Sunday, February 04, 2007

Prophetic Voices


I've finally got around to reading God's Politics by Jim Wallis. I must admit, attempting to read any book thicker than my bible sends a shiver down my spine but GP undisputably falls in that 'must-read' category. So far (about 1/4 of the way in) I'm finding it very dynamic indeed. Wallis' writing style is a bit more preachy than I expected but I suppose that's quite acceptable from someone who seems to have deliberately adopted a 'prophetic' tone of voice. And it's that 'prophetic' voice that I want to muse on for a few minutes...
For a considerable proportion of my Christian life I've been in circles where prophecy has a very specific meaning which I would define as this: Prophecy (noun) spoken word uttered by an individual round about 11am on a Sunday morning during a time of worship. O.K. that's being deliberately facetious but it really is an observation based on my (not inconsiderable) experience of the charismatic church. Contrast that then with Collins' understanding of what prophecy is: "Prophecy is not future telling, but articulating moral truth. The prophets diagnose the present and point the way to a just solution." Elsewhere he says, "The loss of religion's prophetic vocation is terribly dangerous for any society. Who will uphold the dignity of economic and political outcasts? Who will question the self-righteousness of nations and their leaders? Who will question the recourse to violence and rush to wars, long before any last resort has been unequivically proven? Who will not allow God's name to be used to simply justify ourselves, instead of calling us to acountability?"
Prompted by Jim Wallis, I think I need to dust off some of those pages towards the end of the Old Testament and take a fresh look at them. Can I discover what it really means to be prophetic? Can I find what Marcus Borg would call the "God-intoxicated voice of protest"?

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3 comments:

Gavin White said...

I too am reading God's Politics at the moment. It's quite challenging and gives some good topics for discussion. I love the truth of Luke 24:19: 'About Jesus.....He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people' - I totally believe in the importance of prophecy and our mandate and calling as the church to be a prophetic people. This does include prophecy during times of corporate worship, this is important.....but it is much more than this as you say. Our actions and words should be prophetic. Our lives should speak and show something different. Whether that be standing up for justice and righteousness, remembering the poor, healing the sick or speaking into political situations...the prophetic word and deeds of God should go our from the Church like a mighty trumpet blast into the world!

Jez said...

Two brilliant examples of living a prophetic life that I learnt yesterday from Tony Ling...

Able (Gen 4), called a prophet by Jesus because of his lifestyle and worship that was different to that of his brother Cain. The interesting thing about Able is that he didn't actually say a word!

And secondly, John The Baptist (John 1:36), who simply pointed towards Jesus.

Matt Wilson said...

Thanks for the comments chaps.
Like the photograph shows Jesus is our ultimate prophetic example as you say Gav. Jez, prompted by your comment re Abel I just re-read Luke 11 (and Matt 23) where the reference to Abel is made - now that's a "God-intoxicated voice of protest" if there ever was one!
Stay cool...
M ;-)