How should we treat those who claim to be prophecy experts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
You get the news one day and you hear a story about a pastor having an affair at a church. The usual cry is that the pastor should step down. Absolutely. Sexual sin should be taken extremely seriously.
You read something about the pastor stealing from the offering plate. The pastor needs to step down. Absolutely. Theft is something very serious and should be taken that way.
You read about a pastor who claimed that the Bible says that the world will come to an end on such and such a date and we need to be ready for the rapture. The date never comes. The pastor is asked to step down immediately because false prophecy should be taken seriously.
Whoa. Wait. Hold on. That last one doesn’t really happen. Too many prophecy experts have written books about who the antichrist is and when the rapture will take place and they’re not held to account for it.
I thought of this looking at my Facebook memories last day when I asked if anyone saw when John Hagee had repented for his Four Blood Moons nonsense. Of course, I made the post in jest pointing out that I wanted to make sure I hand’t missed anything. Nope. Hagee never repented. He never recanted. I know of no record of him giving back money from the book sales. He was still teaching and still broadcasting.
So let’s get this straight.
We deal with sexual sin and we deal with theft and other such sins. If a pastor had a problem with a harmful addiction, we would at least demand he get help. However, a pastor makes very public statements about prophecy that real people respond to and suffer real losses from and bring real shame on the body of Christ and we do nothing?
Keep in mind, in the Old Testament, when you had adultery, that was grounds for death. It was the safe for false prophecy. However, we treat false prophecy like it’s just a matter of missed interpretation and that’s it. It’s not. Many people can give up on going to college or getting married or sell retirement accounts or anything like that. Are they being gullible and naive? Yes. Does that justify what the prophecy experts do? No.
Not only that, but we embarrass Christianity to outsiders. Those on the outside looking in decide that if the faith tolerates that kind of thing and believes foolish things like that, they want nothing of it. We already believe enough things that we have a hard time convincing outsiders of. I understand a proper skepticism. Let’s not add to it with demonstrable things. A skeptic has to research the resurrection of Christ to really be able to argue against it effectively. For a false prediction, he just has to wait for the day to come and he has all he needs. Many will sadly, and wrongly, take the false prophecy as a grounds for rejecting the resurrection.
Instead, hold them accountable. If a book by a prophecy expert makes a prediction and gets it wrong, don’t buy them again. Don’t listen to them anymore. Someone like John Hagee should have lost his platform immediately after making a national deal about blood moons and then having nothing come of it. If we disregard it, we tell the world truthfulness really doesn’t matter to us and if it doesn’t, then why should they listen to us on any other such matter?
Also, prophecy is different from many other areas because someone can be demonstrably shown to be wrong. We all believe some wrong things about Scripture, but with prophecy, we are making predictions and claiming that this is what God is saying. That’s dangerous grounds indeed. Those who make such claims need to be held to the highest standards.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)