Friday, January 24, 2014

Recognizing a False Prophet

The insult and accusation of "You're a false prophet!" seems to be a common one thrown out there. If we disagree with what someone is teaching in regards to God, the Bible, and Christianity in general, we throw out that accusation. Admittedly, and ashamedly, I have done this before. And, I have also been called a false prophet. It's one accusation that really stings... and so now I do try to refrain from saying that term, unless I truly believe it to be the case.

But, what is a false prophet? Whom can we rightfully call this, and when should we check ourselves?  It isn't just someone who disagrees with our theology.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:15-23)
God has given us the tool to use to determine if someone is a false prophet - the Bible. All we need to do is compare the teachings of the person to what is within the Bible. Does he teach correctly about who Jesus was and is? Is he teaching the Gospel (the full Gospel... not just the parts he likes)? Is he teaching any flat out lies (i.e. something which is specifically negated in the Bible... not something you interpret differently)? And what about his character? Is he prideful? Greedy? Looking for power or attention?

Allow me to give a couple examples..

Gira the non-False Prophet: 

The first person, we'll call Gira. Gira is old fashioned. He believes he's allowed to control his wife in all she does. He determines if and when they have physical relations, regardless of her desires. He believes the Bible orders her to give herself to him whenever he wishes. He believes the Bible gives him the right to control her. She has very little rights, if any, in the marriage - other than to serve him and call him Lord.

He believes he has the right to strike his children with physical objects because the Bible gives him that right. Actually, it doesn't just give him the right, it commands him to strike his children in this way.

Do I agree with Gira? Not even remotely. I think he takes a much too literal stance on the Bible. I think he's a controlling old man who is just looking for an excuse to abuse his family and keep control over them. I think he's a pig. But, I do not believe he's a false prophet. I just think he refuses to examine the scripture any further than seeing it allows this type of control.

It could be argued he's a false prophet because of his refusal to go deeper into the Gospel, and because of his arrogance, and because he is teaching these lessons to young people he knows. But, I personally just think he's an idiot and an ass.

Kapaneous the (False) Prophet:

 Kapaneous is different from Gira. He teaches hate. He flat out tells people we are to hate sinners. And when someone tries to disagree with him, and points out scripture that is against his belief? He doesn't come back with valid scripture. Instead, he gets angry and starts cutting you down. He tells you you're stupid and don't have a clue what you're talking about. He accuses you of not being able to read, or not owning a proper Bible. He accuses you of simply being "noise" that he doesn't need to listen to.

He's arrogant - every time he speaks, he reminds people that he is a chosen one of God - not you. He  was called by God to preach - not you. He insists he's humble and simply a servant, but he consistently says this, while drawing attention to the fact that God does not call too many to preach and prophesy... but that he is one of these few.

This man - who calls himself a pastor - is one whom I would consider a false prophet. He teaches flat out lies. He does not use Scripture to base his teachings on. And when Scripture is used to point out his teachings are wrong (not just against ones own interpretation, but against the main message of the Gospel)? He gets angry and volatile. He is prideful. He believes himself to be above those he teaches, and is not afraid to let people know this. At times, he almost seems to put himself on the same playing field as Jesus.

To me, this is a false prophet. This isn't just a man being too set in his ways to learn the truth - it is someone who believes he is the truth, and willfully teaches lies and seeks acceptance as being better than the rest of us.

What do you think? 

What is a false prophet to you? Would you agree with the previous two descriptions? Have you encountered a false prophet?

And another thing I really do not know the answer to, and would love to hear others views...

What do you do when faced with a false prophet? Simply ignore that person? Call them out for what they are to prevent them from swaying others into such a harmful teaching?

Please comment and let me know your thoughts...

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