|Seraph Postal - Forever|
By now you are probably tired of hearing about my sheep business and all its travails. I will refrain myself, leave off talking about that, and just say that I have processed enough lambskin vellum to write you another letter using the Seraphic Mail Service. It is important that I get straight to the point.
First of all, I sincerely apologize if my previous letter offended you. Believe me, Lonnie, I only meant to tell you truthfully how I assessed the current situation. As you remember, you had a difficult time in the ministry back when you were still here. It's not that Chuck Smith and John Wimber wanted to treat you badly. They just didn't always know how to handle an out-of-the-ordinary person. They had their particular mindsets on how things should operate, and you never quite fit into the system as they envisioned it. And so they might have made mistakes that ended up causing you emotional pain and injury. I think that your autobiography shows this, and that you endeavored to learn the important lesson of forgiveness. That's how I read it. You and I have also made enough mistakes of our own. All that I was saying is that if you were still here you would have even more severe problem working within the church system today. It wouldn't accommodate you very well. I hope that you understand.
Now, getting to one of those questions that you asked me in the letter you sent me earlier, I gave it some thought and have decided that my answer is pretty simple: No, I do not want to be a "prophet." And please, Lonnie, I beg you, don't suggest to anyone in Heaven that I should be one. I really don't want the job, for numerous reasons, which have to do with the current situation in the "charismatic movement" nowadays. Let me explain why.
First of all, after spending some time attempting to survey the overall situation, I can say that the church already has an overflowing abundance of "prophets", or at least people who are calling themselves that. Most of these prophets have ministry websites, and you also can find them on YouTube. I am trying to compile a list of everybody I find, and already my list is getting quite large, and there doesn't seem to be any end of it. Therefore, Lonnie, what good would it do for me to join the crowd? I think it would be just adding to the confusion.
While researching this subject, it's been difficult for me to avoid developing the kind of attitude that disdains prophecy altogether. Lonnie, as you well know, near the end of his first letter to the Thessalonians, saint Paul the apostle said — oh, by the way, say "hello" to Paul for me if you get the chance — well, he clearly said we are not to quench the Spirit or despise prophecy, but we are to test everything and hold fast what is good. However, it's a very confusing situation just from the sheer abundance of stuff. There is so much "prophecy" nowadays getting published on the web, like a flood, and I am still learning how to "test" things, so I can distinguish the good stuff, sort it out, and separate it from the mediocre and bogus stuff. It's not easy to do, but I am trying very hard to maintain the correct attitude about it.
To give you an idea of some of the crazier things going on, I remember one video I saw. I won't mention the guy's name, but in the video he was making a big deal out of an old painter easel you once owned years ago and that somehow was passed down to some elderly lady, whose house you were boarding in at one time. Anyhow, this fellow made it sound as if your easel were a holy relic and that somehow he could confer your "mantle" on people. I am not kidding, Lonnie. Unfortunately, since you don't have Internet access there in Heaven, I can't show this video to you. But if you saw it, you would either laugh or cry. On second thought, not having Internet access in Heaven might be a good thing.
Although I am still studying the issue, I think that at this point I can break down the current "prophetic" scene into the following categories:
- The Glittering Generalists
- The Gloomy Doomists
- The Big-Revival-Soon Optimists
- The Loony Toons
- The Miscellaneous
It appears that most of the prophets who have the highest visibility and biggest ministries fall under category #1. I call them glittering generalists because much of their prophesying is usually worded in very broad and positive terminology. The often use terms such as entering into "seasons" and giving "birth" to something and obtaining a "destiny" and opening "doors" to somewhere. One of them talked about "accelerated acceleration." Huh? What is often lacking, however, is anything hard and specific that can be nailed down. It's all very general. To whom does their prophesying actually apply? Everybody? It is very difficult to test these. They are okay, I suppose, as far as being very generic exhortation (or preaching), which can be addressed to nearly everybody. We all need encouragement, but why dress up preaching as being "prophetic"?
