Prophecy or Fortune-telling?

Noshic's picture

A friend of mine told me yesterday about how his church invited a 'Prophet' over from the US, and how this Prophet/preacher prophesized over each member - concerning their career/ business/ international travel/ relationships etc etc. My friend was mighty impressed...But somehow I felt very concerned - It sounds to me more like fortune-telling than genuine prophecy.

From my understanding, even if a person is given that gift, it is not something that is used lightly and at will to predict everyone's future. It has to be an inner, powerful moving by the Spirit for God's specific purpose.

And this is not even a one-off incident. Most of the Christians I've personally come across in this part of the world tend to be heavily into prophecy, speaking in tongues etc.. People like Benny Hinn and other tele-evangelists have a lot of appeal here. And I've known people who've been left really scarred and disillusioned when the superficiality of all this is exposed.

I can't help feeling that most of this phenomenon arises from a forced imitation of a faulty mental picture of the early church. Or worse, it is something that is deliberately done to exploit in-built cultural superstitions. Some people certainly are building highly-paying careers out of religion and taking the gullible for a ride.

Am I wrong to feel concerned? Is it just my scientific, skeptical temperament that makes me question things that seem overtly emotive or out of order?

I'd like to hear other people's views / experiences in this area. Is this a uniquely Indian phenomenon, or are you seeing more of this in the West too? Do others too feel concerned? How do you deal with it?

An explanation for phenomenon of prophetic movement

I was born/raised a Pentecostal Christian and still hold many of the Pentecostal (not same as Charismatic) views to be biblical. Yet, the last 35 years have been spent defining the potential strenghs and dangers of this theology for myself. At the center of that prayerful study of God's Word lies the quest that has shaped my views of the Supremacy of the Living and Written Word of God. Outside the Bible, one book that helped me reshape my theology into a clearer understanding of God, as my/our/the chuch's covenental Shepherd, is

    Guard Us, Guide Us

This book is co-authored by JI Packer and Carolyn Nystrom.

I can attest first hand to the disillusion of a faith misplaced in seeking Divine promises FOR X rather than faith IN the Rock of Ages. Yet at the center of the Pentecostal distinctive (up to 90s) was the twin belief that the book of Acts was not meant to end and that walking close to God brings one into the realm where the supernatural God cares about and invades our daily lives. By interact I mean to being so fillerd with the love of Christ that one walks and talks with the realization of His ever presence. One seeks His will be done and His shaping as the Potter of character and life. Much of pietism and quietism seek that today as does mysticism. For many that doesnt necessarily mean looking for signs and miracles, but it does reflect an openness to God moving as He did in the New Testament. Now, I have been among the most vocal that Apostles and Prophets do not exist today in the same exact sense as in the Bible (referencing the inspired writers of scripture). One view I adopted, contra-many Pentecostals, is the view that God revealed His will through the living Word consistent with His inspired written Word. Every message/thought must be brought into obedience to Christ and be consistent with the written Word that testifies of the incarnate/crucified/risen Christ. One can see here part of the source of my inherent mistrust in any organization claiming to speak for God. God covenanted to be "my Shepherd" just as surely as He was David's and we know that did not lead to error free living fpr David. Too often we hear and shrink back from the argument against a personal Shepherd who guards and guides us, and that argument is based on the fact there are differences of opinion today. We buy into the argument someone must be wrong so that person cant be walking in paths of righteousness. Well we cant seem to agree on anything. So what? Do you know how many times the apostles were corrected about arguing who was the greatest? It was more than once. I firmly believe God is capable of leading Catholic, Protestant, etc, in paths of righteousness to Him even though we are not walking the same exact steps as each other. Does anyone recall where the passage is where Christ says of those not following Him and the twelve that those not aqainst Him are for Him?

So what does the Good Shepherd's personal "leading", "making", "being with", "restoring" and "preparing for me ... comforting me" mean in terms of wealth and health? Psa 23 is as real to you and I as it was for David. I would rather be able to trust in God's guarding rod and staff (rod for the enemy and crooked staff for the sheep) than seek wealth, and I would rather rest in His guidance in righteous paths through dark valleys than seek/claim supposed promises of health. And Jn 10 takes Psa 23's principles a step further. God can lead you and me differntly but us both be one of Christ's sheep which know His voice.

In recent years much of the Pentecostal distinctive has lost its vision and original purpose. If you could read the older Pentecostal writers one would see a totally non-TBN, seeking glory only for Jesus Christ and only in keeping with scripture as final authority, motive. This is the motive that led David Wilkerson to New York (was his role there not somewhat prophetic). Can you see the difference between what we called prophetic and what today's group calls prophetic. Do you know the miracle of entire gangs turning to Christ as this move of God descended on New York. Of course, back then the greatest mircale wasnt wealth/health but the saving of a soul. No, today's pentecostal often wants to see their own personal Emma Angel like Bentley did in Florida, and have the promise of health/wealth. There are two reason the fastest growing movement in the so called 3rd world is Pentecostal. The realization that God still moves like He did in the New Testament is one reason. The original reason lie in the documented miracles that even baptist (not typically pro-miracles today) missionaries experienced when going to countries for the first time. The current reason lies in part in the fact the Bible description of Christianity comes closer to a paradigm where a supernatural God is still at the Head of the Church, and much of the Church (as AW Tozer puts it) has abandoned the idea of a supernatural God.

Who wouldnt want a Joel Osteen/Fred Price/K Hagin/... kind of God that promises prosperity? We who rest in Jesus Christ to keep us in the throne room to which His blood brought us, and guide us to the Home to which Christ promised to prepare a place for us !!! We who want to see souls brought to/live for Christ and still see that as the greatest sign of a Living Savior.

Submitted as a poster,

**Sorry no spell checker on my work computer