Rick Joyner: The Day The World Changed

A few days ago I quoted Rick Joyner about a Japan earthquake prophecy, based on a YouTube video which I also linked to.

I have now discovered some rather similar material from Rick Joyner in text form (so much easier to quote!), in a Special Bulletin The Day The World Changed. Here are some extracts:

It was twenty-two years ago that I first heard Bob Jones talk about a major earthquake that would be coming to Japan. He said that it would set off cataclysmic events. Thousands have heard Bob predict quakes and other natural events with astonishing accuracy. One of the most dramatic was the last San Francisco quake. …

When Bob walked into the service last Sunday after the recent 9.0 quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, I immediately asked him if this was the one. I’ve never seen such concern in Bob’s face as he answered, “You know what this means.”

What Does It Mean?

It marks a demarcation point after which great change will come to the whole world, including an ultimate meltdown of the economy. It will also be followed by a major quake on the West Coast of the United States. …

This may truly be the greatest opportunity we [Christians] have ever had. …

The coming economic meltdown will be the removal of everything that is not built on the kingdom principles that cannot be shaken. …

Now is the time to do whatever it takes to get in the will of the Lord. There will be an increasingly high price to pay for those who are not. There will be increasing peace and joy for those who are.

There is a lot more of this, and especially about how Christians should respond. Actually, just have some people have suggested that it didn’t need a prophet to predict an earthquake in earthquake-prone Japan, it doesn’t a prophet to predict a coming economic meltdown. So, whatever we think of the status of Jones’ and Joyner’s words as actual predictive prophecy, Joyner’s advice for us as Christians is good and timely.

Mark Stibbe prophesies earthquakes in Britain

Many people have come here to read my posts about David Wilkerson’s and Bob Jones and Rick Joyner’s prophecies of earthquakes in Japan and the USA. See also my more general post about prophecy. But these words from God may have seemed rather remote, especially to my British readers. For one thing, the earthquakes they prophesied are in known earthquake zones, and so sceptics can quite reasonably say that these prophecies were bound to be fulfilled – especially as no dates were given. For another, the prophets are Americans and from Pentecostal and charismatic churches which some might reject as on the lunatic fringe.

So it might come as a shock to see what Mark Stibbe has been prophesying. Rev Dr Stibbe is a Church of England minister and was until recently Vicar of St Andrew’s, Chorleywood, just outside London on the north west. In 2008 he left to start The Father’s House Trust, “a Christian charity … with a dream to bring an end to the global pandemic of fatherlessness.” Just now I came across a post at The Father’s House Blog from January this year, THE TRUTH WILL OUT! A Prophetic Word for 2011. In this Stibbe has an unexpected and shocking message for this country:

We are living in a very critical time in the UK – a time of great unrest and profound anxiety. This seems likely to increase in 2011 as Britain is gripped by storms, floods, water shortages, strikes, power cuts, unemployment and even unusual natural phenomena such as earthquakes.

Christchurch cathedral after the earthquakeEarthquakes in Britain? Surely not! Surely in our tame and civilised country we are immune from natural disasters, beyond the occasional snow or flood! No, God seems to be telling us. This year we have already seen shocking pictures of that most English of cities outside these islands, Christchurch in New Zealand, devastated by an earthquake. It wasn’t even a very powerful quake, only slightly stronger than the 1931 Dogger Bank earthquake in the North Sea. If a similar earthquake strikes a British city, the destruction could be even worse than in Christchurch. So we British certainly shouldn’t be complacent.

Of course Stibbe’s prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, and so his credentials as a prophet are still being tested. But we mustn’t forget that his words about possible earthquakes are only a small part of his overall message. He continues:

As everything is shaken around us, there will be a real longing for anchors that connect people with a deeper and more solid reality. The deepest and most lasting reality of all is the Father’s love and the Bible is our Father’s book; it is the only book that reveals his relentless love.

When natural things are shaken, people do indeed turn towards the “kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Hebrews 12:28) that we as Christians proclaim. This is a great opportunity for the church, and one which we should not miss.

Why the fascination with prophecy?

