“it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” – Romans 8:16-17
I am having trouble deciding where to begin. There are so many ideas I want to express and a lot of things to say. Because I don’t have any other words to use I will use the words of the old familiar Christian orthodoxy. I will also begin with you. It is my experience that the standard Church-goer has been taught to rely on the “ordained” leader of the faith to provide guidance on the message of God. The people aren’t taught methods of listening to God in themselves and following their own path, provided by God. I am here to tell you that just because a person has chosen to devote their life to ordained ministry it does not mean they are closer to God than you. If you are reading this and you are an ordained minister I will ask you to think about the words of the evangelist Paul, identified above, and know that I am speaking the orthodox truth. I added the words attributed to the evangelist Paul because every time I talk to Church-goers they don’t feel that they have the same ability to hear the word of God. The regular Church-goer doesn’t trust their own inner voice, because they have been taught to heed the word of the Church leaders. I will go even farther and say that the regular Church-goer does even not want to learn how to hear their own personal message from God. It is easier to have God packaged up with a neat little bow by somebody else than to have to discern the message on your own. Look at your faith experience. Do you rely entirely upon some ordained minister to provide the message of God?
I will tell you that many years ago I was teaching Bible study to converts and they were relying on me to give them the basics. I had written an exegesis on Mary Magdalene to debunk long-held traditions that she was a prostitute. I used this exegesis as a classroom example where tradition and Scripture diverge. It was always a good example because it usually took people by surprise and they really began to pay attention to what I said after that. I think they were hoping for some juicy bits of trivia and not really listening to what I was saying. During the weeks of my Bible study there was a sermon given by the Priest where he used the example of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. The Priest and I had a private discussion after the sermon. I explained to him that those converts who had taken my class knew that what he said about Mary Magdalene was not true, as evidenced by my exegesis. He explained to me that he did not care and would continue to use the prostitute reference with Mary Magdalene because it produced an effect on the congregation. This encounter pushed me farther on a path of self-discovery. I had experience earlier in my life of Christian Mysticism and meditation. I began to listen to the inner message from God, and Scripture became a conduit for this process. It became clear to me that God was leading me away from my local Parish in search of one where the congregation was led by an ordained minister who listened to God. What a process it turned out to be.
“We could take you to certain places of worship where the general strain of the ministry is a glorification of baptism, the blessed Eucharist, confirmation, priesthood, and so on. There you will hear much of the childish millinery with which they deck the altar, and much is said of those grotesque garments in which their priests disguise themselves. We could point to many places where the main object of teaching seems to be to exalt a rubric, to magnify a liturgy, to hold up a hierarchy, or to extol a ritual… They are not of the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Spirit teacheth us not to magnify outward rites, but Christ…” (Spurgeon, n.d.)
Keep in mind that Charles Haddon Spurgeon delivered this message in 1862. The future of belief in God has to be different in the future. Science advances and buries those ideas that prove to be incorrect. Belief in God must advance and we need to bury those old orthodox ideas in favor of those beliefs the Spirit bears witness to.
Spurgeon, Charles H. (n.d.). Spurgeon on The Holy Spirit. Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications.