Does God Speak in Dreams? Does God Love Everyone? An ‘unfortunate’ answer from the Ligonier Conference

One of the great advantages of living in the modern world is that we are able to listen to conferences on the other side of the world – when they are live streamed as was Ligonier’s West Coast conference in the USA this past weekend.  I was throughly enjoying listening to the wisdom of the teachers who had been speaking. But then came an answer which I found a little surprising and to be honest, disappointing.

If you go to the 23rd minute of the above you will hear a question about the number of Muslims being converted through dreams.

The answer to this was to dismiss all such dreams as false.  They were not from God and we should regard those who advocate this or accept this as dangerous.   God’s revelation has ceased and all we need to do is send preachers – we just need a real person going in with a real bible.  If we accept this then we are opening a Pandora’s box as we cannot even make sense of our own dreams.   It’s also dangerous because it leads to inclusivism (which according to the speaker is a particular danger for Reformed churches) – not so much the promoting of many gods but rather many ways to the one God.   These dreams are probably auto-suggestion – people being taught by those who say they should experience such things, then experiencing them.

These answers were applauded and seem to have been widely accepted.  There was certainly no disagreement.  Thats a real problem on a lot of these panels – I can’t recall when I ever heard disagreement on any of them.  Why not?  I would certainly have challenged these statements  (I guess that’s one of the many reasons I would never be invited!).  The problem with these answers is that they….

  1. Limit God –    At a Ligonier conference?!  You must be kidding!   My problem is that because God is sovereign we cannot limit him beyond what he has limited himself.

2) Add to Scripture –  Given that Scripture is our only guide – we dare not add to it.  So where did God say in his Word that he would never use dreams to communicate to people?  Is this something that can be deduced by good and necessary consequence?  The fact that God no longer reveals himself through giving us more Scripture through Apostles and prophets does not necessarily mean that he cannot, and does not, use dreams to speak to people. Especially those who do not have the Scriptures and who are already culturally pre-conditioned to believe that God .

3) Dismiss Testimony and Experience without warrant –  Experience should not be our determining authority – but it should not be ignored either.  I have known Muslims (and others) who have begun to seek Jesus because of a dream that they had.   The dismissal of this as just auto-suggestion is more than a little illogical – the argument could just as easily be claimed that because some Reformed teachers say that dreams can’t happen, people won’t experience them.  Arguing from experience or lack of experience works both ways. I am an experiential Calvinist.

4) Are illogical – The level of ‘reasoning’ really surprised me.   We should only send real people with a real bible….so I guess Ligonier won’t bother with the internet, radio, tv or other means?!   If we can use the internet can the Holy Spirit not use our subconscious? I am not decrying or denying the necessity and need for preachers and missionaries – how can they hear without a preacher? These are the ordinary means but are we really saying that the Sovereign Lord cannot use extraordinary?

What Pandora’s box argument is being opened?  That the Sovereign God can use his Spirit to encourage Muslims to seek him?

The attempt to demean the experience of others by joking about the confused nature of normal dreams was an irrational argument because no one was claiming that we are to interpret our own confused dreams as some kind of divine revelation.  The question is whether the Holy Spirit can use the subconscious human mind to bring the truth into the conscious, through supernatural means.  Do we no longer believe in the supernatural?

The attempt to use the slippery slope argument was also an unworthy argument.  Accepting that the Holy Spirit can provoke people to seek Christ through dreams is not the first step to ending up with a ‘many ways to God approach’.  I would suggest that there is a far bigger danger facing the Reformed churches than ‘inclusivism’ – it is exclusivism.  There is an exclusivism that is right –  excluding other gods and other ways – but there is an exclusivism that is wrong –  excluding methods and people God is using.

5) Are Unreformed – The Reformed faith often has a bad name.  Sometimes in some of its cultural incarnations it comes across as a cold, cynical Calvinism which reduces Christianity to a formula and an intellectual argument.  The working of the Holy Spirit, the felt presence of Christ and the supernatural (other than in regeneration) are sometimes relegated to a very minor role, if at all.  Someone once argued that if you took the Holy Spirit out of our churches 90% of what we do would carry on as if nothing had happened.  I don’t think that this is the historical Reformed view.  People like the Puritans, the Huguenots and the Scottish Reformers were more open than this.   I wonder whether this is more a cultural/personal position than a theological one?   There are other American Calvinists involved in The Gospel Coalition such as John Piper and Matt Chandler who would not hold to this somewhat extreme cessationist position.

