(Phil Newton — Founders Ministries) “God told me . . . .”
That remark with attached comment can be heard quite often among Christians. We generally consider it as just a figure of speech common in Christian circles to express a feeling, a sense, an impression, or a leading that one believes has come from God. But while using that phrase, such a statement isn’t construed as divine revelation.
But not all see it that way. Some consider inner words from God or revelations as certain, even authoritative. Do they put it on par with Scripture? Perhaps they would not make that claim but when they give any authority to personal revelations there’s the dangerous tendency to lean away from sola Scriptura toward mysticism, and maybe worse.
That practice has been around for a long time. But longevity doesn’t equate to validity.
In a 1524 sermon, Thomas Müntzer compared himself to the prophets Jeremiah and Daniel as he preached before Duke John (Frederick the Wise’s brother, Luther’s protector), his son, and other officials. His sermon from Daniel 2 aimed to rally the noblemen to use force in bringing about reformation. Martin Luther had taken a more patient process of letting the exposition of Holy Scripture do the work of reformation, famously quipping, “I did nothing more than pray and preach. The Word did it all. If I had wished, I could have started a riot at Worms. But while I sat still and drank beer with Melanchthon and Amsdorf, God dealt the papacy a mighty blow.”
But Müntzer considered that to be disobedience and failure on the part of Luther. While not denying Scripture or its power, Müntzer indicated that revelation must accompany Scripture. By revelation, he wasn’t referring to the illuminating work of the Spirit as the student of the Word digs into the biblical text. Here’s how he put it. “If we are, however, to recognize the rightfulness of him [referring to Christ], we must be daily conscious of the [fresh] revelation of God.” He claimed that such revelation had “become quite precious and rare in this wicked world,” shifting blame, to some degree on Luther and his companions insistence on sola Scriptura to the neglect of revelation partnering with Scripture. He chided, “They teach and say that God no longer reveals his divine mysteries to his beloved friends by means of valid visions or his audible Word, etc. Thus they stick with their inexperienced way . . . and make into the butt of sarcasm those persons who go around in possession of revelation, as the godless did to Jeremiah.” Then, taking on the mantle of Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar, he hinted that in the same way that God warned the ancient Babylonian king—through revelation given to Daniel—he was warning these Saxon rulers.