There are a hell of a lot of so-called “prophets” in the Christian world, and they’ve been under some well-deserved scrutiny lately in part because some of them predicted re-election for Donald Trump. One of them, Pastor Jeremiah Johnson, was so humiliated by his failed prophecy that he shut down his entire ministry.
In theory, that’s a good thing. There should be standards so that the worst prophets don’t drag everyone down. The problem is that even the “best” prophets drag everyone down because prophecy isn’t real. God’s not speaking to them. The voices in their heads are their own.
This is a smell test for bullshit and everyone’s bound to fail.
Just consider one of the standards:
WE BELIEVE that prophecies should first be tested by the Word, then if the prophetic word is not contrary to the Scriptures, it should be evaluated by other mature leaders. If a prophecy is given in the context of a local church, then mature leaders in that setting should evaluate it. If a prophecy is given in the context of a region or nation, then mature regional or national leaders should be invited to evaluate the word… Those who refuse to have their words tested should not be given a platform.
To paraphrase, they believe prophecies shouldn’t be announced unless they’re coming through, they don’t contradict the Bible, and that other (biased) people affirm the prediction. It’s like a group of astrologers rewarding a fellow astrologer only after one of her vague predictions pans out. This isn’t science; this is an echo chamber.
Another standard just gives everyone an easy out:
WE UNDERSTAND that prophecies can be conditional and that many prophecies will take time to come to pass. We also recognize that prophetic language is often mysterious and symbolic, requiring interpretation and insight. This means that prophecies that do not contradict the Bible or that are not contrary to fact should be evaluated over time and not immediately rejected.
That doesn’t even solve the problem they intended to fix! This set of standards was written in response to preachers saying Trump would win the 2020 election, but many conservatives are still clinging to the lie that Trump will soon return to office. By allowing no expiration date, any prediction can theoretically come true; it’s just a matter of time! (One preacher recently said God told him Trump would serve two terms… but they don’t have to be consecutive!)
Even funnier are some of the people signing the statement. Like Charisma‘s Jennifer LeClaire, who has repeatedly spread conspiracy theories and lies, and Charisma‘s CEO Stephen Strang, whose publication is known as the place where truth goes to die because of all the made up prophecies he prints. (His name is misspelled on the document, which seems par for the course.)
Jeremiah Johnson signed it too. I’ll give him credit for that. He seems to be the only person with the decency to admit he screwed up.
But some of the people whose prophecies keep getting an audience — Kat Kerr, Robin Bullock, and Shane Vaughn, to name a few — don’t appear on the list of signatories at all… which makes sense. Why bother with standards when your followers don’t care?