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?

re: self delusion

Noshi wrote, "I've seen that sort of pressure to speak in tongues/ prophesy / heal in otherwise decent Christians...It's almost as if they are brainwashed into believing that their spiritual growth is incomplete if they don't possess such a gift. Under those circumstances, they might mistake for the voice of God, what is simply a strong intuition or the subconscious mind at work. Ofcourse that's spiritually immature and it causes a lot of damage to themselves and others, and it might also be playing into the hands of the devil, but it may not be deliberate blasphemy. What do you think?"

I know this question was aimed at ElderDad, but I would like to add that I grew up in a church tradition which taught that serious Christians would speak in tongues, that it was an experience the faithfully diligent could undergo if they were only faithful enough. When you spend your entire life being taught that real Christians speak in tongues, you are likely to bend to pressure, maybe even deluding ones' self into believing that you have undergone such. I have several acquaintances and friends who admit blundering into that mistake, but I would not call them blasphemers. I would call them misguided but sincere, and if God casts out every Christian with a misguided belief, heaven is a very lonely place.

"Reason is also a gift of God and it should be used a little more liberally."

There's a bumper sticker in there, somewhere. Very wise words.