How do I Evaluate Claims of Supernatural Experiences?

If someone claims to have a true word from God for me, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. So, if I say I’m Superman I need to do more than remove my glasses and rip open my shirt to show an “S” emblazoned on my chest. To be credible I would need to defy gravity, melt metal with my thermal gaze, and/or lift the nearest minivan.

 

Previously I address the issue of modern day prophets as well as the question of the harm that comes from claims of extra-biblical revelation. But there is another question that frequently follows on the heels of those:

What do I say to someone who tells me they have a word for me?

Here’s my attempt at a reply in fewer than 500 words…

Every claim of supernatural experience is either true or false; and if it’s false, it’s either a lie or a delusion.

I borrow this taxonomy from C. S. Lewis’ famous multiple choice of Jesus’ claims: Son of God/ devil of hell/ lunatic who believes he is a poached egg.

If someone claims to have a true word from God for me, the burden of proof lies with the claimant. So, if I say I’m Superman I need to do more than remove my glasses and rip open my shirt to show an “S” emblazoned on my chest. To be credible I would need to defy gravity, melt metal with my thermal gaze, and/or lift the nearest minivan.

When Christians claim to have met Jesus, performed a miraculous healing, received knowledge from God about someone else’s life, they are asking their hearers to take the claim without the proof. We get to say, “No.” But we should do so politely.

When the Apostles claimed to receive revelation from Jesus, they could, at will, demonstrate irrefutable supernatural power through miraculous healing or speaking in tongues. My firm belief though is that no one, in fact, has a true revelation from God today. So how do we then deal with these claims, kindly but decisively?

I give the claimant the benefit of the doubt and I assume that he is not blatantly trying to deceive me. I assume rather that he was imagining something or quite possibly using terminology that signifies something different to him than it does to me.

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