Thursday, September 4, 2008

redefining prophecy

...So what we find in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus are not determining prognostications or schematic diagrams of the future but instead something far more valuable: warnings and promises
McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 173

I think this is far too simplistic a view of prophecy. Yes, prophecy may contain elements of warning and of promise, but one does not need prophecy to warn or promise.

Rather, when Jesus says that all these things will be fulfilled, we're getting beyond simply giving warnings into "determining prognostication". We must accept the fact that Jesus is telling us that those things will occur, and not skate around the issue by watering it down. When Revelation begins by tells us that those things "must shortly come to pass", then any hint that they may be averted is lost.

Warnings tell us that if we make foolish or unjust choices, bad consequences will follow. Prophets from Moses to Jesus frequently give these kinds of warnings. Their purpose is nto to tell the future but to change the future. In warning the people about future negative consequences of bad behavior, the prophet's greatest hope is that his predictions of calamity will not come true.
McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 173

I must give him roughly half a point here, maybe not quite that much but not far below it, either. There is at times an element of warning to prophecy, as he points out later in regards to Jonah. I think it is in Ezekial where God says that if, for example, a man receives a prophecy of ill and he repents and turns from evil, then it may be that what is prophecied will not come on him.

But saying that all prophecy is like that is going too far. Jesus' prophecy about the destruction of the Temple was not one that left open the possibility that such wouldn't happen. His statements to the disciples about His coming death were equally certain.

Promises also differ from prognostications. If I tell my children, "I'll always be there for you," I'm not making a prediction, because I will eventually die, and my statement won't be true. But taken as a promise, the statement is true.
p. 174

I remember the first time I read that, a bit ago, and being rather stunned. Taken as a promise, a false statement is true??? What kind of...?????

Consider Jesus' statement, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." If I took McLaren's criterium, and applied it to Jesus' statement, I'm left with Jesus' promise being "true" even if He isn't really with us now.

But then, I've seen full preterist say that Jesus isn't with us now, that that statement is no longer applicable. And since McLaren has gone over into some form of preterism, perhaps even full, maybe that is what he means. It's something to look in to, maybe.

At any rate, the truth is, his promise to always be with his children is in the end a bad promise, because it's one he can't keep. Even now when he is alive, he is not always with them. And to make God's prophetic promises like that is insepid.


Stephen said...

Hey EP,

You make some excellent remarks on The Desert Pastor's articles on worship and music. I've been writing some replies to his articles on my blog, if you're interested.


Stephen said...

Thanks for the follow-up comment on my blog. I definitely believe that DP is trying to fill the silence of Scripture with his own opinions, all the while claiming that he has the Biblical higher ground, so to speak. I've exchanged numerous e-mails with him, but have yet to have him defend his position from Scripture.

I certainly believe that he and his church have the freedom to choose the style of music. The issue I have is that he does not afford the same to those who disagree with him, but rather makes it some sort of spiritual litmus test. Sadly, he will never see that nor will he admit areas that he is wrong. I have personally known DP for many years (I grew up in the same background as he did also), and while I would certainly hope to be wrong, history has so far not proven this to be the case. He adamantly refuses to provide solid Biblical support or even Biblical principles that would apply to the issue of musical styles and insists on calling into question (as he did with you) the motives of those who choose to disagree with him. Instead he goes off on tangents filled with conjecture and spiritual language that is not supported by Scripture.

Thanks again.