It was intriguing to me that the only person who said nothing was the Celt from Wales!  Celtic Christianity would not recognise the extreme cessationist position being argued.  I suggest you read The Secret of the Lord by Dr John Kennedy as an example.

“It is pretending to know,” they say, “what is not revealed in Scripture.” This sounds well. It seems, at first sight, due to the Word of God, as the only complete revelation of His will, that we should at once regard as false all information regarding the mind of God not derived directly from the plain import of Scripture. They have never gone beneath the surface in their thinking on this matter, who have not discovered the extremeness of this view. But, backed by this false assumption, some will quote, with an air of triumph, the pretensions to inspiration, the claims of the gift of prophecy, the faith in dreams and visions, of those whom all acknowledge to have been deceivers and deceived. To minds that have always kept far off from the realities of a life of godliness, that look from a distance on the communion of His people with the Lord, the difference between the baseless pretensions of deceivers and the God-given privilege of the righteous is utterly impalpable. All kinds of intercourse with the Invisible are classed by these together, and to them all who claim the privilege of communion with the Lord appear as deluded fanatics”

It may be that I am just a Scottish Puritan Highland mystic!, and am blinded by my own cultural experiences.  But the only way we can judge these things is not by our cultures, tribes or networks.  We need to go to the Scriptures.

Can we say ‘God Loves you’ to the non-Christian?

Speaking of which there was one other answer which caused me to question – when answering the question about whether God loves everyone the following story was related.  ‘God loves you’ says the Christian.  ‘Well, I’m in good shape then’ replies the non-Christian.  We were told this story I assume to prevent us saying God loves you.  We were told that there was no comeback to that statement.   But there is an obvious one.  Rather than say I’m not going to say God loves you….I will simply ask – ‘why do you think you are in good shape?  What are you doing with God’s love?  The fact that you are rejecting it shows that you are in very bad shape!

Can we say God loves you to everyone?  Can we say ‘Christ is dead for you?’  Can we say ‘there is good news for you?”  Perhaps a little historical theology might help.  Look at the story of the Marrow controversy in Scottish church history and read Sinclair Ferguson’s The Whole Christ   

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 01.06.50

I love Ligonier and I love the writings of all the men on this panel.  But on this occasion I think that the answers given and applauded actually show something that is wrong within the Reformed movement, and the attitudes displayed could do harm to the Reformed cause.  We need to open ourselves to being challenged a bit more and not just have panels on which we all agree about everything.

I accept that I may be wrong about this and look forward to being corrected (in love)! But meanwhile until then the next time a Muslim comes in my church and says ‘I’m here because God gave me a dream and told me to come to this church’ I’m not going to turn round and say (or think) your dream was false!  I’m going to welcome him, tell him God loves him and proclaim Christ to him!

38 thoughts on “Does God Speak in Dreams? Does God Love Everyone? An ‘unfortunate’ answer from the Ligonier Conference

  1. I would recommend reading, as I have, two wonderful books by Tom Doyle – ‘Killing Christians’ and ‘Standing in the Fire’ – which tell individual testimonies of how God is saving people and using them to build his church in some of the worst trouble spots in the world. There are clearly many who hear from Jesus in dreams (like Joseph did in Matthew’s gospel). Just because we in the self-sufficient west do not experience such dreams should not lead us to dismiss them out of hand. After all, the whole of creation proclaims the glory of the Lord (Ps 19), and we are his creation too, including our minds. If God can use a donkey to speak, he can speaks to us through our dreams. The key is always is how we respond when we hear HIs voice – do we turn and obey and worship and follow, or do we carry on unrepentant and unchanged?

  2. I will defer to David on this – I have never met a Muslim who was led to seeking Christ through dreams, but I know through his writings that the late Nabeel Qureshi had some remarkable experiences on his road to faith which could only have been the Holy Spirit.

    But what struck me about the picture of the Ligonier panel is that it was a bunch of old white men in suites, white shirts and ties.

    Now I have nothing against old white men – I am one myself, although the last time I wore a suit was two years ago at my daughter’s wedding, and I have long abandoned ties since the NHS banned us from wearing them.

    But the cultural conformity which that image projects is very clear – respectability, conservative, middle class, dull etc. Perhaps I am doing them a disservice, but in these ultra media days bit of image management would not go amiss if we are to engage with the world. Or is this what “real” preachers should look like?

    1. Those men aren’t old, they’re mature and well groomed! And they’re certainly not dull either, they have excellent brains and are highly articulate!

