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. 🙂

French children and ADHD

Hat tip to Mr. Albert Mohler and his podcast for pointing me to this article.

The magazine Psychology Today was the scene of a bit of a tiff concerning one professional’s opinion about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The context, as I understand it, was the recent publication of the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — or the DSM — which is, essentially the “Bible” of mental disorder diagnosis. Mr. Mohler had much to say about it and, indeed, apparently it is a terribly flawed book. The principle that comes to mind is one I warn my kids about from time to time: If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. In the mental health professions, this philosophy does seem to reign to a certain extent.

But, in particular, it was Mr. Mohler’s pointing to an argument about ADHD that caught my attention and eventually led me to a statement that you rarely see in mainstream publications anymore, let alone a work like Psychology Today.

The title of the Psychology Today article was, “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD” by Dr. Marilyn Wedge (you can read it by clicking on the title).

It clearly began with punch:

“In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

“Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States.”

The point, of course, is that biologically, there is not so much different between an American child and a French child that 9% of American children should have a “biological” disorder that only 0.5% of French children do.

The debate then ensues: Is it that French children are actually different? Is it just that French doctors are ill informed? American doctors would be quick to say their French counterparts are too slow to recognize what is a true “disorder” (and responses in Psychology Today have, indeed, said as much), while French doctors would say that American doctors are far too quick to do so.

But what struck me was the common sense in Dr. Wedge’s article — that how a child is reared absolutely does have an impact on such things. Perhaps not 100%, but certainly not 0% and, in truth, far, far greater. In particular, the final section grabbed me with it’s information and advice that is sadly all too rare these days:

“From the time their children are born, French parents provide them with a firm cadre—the word means ‘frame’ or ‘structure.’ Children are not allowed, for example, to snack whenever they want. Mealtimes are at four specific times of the day. French children learn to wait patiently for meals, rather than eating snack foods whenever they feel like it. French babies, too, are expected to conform to limits set by parents and not by their crying selves. French parents let their babies ‘cry it out’ if they are not sleeping through the night at the age of four months.

“French parents, Druckerman observes, love their children just as much as American parents. They give them piano lessons, take them to sports practice, and encourage them to make the most of their talents. But French parents have a different philosophy of discipline. Consistently enforced limits, in the French view, make children feel safe and secure. Clear limits, they believe, actually make a child feel happier and safer—something that is congruent with my own experience as both a therapist and a parent. Finally, French parents believe that hearing the word ‘no’ rescues children from the ‘tyranny of their own desires.’ And spanking, when used judiciously, is not considered child abuse in France.

“As a therapist who works with children, it makes perfect sense to me that French children don’t need medications to control their behavior because they learn self-control early in their lives. The children grow up in families in which the rules are well-understood, and a clear family hierarchy is firmly in place. In French families, as Druckerman describes them, parents are firmly in charge of their kids—instead of the American family style, in which the situation is all too often vice versa.”

By the way, the “Druckerman” to whom she is referring is Pamela Druckerman who has appeared in these posts before. (“French Moms and Social Psychologist Silliness“, 2/7/2012.)

I was both shocked and delighted that a mainstream magazine like Psychology Today would allow someone to mention spanking in anything other than a negative light. But to focus on just that would miss the point. The idea of parents running a house, creating the “framing” and “structures” and not allowing the children to be the center and “pace setters” of that home was refreshing to see.

I’d write more, but I lack the time. (Actually, I lacked the time to write even this, but–hey–too late!) Just thought it was worth putting out there. And, for kicks, I will add a vive la france!

Warning: The internet is full of ninnies

The fast last Sabbath went well here in our area and, for our family, was very encouraging! A good friend told me that Mr. Ames’ sermon in Charlotte was “exceptionally moving” and that the Sabbath was very uplifting. The sermon in our own area was by me, so I will reserve judgment. 🙂

In other news, where do rumors come from? On Facebook a couple of people mentioned to me some of the things that they had seen the usual suspects saying on the Internet (the usual suspects being the many folks who hate the Church, the growing collection of Self-Appointed Ones, habitual rumormongers, etc.). That the rumors exist isn’t surprising. There are always rumors, and there are always those who benefit, personally or professionally, from tearing others down, and we certainly have our own collection of detractors who revolve around us like nagging planets orbiting a sun that irritates them by the very fact that it exists—decrying our existence, yet continually choosing to define themselves in terms of our existence.

English: A warning sign with an exclamation mark
Warning: There are ninnies on the internet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet really is full of ninnies. Let the buyer beware!

Why some come up with or spread rumors is not hard to figure out. For some it is out of simple hatred. For some it is out of insecurity, since tearing certain others down makes them feel better about themselves. For some it is sadly the only way they can interact with others. For some the motivation is bitterness and frustrated self-ambition. For some it is gullibility, pure or impure (pure: they believe all things too readily; impure: they believe something readily and without justification because it fits their preconceived notions or what they want to be true). And, I suppose, for some it is just because their mom and dad didn’t teach them better. Regardless, the Bible condemns it all pretty harshly. (Just search for terms related to talebearing, gossip, etc. It isn’t pretty.)

