Another Good Question - Prophecies of Doom

So what's up with the dour mood amongst theologically conservative Christians these days? Sure, circumstances could be better. Almost everyone is feeling the economy right now. Iran seems on the brink of building a nuke, and would be more than happy to point it at Israel or (better yet) Washington DC. And speaking of Washington, the president and his colleagues in the Cabinet and on the Hill have wasted little time turning this great ship of state hard to port. But still, despite all this and a hundred other things life throws at us to fret about, God is an awesome God, we're his unbelievably (and undeservedly) privileged kids, and our hope is secure in Christ!

Nonetheless, gloom seems to be chic right now. For example, take the recent well-publicized prophecy from pastor David Wilkerson (of Teen Challenge and The Cross And The Switchblade fame), in which he says the Holy Spirit has told him that there will be massive calamity in multiple American cities soon. Wilkerson's only advice: store up 30 days of emergency supplies.

I was r
ecently asked for my opinion of this message, which I thought was another good question and worth posting here too. Basically, while I have a lot of respect for Wilkerson's history of ministering to people influenced by drug infested streets, my response boils down to two major issues: validity and focus

By validity I mean asking the question, is he right? Is his “word from the Holy Spirit” really a word from the Holy Spirit, or just a word from his own over-active imagination? Truth is, I have no idea, and no way of knowing for sure at this point. So I don’t really worry about it much, to be honest. There are always people who say “something catastrophic is going to happen soon” in the na
me of God. Usually they’re wrong. Sometimes catastrophic things do happen, but even then it’s not always clear to me that the event was the fulfillment of an individual person’s prophecy.

Now, I’m not saying his statement definitely didn't come from God – it might well have. I’m just saying that even if he has truly received a word from God, a) it’s hard to tell ahead of time, especially with the vagueness of his language, and b) it’s not at all clear to me what the purpose of this “word” is. In other words, even if he’s right and there’s going to be some huge calamity in American cities soon, so what? How does that change my life or my priorities as a Christian? What exactly am I supposed to do with this information, other than stock 30 days of emergency supplies (which
is probably just good practice in case of emergencies anyway, even when there’s no prophecy)? All of which leads me to the other issue…

By focus I mean asking what is consuming our thinking; what are we focused on? Too many people today, in my opinion, who claim to have prophetic gifts talk so much about their prophecies that those prophecies are all their followers think about. They invest themselves in trying to figure out various prophecies (which might be words from God) instead of spending serious, disciplined time studying the Bible (which is undoubtedly a Word from God). In other words, they aren’t consumed with the things the pages of Scripture are consumed with, they’re consumed with the latest prophecy from a big-name Christian leader. This is a major problem in my view whether the prophecy is legitimate or
not. We are to fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth as revealed in Scripture and brought to memory by the Holy Spirit.

So the bottom line for me is this: Wilkerson might be right and he might not be. I don't know. And I don't much care either way. Because regardless of what calamities do or don't come I know for a fact what I'm supposed to be doing with my life: building authentic biblical community, learning and becoming more like Jesus, and being a conduit of his grace and truth to everyone I meet.

And I'm 100% sure that's a word from the Holy Spirit.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou for making a very good statement on the subjuect!

Randolph Koch said...

I heard about this as well and have been thinking about it. I as well have respect for the ministry God has done through David Wilkerson. I also agree that most of the modern day prophecies or "word from the lord" don't come to pass. If we look back at the Old Testament as you know, a true test of a True prophet of God and "Word from the Lord" was that what was proclaimed as a prophecy in God's name would come to pass. On the other side, if a false prophecy was given then that "prophet" would be stoned. We're not under that law today however, we are accountable to God and especially when we proclaim "thus says the Lord." So, if what David Wilkerson or any other person gives as a "prophetic word" that doesn't come true, at a minimum they will be accountable before God and this doesn't even speak to any church discipline issues/steps. We can even look back to Y2K and the "Prophecy" given..that didn't come true. Or we can look back to the 90's when you may recall a person came to Portland and proclaimed that God gave him a word and that when he saw Portland he realized that Portland was the city where the calamity that the prophecy foretold was going to impact. He then sent letters to the churches in the area and then the time came and went and the prophecy did not come to pass. People have been date setting and proclaiming thus says the Lord, so in this sense it's nothing new and doubtful God is the least surprise by these things either. At any rate, I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of those who proclaim these things either. All this said, it should move us to prayer. Prayer that God would be glorified in and through us and that truth and not fiction would be proclaimed and as Revelation reminds us, that we would be ready and stay ready for His return as well as be ready and stay ready / prepared should anything that is proclaimed come to pass.

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