      When a preacher wears a suit with or without a tie, it’s far less distracting than when a “real” preacher stands there in shorts at a podium, as we often get treated to in England! My first minister, Dr Lloyd-Jones used to wear a Geneva gown.

    2. As one who was a preacher for most of my 79 years I agree with you! I learned the lesson early in my ministry that the old saying is true, “Clothes maketh not the man!” Preaching in 42 degrees Celcius, in a church building with no cooling needs much more power than a collar and tie saturated with the perspiration of the preacher. Traditional dress does not make ones message more acceptable or applicable by the Holy Spirit.

    3. > But what struck me about the picture of the Ligonier panel is that it was a bunch of old white men in suites, white shirts and ties.

      I’m glad somebody else said this first. I’m not one for the latest fashion in my industry where 50% of the panel must be women, and bonus points for other sexualities. But. If a panel is convened for discussion and not a cosy fireside chat, it needs a diversity of perspectives. A good starting point would be a mix of ages and having both genders represented, for the different slants that provides.

  3. Thank you for this – I have worked in a Muslim country and had ministry in another. The testimony of those who have come out of Islam frequently mentions the revelation [especially on the Night of Dreams during Ramadan] of one in white who comes to them in a dream and tells them to seek such and such a pastor

  4. A bit harsh to criticise men for dressing in a dignified manner, Goodfelgt.

    The bottom line is that we all come to know God’s will in interesting ways. Sometimes we just ‘know’ what God is asking of us in some specific, for instance. And even people in the West occasionally have dreams that can only possibly have come from God. As a cessationist I say this from experience!

  5. I agree with David. As a former Catholic who had a profound spiritual experience which convinced me that God is truly my Father, that I cannot earn his love and that yes, my sins were taken upon the shoulders of Jesus at Calvary and I cannot atone for them myself, where does that leave me? This experience happened 35 years ago and totally transformed my life, eventually leading me out of Catholicism and into a bible based church. Does that mean that the experience was purely subjective and had nothing to do with the love of God breaking through into my darkness and was somehow merely a figment of my imagination or heightened emotions? In those days I never read the bible and any preaching I heard centred on what I must do to ‘deserve’ salvation, the importance of the sacraments and the idea of going to heaven being presumptuous when only after a period of purging any residual ‘debt’ in Purgatory might I scrape into heaven! So I am very wary of pronouncements which limit the way God might choose to reach individuals and I am deeply grateful for the results of my experience which resulted in a true metanoia, whether or not ultra cessasionists dismiss it or not. Do we not believe that God is truly Sovereign or only so in issues that we have decided he is? Dare we say authoratively: “God would never work like that!”

    1. As the author of one of the personal testimonies in Richard Bennett’s ‘Far from Rome, Near to God’ I would say this, but only God would have led you away from Rome and into reliance upon Christ alone.

  6. I follow a lot of Ligonier’s work and have also wondered about this question about Muslims’ dreams bringing them to Christ. I suspect Derek’s answer above has the explanation – a cultural one. I would call myself a cessationist, yet I too wouldn’t dismiss out of hand others’ experiences. If God can use good website design to send me to the right church, He can use others’ cultural experiences and preferences to point them in the right direction. I’m deeply suspicious of present day “revelation” – I have yet to hear tongues spoken and used as Paul describes, it’s always a case of mumbling under their breath, but of course loud enough for others to hear, and never *ever* a translation for the uplifting of the congregation – and I think the problem is when revelation is expected and sought after and swallowed whole without discernment. It is usually deeply personal to one person only and should probably stay that way.

  7. I agree wholeheartedly David with this response. A better grasp of church history would help prevent Christians from putting God into a ‘box’ like this.

    1. @ Brian.
      I think you might find that a better – and pointedly – more honest grasp of church history would see people questioning their faith a lot more.

      1. Surely, Ark,
        Atheism is merely the antithesis of Theism?
        We can just make words mean to ourselves what we like them to mean, but it makes communication other than talking to ourselves impossible.
        Yours,
        John/.

      2. Ark,
        Your statement about faith is tripe and you know it. Faith and trust do not form any part of your life, I take it? The great god of science in all its omniscience., omnipotence, omnipresence. A faith in scientism. Or faith in your own worldview, that it is the right one, your faith that there is no God. A non – god, a negative can not be scientifically proven. It is a belief , a faith by which you live your life.
        Neither can you scientifically prove your statement?
        Enjoy this short, 4 min.video 4 min by Andy Bannister:
        https://www.solas-cpc.org/is-atheism-a-belief-andy-bannister/
        Or you could even splash out a buy his book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist.

