Thursday, 17 July 2008

How to be guided (and how to say it)

One of the books I'm (very slowly) working through is Packer's latest, Guard Us, Guide Us. (image: A very helpful, rounded and robust little book on guidance, it sets forth a clear picture of God's guidance and integrates it into the whole of the Christian life. One summary section about halfway through the book is brilliant:

Many Christians are still haunted by the fancy that real guidance from God for the making of each day's decisions is a direct ministry of the Holy Spirit in one's heart that entirely transcends the mental disciplines of analysing alternative, applying principles, calculating consequences, weighing priorities, balancing pros and cons, taking and weighing advice, estimating your own capacities and limitations, and engaging in whatever other forms of brainwork prudence in self-commitment is held to require. We emphatically agree that leading us to the best decision is a ministry of the Holy Spirit, first to last, but with equal emphasis we deny that under ordinary circumstances his ministry short-circuits or circumvents any of these sometimes laborious intellectual procedures. On the contrary, they are precisely the means by which the Holy Spirit of God leads us into seeing clearly what it is right and good to decide and do in each situation.
Not only is the content of Packer's statement spot on, notice how he articulates it. He sets forth the counter position (that God doesn't guide through 'brainwork' etc.) in such a way that he is actually reinforcing his point. He then agrees with what he can (We emphatically agree...) but then contrasts this with his negative statement, before turning to reinforce what he wants to affirm. Your 'yes' is only as good as your 'no', and your 'no' is only as good as your 'yes'. Both of Packer's are brilliant.

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