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Why Christians Fell for False Prophecy

Why So Many Evangelicals and Pentecostals Were Beguiled by False Prophecies about Trump and his Second Term

 

This guest editorial by Christian historian William De Arteaga is a January 2021 update from his earlier article, “Donald Trump’s Presidency and False Prophecy.” Readers are invited to respond by including respectful comments on the article page.

 

Now that it is certain that President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, it is time to reflect on why so many Evangelicals, and especially Pentecostal and charismatic leaders, fell into false prophecy and proclaimed repeatedly that Trump really won the election and the election results would be reversed.

Many pastors, including some of the most popular Evangelical and Pentecostals TV personalities such as Pat Robinson, Kenneth Copeland, and Sid Roth prophesied both Trump’s initial election (2016) and his reelection in 2020. Others, such as Paula White and Kenneth Copeland, continued to prophesy the 2020 election would be overturned and Trump would serve a second term. Some of the latter prophecies took bizarre forms such as Paul White’s ranting and Kenneth Copeland long laugh at the claim that Biden was the winner of the 2020 vote.[1] God was not surprised and knew that Biden would win. Thus, the TV pastors who prophesied Trump’s second election victory fell into a mass false prophecy. Why did this happen?

Image: Markus Winkler

I believe there are three principal reasons for this. The first is the demographic illusion. That is, White Evangelicals and Pentecostals mostly congregate among themselves and unthinkingly assume they represent most of America. The second reason is a lack of an understanding and appreciation of the entire span of Christian history and experience with false prophecies. The third is the formation of the new Christian cult, the “Forever Trump” cult. These are conservative White Christians that listens only to their own news outlets and social media sites and dismiss any negative information about Trump and his policies as “fake news.” This is a tragic and complex issue that I will deal with in the immediate future. For now, let me deal with the other two issues, especially the issue of false prophecy.

 

The Demographic illusion

My first civilian job out of the Army back in 1970 was as a public-school teacher in Atlanta (1970-1973). I taught social studies at a predominantly African American high school in Southwest Atlanta. Most of the students there believed that Nixon won the Whitehouse by cheating. They lived in an African American section of town and knew few people who voted for Nixon. So how could he have won Georgia or the other states? I could not convince them otherwise, as reasonable arguments would not overcome their personal (and limited) experiences.

Similarly, in the current situation, White Evangelicals and Pentecostals live mostly in predominantly White counties or towns, go to predominantly White Churches, etc. They have little contact with other demographic groups, as for instance, the African American Pentecostals, Latino Pentecostals and AME churches that are in the other parts of town from where they live. Thus, White Evangelicals and Pentecostals formed a “gut” feeling that few people voted for Trump, other than the crazy people in the “Left Coast” and New York, etc. Certainly Trump could not possibly have lost Georgia. (The recent election of two Democratic senators from Georgia proves this wrong.)

All of which is to say that White Evangelicals and Pentecostals projected their limited life experience as a broad demographic misunderstanding of the American population. This was flamed by Trump’s initial rejection of the election results and then conservative White Evangelicals and Pentecostals proceeded with enormous energy to find (mostly fictious) faults with the election process. The fact that many Republicans judges and the conservative dominated Supreme Court threw out the volumes of supposed election violations as rumor and passionate, but secondhand accounts, has made no impression on the Trump followers. It will take years for the damage done to our electoral system to be healed.

 

The Acceptance of False Prophecies about Trump

Are there examples of false prophecy in church history?

The second major factor involved in the White Evangelical and Pentecostal rejection of the Trump defeat was their heavy emotional investment in the prophecies that occurred as far back as 2015 that Trump would be the “Cyrus-Messiah” of America who would lead the country out of its slide into anti-Christian humanism and socialism. The uncritical acceptance of this prophetic bundle was predicated on a flaw in Evangelical theological education and understanding. It mostly dismisses the history and experience of Church history that is not Protestant or current. Thus, most Evangelicals and Pentecostals have little or no access to the classic discernment literature of the historic liturgical churches, principally the Roman Catholic, and their experience in false prophecy, cultic prophetic movements, and the discernment of prophecy.

