People were talking like evangelicals at the United Methodist Church that I attended this morning. More than one person talked about God speaking to them and being led by the Holy Spirit. Someone else was claiming Hebrews 13:2, which talks about entertaining strangers and angels unaware. The man’s son was recently in an accident, and he was talking about how angels were helping him and his wife on their journey to their son. You usually hear people claiming Bible verses in charismatic Christianity!
I actually like these displays of energetic, enthusiastic faith. Of course, a lot of my reaction depends on the context. If people are talking about the times that they believe that God has helped them, how they think God has guided them towards positive and righteous decisions and outlooks, and their sense of wonder when people at church are getting along in love, harmony, and purpose, then my reaction is rather favorable. If people use “God told me” to rubber-stamp their peculiar ideas or opinions, to try to control me or others, to aggrandize themselves, or to force conformity, then I tend to recoil from that. What I saw at church this morning was the former.
Of course, am I really that surprised that people at a liberal mainline Protestant church see God as a real, active person? The pastor is a fan of Christian mysticism! Maybe the church is liberal on social justice, and it does not necessarily embrace an inerrantist view of the Bible. Still, it sees God as real—-as one with whom people can have a relationship.