What the prophet does and why the lambs bleat

What is your notion of a prophet?
I suspect the Western Protestant Church has made a right hash of this ministry.

Reducing it to mere predictions.

Either doom or glory, or vague hope & polite niceness.

Reducing it to clichéd slogans that mean anything and everything ….and nothing.
Reducing it the “wacky fringe of the church”:
The bigger the beard the greater the prophet!

Reducing it to spontaneous mini-messages of bespoke theological preference!
Reducing it to magic, on a par with ancient and modern gnosticism:
God’s weird little secrets made known to the special weird few!

No.

pie

False Prophesy is Pie in the Sky!

We need less (zero) ‘Personal Idiosyncratic Eschatology’ (or P.I.E. for short – I made that up all on my own); and more of what Eugene Peterson in his brilliant book Run with the Horses refers to as the true nature of the Prophet:

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1. A prophet lets people know who God is and what he is like, what he says and what he is doing.

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2. A prophet wakes us up from our sleepy complacency so that we see the great and stunning drama that is our existence, and then pushes us onto the stage playing our parts whether we think we are ready or not.

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3. A prophet angers us by rejecting our euphemisms and ripping off our disguises, then dragging our heartless attitudes and selfish motives out into the open where everyone sees them for what they are!

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Odd Prophet

Stanley Hauerwas says Walter Breuggemann “has the ‘unrelenting realism’ that possessed the imagination of the ancient prophets…”

In Breuggemann’s book Reality-Grief-Hopehe proves Hauerwas’s words true.  The book explores the crisis that has gripped American culture since the 9-11 attacks.  Although reality, grief and hope are the biblical categories that take communities through disaster (facing reality), to grief (a mourning for lost ideology), to hope – (the nemesis and destroyer of despair), we see how Breuggemann uses the Old Testament Exile of the Covenant people of God to the strange and shattering world of Babylon in c. 587 BC (2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 34 & Deuteronomy 28-29).  This is the lens he uses to write about the current context of the American collective psyche, as they experience the same trauma (personally, I don’t think it is the same type of trauma, since America as a whole wasn’t exiled, and more potently, they are not the covenant people of God, but the categories and the lens work exceptionally well nevertheless).  There is no magic bullet, or Hollywood film or John Wayne hero to rescue the obese unreality that tenderises the collective mind of the Western man or woman.

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