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?

ElderDad's picture

Well Put

As usual, you have spoken with what I believe is wonderful insight.

Yes, self-delusion is definitely a principle in many of these situations. By referring to blasphemy, I was not suggesting it is always intentional. Nor do I believe it was always intentional blasphemy when it occurred in the Gospels. It may well be the result of one's religious training, stem from one's pride, or be a result of a mental disorder. That is why the judgment of it needs to be left to God for the most part.

You mention the pressure to manifest certain "gifts." While not stating, as some of my brothers and sisters in Christ do, that certain gifts no longer are manifested, nevertheless the idea perpetuated in some Christian circles that all Christians filled by the Holy Spirit must manifest specific gifts is, in my understanding of Scripture, not Scriptural. It fails to give the Holy Spirit freedom to give gifts as HE chooses, and demands certain gifts. I find it interesting that such traditions demand the speaking gifts, not the serving gifts. Hmmm.

My view is that those who have, or believe they have, a speaking gift, need to watch very carefully what they say, for they are claiming to be God's spokesmen. A former pastor of mine felt free to take Scripture out of context and preach a message he felt was a message from God, even though it had nothing to do with what the writer had meant when God had him write it. He did that one Sunday with a parable spoken and interpreted by Jesus. He read the parable until he got to what Jesus said it meant and stopped. Then he preached a message totally unrelated to what Jesus said the parable meant. What he implied by his speaking was that he knew better than Jesus what Jesus' parable meant. This is ego speeding down the road of folly.

I would wish that every teacher would feel as I do when I open my mouth to teach others the Word. Within me is a healthy fear of twisting a Scripture to mean something God did not mean when He sent it my way through His writer. I would also hope that everyone with any of the speaking gifts would feel this way about what they say.

Blessings, Sister Noshi.

Dave S.
Senior Moderator, Volunteers for Proofreading
2 Tim. 3:16--All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.