What the prophet does and why the lambs bleat

What is your notion of a prophet?
I suspect the Western Protestant Church has made a right hash of this ministry.

Reducing it to mere predictions.

Either doom or glory, or vague hope & polite niceness.

Reducing it to clichéd slogans that mean anything and everything ….and nothing.
Reducing it the “wacky fringe of the church”:
The bigger the beard the greater the prophet!

Reducing it to spontaneous mini-messages of bespoke theological preference!
Reducing it to magic, on a par with ancient and modern gnosticism:
God’s weird little secrets made known to the special weird few!

No.

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False Prophesy is Pie in the Sky!

We need less (zero) ‘Personal Idiosyncratic Eschatology’ (or P.I.E. for short – I made that up all on my own); and more of what Eugene Peterson in his brilliant book Run with the Horses refers to as the true nature of the Prophet:

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1. A prophet lets people know who God is and what he is like, what he says and what he is doing.

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2. A prophet wakes us up from our sleepy complacency so that we see the great and stunning drama that is our existence, and then pushes us onto the stage playing our parts whether we think we are ready or not.

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3. A prophet angers us by rejecting our euphemisms and ripping off our disguises, then dragging our heartless attitudes and selfish motives out into the open where everyone sees them for what they are!

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Doormat Theology

Some random aphorist thoughts – the product of walking my dogs!

 

Grace as ‘Great Riches At Christ’s Expense’ is nearer to pietistic wish-wash rather than ‘God’s holy love hating sin and redeeming it in Christ’s cross, and creating in the penitent sinner new life and moral amendment.’ Though as an acronym the latter is rubbish.

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Atonement is not only a film starring Kierra Knightly but the great power of God working salvation for the entire cosmic order.

 

Love is not merely anthropic love for another person (who we’ve already decided we like and therefore ‘will love’).

 

Salvation is not a meagre ‘tipping in’ to ‘heaven’. The older son had an ‘I’m in’ theology, and look at the state of his heart!

 

Pastoral Care is not the flip or flop of a liver lilied do-gooder or crowd pleaser (who actually never really does ‘do good’ nor ‘please crowds’).

 

Sin is not ‘other people or countires’ nor is it a meaningless philosophical abstraction, even if you really do believe the comfy suburban mantra: I’m not that bad thank you very much.

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Prophecy is not sloganeering, be it political or religious. Oh, and prophets actually know their Bibles, especially Obadiah chapter 2.

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Prophets, Peace and Truth

The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right.  The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good.  Love?  Yes, God loves us.  But his love is passionate and seeks faithful, committed love in return.  God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality.  For that to happen there must be honesty and truth.  The self must be toppled from its pedestal.  There must be pure hearts and clear intelligence, confession of sin and commitment in faith.

And peace?  Yes, God gives peace.  But it is not a peace that gets along with everyone by avoiding the hint of anything unpleasant.  It is not achieved by refusing to talk about painful subjects or touch sore spots.  It is a peace that is hard won by learning to pray.  There is evil to combat, apathy to defeat, dullness to challenge, ambition to confront.  There are persons all around us, children and parents, youth and adults, who are being trampled and violated, who are being hurt and despised.  Any preaching of peace that turns its back on these is a cruel farce….

…There are times when truth will receive a wide hearing and times when it will not.  Jesus had a congregation of five thousand one day and four women and two bored soldiers another.  His message was the same both days.  We must learn to live by the truth, not by our feelings, not by the world’s opinion, not by what the latest statistical survey tells us is the accepted morality, not by what the advertisers tell us is the most gratifying lifestyle.  We are trained in biblical faith to take lightly what the experts say, the scholars say, the pollsters say, the politicians say, the pastors say.  We are trained to listen to the Word of God, to test everything against what God reveals to us in Christ, to discover all meaning and worth by examining life in relation to God’s will.

Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses, 86-87