Truth or Consequences |

TBC Staff

We berate politicians when they make promises they choose not to keep.  Remember "Read my lips?" But when someone, with no hesitation, announces the supposed very words of God which fail totally, we don't make a murmur or bat an eye. Isn't this an integrity problem? Moreover, don't you suppose that the Holy One who never lies or changes, has some problems with all the inaccurate words He supposedly uttered?  Do we really think that God, in the wideness of His mercy, simply sees these prophets as immature trainees? Can we really believe that God is absolutely thrilled that some of His mouthpieces have actually arrived at 30% accuracy? This assumes that God's conception of truth is, after all, quite flexible and more akin to a postmodern understanding of truth.

Wayne Grudem, a renowned professor of theology and Vineyard church member, has come to the rescue of those who prophesy falsely. In his book, THE GIFT OF PROPHESY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND TODAY, he has offered a theory about NT prophecy that seems to get those "missing it" in prophecy off the hook. Grudem is biblically and theologically trained and his writings reflect that. His proposal is that NT prophecy was of a lower grade than OT prophecy. People spoke what they thought God was telling them. The prophecy could contain elements truly from God and other elements that were not.  He wrote his book to put forward the above understanding. 

His arguments hinge on his understanding of one Greek word, diakrino. The context is I Cor, 14:29, "Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge." (NKJV) The word "judge" is the Greek word diakrino. Grudem admits that this word can have a wide range of meaning but he chooses a minor meaning of the word which means to "sift out." He concludes that the "others" of this verse are not the other prophets but the whole congregation. He suggests that the words spoken in prophecy are to be sifted so that what is "of God" can be distinguished from that which is "not of God." It is not the prophet himself who is judged but only the words spoken by the prophet.  In this way no one has to be concerned with gaining the title of false prophet. Grudem admits that Paul in I Cor. 12:10 uses diakrino to distinguish between "spirits" not as sifting out but judging what in totality is from God. He admits that in Matt:7:15-20 Jesus warns of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing and I John:4:1-6 warns about false prophets and gives a test for determining who is a false prophet…But then he simply announces that we must not take this meaning into the first Corinthian 14 passage but we must see it here as a sifting of the elements of prophecy, not judging true or false prophets. He states it this way:

"The whole congregation would listen and evaluate what was said by the prophet, forming opinions about it and some would perhaps discuss it publicly. Each prophesy might have both true and false elements in it and some would perhaps discuss it publicly.  Each prophesy might have both true and false elements in it, and those would be sifted and evaluated for what they were." (page 78)

In our market driven spiritual economy, where truth too often is “what seems to work,” fill pews, sells books, often enhancing anointed celebrities, if you dare to blow the whistle of biblical integrity you will not win any popularity contests. Paul seems to have been one of those peace-breaking censorious "whistle blowing" heresy hunters. Why he even went so far as to pronounce the anathema on those who had a different view of circumcision. But, he wasn't building an empire or selling a book. He was determined that if pleasing God meant being discredited by man (the Corinthian church) he would gladly bear that burden.