Techniques of Non-Prophets: Got Me a Title!

[EDIT, 11/10/2013: In other way more important news than the subject of this post: No, I have not heard any word of how our brothers and sisters in the Philippines have fared. We do have Filipino members in the hard hit areas of Leyte and Samar. Mr. Rod McNair says that we have congregations in Tacloban, Naval, Hinabangan, and Borongan. Please do pray for all of those suffering in that region—especially for those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). With communications so ravaged, it is terribly hard getting word out. How truly horrific, and I hope that those suffering the effects of living in this lost world which cries out in birth pangs for deliverance are present in our passionate prayers]

Not too much time today. We are on the road to Charlotte and my Beautiful Wife is driving, so I thought I would throw up a quick post for kicks – a nice break between other things working on. I actually have a few other Non-Prophet Techniques I’m more interested in blogging about, but this should be a quick and easy one.

Self-Appointed Prophets (or S.A.P.s) sometimes go further than take on to themselves a role God has not given them—however sincerely they may believe He has given it to them, notwithstanding. Sometimes it is not enough for them to drape a mantle on themselves and simply claim to be a Prophet. They also grab for themselves a Very Important Title™.

One of the most egregious of such title-grabs that comes to mind is the case of one S.A.P. who took on the title “That Prophet” from the wording of John 1:21 (KJV) and Acts 3:23. It is egregious because it is startlingly blasphemous. Scripture makes clear that Jesus Christ is “that Prophet,” fulfilling the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18. The people certainly thought so (John 6:14, 7:40), but—of infinitely more importance—God declares him so through the divinely inspired words of Peter (Acts 3:22-23, noting that in v.24 he says he is applying the words “these days” and the subject of the passage is clearly Jesus Christ) and of Stephen before his martyrdom (Acts 7:37, noting that he was speaking of the foretelling of the “coming of the Just One” (v.52) whom they had betrayed and murdered, not some dude in our day). That God inspired a specific description of what it means to be a “prophet like Moses” in Deuteronomy 34:10-12—including such descriptions as knowing God “face to face,” and doing signs and wonders moving some to terror—doesn’t seem to enter into the equation.

Claiming that “the Christ” and “the Prophet” must be different because of John 1:25 and similar verses and that these other clear references should be reinterpreted is pure nonsense. A big part of Jesus’ ministry was pointing out how the Pharisees and such were thoroughly misunderstanding the Scriptures. Nothing would motivate a person to see “That Prophet” as himself instead of Jesus Christ other than planetary sized ego and/or a delusion from the devil. It is blasphemy, pure and simple.

Yet, there are other Very Important Titles™ that Non-Prophets will add to themselves. Of great popularity, for instance, is making oneself one of the Two Witnesses. I know of one Self-Appointed One who is apparently very convinced that he is one of the Two Witnesses, based on a mixture of a few Bible comments “creatively” and self-servingly interpreted and on a lot of heathen “prophecy” which is open to all sorts of imaginative manipulation, with which the devil is more than happy to help with (to be discussed another time). Though this particular fellow’s ambition has not yet grown to the point that he has declared himself such—perhaps waiting to see if someone else will call him that so that it will seem more credible (“the mouths of two or three witnesses,” and such)—it is just a matter of time, it seems. (And when it does happen, no, it does not make me a prophet, either.)

Others have no qualms about it. One I know of, currently enjoying some jail time courtesy of American tax laws, has declared that he is one of the Two Witnesses and that his wife as the other. That he “prophesied” many things that did not come to pass doesn’t seem to rob him of his supposed office and title despite Deuteronomy 18:20-22, oddly enough. Frankly, there are lots of Two Witnesses out there. Maybe we should rename them the One Hundred Forty-Seven Witnesses. Mr. Meredith has mentioned that in his long career, he has been “declared” one of the Two Witnesses by imaginative people many times over in the past (the other being various ones: Dr. Hoeh, GTA, and others). To his credit, he never took the devil’s bait. Many who would claim to be his peer or better, on the other hand, have bitten hook, line, and sinker.

(As a graduate of Texas A&M, I must mention one of my favorite jokes: “Did you hear about the three Aggies who went to Charlotte to convince Mr. Meredith they were the Two Witnesses?” Yes, I think that is very funny. 🙂 )

Other titles have come and gone… Various Self-Appointed Prophets and Luminaries of Imagined & Alternate Realities (L.I.A.R.s) have declared or implied that they have been given the title of or are the prophesied individual Elijah, Elisha, Zerubabbel (son of Shealtiel, though I wonder why one prefers the spelling in the Catholic Douay Rheims: “Salathiel”; interesting, that), Joshua, et al. Maybe you have heard a title I haven’t. If so, I’m not sure I want to know…

That none of these who consider themselves Prophets actually are any of these people or have any right to any sort of title is one thing. But the point of post (which I thought I would never get to!) is that it is yet another technique and not just a personal obsession. Sure, it generally represents a delusionary mindset and an incredible ego, but it also adds a level of “excitement” to the Self-Appointed One’s self-appointed “ministry”: Wow, this is a guy spoken of in the Bible, itself! More importantly, it has the potential to lend an authority to the individual’s words that neither the individual nor the words have earned.

