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?


Noshi: "I also believe that not every leader or 'prophet' is working for selfish gain. However even they should be very careful before they label anything as 'Prophecy' guided by the Holy Spirit. For even if their motives are not selfish, errors in such matters can wreak havoc on a person's life, and worse still, shake their faith badly..."

This is abundantly true. I had a relative who was told by a church elder that it was "God's will" that she marry a young undocumented immigrant who had recently started coming to church. She bought it, married him, and then lived a miserable life until they divorced a few years later; oddly, the elder who advised her also vanished from the congregation at some point as well.

Knowing the particulars, I suppose she (the elder) let her desire to cement the conversion/attendance of the young man overwhelm her common sense (which she was, apparently, notorious in lacking). My relative, for her part, allowed her naive trust in the "establishment" to blot out her reluctance--for she could not challenge the elder without challenging every doctrine, belief, tradition, and religious sentiment which she had inherited--and in a church culture that utterly forbids divorce and remarriage, she has since lived singly for several decades.

The elder meant no harm, believing her instructions to be divinely providential. It would not seem she sought personal glory or material benefit, but she was out to increase the prestige of her church by increasing its number of members. But what she did contributed greatly to the creation of generations of broken homes filled with adultery, drug addiction, felons, and physical abuse. "By their fruits you will know them" is indeed a good rule of thumb :)

"Remaining quiet when in doubt, is generally a good policy :) In fact, remaining quiet per se is a pretty good policy..LOL!"

Amen and amen! :)