God has a very strong distrust of human institutions. He started with Moses and soon was unleashing Phinehas upon disobedient leaders. Life did not improve. He set up the Levite priesthood but soon was working through Samuel. He liked running Israel via the Judges… persons not chosen by any human standard… then humored us briefly with kings until resorting to the Prophets. Then Christ arrived, a man of no human validation, refused to become a king at all and was succeeded by amateur apostles. The only two government agents were a tax collector for Rome and the murderous Saul.
Some might call that a pattern.
To this day, one is far more likely to hear God’s true opinions from principled dissidents than seminary graduates and White House Cabinet officials. Thus, when a twenty-year-experienced Important Pastor, so delusional as to still be proud of serving President Nixon, calls for tighter regulation of “prophets”, what he’s actually calling for is silencing the dissidents of Christ.
Wallace B. Henley… a pretentious Yankee Goodwhite name if ever I heard one… wrote a two-part opinion piece to explain the threat of unregulated prophecy.
The 2020 election and untethered prophets (pt 1)
25 November 2020
Fake news and false prophecies boiled around the 2020 presidential race like tempests stoking a hurricane.
There were no spiritual prophecies concerning the election. I pay enough attention to the Pentecostal/Charismatic crowd that I would’ve noticed. Perhaps he meant “predictions”?
From the perspective of Donald Trump and his associates, establishment media pumped hefty currents of disinformation and misinformation into the political cyclone through fake news. Many observers on both sides noted the “failed prophecies” that Trump would be re-elected in a landslide.
Had there been such a prophecy, it would have been true. Trump WAS re-elected in a landslide. There’s credible, if merely statistical evidence that he even carried California. Also, this isn’t about anybody’s “perspective”. We Christians deal only in hard truth.
When that did not happen, skeptics derided, and many people, even among the faithful, wondered what went wrong.
DOMINION F@@KING VOTING SYSTEMS YOU FRAUDULENT CLERIC!!!
The problem, however, is not with prophecy but with untethered prophets.
Not the DOMINION F@@KING VOTING SYSTEMS?!
These would-be foretellers herald predictions they claim God gave them, but their pronouncements are untested, and they really issue them under their own authority. They are “untethered” in the sense they have little or no relational connection to godly authorities to whom they can submit their message before they trumpet it under the claim, “Thus saith the Lord…!”
So then, he does mean “predictions”… yet he’s calling them “prophecies”. Why? Because Establishment clergymen like him cannot claim to gatekeep spiritual “predictions”.
I can see where this is headed and
predict er, “prophesy” that he’s going for “propriety in worship” as his excuse to police Christian opinions regarding politics.
False prophets are lone-wolf seers rather than spiritually sensitive men and women tethered to a doctrinally sound church and submitted to spiritually mature elders. Such elders are biblically informed leaders who know the prophetic person relationally and biblical doctrine by which they can help assess the purported prophecy.
Henley is calling for clergy to act as gatekeepers for all future Christian demonstrations of support for Trump.
Thus, a primary characteristic of authentic prophecy is that it is given in the context of a biblically based church. This is Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 12-14: The “trumpet” should be sounded and judged in a smaller group-setting before it is blasted to the globe.
Yep, I got it in one. Chapter 14 discusses propriety in worship as it pertains to spiritual gifts. What a good prophet, er, predictor I am!
That being said, I have no idea where he’s getting that last verse from. There’s no precedent for prophecies to be tested by a priesthood before being allowed to enter the public sphere. In fact, Scripture makes the exact opposite case. Was Christ Himself accepted and pronounced worthy by the Sanhedrin before speaking his opinions to the masses?
Jesus said of the “end times”: “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many… false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:11, 24)
Trump’s election issues are no kind of “great signs and wonders”. Those will be actual demonic conduct and we aren’t there yet on the Doomsday Clock.
Prophecy and other spiritual manifestations were a major concern of the Apostle Paul as he and his colleagues planted churches across the Roman Empire. The new believers continued to live in chaotic, sensate, idolatrous cultures. False prophets picked up on waves of public opinion and fashioned messages and mystical moods.
Sorcery was real back then. It wasn’t mere idolatry. There IS an alternate reality beyond science and it sometimes affects this one directly.
Corinth was of special concern to Paul. The church there was made up of people zealous for their new faith. As they broke out of the rigid form of legalism some of the people bolted into the frenzy of spiritual antinomianism. They saw little or no doctrinal boundaries, especially regarding the use of the sign gifts. The balance that produced healthy, authentic New Testament ministry was lost.
