Flights of Faith

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Prophetic Dangers

I like literary prophecy. Give me the Greek Mythology stuff. The “invincible” Macbeth. Even good ‘ol Harry. In fact, the chronicling of Potter’s prophecy has been the highlights of Rowling’s sour efforts of late. Heightened in ‘Order,’ the prophecy found in the Department of Mysteries appears to be the vehicle to take us through the next two books. Harry vs. Voldemort. No more Neville theories. Vader-like redemption is unlikely. Still, it was a bit rudimentary and did nothing for Rowling’s critics that decry the books as a mere mixture of our age’s great fairy tales, legends, and religious themes. Then in ‘Prince,’ Rowling broke the prophecy revealing that it was self-fulfilling. Voldemort is driven by pride and hatred. Of course, he will try to kill Harry at any cost. Why else did he choose Potter’s blood for the resurrection? And as Harry matures, he is going to realize peace will only come from Voldemort’s demise. For the world, possibly. But especially for himself. No more hurting scar. No more nightmares. In this case, reality and common sense trumps prophecy. I was transfixed by this. It did not matter. There are bigger things at stake.

Enter Christian prophecy. Let me state upfront. I think it is real and most has already happened. Reading Isaiah 53 gives me chills. The completed prophecy is another comfort for Christians that the prophets confirmed Jesus as our Savior. And that Christ has been working in the world since his ascension. Soothing.

But as the third prophetic sermon I’ve heard today plays in the background, I am a bit troubled.
More than a bit, actually.

Although all three sermons were labeled as ones on “prophecy,” the 300 or so that came true with Jesus’ life and death are mentioned but are not the focus. These sermons are on “end time prophecy.” Found mostly in Ezekiel and Revelations, these verses are rich with imagery and largely ambiguous. Just as generations before us have “read” the world to fill in the nations and events spoken about, I believe each age is meant to “get ready” but only one will witness see the prophecies fulfilled despite the closeness each age assumes.

Things get off track, for me, when prophecy transforms from a private hobby to something taught to a congregation. This becomes incredibly tricky since biblical prophecy can be interpreted as modern Zionism, and I do not think Christians should be spoon-fed this Zionism rhetoric without learning the whole story. In the three sermons I heard today along with my memory of messages like this, Palestine is only referred to as a problem. A tension that might bring about “wars and rumors of wars.” Where are the facts revealing suffering people live there that, at the very least, deserve our prayer? Instead, many churches just send checks to the state of Israel. Not earmarked for Christian development in the Holy Land or children’s funds or recent immigrant foundations. Just the government. I have been told a church did this with a million dollars. I think this is motivated by loose prophecy and misinterpretations of verses. A famous verse in this endeavor is Genesis 12:3. It often appears as “Blessed are those who bless Israel. Cursed are those who curse Israel.” Here is what my Bible [NIV] lists Chapter 12 as saying:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2I will make unto you a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.
3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Now, I don’t see it as saying the same thing. While this personally means I need to engage with the rest of the Bible and think harder, I am not so sure everyone rejects the initial offering of information to seek and pray themselves.

This is what is dangerous. A church member is instantly politicized. The church becomes intrinsically divisive. And even though all three preachers cried again and again that the headlines were from the secular media. The seers always make the prophecies or events resembling them true. Their actions always do. The preacher withholds human concerns in these regions and creates modern-day heroes and villains as if their actions will bring about Jesus. They silently ask us to support the hero and ignore or target the “enemy.”

Projected heroes. Projected villians. Present-day consequences.
To Be Continued.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a forthright and focused blog! Reminds me of a web piece I ran into. If you would care to see it, try Googling "Powered by Christ Ministries," and then read (on the first page) "Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism." You won't be sorry! I.S.

10:56 PM  

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