Thursday, May 18, 2006

Prophecy or Publicity?

I recently heard an excellent sermon by Dr Ed Young, pastor of Houston's Second Baptist Church, in which he talked about the prophets of the Bible and self-proclaimed modern prophets. Dr Young made an excellent point that, according to God's Word, true prophets are accurate 100% of the time, while it only takes one "miss" to expose a false prophet. He also warned of using the phrase, "God told me..." God prompts, leads, guides and directs us in many ways; but it is very rare that God speaks directly to his human creations in that "still small voice" with which he directed his chosen prophets.

So I must admit that I look on this bit of news with more than a little trepidation:
In another in a series of notable pronouncements, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year. [snip]

Robertson said the revelations about this year's weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. On Wednesday, he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."
Rev. Robertson is certainly not the first to predict hurricanes and massive storms this year, and I expect there are few who would question such expectations after the hard-hitting hurricane seasons of the past few summers. But to maintain that such predictions were received directly from God is — in my humble opinion — to swim in very perilous waters.

This has always been one of the biggest problems that I have with televangelists claiming to have received special messages from God, or "hearing" their viewers' prayer requests as they pray online. Many of them deal in generalities that are seemingly designed to be either self-fulfilling or impossible to contradict: "God sent/is sending a storm to punish New Orleans/America/this world," or "I hear the woman praying for healing in her marriage."

Be careful where you seek the truth. God's true Word is always the best place to start.

UPDATE: Welcome to Houston Chronicle ( readers, and thank you to Mr. Silverman for the link! Please feel free to peruse the rest of The Texas Songbird while you are here. Enjoy!


Blogger Matt Bramanti said...

Many of them deal in generalities that are seemingly designed to be either self-fulfilling or impossible to contradict

That's exactly right. It's selective validation, the same trick that psychics rely on. If you say something that sounds specific, but is actually vague, each person who hears it will adapt it to his own situation.

5/18/2006 8:33 PM  

Blogger Songbird said...

Excellent point, Matt. Just like the daily astrology horoscopes, such predictions are usually worded vaguely enough that they can easily be adapted to the situation. In Mr. Robertson's case, everyone is already expecting bad storms this summer. And stating that "there may well be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest" gives him plenty of wiggle room in case it does not happen, and plenty of room for interpretation if something other than a tsunami hits the region.

5/19/2006 8:47 AM  

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