That’s why they asked for Paul’s advice (implied by 1 Cor 7:1), because they’d thrown off all restraint, each free to act as he wished? Or, is that why Paul encouraged them by writing 2 Corinthians?
Form people believed the frenzy segment had even exceeded the boundaries of Scripture. The frenzy side accused the form faction of quenching the Holy Spirit.
Paul confronted this head-on in 1 Corinthians 14, intensely relevant for our age.
Because we don’t respect how much President Nixon tried to do for us! How much our Elites suffer and sacrifice to honor America’s founding principles! We ungrateful peasants rooting in the dirt with our vile freedoms and personal opinions, why will we not shut up and obey our betters!
The Apostle affirms all the gifts as being given by God for the sake of building up the church and the advance of Christ’s Kingdom in the world. Jesus had told His core followers to make “disciples” in all the nations, and to instruct them in everything He had taught them. According to Matthew 10, that meant among other things, casting out demons and healing the sick.
Sign gifts are prominent in authenticating the Gospel to pagan societies. Paul’s letters seek to bring order to the use of spiritual gifts. And that includes “prophecy.”
I like my
prediction prophecy above even more.
Paul maintains the careful balance between “form and frenzy” when he writes, “desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.” (1 Corinthians 14:40)
There is a great struggle between cosmos and chaos in the fallen world. It is tragic when gifts are distorted to become instruments of chaos. That’s what Paul was battling at Corinth.
That’s what Jordan B. Peterson was battling in drug rehab.
“Order” is not rigid legalisms, but structural coherence to which careful thought has been given. Such “order” is not reactive authoritarianism but mature leadership.
Reminder, this is being said by a card-carrying ally of Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon.
There are important differences between the “prophetic ministry” of the church, and “prophecy.” The prophetic ministry is, as some have called it, “forth-telling,” while “prophecy” is “fore-telling.” “Prophecy” is prediction, whereas the “prophetic” is proclamation.
This hairsplitting logic is how he is justifies this theological trainwreck. “All predictions are prophecies. Prophecies can be fact-checked by clergy. Clergy like me.”
Whether cessationist (those who believe the sign gifts ended with the passing of the Apostles) or non-cessationist (those who believe the sign gifts continue), there would be wide agreement among Christians that the work of the prophetic ministry is a continuing and urgently needed ministry now whereby the church confronts its culture and its institutions with biblical truth.
The Cessationist is DEFINED by NOT agreeing to that. Henley is a Baptist, however, and Baptists believe there are no more miraculous signs. Including prophecies. If Henley can’t make a case for prophecies existing inside that Cessationist worldview, however, then he can’t demand to have regulatory authority over what his pension requires him to believe doesn’t exist.
Many contemporary followers of Christ continue to believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people remarkable insight into currents of time and history, and that such individuals will sometimes “prophesy” by telling what they are seeing or sensing.
“I bet the Democrats will try to rig the election against Trump because they’ve tried to thwart him at every step for years and they surely wouldn’t stop now.”
“Sounds like you’re prophesying in the Name of the Lord! You better check in with your Credentialed Leadership before somebody overhears you! There could be IMPROPRIETIES!!!”
Paul indicated in 1 Corinthians 14 that sign gifts were best manifest in small groups as they had been in the early house churches.
Biblical order could be maintained. It was possible to follow the admonition to “know those who labor among you”… (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
The “prophetic” ministry of the church is primarily the task of the larger gathering we might call the “great congregation,” while “prophecy” is most effective in small groups. There the would-be prophet can be in close relationship with others who can “inspect” the fruit of his or her life, and where utterances in tongues as well as known languages can be evaluated and interpreted by elders and other mature Christians.
Textbook gatekeeping… of God!
Let’s discuss what Paul actually taught in 1 Cor 14. Beginning with verse 29, “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.”
The pastor doesn’t weigh what’s said before it’s released into public. The prophet speaks his piece and others consider what he said. No gatekeeper. And the order God wanted was “wait for the other guy to finish”.
Verse 32: “The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.”
Not the pastor.
Verse 33: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”
The way things were done then, remains mandatory for now. The situation has not changed.
Verse 34: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”
Now I’m just being nasty.
We need the prophetic word now more than ever. However, we need to be able to trust it as coming from God. This requires both mature individuals and biblically solid churches and their leaders.
One of these things is not like the others. Do remember, Mister Baptist, that nobody was as Biblically solid as the Pharisees… and they couldn’t recognize their own god when He stood in front of them and did tricks on command.
