Dr. Chris Gadsden Argues Maybe Jesus Really Does Talk to VP Mike Pence

In his own words Chris Gadsden tells us about himself:

"I have earned two master’s degrees and one PhD in philosophy over 14 years of study, combined with 20+ years experience of campus ministry (Cru) and teaching (as an adjunct instructor)...I am passionate about helping people learn to think and believe better, though...I won’t pretend to be neutral about religion. Good thinking leads us to truth, whatever that truth may be."

Earlier we were told by a former White House aide that Vice President Mike Pence believes Jesus is talking to him and telling him what to say. Dr. Gadsden has written an essay in response, where he considers how Christians can evaluate claims like “God spoke to me?” I've met Dr. Gadsden and he's a really nice guy, even to atheists. But it's time for him to get educated, and I'm just the guy to teach him.

I've got to say from the outset that at least Jesus is choosing to talk to someone important, about important subjects here. He has the ear of the US VP!! Good choice Jesus! Why should you be wasting your person-to-person wisdom on some Joe Six Pack in Alabama about which parking spot to take, or which way to travel home from the liquor store? Maybe this is real after all. ;-)

Gadsden starts off by saying, "assuming Christianity is true, what should we make of Pence’s chats with Jesus?" Why is it apologists avoid the really interesting questions? Questions like 1) If a god exists does why does IT (gender neutral) want to talk to us? Or 2) Why would a mono-threesome-like god create people to chat with in the first place, when IT already had divine eternal omniscient conversation partners?

Talking to Christians now, Gadsden says, "At minimum, Christians should admit that divine communication is clearly possible. Multiple precedents exist in the Bible and in church tradition, after all."

Of course, all of this is pure presumption of his, hearsay based upon second-hand and third-hand testimonies (at best), complete with forged texts with made-up pericopes and sayings which were put into Gadsden's evangelical Bible. We have no clue who heard Gadsden's god tell the stories of Adam and Eve, or Noah, Abraham, Moses and many many others. They look like folktales made up to teach kids virtues with threats; or eteological stories to teach kids why women were inferior, or why snakes slither, or why life is hard for them. Barely anything in the Bible has the words "Thus saith the Lord" before and after it. Those that do, like the Ten Commandments or the prophets, no one could evaluate those claims in those days, much less in ours today. For if a god spoke to them he did do in secret, by whispers or a still soft voice no one but the receiver could hear. If the test for a prophet was a prediction come true, there weren't that many predictions, and one of them by Jonah shows he was a false prophet, since Nineveh was not destroyed in forty days as he predicted ("Let god be true and every man a liar").

I would think if Gadsden had not earned degrees in philosophy but instead spent some time in biblical studies, he would admit he doesn't have nearly enough details to know that a god communicated in the Bible, or at the very least, as much as he presumes.

About the Bible he might end up saying what he says about Pence:
I can’t evaluate Pence’s personal experiences, because I don’t have nearly enough details. All we have is a second-hand account that Pence said that “Jesus tells him to say things.” Such testimonial evidence wouldn’t even be admissible in court.
Okay, got that. At this point Gadsden sidesteps the whole issue of whether Jesus walks and talks with Pence (the question we want answered), and offers five criteria for evaluating such claims, from a Christian perspective. Well of course it's from a Christian perspective. When is he going to tell us how believers in the many non-Christian religions (or nonbelievers) can know when his Christian god is speaking to them? That would be the most important question! Instead, gods only talk to their followers. Allah talks to Muslims. Yahweh talks to Jews. Jesus talks to protestant Christians. Mary talks to Catholics. Vishnu talks to Hindus. No deity talks to atheists, but why? Shouldn't IT want to get us to believe? Wouldn't you think the one true god would try to crossover by talking to the rest of us? No devout Christian ever kneeled down to pray to Jesus and came away stunned to hear Allah's voice telling him to read the Koran, or vice versa. I guess that's evidence to Christians Allah doesn't exist, right? But then why doesn't Jesus talk to Muslims while they're praying?

