God Talk is a daring, in-your-face confrontation with popular experiential Christianity. At every turn today, believers are being told to listen to the voice of God (either externally or internally), that the Bible is God’s frozen Word and must be supplemented by fresh words spoken to the individuals, that experience can be placed on a par with Scripture, and so forth. Tucker challenges this view of God’s communication and does so quite convincingly.
As a matter of fact, Tucker says “the uniqueness of this book is its celebration of God’s silence” (p. 12), and affirms three primary propositions (pp 13-14):
• Apparent experiences of interactive supernatural communication with God should not be perceived as a higher way or deeper spirituality.
• Such a spiritual perspective too easily humanizes God, whose voice often begins to sound very much like our own. It fails to recognize our own subjectivity and self-absorption.
• There is a time-tested, biblical, “middle way” that affirms neither a garrulous God nor a distant deity.
Based on these three propositions, Tucker goes on the offensive shooting considerable holes in the opposing views. Here she demonstrates some of the numerous atrocities perpetrated because someone claimed to have heard from God: wars, the Crusades, cults, world religions, murder, etc. She challenges the teaching in this area of a number of evangelicals, from untouchables such as John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Hudson Taylor and George Mueller, to modern pundits such as Henry Blackaby, Jack Deere, Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Tucker also takes a jab at apologetics, seeing it as an attempt to know God through rational argument rather than revelation (pp. 48-62). Through it all, her point is that private experiences undermine the Word of God (p. 64). The fact is “the God of the inconsequential [God speaking about non-essentials] is a relatively recent invention” (p. 21). And God speaking to the unnamed, relatively unimportant people is not found in Scripture at all.
As much as I am on target with God Talk, there were a few areas of concern. Tucker believes that anger toward God is acceptable. She bases this concept largely on the book of Job, stating that God was not displeased with Job but only with his friends (pp. 138-144). Having recently studied Job I believe this theory is without merit.
I also found it strange that Tucker chose to close her book with an illustration that mostly contradicted the thesis she had developed throughout (pp. 170-171). Perhaps she is trying not to draw a hard line, leaving room for God to speak as He likes. But the story has all the earmarks of the very things she refutes.
These issues aside, I found God Talk to be refreshing, candid, bold and biblical. – Gary E. Gilley, Christian Book Previews.com
Does God speak?
The answer seems clear. Books abound on the topic of hearing God's voice. And many believers testify to God's conversational guidance in their life: "God told me to help you." "I knew it was God speaking to me."
Our culture reinforces the idea that speaking--constant speaking--is good and natural and essential. In those rare moments during a day when talking ceases or when we're alone, we quickly find some way to fill the void, whether turning on the television or radio, or calling someone on the phone. With others, and especially with God, we get the message: speaking is good, silence is bad.
But still, Ruth Tucker is not afraid to ask the question, "Does God speak?" And her answer might surprise you. She urges caution in speaking about hearing God, pointing out that our privatized spirituality often sets those who hear God on a pedestal and leaves those who don't feeling spiritually inferior. Further, she shows how the expectation of conversation may too easily humanize God in our minds, causing us to approach God with the same attitude we have when we call a friend on the phone. And if God does speak, how can we be sure our own desires are not affecting our interpretation of God's voice?
In God Talk Tucker offers us a new paradigm for viewing silence and prayer. Rather than feeling inferior when we don't hear God speak, she helps us lean more deeply on his silent, Spirit-inspired Word. By examining the Trinity, Tucker gives us a new glimpse of how God the Father spoke his words in the past, how Christ the Incarnate Word lived among us, and how the Holy Spirit speaks to us now through Scripture. Here is a probing, thought-provoking read on how our present, active, powerful God relates to us and how we, in turn, should relate to God.