Saturday, July 08, 2006

backward prattle

Some frustrating nonsense:

“A prophet is meant to be a nuisance, asking such questions precisely when we think we have so ordered our Church, community, society or relationships as not to exclude.” So wrote Rowan Williams, eight years ago.

In contrast, the Archbishop of Canterbury has just revealed his master plan for the unity of the Anglican Communion, which - on a worst-case-scenario read - looks to be designed to exclude nuisances from the Church.

The fear that many have goes something like this: sick and tired of the conflict generated by those who recognise gay relationships as having the potential to reflect the glory of God, he is proposing a Church where all controversial theology would have to be cleared with everybody else. This would be a Church where prophecy was impossible. It wouldn’t be a biblical Church: it would be a stagnant pond.

As Dr Williams once said, biblical prophecy focuses on the prophet’s ability to see things that others don’t. The prophet points to an injustice that the community doesn’t recognise, or won’t admit to itself. And, as the prophet speaks of a community’s blindness, it sees him or her as a heretic and a troublemaker.

Read more here. There you may follow the link to the original. (Wasn't working for me.)

Okay. We, as Anglicans, value Scripture and Tradition, right? I mean, whatever else we may value (reason, experience, etc.), we can all agree that we value and claim to be guided by Scripture and Tradition. Okay. Why should we think that a tiny (rich, white) segment of the Church gets to announce to the rest of the Church what is prophetic and what isn't? When did the Church ever operate that way? What basis or precedent is there for thinking that ECUSA gets to vet prophecy for the rest of the Communion? ECUSA drones on maddeningly about "listening processes" and what not, but absolutely refuses to listen to anyone else on the subject of ECUSA's proclamations' status as prophetic or not. "We ourselves decree it; we believe it; that settles it (for everyone)."

Furthermore, where did this ludicrous notion of prophecy come from? Show me a prophet in the Bible that did ANYTHING but call Israel back to obedience to the will of God as he had revealed it in Scripture. When did a prophet ever assert some new mandate or new permission, contrary to what the community had received as God's law, and based on nothing but some private revelation?

3 comments:

Seppuku Kid said...
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Seppuku Kid said...

WB,
Ezekiel 20:25-26: Ezekiel says that God gave Israel "bad laws" regarding the sacrifice of firstborn children (cf. Ezekiel 16:20-21). He is presumably referring to Exodus 22:29, which would later be "explained" by Exodus 34:20, where the firstborn is redeemed.
Here rather than calling the children of Israel back to Scripture, he says that Scripture is wrong and that God had deliberately tricked the Israelites with "bad laws."
I'm not saying that the current ECUSA situation is comparable, but I couldn't resist a challenge involving Hebrew prophets.
SK

father thorpus said...

The whole thing with prophets is wrong-headed. Prophets in both the Old and New Testament didn't just critique; nor did they only call people back to God. In fact, the content of their messages was never fixed. Sometimes they critqued, being a 'nuisance', sometimes they called back, sometimes they worked miracles, sometimes they encouraged people. It all depended not on what the prophet wanted, but on what God wanted to say. God Himself controls the content of a true prophet's message. Any prophet who thinks to fix the content of his/her message ahead of time is defined as a false prophet. The story of Balaam is a prime example. True prophets speak what God tells them to and nothing more or less.

So then the question becomes, how do we know true prophets? How do we know whether this really is the word of God? The scripture gives us several ways: compare the message to scripture, watch the miraculous sign, watch for true predictions, test the spirits, etc.

Just reading through the books of the prophets should show us that prophets of God don't always critique culture or the church -- some did, some didn't; some went to Israel, some to Judah, some to other ethnic groups. This wrong-headed concept of prophecy comes from bad biblical scholarship driven by a liberation theology agenda.