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?

Noshic's picture

To both actually..

Mike, I don't make personal judgments even about their leaders, and neither can we paint even all the leaders with the same brush. The different possibilities that come to my mind are :

1) That some of the leaders may have 'part' of the Truth and they restrict themselves to teaching that part faithfully.
It's possible that God will give them a fuller understanding of the truth, or they might be saved by following faithfully the light that's given to them.

2) Some of the leaders may themselves be genuinely deluded and mistaken in certain matters.
It's possible that those mistakes might be corrected with further spiritual growth, and may God give them the strength of character to admit their mistakes to the people they (mis)lead.

3) Some leaders may deliberately be misleading people for their own personal gain.
And although that's a very grave matter, it's still within the realm of possibility that even these people may be brought to genuine repentance within their lifetime.

That's why i don't judge anyone's eternal welfare. Not my job.
My concern is for the sheep who might be left badly burnt (something I've seen), or whose spiritual growth may be retarded by following error and superstition. And my concern is also for people in this part of the world (many unaware of denominational and doctrinal issues within Christianity) who mistake this for the true and complete picture of Christianity..and hence dismiss it without further investigation.