It is not that there are no titles in the Bible and it is not that the Bible cannot make a claim about an individual in our day. It certainly can and it certainly does. But how terribly badly some lust after being such an individual! In some cases they must search the Scriptures seeking out what they can apply to themselves. In other cases, they simply seem to have an ego and pride that the devil can take advantage of, “helping” them to “see” themselves in God’s own words (and in some cases, in the words of heathen “prophecies,” as well) over time.

It is a useful technique for Non-Prophets because increasing their credibility—being taken seriously—is vitally important to them. However, they have not earned the sort of credibility that justifies their self-declared “Prophet” status. Consequently, they must seek out other sources of credibility that can give them a short cut. For instance, it would be difficult to earn the sort of credibility the Two Witnesses will eventually have when God empowers them (cf. Rev. 11:3). Clearly, Revelation says the Two Witnesses are a couple of fellow who should be listened to.

However, while it would be difficult to earn “Two Witness” levels of credibility, it is less difficult to twist some scriptures here and there (borrowing a few “prophecies” from pagan sources can help in this, too) and display a few bowls of “wax fruit” (also something I will try to discuss later) to convince others that you are one of those Witnesses. Then, you can claim all the credibility of the Witnesses for yourself without actually earning it yourself. Bingo: Shortcut!

Not all Non-Prophets feel the need to take a title on themselves, to be sure (I won’t speak to the temptation they may have to do so, as I do not know) as it takes a really special level of self-delusion (or, on the flip side of the coin, a special level of confidence in one’s powers of con-artistry). Nevertheless, it is a technique that is on display out there in the Parade of Self-Appointed Ones time continues to present to us.

Well, I said I was short on time, yet, as usual, I have spent more time than I planned! On to other things. My telecast scripts for this week are suffering a good bit of neglect and I need to let them know I still love them. 🙂

11 thoughts on “Techniques of Non-Prophets: Got Me a Title!

  1. Steve

    It goes beyond just speaking falsely in the name of God, which is already bad enough. They also challenge the authority of God’s appointed government as Korah did during the rebellion (Numbers 16 & 17) which led to Aaron’s rod being placed in the Ark of the Testimony. For readers who might not be familiar, Korah led 250 men to their own destruction challenging to take over the reigns from Moses who was appointed by God to rule over Israel. The “SAPs” (great name for them BTW) really need to consider what they are doing before it is too late.

  2. Steve and Mr. Smith: to me most ironically, the first of the twenty-four (not the twelve) times “the true name of the true Church” appears in Scripture (twelve for each Testament, albeit the exact form changes over time and one, Lamentations 1:3, is more of an allusion), is when Korah & Co. rebel against the government which the very name indicates is there. “The Church of God” is an organized assembly convoked under God’s headship, not just by the contexts, but by the implications of the original Hebrew term, qahal. Ekklesia in Greek, when it refers to God’s religious organization (LXX and NT alike), carries over that connotation – it is not (just) a group of “called-out ones”, although Paul also adds that implication contextually.

    (Just for the record, and not to make myself a Poor SAP also, I wrote an article on this matter for the Living Church News, “The Name of the Church in Both Testaments”. I wish more people remembered it was there and used what was written therein. We could answer a lot of self-serving arguments with that information.)

  3. Don Wheatley

    Mr. Smith,

    SAP#1 is the leader of the first major group that stood up for the Truth back in late 1989. He does have faults. And I know of other ministers who are holding just as fast to all that Mr, Armstrong taught and who are humble and do not try to claim such great offices for themselves. But Mr. SAP#1 did do something that no one else had the power or the concern to do. He preserved the writings of the late Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong and basically pulled the Mystery of the Ages out of the dumpster (I am not in favor of his edits of the book) and kept Mr. Armstrong’s name out in the public through their fine college and auditorium. I think in spite of his faults and self-importance he has done more for preserving the material and work that we once had in 1986 more than all these other large liberal groups who just use Mr. Armstrong’s name and not his books, booklets, sermons, and other works and who distance themselves from Mr. Armstrong’s more conservative doctrines and basically pay lip service to him and go out and do their version of the STP that Mr. Armstrong hated.

