DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

God Want To Talk To You

Written by: on March 7, 2017

Introduction

Tanya Luhrmann presents When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God to illustrate a distinctive description of anthropology in regards to the perceptions and motives held by contemporary Evangelical Christians.[1] According to Bielo, it contributes significantly to the movement by different anthropologists who are attempting to understand the nature of Christianity in North America.[2] The term used in the book, “Anthropology of Christianity,” is one category that solely illustrates the Protestant nature of the experience according to Bender.[3].

The book identifies the sources that, in many cases, are ignored or underappreciated as anthropologists examine the practice of prayers and reading of theological writings. Through this book, the author attempts to move the literature of contemporary Christian tradition forward and to investigate the rationale for church members’ practices performed.[4] The book includes materials and identifies the resources that have broadened anthropologists’ description of Christianity, or in Luhrmann’s words, “anthropology of Christianity.”

Summary

Luhrmann renewed the concept of an anthropological viewpoint on religion, which is based on the experience of practitioners. She included the observations made in the context of Vineyard Church, which focuses mainly in the betterment of self and emphasizes the experience. Many different aspects of the theology are considered in this book, such as the question, “How does God become real for people?” Her perceptions towards the existence and invisibility of God is that of a believer and a skeptic as well. In her book, she clarifies that the question is not concerned with the belief—“How is religious belief possible?”; rather, it is about the aspect of God being real and believable for believers. According to Luhrmann, the concept of experience in the context of Evangelical Christianity is relatively new, and can be approached through different media.[5] Also, the psychological world of both believers and skeptics is similar. As identified in this book, the three main approaches refer to the history, the ethnographic formation, and the mental state developed in accordance with religious experiences.

After reading When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, I believe it can be considered as a reflection of the significance of specialized practices in social settings and the impact of experience on learning: “learning to do rather than learning to think.”[6] Despite of all the omissions and limits, there is a need to emphasize the experience of institutional support and practices conducted.

Reflection

After reading the book, I observed two different aspects to consider. The first aspect was the attention given to experience, the activities occurring in church. Also, it suggests that practitioners’ lifestyles and perceptions are neglected in some cases. This is similar to the factors that tend to emphasize certain topics while ignoring others. In contrast, the second aspect that grabbed my attention was the distinctively Christian anthropology that complicates the living styles of individuals in particular.[7] This may also be noted through the experiential critiques of theology. In my opinion, Luhrmann’s book highlights the association between anthropological understanding and the sources of theology, make the contribution to the advancement of anthropology even greater.

However, the book not only helps the Evangelicals but also the non-Christians to start thinking about their own faith and to consider converting to Evangelicalism. But Christians will benefit most from reading this book as they will relate to the scenarios and prayers themselves. Evangelical converts can develop a new theory in their mind where they can experience their inner feelings and thoughts. Also, it will help people know what and who they really are from the inside.[8]

Experience

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me” (John 10:27).

Overall, this book discusses how evangelicals come to see the world in a certain way, as they learn to talk to and hear from God, and how to interpret events as God’s intervention. This is the value of this text: It goes beyond describing the evangelical viewpoint and argues for how this viewpoint is developed and maintained. This is an example of what good social science can do: It can explain why things are the way they are. Building a relationship and experiencing God through two-way communication allows God to talk and you listen, therefore God want to talk to you.

 

Notes

[1]. Tanya M. Luhrmann, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God (New York: Vintage, 2012).

[2]. James S. Bielo, Words upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study (New York: NYU Press, 2009).

[3]. Courtney Bender, The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).

[4]. Mary M. Juzwik,“American Evangelical Biblicism as Literate Practice: A Critical Review,” Reading Research Quarterly 49, no. 3 (2014): 340.

[5]. Joel Robbins, Bambi B. Schieffelin, and Aparecida Vilaça, “Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia: Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 56, no. 03 (2014): 565.

[6]. Tanya Marie, “Talking Back about When God Talks Back,Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3, no. 3 (2013): 389.

[7]. Roxana Waterson, The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle, 2013), 34.

[8]. Roxana Waterson, The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle, 2013), 34.

[8]. James Wakefield, Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006).

Bibliography

Bender, Courtney. The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

Bielo, James S. Words upon the Word: An Ethnography of Evangelical Group Bible Study. New York: NYU Press, 2009.

Juzwik, Mary M. “American Evangelical Biblicism as Literate Practice: A Critical Review.” Reading Research Quarterly 49, no. 3 (2014): 335–49.

Luhrmann, Tanya M. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God. New York: Vintage, 2012.

Marie, Tanya. “Talking Back about When God Talks Back.” Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3, no. 3 (2013): 389–98.

Robbins, Joel, Bambi B. Schieffelin, and Aparecida Vilaça. “Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia: Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 56, no. 03 (2014): 559–90.

Wakefield, James. Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006.

Waterson, Roxana. The Living House: An Anthropology of Architecture in South-East Asia. North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle, 2013.

 

 

 

About the Author

mm

Rose Anding

Rose Maria “Simmons McCarthy” Anding, a Visionary, Teacher,Evangelist, Biblical Counselor/ Chaplain and Author, of High Heels, Honey Lips, and White Powder. She is a widower, mother, stepmother, grandmother, great grandmother of Denver James, the greater joy of her life. She has lived in Chicago, Washington, DC, and North Carolina, and is now back on the forgiving soil of Mississippi.

5 responses to “God Want To Talk To You”

  1. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Rose Maria,

    You wrote, “Her perceptions towards the existence and invisibility of God is that of a believer and a skeptic as well.” I also got the feeling that she’s caught between the ceiling of secularism and the fullness of living faith.

    You also wrote, “In her book, she clarifies that the question is not concerned with the belief—‘How is religious belief possible?’; rather, it is about the aspect of God being real and believable for believers.”

    Is it your sense that she is writing about how it is possible that we are able to experience our belief? Do you think her curiosity is primarily what happens in the brain that allows us to think we have “heard” God’s thoughts?

  2. Hi Rose. God want to talk to you too! I appreciate the author’s task to explain something that can’t be seen in a way that a scientist can appreciate. it reminded my of your work and research into addiction. Do you see any similarities here? Does this book help you at all with your project?

    • mm Rose Anding says:

      Thanks Aaron P
      To answer your question, yes there are similarities here. However, that is why we Draw Near to God, and He Will Draw Near to You.The psalmist wrote, “It is good for me to draw near to God” (Psalm 73:28), and hopefully you are learning how good it is for you.
      A relationship with God begins when God calls us or draws us. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up [resurrect him] at the last day” (John 6:44).

      After God calls us, He expects us from then on to exercise initiative in seeking to draw near to Him. If we do, we have this very encouraging promise: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
      Thanks for sharing Rose Maria

  3. mm Garfield Harvey says:

    Rose,
    I greatly appreciate the perspective of your blog. You stated that we should learn “how to interpret events as God’s intervention.” I firmly believe that if we get into the habit of trusting God in His totality, then He orchestrates every event of our lives. It is important for us to change our posture when God speaks and don’t get discouraged when the events of our lives contradict our Christian perspective.

    Garfield

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