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Robert Shinkoskey’s Do My Prophets No Harm, reviewed by Woodrow Walton

 

Do My Prophets No HarmRobert Kimball Shinkoskey, Do My Prophets No Harm: Revelation and Religious Liberty in the Bible (Eugene, Oregon: Resource Publications, 2011), 206 pages, ISBN 9781608998456.

Robert Shinkoskey has two main proposals in Do My Prophets No Harm. The first proposal is that the Ten Commandments provide ancient Israel’s constitutional government. In theory, the Ten Commandments are “purely secular law, rather than a mixture of cultic and civic law” (p. 81). The first five commandments serve two purposes: the preservation of “freedom of religion for prophets and other dissidents who work to restore worship of the God of their ancestors” (back cover summary); and an adversarial purpose: to stand separate from the civic government. The role of the prophet is to call into question any policy or personal power that negates or abuses the last five of the commandments.

Shinkoskey’s second proposal is to challenge the notion of the cessation of prophecy. God always reveals Himself to those who are sensitive to Him, namely the prophets. This is necessary in order to preserve not only the first five commandments but also the second five. The prophets urge Israel to repent and return to their calling. Israel’s call is to honor and keep the second five commandments and to be a light to the nations: how to treat one’s neighbor in love and mercy and the stranger or alien among them.

This reviewer finds Shinkoskey’s analysis intriguing. He seems to suggest that the observance of the second five of the Decalogue promotes the worship of the God of the Exodus, the one who brought them out from slavery to Egypt. New revelation from God restores the people of Israel to their calling to be light to the nations. The prophets are those receptive to that revelation and must prophesy; hence, “Do my prophets no harm.” It is Shinkoskey’s contention that when a government exceeds its bounds whatever its form, monarchy, democratic republic, theocratic, those in governance seek to silence the prophets. It also occurs when complacency or satisfaction occurs in a nation. This is where religious liberty is threatened.

We still need prophets.

Shinkoskey has interesting insights for the reader to consider. There are, however, a few places in Shinkoskey’s work where this reviewer has some serious questions about this work. Perhaps, though he speaks of David’s prophetic statement found in Psalm 102:18 –and hints at Esther’s reminder by Mordecai of deliverance from another source, other than herself and her people—there is a suggestion that “even the Christian” (p. 59) may be replaced by a people more sensitive to God’s revelation. This thought followed after the comment “When a prophet prophesies, he does so for the instruction of all the people of the earth, not just for those who happen to be God’s people at the moment” (p. 59). On page 65 of the book, Shinkoskey uses the word “Church” and “Israel” interchangeably. From page 69 and the few following pages Shinkoskey interprets the post-exilic prophets as Daniel, Zechariah, Jonah, Hosea, and Amos as secondary to the pre-exilic prophets. “The post-exilic prophets, for example are not informed directly by God, as prophets once were” (compare Jer. 1:11-14), but now only by angels (Zech. 2:9). This reviewer hesitates at this contention. Shinkoskey finds the post-exilic prophets as presenting a “divinely inspired interpretation of previous revelation” (p. 69).

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Category: Spirit

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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