Should we cast lots today to help us make decisions?
I would say no, because we are not under the direct prescription of God to cast lots as a way of discerning His will. There were strict controls on the way in which that was handled in the priesthood, with the urim and the thummim and that sort of thing in the Old Testament. The same is true of the casting of lots under the direction of the Holy Spirit for the replacement of an Apostle in the book of Acts. We do not have a principle set forth in Scripture that commands—or even suggests—that we do that sort of thing in making decisions.
It’s in popular Christian living that people say, “I’m going to set out a fleece.” The danger here is that we’re tempting God. We’re asking God to give us direct, immediate revelation, which He gave in sacred Scripture. Since the canon of Scripture has been closed, however, we don’t get that kind of supernatural revelation afforded to us today. I think we’re tempting God when we try to do that.
Along with that, I also have to say that we’re called to live our lives and make our decisions on the basis of the teaching of Scripture. That’s what Scripture is there for—to teach us.
I know of a story about a bishop in Australia who had a young curate who worked with him. One day, the curate came to work, but he hadn’t shaved. The bishop asked him, “Why didn’t you shave today?” And the curate responded: “Every time I get up in the morning, I wait for the leading of the Spirit. If the Spirit leads me to shave, I shave. If He doesn’t, I don’t.” The bishop said to him, “I have an idea for you: Why don’t you just shave every morning as a matter of principle and stop tempting the Holy Spirit with this trivial stuff?”
Casting lots is like a substitution of magic, and that kind of thing goes on a lot in the Christian community today. It’s a very, very dangerous business. I caution against it.
This transcript is from an Ask R.C. Live event with R.C. Sproul and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.