Before commenting on Gadsden's five criteria that increases the likelihood Jesus is speaking to a Christian. The most obvious ways to know if it's Jesus speaking need to be stated. If it's Jesus then you and others near you could see him, feel him and/or hear him. Or, he could do a miracle right before your eyes and anyone standing there with you. It would be something a cell phone could record to be put on YouTube. Barring that, Jesus could tell you something only you could know. Or he could tell you what's about to happen directly in your line of sight before it happens. Or he could predict something absolutely unexpected to happen the next day, which you could independently verify before continuing the conversation. In other words, there should be objectify verifiable proof. So far as I know this doesn't happen.

Gadsden mentions five criteria that don't really help whether Jesus is talking or not.
1. Coherence: Is the content of the message consistent with itself and with the consensus* of Christian teaching? (*”Mere Christianity” as C. S. Lewis might say.)
I am sure as sure can be Gadsden lives in a cave. Where, I wonder? He utterly fails to have a global and historical perspective of Christianity. Almost every moral, doctrinal, political, social and familial belief has been espoused and defended by at least small Judeo/Christian groups down through the millennia. I wrote a chapter on the most glaring differences of opinions between Christians in my anthology, The Christian Delusion. Some of these differences were so important that eight million Christians slaughtered each other over them during the Eight French Wars of Religion and the Thirty Years War. I blame the Christian belief in god for this massive bloodshed, calling it the Problem of Divine Miscommunication. Gadsden's god cannot communicate coherently to his followers in print, much less privately to the rest of them.

And what about "Mere Christianity"? It doesn't exist. It's a mental construct no one believes except for the purposes of facilitating discussion. Christians have a wider set of beliefs than that, while others don't believe that.
2. Corroboration: Do other Christians, after discussion and prayer, agree that this was God’s voice? Pence should seek out several wise and knowledgeable believers and share the details with them for evaluation.
This depends on getting Christianity right. I have said, put the major scholars of each Christian faction in a room, ask them to reach a consensus, and I bet they will never do it. Will Pence seek out liberals, progressives, moderates or people of different faiths to help corroborate them? On the rest see directly above.
3. Clarity: Is the message clear or vague? Historically, quintessential instances of God speaking to humans occur in unmistakable fashion. Burning bushes, blinding visions, human-like manifestations, terrifying angelic messengers, etc. God also appears to speak in indirect ways, but those are harder to verify and distinguish from one’s own conscience or thoughts. The clearer the message and medium, the more confidence we can have that it is divine.
I have argued god is so inept at communication it led to eight million of his followers to slaughter each other over it. So I don't think Christians should give IT another chance.
4. Character: Is the person making the claim generally reliable and truthful? Are they prone to over-interpret their own thoughts? Have they made spurious claims of divine dialogue in the past?
Some good points here. But never forget there are good people who are stupid, brainwashed and delusional. Who we should seek instead are naysayers. These are the people who keep us grounded. Look for disagreeable people to see if your view that Jesus spoke to you can be sustained. Period. Or, just ask yourself if a Muslim said he heard Allah talk what would you think.
5. Better explanations: Assuming Christianity is true, is there a better way to explain the experience? Were you drunk or on drugs? Are you suffering from any diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness? Did someone plant a radio transmitter in your braces?
Always prefer alternative explanations, since there has not been one private message purporting to be from any deity that was objectively verified.

There are billions of believers in all kinds of religions who claim to hear their god(s) talking to them (in the distant past, and in today's world, as they will continue doing so into the deity filled future). Given there cannot be that many deities who communicate so many different and even mutually inconsistent messages, then to believe the one true deity is speaking private messages to a Bible thumping right-wing anti-scientific nut named Mike Pence, is the definition of a delusion.

Gadsden ends with one final argument:
If you say that everyone claiming to hear Jesus speak to them is delusional, then you must call Martin Luther King, Jr. delusional. In a well-known story, King claimed to hear the voice of Jesus telling him to stand up for truth and justice.
Marin Luther King was delusional to think Jesus actually spoke to him, yes. No problem. Period. People can come to good opinions on truth and justice without having heard them from a god. Others who are unscrupulous will claim to have heard from a deity in order to perpetrate a fraud. So we must judge the merit of these "messages" on their own irrespective of the origin of the claim.

You can read his short essay here for yourself.