Thanks to Suzan Jerome for originally posting this, it is well worth reading!
Tanya Marie Luhrmann is a psychological anthropologist at Stanford University, author of “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God.”
Based on all her research, Luhrmann makes some great points. One point is the difference between schizophrenia and hearing God, both of which involve hearing a voice(s) outside of your own.
Another point she makes is that this is a very, very common thing. She quotes a statistic from 1999, which states that 23% of all Americans had heard a voice or seen a vision in response to prayer. This amounts to 62.5 million people who would say they “heard from God.” Were all the people surveyed Christian? I doubt it. Was the group surveyed truly representative of the Church? Probably not. But, it does encourage us to ask ourselves where we stand on the subject of whether God is silent in the modern era!
Luhrmann’s article concludes:
“About a third of the people I interviewed carefully at the church where I did research reported an unusual sensory experience they associated with God. While they found these experiences startling, they also found them deeply reassuring.
Science cannot tell us whether God generated the voice that Abraham or Augustine heard. But it can tell us that many of these events are normal, part of the fabric of human perception. History tells us that those experiences enable people to choose paths they should choose, but for various reasons they hesitate to choose.
When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sat at his kitchen table, in the winter of 1956, terrified by the fear of what might happen to him and his family during the Montgomery bus boycott, he said he heard the voice of Jesus promising, “I will be with you.” He went forward.
Voices may form part of human suffering. They also may inspire human greatness.”