 

A whirlwind tour of Christian false prophecies

False prophecies and false prophetic movements have occurred throughout Church history, and most often involved very good Christians and communities who misinterpreted God’ direction. Paul is careful to encourage prophecy in New Testament Church and recommend it to Christians as the most important gift of the Spirit (1 Cor 14:1). But Paul put discernment boundaries around it, as in having the prophet submit their visions and prophecies to the church for discernment. It is also clear that Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 principally refers to prophecies that uplift and correct at the local church level (1 Cor 14:3), not global, trans-church issues.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged (1 Cor: 29-31).

Paul encouraged prophecy in the New Testament Church and recommend it to Christians as the most important gift of the Spirit.

But that does not exclude prophecy about national or international issues, In Act 11:28 the prophet Agabus prophesied that there would be a large-scale famine, and the Church had to prepare for it. It happened. Similar valid prophecies have occurred throughout Church history. For Instance, Demos Shekarian, the founder to the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship International, recounts how his family immigrated to California from Armenia due to warnings in the 1900s by a local prophet. That prophet warned that the Armenians must leave to avoid slaughter. Some, including his parents, heeded the warning and escaped the Armenian genocide by the Turks of 1915-1916.[2]

The discernment of prophecy is both a grace and a matter of experience. That is, having a discerning community that both cherishes prophecy as possibly direct words from God, but is aware of the danger of false prophecy. I have treated elsewhere the difficulty of practicing prophecy and having a church that is at ease with the gift. Even Pentecostal pastors are often unsure how to allow and correct spontaneous prophesies in their congregations.[3]

The consensus of the discernment literature – Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal – is that, especially in the local church, short prophetic utterances can be of the Holy Spirit (all must be discerned), but as they get longer they tend to bring in elements of the prophets’ subconscious wishes, prejudices, and preferences.[4] But before I proceed further, let me cite from Christian history some false prophecies that influenced the Church to its determent.

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

A major false prophetic movement was begun by a prophet call Montanus, about the year 170 A.D. His prophesies, and that of two women prophetesses who aided him, spread in the Roman Empire during a period of severe persecution. [5] Montanus and his prophets predicted the very soon coming of Jesus and predicted that a “New Jerusalem” would descend from heaven and alight in their hometown of Pepuza – a sleepy one-horse (or one chariot) village in the mountains of Phrygia (modern Turkey). That his hometown would be the center of the Second Coming is an example of the provincialism and vanity that often seeps into false prophecy. (This may be an instance of what Paul refers to as “itching ears” in 2 Tim 4:3.)

Montanists prophets caused divisiveness and conflict with the majority of churches and their bishops through the prophets’ moral rigor and legalism. They claimed, through repeated prophetic utterances, that the Holy Spirit decreed that those who had broken under Roman torture and renounced the Christian faith could never be accepted back into the Church. These had committed the “unforgivable sin.” Most of the bishops of the Church disagreed, calling instead for leniency, including restoration of these persons into the Church after a penitential period.

False prophecy is common in Church history, and most often involves very good Christians and communities who misinterpret or exaggerate God’s direction.

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.[6] 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.[7]

After a while, the Montanist 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 Church history. It vastly curtailed (but did not totally end) the frequency of spontaneous lay prophetic utterances. Without a flow of prophetic utterances in the Church’s normal parish life there was crated a vacuum of ongoing (and necessary) practice of discerning prophecy by church elders. That is, there were practically no living persons experienced in the gift of prophecy in their churches or who could exercise discernment and caution prudence.

Skipping centuries of history, and other false prophetic movements, but especially pertinent to our study, was a series of prophets and prophecies that centered around the time before the Franco-Prussian War of 1871-1872. At this time there were many Catholics in France who passionately disliked the French Revolution – with good reason that elements within it were truly anti-Christian. They also disliked the regime of Napoleon III (1808-1873) nephew of Napoleon I. These were devoted, practicing Catholics who yearned for the French royal family to be reinstated.

