The Charismatic's Escape Hatch

The following article was initially drafted shortly after the 2020 election. I don't know why I never published it. I finished editing it and am publishing it now.

Prior to the 2020 election, the vast majority of the charismatic "apostles" and/or "prophets" were claiming to have a word from the Lord, and that word was that that President Trump would secure re-election. When that didn't happen (and let's just set aside the all the voting issues for the moment), I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to challenge some of my charismatic friends on the seemingly and glaringly obvious issue that these individuals made very public, very specific prophecies, and it didn't happen. What gives?

However, that was when I learned that charismatics have a fail-safe. They have an escape hatch. Every time a prophecy fails, there is an out.

I was told that the reason Trump didn't return to the office was because we, as the church, didn't have enough faith, or didn't do our part of the deal. 

Thus these men and women weren't false prophets--they said what God would have done had we done our part--but because we didn't do our part they are off the hook and it's all our fault that we've been living with Biden for the last four years. 

I use the 2020 election as an example, but as I reflect on my experience conversing with charismatics over the years, this has been a common theme. Every failed prophecy ends up being a lack in our own faith. 

There are many problems with this. 

First, most of the prophecies that we find in Scripture are not conditional; they simply state "this is what God will do" and then God does it, regardless of what humanity is doing (consider Job's testimony in Job 42:2, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted")

Second, though there are times when conditional promises are made, it is always clear that they are conditional (such as the famous "if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray...then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land" 2 Chron 7:14. (And no, this is not a promise to America or the church. Context!))

Third, the promises and predictions of the so-called apostles of our modern day are seldomly offered with conditions. There may be some out there, but I cannot ever remember hearing someone making a prediction with the caveat that "so long as we have enough faith/do our part" God will do this or that. I do not recall any of the election predictions I heard be conditioned on our faith.

Fourth, the whole "well, we just didn't have enough faith" excuse just seems a little too convenient for me, and that's putting it mildly. You end up with an unfalsifiable system of belief and once you go down that road there is no way to disprove or question anyone or anything on any prophecy. But maybe that's part of the point for them. 

Fifth and finally, (and most arguably most importantly!) God gave ways to test prophets and prophecies (Deut 13:1-5; 18:20-22; 1 John 4:1-3). This escape hatch completely eliminates the ability to apply the tests. 

This is just one of the many problems I see with charismatic theology and methodology. 

If you are reading this and are a charismatic yourself, I would be interested in your response. How do you account for the false prophecies that are clear as day within your movement? 

For the rest of us, as we come into the 2024 election season, be wary of those claiming to have a word from the Lord regarding the results of the election. They were wrong before and they may be again. Our hope isn't in modern prophets or politics. Our hope is in the God who "removes kings and establishes kings" (Dan 2:21) and is accomplishing His good purposes, even through the administration of evil individuals.