Why is it that whenever I write on this blog anything about prophecy I attract far more readers than for anything else I write about? My post David Wilkerson prophecy: earthquakes in Japan and USA has been read over 1600 times in four days. The follow-up Rick Joyner on another Japan earthquake prophecy has been read over 800 times in 48 hours. By contrast, in the last week only one of my other posts, Why I am ignoring Japan, has been read as much as 100 times. So why do my mainly Christian readers have this fascination with prophecy?

For the convenience of those readers, I have set up a new category for this blog, Prophecy, currently containing the 22 most relevant posts over the last five years.

I think the underlying reason must be that Christian people are longing to find some significance in current events, especially in the turbulent times we seem to be in. These times are in fact probably no more turbulent than any others: what is new is only that turbulence from anywhere in the world is reported to us on a minute by minute basis on TV and the Internet. But what matters is the public perception that our times are unusually turbulent.

When we see natural or man-made disasters, none of us want to think that people have died for nothing. When wicked people seem to get their way, we don’t want them to go unpunished. And when we hear reports that God has given to his prophets advance warning of these events, we are at least reassured that he is in control and has not been caught unprepared. This much is certainly one of the proper purposes of prophecy.

The problem comes when we take this one step further. Somehow it is not enough for us that God is in control and will bring about his purposes at some time in the future. We long for God to intervene to put things right, and to do so immediately, on our timescales, not on his in which “a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). We expect him to take the same kind of action that the UN forces are currently taking in Libya, only more quickly and more effectively. If we had the chance to play God, we might have struck Gaddafi down with a thunderbolt and driven all his forces into the sea like the Gadarene swine. But that is not God’s way of working.

The issues get even more confused when we try to pin on to current events some kind of eschatological significance. We tend to assume that if God has foretold some event through his prophets it must be a sign of the imminent end of the world as we know it. We realise that only at the return of Jesus will all the wrongs in this world be put right. And we long for his appearing, as indeed we should do (2 Timothy 4:8).

The problem here is that, most likely, current events are not at all signs of an imminent end. This is the message of the passage from Matthew 24 which I quoted in my post on the David Wilkerson prophecy. History is littered with false prophecies that the end is nigh, just as Jesus predicted in that same chapter. Many of us will remember how 30 to 40 years ago Christian authors like Hal Lindsey predicted that the Cold War would lead to Armageddon and the return of Jesus. Today these “prophecies” look ridiculous. And very likely any predictions of eschatological significance to now current events will look just as ridiculous In another 30 to 40 years.

All this is not at all to discount prophecy today. God does seem to be giving to his prophets real advance warning of many of the major events shaking our world, literally and metaphorically. The purpose of these prophecies is not to satisfy our curiosity about the future. Part of it is indeed to reassure us that God is in control. But surely their main purpose is to warn us of how we need to repent, to change our behaviour, so that we are not overtaken by unexpected disaster.

When we read prophecies about earthquakes, and even ones about financial collapse, how often do we focus on dates and places and skip over the lessons on how God would have us respond? I confess to being guilty of this in my recent posts on prophecy, as I quoted only the predictions and not the lessons – although in fact the lessons were the larger parts of what Wilkerson wrote and Joyner said. But it is most unwise to ignore God’s warnings, as if we do we too might find ourselves victims of disasters which God allows to happen in this world.

Rick Joyner on another Japan earthquake prophecy

The well-known American charismatic leader Rick Joyner has joined me in publishing material on prophecies about major earthquakes in Japan and the USA. The prophecy I discussed was David Wilkerson’s prophecy from 1973. Joyner, however, presents a somewhat similar but more recent prophecy, from the late 1980s, given through Bob Jones. He does this in a YouTube video Special Bulletin: Japanese Earthquake, A Prophetic Demarcation in Time, Part 1.

Although this 29 minute video is divided into two sections by a “commercial break” promoting Joyner’s ministry, it is indeed only Part 1 of a series, with “Part 2 Coming Next Week”. Long term readers of this blog will remember that this is the same Rick Joyner who was involved with the restoration of Todd Bentley in 2009.

Concerning the Bob Jones prophecy, which was shared openly in the 1980s, Joyner now says:

The Japanese earthquake was something we were told over 22 years ago would begin the worldwide economic meltdown.