The Catholic prophets kept putting out prophecies, some of book length, assuring the coming restoration of the monarchy. These prophecies predicted the wholesale conversion of France to devote Catholicism (ridding the country of the pesky “secularists” and atheists). To boot, England and Scotland would be re-converted to Catholicism, and the Pope would reign over a mostly Catholic Europe. Permutations of these prophecies went on for decades.[8]

Later, when the Franco-Prussian War broke out, and it quickly went badly for France, there was another burst of prophecies assuring Frenchmen that the Prussians would be ultimately be driven back past their borders. Here is a snippet of some of these later prophesies:

They [the Prussians] will come back again, and they will destroy everything on their line of march. No resistance will be offered; they will be allowed to advance, but after their supplies will be cut off they will suffer great losses. They will retire towards their own country, but we shall follow them up, and not many of them will reach home. Then we shall recapture everything that they have carried off, and plenty more besides.[9]

None of the above happened. France lost big and had to sign a disastrous treaty. But it is important to note, just like the Montanists, many of the prophets were good, devout Christians with specific prejudices and desires – just like all of us. What they saw in visions or what they imagined was from their “flesh,” as Paul would term it. They were “wish for” prophecies not real prophecies from the Lord.[10] We will come to this again later in our examination of the Mark Taylor prophecies on President Trump.

Perhaps nothing makes more of a laughingstock out of global Church unity in Spirit and worship than the contentious issue of Marian devotion. Some Catholics truly worship Mary as if she were the fourth person of the Trinity, in spite of official Catholic theology to the contrary. Marian devotion had a role in undermining the Catholic charismatic renewal in the 1980s. –from “Marian Devotion and the Coming Second Wave of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal

Although the Catholics tradition and literature on discernment of prophesies is excellent, it does not always manifest at a parish level.[11] Also, the bothersome phenomenon of Marian apparitions and multiple false prophesies in that area have made the issue of discerning prophecies for Catholic clergy complex. I personally believe that many – if not all – Marian apparitions and prophesies are bogus and most likely of demonic origins, but the Catholic clergy are reluctant to come down on such manifestations as this would offend many lay persons who become attached to such prophetic movements easily.[12] In Georgia in the 1990s, just such a bogus apparitions and prophesy cluster arose in Conyers. The prophecies were obviously Gnostic and bogus, and the local bishop discouraged its propagation, but the movement lingers.[13]

The Catholic Church also developed the ministry of “spiritual direction” in which a mature Christian person, usually an ordained cleric, would act as the discernment person to mystics, nuns, monks, or others who experienced visions and prophecies. But this was a very specialized and limited ministry.[14] 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).

The prophet is in a poor position to discern their own revelation.

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 persons experienced in discerning prophecies was a constant problem. This lack discredited several 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 firsthand and single-handedly created Protestantism’s’ best discernment works in response.[15]

In more modern times, just before the Azusa Street revival and the birth of modern Pentecostalism, there was a revival that took place among several Holiness congregations in Corsicana County, Texas, in the 1870s. This revival began with a burst of worship and enthusiasm which included tongues. Significantly, the local leadership understood that the gifts of the Spirit described in 1 Cor. 12 -14 were for the present. Unfortunately, the leaders were inexperienced in prophecy and its discernment (of course, there were no mentors or readily available literature to help them) and drifted into false prophecy.

