Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prophecies: Stack’em high, Sell’em Cheap and Sell’em Short.

Some prophecies are running out of time

This blog post was triggered by an article in the April issue of “Christianity” magazine entitled “Hungry for Revival”. In the words of the article:

Some have prophesied that 2012 could be a significant spiritual time for the church and interest in revival among some leaders is growing…… An increasing number of churches are expectant.

After a summit of revivalist leaders in September 2011, during which there was “a special sense of the presence of God”, one of these leaders is quoted as saying:

“There’s something about September 1st, I believe you can write it down. I believe you can write it in your journal, that ‘everything changed September 1st 2011’. I feel like it’s a prophetic word over this country (the UK) – September 1st 2011 – everything’s different”

That statement is gloriously ambiguous! And yet it is apparently regarded as a “prophecy”; the article goes on to say that those close to this particular leader tell us “It is very rare that he would give this kind of prophecy”.  As we will see this kind of prophecy from this kind of leader is far from rare. One must remember that in the Christian subculture this prophecy is coming from, leaders are apt to be raised to the status of quasi holy men and therefore merely setting a question against their teachings is often felt to be  an affront, perhaps even tantamount to questioning the Holy Spirit Himself. Therefore the followers of this particular holy man will be taking his words very seriously indeed and very ready to defend him.

The above prophecy is still, I suppose, relatively fresh and its ambiguity gives it a fuzzy sell by date. Going back in time a bit further we can find recent prophetic utterances that are still part of this latest round of revivalist expectancy but are now, however, past their sell-by-date.  If you look at the video promoted here and here you will find Bay of the Holy Spirit revivalists  Nathan Morris  and John Kilpatrick prophesying about revival in Norwich.  This is what we hear:

 I believe in the next eighteen months city wide revivals will break out…. In the end of 2010  into 2011 we are going to see an outbreak of revivals across the nations of the world. I believe the Lord said to me I’m going to raise up cities of refuge, places of out pouring…
I speak to Norwich in the UK. Norwich!  Be awakened by the fire of the Holy Ghost!
God is beginning to do something there…just an outpouring in Norwich UK. I believe that this word we preached tonight is coming to Norwich UK…. Shout fire right now…Norwich in the name Jesus be awakened right now.
But do you know what, in the days to come there is going to be so many cities on fire for God, especially beginning in 2011…I believe the Holy Spirit right now is softening cities and churches ready. It’s not going to be a church wide revival; it’s going to be city wide revivals. God’s going to shake cities

Those prophetic words really do seem to be past their sell by date; the end of 2010 into 2011 is over a year ago and nothing has happened in Norwich: Although no date is actually given for revival in Norwich the prophecies pertaining to Norwich were provided very much in the context of the 2010 into 2011 time frame.

Dubious prophetic utterances and an excited expectancy amongst the followers of the Christian holy men, need I say, are no new phenomena; there has always been a demand  to up the ante with the latest “new thing” God is doing. The Jehovah’s witnesses were into a similar dynamic with their 1975 expectancy. In fact as a result of this latest spate of prophecies I decided to travel back in time by browsing my stock of Christianity magazines, a stock which goes back to 1980, right back to the days when “Christianity” was actually called “Buzz”.  This is what I found.

The year is 1987. The January edition of Buzz carries an article entitled “Are the Horseman in the Saddle?” (Referring, of course, to the four horseman of the apocalypse) The article tells us about a certain Clifford Hill, a pastor of a London East End church who “called a group of 153 Christians with a prophetic gift to Mount Carmel in Israel”. Over to Hill and the Mount Carmel prophets:

We are very near to the point of disaster in our nation. The present world situation is so serious that the very existence of mankind is under threat. There will be tremendous destruction, even nuclear war, unless the nations turn from the path they are taking now and turn back to God….. I see three things coming in the not too distant future in our nation. One is economic collapse, the second is political uncertainty and the third is trials on a scale unknown before in our nation…. I believe I’m hearing from God….
It will not be long before there will come upon this world a time of unparalled upheaval and turmoil. Do not fear for it is I the Lord who am shaking all things. I began this shaking with the first World War and I greatly increased it through the second World War. Since 1973 I have given it an even greater impetus. In the last stage I plan to complete it with the shaking of the Universe itself with signs in sun and moon and stars.

Let us now go forward to the April of that year. Here we find an article entited “Revival”.  It starts:

A great tidal wave of revival is heading toward Britain – a new wave of God’s spirit sweeping across the nation and winning souls for Christ. Such is the vision of revival received by evangelist Nancy Goudie a member of the gospel rock band Heartbeat….. “As the Spirit of God has been moving through the Church it’s as if he’s put the word ‘revival’ on the lips and hearts of his people” say Heartbeat. And a good many Christians agree with them.

The article goes on to quote other big names of the day who were expecting a British revival; Selwyn Hughes, evangelist James Robinson, pastor Paul Yonggi, evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, and restorationist Arthur Wallis. Flamboyant pastor Gerald Coates is also quoted as saying the tide has turned.

One must recall that the above are simply the Woolworth’s prophecies that have come my way - if one starts looking for them one finds them to be as common as beetles – for example in 1995 Gerald Coates predicted  that  within 18 months Westminster chapel was going to be at the heart of Revival.  Here I list a few other Woolworth’s prophecies that I’m aware of.

People love to have something exciting on the horizon; it gives them something to work for, hope for and fuels their dreams, and those Christians whose hopes have been inappropriately raised have my sympathy. However, one might find that the sympathy only goes one way. When prophets and their prophecies are questioned their followers can get quite threatening.  As William Irwin Thompson has remarked about the zealous excesses of the followers of eastern gurus (and I think you will find that the principles here apply as much to Christian gurus):

We do not need a new civic religion of the world state run by Initiates of Kundalini Yoga; we need to protect spirituality from religion in a secular culture of law in which devotees are protected from the zealous excesses of one another. It is utterly naïve to think that in the near future men will have outgrown the playpen of the American Constitution and will lovingly trust one another. The gurus are tolerant and merely condescending now because they have no political power; but even without power they show full evidence of human frailty and vanity and tend to think that their own yoga is bigger and better than the other guru’s. And what is often only a case of mild condescension in the guru becomes in the disciples a fever of zealotry.

Just how threatening the disciples of the latest clutch of Christian holy men can be we will see in a later post.


Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses exalt "God's Kingdom" established October 1914 which is cult-speak for Jesus second coming in 1914.They claim that 3 years later in 1919 Jesus appointed the leaders of the Watchtower society his sole representatives on earth.
They will spin all sorts of embellishments on this embarrassment to try to wiggle out of it..

Timothy V Reeves said...

Hi Danny, Thanks for the comment. I did some research on the Jehovah's witnesses in 1980 and discovered at least 11 dates they have claimed to be significant in some way. It would be difficult to present all the supporting documentation here (which included Raymond Franz's book - Crisis of Conscience) but these are the dates: 1799, 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1918 (possibley the same date as your 1919), 1920, 1925, 1940, 1975, 1914+one generation. As you probably know the latest prediction that "this system of things" will end within one generation of 1914 has now been dropped. I find that whenever I mention this to fresh JW's converts on the door they know nothing about it, although the older one's know what I'm talking about and if pressed will admit it.