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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

On the Prophetic Voice

I have just returned from two engaging weeks with a couple of DMin cohorts where we debated questions of mission, ministry, and congregations...thanks to all the folks who make those times fun (and don't forget to turn it your papers!! LOL)

One of the more interesting questions we pursued was the question of how to speak prophetically in a world that does not want to hear it? Most people of all kinds, we imagined, do not want to hear that they are lazy, bigoted, slovenly, lacking in the essential characteristics of generosity, faithfulness, and compassion...so, as pastors and preachers, most of us don't tell. "Don't ask, Don't tell" relates to just more than gays in the military, and may be an even bigger problem in the relationship between a preacher and his or her parishioners. In fact, as one of my students suggested, for some people it would be easier to have a gay preacher than one who told them that they are greedy and don't give enough to God and God's mission through the church. So we concluded--rightly or wrongly--that preachers don't ask about people's sins and people don't tell preachers about them...and Jeremiah weeps again.

This lack of honesty, this seeming lack of prophecy about the "world as it really is" does not stem from misguided theology as much as it stems from compassionate impulses and the preacher's own indemnity to sin. As such, my advice to people who listen to preachers and preachers who seek to preach is that until you hear a prophetic word prepare to be disappointed. Disappointed that the world doesn't change, disappointed that no one seems to care, disappointed at the seemingly triviality of "it" all...but what do you expect? If the prophet's right (whomever he or she is) than something would have to change...and that something? It'd probably be us.

May your tables be full and your conversations be true.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Do you believe there are modern day prophets? If so,would anyone listen? How does one distinquish between a prophet and a fanatic? This world is bombarded with information overload in so many media choices, as well as differences in Christian interpretations. There are so many weird things available to hear & see, in all the media choices one has. Does a prophet have to be in the pulpit? How do we as Christians discern & recognize a true prophet?
One would hope that by studying God's Word & receiving the Holy Spirit's guidance one would be able to discern...but there are many gifts...the gift of dicernment doesn't necessarily belong to all believers...Or does it?

Scott Frederickson said...

As my friend above notes, perhaps the most difficult part of prophecy is its reception. There are a lot of voices out there, but which ones call us to believe in God, follow Jesus, trust in the Spirit? Yes...it is ALL intepretation (those who think there is something other than interpretation fool themselves)...so we receive what changes us (the point of prophecy)...if a left-wing demagogue doesn't change you...all right, how about a right-wing one? If neither fit the bill...perhaps you are your own best prophet...and we need to challenge ourselves with the life-changing and transformative Word of God...so yeah, not only is discernment a gift for us all (in community probably, rarely, if ever in isolation), but prophecy probably is too. Thanks for reading.
Scott

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Scott, for your additional thoughts on the Prophetic Voice...very enlightening.

You challenge one to really think and search one's faith. Thank You.

A faithful reader.