The next two categories are more vatic, in that they deal with future events, usually involving the United States. But they appear to be somewhat inconsistent with each other. The gloom-and-doom prophets (category #2) basically predict that America, because of its great wickedness, will be destroyed, any day now, by a series of very terrible cataclysms, such as nuclear war, economic collapse, etc. There might be few persecuted survivors in the ruins, the ones who taking heed and thereby forewarned had done the necessary "prepping" ahead of time and stockpiled toilet paper, guns, ammo, and freeze-dried food. David Wilkerson's "vision" from years back and later John Paul Jackson's "perfect storm" might be very good examples of this category of prophecy — Lonnie, next time you run into him, tell David that he used to know my famous evangelist cousin. Anyhow, I think many of the older prophets, like Wilkerson, fall under this category. For example, I remember another one who said he received a detailed vision of Russian submarines, just off the coast, launching their nuclear-armed missiles that would destroy America. This kind of prophecy is still around, though maybe not as much today as earlier, and if anything has varied in this category, it might be the additional focus on objurgating apostasy and ecumenism in the church. In any case, no matter what, America is toast, as far as these prophets are concerned. At best, we will all die as martyrs or be raptured.
On the other hand, the big-revival-soon optimists (category #3) are more sweetness and light, and they often tends to merge into category #1. Nowadays, those in this category seem to be more predominate as opposed to the doom-and-gloom prophets of category #2. Generally speaking, the optimists prophesy that, despite its many problems, God isn't done with America. There might be some housecleaning and judgement on corruption in the government and in the church, but the final result will lead to a very great revival in the near future, which in turn will lead to a "great awakening" in American society overall and an unprecedented spread of the Gospel across the world. One prophet, a retired fireman who falls in category #3, and whom I am currently tracking, has had some accuracy in the past, and he has predicted very some very specific items about soon upcoming events. So at least his case would be very easy to track and test.
Lonnie, do you see the problem I have here with categories #2 and #3? They seem to be contradictory. How can we have a big revival going on in America when we're all hunkered down in fallout shelters and everything is highly radioactive? We're either on the verge of a great end-time revival or else a great end-time apostasy, but it's hard to see how we can have both. Do you understand what I what I am getting at?
Moving on to category #4, these are prophets who seem to delight in deliberately being odd. There are a few of these. But I am at a loss to understand how to test this category. Should one pay them any attention? As you know, Lonnie, some of the Old Testament prophets were required to do some very weird things (ask poor Ezekiel what he went through). For example, there is one prophetess currently running around the circuit who seems to get a personal tour of Heaven practically everyday and is eager to tell everybody about it with an enormous amount of details. She says she was required to dye her hair magenta. Tell me, Lonnie, how do I go about testing this sort of prophesying? Maybe if you wrote me back and included the official "Encyclopedic Tour Guide of Heaven," or at least the "Heaven for Dummies" paperback, I could use it to verify if this prophetess is telling the truth or if this is simply a mild case of mental illness. As I have said, Lonnie, I am still sorting things out. I don't have all the answers.
My final category #5 covers everybody else, for lack of any better way of sorting things. If I can say anything at all, Lonnie, I think these prophets tend to be more specific, but they usually address individuals. So there is more of a "word of knowledge" component involved in this category, and therefore only the individual being addressed would be in a position to determine if the prophet had been spot-on and had been personally encouraging and beneficial. I confess, Lonnie, that I have received a few of these prophecies myself over the years, but they had been rather confusing for me, and I can't say that they were ever confirmed. Over time, they tend to fade from memory. I need to remember to write things down.
Saint Paul once said that we know in part and prophesy in part. This is true. The same is also true regarding these categories that I have mentioned above. I must say, Lonnie, that my understanding is only partial at this point, and I might change my mind as I get more insight into this matter. Any help you can suggest would be much appreciated. Anyhow, because I am a little short on lambskin vellum — some of my ewes unfortunately miscarried because of an illness, and I am nursing some sick sheep — I need to cut short this letter to you. I will try to write you later.
Cry out Amen and Amen.
Partly Confused Here on Earth.