Some prophetic utterances included the message that a person baptized with the Spirit would be regenerated physically to the point of being able to live a thousand years. But strangely enough, some folks in the congregation continued dying. The revival disintegrated as local prophets urged their followers to sell all and await Jesus’ return in 1875. Jesus didn’t make it, and the only thing achieved by the revival was the discrediting of future Pentecostal efforts in the area four decades later as the people remembered the previous fiasco.[16]

 

The Prophesies of David Wilkerson

In the Twentieth Century there was the interesting case of David Wilkerson’s 1973 false prophecy. The Rev. Wilkerson was truly one of the heroes and pioneers of the Charismatic Renewal. He began as a small-town preacher (Assemblies of God) in the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Through a series of promptings from the Holy Spirit he went to New York and was led to minister to delinquent teenagers in the slums of New York City. This eventually led to a marvelous and effective ministry in New York and other cities for the evangelization and rehabilitation of inner-city teenagers called “Teen Challenge.” The story of this ministry is told in his book, The Cross and the Switchblade.[17] That book had a special anointing in its power to inspire people and was translated into many languages and sold more than 50,000,000 copies worldwide.

It is the task of the church to judge prophecy, not the prophet.

But in April of 1973, when Wilkerson was already known worldwide for his teen ministry and first book, received a series of visions. They were prophetic visions and dealt with the supposed coming events of the next decade (1973-1983), with special attention to the happenings in the United States. It was published as The Vision and became a best seller among Evangelicals and Charismatics.[18] Wilkerson first publicly proclaimed the vision in a conference of Lutheran Charismatics in August of 1973. The tape of that session is an amazing document in the history of Christian false prophecy.[19]

Although the book contains all the prophecies, one can best appreciate Wilkerson’s state of mind by listening to the tape. As he spoke at the Lutheran assembly, he asserted time after time that his message was directly from God, and that it was the “clearest vision I’ve ever had.” He assured the audience that the Spirit behind the vision was the same that guided him to the teen ministry. Several times during his delivery he was practically overwhelmed by emotion and said, “Never have I felt such an anointing,” or “I predict in the Spirit!” and so on.[20]

Wilkerson warned of major calamities that were surely coming on the world by 1983. In economics, the “next few years” would be prosperous (he missed the recession of 1974-1975), followed by a deep depression brought about by financial collapse. The depression was to start in Germany and the Arab countries will suffer the most – none of that happened. At the same time, he asserted, there will be severe earthquakes in the United States and worldwide food shortages. That also did not happen.

The most important and dramatic part of the vision pertains to the churches. According to Wilkerson, there would arise a new Church, really the Church of the anti-Christ, made of a liberal Protestant and Roman Catholic amalgam, in which the Pope will be recognized as the political head. The “true” Church of God, a new union of all authentic Spirit-filled Christians, will of course oppose this Church and in turn suffer persecution.

Wilkerson especially warned Catholic Charismatics to expect persecution from their own hierarchy. They would eventually be forced to choose between their Catholicism and the Spirit-filled life. As a practical measure he warned all Christian churches to put their financial houses in order so as to weather the coming hard times. Specifically, no new buildings or borrowing should be initiated in the immediate future.

All through the delivery of this prophecy Wilkerson provided ample biblical quotations to give it a sense of biblical validation. That The Vision was a false prophecy is now obvious. Was it merely a subconscious concoction of the beliefs, fears, and prejudices of a preacher raised in the tradition that the Catholic Church was the “whore of Babylon?” Certain elements in the prophecy suggest that they may have had a deeper, demonic influence. The very shrillness and lack of humility in his assertions was itself a sign of that. The prophecy did not call Christians to prayer or repentance, nor did it console, edify, or exhort – it frightened and condemned. There was not a single suggestion that might have been remotely useful, such as might have prepared Christians for the energy crisis of 1975 when Saudi Arabia stopped oil exports to the USA to protest our support of Israel.

Further, the only practical suggestions were destructive. The separation of Spirit-filled Christians into “one true Church” would have resulted in a new Montanism with results perhaps as destructive to the Church as the old Montanism. Even the minor point of financial conservatism had a source that was not from the Holy Spirit, for many churches in the 1970s did in fact continue to flourish and expand and to build in response to their growing needs.

