Sunday, March 9, 2014

Guilt By Association - False Prophets

Scripture contains several tests for prophets in passages such as Deuteronomy 13 and 18, and Jeremiah 14. The people were to evaluate the prophecy for accuracy (did it come true?) and fidelity (was he directing them to false gods?), as well as the character of the prophet (would he speak presumptuously in God's name, while contemptuously disregarding previous revelation?). Any prophet who failed these tests was to be rejected, the evil purged from their midst.

As Michael Beasley points out, the part that is easy to miss is that these tests were for the people every bit as much as for the prophet, if not more so. "For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 13:3b). Will they love God enough to purge the evil and follow Him wholeheartedly, or will they despise God and allow the false prophet to remain and lead people astray?

"In the end, fallible prophecy relabels false prophecy under the pretense of a genuine gift. By redefining prophecy as that which includes both truth and error, one must wonder how any of this communicates the supremacy of Christ and the New Covenant in His blood. In all of this, a very crucial message begins to emerge: those who declare themselves to be a prophet of God are making an extremely serious claim. Not only was it important that such a claimant be evaluated via God's prescribed tests, but the congregation was to be tested by means of their action or inaction. In the case of their inaction, they were counted as accomplices of the false prophets, worthy of the anathema of God."
From The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism by Michael Beasley, Kindle location 653

The test is no less relevant for us today. There is no shortage of false prophets today, people claiming "thus saith the Lord" when the Lord most definitely hath not saith. Do we love God enough to purge them from our midst (via excommunication and warning the flock), or do we allow their false prophecy to metastasize and lead people astray?

Make no mistake - if we do nothing and let them stay, we invite the judgment due to them onto our own heads. God has made it clear that He enforces guilt by association. If we choose to allow the continued presence and influence of those God says to remove and silence, we become accomplices and share in their wickedness. But if we love God, we will purge false prophets from the church.

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