The Laws of the Prophets
In my early years, I was enamored with the idea of prophecy. I watched an HBO documentary about Nostradamus more than a dozen times as a child. I was raised in a religious tradition that not only believed in, but also encouraged, seeking spiritual gifts – especially the more dramatic ones. Our faith believed in physical healing, speaking in tongues, and the gift of prophecy. Without getting into the theologies or realities involving any of these, I became especially interested in those who claimed prophetic abilities.
Prophets have been a regular topic of conversation on The Leftovers lately. Holy Wayne is especially mentionable, because he seems to have a genuine connection to some sort of transcendence – at least at this point. I am fascinated by this character, because I followed several men who claimed similar powers (or giftings as they called them), while in my early 20s. These men regularly referred to themselves as prophets and were billed as such on the announcements for their meetings. I should clarify; these were not preachers who just liked the Biblical term “prophet.” These were men (and a few women) who claimed to have the power to predict the future – both in world events and your personal life.
During my time of attending their meetings, I saw lots of things that were clearly the tricks of charlatans. And I saw several things that were – well, I don’t know. They sure seemed real. I am a person of faith. I believe in a true and living God. More specifically, I am a Christian who embraces the creeds of that faith. I choose not to argue with fellow believers on LOTS of varying theologies, holding fast to the idea that Jesus put forth – whoever is not against you is for you. I have faith that there is more in this life than my eyes can see. I believe that prophets have existed in the past and therefore COULD exist in the present.
But I will also be honest. I get nervous when people of our modern age claim to be prophets. Holy Wayne, are you listening? Some of my nervousness comes from my experiences with men, who claimed to be prophets, then spoke things into my life with great confidence, and always had an explanation when they turned out to be wrong. These men often used fear as a tactic against having their words questioned. Honestly, they didn’t seem a lot like Holy Wayne on The Leftovers. He seems pretty nice.
What wasn’t nice about the men I followed was that they often used their “giftings” to control people. It’s hard for me to believe that God is truly working through people who choose to do that. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have this whole faith journey figured out. I could be wrong about LOTS of things. There are a few things that I KNOW. And those things comfort me and have given me an incredible life. There are universes of things that I’ll never know – and I’m okay with that. Here’s one of those few things I do know. Whatever your gifting, whatever your calling, whatever your ability, if you’re using it to cause pain or confusion in people instead of helping them – you shouldn’t claim to speak for God. He’s not really into that.