Baptists are traditionally known for many things, among which are casseroles, potlucks, fried chicken, banana pudding (nanner pudding, when spoken familiarly), hacking preaching, shouting, camp meetings and a strong aversion to anything "new." Mind you, not all Baptists fit everything on that list; I myself only fall into the sporadic banana pudding/occasionally shouting/every now and then go to a camp meeting categories.
Another thing we are known for, though, is that we do not believe in modern-day prophets. I am in that category unequivocally.
The commonly applied term for that belief is cessationism. Simply put, Baptists generally believe that while the service gifts are still in effect today, when the Scripture was completed the sign gifts (tongues, prophecies, etc.) were done away with, since the Bible is sufficient for us without any more sign gifts. This puts us somewhat at odds with our Charismatic/Pentecostal brothers and sisters in Christ, though I have never felt the particular need to be rude or belligerent about it.
Most days, it simply isn't much of an issue to me or to the body of Christ as a whole. But recently it has reared its head in such a way that it cannot be ignored, intruding into the most visible brouhaha since Pearl Harbor, The Thrilla in Manila and the breakup of Sonny and Cher.
I am thinking, of course, of the recent presidential election.
What, you ask, does that have to do with Baptists/Charismatics/sign gifts/modern-day prophets and prophecy? A great deal apparently.
About three months ago, some very nice, and apparently pretty popular, Charismatics and Pentecostals started following me on social media, and I reciprocated. I did not think much of it until they started posting very specific "prophecies" about the 2020 election on about Nov. 5 or 6. To cut right to the chase, day after day for weeks now, the most popular, self-proclaimed prophets in the world have been stating very specifically that God said that Donald Trump was going to be inaugurated again on Jan. 20, 2021, and serve his second consecutive term of four full years.
I am writing this column on Jan. 8, 2021. It will go to press well before Jan. 20, 2021. I mention that because I want to say what I say based on Scripture, not based on hindsight. If I waited until after Jan. 20, 2021, I would simply be writing history.
As it stands now, President Trump has stated that he will leave office and that Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the next president. That is directly contradictory to what the self-proclaimed prophets have said. And that provides us with an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of what the Scripture itself says of prophets.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22: But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
God was abundantly clear that a prophet must be accurate 100% of the time to actually be a prophet. Anything less was unacceptable, the mark of a false prophet and, in Old Testament times, resulted in death. I rather suspect that if that same fate still applied today, there would be very few applicants for the job of "world-famous prophet."
If by some unforeseen circumstance President Trump does indeed end up being re-inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, a whole bunch of Baptists, myself included, need to go back to the drawing board and see if perhaps we missed the boat in our cessationist views. But if Joe Biden (or anyone else other than Donald Trump) ends up being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, Charismatics and Pentecostals everywhere need to completely forsake their "prophets" and demand that they take jobs more suitable, perhaps something in the entertainment industry. And under no circumstances should they be allowed to give an out, such as "well if everyone had just had enough faith" or "it would have happened if Trump had not backed down." No, a prophet of God must be right all the time, every time, especially in the biggest prophecy of the past 2,000 or so years. And since God by very definition knows everything ahead of time, he would surely take any lack of faith or backing down into account before he ever gave a word on the subject.
So if the prophets do crash and burn as spectacularly as it appears they will, then to paraphrase Deputy Chief Dwayne T. Robinson from "Die Hard" when the helicopter with the FBI guys burst into flames, "We're going to need ourselves some new prophets."
Or, in lieu of that, everyone is welcome to join the Baptists around the potluck table for a casserole, banana pudding and discussion of why Scripture is all we need.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.