In that context true prophecy and powerful prophetic ministry can grow and
be useful to bless the nations. In Part II we examine principles of well-tethered prophecy.
The 2020 election, untethered prophets: What does healthy prophetic ‘reflection’ look like? (pt 2)
By Wallace B. Henley, 2 December 2020
Woe to the prophetless nation!
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18 ESV)
The purpose of prophecy is communicating God’s will. That’s not so amazing as one might think. Time and again in Scripture and history both, whenever God is absent believers start wandering off. Every new generation needs to realize for themselves that Christ is real. If we were perfectly rational creatures then Scripture is all we’d ever need. God wrote a book, look it up.
But humans do not behave rationally. Most people need some level of personal encounter with God for Christianity to be anything more than a stodgy old book of fairy tales. Some directed encouragement along the way would be helpful, too. That is the purpose of prophecy. It’s not about predicting the future or summoning fireballs of doom and it’s certainly not about giving orders to the rich and powerful. It’s about being the middleman, or mailman, for God to affect people in such a way that they can relate to Him correctly.
(That means that gifts of prophecy are never given for the prophet’s benefit. Looking at YOU, Charismatics!)
Charles (Chuck) Colson spoke prophetically to nations. Chuck arose from the ashes of the Watergate-sparked collapse of the Nixon presidency when he gave his life to Christ.
In 1973, after three years as a junior aide in the Nixon White House I had become a pastor near Mobile, Alabama. A Washington friend phoned and told me Colson, whom I had known at a distance in the White House, had turned to Christ. Like Jesus’s disciples when they heard of the resurrection, I “disbelieved for joy.” (Luke 24:41)
SHEEE-IT! Is there ANYTHING this Nixon drone could have said to be more theologically tone-deaf and out-of-touch than mentioning his Nixon Administration ally Charles Colson is a “prophet to the nations”?
Does Henley realize that people have been born, lived a normal life and died of natural causes since his world ended with the Watergate Scandal of 1972?
Serious question: is Henley mentally competent enough to recognize that this is not year Nineteen Seventy-Fifty? Your world is DEAD, Baby Boomer. Nobody cares about life back then.
In other words, it was just too good to be true. I had assumed tough, cynical Colson was an agnostic, or maybe even an atheist.
My Washington friend confirmed Chuck’s conversion as genuine. But I could see for myself. Chuck had been sentenced for Watergate-related infractions to a federal prison at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama — three hours from my home.
Prison can help a man find God, too. Especially if faith in Christ brings early parole.
Two days later, I was on my way. I had been at the bottom rung of the White House staff and Chuck had been in Nixon’s inner circle, so I did not know how he would receive me — or if he would. Pecking order is a big deal in the White House.
I was amazed when Chuck greeted me with a powerful bear hug. Almost immediately I asked: “Chuck, how did the Watergate scandal happen?”
“We didn’t take time to reflect,” he replied.
A real Christian would have said, “I committed breaking and entering.” A very, very lucky Christian would have said, “I was hailing a taxi and this dude walks up out of nowhere and told me every last detail of the Watergate heist, stuff that nobody knew but me. Then he told me my sins would find me out, so I turned myself in and prayed God to forgive me. I never got his name.” THAT is what prophecy looks like.
Whoa, wait a second. Was Chuck saying, “We didn’t take time to consult the prophets on whether to raid the Watergate?” Is Henley thinking about how a prophet could have helped them do Nixon’s dirty work without getting caught?
Now, amid the chaos of the 2020 election, America is in a period calling for deep reflection. Allied soldiers marching into Germany in the aftermath of the Second World War called the bombed ruins the “rubble world.” Spiritually, ethically, politically, culturally, socially, we now gaze on a “rubble world” because so many of our key institutions — church, family, education, governance, businesses — lie in smoldering ruin.
No. America spiritually resembles a river with no landmarks… only a distant light and anybody who swims towards it, feels a powerful current and a compulsion to relax and stop trying and drift with all the other people floating in the river. No need to splash. No need to resist.
“Prophetic vision” is essential for deep reflection that takes in the “heights” as well as the “depths.” When John is about to receive the Revelation visions he sees “a door standing open in heaven,” and hears a voice: “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place…”
One gets the most comprehensive view of the whole landscape from “up here” — God’s perspective. And the higher the position the more profound the view — like the stunning “Earthrise” photo of the “blue marble” Earth taken by the 1968 Apollo 8 crew 175,000 miles away.