Now what does that mean? We need to understand what it means. See, it does not mean the end of the world. It does not mean the end of hope. It doesn’t mean the end of America. But we need to understand these times we’re in. To me this was a clear marker.

There was also other things attached to this prophecy about … There was a major earthquake coming to the west coast of the United States, and that it would not come until after the Japanese earthquake, the major Japanese earthquake that was seen. Now that doesn’t mean it was imminent to hit our west coast … (starting at 2:42)

There is a lot more of this video, mostly about the significance of these events and how people should respond to the prophecy.

Most of this I can endorse as good teaching, but I would want to be somewhat sceptical about the details especially in terms of predictions of the future. Also I would not count on Joyner’s political or economic advice as the best. As I concluded my post about the David Wilkerson prophecy,

These things are not so much signs of the end as warnings that Christian believers should stand firm, and that those who are not should listen to the gospel of the kingdom and start to follow Jesus.

David Wilkerson prophecy: earthquakes in Japan and USA

I know I said I was ignoring Japan, but that was always meant to be hyperbole. I don’t want to get carried away into interpreting events there as more significant than they are. But I was fascinated to read the following, written by David Wilkerson in 1974, and quoted at The Watchman’s Cry Forum in December 2010 – so well before the recent earthquake in Japan (emphasis added by the forum poster, who is probably also responsible for the grammatical oddities):

Earthquakes coming to United States

The United States is going to experience in the not-too-distant future the most tragic earthquakes in its history. One day soon this nation will be reeling under the impact of the biggest news story of modern times. It will be coverage of the biggest most disastrous earthquake in history.

It will cause widespread panic and fear, Without a doubt, it will become one of the most completely reported earthquake ever. Television networks will suspend all programming and carry all day coverage.

Another earthquake , possibly in Japan may precede the one that I see coming here. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about this forthcoming massive earthquake in our continent.

I am not at all convinced that this earthquake will take place in California. In fact, I believe it is going to take place where it is least expected. This terrible earthquake may happen in an area that not known as an earthquake belt. It will be so high on the Richter scale that it will trigger two other major earthquakes.

This is from Chapter 2 of David Wilkerson’s 1974 book The Vision. This is the same David Wilkerson who is best known for his 1963 book The Cross and the Switchblade. He later founded Times Square Church in New York City. I heard him speak in London in 2003. Although nearly 80, he continues to publish daily devotions (using Blogger software, but this is not a blog as comments are not allowed), but has not mentioned Japan recently.

Wikipedia offers a summary of Wilkerson’s prophecies as published in The Vision and elsewhere. Some parts of this have clearly already been fulfilled. These prophecies include the following from March 2009, published among Wilkerson’s daily devotions:


For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. …

How should we react to such prophecies? In the past on this blog I have discussed modern day prophecies by Smith Wigglesworth and Sharon Stone. On my understanding, the gift of prophecy today is not primarily about predicting future events. However, I believe that on occasions God does reveal the future to his people, not to satisfy their curiosity, but as warnings and to demonstrate that he is in control of events.

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

Amos 3:7 (NIV 2011)

Such modern prophecies should not be considered infallible. The prophets, however respected they may be as church leaders, are fallible human beings. Their utterances are not inspired Holy Scripture, not on the same level as the writings of the Old Testament prophetic authors – who were only a few of the many prophets operating in their time.

But when specific prophecies are made and come true, that tends to confirm the prophet and give greater credibility to his or her other prophecies. So it would be right for the people of the USA to take heed of Wilkerson’s warnings for his home country: a massive earthquake following the one in Japan, and major rioting in New York and elsewhere.

These prophecies should be taken as conditional, if the nation does not repent, as was Jonah’s biblical prophecy of the overthrow of one of the greatest cities of his world (Jonah 3:4). Also we don’t know the time scales involved: if the Japan earthquake was nearly 40 years after the prophecy, the US one may be even further in the future. It is wise to be ready, but not to panic. Wilkerson’s 2009 advice is good:

I will say to my soul: No need to run…no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

We should also avoid giving these events too much significance. They do not mean that Jesus is about to come again. He clearly warned:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains. … 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:6-8, 12-14 (NIV 2011)

These things are not so much signs of the end as warnings that Christian believers should stand firm, and that those who are not should listen to the gospel of the kingdom and start to follow Jesus.

