Mark Vikler is the founder of Communion with God ministries, and of Christian Leadership University (abbreviated to CWG and CLU respectively).
On the CWG website, he has placed a streaming audio in which he explains the core of his teaching. Here are my notes taken while listening.
How many would say that they have a relationship with someone whom they can’t see, hear, or interact with …
If you had that kind of relationship, would you think that they are missing something?
Peope who claim to have a relationship with God (whom they can’t see, hear or interact with) have a theology that says they have a relationship! But they don’t actually have a relationship.
Mark Virkler then makes certain remarks about a Catholic priest he met. In those remarks, he exhibits a spirit of compromise with Catholicism which is not biblical! He speaks deridingly of those who content that Catholics are not even saved.
Not only that. He goes on to mention certain common and regular practices of the Catholic church. For example, belief in and use of “holy water”. He justifies this by reference to Paul’s handkerchiefs which he describes as “holy handkerchiefs”! If the power of God can fill kerchiefs, he asks, why can’t the power of God fill water? (The answer, of course, is that the power of God was evident in the way Paul’s handkerchief, and articles of clothing that was touched by Paul or his kerchiefs, healed people to whom the kerchiefs were applied. This doesn’t happen with holy water. Neither do demons flee when holy water is sprinkled!
He says, of communication with God:
“It’s got to be easy! It’s got to be easy!”
To find an easy way to communicate with God, e says he “experimented” with hearing the voice of God! He says that God taught him that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing wrong!
“It’s okay to make mistakes!”
Vikler cites the prophet Habakkum as his model. He says that Habakkuk is one who can ask God questions and get answers that he can hear and see. He then asks: “How many would like to have such a man as a tutor?”
Three quick comments. Habbakuk didn’t make a mistake in hearing God. Since Vikler claims to be following in Habbakuk’s footsteps, he appears to be referring to himself as “such a man”, because the whole website is about asking God questions and getting answers. I wouldn’t like to have Vikler, a man who’s ready to make mistakes when quoting what his “god” says, as my tutor in this matter.
The passage that Vikler centers on is Habbakuk 2:1-2.
I quote in context:
Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
“I will stand … and set me …” Vikler interprets these phrases to mean that Habbakuk went apart, isolated himself, to hear God. But he goes beyond that. He says the thing to do is to be still before God. Then he asks: “Is it right or wrong to still the mind?” He advises: “Renounce the fear of it being wrong to still the mind. The Bible actually says that we should Be Still and Know that He is God. Have more faith in the power of the Holy Spirit to answer your call, than in the power of the devil to infiltrate your mind when you are stilling your mind before God. When I ask for the Spirit of God, I will receive the Spirit of God. There’s a simple Biblical technique to still the mind. But more of that later.”
“… will watch to see …” His interpretation: “Tune in to spontaneity.” “Watch for God’s thoughts, in the form of a vision or a still small voice. Watch to see what God will show. Look for vision. Listen to hear what God says. We have not because we ask not.”
What about counterfeits? He answers: Counterfeits are made of what is real that is of value. So, when we see a new age counterfeit, ask what is the valuable real thing that God is offering and go for it. Satan has counterfeits to deceive the unbelievers, and also to scare off the believers into rejecting the real for fear of receiving the counterfeit. Don’t be full of fear, but full of faith. I’m a child of faith. If it’s in the Bible then I can do it.
He said that this was Jesus’ practice: He only did what He saw the Father doing. He only says what He hears the Father speaking.
His advice: Don’t be afraid of seeing imagery. The Bible is full of images.
He also advises: Don’t be afraid of laughter. Things go better if you laugh. (I think this refers to the so-called “Toronto blessing”. I don’t see in the Bible that the prophets laughed when they saw visions or heard God speak!)
Now here’s a specially dangerous part of Vikler’s teaching. “Picture yourself sitting next to Jesus. The picture in the mind will come alive. The real Jesus will speak to you.” If the “picture” becomes “alive”, how will we know it’s the “real Jesus”?
This question is specially important in view of the fact that the real Jesus has told us that one of the signs of the end times is that “… many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11). A theme that recurs again and again through Matthew 24.
All of the above is part of “watching” to see what he will “say”.
Vikler says that the last step is to write the vision. He doesn’t say, write it and test it out by comparing with the Scripture, but just to “journal what comes, believing that it is God.” A person who follows this advice will not only be deceived, but will give the deception the same place of authority as the Bible!
Vikler’s teaching is specially dangerous when we consider that it is a teaching that has begun to permeate “evangelicalism” today. if you want to hear the voice of God you should “begin with the Bible” . But does Vikler counsel us to study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the way of truth? No. This is what he says:
Begin with the Bible. Think of people who heard God speaking, about whom the Bible describes a little of how they began to hear. Who comes to mind? Moses at the burning bush, Samuel in the Temple, Elijah on Mount Horeb are three characters many think of. You may have others in mind. Now think: ‘Where were these people?’ Moses was on the far side of the wilderness, a long way from his father-in-law’s home. Samuel was in the Temple at evening. The lamps were lit but the work was all done. Elijah was at the end of a long journey running away from likely retaliation. Each was away from home, away from the routine of the day, in an out-of-way-place or an out-of-the-busyness time. The same is true for most Bible characters listening to God.
Vikler misses the point. We don’t begin with the Bible by looking at some scattered examples of how God speaks to certain individuals. He misses the point that the Bible itself is God speaking to us. We know that when God led His people out of slavery in Egypt, He gave them a book. In fact, 5 books – the Torah.
In Exosua 33:18 Moses entreats God, “show me your glory”. God replies, not with a vision but with words. He proclaims all his goodness to Moses. In Exodus 34 God does meet Moses on the mountain, but it is in a cloud, and we are given, not a description of what God looks like, but words: the meaning of God’s name, YHWH, (expressed in many Bibles as the LORD – all capitals – or Jehovah, Yahweh, Yahovah, or equivalent), and the nature of his character expressed in that name.
For Virkler the word of God comes in a subjective experience of a divine voice, flowing from within in impressions, pictures, words, which he counsels us to believe is God speaking to us. He expects us to put confidence in our experience. He misses the point that the heart is deceptive above all things. The heart, by itself, is not able to reliably discern the will of God.
We might like ecstatic, mystical experiences (which puff up the flesh), but God speaks through His Word.
Studying the Bible is hard work. We have to think, read in context, and ask questions of the passage to get at the meaning. But through such study we find the true Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. We see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). The work of the Holy Spirit within us is to illuminate the word of God, to shine the light in our hearts as 2 Corinthians 4:6 says.
I agree that sometimes I can be prompted by the Holy Spirit to go somewhere, and when I get there I find it is a divine appointment. I am regularly led by God to preach on a passage or to say something in a sermon that touches a need I had no knowledge of. I can only attribute such things to the work of the Holy Spirit, supervising my ministry more than I know. But I would not call such intuitions ‘a word from the Lord’ or ‘hearing God’s voice’. They are impressions or intuitions, that is all. Also, for every genuine one, I have had five or ten false impressions, and I don’t think I can tell the difference. When we want a word for something, it is amazing what we can find to suit our purposes. Such ‘words’ are self-initiated guidance, often springing from our selfish desires. Vickler and his students need to get back to God’s word written, and give up such childish things.