One can’t argue with the devil card. They pull out the devil card and the discussion is over. If I say, I am experiencing God by praying with the scriptures, by listening to what God has to say to me through scripture using this particular method, they would answer, “it’s not God; it’s the devil.” End of discussion. How do you argue with that?
I’ve tried to move away from an Us vs. Them mentality. Most of my friends–evangelical, post-evangelical, emergent, mainline, progressive–don’t have that attitude. We have concerns about one another; we prefer where we are, but we don’t dismiss one another. There are things we talk about and there are things we just kind of don’t touch. We pray for one another.
I don’t want to have to defend myself, and like I say in the first paragraph, I don’t think I can. Not to the mentality that says, “You can’t hear God’s Spirit that way, thus it is the devil you are hearing.” This reminds me of the kind of things I was hearing 25 years ago. This is the Jack Chick mentality. It smells to me of fear, fear of anything that is outside their little package. They might say the path is narrow and they are staying on it. Or something. I’m not sure. I’ve been out of that kind of dismissive attitude for 20 years, long before I went to the mainline.
I’ve joked about being called that absolute worst of all epithets–New Age (and New Age is equivalent to the occult and anything connected in any way with Catholicism is both new age and occultic). It didn’t occur to me that that really is the label a certain type of conservative fundamentalists have given to spiritual practices I find helpful. In our church, as I have learned how to seek God’s Spirit and God’s Word, the crux of it all is, “if Christ isn’t at the center, there is no point.” The interview I listened to that was linked by a friend on that ubiquitous social network talked about thinking one was finding God but because it is not through Christ, it is demonic. That’s not what it is at all. It is always through Christ. So, if anyone is worried about me, don’t be.
And I will admit that I did ask. I asked, “How do I know it’s God?” And I received a very thoughtful answer from the person to whom I asked the question and just as thoughtful an answer in a message I heard just after I asked the question from someone who knew nothing about my question. That was what, in college and just beyond, I would have called a “God moment.” They’re still happening.