Saturday, October 15, 2005

More about Prophecy

There were so many interesting comments about prophecy, many of these from the comment section on Brother Maynard's post about The Role of the Prophetic in the Emerging Church. I wanted to bring attention to some of those thoughts and add a few further thoughts of my own.

According to Brother Maynard, the emerging church is a prophetic act expressing God's voice in how we live:

In the same way, perhaps the prophetic voice to the church in these days is not a “voice” at all, but a way of life. The missional life speaking to the institutional church of another way of “doing life.”

I'm somewhat of the opinion that the emerging church is a prophetic movement, but not one filled with prophetic words. This is a good thing, because words are, at the end of the day, just words. Living your message is being prophetic, and it opens the door to slip in the odd word here and there anyway.

Ben Sternke considers we might drop the label and just do it:

I also wonder if, in the future, true prophetic ministry will rarely be labeled "prophetic ministry" - and people will be content to simply do it, even when it isn't recognized or labeled as "prophetic".

Jamie and Brother Maynard make a good point, that our lives give authority to the words we speak.

That being said, in a world that has over emphasized a cognitive faith, I believe that prophetic living is a necessity to lend authority to the words we must speak. --Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Mother Theresa said things, uttered words… and perhaps some of these may be considered a prophetic call. But without the power of her life lived, her actions behind them, these words may well be meaningless. --Brother Maynard

I wonder if spiritual gifts have been distorted, misapplied, and abused because of the church structures and systems that they are functioning in. Maybe the emerging church can be a better vehicle within which to engage spiritual gifts. Thinking of some of the core values of emerging churches, I can see the possibility of balance being restored to the prophetic and other gifts of the Holy Spirit.

To begin with, most emergent gatherings are smaller and more relational. This provides a more natural setting of trust, intimacy, and authenticity.

Also, participation is a common value of emerging. The attitude of everyone being able to contribute would help to overcome the status of the "professional" minister. Rather than seeking ministry from the celebrity, maybe ministry to one another would be valued.

The missional focus of the emerging church has great potential to refocus prophetic ministry and minimize the "bless-me" inbred application of prophetic ministry that we have experienced.

Finally, I think that the diversity of the emerging church will allow for a more considerate expression of spiritual gifts. When we end up in community with those from various religious backgrounds, I hope that we will have respect and appreciation for one another, rather than requiring conformity.

Some final thoughts from Cindy Bryan:
I do think it’s so beneficial that we can come together from various vantage points and find the common ground Christ is calling us to. Certainly creates a richer and more colorful tapestry doesn’t it?


Cindy said...

Wow. If I'd known you were going to quote me, I'd have used better grammar. :-/

Thank you Grace, for your sensitivty to the movement of God--or should I say, our movement toward Him...?

RonMcK said...

One issue that has discredited prophecy has been the identification between the Kingdom of God and the American Empire. I have been amazed by the prophetic enthusiasm for the War. It reminds me of the court prophets that Micaiah challeged (1 Kings 22).

I would love to see a real prophetic voice in action. Our church and world needs it, but before that can happen, God will have to somehow deal with the comfort prophets and the end-times industry. Only he can do it.

Cindy said...

Your warnings against false prophecy are right on target, Ron. I'm not sure what exactly you meant by "God will have to deal with them", but I think they're here to stay. However you read the Revelation to John, it's clear that false prophecy will be in good working order in the end times. I think the church needs to become much wiser than she has been over all. Acknowleging false prophecies is a huge first step. How should we attemtpt to teach the general church population how to identify false prophets? My first thought (which is biblical) is that to say that if a prophet (almost) always says things that sound good, he's probably false! But I doubt that approach will be totally effective... I've thought about this a number of times, and never really settled it.

RonMcK said...

When I said God will have to deal with them, I meant that he will prove them wrong when events turn out to be the opposite of the good times they have prophecied.

Cindy said...

Thanks for the clarification, Ron. I think we're probably on the same track.

grace said...

There are no grammar police here. :)

I agree, and it's not only in prophetic words, but in our entire gospel of security and comfort.