Congratulations on several excellent articles relating to the ministry of prophets. However, having been involved in the prophetic for almost 20 years, it was disappointing to see the same issues rehashed over again. I believe that many of the issues of accountability could be dealt with if the church were able to assimilate the prophets into everyday church life. I was hoping you would provide a model for this type of relationship. As long as we treat prophets like lone rangers, they will act that way.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
I just finished reading the September/October issue on the prophetic. Good job! God gave you supreme wisdom in the way you handled this very important issue. Not only did you handle it with wisdom and insight, but also actually turned the sensitivity of the issue into helpful material that is instructive to all of us who want to grow in the prophetic.
Ted Haggard, pastor
New Life Church
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The September/October issue of Ministries Today on the subject of prophets was the finest yet. The column "Can You Hear Me Now?" (Editor's Note) by Matthew Green was a must-read for charismatics and Pentecostals. The idea of a "second chance" to hear the Word was great. We Pentecostals have been through a lot, and you provide a good balance.
Stanford Linzey, captain
U.S. Navy, retired
I agree with Eddie Hyatt in "Putting Personal Prophecy to the Test" (September/October). In my opinion, much of what passes for prophecy in the charismatic movement is nothing more than fortunetelling wrapped in Christian terminology. I can't tell you how many prophecies I have received that God was getting ready to "bring me into a new realm of understanding" or "use me mightily" in some way. The biblical model of personal prophecy seems so much more specific and tangible in its fulfillment--not just vague promises whose fulfillment cannot often be verified.
I enjoyed "Speaking for God" (September/October) by Matthew Green. I've been in full-gospel circles for many years. There are true prophets in our day, but they are not normally the ones with the big titles we try to pin on them. I've been following some true prophets for many years now, and there is not one major issue that has happened that they have not alerted the church to beforehand.
Syracuse, New York
REPLY: You're not alone, Adam, in your enthusiasm for the prophetic--and your concern that it be properly manifested. Here are some comments from the Pastors' Discussion at www.ministriestoday.com:
I saw a young church split when a "prophet" came in and seduced the pastor. The pastor began to lead on the counsel of his prophet. Every Sunday service became a "calling out" service with personal words. The sound word of the Scriptures was ignored. This "prophet" later started his own church, leaving a legacy of confusion and words that did not come to pass.
We love the prophetic! People have been shaken out of complacency, the hurting have been comforted, faith has been strengthened, and there is a new level of worship and devotion to the Lord. Because we regularly see the genuine, a counterfeit is quickly spotted. We also seem to have less trouble with con artists and power-seekers.
In regard to the prophetic, I have seen people encouraged to continue their ministry and go deeper with God in our church by the words of a "true" prophet. I have also seen excesses, but that is why the Lord tells us to test the spirits. Although there will always be wolves in sheep's clothing, we are called to compare whatever we hear from the mouths of prophets with the standard of the Word.
I appreciated "A Time to Heal" (Edward Decker, September/October). Far too many Christians would rather pretend divorce doesn't exist and try to ignore the growing issue. I did until my wife left me in a very unexpected affair. Christians seem to fit into one of two groups: divorce for any reason and divorce under no circumstances. I appreciate your review of the biblical texts which give us guidelines about how to handle the difficult issue. While no marriage partner is perfect, the decision to split is often made by one individual in spite of the other's wish to continue. For the church to look at the spouse hung out to dry with condemnation is most unfair, discouraging and un-Christlike. It's really time the church begins to realize that we have a world of hurting people that cannot be ignored any longer.
Edward Decker says: "A man named Craig once shared with me: 'What was important to me when I divorced was the fact that my pastor was there for me. He didn't try to tell me what I should do. He didn't give me information I didn't want.'" Didn't give me information I didn't want? By any chance was his pastor named Oprah? A shepherd's job is to guide and protect the sheep God has placed under his care. God asks us to be tender with His sheep, as we speak His truth in love, but we must be more concerned with pleasing God than man.
"A Time to Heal" was a distressing article. The author totally omitted the working of the Holy Spirit on the life of a prodigal spouse. My wife, Charlyne, and I divorced in 1985. Resisting advice from pastors, counselors and friends, she did not get on with her life. Instead, she allowed God to first change her own life, and then my life, in response to her prayers. Two years later we were remarried to each other. At many family functions, such as the weddings of our three children, we have cried together, and talked about how much different things would be if we were each there with another mate, and viewing one another as our "ex." It is ironic that the respected college where Decker is a professor, Oral Roberts University, teaches and believes in miracles. The body and spirit can be healed, but according to Decker, a bad marriage is hopeless. My suggestion is "when your marriage is falling apart, you may need an altar, not an attorney."
Robert E. Steinkamp
Rejoice Marriage Ministries
Pompano Beach, Florida
I just finished reading "Politics in the Pulpit" by Joel C. Hunter (September/ October). I agreed with the article, but it made me think of another issue that is driving me crazy--especially this political season: Why is it that white Christians and black Christians are so evenly split down party lines in their political loyalties? It is true that there are historical socioeconomic reasons, but from a biblical standpoint, we are divided. The truth is that white and black evangelicals and Spirit-filled Christians believe the same essential theological truths and, for the most part, are against social evils, such as abortion. Does anyone else see something demonic here? Where is the debate concerning the issue?
Carlton McLeod, founder
Closer Walk Christian Fellowship
It's obvious that whoever reviewed Eddie Smith's book Breaking the Enemy's Grip (MinistryTools, September/October) was not a deliverance minister. I am sorry that the reviewer did not sign his or her name. It made the book look second class, which I am sure it is not. I believe that reviewers should always sign their names to their reviews, because they are their personal opinions. In deliverance circles it would not necessarily be agreed that Smith's assertions are that controversial at all. As I do deliverance, I have found that a great deal of severe demonization can be traced to the traumas in early childhood. I'm sure most deliverance ministers would agree.
Doris Wagner, founding apostle
International Society of Deliverance Ministers
REPLY: Since we highlighted the helpful aspects of the book, we felt it fitting that we mention that some of the content may be controversial to some of our readers. As for your suggestion that book reviews include the name of the authors, you will note that we have done so beginning in the Ministry Tools section in this issue.