On the Nature of Prophetic Language

Introduction

I much prefer doing what I do over against reflecting on what I did in the public eye afterward. Why talk about what you did when you have the opportunity to just do it another time? I mean, daylight is burning. But we were not put into this world for pleasure alone, and from time to time it is necessary to look at the game film.

And so I would like to help out any of my friends out there who were pressed by others to give an account of my language in this post from a couple weeks ago.

Background Assumptions

I would insist from the outset that it is essential for Christian leaders to not have a racist bone in their vertebrae, and notice how I quietly inserted the assumption that Christian leaders must in fact be vertebrates. But it is equally essential for Christian leaders to absolutely not care whether or not they are accused of racism. I will say this again. They must absolutely not care.

In the same way, Christian leaders must hold womanhood in high honor. They must see women as the image and glory of man, the glory of the image of God in man. They must not have women on an artificial pedestal, but when it comes to the pedestal that God has assigned to them, they must not grudge the highest honors that might be bestowed. And at the same time, Christian leaders must absolutely not care whether or not they are accused of misogynistic sexism. Again, they must absolutely not care.

And not only must they not care, they must be willing to act, write, and speak as though they don’t care.

What will such sanctified apathy achieve? I will mention two things. First, it removes the possibility of you getting yourself manipulated by the schoolmarms of the left, who have their lexicon of offenses and grievances always at the ready, so that they can always write you a ticket for your latest transgression.

It also protects you from the tender ministrations of the evangelical sob sisters, who want you to apologize to the unbelievers for whatever it was you wrote, as well as to apologize for breathing, like they do. They believe that they understand, fully and completely, what it is about evangelicals that puts unbelievers off, and they insist that it is the fact that we believe stuff. They want a lot less of thus saith the Lord and a lot more of it seems to us that. What they are missing is the fact that the unbelieving world is drowning in a vast ocean of it seems to us that, and they need to be offered a place to stand.

The Bible is a Hard R

Now the Scriptures come to us in our befogged state, and these Scriptures give us a sure and shocking Word. Many evangelicals from the older school of thought agree with the fact that the Word is a sure Word, but they are not so sure about the shocking part.

And it is quite true that in our ordinary conversation with one another, no lewd thing should be mentioned among us (Eph. 5:3), we shouldn’t delve into what the disobedient do in secret (Eph. 5:12), and crass talk should not be a feature of our conversation (Eph. 5:4). This is wholesome, true, and right.

But when this pattern of godly manners becomes a tradition among believers, over time it turns into sanctimony. And one of the things that sanctimony does is that it disarms the prophetic voice—or rather, it tries to disarm the prophetic voice.

Carnal unbelievers want the freedom to do obscene things. Not only so, but they want the freedom to exult in their obscenities. On top of that, they insist on typecasting any possible opposition to their vile behavior as coming from the Miss Grundys of this world. That way they can crawl down into the lowest of places, and still look down on everybody else in their conceited and swollen pride. This is because they are “in the know.” They are “experienced.” They are not Miss Grundy.

And to this transparent ploy, the prophet Ezekiel reaches into his armory, and brings out the battle axe of godly and crude expressions of truth. And as he does so, he is exercising his prophetic office.

““You built yourself a high place at the top of every street, and made your beauty abominable; and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry” (Eze. 16:25, NASB).

And yet we, the sanctimonious, think that this is a bit much for a Bible verse, and so we tidy it up in translations (e.g. “offering yourself” [ESV], “offered yourself” [NJKV]). Not nearly so blunt.

And some of Ezekiel’s language is so potent that there is not much a translation can do to tone it down.

“Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts”” (Ezekiel 23:19–21, ESV).

Certain aspects of the prophetic office have ceased. This means that no preacher can stand up and claim to know the future (apart from what is already contained in Scripture), and he does not have the authority to write new Scripture. He is not to be a source of new revelation. Those functions of the prophetic office have been completed because the Scriptures are completed. But there are other aspects of the prophetic office—e.g. the denunciation of the sins of the people in the language of Scripture—which have not ceased, and which preachers must continue.

But some have assumed that this tradition of the jeremiad has departed, along with revelatory predictions about the future, because of the timidity of modern preachers. There is no shortage of sin to denounce, and yet the only sin that the Christian church is willing to denounce is the sin of denouncing any of it.

So if someone comes along and lays any kind of axe at the root of any kind of tree, it makes everybody nervous. We are content to live in a society where millions of babies are slaughtered, where the pieces are sold off, where their tax money goes to support the people doing this, where drag queens are in charge of story time at the local library, where certified pediatricians advocate the treating of gender dysphoria in young teen girls by means of double mastectomies, where sodomite unions are blessed by the magistrate as marriages, and where puberty blockers are prescribed by a predatory medical profession. The church at large treats strident opposition to this as a troubling of Israel, and if anybody uses Old Testament language in opposing it, then that really is beyond the pale.

But this is only the case if we have drifted away from Scripture as the storehouse of all true ministry.

To Review:

What does shocking language do? One of the things it accomplishes is that it wakes people up. It brings them to their senses. It smells like burnt marshwiggle.

When an uninitiated person—say a child, or a new Christian—watches some new outrage unfold, they are actually watching two things. First, they watch the outrage itself. Look at that, their thinking goes. The second thing they do is watch for the reaction. Yes, the outrage was technically an outrage—on paper it was quite, um, improper. But does anybody act as though it was a big deal? One of the central things that makes climate change alarmism so darn funny is how often the activists fly to international conferences on the topic in their private jets. None of the people telling us it is a crisis are acting as though it is a crisis.

You can deny the truth of what you say by means of what you do. And it is possible to do this when what you say is false (climate change) or if it is true (same sex mirage is rebellion against the image of God in man). You can affirm something, whether false or true, and then deny whatever you just said by how you act.

So, returning to the top, a Lutheran she-pastor unit, the same one shilling ethically sourced porn, rounded up a bunch of purity rings, melted them down, and fashioned a gynecological bowling trophy thing, and presented it to Gloria Steinem, before a cheering throng. And then the White Horse Inn published a think-piece—of the kind that thought-leaders who are actually thought-followers produce—that took the occasion to “share concerns” about purity ring culture.

The rebuke needs to be commensurate with the iniquity, and the iniquity here was an enormity. When Moses came down off the mountain, if he had merely said tsk at the Golden Calf, then the children of Israel would have been within their rights to assume that he didn’t care all that much.

And so what I did in that piece is translate their behavior into language which would reveal what it was that they were actually maintaining. This is not me calling names. This is not what I am maintaining. This is me seeing the name of the road that they have chosen, and reading the name of that road aloud.

So am I saying that I do this kind of thing as part of a prophetic ministry? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

God Put Eyes in Your Head

Christians have somehow gotten the idea that when other people are sinning all around us, we are somehow not complicit if we just “watch.” If we register a little bookmark in our brain that says “I differ with that,” then it is all good, right? Differing puts us on the right side of the line, right? And differing in a polite and winsome way is mandatory, right?

No. We are to be zealous for the righteousness of God, which is not the same thing as being fastidious about our own historic scruples—especially when those scruples are being followed and imposed for the sake of our timidity. God did not give us a spirit of timidity (2 Tim. 1:7).

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel” (Numbers 25:10–13).

God put eyes in your head. Do you see what is happening? Then act as though you see what is happening.