by S. M. Hutchens
How many times I have heard church leaders assure their people that some decision they have made or are about to make is energized and justified by much prayer, Bible study, soul-searching, and other such exertions. At this point in my life I have come to recognize such assurances as nearly always high-sounding hooey, promoting pre-laid plans that would come into being whether they were prayed about or not. It's interesting, too, that "God" never says No to them.
In other words, just as I, when younger, came to expect massive truth evasion by preachers gravely and learnedly referring to the meaning of "the Greek," later in life I have come to expect even higher levels of deception when I am assured that some foolishness has been confirmed by masses of pious exercise—above all, "prayer"—carried out by people with reputations for the frequent and emphatic use of God's Name. It is not that I devalue good prayers or view them as unnecessary. On the contrary—but I have now found it necessary to be suspicious, and to seek for signs of truth in the presentments instead of childishly taking all declarations of reputed church authority at face value.
This is not a new necessity—an attitude of un-faith or private judgment or disputing God's anointed—but has been present in the Church from its beginnings, as when the "noble" Bereans did not simply take even an apostle's word for what they were supposed to believe.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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