Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things January 14, 2021

Well, this is interesting. The New Apostolic Reformation end of the church-going spectrum appears to be melting down:

Privately and on social media, these prophets and their thousands of followers are slugging it out in an orgy of self-blame, recriminations and fantastical hopes that somehow before Jan. 20, God will bring about a victory for Trump. Others who’ve apologized for getting it wrong have gotten accusations, curses and even death threats.


At least 40 charismatic Christian leaders predicted Trump’s reelection starting around 2018, according to J. Gordon Melton, 78, the venerable compiler of the Encyclopedia of American Religions and an American religious studies professor at Baylor University. “Only a handful [of prophets] got it right on the 2016 election,” said Melton, “so they all jumped into this election and with one exception,” a Black prophet from North Carolina whose name he did not recall, “they were wrong.” This is the second major hit this movement has taken in less than a year, he added. The first was during a prophetic summit last year. “Last November when [evangelist] Cindy Jacobs had her meeting in Dallas, none of the prophets at that meeting – and it was the elite who were there – none of them hinted that anything like the coronavirus was coming,” Melton said. “That has come back to haunt them.”

And also:

Many NAR prophets foretell vague events that are hard to disprove, Melton said, but the specificity of these election prophecies are impossible to live down. “Kat Kerr and others have really painted themselves in a corner,” he said. “This is a very serious problem for the prophecy group.” James A. Beverley, a research professor at Tyndale University in Toronto, went further in calling the matter “the most significant crisis in the history of modern charismatic prophecy” that he has seen in 40 years of studying the movement. “The fight over the Trump prophecies has brought a deep division in the charismatic and Pentecostal world and it has given that branch of the Christian church a serious credibility issue,” he said.

It occurred to me this morning, as I continued my trek through Isaiah–I’m up to the bit about Sennacherib and all his cohorts of purple and gold and the angel of death etc.–that it is a very ancient human character flaw that none of us want to face bad news. When we do finally have to face it we meltdown. Or at least I do. When you join that peculiar habit with the desire never to be wrong, or to be found wrong, you end up with all kinds of sadness and extra trouble. The antidote, as I’ve said numerous times, is to pray the Great Litany. Particularly this bit:

From all blindness of heart; from pride, vanity, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; and from all lack of charity,
Good Lord, deliver us.

And this one:

From all disordered and sinful affections; and from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.

And this one:

From all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of your Word and commandments,
Good Lord, deliver us.

It is very unusual for any of us to be able to admit that our basic posture towards reality might be wrong, that we might be vain and foolish, that we might not really love God or any of the things he has already said. It takes someone else (like God) pointing it out. Even then we are generally inclined not to be able to see the truth.

In this way, it feels like a great tragedy, in the near term, to experience the great sifting that has been Donald Trump. Looking back it is easy to see where everybody went so wrong. The trouble was that we couldn’t see well enough to understand what was happening in the moment. Nevertheless, I feel like I definitely predicted this four long years ago when I observed that Mr. Trump is a prescient reflection of the American Soul. He embodies the American Spirit in a way that no one still wants to admit–both the right and the left. It seemed to me then, not because I heard the voice of God coming into my bedroom at night and shouting at me, but by watching the world go by as I was reading the Bible, that you couldn’t kill 60 million babies and have any more nice things. Of course God would make us choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and then Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Of course he would do that. It’s the sort of thing he does. And of course Donald Trump would turn out not to be the perfect incarnation of Satan, on account of how God is merciful. Mr. Trump would do some good things and some bad things, because he is human, and God is still God. But if you got confused and thought he was God, you would end up being so disappointed to find out that he wasn’t, and that neither were you.

Anyway, looking at the signs of the times, I don’t think this is yet the apocalypse–though it is certainly one of those smaller ones where so many unpleasant realities are, to our great disappointment, revealed. And now I will go do something else besides read the internet. Have a nice day!

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