23 August 2012

True Woman Conference Speaker Priscilla Shirer Hears God's Still, Small Voice

The True Woman '12 conference, scheduled for 20–22 September in Indianapolis, is an event sponsored by popular Bible teacher Nancy Leigh DeMoss and her ministry, Revive Our Hearts. Many women see this as a time to fellowship with old friends and new, as well as an opportunity to hear from some of their favorite trusted and conservative Bible teachers. No doubt that many would place most of the speakers for this year's event in that category, with one exception:
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Priscilla Shirer, friend of SBC Bible teacher Beth Moore and a professed Bible teacher herself, is someone whose teachings ought to be approached with extreme caution.

While Shirer does not bear the title of "pastor," she nevertheless appears to sanction this role as one that is acceptable for women to fill. Shirer's biography on her Going Beyond Ministries web page informs us that she is well-educated, though from the content of her work, it appears that her "expository teaching of the Word of God" may be debatable:
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The charismatic Bible teacher Shirer also participated in the Be Still DVD, which openly promotes contemplative/centering prayer. Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries provides additional thoughts:
I explained further that this Be Still project was openly advocating a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP).
And this is easily corroborated, for example, from a pro-contemplative prayer article entitled “Be Still” Invites Viewers to Discover Contemplative Prayer, which was carried by the mainstream evangelical website Crosswalk.com. You also saw that Shirer’s ministry, Going Beyond Ministries (GBM), arose from what Shirer called her “inner revival,” which involved the Lord “speaking” to her:
In her case, God was speaking to her about going to “the place of abundant living–an experiential relationship with God.” “He said: ‘Priscilla, you’ve been at this mountain long enough. There is a new place that I want to take you to,’” Shirer says. In light of God’s challenge, Shirer naturally desired to “go beyond” personally. (Online source)
Like I’ve said before, as soon as you hear someone claiming to teach in the Name of Jesus Christ use the term “go beyond” your discernment radar needs to kick in. The key question to ask is: Go beyond, what? As I’ve pointed out previously, invariably where we’re headed is going beyond Scripture. Again, here’s the bottom line: In the Bible we know we hear God’s Voice; but as soon as we go beyond into “inner,” i.e highly subjective, experiences we then open a door that is leading so many today into such spiritual deception.
(Source)
Shirer has responded on her website to questions surrounding her involvement in the Be Still project. Her vague answer reads in part:

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In light of Shirer's praise of solitude and silence, we do well to consider Pastor Gary Gilley's recent article on the topic:
Of course every mystic’s favorite passage on this subject is Elijah’s “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12-13). For example, Ruth Haley Barton tells us, “Elijah’s willingness to enter into solitude and silence opened room for God to minister to him in ways he had not yet experienced” (p. 19). Even a cursory reading of the account finds that Elijah had no desire to enter into solitude and silence as Barton describes it. He was running for his life from Jezebel, depressed and ready to entirely give up his life as a prophet. God graciously reached out and restored His man, but Elijah wasn’t looking for an experience with God. Additionally there is no command anywhere in Scripture to try to duplicate Elijah’s example. Simply put, while seeking a quiet place to be alone with God is without question a good idea and is exemplified in Scripture, it is not commanded and is never taught as essential for discipleship.
It is important to understand that in using the discipline of silence/solitude, spiritual formation leaders are looking for something beyond discipleship; they are looking for a personal word, a message, a revelation, from the Lord. This is why Elijah’s experience is so prominent in all contemplative writings. The idea is, if Elijah went alone and heard the “still small voice of God,” then if we follow in his footsteps we will experience the same.
(Source)
Gilley's observations will be important to keep in mind throughout the remainder of this article.

It appears from the above that Shirer may be open to direct communication from God to the believer through more than the reading of His Word. In answering another question, "How can I really hear God speak to me personally?" Shirer answered in part:

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This response seems to imply that those who are not "hearing" the voice of God are immature and weak in their faith and in their walk with the Lord. It is this type of dangerous teaching that leads so many to feel hopeless and confused when they find that God isn't "talking" to them in the same way that others claim He speaks.

Now, some may argue that Shirer is not speaking here of an audible or even an inner voice from God, but of His speaking through His Word and through guidance of the Holy Spirit. For further clarification regarding Priscilla Shirer's thoughts and teachings on this subject, let us turn to one of her own writings.  

