed was settled by voting. Bishops and popes have been chosen by voting. The ecumenical councils included votes. There is nothing new here. And, yes, I think God’s voice could be heard (or rejected) in a “vote by orders.”

    How do we regain trust? We need to act faithfully, to earn one another’s trust. Those of us on the left need to do that, and so do those on the right.

    It will require clarity, honestry, charity, and grace.


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