        On your own terms, you keep banging on and on and on and on and on about what you have absolute faith in, your non-belief, about what you don’t believe. You spend so much time on this blog, waste so much time on your non-belief, seeking to convert others to your belief. So much Ado about Nothing, methinks.

  8. Several things strike me about their response. First, I wonder if they even know what they are talking about. I have heard about this phenomenon for years, and never has it been understood as an “alternative” revelation to Scripture. The cases I have hard about usually involve the Muslim, as a result of the dream/vision, seeking out a Christian pastor and asking for the Gospel.

    Like you, David, I wonder what they would have done with the likes of Alexander Peden and others among the Covenanters, given their experiences. For that matter, John Knox himself had some views about this that would bump up against the severity of their radical cessationist position. I lean more on the cessationist side that the “charismatic” end of things, I must say. I love worship that is done “decently and in order.” But I don’t even think these guys knew what they were addressing…

  9. ” The question is whether the Holy Spirit can use the subconscious human mind to bring the truth into the conscious, through supernatural means.”

    I found this blog extremely interesting and was (as often) afraid that as I scrolled down I would find myself becoming more and more out of my depth. I do believe I have the just of what the writer is trying to say without listening in on Ligonier and would share this as testimony .

    John 15 v 26
    But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
    In much of our thinking the perfect testimony is one ,who, in reading the scriptures , being deeply convicted of his/her sin , confessing the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour , being filled with the Spirit , and going forth in His power. Or, being physically struck by a bright light as on the Damascus road, rendered helpless, then rebuilt for the Master’s purpose.

    Converted as a fourteen year old, and with little knowledge apart from the certainty within that Jesus loved me ,and died on the cross to save me , my faith was based not on what I understood scripture to say , but on what I was told. I was blessed to have those who taught whom you could call “living bibles”. Is my testimony less valid because of my youthful lack in understanding the scriptures? Neither am I an academic and some years ago wished to put that right. I sought to study a very prominent professor’s book ” Know your God” For the first six or so chapters my juices were flowing and I was encouraged by what was written . By chapters 7,8,and 9 I began to struggle in its depth as the good professor was just beginning to get going . Did that prevent me from knowing the wondrous love , omnipotence, omniscient and omnipresent God ? After almost forty years as a christian , I hope not . My faith in Him does not depend on what I understand about him . My faith is dependent on what He reveals of himself , not only by his Spirit but yes, also his word.

    Now , the question ( and here I digress a little )
    “The question is whether the Holy Spirit can use the subconscious human mind to bring the truth into the conscious, through supernatural means”

    The answer has to be yes! and I am willing to go further . This God whom I know to be Love can use the subconscious human mind to bring the truth into the conscious …….even if he has to render his servant unconscious to know that he means what he says. ( and this perhaps flawed tale I’ll leave with you) As a limited passionate preacher I was also a passionate shinty player and as I approached my 40th year my passion for the sport had not diminished. I was conscious of God saying by His Spirit that preparation in His service should take precedence and that I should let go my sporting passion. Toward the end of another season I persisted in ,” just one other game”, until the last match of the season. As I pushed forward God spoke to me in love quite clearly by permitting my opposites caman to displace my cheekbone and render me unconscious.

    A better and more obedient man may have learned from this ( and I write with all seriousness) as the following season saw the coach persuade me to come out for the opener, one more game and then I’ll finish, against the team we closed on last season. Convicted that I should have my mind on higher things , I played on to find that this time my opponent’s swing was more accurate and my mind more in tune to the Heavenly voice as I was taken to the eye infirmary. Nothing in this world will persuade me otherwise , God loves his own child , and if that child will not listen to his voice , He will make it very clear .

  10. Oh, David, I’m so, so relieved you have taken this stance! Surely, God has used dreams frequently to give messages to people, both in the Old and New Testaments? You’re spot on! These men should be praising the Lord that He can reach out where we can’t (or won’t).
    Thanks to you for all your hard work.