A Sermon on Jeremiah 4

Things have been quiet on this blog recently for several reasons. One is that my wife and I are entertaining a visitor from Italy. Another is that yesterday I had a rare opportunity to preach at my home church, to the traditional evening service with a small congregation of mostly older people.

The passage I was given to preach on was Jeremiah 4:5-31 – quite a challenge for any preacher, I would think. I decided not to mention the election at all as I couldn’t find an easy way to fit it in with this passage. Indeed it was difficult to bring any direct application, but I did bring a few lessons about how prophecy worked and still works now.

Some of the bloggers I read regularly often post their sermons on their blogs. And usually I don’t read those sermons. So I am not really expecting my readers here to do so. But then a few of you might want to read it. Also there might be friends of mine who missed it, and this is a convenient way to let them see what I had to say. So I am posting it here, following the “more” marker (which I don’t often use) for those of you reading the blog front page. I made one small edit to the notes to disguise the name of a congregation member. “Mones” is our vicar who also led the service.

Continue reading

Archbishop Rowan: a prophet after the event

There is irony in the way that Ruth Gledhill praises Archbishop Rowan Williams:

Repent, or be doomed, is the Jeremiah-style message of the Archbishop of Canterbury over our financial excesses. … Our Archbishop is at last fulfilling his prophetic potential.

But is this truly prophetic? Rowan may look the part of the Old Testament prophet, but is he really speaking from God? Ruth also reports:

We were ‘intimidated by expertise’, Dr Rowan Williams said when asked by Jeremy Paxman [in a BBC interview] why the Church of England had not spoken out earlier on how finance appeared to be operating, and what it seemed to be generating in terms of wealth rather than community.

But the Old Testament prophets were never intimidated by anything. This is not a “Jeremiah-style message”, but only the pale echo of one. The Archbishop has at last found the courage to speak out a year after the events of last autumn. But, as I reported last October, the true prophets were fearlessly proclaiming what God had to say about those events before they even happened. Prediction is not the essence of true prophecy, but nor is comment after the event.

As Ruth writes in her Times Online article,

Dr Rowan Williams … has consistently taken a left-of-centre line on economic issues …

Indeed. His new criticisms of our financial excesses are not so much prophetic as another example of the Church of England timidly following trendy politicians. Now I agree that in this case those politicians and Rowan are right in most of their criticisms. But that is not because God has given me a prophetic message about it, but because my God-given sense of justice confirms it to me.

If the Archbishop cannot find any truly prophetic messages for the country about political and financial matters, he should stick to speaking about the Christian faith and the church.

Interpretation of Tongues

I just discovered that I posted a lot about speaking in tongues in May last year, but not since. However, I have continued to practice it and to reflect about it. For example, last November I led a study on interpretation of tongues for my home group. Here are my notes, slightly edited. I don’t think there is anything new here, but this may be helpful for any of my readers who are not already familiar with this:


Peter Kirk, 20th November 2008

5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. Those who prophesy are greater than those who speak in tongues, unless they interpret, so that the church may be edified.

6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

13 For this reason those who speak in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. (1 Corinthians 14:5-15, TNIV)

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-or at the most three-should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church; let them speak to themselves and to God. (1 Corinthians 14:26-28, TNIV)

Should all tongues be interpreted?

Paul clearly writes in this passage that messages given in tongues in public meetings of the church should be interpreted. But he does seem to distinguish this from private prayer in tongues, which does not require public interpretation. Nevertheless 1 Corinthians 14:13 seems to suggest that one should pray for understanding of one’s own tongue, without restricting this to public meetings. In 14:15 there is an apparent reference to singing in tongues, in worship to God, implying that this too should be interpreted at least for the sake of outsiders.

Who interprets?

According to 1 Corinthians 14:5,13, the one who speaks in tongues should interpret the message. But 14:27,28 and 12:10 suggest that someone else should interpret. I suppose this means that someone should not speak out loud in tongues in church unless they are confident that either they or someone else will be able to bring an interpretation. It should be accepted as normal if the same person brings the tongue and the interpretation.

What does it mean to interpret a tongue?