And the deceptive self-justifications for spreading rumors are also not hard to figure out. Some imagine that it is “news” and they are simply “reporting.” Some believe that if two people say it, it must be true (they should divide God’s Word more accurately: e.g., Deut. 19:18-19). Some believe that as long as they are willing to correct it later, they are free to write whatever they want about anyone. Some are so deluded by their desire to harm others that they can’t see the emptiness behind their claim and actually believe it to be concrete and true (though, even then, broadcasting it raises other issues). Some believe that if they cowardly qualify what they say, by prefacing it, for instance, with something like “Though I didn’t say it, one comment I saw/heard/read was…” as if that absolves them of responsibility before God for publicly spreading gossip and bearing tales (such a one is not exactly paragon of having a “love of the truth”). And some just don’t care and need no justification. Biblical principles don’t mean anything to them, so everything is up for grabs and malice is free to flow like a river, regardless of whether or not the truth drowns in the resulting deluge.

None of this is surprising. Again: ninnies.

But concerning the things my Facebook correspondents mentioned, the thing that really “impresses” me is how completely and utterly unfounded and just plain false the rumors are. I mean, really: no truth to them whatsoever. Of all that have come to my attention, every single one is completely devoid of even the tiniest element of truth. Really. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nichts. Niente. Rien. Không. Nenio. Pagh.

(Bonus points, by the way, for identifying each of those languages.)

Really. I know it’s weird, and I’m no one important, but I’ve been in an amazing position to see these things if they were true. (STOP! Before I proceed, let me say that I hate name-dropping like some in the past have so annoyingly done to give their comments an air of authority they didn’t have. Yes, it made my skin crawl, too. So please let me speak as a fool here for a moment…) For years, now, since being added to the telecast I’ve been blessed to get to spend personal time with Mr. Meredith and the evangelists and administrators in their offices, meetings, and homes–not only in formal discussions but also in private and unguarded conversations, as well. I’m on the Council of Elders and communicate regularly and frankly with several others of the Council’s membership. I spend time with folks at all levels at HQ—eating and working together, laughing and crying together, being serious and being silly together… If there is anything lurking around that was truly as dire as those who hate the Church seem to be hoping for, some vast scandal or conspiracy or whatever, shouldn’t I have seen something? At least a hint? A whiff? A single whispered word? A tiny crumb on the floor? A mote or molecule of indication or implication—at least on the subatomic level?

Instead: None. Zip. Zero. Zil… Well, I’ve already been through that list, right?

So, all of that said, what it really comes down to for me—the thing that I truly wonder about and find fascinating—is where rumormongers’ ideas actually come from. With none of it grounded in any sort of reality, all that is left is fantasy. So where do the fantasies come from?

There was a time—a long time ago, now—when I used to naïvely believe no one would just make stuff up, let alone actually come to passionately believe that what they, themselves, have made up is really true. But the reality of Jeremiah 17:9 and Ecclesiastes 9:3 has long since settled into my experience of humanity, including, frankly, what I find in myself in self-examination. We human beings really are that messed up.

And when you throw in an ounce of bitterness and malice or a dash of selfish-ambition—maybe a pinch of delusions of grandeur—it is amazing what one can create in the devil’s mixing bowl. And, be assured, as the head chef Satan is always hanging around the kitchen assisting his sous-chefs and making sure that they are on task. It’s sad, true, that so many are willing to work in his kitchen. Sadder, still, that some of them actually believe they are somehow pleasing God as they spread their accusations instead of pleasing their real master who is the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10).

How would they feel if they realized that while the devil is accusing the brethren, night and day, before God as Revelation describes, God could simply look over the devil’s shoulder and see them on earth doing exactly the same thing? Can they imagine what such a sight would look like to the One they claim as Father? Can they imagine how it might make Him feel? Does it even cross their minds? Anyway, I got caught up in my kitchen analogy (did you like it?) and got off track. Let me return!

Having watched rumormongers at their work for years and years, now, nothing completely surprises me anymore, I think, and the virtually unbounded creativity of the self-deceving human heart truly is mind-boggling.

But, as this post has demonstrated, that doesn’t prevent me from way-too-verbosely pondering the question of where people get such outrageously false delusions. How do they come up with such complete junk? From whence to internet ninnies get their passionately-believed-yet-utterly-baseless fantasies?

As I was subjecting my poor Beautiful Wife to such way-too-verbose ponderings recently, she kindly listened for a while before turning, grabbing her iPhone off the dresser, opening up her Bible app, turning quickly to a passage, handing it to me, and saying, “That’s where they come from.”

The passage? 2 Chronicles 18:20-21.

“Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’”

As usual, my Beautiful Wife keeps it simple and truthful. 🙂