Yet in all of his discussion on the topic, it never seems to dawn on [Dallas] Willard that the original “still small voice” to Elijah (1 Kings 19:12-18) was in fact an audible voice, not an inward impression or thought.

Since Willard believes that God normally speaks to us through an inner, inaudible, subjective voice (p. 130) and that it is possible that God is speaking and we do not even know it (pp. 118-120), how can we be certain when God is speaking to us?

In answer Willard boldly informs us that we can only learn the voice of God through experience (pp. 9, 19, 21, 63, 143).  He clearly states, “The only answer to the question, how do we know whether this is from God? is By experience” (p. 218) (emphasis his).

The author will use the word “experience” over 130 times, and equivalents hundreds of times more.  The mechanics of learning the voice of God is detailed on pages 217-251 but ultimately it all boils down to experience.  And until we have the experience it will apparently be necessary for those who have themselves supposedly heard from God to guide us.

Without such help we may not be able to detect the voice of God (p. 221).  Never mind that the Scriptures never tells us how, nor supplies techniques, to know when God is speaking, nor does the Bible ever tell us that we need to learn the voice of God.  This is all pure fabrication on Willard’s part.

As a matter of fact every time God speaks in Scripture it is through an audible voice, never through an inner voice, impressions or feelings, and that includes Elijah’s still small voice.  Willard is advocating a form of communication from God never found in the pages of Scripture; he then elevates this inner voice to the very essence of our relationship with God. (source)

Gary Gilley

Further reading