A “tongue” is sometimes a human language not known to the speaker. In Acts 2:4,6 the apostles spoke in various languages which were understood in the normal way by people present. I have heard of modern examples of Christians being given words to speak in foreign languages which they don’t know, to preach the gospel or as words of knowledge etc.

Sometimes people recognise individual words of a message in tongues as in a language they know. [Our pastor] has recognised [words in a foreign language he knows] in the private prayer language of people at [my church]; I have recognised [ones in a foreign language I know]. But in these cases there has not been a complete message in [one of these languages]. Sometimes this may be chance resemblance, or maybe the Holy Spirit is using this deliberately to reveal the meaning of part of the prophetic message.

In other cases, as suggested by 1 Corinthians 13:1, a tongue may be an angelic language. Certainly it is often a language not understood by anyone present – but then no one would recognise all of the more than 6,000 living human languages, not to mention extinct ones. The gift of interpretation, as usually understood, is about giving the meaning of a message which one does not understand in the normal way, but only as the Spirit reveals the meaning.

As such this is very similar to prophecy. While I have not personally been given a clear interpretation of anyone else’s tongue, God has showed me the meaning of visions etc reported by others. I suppose that it is in a similar way that the meaning of a tongue is revealed to the interpreter. Any experiences to share?

Also the combination of a message in tongues and its interpretation is seen as equivalent to prophecy. Is there in fact a difference, for example in the typical content?

Note 1 Corinthians 14:22-25:

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (TNIV)

In the context the tongues here must be interpreted tongues. What does this mean in practice? This passage is rather obscure but I suppose means that uninterpreted tongues make unbelievers say we are out of our mind, but interpreted tongues will have the effect of prophecy, convicting of sin leading to repentance and faith.

The Coming Evangelical Collapse?

Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, makes interesting predictions of The Coming Evangelical Collapse (1) (2) (3). He denies they are prophecies, but to me they have a prophetic edge, not as infallible predictions but as a prophetic call to the church to take note of what is likely to happen in future, and to act accordingly. I have not read the large number of comments on these posts. Thanks to John Meunier for the links.

Michael starts part 1 as follows:

I believe that we are on the verge- within 10 years- of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity; a collapse that will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and that will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West. I believe this evangelical collapse will happen with astonishing statistical speed; that within two generations of where we are now evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its current occupants, leaving in its wake nothing that can revitalize evangelicals to their former “glory.”

But it seems to me that here Michael is really talking about the US scene. In the rest of the West the collapse he is predicting has already taken place, more gradually. Perhaps it already has also in less conservative parts of the USA. He seems to be suggesting that the evangelical church in the US Bible belt will soon become much more like it currently is here in the UK and elsewhere in traditionally Protestant northern Europe. Here we already have “a de-church culture where religion has meaning as history, not as a vital reality.”

From a global sociological perspective the continued high level of evangelical church attendance in parts of the USA is an anomaly in the century old trend towards the secularisation of the West. I believe that the church can buck this trend if it really relies on the power of God to do so. But if it retreats into conservatism without real substance, as seems true of so much US evangelicalism, it becomes a movement of reaction which will not outlast the current generation.

Michael suggests in part 2 that the beneficiaries of the collapse of traditional evangelicalism will be “the pragmatic, therapeutic, church growth oriented megachurches”, as well as “An evangelicalized Catholicism and Orthodoxy”. But I feel he is too negative about these megachurches. They may not preach “the Biblical Gospel” in the traditional way, but that does not imply that those who attend are not genuine Christians. Indeed “Core beliefs will become less and less normative and necessary in evangelicalism”, but salvation is not by “core beliefs” in doctrinal propositions, but by a living faith in and relationship with God through Jesus Christ. To the extent that megachurches do promote this (and some certainly do) I don’t think it is right to criticise them.

Michael also predicts that

A small portion of evangelicalism will continue down the path of theological re-construction and recovery. Whether they be post-evangelicals working for a reinvigoration of evangelicalism along the lines of historic “Mere Christianity,” or theologically assertive young reformed pastors looking toward a second reformation, a small, but active and vocal portion of evangelicalism will work hard to rescue the evangelical movement from its demise by way of theological renewal.

This is an attractive, innovative and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches. But I do believe many evangelical churches and schools will benefit from this segment of evangelicalism, and I believe it will contribute far beyond its size to the cause of world missions.