Y’know… I don’t think Henley IS mentally competent. His generation is long past yet he demonstrates no awareness of current events. I would not be surprised if he says “Nixon never did like Trump!” in this article. (I only skimmed it before this fisking. I like to be surprised.)
To see things as they “truly are” requires prophetically gifted people, well-tethered to a local church which is itself tethered to biblical authority and order.
That means the New Testament church, far from being “non-essential,” is crucial in this reflective hour, along with spiritually mature leaders who can discern the prophets and the messages. (1 Corinthians 14:29)
Okay. I’ll give it a shot. *ahem* Your daughter needs to marry young to a young man who hasn’t made it yet in the world. Women should cover their heads, not participate directly in church functions and teach each other how to serve their husband in their “Bible studies”. Their husbands, not the pastor, are the legitimate leaders of the household… spiritually and otherwise. Children belong to their father. The government was tasked by God to be a servant of the people, not a master, and specifically to punish all the evildoers currently being released from prison en masse.
Are we feeling prophetish visions yet?
Without the prophetic vision, the people of the nation “cast off restraint.” The default of a fallen world is always downward. The powers of darkness seek fragmentation rather than unity. Entropy takes down and apart people and their institutions. As I put it in Part 1, the fundamental struggle in the fallen world is between cosmos (order) and chaos (disorder). Without vision that lifts us upward we descend into the ultimate chaos — Hell itself.
A favorite strategy of the adversary is to try to twist God’s good gifts into instruments of more disorder. This is the problem the Apostle Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 14.
No! No! No! The fundamental struggle is rebellion against or loyalty to our Creator! Good vs evil! Heaven or Hell! Not “Cosmos or Hell”, what the heck is that?!
So, Henley has one sign of awareness of current events but it’s Jordan B. Peterson. I hope the prophesied “signs and wonders” that will deceive the nations, will be something more impressive than JBP’s “Maps Of Meaning”. I’ve had better word salad from a blender.
There is a direct ratio between the health of a nation and the health of the church within the nation.
On that, I suppose he is correct.
What, then, does clear and healthy prophetic “reflection” look like? Here are some principles of well-tethered prophetic ministry:
- We inhabit the age when the Canon of Holy Scripture has been proven and settled; therefore, the standard for measuring the authenticity of any purported prophecy must be Canonical Scripture.
- A prophetic word given in this present age does not carry the weight of Canonical Scripture.
Okay, actually. Heeding Scripture first and foremost helps prophets keep on the right paths.
- A contemporary prophetic message affirmed by the leadership of a New Testament church may contain truth, yet is not necessarily universal, but given for a particular season or moment in finite time.
Therefore, a prophetic word given in this present age of the established Canon of Scripture does not carry the weight of biblical prophecy.
- A prophetic word given in this present age of the confirmed Canon may be given by the Holy Spirit to bring the ancient Word of God into focus and application in contemporary situations and events.
Thus, a prophetic word in this age helps identify the kairos (the “opportune moment” for intervention of God and His purpose in and for the existential world) happening midst the kronos (finite time) moment we inhabit.
God does not care about your material toys like national crises and White House appointments. God cares about people. One soul is more valuable than an empire because only the soul is eternal. Only in the Old Testament did prophets give advice to President Nixon… excuse me, the kings… on when & how to wage war against Nixon’s, er, the king’s enemies.
And frankly, it didn’t work well then, either. Too many false prophets came along saying what the king wanted to hear even when “prophets to the stars” were a real thing.
A great danger of untethered or poorly tethered prophecy is that people begin living based on feeling and impressions rather than solid biblical revelation. This means a dependence on the body and its sensate functions and the soul and its illusory emotions rather than the Spirit of God interacting with the human spirit.
Can the Spirit of God not interact with the human spirit without Sanhedrin approval? Remember when that issue actually came up with Priest Zechariah in Luke 1? It didn’t end well for the Responsible Adult in the room.
That prophetic word, submitted by a person under the lordship of Christ, and tested by godly elders and other leaders in a local New Testament church, can be, as the Apostle Peter put it, as “a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star arises in (our) hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19)
Die, Baby Boomer! Die like the Seventies! The Church died on your watch and your only regret is watching us survivors support a playboy celebrity because the alternative is Creepy Joe finishing the job you started!
But credit: he never talked about Nixon’s opinion of Trump. That and not sniffing little kids puts Henley two steps above Creepy Joe.