Seeking God's Will

DeVine on BonhoefferI am sitting in a local coffee house, the Donnie Darko soundtrack is playing on the store's sound system, I am half way through both an iced coffee drink, and Mark DeVine's book, Bonhoeffer Speaks Today. With the SBC, summer, and the Founders Conference I stalled in my reading of it, so I picked it up again today and will finish it this week. After finishing the chapter examining Bonhoeffer's take on "Knowing and Doing the Will of God," I had to stop and talk about it. Bonhoeffer's perspective, and Devine's elucidation of it, is very helpful and relevant in light of the tendency among evangelicals to seek the will of God more often outside of the pages of Scripture than within. DeVine says that many Christians today "find themselves predisposed to interpret a wide range of experiences - including especially coincidences, what they call 'having peace,' so-called open and closed doors, and internal nudges - as indicators of God's specific will for their lives."

The illuminist notions I have in view believe that God wants to give fresh and specific guidance for a broad range of daily decisions confronting believers. Concrete guidance covering matters large and small is not only possible but should be expected by Spirit-led believers. Throughout the day one should be open to divine guidance, which could come at any moment, resulting in a left-turn rather than a right on Pine Street.

For Bonhoeffer the will of God is revealed in Scripture, grounded in his character and expressed in the Gospel. It isn't that God no longer leads his people, but that he does so through the given revelation of Scripture. DeVine explains when one falls into the habit of seeking extra-biblical divine leading the consequences are often a diminished appreciation of God's providence, a paralysis that hinders action until God's will is mysteriously made known, a general neglect of the Bible, and the exaltation of experience to the level of Scripture.

Certainly, where a guidance-heavy notion of the Christian life takes hold, the neglect of the Bible should not surprise us. If God stands poised to offer new, daily, extra-biblical instruction, reason and stewardship of time must draw us away from the old word of the Bible, to these new, ostensibly more relevant words of God. In such circumstances, inattention to God's new words smacks of neglect, bad stewardship and ingratitude. And many evangelicals behave precisely according to such reasoning, using the Bible more as a prompter to a seeking of something more, or as a confirmer of convictions they bring with them to the text while applying the bulk of their spiritual effort to the quest for some new word from God. Not surprisingly, the Bible is neglected in favor of the pursuit of daily guidance...

Seeking, understanding and obeying the will of God is not about immediate illumination apart from Scripture. It is more a matter of intimate familiarity with and study of Scripture, and a more comprehensive understanding of the character of God and his Gospel.

Of course, much more is said, but I need to get back to reading. Get the book. So far I have really enjoyed it and benefitted from it. I will give my take on the book as a whole after I'm done.