That Catholic Charismatics did not follow the deadly advice of The Vision was due in great part to the quick response of other, more mature leaders. David du Plessis, the elder statesman of Pentecostalism, and who had seen firsthand the birth of the Catholic charismatic movement, quickly denounced the prophecy as not coming from God. He compared it with many a false prophecy he heard as a young man which claimed the coming world rule of Stalin and the Papacy.[21] Ralph Martin, one of the best-known and respected Catholic Charismatics quickly spread the warning of “false prophecy” among fellow Catholics. Indeed, as time has shown, Catholic Charismatics never suffered persecution from their bishops, and although the movement slowed down in the USA after the 1980s, there are many Catholic Charismatic fellowships in the United States that are doing fine. Further, in Africa and South America the Catholic Charismatic movement has been instrumental in bringing millions of nominal Catholics to become true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge (1 Corinthians 14:29 NKJV).

Wilkerson’s prophecy goes to the core of the discernment problem. He did nothing wrong in reporting his prophecy. As a matter of fact, according to traditional Catholic theology, he would have sinned from cowardice had he not spoken. The famous Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, in a brilliant work, Inquiries, made clear that the prophet is in a poor position to discern his own revelation. This is because if it is originating somewhere other than the Holy Spirit, it will play upon the fears, prejudices, and belief structure of his own subconscious mind and those in his immediate faith community.[22] It is the task of the church to judge prophecy, not the prophet. This again is Paul’s point in 1 Cor. 14:29.

It is important to note some other issues. It is clear that Wilkerson’s original ministry was blessed by God and has borne much fruit. His book, The Cross and the Switchblade, was one of the great books of the Pentecostal/charismatic revival,[23] yet The Vision was destructive. This is a modern example of Peter’s “multiple inspirations.” Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah (Matt 16:17), but later urged Jesus not to continue to Jerusalem and His crucifixion (Matt 16:23). Perhaps the major failure with Wilkerson and his vision was that he did not seek an elder or mature spiritual director with whom to discuss his visions before he went to the public with them.

 

Mark Taylor prophesies on Trump

The year 2017 saw the publication of an influential best seller that described the prophecies received by a retired fireman Mark Taylor.[24] It pertained to how he had received various prophecies starting 2011 that Trump would be president and was chosen by God to bring America back to righteousness and its true Christian calling. The book was co-authored by Mary Colbert, an influential writer and editor who worked to gather influential Charismatic and Evangelical pastors to affirm the prophecy and pray for Trump’s election, and then his subsequent presidency.

The Taylor prophecies were not just one incident but a series of visions and “hearings” (called “locutions” in traditional discernment theology) supposedly from the Holy Spirit. These prophecies show many of the traits of false prophecy that have occurred throughout Church history. Among his predictions is the statement that Trump, after his election, would soon “captivate the media” and many in the mainline media will agree with his positions.[25] This has proven to be the very opposite of what happened and perhaps represents a “wish for” presented as prophecy – like those of the French Royalist we discussed above.

The Taylor prophesies are full of statements supposedly made by Lord that “tickles the itching ears” of conservative Republicans by affirming their beliefs and suspicions but are contrary to the character and a true message of God. For instance, there are several passages in which the Lord categorizes both President Obama and the Clintons as totally evil. The Lord supposedly said:

Beware, beware, the enemy roams about seeking whom he can devour and this sitting president [Obama] is doing that in this hour [2016]. He’s full of lies and deceit and is very hateful; he spreads division and corruption with every mouthful. Beware when he says, “look over here, what the right hand is doing” to divert your attention from what the left hand is doing, is his intention. This is a setup from this President and his minions, from the hate, the division, and Hilary Clinton. … For the signs are clear to see, that this President and his minions shall try for thee. A sign will be, he will try to and take the guns so the people can’t rise up and stop him when he tries to run [for a third term].[26]

The Holy Spirit does not rail against living persons and declare them evil, but if they are doing wrong, urges repentance. Another intemperate salvo against Obama has proven false with time:

For this man who holds the title of President of the United States, will begin to lose his grip from it and be stripped of it, for I the Lord God will rip it from him. The man who calls himself the Commander in Chief, is nothing more than a lying deceitful Thief![27]

This has now proven to be totally false, Obama left the White House with dignity, and in his inaugural address Trump recognized the gracious cooperation that Obama gave his transition team. The “prophecy” is another rant, manipulating and pandering to the ugliest areas of partisan Republican suspicions and hatreds.

