Foreign Languages I Don’t Know

I took a year of high school Spanish from a disturbingly coiffed woman named, if I remember correctly, Mrs. Whitley. She was at least sixty-five, and she wore a dangerous blonde-type wig. (Well, if it wasn’t a wig, it sure looked like it.) I hated that class.

College French was a lot more fun. I had Dr. Krickel for four semesters, and she regularly tore me a new one (sometimes even when I wasn’t in class). I actually retained some of this language, and can probably remember enough to insult a Frenchman.

I have also had limited exposure to what my friend Lee Phillips calls “prophetese.” If you’ve moved in Pentecostal/charismatic circles for very long, you’ve heard it.
Perhaps you’ve done better than I have, but I can’t for the life of me make sense of this language. But I’ve identified some of the rules. Before I get to them, however, I’ll risk excommunication and offer an example (completely made up, but not far from the truth):

This will be a time, and a place, and people will be here. where people will grow to become more than they were before they began growing. And you will say, Yes. And then I will say, Yes.

(Come to think of it, it sounds a lot like the Book of Armaments: “Hold aloft the holy hand grenade and count to three. Three is the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, noyther count thou two, unless thou then proceedest to three. Five is right out!”)

I guess I’m surprised a little when someone says, “So-and-so’s prophecy came true!” I look at the word or listen to it, and it’s general enough that it could have a lot of fulfillments. And I see that the person quoted says similar things wherever they go.

Let me add that I believe wholeheartedly in the gifts of the Spirit, and I believe that prophecy is for today. I have heard some things, and seen them come to pass, that make my hair stand on end. But I’ve heard many more “words” that do nothing but nullify the Word of God, and others that bring disgrace on the God of the Scriptures.

And I guess I lament the fact that no one from within accuses false prophets anymore. Stoning is not the answer; don’t go saying I said that we should stone ’em! But we must give up our addiction to the “now” word. If we do, the times God does speak dramatically will have much more effect in our churches and our communities. As it stands now, I think we’ve cried wolf so much that some people’s ears are dead to the voice of God.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this, but I’ll let that stand for now.


6 thoughts on “Foreign Languages I Don’t Know”

  1. jamie d. and i were talking about this the other day; it seems like these days the “prophesies” or “words from the lord” all seem to come as simple repetitive rephrasings of the song that was just sung (fictional example: -assuming that “trading my sorrows” has just been sung- “the lord says, come to me and lay down your sorrows and i will let you trade them for my joy”), i’m not saying that God doesn’t speak to his people (if he didn’t -wow-), but that just doesn’t seem very, er, i don’t know, valid? why would he just rephrase the song rythymically and repititiously? it seems like God would have something more important or profound to say, rather than engaging in some sort of praise and worship rap solo.

  2. Yes, I was talking to Jason about this recently, as you can see from his above comment.
    I have long felt that this gift has been abused in the church, especially charasmatic churches.
    I think the problem starts when christians reach a point where they feel they are so clase to the Father that they believe that they are in His head. When they reach this point, they feel that every thought they have is something that the Lord is telling them to share. This often results in something highly repetietive, or completely off target. I have found that God was usually pretty direct in his word, but it seems that through certain people he tends to be wordy, and repetitive…interesting.

  3. Ditto on collapsing our thoughts with God’s thought. Charismatic are more liberal than the the Classic Protestant liberals. At least the liberals recognized the trasendnce of God and argued that our God talk was our religious experience. We have forgotten this and become what Feuerbach asserted–people who identify their thougts with God. I am growing to dislike the common parlance of “God spoke to me such and such.” It is troublng that we can so flippantly associate whatever “spiritual” idea that breezes through our mind with God.

  4. Jamie – in the original post you said no one from within accuses false prophets anymore. I think one reason for this is that no one really teaches on the gift of prophecy anymore. Non-charismatics ignore it and Charismatics accept it all as equal (yes, I realize how general of a statement that is, but you know what I mean). I’m trying to remember a single message that I’ve ever heard that wasn’t either a diatribe against prophecy or a how-to guide. I can’t think of one.

    At the risk of being laughed out of blogdom for quoting 4Him, I think we need to get “back to the basics” a bit. Churches tend to avoid those sort of nuts and bolts messages about spiritual gifts, but sometimes that’s just what’s needed.

  5. Michelle,

    Excellent point! So few of our charismatic/pentecostal churches take any kind of systematic approach to preaching anyway. (“Preaching calendar? What about the Holy Spirit?!”) If they did, they’d see that they don’t spend much time at all on doctrine…period. But that’s what preaching/teaching should do. After all, seems like Paul spends most of his letters explaining or expanding on what he taught in person.

  6. I just told Bradley Cox that it amazes me how much certain people in the P/Ch movement preach on what the Lord told them and how little they actually preach out of what the Holy Spirit inspired timelessly for the whole Church. Scripture has often become secondary to “The Lord told me…” and that’s a problem. If you think I’m kidding, get a transcript from TBN’s recent “Campmeeting” – hours and days of “the Lord told me’s” and solicitations for money by often questionable means – a constant stream of phrases running along the bottom of the screen like “Sow your greatest seed for your greatest need.” Never mind giving because giving is at the heart of God and is inherently a blessing.

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