  11. Being a dinkum Aussie, I’ve got to say,”Good on you mate!”:) I’m with you all the way on this one!

  12. I’m with you on this, David. I remember, back in the 1980s, the late Rev Calum Matheson (Free Church minister in Lewis in the neighbouring parish to mine) telling me about one of the travelling people in Lewis in whose life the Lord had begun to work and who ended up coming to the church in Shawbost. She hadn’t been brought up in the church, hadn’t read the bible and didn’t possess one. She came under conviction of sin as God began to speak to her in dreams and she found her way to Calum. As she shared what she saw in these dreams Calum recognised it clearly as passages of scripture. I suppose the ‘test’ of these experiences is that when those who have them then actually hear or read the word, they immediately recognise Christ and embrace him as Saviour and Lord. I have heard from good, reformed evangelical people who have worked among Muslims in the Middle East and who have seen this kind of thing happening again and again. But, then, maybe I’m more ready to believe that God can and does work in this way because I’m an islander and a celt!

  13. When I was about 16 years old, well taught in the Dutch Reformed church, I knew what the faith was about alright, but one thing I had to have certainty about was ‘ Is Jesus God?’ Not mature enough nor yet well read in Scripture to find the answer there, I simply had to know the answer before I could wholeheartedly give my life to Christ. . . I yearned for certainty . . .
    Then one night I had a dream; a wonderful dream , as clear as day.
    In the dream , I was part of a huge crowd, awaiting some procession which was approaching us . Somehow I knew that Jesus was involved. At last He appeared, riding on a white horse ( this was years before I I came across the white horse in Revelation) and then He turned his head towards me and just said ‘o ye of little faith. . .’ and I bowed my head and felt so small , and yes, ashamed that I had not just believed like a little child. . . .

    From that day to this , some 70 odd years later, I have never had a moment’s doubt; none of the miracles were ever a problem , the Virgin Birth , the Incarnation,The Resurrection , Life after death for the believer, every conceivable excuse for people not believing , none of these has ever been a problem for me.
    Since then , I found that Scripture could answer any query re the faith, could even explain it’s own really difficult passages somewhere else, plus with the assurance of Christ , and the ministry of some of his outstanding preachers, Christ’s unfathonable greatness, truth,ydepth and loving care has just grown and grown in my mind , life and heart.

    How do I know that the dream was from God and not just my own imagining or wishful thinking ?
    Because it was SO REAL, as though it were really happening in broad daylight, and it answered my question , solved the whole problem for me and gave me certainty and confidence afor the rest of my life.

  14. I’m not a Muslim but I was converted through a dream. I dreamt I was being chased by a monster, I knew it was very evil. I was terrified. I tried to get away but it was playing with me like a cat with a mouse. In despair I went into some water and started to swim to get away from it, I looked over my shoulder as I swam and it was coming after me walking on the water. At that point I gave up and crawled onto a piece of land, knowing I was going to die horribly. Then a voice came into my head, it said “Pray to God, God will save you” I said “Oh God save me” and I knew then that I was safe, the monster was still there but it had no power over me. I woke up shaky and randomly opened a Bible I had. My eyes fell on these words “I saw the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life you will fill me with joy in your presence.” That was about 26 years ago. I didn’t know anything about the Bible at that time.

  15. I think the more worrying part of this is the hesitancy to tell everyone God loves them and that Christ died for them. I often encounter this in reformed circles (I’m a Presbyterian pastor) and it extremely worries me. I cannot conceive of any gospel where that is not at the heart of it and the very spirit of it. I think much of the modern reformed recovery is in danger of lacking the warm passionate appeal of Christ to all in its full openness because of a unbalanced and incomplete hard doctrine of the atonement.

  16. These guys are great comedians, they had me laughing at my computer several times and, regardless of the topic singled out by David, I thought many of their answers were sound. However, there were some very solid answers to difficult questions, and I thought their opinions were a little too solid, especially with respect to the question regarding believer’s suicide. We cannot possibly know whether a believer who commits suicide will be welcomed into heaven or not, mainly because only God can know each person’s heart, but these men all seemed to believe they would.

  17. That God may speak to you in a dream is even a topic of discussion just about sums up the sort of nonsense that these sort of panels generate.

  18. I’ve read enough of your blog to see you dislike strawmen arguments. Yet you have made several yourself in this post. The men were not laughing at Muslims dreams. Steve Lawson said something humorous about his own dreams and people laughed at his comment. Far from talking down or being glib or dismissive, their answers were clearly solid. The answers given were biblical. And they were in line with historical reformed theology. What else would you expect from Ligonier’s teachers? No one so much as mentioned booting out a person who came to church as a result of a dream, so not sure where this strawman of yours came from either. I can’t think any of these men would do that. Those of you that find fault because they’re all white, “old” and/or wearing a white shirt – it sounds you can’t stand up to their answer so you have resorted to attacking their appearance. Very bad form.