The Holy Spirit does not rail against living persons and declare them evil, but if they are doing wrong, urges repentance.

The statement backing the pro-gun position of many Republicans and the NRA could not have been from the Lord. True Christianity has been reluctant to endorse weapons of any kind, and for instance, it is traditional for clergy to bless troops in war for their protection, but not their armament.

The above demonically-influenced gun control rant echoes several conspiracy theories that circulated about Obama and his administration in conservative Christian circles. The most famous one was the fuss over the Armed Forces exercise in 2015 in the Southwestern USA called “Jade Helm 15.” This involved about 1,200 servicemen practicing to intercept a vehicle-loaded A-bomb brought in by terrorists via the southern border – a real possibility.

The conspiracy theory was that the Army was really sent to disarm conservative Texans of their weapons and bring them to empty Wal-Mart stores as makeshift concentration camps – several of which were indeed empty for renovation. Shamefully, this was widely believed, and even the Governor of Texas pandered to this conspiracy theory by ordering Texas National Guard officers to monitor the exercise just in case Texans started to be arrested.

Like many conspiracy theories, hatred and suspicion override common sense. [28] It is impossible for 1,200 soldiers to carry out a grossly illegal order and disarm millions of conservative Texans, who are often very heavily armed. That this conspiracy theory was believed by many Christian conservatives shows something very disturbing about their state of mind towards President Obama, their hatred overriding common sense, and this is continued in The Trump Prophecies.

Conspiracy theories override common sense with hatred and suspicion.

Here we should note the important role played by the co-author of the Trump Prophesies, Mary Colbert. A well-heeled editor, writer and consultant, she read Taylor’s prophecies in manuscript form. She was from the same anti-Obama, anti-Clinton Republican mind-set as Taylor, and instead of serving as a discerning elder, she fell for them whole. She then set out to organize Charismatic pastors and teachers to affirm the prophetic message that Trump was chosen by God to be President. That group continued to pray for the President in his entire turbulent presidency.

That the Trump Prophesies is a false, and demonically-laced work is quite plain. Had Evangelical and Pentecostal elders been familiar with the traditional literature of discernment of prophecies this would have been clear to them. It was my opinion that certain elements of it may have been from the Lord, as in the part received in 2011 that Trump would be President. This is similar to the mix of true and false prophecies that sometimes occur in church prophetic uttering. A person may begin with a short word of wisdom from the Lord, but as they go on past, the revelation drifts into areas of their own prejudices and fears that are then utilized by demonic forces to incite fear, anger or mayhem.

The original fraction of true prophecy may be the factor why so many credible and anointed Charismatic and Evangelical pastors accepted it whole, and why Mary Colbert was able to rally such a large group of reputable pastors and teachers behind the prophecy and later convert the group into a huge prayer support team for Trump. Of course, praying for a sitting President is enjoined in scripture (1Tim 2:2). But the group organized by Mrs. Colbert became uncritical and accepting of Trump’s actions and his disrespectful and insulting tweets.

