This is coming from Dr. Raulston Nehbhard in the Jamaican Observer. He’s writing about the dangerous habit fundamentalist ministers have of putting their words in God’s mouth, especially those ministers who think they are somehow higher beings just by the grace of their employment.
A version of this fundamentalism and frankly religious lunacy was demonstrated recently in the utterances of some pastors that they take their instructions from God. At the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange forum on June 28, Bishop Alvin Bailey, head of the Holiness Christian Church, is reported to have said that pastors ought to take their instructions from God and not from any individual or authority in power.
“We operate on a higher mandate, uncompromising, unapologetically,” he is reported to have said. “It is what God says that goes, and if we are convinced in our minds that God says so, we have to do so.” Knowing the danger of religious fundamentalist thinking and behaviour, and taken to its logical conclusion, this is a dangerous statement. The question arises, whose God is it that we are talking about here?
He gives some of the very same examples atheists pepper their posts with and then states,
We could go on and on but I believe the point is clear. Just as one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so it is that one man’s religious freedom is another’s tyranny. As a practitioner of God over many years and hopefully will continue to be for many years to come, I have been humbled to know that whatever we construe to be the voice of God is not something that is easily heard or understood.
Sadly, he doesn’t make the next logical leap and say the voices are merely the product of a mind keen to give divine right to any self-righteous attitude or behaviour, but no matter. Still, those self-elected voices of god make everyone listen to their insane ideas that nobody in their right mind should agree with or want to understand and stand by. At least he’s willing to admit there’s a problem with this kind of thinking.
Take the recent (very appalling) article by George Berkin, who appears to be thrilled that God’s gone and given Christopher Hitchens a dose of esophagus cancer. — Sorry,
A cancer which God didn’t “give,” but certainly permitted.
Basically he’s hoping everyone will pray that Hitchens will have a death bed conversion. Basically he’s asking that everyone pray for Hitchens’ death so they can imagine his face at the moment God appears waving for attention and then boots his sorry atheist ass down to the fiery pits of hell.
I can’t recall seeing any stupidity of this nature aimed Roger Ebert’s way during his cancer difficulties but maybe Christians forgive his atheist attitude on account of trusting him to know how good a movie is.
But back to Nehbhard:
The voice of conscience is equated with the voice of God, but God does not speak in a vacuum or outside of a particular context, however much we may want to parade ourselves – as televangelists are wont to do – that one can have a Digicel, Claro or even LIME connection with the Almighty.
It is this kind of arrogance on the part of the religious community that has resulted in the rapid growth of atheism throughout the world. The so-called new atheists have become very credible and sophisticated in their thinking and are now organising as never before to debunk what they consider to be the myths of religion, especially of Christianity.
Sadly, it’s easier to be credible when talking about proven facts and repeatable results in scientific research. It’s easier to sound sophisticated when we refuse to throw superstition about powerful invisible beings into the mix to explain anything science hasn’t sorted out an answer for yet. New (and old) atheists have learned to be the credible voice calling out against the incredible and unlikely beliefs the faithful claim as truth when they have no proof of them, and still can thank their god for that.
Those who purport to speak for God must do so in a more intelligent way. Indeed, we suffer in the church from a credible and intelligible discourse about God. There is a tendency to dismiss what others say out of hand because it does not conform to our own way of thinking, to our religious philosophy or to the dictates of a particular political enclave called a religious denomination.
What he’s calling for is an end to hubris. Admit you are human, fallible, not the voice of God, but a man who’s merely given his life to God in the hopes of guiding others.
There is need for humility all around, especially the kind of humility that recognises human fallibility and finiteness and which recognises the wisdom to keep silent even when one would want to vent.
In other words, if you can’t say something nice, say nothing. Better to look like a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt, right?