    1. Julie – you are right I do not like strawman arguements! For example I did not say that they were laughing at Muslim dreams – they were saying that they were not from God. And no there answers were neither biblical (they added to the bible) nor in line with much of historical reformed theology – which as I exampled includes many who accept dreams. Where did I say that they would boot someone out of a church because they said they had a dream? And I said nothing about their appearance – which is irrelevant to me. So yes – I really don’t like strawman arguments – so please don’t make them!

  19. You are in very good company, David. Another “Celt from Wales” (DML-J) writing about yet another “Celt from Wales” (William Williams) argued that the expression “Calvinistic Methodism” neatly encapsulated the right position with a strong emphasis on both sound doctrine (Calvinistic) and on felt experience (Methodism). The Ligoniarres would do well to read the two chapters in “The Puritans” on “William Williams and Calvinistic Methodism” and “Sandemanianism.”

  20. He was a huge man, with huge feet and a Cornish accent so thick it could curdle cream, but his body was broken, mangled in a near fatal motorcycle accident. He needed help to get around. He had a metal plate in his head, but, my, how he loved Jesus with warmth and humour and gentleness, even at times of great weariness for him. Youngsters were drawn to him as we went about in middle class Tunbridge Wells, England, on streets, in pubs, shops, schools (by invitation) with the Good News of Jesus Christ. It was a priveledge and joy to be part of a mission team with him.
    He’d been a rebel, a Hell’s Angel – his dad was a vicar,an embarrassment to him, rejecting all his dad stood for and believed.
    In the depth of the the surgical operation, he had a vision/dream of Jesus on the cross with Jesus speaking to him. From that time onwards he was a totally transformed.
    He was so jealous of maintaining scriptural authority, he’d not countenance personalising John 3:16, to “you”.
    In all this talk about dreams, there was no talk about lives transformed and Christian, fruit of the Spirit. I heard talk about supposition and personal belief about dreams and tongues. It was a topic which was discussed in the abstract and no personal example was given.
    Is God as a person confined to the pages of scripture? Does he work outside those pages to draw people to His Son, to show people that he knows them personally, through Holy Spirit. Do people today have a personal encounter with Jesus, outside scripture, as did Paul. Later to be confirmed through scripture, which becomes living and active (as it did to Paul). This has much to do with Systematic Theology system/structure of Order of Salvation.
    I didn’t listen to it all.
    PS Sinclair Fergusons The Whole Christ : There is a series of his talks on the Ligonier Renewing the Mind site. Here is a Link to one of the talks:
    https://renewingyourmind.org/2017/11/24/the-order-of-grace
    There is also a 3 part series on the Gospel Coalition Resouce Library:
    http://resources.thegospelcoalition.org/library?f%5Bcontributors%5D%5B%5D=Ferguson%2C+Sinclair&page=11

  21. Cessationism has always been a defensive position, David,
    and the more we have felt threatened, the deeper we have gone down into the bunker, so to speak. Down there, we get an increasingly distorted view of those we think are attacking us; we ‘tool up’ with defensive arguments — and down there the sledgehammer is always going to seem a better weapon than the nut-cracker — and we draw maps to show, for example, who is a cessationist and who isn’t.
    Then, hopefully, we come up into the real world, and discover that the periscope view from the bunker is not the whole picture. What to do? One standard way of coping with the damaging effects of bunker-mentality institutionalism is to co-opt someone from a different tradition who can act as a sort of safety valve. American institutions do this constantly but when something outwith the shared experience of American and Welshman arises, for example, the system might not work as intended.
    Then there are logistical problems such as taking as a question from the floor to a podcast panel discussion what ought rather have been dealt with by taking contributions from the floor of a private meeting after an introduction from someone previously briefed.
    Lastly, we get the problem of the first contributor making a category error — nobody is saying that visions of this nature are new revelation — and the other contributions reinforcing the first answer thus compounding the error.
    When we draw a line, God frequently sends along someone or someone’s experience that our rules would place on one side of the line when it is quite obvious that they belong on the other side.
    Yours,
    John/.

  22. The Pandora’s Box argument was contradicted with the argument for missionaries needing for go to Muslim countries and suffer.

    What difference in principle is there between such suffering and the sickness, death and many other unspecified evils? At the bottom of Pandora’s box lied hope, not dissimilarly for the missionary with the Gospel of the good news of Jesus in the midst of persecution.

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