God Knew Her Name, But Apparently Not Her Need!
By Wayne Jackson
Strange things are happening within the churches of Christ these days. More and more, folks are making bizarre claims - claims that scarcely would have been whispered a few decades ago.
The title of this article sounds rather irreverent. It is not intended to be. It does not reflect the author's personal sentiment. Rather, it is an ad hominem quip, designed to highlight the absurdity characteristic of a recent testimony.
Last fall a brief essay appeared on the internet. It was titled: "God Even Knows Our Names." The piece was authored by Edward Fudge, a former preacher who now serves as an elder for the Bering Drive church in Houston, considered to be one of the more "innovative" congregations in that area. These brethren, for example, have celebrated the Lord's supper on Saturday, used women in public leadership roles in the church assembly, and, brother Fudge himself has argued that baptism is not essential to salvation (Image, Feb. 1988).
The article under review begins with Fudge telling about a plane trip he was making from Tucson, Arizona back to Houston on November 17, 1996. During the flight our brother was reading a new book written by Jack Deere, a former professor at the Dallas Theological Seminary. The book was titled: Surprised by the Voice of God. Therein Deere had argued that it is entirely possible that God might, at some opportune time, reveal to his children a significant word or phrase which would "add weight to their ministry." This key word or phrase would be very meaningful to the person being approached and thus perhaps open doors of opportunity for assisting the beneficiary of this divine revelation.
Well, as it happened, Fudge was seated next to a dignifiedlooking lady whom he deemed to be a successful professional woman. As he silently sized her up, he breathed a prayer, asking God to give him "a word or phrase" which would be meaningful to this lady. Our brother says he wanted to encourage or help her in some way. He then writes: "Immediately the name 'Karen,' comes to my mind with considerable force."
With testimony almost equivalent to a court oath, Fudge (who is an attorney), vows that "Karen" wore no jewelry revealing her name, nor did she look like anyone held ever known whose name was "Karen." In spite of this seeming "revelation," he was hesitant to speak to her, wondering whether she might consider this an unusual come-on.
The brother says he debated with himself, back and forth, for more than a halfhour. Fearful that he might be stifling a message that God had given him, he finally spoke. After some small talk, he blurted out: "Your name wouldn't happen to be Karen would it?" The lady, he vows, was startled, and replied: "As a matter of fact it is."
Fudge then fills "Karen" in on why he has asked this question. He tells her that he has been preaching out in the desert for a little church, and that he is now on his way back to Houston, where he works as an attorney; he also informs her that he is a Bible teacher. Brother Ed tells Karen that he has been reading this book about "learning to hear God's voice." He informs the lady: "I asked God, that if he wanted me to encourage you, to tell me something about you, and the name 'Karen' came to mind. Do you need any encouragement in any area of your life?" (Emp. WJ). The woman replies: "Not that I can think of; actually, things are going very well for me right now." If this were not so deadly serious, it would be almost humorous. Two things must be noted.
First, where is the information within the biblical record that suggests one would have to "learn" to hear the voice of God? When Saul was en route to Damascus, he did not have to "learn" how to hear the Lord's voice. Jesus just spoke to him, he heard the voice, and that was that. We must observe, with all due respect, that brother Fudge needs to "learn," all over again, where the voice of God is to be found. It will not be in his mind, in a jet plane 30,000 feet over Texas! It will be through the Holy Scriptures and nowhere else. Our brother once knew that. His father, the late Bennie Lee Fudge, a gospel preacher, taught him better. But some of our brethren need to review their spiritual ABCs (Heb. 5:12).
Second, brother Fudge's testimony, which rivals that of a Pentecostal's, put God in a very awkward position. He asked God to give him a sign "if" the lady needed encouragement, and if he could render her "any" sort of benevolent encouragement. Supposedly, the Lord responded and told Ed that her name was "Karen." Then, however, we discover that Karen didn't even need the encouragement. Everything was fine with her. Here is an interesting question. If God could tell our brother that the lady's name was Karen, why couldn't he also have told Ed that she really didn't need his encouragement, and thus direct our friend's evangelistic zeal toward someone who really did require the assistance? And so, we must say, with biblical irony, that God must have known "Karen's" name, but not her needs.
All of this, of course, merely underscores how very far some of our kinsmen in Christ have drifted from the truth. It really is a very tragic and heartrending circumstance.