Here lies a large failure of the Forever Trump pastors. They became “court prophets” who agreed with all that Trump did and said, instead of discerning on what occasions they should play the role of Nathan to David (2 Sam 12), rebuke sin when it occurs. To be biblically specific, the incident in 2 Kings 22 shows four hundred kingdom-supported prophets “tickling the itching ears” of the Kings of Judah and Israel by prophesying victory in a coming battle. Only one (non-court) prophet, Micaiah, proclaimed the real message from the Lord – defeat. In fact, a very few Forever Trump pastors have had the discernment or courage to rebuke Trump in any of his intemperate sayings or actions. An exception to the rule is the popular TV evangelist Jentezen Franklin, who publicly rebuked Trump for his vulgar language reference to some of the more backward countries of the Third World.[29]

This failure to give just reproof began even before Trump’s election. One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2016 Trump campaign was his declaration that the southern border wall would be built,[30] and Mexicans would pay for it. Trump; “Who will pay?” Crowd: Mexico!” This dialogue was cruel, insulting and ultimately unrealistic, as time has shown. It unnecessarily offended Mexicans and prevented a sane dialogue and diplomacy on the wall with the Mexican government. Christians who participated in this rant should repent of it. It is a scandal that the Christians pastors who supported and surrounded Trump during his campaign did not reproof him for this.

One last comment would relate to the failure of the Republicans to bring forth a reasonable health coverage issue. Here again I feel there is some outright sin involved.[31] Many Republicans enjoyed mocking the Obama Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare” and something out of hell. Indeed, it was a flawed bill, but it extended coverage to millions, and could have been the basis of a reformed health care bill. The jeering dismissal by Republicans in general and Trump in particular made rational discourse and compromise with the Democrats impossible. Again, I invite Republicans who participated in this awful name-calling to consult their conscience in prayer and repent. The Affordable Care Act was very imperfect, but it brought millions health care coverage. In the two years of their total control of Congress, the Republicans did zero on health care, and ultimately must bear much of the blame for the thousands of Americans who are dying every year unnecessarily from lack of health care, making us the laughing stock of the rest of the developed world.

I should also make clear that I believe that some of the things that Trump has accomplished have been good and long overdue, as in his challenge to the unequal trade relationship with China, and a revision of NAFTA. But even his accomplishments could have been achieved with less narcissist attachments. I do not intend to go further with a litany of Trumps political atrocities that have so harmed the civility and political discourse of our Nation. My intention is to affirm that Christians who have become Forever Trumpers need to reconsider, and perhaps repent, of their failure to be a Nathan to a very flawed David, and to mistake their “want for” for the voice of God.

Some of this has already begun with several of the Forever Trump pastors and prophets who prophesied that Trump was the Cyrus of American Presidents.

Significantly, articles have even appeared in Charisma News, owned by Stephen Strang. Besides writing two books on how Trump was God’s man in the White House, Strang frequently editorialized in Charisma Magazine on how necessary it was for Trump to win the 2020 election. But now, among the most recent articles (published on January 7, 2021) was an apology for his errors in prophecy by the Rev. Loren Sandford, one of the most important and prominent leaders of the Charismatic Renewal.[32]

Christians need to pray that the present Trump cult deconstruct and fade to make possible a reasonable Republican Party again. The Republican Party needs to be a party not dominated by conspiracy theories nor centered on an authoritarian style cult of the personality about Trump that has so injured and disfigured it. All Christians in America need to pray for the success of the Biden Administration, particularly in his announced goal of reuniting our much-divided Nation.

 

 

Notes

[1] Link to Kenneth Copeland’s laugh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag0-oXl-IDw

[2] Demos Shakarion, The Happiest People on Earth (Old Tappen: Chosen, 1975), 19-22.

[3] William De Arteaga, “Prophecy in the Church: Pathway to RevivalPneuma Review (February 18, 2016).

[4] ibid.

[5] For a balanced and sympathetic view of Montanism, see the work by R. A Knox, Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950), chapter 3. The Wikipedia article on the Montanists is also balanced and excellent.

[6] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries: The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians (Tr. Ross Mackenzie; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960) 376ff.

[7] Hans von Campenhausen, Ecclesiastical Authority and Spiritual Power in the Church in the First Three Centuries. Trans. J.A. Baker, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1969) chapter 8 “Prophets and Teachers in the Second Century.” Dr. William Spencer of Gordon-Cornwall Seminary believes that already by the end of the 3rd Century the gifts of the Spirit were waning. See his article, “The Chaining of the Church, Christian History #17 “Women in the Early Church” posted 1/1/88.

