The Chicken Littles of the Evangelical World
- Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This week at Bible study, we meditated on 1 Corinthians 7:29 with its appeal to live in the "already" of this world with our affections, possessions, and relationships firmly rooted in the "not yet" of the world to come. While discussing the passage we considered a number of rival eschatologies and end-time ethical positions. That lead us to a brief discussion of a number of "prophecies" making their rounds in the Cayman Islands. They're the kind of vague doomsday "prophecies" that promise God is going to do something "really bad" if the Cayman Islands don't repent. The "prophecies," quietly tacked onto church bulletin boards and other notice boards around the community, take particular interest in the pastors of the Cayman Islands. As leaders of God's people, we pastors must be the fulcrum of change, the tip of the spear piercing the enemy's flesh. Unless the pastors humble themselves and pray, the whole ship of the country is going down in plumes of smoke and raging flame.
Of course, the "prophetess" who writes these prophecies offers "proof" of her prophetic power. After all, she made the same kind of prophecy "some time previous" to September 11, 2004. Everyone living in the Cayman Islands knows what dread came over the island on that day as a category 5 hurricane named Ivan engulfed the country for hours. Some people still shudder and weep when they think of the destruction of that hurricane, the way New Yorkers remember with horror the smoking, crashing towers. Which, of course, means it's not very difficult to manipulate people with such claims to "proof" of your "prophecies."
But what of this claim? Is it really proof? Some people will quickly divide respondents into "believers" and "unbelievers." The "believers" put stock in the prophecy because "something bad" did happen. The "unbelievers" either reject or at least remain skeptical of such claims. After all, we live in the Caribbean-we have something called "hurricane season" which lasts about half the year. Sooner or later, we were bound to get our share. Whatever side one takes, sides have been taken. The "prophet" has succeeded in rearranging the world along the axis of belief/unbelief in their vision of things.
Once the world gets rearranged according to belief or unbelief in the "prophesy," the "prophet" has largely succeeded in binding the consciences of many persons. The specter of either being for or against "a prophet" will be enough to make many people otherwise free in Christ hesitant to use that freedom. The more ominous but vague the prophecy, the more sweeping the charge and condemnation of "pastors and leaders" without naming one, the more conscience-binding the "prophecy." People will be paralyzed in light of a new "word from God" which shackles them not to Christ but to a vague "law". They'll constantly wonder, Can I do this thing or that thing? Will this or that meet with God's approval? Did I just blow it with God for this sin or that sin?
How easily we forget God's satisfaction with us through Jesus His Son. How easily we're brought into slavery by the strong words of weak positions.
But for the "prophetess," it doesn't really matter whether you believe or reject her "prophecy." You see, she/he wins either way. If you agree with her then there's validity for her ministry. The small tribe of people with her face on their totem constitute the "faithful remnant" who do not bow to the baals. They buy the T-shirts. And, if you disagree with such a "prophet", well… the louder, the more specific, and the higher up the disagreement the better for her. Such disavowals only prove the corruption of the pastors and leaders of the country, makes her out to be a Deborah leading where the men of Israel would not, or a David facing Goliath with a slingshot, and… here's the conundrum… serves for her as more "proof" validating her "prophecy." After all, why would everyone protest so loudly if I weren't "hitting a nerve" or exposing a real problem? she asks.
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