I hadn't really meant to eavesdrop - but, well, the place was nearly empty and the hostess had sat them next to me, and the one guy was apparently a pastor talking shop with someone... I mean, it's normal busybody curiosity as well as professional interest.
But so there I was, eating my lunch and hearing all sorts of theology from your typical American Bible Belt protestant. And it really sort of made me sad. What did I notice?
1. Everything was about feelings giving you guidance. Seriously, it was this person felt led, or they prayed and then they felt they had made the right decision. Everything was tied to feelings... and they weren't even feelings that were responses to the Word of God - not even, "I read this passage and it slapped me across the face". Just... prayer (or I'd say even "meditation", but that would be my word, not theirs) and then a feeling. For tons of things.
2. Now the cynical. I heard the one pastor, in his story telling, twice go across this scenario - someone is doing something that the pastor thinks is foolish and wrong, and so -"Then I told them that they really need to pray about it."
That was euphemism. Oh, I'm sure he wanted them to pray - but the point of the prayer was to be that "God will talk to you and tell you that I'm right." And it made me think - how often when we in America get told that we should "pray about something" is it really someone telling us that we are wrong and that if we just pray enough God will mystically smack us and make us see reason?
I don't think I'm going to go to your college -- oh, well, you should pray about that.
I don't think I'm going to take this job - oh, well, you should really pray about it.
I don't want to donate to your organization - oh, well, you should really pray about it.
Of course, when you cut yourself off from being focused first and foremost on the clear Word of God - when you expect God to speak to you through your feelings... well, when someone starts manipulating you, what do you think you can expect "God" to be saying after you get the guilt-trip-command-for-prayer.
So much manipulation. So little security. Thanks be to God for the clear Gospel that gives us Christ the Crucified. Thanks be to God that He has taught us that whether we live or die, we live or die to the Lord. Such wonderful comfort.
God doesn't need to tell you that I'm right about what job I think you should take - He just out of love and mercy reveals His Son Christ Jesus as your Savior.