Is That You, God? is a booklet that contains material from Shirer's full-length book, Discerning the Voice of God. This booklet is published by and is available for purchase from any SBC Lifeway bookstore.

Only two paragraphs into the introduction of this booklet, Shirer writes:
Before you read any further, let me assure you of an important point. To not speak contradicts God's nature. The second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, is called the Word (see John 1:1). That designation stands at odds with silence. God loved you enough to die for you; He loves you enough to communicate with you. The Lord can and will speak to you if you've placed your faith in Jesus. First, however, you must expect and anticipate that the divine voice of God can ring in your ears and heart. (Priscilla Shirer, Is That You, God? [Lifeway Press: 2009], 6).
So, if one is not appropriately "expecting" and "anticipating" God to speak, will He then stay silent? Is God so controlled by the actions of man?

What Shirer fails to acknowledge here is that God has spoken, finally and fully, in His Word. For us to expect additional revelation from Him is to indicate that His Word is not enough. Shirer bases her argument on a misunderstanding of John 10:27, wherein Jesus states, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." A fuller look at the context of this verse helps one to better understand what our Lord is saying:
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:24-30)
It is clear that our Lord is teaching here about His Father's divine, sovereign election, and the assurance of the saints. Christ's sheep "hear [His] voice," not in an audible manner, but those who have been elected by God will come to know Christ, be saved by Him and thus be enabled to do His will. Only those who are Christ's sheep will believe and follow Him, and He alone has the power to keep them safe. Of John 10:27, J. C. Ryle noted,
He says, "They hear my voice." By this He means that they listen to His invitation, when He calls them to repent, believe, and come to Him. This supposes that Christ first speaks, and then they hear. Grace begins the work: they, through grace, obey His calling, and willingly do as He bids them. The ears of unconverted people are deaf to Christ's call, but true Christians hear and obey (J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, vol. 2 [The Banner of Truth Trust: 2009], 236).
Remember, when Christ first spoke these words, all who were in earshot audibly heard Him. It was only those who had been chosen and effectually called, however, who truly heard Him, and who knew and understood the Truth which He proclaimed.

Shirer continues in this booklet to inform her readers of her own personal experiences of "hearing" God's voice.
I often wish that a visible sign, like the cloud that led the children of Israel by day or the pillar of fire that led them by night, would supernaturally appear in my life when I need to make a decision. So far, that hasn't happened. I have, however, heard a still small voice speaking to my heart over various situations.
Interestingly, when God chose to speak in the Bible, those who heard didn't doubt whether God had spoken or what He was asking them to do. He made His Word clear as He spoke to "our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways" (Heb. 1:1, NIV). Just as He did in times long past, God wants us to hear, recognize, and obey His voice today. We too can walk in the assurance that what we hear comes from Him. But before we can do that, we need to understand the Messenger and the primary method through which He chooses to communicate today: the Holy Spirit.
(Shirer, 12–13, emphasis added).
It is true that God speaks and works today through the Holy Spirit, especially as the Spirit reveals and illumines the Word of God for every Christian. It is unfortunate that Shirer did not choose to quote verse 2 of the first chapter of Hebrews. If she had, she may have come to understand why it is that the canon is closed, and that God has spoken to us fully and finally through His Word and Son, Jesus Christ.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Those who believe that God is continuing to offer new revelation today deny the sufficiency of Scripture. Priscilla Shirer does just this in the following quote:
But, as author Dallas Willard said, "Far be it from me to deny that spectacular experiences occur or that they are, sometimes at least, given by God." I believe as he, however, that "the still small voice–or the interior or inner voice, as it is also called–is the preferred and most valuable form of individualized communication for God's purposes. (Shirer, 16, emphasis added).
Shirer here not only has undermined the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, but she has begun to tread on dangerous, mystical ground. Throughout her booklet, Is That You, God?, Shirer seems to indicate that the Christian need not fear hearing from anyone or anything other than the Almighty. Yet, how is she to know if she is conversing with God, with herself, or with another spiritual entity? Even those who promote and teach these aberrant ideas of spiritual formation, contemplative prayer and meditation warn about the possibility of hearing from something or someone other than God. Consider the quotes below from contemplative prayer proponents Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, respectively:
There are other ‘spiritual voices,’ too…. Satan … too will speak in our heart once he sees he no longer holds us in his hand. Only if we learn to recognize this voice as well can we … correctly identify and firmly resist him and make him flee from us (1 Pet. 5:9; Eph. 6:11). (Dallas Willard, Hearing God, [InterVarsity Press: 1999], 181).
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as a supernatural guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on that, there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way! … But for now I want to encourage you to learn and practice prayers of protection. (Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home [HarperCollins, 1992], 157).
Speaking specifically of Ruth Haley Barton, Gary Gilley draws out a point that nevertheless is applicable to all who would maintain that God speaks in the silence through a "still small voice":
Therefore, in order to support an unwarranted and biblically indefensible idea that God speaks to us apart from Scripture, and often without words in our inner being, the best that Barton can offer is that eventually we will be able to distinguish God’s voice from our own if we just keep practicing. This is disappointing at best. But to make things worse, apparently God “is speaking to us all the time” and we are obligated to obey what He says. This puts an unsustainable burden on those who accept Barton’s ideas as they must not only hear the inner, wordless voice of God, they must also obey it. If they do not they would of course be in sin. (Source)
Not only must one obey this inner voice so as to not be in sin, but, as we have seen from Shirer's own words and implications, one may not even be in Christ if he or she is failing to hear and distinguish the voice of God. To hear a "still small voice" never has and never will be a test of genuine faith and salvation. To imply otherwise is exceedingly dangerous.

