Monday, December 5, 2011

Talking with God -- Again

God has spoken again.  This time, He told Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain to get out of the race for the nomination.  That’s a change of heart.  Before, Cain said, God told him to run.  In a November 12 speech, Cain said, "When I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses: 'You've got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?'"

Cain was right.  He was the wrong man.  However, that makes God mistaken.  Who would have guessed that?

Of course, God also told Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum to run, too.  He must have been covering his bets. 

On the other hand, maybe God was suggesting a nice restaurant for the evening or a new Commandment, and they just misheard.  That’s possible.  After all, as the Bible records, God has a “still, small voice.”  (1 Kings: 19:12) Candidates who are a bit longwinded may have trouble translating comments uttered sotto voce.

There’s another option:  maybe God wasn’t the one taking.  Maybe Cain heard his girlfriend chatting on the phone in another room and misunderstood.  That could be true for all the people who recently claimed God had whispered in their ears.  A search of the internet turned up the following bits of supposed divine guidance.

  • A man who said he killed his young son because God told him to save the boy from the antichrist.  A New Zealand man who chopped off the heads of two women and shot a man following God’s directions.
  • A woman asking for advice after a man approached her in church and told her God chose her to be his wife.  Presumably, the same tact was used in the polygamist sects to convince little girls to become wives.
  • A Texas pastor who paddled eight women because God told him to.
  • The Rev. Pat Robertson claiming God told him that the U.S. would be attacked by terrorists – that was in 2007.  God hasn’t apparently got around to following through yet.
  • President Obama said God wanted Congress to pass his jobs bill.

Unless God is talking out of both sides of His mouth, someone else must be mouthing off for Him, sort of how English Prime Minister Winston Churchill had a sound-alike give speeches for him during World War II.  To this day, no one knows which radio speeches Churchill actually delivered. 

Maybe that’s the same thing with God.  He designated a stand-in who tells the candidates what to do.  They think it’s God and fall for it.

Why stop with today’s run of mediocre politicians?  Maybe God didn’t really speak to Abraham, Moses or Samuel.  Maybe that was his stand-in or, worse yet, Satan acting like a ventriloquist.  Was Muhammad misled?  Or Joseph Smith?  They are among multiple religious leaders who said they received the divine word.  Maybe the gods who spoke through the Delphic Oracle, the Sybil and other renowned visionaries were perpetrating a cruel hoax.

How would anyone know? It’s not like there’s a recording somewhere of God to compare the latest message to.   The CIA did that with tapes made by Osama Bin Laden, confirming their authenticity.  God’s vocal pattern remains a mystery.

Maybe God didn’t say anything at all.  Maybe Cain’s libido gave him the impetus to run, noticing that candidates have unfettered access to unlimited numbers of women ala Tiger Woods.
Maybe Bachman’s smug conceit served as the impetus or Palin’s lofty intelligence.

Maybe the mouthpiece who told Joseph Smith to look for golden tablets with a fable about Jesus visiting Native Americans was the same one that told former Massachusetts Governor and master flip-flopper Mitt Romney to run for president.

We can only guess.

Or we can consider the words of retired author and Christian pastor Robert Tillman Kendall:

“Most often we mention Him for one reason: to elevate our own credibility. It is not His name we are thinking of, it is our reputation. Adding the weight of God's name to our words gives us authority and respectability. But the truth is, we're not thinking of God's name and glory when we do this — we're thinking of our own.”

While making sure God gets the unwarranted credit.

Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. 

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