I’m going to do something that I don’t do very often, launch a series of posts on a particular topic. My goal is to keep them somewhat short. Over the years I’ve heard many people claim that they have prophetic gifting. Whether it be from a spiritual gifts inventory, self-designation, or a casual statement from a friend or spouse – the term gets tossed around from time to time. As one who consistently gets diagnosed as a “prophet” or as one who prophetic gifting, I’m fascinated by the dynamic that occurs when my “gifting” clashes with another “prophet’s” gifting. Something’s got to give – no?
I’ve titled this series “Prophets or Posers” because I want to attempt to illuminate some of the logical fallacies that sometimes can lead to an individual’s errant self-understanding of their role in community and the authority of their insights, opinions, and convictions. For this initial post I want to highlight a book that I loved – but it’s over 100 years old. The Prophets and the Promise is a book from the well known Rev. Willis Judson Beecher from Princeton Theological Seminary and comes from lectures that he gave from 1902 – 1903. That’s old school, but there were times I totally forget this was a book over 100 years old. It has great insight on prophets and prophecy – both in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the modern age.
Today I’m going to include just a few quotes that highlight who a prophet was and what his or her function was in the Scriptures.
“According to the records a prophet might be judge or king or priest or general or statesman or private person, in fine, might occupy any position in the commonwealth; as a prophet, he was simply a citizen with a special work to do. The prophets as such had no settled position in church or state. They were sent by God on individual missions, natural or supernatural, to supplement the routine administration of secular and religious affairs. The bible refuses to present any other picture of a prophet than that of a citizen, like other citizens, holding a commission from God, and endowed with the gifts requisite for accrediting his commission.”
– pg. 86
“One needs to reiterate the statement that a prophet is not characteristically a person who foretells, but one who speaks forth a message from Deity….A prophet is a person who speaks out the special message that God has given him.”
“First, any adherent of the true religion may be said to prophesy when the Spirit of God gives him a special message for the edification of others.” pg. 103