[8] Herbert Thurston, The War & the Prophets (London: Burns & Oates, 1915). Fr. Thurston was a master of documenting false prophesies and spiritual phenomenon of all sorts. His works deserve to be read in our day.

[9] Ibid., 40-41.

[10] Here I must confess that in my decades in the Charismatic Renewal I have issued forth some “wish for” prophecies but also a few valid ones.

[11]Among the best in the Catholic tradition is Karl Rhaner’s Visions and Prophesies, in Inquiries (New York: Herder & Herder, 1964).

[12] An excellent Catholic critique of apparitions and false messages from Pseudo-Mary is by Fr. Herbert Thurston, “The False Visionaries of Lourdes,” in his Surprising Mystics, ed. By J. H. Crehan (Chicago: Henry Regency, 1955).

[13]William De Arteaga, “Marian Devotion and the Coming Second Wave of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal,” Pentecostal Theology, Posted April 9, 2020. http://pneumareview.com/marian-devotion-and-the-coming-second-wave-of-the-catholic-charismatic-renewal/

[14] The crown jewel of Catholic spiritual direction and discernment literature is Augustine Poulain’s, The Graces of Interior Prayer (St. Louis, B. Herder, 1910). Still in print in various editions.

[15] In particular, Edwards’ classic, Distinguishing Marks of the Spirit of God. I treat this issue in my work, Quenching the Spirit: Discover the Real Spirit behind the Charismatic Controversy (Lake Mary: Creation House, 1996), chapter 3.

[16] On the rise and fall of this revival see: Barry W. Hamilton, “The Corsicana Enthusiasts: A Pre-Pentecostal Millennial Sect,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, 39 #1 (Spring, 2004), 173-193.

[17] (Old Tappen: Spire Books, 1963).

[18] David Wilkerson, The Vision (New York: Pyramid, 1974).

[19] David Wilkerson, “The Coming Persecution,” Tape #DW-8, Springs of Living Water tape library. In author’s possession.

[20] Ibid.

[21] “Persecution for Charismatic Catholics?” New Covenant (Jan. 1974) 13.

[22] Karl Rhaner, “Visions and Prophesies,” in Inquiries (New York: Herder and Herder, 1964).

[23] Editor’s note: See also Cletus Hull’s review of David Wilkerson: The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Man Who Believed written by his son, Gary Wilkerson.

[24] Mark Taylor, and Mary Colbert, The Trump Prophecies (Crane: Defender, 2017).

[25] Ibid., 132.

[26] Taylor, Trump, 149

[27] Ibid. 165.

[28] William De Arteaga, “The Sinfulness and Destructiveness of Conspiracy Theories,” Pneuma Review, June 29, 2015. In this article, I take special effort to deconstruct this ridiculous conspiracy theory. http://pneumareview.com/the-sinfulness-and-destructiveness-of-conspiracy-theories/

[29] Video on this: https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/thank-you-rev-jentezen-franklin

[30] To be clear, I am for the wall being built for our security.

[31] I see the spiritual negativity of the Republican Party as an outcome of its slow and steady adoption of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, “Objectivism” with its specifically anti-Christian morality, as seen in her famous novel Atlas Shrugged and elsewhere. See my “The Spiritual Decline and Fall of the Republican Party,” This was one of the blogs that was removed by Blogger, but now available at Troy Day’s web site: http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/decline-and-fall-of-the-republican-party/

[32] Loren Sandford. “Pastor Loren Sandford’s Open Apology: How and Why We Got It Wrong,” Charisma News. Posted 1/7/2021.

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2021

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: Discover the Real Spirit Behind the Charismatic Controversy (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015), and The Public Prayer Station: Taking Healing Prayer to the Streets and Evangelizing the Nones (Emeth Press, 2018). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He continues in his healing, teaching and writing ministry and is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations. Facebook

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