Years ago I would happily have owned the labels ‘evangelical’
and ‘charismatic’ but these days I’m more suspicious and when asked if I
identify myself as either generally want to squirm out of the implied
constriction. Nevertheless I continue to believe that God speaks today; I still
believe in prophecy (in the charismatic sense of God speaking to/through me
Now I’ve have heard some very bizarre things claimed as
prophecy so I hope I’m not being totally naïve, but I can also think of times
when people have shared thoughts and ideas which seem to have something of God
about them (sometimes inexplicably so).
It seems to me that a healthy understanding of prophecy is
reliant on four things:
- Total depravity: we need to recognise that we are fallen
humanity and that every aspect of our being is affected including our reason,
our intuition, our emotions and our sense of hearing from God. If nothing else this ensures modesty on our part.
- Incarnation: God speaks through humanity, any impression I
have that God is speaking to me is therefore filtered and affected by my
humanity and any ‘word’ spoken by someone else is similarly incarnated, it is
- Pneumatology: the Spirit of God continues to sustain us, sanctify
us and draw us into kononia with the Father through the Son. This is a dynamic
process in which the Spirit continues to reveal God to us in thought, word,
image and imagination. We may only perceive in part but the Spirit continues to stir
us towards a God purposed future.
- Church: it is as we meet together in the name of Jesus that
we discern what Christ, via the Spirit is saying to us. Gathering to discern
the mind of Christ is a particular Baptist distinctive but it is an important
component in the weighing of what people say and in giving voice to those on
the margins who may be the ones who are truly prophetic. Meeting in the name of
Jesus suggests gathering round Scripture, expecting that it will shape our
thoughts and actions and that God will be present as the Word of God is
Anyway, off to BU Council tomorrow, let’s hope the
deliberations of Council have something prophetic about them.