    Also, I have been a co-worker with the group led by SAP#1 in the past and when I requested anointed cloths from their ministry I was healed so they do have the Faith OF Christ and they are not fakes.

    Sincerely,

    Don W.

  4. Thanks, Mr. Wheatley. Let me be brief and clear. I’m glad that you have such an opinion of the actions of SAP#1 (as you’ve designated him in your response) and an opinion about how to characterize them. We’re all entitled to our opinions. Concerning a few relevant facts: (1) SAP#1 is a blasphemer and a false prophet and a destroyer of families. Shame on him. That you minimize those things and tend to focus on praising him so routinely is telling and may indicate you are at risk of coming under the spirit of such condemnations as Rom 1:32. (2) You seem to define “liberal” as deviating from Mr. Armstrong’s teachings. If this is so, then given that you have discarded Mr. Armstrong’s teachings on God’s government, his teaching concerning the Work, his teachings that would apply to going on other people’s websites who disagree with you, his teaching on at least one of the major proofs of the true Church, his teaching about his own role and the relationship of his statements to Scripture, et al., then you, Mr. Wheatley, are perhaps one of the biggest lip-service-paying “liberals” I know. Perhaps if you wish to be taken seriously for your stand about Mr. Armstrong, you would consider living by what he taught. (3) Thanks for speaking of your healing. I met a Sabbath-hating and law-hating woman recently at one of our presentations who also made the same claim about her own healing. I suppose that you believe then that they are not “fakes” either? And I know of many people in our own fellowship who who have been healed after the receipt of an anointing from one of our ministers or from a mailed cloth. I suppose, then, that you conclude we are not fakes, either. Thanks.

    Like I have warned you before, if you are going to come on to my blog and try to use comments as an opportunity to make false accusations, however vague, then I will use your comment for my own purposes and invite you to write me personally if you want to complain about it. The fact that you seek to honor a blaspheming false prophet who falls under God’s condemnation is all the more reason for me to be consistent in this.

  5. Sometimes we forget Jesus Christ really is that Hard Man who reaps where He does not sow and gathers where He does not winnow (let alone where He sows and winnows). We forget He is sovereign, unimaginably so.

    I often think of the following in such cases:

    (Ecc 2:26 RSV) For to the man who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and heaping [the preservation of Mr. Armstrong’s publications by those who don’t really follow what he taught at critical points is a great example of this], only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

    (Rev 17:17 RSV) for God has put it into their hearts [those of the ten kings] to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and giving over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

    What God allows, and sometimes even what God backs, and what God approves aren’t one and the same. Ask not first where God is working; ask first what He is working.

  6. Steve

    I’m sorry, but SAP#1 is NOT sticking up for the doctrines Mr Armstrong taught. He has changed more doctrines than anybody I can possibly think of. Why do you think he does so much editing on the books and booklets? He cuts out the stuff he doesn’t like! He claims the mantle of Mr Armstrong as some kind of advertisement, but he teaches a very different church. It’s devious! And that is a problem, you know… people use him to bash Mr Armstrong, when – in fact – Mr Armstrong would’ve disfellowshipped him a long time ago. That’s the truth!

  7. Steve

    And by the way. I frequently review Mr Armstrong’s writings on various subjects – the original hardcopies, not the “edited” ones. Plus, you can listen to his original sermons on different websites. People with short memories might be surprised by some of the things he said. I question how many member’s of SAP#1’s congregation actually know what HWA taught. It seems they rely on SAP#1 to tell them, instead.

  8. Robert Petry

    SAP#1 is not all that popular with some folks I know. Several have told me they were attracted by his proclamation of “continuing the work of HWA.” However, after giving him a chance, they moved on because the fruits weren’t what they expected.

  9. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. Rather than allow the comments to continue in this vein, I’d like to steer us away from discussing any particular person at length. Mr. Wheatley brought that particular blasphemous False Prophet up for his own reasons and that has been dealt with. Perhaps we can leave it at that. All the more, I do not want to turn undue attention to those under the burden of that individual’s deceptions. I have found that it is easy to lump a lot of innocent and well-meaning people together and to accidentally allow to spill on to them some of the sentiment that is best reserved for the one who is abusing them. Many have come and continue to come from that group into our fellowship and they are remarkable, wonderful people who are thankful to be here. I consider them refugees.

    So, thanks for your comments and for understanding!

  10. obeirne

    Interesting and enlightening! A thought occured to me concerning the SAP who avails of supposed prophesies from non-Biblical sources. It was how the three witches in Macbeth misled him through predictions that were partially true and false. Macbeth chose to believe them, yet he was deceived. Can there be any doubt that Satan has availed and is availing of this kind of strategy?

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