Yesterday I read a posting that referred to the work of the Holy Spirit in prompting a certain action by a certain group. My question: How do we know when it's the Holy Spirit that's doing the prompting?
Sure, it'd be great if we had some kind of Spirit-meter that we could carry around in a shirt pocket like a tire gauge, to check whether a proposed action had sufficient pneumatic pressure to be reliable. * But I'm not aware of any such instrument.
* No pun intended; the simile just popped into my head.
I expect that some of our scripturalist brethren would answer the question thusly: We know that the Holy Spirit is not prompting an action whenever the action would be contrary to Scripture (they're likely to say).
But that's a wholly unsatisfying answer -- among other problems, it begs several questions. Most importantly: Do we dare declare that the Holy Spirit is categorically not prompting people in ways that would have surprised the scriptural authors? Such a declaration would be pretty presumptuous and arrogant, if you ask me -- and probably blasphemous to boot.
I also expect that some of our scripturalist brethren will declare in outraged tones that I'm rejecting Scripture completely, consigning it to the dustbin.
Baloney. That would be an unfortunate example of the black-and-white, either/or, false-dilemma thinking that (sadly) seems to be pandemic in certain circles.
We certainly shouldn't consign Scripture to the dustbin; whenever we have to make a judgment whether a proposed action would be "good" or "bad," Scripture is a very useful guide. In fact, other things being equal, a proposed action that contravenes Scripture is likely not to be a good idea.
But in each case, we have to make that judgment for ourselves. We can rely on Scripture as a guide to action. But we can't abdicate to Scripture our individual moral responsibilities for our actions and inactions.
All we can ever do is the best we know how. But even so, when we take (or omit) an action, we bear the responsibility. If the action turns out badly, we can't automatically absolve ourselves by pleading, "I was only following Scripture."