What great feedback on Charismatic Chaos or (Holy) Spirited Deconstruction! I will be interacting with all of your thoughtful replies soon. And while that post outlined my affirmations of this new bacchanal of the Spirit, I still have a few caveats, which I will be airing this week. But in the spirit of filial kindness or what have you, I’ve emailed Ben and John personally in hopes of getting them to give me some feedback first. I want to hear from them in their own words – whether in the tongues of men or angels.
I know they’re probably busy, so I’m giving them a coupla more days; they can even have a guest blog if they want.
In the meantime I wanted to share with you something my friend/professor/mentor Jay Gary wrote, reflecting on the US & European pneumatic prophetic movement. In studying Strategic Foresight, I interact with future possibilities through a variety of lenses: human, ecological, technological, economic, political and – yes – spiritual futures. I’m often asked by my charismatic and Pentecostal friends how my studies relate to the revelatory spiritual gifts of prophecy, words of wisdom, knowledge, etc…
Do You Hear Voices in Your Head? – Jay Gary
It is not normal to hear voices in your head, at least in my culture. Yet many of my friends claim to. If you confessed to ‘auditory hallucinations’ you would normally be diagnosed as borderline schizophrenia by your psychiatrist.
Among psychologists there is little agreement as to why people hear voices. Most relate the experience to our unconscious minds, which presumably aims to resolve our past troubles. Today there are dozens of support networks to help people learn to cope with their voices and the problems that may lie behind them. Not every one who hears voices is mentally ill, nor do they drown their children, like Andrea Yates.
Recently I spent two days with a growing number of true believers who aim to induce each other into ‘hearing voices.’ They are part of what Pentecostal Christians call “prophetic ministry.” They claim the practice of listening to the Holy Spirit goes back centuries to biblical prophets such as Elijah, Daniel, or even Jesus. Granted, few claim to “hear voices” in the literal sense, but they do claim to hear God through the “inner voice” of their spirit.
While receiving personal guidance has been widely practiced in Christianity, especially among Quakers or Friends through the “inner light,” the modern day prophetic claims it receives guidance far beyond personal matters. A contemporary web site, the “Elijah List” aggregates daily prophetic “words” to a subscription base of over 130,000, about matters ranging from church sloth to U.S. foreign policy crises.
Few books offer an objective view of the prophetic movement. Most are written to the choir, like Pytches and Buckingham’s 1991 account, “Some said it thundered: A personal encounter with the Kansas City prophets.” As an insider to this sub-culture, Clifford Hill has written a fairly balanced overview entitled “Prophecy past and present” (Vine, 1989).
Some boast the 21st century prophetic is part of a new breed of believer, who is spiritual charged to take back what’s been lost to a secular culture. While the warfare motif is strong across the prophetic, which some number up to 500,000 in the U.S., there is a modulating bridal dynamic at work, calling believers to recapture a new innocence with their Lord.
Few demonstrate this self-reflective, “bride of Christ” focus better than Graham Cooke. Recently I went to hear Cooke, after being prodded by a friend for nearly four years. The conference was packed wall to wall with 600 people, mostly suburban 40- and 50-somethings.
Following an extended session of worship the first morning, Cooke gave a 100-minute talk. His British manner was very disarming. His conversational style and anti-institutional rhetoric was the polar opposite of a TV evangelist. In taking about upgrading one’s life, he spoke in street-language as appropriate to an Irish pub, as much to a church. I was surprised also, that unlike other prophetic superstars, he did not engage in any “called-out” prophecy to his audience, made famous by psychic medium John Edward, in a parallel world to Christian fundamentalism.
To me Cooke’s message was surprisingly refreshing–and future-oriented. He spoke about living out out of our dreams, nurtured by God’s love. He talked about “suddenlies” or encounters with life that re-orient us to who we can become, not just who we have been.
Perhaps taking a cue from Reggie McNeal’s book, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, Cooke labeled these as “present-future” experiences, rather than “present-past” fixations. To deal with our baggage, the Holy Spirit must speak to us from the future. The Word renews our identity, and makes way for us to inherit a larger work and service. In turn we are called to relate to our spouses or relatives as emerging, in their present-future potential, rather than present-past stereotype.
While the main sessions went from dawn to dusk, the real action was in the back room…
Continue Reading “Do You Hear Voices In Your Head?” …
This was originally posted on May 29, 2008.