Again this reminds me of British evangelicalism, small and not always conservative but generally more active than the US variety and with a worldwide influence disproportionate to its numbers.

I am also encouraged by the prediction that

Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism.

But Michael is right that this strand, as well as others in evangelicalism, needs to put its house in order concerning leadership and avoiding heresy.

It is also interesting that he picks up the possibility of “a “rescue mission” from the world Christian community”. British evangelicalism has already benefited a great deal from input from African, Asian and Latin American Christian leaders. If the US church accepts this kind of mission it will also benefit greatly.

I must also agree with Michael’s last point in this part,

it is long past time for westerners to use their resources to strengthen work within a nation and not to just send Americans to the mission fields.

Indeed – and include Europeans here.

In part 3 Michael asks if all of this is a good or a bad thing. He writes that

there is something fundamentally healthy about accepting that, if the disease cannot be cured, then the symptoms need to run their course and we need to get to the next chapter. Evangelicalism doesn’t need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral.

But not all; not by any means. In other words, the question is not so much what will be lost, but what is the condition of what remains?

Michael sees a good number of hopeful signs in the different parts of the church he has already looked at, but also sees in each of them conditions which may or may not be fulfilled.

But it is impossible to not be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, “Christianity loves a crumbling empire.” Christianity has flourished when it should have been exterminated. It has conquered when it was counted as defeated. Evangelicalism’s heyday is not the entirety of God’s plan.

I think we can rejoice that in the ruins of the evangelical collapse new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. New kinds of church structure, new uses of gifts, new ways to develop leaders and do the mission- all these will appear as the evangelical collapse occurs.

But again many of the new ways he predicts, such as house churches and the abandonment of the seminary system, have long been a matter of course in some church strands here in England. In certain quarters I have heard that the US church is several years ahead of the UK one, in its good and bad aspects, and in some ways that is true. But I can’t help thinking that in other ways, good and bad, British evangelicalism is decades ahead of the American variety.

Obama's faith and prophecy

I thank John Meunier for giving me a link to and extracts from the full text of a 2004 newspaper interview with Barack Obama about his faith.

This full text seems to me the very genuine testimony of a man who was brought up as a nominal Christian, had a clear evangelical conversion experience, and has an ongoing relationship with God through Jesus Christ, but is also wary of some the certainties and arrogance of many evangelical and other Christians. In fact very like me in these ways. But I would express myself with more certainty than he does on some matters, such as that there really is a future hope for Christians.

I was struck most strongly by this part:

Do you pray often?

Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

Its’ not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I’m constantly asking myself questions about what I’m doing, why am I doing it. …

It’s interesting, the most powerful political moments for me come when I feel like my actions are aligned with a certain truth. I can feel it. When I’m talking to a group and I’m saying something truthful, I can feel a power that comes out of those statements that is different than when I’m just being glib or clever.

What’s that power? Is it the holy spirit? God?

Well, I think it’s the power of the recognition of God, or the recognition of a larger truth that is being shared between me and an audience.

That’s something you learn watching ministers, quite a bit. What they call the Holy Spirit. They want the Holy Spirit to come down before they’re preaching, right? Not to try to intellectualize it but what I see is there are moments that happen within a sermon where the minister gets out of his ego and is speaking from a deeper source. And it’s powerful.

There are also times when you can see the ego getting in the way. Where the minister is performing and clearly straining for applause or an Amen. And those are distinct moments. I think those former moments are sacred.

It seems here that Obama is attributing the power in his speeches, when he is not “just being glib or clever”, to the Holy Spirit, in the same way as the Holy Spirit is behind powerful sermons. In other words, he is claiming that his speeches are prophetic – not in the predictive sense underlying what I wrote concerning the prophecy about Sarah Palin, but in the more fundamental sense that prophecy is the Holy Spirit speaking through human beings.

The USA and the world certainly needs a prophetic President, one who spends time regularly in “an ongoing conversation with God” and follows the leading of the Holy Spirit not just in speeches but also in every decision and action. It seems that in Barack Obama we have the genuine article in these respects. Let’s hope and pray that he is able to keep this up through all the pressures of the post he is about to take up.