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?

Mike Kirby's picture

false prophets and black whiskers

Noshi: said,
And Mike, how about the words of our Lord elsewhere? " Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven" Matt 7:21
When you look at these verses together, you realize that there must be a 'right' way of calling on the name of the Lord, and a 'wrong' way which does not save.
Things that seem simple on the surface are not necessarily so - especially in the Scriptures.

Mike says,
Of those false prophets, Jessus said, "I never knew you" Matthew (7:22-23).
It should be important then to ensure that one is "known" of Him before listening to what appears to be prophetic. Very important ... not necessarily easy, but attainable.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Time usually reveals a false prophet. e.g. the black whiskers of the bad wolf start to grow thru the white fluff costume of a sheep.

Mike said,
I take some movements with a grain of salt, remembering that error can be more easily traced by an acceptance of the "establishment" than it can "out of the blue".

Noshi said,
Sorry, that one's a bit cryptic. Maybe you can explain it further?

Mike says,
Trusting the establishment has more of an ability to lead one down the wide path of destruction than a "prophet out of the blue". Remember the prophetic ministry of Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul didn't spring out of the establishment.
A direct trust, non mediatorial trust in Him, Jesus, ought to be of utmost importance to help us determine truth and error.

Mike said,
Thankfully, God has a "Witness" system that guides and directs His sheep.

Noshi said,
And yet, even our judgment of fruits is so subjective that Christians widely differ in their assessment.

Mike says,
The "Witness" system I was referring to is the ability of the Holy Spirit to help us determine the Voice of the Master Shepherd, and Truth and Error.
But seeing as how you mentioned judging fruit .... that is one of the ways of determing false prophets.
Matthew 7:15-16
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

False prophets are veiled (most times very poorly) with sheep's clothing to make their false message palatable. Jesus instructs us to check the fruit (Matthew 7:16) and Paul commends those who check the message. (the Bereans, Acts 17:11)
So, like you I am concerned for those around me that fall for a false prophet or a false message.
Here's the key ..... if a "prophet" says that your eternal welfare depends on your participation in their organization and the only thing you can be sure of is their voice .... then I think you're on the trail of a false prophet!

"Divine Grace is not opposed to effort ...
it is opposed to earning "
— Dallas Willard