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Donald Trump’s Presidency and False Prophecy

The orthodox bishops came out of this conflict as defenders of the true Gospel of mercy. In the process, the prophetic ministry was put under suspicion. Sadly, the bishops began to appropriate the prophetic office into their ordained office, and away from 1 Cor 14 as Paul indicated, by interpreting the meaning of prophecy as the preaching and teaching ministry of the Church. This is an idea that the Reformers were to adopt as standard.[11] The effect was that prophecy, instead of being what Paul suggested, the most common gift for the Christian community (1 Cor. 14), became an increasingly rare gift.[12]

After a while the Montanists prophets declared that the “prophetic age” (their own) was over and the movement settled down as a legalistic sect – and eventually petered out. But the Montanist movement extended negative consequences throughout Christian history. It vastly curtailed (but did not totally end) the frequency of spontaneous lay prophetic utterances. Instead of a flow of prophetic utterances in normal parish life, a vacuum of ongoing (and necessary) practice of discerning prophecy was created by church elders and leaders. That is, there were few, and scattered, living persons experienced in the gift of prophecy in their churches or could exercise discernment and cautious prudence.

Later on, the Catholic Church developed the concept of “spiritual direction” in which a mature person, usually an ordained cleric, would act as the discernment person to mystics, nuns and others who experienced visions and prophecies. But this was a very specialized and limited ministry.[13] The Reformation rejected this tradition and the excellent literature on discernment that it generated, and saw prophecy, as the other gifts of the Spirit, restricted to the Apostolic Age (the doctrine of cessationism).

After the abuses of the Montantists, there were few left in the church who gave prophetic utterances or could exercise discernment of the prophetic.

In the revivals among the Protestant Churches that occurred from the 1600s, where the gifts of the Spirit were newly discovered by one community or another, lack of discernment on prophecy and experience in discerning prophecies, was a constant problem. This lack often discredited many of the revival movements of the Church. This was the principal reason why the Great Awakening (1737-1742) of New England was cut short. Specifically, there arose traveling prophets who put forth false prophecies and presumptuous judgments about other ministers and churches. The American theological genius, Jonathan Edwards, witnessed this discernment failure first hand and single-handedly created Protestantism’s best discernment works in response.[14]

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2020

About the Author: William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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