In my last blog post, I said that prophecy has multiple purposes: practical information about the state of things here on earth; personal revelation about God’s plan for an individual’s life; and repetative teaching about God and the spiritual realms that are in line with the Bible. I argued that evangelicals do not need to worry about that these kinds of prophecies would challenge the authority of Scripture, and thus there is no need to ban all prophetic activity or to wrongly argue that the prophetic gift has ceased. However, now I want to turn to the dangerous type of prophecy – that reveals stuff about the Lord and His Kingdom that you can’t find in the Bible.
Let me take one example. Many of you have probably heard about Colton Burpo, a young boy who started to tell his parents when he was four years old about how Heaven looked like. Amazingly, he even knew about dead relatives that his parents had never told him about. Colton’s visions of Heaven were in large parts in line with the Bible’s visions – something his parents also were really amazed by since they hadn’t taught much of that to him – but it also exceeded the Bible. For example, he said that Jesus had a rainbow horse. And that the Holy Spirit was blue.
Now, evangelical heresy hunters weren’t late to proclaim Colton Burpo as a young false prophet. On my Swedish blog, one of them told me “This is totally non-biblical! Show me in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is blue!” And I simply answered: “Would it had been more biblical if the Holy Spirit had been transparent?”
I think that behind the term “non-biblical” lies two seperate definitions: abiblical (or antibiblical), meaning something that contradicts Scripture, and extra-biblical, meaning something that the Bible doesn’t say but doesn’t contradict it either. Now, I think it is quite safe to say that there is a consensus both among charismatics and evangelicals that abiblical prophecies should be rejected. If someone say that they know the date of Christ’s second coming, or if they claim that He isn’t the Son of God, they clearly contradict the Scriptures (Mt 24:36, 1 Jn 4:15). But how do we handle extra-biblical statements like “the Holy Spirit was blue”?
Here I think we have to seperate between truth and canonicity. It may be very true that when we get to Heaven, at least some people will perceive the Spirit as being blue. But, this doesn’t mean that if another person sees a vision of Heaven and the Holy Spirit is yellow, we should reject that as being “false”. Becuase even if Colton’s vision was true, it should not be added to the canon.
This principle is actually very common among evangelicals already, not so much when it comes to prophecy but when it comes to preaching and teaching. When Charles Spurgeon or Billy Graham is preaching the Gospel, everything they say may be totally true. In fact, even if they say things that the Bible doesn’t say, like “America needs a spiritual awakening”, that may be very true. But if we add their words to the canon and claim that everyone must preach exactly like them, then we have a problem.
The Bible clearly says “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good” (1 Thess 5:20-21). Some evangelicals definitely treat prophecies with contempt, while some charismatics don’t test anything but buy it all. However, we should be strive to be welcoming and open-minded as well as critical and testing at the same time when it comes to the prophetic. As long as nothing contradicts the Bible, I think we can bless it and take it to our hearts. But we shouldn’t canonize it.
- What is a Prophet – Are There Prophets in Our World Today (bsfinternational.wordpress.com)
- Does God have prophets today? (remnantreview.wordpress.com)
- The Spirit of Truth is pregnant with the telling (alboeroom.wordpress.com)