Perhaps knowing all of this about the teachings of Priscilla Shirer helps to better understand why she calls her ministry Going Beyond. Regardless, those who support the True Woman conference ought to be  concerned about Shirer's appearance at the upcoming event. As was stated at the outset, this does not intend to imply that the other speakers at this conference also would hold to Shirer's faulty and deceptive teachings. However, Shirer's mere presence in this speaker lineup will lead many to believe that the other trusted women present might endorse and encourage her teachings.

While sources tell us that the organizers of the event have received concerns and complaints regarding Shirer's scheduled appearance, it is clear that these concerns were not enough to remove her from the conference lineup for this year. Those who plan to attend this event, then, are to be warned and must pray for wisdom and discernment prior to listening to Priscilla Shirer teach. We most certainly pray that future True Woman conferences will forgo such speakers for those who are biblically strong and faithful.

To conclude this, we turn to Dr. John MacArthur as he aptly answers the question, "Does God give us personal direction through a still small voice?"


Further Reading 
Women Pastors, Priscilla Shirer and the Southern Baptist Convention (Apprising Ministries)
Priscilla Shirer and Contemplative/Centering Prayer (Apprising Ministries)
Contemplative Prayer (Christian Research Network)
Christine Caine "Honored" to Speak at Lakewood Church Youth Conference

1 comment:

  1. "But before we can do that, we need to understand the Messenger and the primary method through which He chooses to communicate today: the Holy Spirit."-Shirer

    -Wow... So she's in essence saying that the Holy Spirit can be separated from what he has spoken. God can be separated from God's WORD? So the emphasis is placed MORE on the Holy Spirit than on Jesus? - Grave error. The Holy Spirit brings glory to Jesus not to himself. The Holy Spirit loves to give Jesus all the glory and honor-Jhn 16:13-14--"He(the Holy Spirit) will NOT SPEAK ON HIS OWN"

    as Calvin said, - “we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it”

    so why is Mrs Shirer making it seem like the Holy Spirit is better than the Holy Spirit? That's like saying God is better than God outside of Scripture. this is a departure from God's word by doctrines of demons.

    quote-"the book of Hebrews is a long discourse that continually shows how Jesus Christ is (SUPERIOR) to anything in the Old Testament). That means, of course, that the revelation in Jesus Christ, is (BETTER) than (anything) that came before. God used to speak in these ways, but today, even better, he speaks through his Son."--Shirer doesn't seem to think so~

    "God ((speaks)) to us by his Son, through his Spirit in the Bible.
    the author to the Hebrews writes in 3:7, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says.” “Says,” not “Said.” “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

    The word of God is more precious that all the riches of this world.. When I was first saved for several months I carried my bible with me everywhere. In fact I was so afraid someone would steal it from me. I didn't care if they stole my car or my money.
    It is utter evil to separate the man of God from the word of God..

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