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Ruth Tucker: God Talk


Ruth A. Tucker, God Talk: Cautions for those Who Hear God’s Voice (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 173 pages.

Ruth Tucker confronts the popular notion that everyone can hear the voice of God. Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Evangelical bookshelves abound with books that instruct the reader on the normalcy for the average Christian to conversationally engage with God in prayer—hearing God’s literal voice in response. This book stands against the tide of popular-selling Christian books saying that you can hear God’s voice in “three easy steps.”

The reader must complete this book—not become frustrated or prematurely judge it, abandoning it mid-way. With great courage, Tucker bluntly speaks on the forbidden emotions associated with the silence of God. One’s first response to her thesis might be that she has missed the intimate blessing of God. Persisting through the whole of her argument will bring the reader to a new understanding.

From the opening subtitle to the subtle phraseology of the text, the reader may wonder if Tucker is embittered against the church or against God, and whether this book is giving vent to her disappointment. She does not flinch when shooting the sacred cow of popular Christianity (i.e.., God told me). The book unbraids the familiar stories of the “Guideposts guidance” kind of prayer. She does not avoid making the church wince when it hears the convicted criminal announce that the voice of God instructed him to do his evil deeds. She confronts the subjective, even naïve interpretation of events―mocking the assumption of sunshine or green traffic lights as a personal favor or as a special answer to prayer. She grapples with theodicy, echoing popular arguments for defending God’s goodness in a world filled with evil.

Midway through the book Tucker gives a brief solace for the bruised reader to rest as she finds a secure toehold in sola scriptura before continuing her climb (We let the reader decide if her direction is upward or downward). Moving toward her conclusion she bandages the wounds of the tender reader with the comfort of Christ-centered soteriology. When the final pages are turned, the reader may well be relieved that someone had the chutzpah to speak unguardedly. There are no “Sunday School” answers in this text. These are difficult issues—dragons that only the brave dare challenge.

Tucker says that in the mystery of God’s silence is a safe place to be—though silence is a stark contrast to our culture’s insistence on activity. She pulls the scarlet thread of this silence through the whole fabric of the book—the mysterious thread of the silence of God—as noted in Scripture, in the writings of Christian mystics throughout history, and in the reality of the serious moments of life. She warns that the fabrication of conversation or the embellishment of conversation with God is a serious offense. Even in the silence, God is there.

Reviewed by John R. Miller


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Category: Living the Faith, Spring 2007

About the Author: John R. Miller is an ordained minister with Elim Fellowship of Lima, NY and serves as Pastor of Education with Living Word Temple of Restoration, Rochester, NY. He has a degree from Elim Bible Institute, a B.Div. (Trinity Theological Seminary), C.P.E. (University of Rochester), M.Div. (Northeastern Seminary), and Ph.D. (Regent University). He teaches at Regent University and Elim Bible Institute & College.

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