What do you think? Do you think God still speaks? Or, more or less, do you think God quit speaking when the apostles died or when the last New Testament book was written? These are the questions of Rodney Reeves in his book Spirituality according to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ.
We can ask this a different way: Do you have visions? Ever have a vision?
Rodney Reeves is asking this basic question: Do you think God still speaks?
If we go to Paul, we’d have to say that Paul believed God had unleashed his Spirit in the last days – we are in the last days for Paul – and the unleashed Spirit means God is speaking through the Spirit. Here are some points Reeves makes:
1. Paul lived in an enchanted world. Our world has been dis-enchanted and Reeves would argue this has led to the dis-enchantment of our Christian life and our relation to God. An enchanted world does not come naturally to us. But it is available.
2. Paul believed God speaks to us through the Bible. Paul saw his own life in the Bible, and Reeves makes a big point of this. But there’s more here: many Christians today hear God when they read the Bible.
But Reeves argues that many scholarly-types don’t think we should claim we hear from God, but many ordinary Bible readers make just that kind of claim — and Reeves thinks they are more in tune with Paul. Paul sees his own ministry in Isaiah as the predecessor to the Servant in Isaiah, esp 49:1-4.
1 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
2 He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
3. Jewish people, when they heard the Bible, heard their story and they believed it was God who was speaking when the Bible was read. Reeves contends we have to make it “relevant.”
4. Paul, his contemporaries, both Jewish and Christian, had visions and auditions — they saw God and they heard from God. Read 2 Cor 12 sometime. Theophany was a part of Paul’s spirituality. Paul saw Christ, and that is the point of Acts 8.
Do you think postmortem experiences are part of this world’s enchantment or are those explanations that see them as supernatural mistaken?