Wednesday, February 21, 2007


One of the reasons why Science can't claim access to absolute truth is that deduction (drawing a conclusion from previously known facts) is very susceptible to what is called the expectational bias. That is, we look only at the evidence that supports the conclusion we expect to reach, ignoring the counter-examples. The most common example of this is the tendency of humans to only see the events that confirm their expectations. If I think that all Phoenix drivers are idiots when it rains (and they are), I will only tend to notice to poor drivers on a rainy day, effectively ignoring all the evidence (good drivers) that contradicts my perspective.

I got to thinking; expectational bias is probably why God placed such a severe penalty on prophets who predicted wrongly in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:22 prescribes death for a prophet whose prediction does not come true). Prophets in those days commanded a lot of attention and influence. Lower the threshold for that sort of power, and it is easily abused. So God chooses to draw attention to the counter-examples, raising the bar for the status of prophet, and protecting His people from abuse.

And there is, in my experience, a lot of abuse in churches when people are allowed to speak in the name of God. I am increasingly skeptical of anyone who would believe that they have heard from God on anyone's behalf but their own. Too often I see these people waltz in, pronounce their dictum from Sinai, and waltz out leaving tsunami-like damage in their wake (to mix at least 2 and possibly 3 metaphors). When confronted with their errors, they respond with disclaimers; but when correct, it simply bolsters their belief in their gift. I wonder if we would be so quick to speak in the name of God if He enforced the death-penalty in modern Charismatic churches.

I don't know how many readers I still have after my month off, but if there are any of you out there, I would challenge you to find for me even a single Scriptural basis for members of the church speaking from God into another person's life (what is sometimes called personal prophecy). I do not know of one, which makes me even more skeptical of the validity of this practice. If you know of one, I would be interested to hear.

Hmmmm. This could have been a part of my heresies series.

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