Friday, November 07, 2014

Useful Prophets (2)

The Bible describes the “men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). Every society needs prophets who understand the times and know what God’s people should do. Most of the time this gift has been lacking from the church.

When Rome fell, Christians were shocked. The Roman Empire had been around for 500 years, so they assume that it would be around forever. Christians believed that it was part of God’s plan for expanding his Kingdom. They were so used to it being there, that they could not imagine life without it. Worse still, church structures had aligned with imperial power structures, so Christians found it hard to cope without the order of the empire.

No prophets prepared Christians for the collapse of Rome. They had not warned Christians how to live in a world without an empire, so they struggled to cope, and enormous opportunity was lost. It took the church a 1000 years to regain the ground that was lost.

Murray Rothbard observed ruefully after 1991 that nobody in the libertarian movement had ever sat down and developed a transition program for the Soviet Union, on the assumption that Soviet communism would collapse and need to transition to a free market economy. No one saw the need, so the Russian economy was taken over by the oligarchs.

In the same way, Christian prophets did not see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, so they did not teach Russian Christians how to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, American Christians tried to plant an inappropriate megachurch model in the foreign soil of Russia, so political and economic powers remained strong and the church remains weak and irrelevant.

We have the same problem in the modern world. Democratic political power and the nation state have dominated life in the West that we find it hard to imagine life without them. However, they are not part of God’s plan of salvation, so they will not last forever. When the western political system collapses, will Christians be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, or will we be stunned and confused like the Christians in the Roman Empire. Unless the quality of our prophetic ministry improves, we will be stuck in the headlights of disaster, just like them.

We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. Christians today think entirely in categories supplied by the world system. (In the US, we have only two kinds of thought: Democrat thought and Republican thought.) Rather than using but not abusing the things of the world, they have been captured by every "ism" that's in play, so no one sees any possibilities other than a "Christian" version of some worldly thing or other. We have a great many "spiritual" people whose minds have not been renewed.

Ron McK said...

You are right. I see Christians rejoicing in the Republican victory in the mid-term elections, as if it has somehow brought the Kingdom of God closer. Really!!

Lucius said...

Isn't it true that the prophets that are being heard are the ones who are saying the things everyone expects to hear and want to hear? It is easy to be a "prophet" when people are cheering you on.

But it is a lot more difficult to be a prophet when the message is something that nobody wants to hear.

I think the message so many Christians need to hear is to re-learn Christianity itself. To throw away everything we think we Christians have achieved is the only thing that will prepare us for adversity. As long as we allow ourselves to believe that Christianity is expressed by having church buildings, mega-churches, radio and TV broadcasts... As long as we believe that these things embody Christianity, we will be utterly unprepared for even the slightest adversity.