Can I quote Paul?
“I speak in tongue more than you all.”
I believe in spiritual gifts as present in the church. Christ himself is the Word made flesh. And the Word is living and active…in God’s people by His Spirit that lives within us. We live by, in, and for communion with God. Jesus prayer is that we would be one…with Him, the Father, each other. Such unity, such communion, requires interaction. Communion implies communication. Interaction implies action.
So, to deny the active presence of God in his church speaking by his Spirit, acting through his people, and often working by the miraculous is heretical. It is an abuse of scripture to claim that it supports the end of the miraculous. I would go so far as to say Cessationism (the idea that God shut heaven the day he gave us the written Bible or sometime soon thereafter) is one of the worst lies ever contrived in Hell.
That said, American Charismatics are behaving in damnably foolish ways particularly in matters of the current election. I am hearing/seeing more and more “words from the Lord” claiming that Trump is God’s man to save America, or some such thing.
God is God and can do as he pleases. He can use Trump or Clinton or Kim Jong Un to “save America” if he wants. He has used a jackass to speak his word at least once that we have recorded.
He could also use the destruction of America to work his will in the world. There is absolutely nothing that requires our existence for the effective working of God’s kingdom purposes in the world. Maybe Vlad Putin is his guy for the next imperial power. Maybe the next great move of God will come from China. (That’s at least as likely as it coming out of our sickly, fat, self important churches.)
But what’s problematic here is the flippant tossing about of “prophetic words”…and even worse the uncritical acceptance of every “thus says the Lord” that seems to endorse the most comfortable political position of the hearer. This is a dangerous game.
Peter said let him who speaks speak as from God (I Peter 4:11). Any word from God is to be spoken with fear and trembling. It is not a light matter. It should not be done presumptuously. According to what we see in Acts and the letters of Paul it is to be done within the local body and discerned by the local body. The Didache one of the earliest Christian documents on church order…possibly written before 100AD…says that prophets are to be regular members of a local church, not wandering about giving words like Old Testament prophets. This is for the sake of accountability and seems to line up with John’s instruction to the church that it does not need random outside teachers because God’s anointing teaches us as we (as a body) abide in Christ (I John 2:27). James tells us not many should be teachers because of stricter judgment (3:1). This becomes difficult in the internet age where our circle of influence and connections can be so unaccountably vast and yet potentially insignificant. Still, since these “prophecies” keep popping up in my newsfeed, I will risk it.
Again, the problem is not that someone thinks God might use Trump to accomplish some political end that furthers God’s purposes. His ways are not mine. The problem is the elevation of Trump as “God’s man.” These words keep touting the greatness of Trump. (One said his word was his bond.) They are calling Christians to support Trump. They are leading Christians to the understanding that this is a just and righteous vote for a truthful and just man.
And, it is convenient to be told how to vote by a prophet. Much less work. No need to study to show myself a good workman in applying my faith to the political sphere…especially in this difficult year, right?
Actually, no. John tells us to “test the spirits” to see if they are from God because there are many false prophets (I John 4:1). Yet we glom onto every self proclaimed prophet that comes along telling us what we want to hear. We forget that God’s Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. So when these would be prophets begin to speak, they must pass the test of truth. They must speak truth in line with God’s word. When they say that criticism of Trump is false criticism and the work of the devil because Trump is truthful and just man or in some way like Christ, we ought to have spiritual bells and whistles decrying the lie.
John tells us that love is from God and that whoever does not love does not know God (I Jn. 4:8). That we should not be like Cain, the murderer, and that hating our brother is murder (3:11-15). Jesus tells us in the sermon on the mount that to call someone an idiot is a sin guilty of hell. John tells us that if we see someone in need and close our heart and don’t share the world’s goods we are not loving (I Jn. 3:17). He also says if we say we have no sin, we lie (1:10), and no lie is of the truth (2:21) but of the antichrist. (Might I suggest reading the book of I John…several times…before listening to any more of these “prophets.”)
So, taking the scriptures seriously, how is it that these “prophets” call Trump a great or just or truthful or godly man when he constantly insults those he doesn’t like, or lies saying he has no sin, or denies God by flaunting disobedience to His commands (living the life of an unrepentant serial adulterer), or sees people in need and doesn’t give?
I truly am not interested in telling you how to vote. I am not even saying God won’t use Trump as president (or to get Hillary elected president) or claiming to know how the presidency of such a man might turn out. I am not claiming to have that kind of prophetic word.
My point is that even if an Angel tells us something contrary to the truth of scripture, contrary to God as revealed in Jesus Christ, we must reject it.Which means that when would-be prophets start telling us that angels told them that Trump was a just and truthful man who is going to save America, we have every reason to doubt it.
What has driven us to this point of such willing collusion with one who lives so in line with the spirit of antichrist and the spirit of the age?
I think it is fear…and possibly anger. And this is all the more reason to doubt these “words from God.” James tells us that “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness God requires” (1:20). John says, “there is no fear in love” (I Jn. 4:18). So, we cannot be motivated by fear or protectionism because as Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12). Sharing in Christ suffering is part of the Christian life…indeed it is essential to it. Honestly, I have no more desire than anyone else to suffer or face persecution or even discomfort and discrimination. But to do so is not a strange thing.
Yet we are fretting over evil doers. We are angry at the behavior of the broken sinners around us. Our love grows cold because of their lawlessness. And not loving them, we fear what they will do to us, and so we seek protection…from a lawless man. And claim that God told us to.
God help us.