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Prophetic Community, Good or Bad?

So, I'm thinking aoubt Sunday and chasing around the Bible looking at prophets great and small, true and false.  One thing that has struck me is that the communities of prophets tend to be the 'baddies', the false prophets who tell kings what they want to hear or prophets of false deities like Baal.  The 'prophetic community' concept is not leaping out at me as something that is inherently good.  Which is interesting because the Baptist union(s) clearly think it is good.  I suspect it is partly about the distinction between 'prophet' amd 'prophetic' but the study guide centres on individual prophets as models.  I have a few ideas of where I want to go, but am challenged afresh to consider just what a 'good' prophetic community might look like.


  • I was part of an interesting discussion this week on exercising a prophetic voice in relation to interfaith work.

    It all depends on which prophetic voices you listen to and which you recognise as prophetic. Do you recognise the authority of those who call for inclusion, welcome and understanding (arguably either secular liberal concerns or core Christian values) or do you favour exclusion, distance and more polemical approaches to the outsider (arguably a significant concern of prophets from Ezekiel to Isaiah)?

    You picks your prophet and you takes your choice (discuss). But how do you pick your prophet? That question hasn't changed in three millennia!

  • Exactamundo!

  • Prophets aren't perfect and thus good role models. A prophetic community trying to model itself on Ezekiel would be a serious embarrassment!! But Amos, Micah, Isaiah for starters, show the importance of challenging cultural assumptions, listening to a different voice, speaking on behalf of those whose voices are silenced, ignored or mocked. A prophetic community which takes Jesus as its defining model is not going to run out of ideas, and some of Jesus' ideas are borrowed from - well Isaiah, Micah and Amos for starters! I once tried to live out Micah's threefold injunction about what the Lord requires of me one lenten season - it was an exercise in humility which met with mixed degrees of failure!

    Just some playful thoughts to rumble things around in the mind. Whenever I'm not sure what a theological phrase, slogan of cliche means, I find it a clarifying exercise to place it alongside the Christological benchmark.

  • A good prophetic community... is a community that discerns the voice of God in amongst the noise of this world. I guess for a Baptist a good prophetic community ought to be found in the church meeting. However the words prophetic and commuinty are I think held in tension - as the prophetic voice is often found on the margins of society/community.

    It is interesting to read you blog today as my head seems to be in a similar place at the moment. All the best with preparing your Sunday service. If you have a spare moment perhaps you could do mine as well?

  • Thanks both, those are helpful thoughts and resonate with some of the things I've been pondering this week. Without giving too much away (cos I have a lot of local lurkers) I'm going to pick up something about the direction (in/out) and nature (lament/hope) of the prophetic task, though maybe not quite in those words.

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