Sunday, December 26

Help Wanted: Prophets

There is a popular misunderstanding about the role of the prophet in society. People often think that the job of a prophet was to predict the future, far or near. However, this was not the chief role of the prophet.

A prophet was an independent individual who was a critic of current events. A prophet campaigned for social and cultural reform. He explained how God was working his will in the world and what might come to pass (especially in the near term) if God's message was not heeded.

Bloggers can be viewed as today's secular prophets. For they do indeed provide instant, insistent, and vibrant commentary, complaints and explanations for current events and those in the political arena. Many campaign against injustice and political and cultural reform. Christian bloggers (myself included) by and large do not connect our political commentary with our theological musings in the larger sense. That is to say, we may comment on the theological implications of our support (or lack of it) for policy but we don't comment on current events as evidence of God's hand in the world. This, by and large, is part of our Enlightenment heritage, which provides clearer separation of the religious from the secular than might be wise. We don't interpret actions in the world as motivated by, or requiring interpretation of, the will of the Lord in the world. Of course, one of the main obstacles for today's prophet is the Enlightenment-influenced audience which will greet with much skepticism any explanation of the Lord's will for historical or natural events. Telling Floridians that three hurricanes struck their coast because we are all sinners and straying from the path God has set for us will perhaps rightfully be ignored.

But we have a lot of large-scale events which beg for interpretation in the prophetic manner. We have
  • The Reformation and the shattering of the Church
  • The Industrial and Information Age revolutions
  • Two World Wars
  • The Holocaust and other instances of genocide
  • 9/11 and the current conflict with Islam
  • The four elections of this season, Afghan, US, Ukraine, and (coming up) in Iraq.
  • The failure of Marxism
What part do these events (and others not mentioned) play in the fulfillment of the new covenant? How do they fit into God's plan for our world? What is needed is a prophet to come out and tell us all what this means.