Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Yesterday's post was an email from a "Fundamentalist Pentecostal" that I was attempting to engage in discussion about "emergent" christianity.  I was tempted to interject commentary into his post to explain what he was responding to.  On further thought I decided that might not be the fairest thing to do.  I will post my email below.

We had been having an ongoing discussion about the nature of prophecy, among other things.  He insists that he is a prophet but hasn't really provided a reason to believe it beyond his assertion that he is a prophet.  He claimed to have prophesied the recent stock market crash and wanted me to email a couple he knows to verify he did make the prophesy.  

Telling me about something after the fact does me no good.  And providing me an email address to a witness does me no good.  I don't take the word of anyone unless I know what kind of person they are.  I've met some pretty gullible "believers" before. Wanting to believe something is true is a strong motivator in how something is seen or remembered sometimes. 
  I've met "pastors" that made peoples legs or arms longer and people, good people, participated in it and believed it.  The pastors ended up being arrested for embezzlement or beating their wife and what they did is a commonly known parlor trick that just requires the other person it is being done on to believe it is possible.  
This is not to say I don't believe in miracles.  I've known some good credible witnesses to things before.  I believe they are not people that wanted things to happen so much that they would deceive themselves into thinking they did.  They also aren't people that make a big deal about it and try to draw a crowd (which I don't find in the Bible.  In fact, Jesus made a point of leaving places when he drew a crowd.  Regardless of any arguments for why it is done, the matter remains that it's not in the Bible.)  
I've also known some people that want things to be true so much that they actually get their memories to make things be true that didn't happen. Nope, these people aren't evil, nor are they "liars".  It's just that memory can do that.  Although juries like eye witness testimony, it's a known fact in legal circles that eye witness testimony is not a reliable way to prove a case.  The witnesses may have seen things wrong, they may remember things a different way than they actually occurred, or they might in the worst possible scenario lie. That's the reason they use CSI type folks, objective evidence, although subject to misinterpretation if one is not careful, cannot change over time like a memory, nor can it lie.
That being said, I'm not trying to argue that what you are saying isn't true.  What I am saying is that emails from people I don't know, after the fact, aren't a responsible way for me to find out if it's true or not. 
   I don't claim to have how prophecy works cornered yet.  But, I'm pretty sure that it's not in God's plan to trust what someone says just because they say they are a prophet, especially when they've said things that I know aren't true. How would I know what is said is trustworthy *before* it comes to pass if the sayer has said things and they've been shown to be false?
You've provided me no way to tell if something said is a valid prophecy before it's true.  You have said that it's a matter of discernment and that you can do that.  Problem there is that I know you've been wrong, so even that apparently doesn't work all the time. (And, if you aren't trying to utilize discernment when you say you get a word, is that a responsible way to operate?  It's not like using a God given gift costs you some sort of limited resource.)
Additionally, you've provided no way to determine if someone saying they are prophet is true or not outside of something that we just determined can be wrong, "discernment".  In light of the fact that what you seem to be calling discernment fails, that's a scary proposition. I don't think that God leaves us that high and dry if we are without recourse to a specific gifting.
   As a purely hypothetical scenario (A big "what if...?") What if you're discernment has failed to the point that you're totally wrong about many things?  How would you find out?  If some sort of fallible spiritual gift is the *only* way to tell, then you could very well be an agent of the Antichrist. (No, I don't think you're an agent of the Antichrist.)
And, if the gifting is the only way and it is infallible and you do say things without using discernment, seeing that you have the gift, and they are wrong that would strike me as being irresponsible to the point of being bordering on criminal.  If that is the only way and you don't do it then you misrepresent God and cause his name to be doubted by saying things are true, that aren't, when you have the capacity to know but you don't take the time.    
In the end it's all too subjective for me.  There's no way for Joe Blow to tell if something that a prophet says is true or not until it happens.  Apparently discernment isn't good enough because it fails on occasion. 
  What's interesting is that you seem to be so certain about things that are actually subjective.  You seem to be setting yourself up as the standard by which things are measured.  If you believe something to be true, it is true.  If you believe something isn't true, then it's not true.  You seem to be drawing a direct connection between what happens in your head and what is true in the outside world. 
  If you believe it, it is true, if you don't believe it, it is not true.  You haven't provided any way to tell if something is true or not outside of you believing it, much less for there to be a way to find out if something is true when you don't believe it.  
Is it even possible for something to be true and you not believe it?  
If it is not possible, I would argue that is making the standard about what is in your head, not God who is who He is regardless of what anyone thinks. 
  If it is possible, how could we know if something is true even if you don't believe in it?
Once again, his response was posted yesterday.  Granted, from a chronological stand point they're backwards, but they make sense if you read the blog posts from top to bottom.  :)

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