Can a compelling case be made for prophecy? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
I’m not a fan of prophecy ministries.
Really. I’m not.
My position as I have said is a Preterist of the orthodox variety which I have defended here and my reasons for Preterism itself can be found here.
So when I see many prophecy ministries that focus on what is going on in Israel today and who is the next target to be the antichrist, I really can’t take them seriously at all. So many prophecy books will be gathering dust in the back of Christian bookstores soon, but their writers have already cashed in and will write again on the next topic.
For all these prophecy experts, it’d be nice to see them get something right.
So when Carrier critiques prophecy, in many cases, I agree. Yet not in all. I do admit the Bible contains prophecy, though I don’t think it necessarily had the distant distant future in mind. I do think the coming of Christ was prophesied and Jesus is a fulfillment of the Scriptures. Yet I try to be very conservative with that.
One point Carrier brings out I find quite odd is the idea of selection bias. Maybe the Jews just chose those books that happened to have fulfilled prophecies in them and threw away the ones that didn’t.
This is a proposition without evidence. If Carrier wants to say this is a possibility, well that’s fine, but do we have any evidence this possibility took place? Besides, if the Jews were wanting to improve their image, they could do any number of things, such as write a detailed prophecy after the fact. (And to be fair, many think that happened in a book like Daniel) They could also clean up their own image in their sacred books. Why would someone have sacred books that regularly recorded their own failures if they were trying to make themselves look good?
Now Carrier says one of the best cited prophecies is the destruction of Tyre prophesied in Ezekiel. Now it could be, but I honestly rarely see this one used. I suppose most Christians would instead look at prophecy fulfillment in the life of Jesus.
Carrier tells us Ezekiel was likely producing propaganda to get on the good side of Nebuchadnezzar. Does he have evidence of this? Does he really think King Nebby was going to be paying attention to a lone priest out in the area preaching to the people? Carrier also tells us that Ezekiel could likely have intelligence about the king’s plans to attack Tyre. These are a lot of coulds, but there is no evidence given for them.
Note also that in Ezekiel 26:3 we are told that many nations will rise up against Tyre. Babylon is just one nation and is just the start. Babylon wore Tyre down a good deal, but did not conquer, hence Ezekiel 29:18. Babylon did a lot of work, but got no reward. The final victory would not be theirs. (And by the way, if this prophecy was shown to be wrong supposedly in the book, wouldn’t this one have been retracted per Carrier’s theory?)
Instead, who did destroy the city? Alexander the Great, and did so with the people of many nations in his army. Of course, Tyre did become something again later on, but did not reach its past glory that it had. The prophecy has language of hyperbole to be sure, and part of the problem with many people reading texts like this, atheists and Christians both, is a wooden literalism. The irony is that atheists often condemn Christians for this and then do the exact same thing.
Now if I was to point to a prophecy, I’d point to Daniel 9 and Matthew 24. For those interested in those prophecies, I highly recommend The Preterist Podcast by my good friend DeeDee Warren. You will find the most extensive look at Matthew 24 there and Daniel 9 is her next project.
Next time we discuss matters, it will be Carrier’s case for atheism.