What Does It Mean to Be Prophetic, Revisited

Alan Bevere again picks up the the theme of being prophetic in a post today:

I have spent some time this week in the Old Testament prophetic books. I do not find it surprising that most prophets are not accepted in their own time. Their cutting words of truth at best fall on stopped ears. Then, in order to reinforce their words, they resort to symbolic acts which, if committed in the 21st century West, would be more than sufficient cause for them to be put away in special places reserved for people who walk naked in public (Isaiah) and who eat paper (Ezekiel), and walk around with an oxen yoke on their neck (Jeremiah). The people of God today have no more clue on how to recognize a prophet than the ancient folk. Every time I hear someone referred to as prophetic, it’s only because they are speaking words that the hearers who so designate them agree with. But that’s precisely the problem.

Back in February, based on another post by Alan, I asked what it meant to be prophetic:

Which has led me to ask this question: what does it mean to be prophetic?  The reason I ask is that I think a lot of folks have an idea what it means to be prophetic that I think is a bit wrong.  I will see a pastor who will get up and talk about some of the major issues facing our world and it is billed as “prophetic.”  But more often than not, what I hear is more of a political agenda than it is calling the church to present the Kingdom of God.  Since I move around mainline/progressive Christian circles, I tend to hear what sounds like a churchified version of the Democratic party platform, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of what might pass as prophetic in evangelical circles just mirrors the GOP agenda.

So, what does it mean to be prophetic?  What does a prophetic church look like?  I have to think that it’s more than a party platform sprinkled with lots of Jesus.  I’d like to know, because what I see passing as prophetic kind of falls short.

I have to ask again: what does it mean to be prophetic?  I tend to agree with Alan, if we met a modern day prophet of God, no one would really like him or her.  I don’t think they would say things that would basically piss off everyone.

Have we misread the prophets of the Bible?  Have we read Amos or Micah, with their denuciations of wealth and their concern for the poor and confused it with a political agenda?  Have we approprated these words to give us comfort and to use as weapons against others who don’t agree with us?

I don’t have the answers.  I do think that the words of the prophets are harder to understand than we think they are.


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