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Prophecy: Summative or Formative?

Interesting insight from Ken Shenck about the nature of biblical prophecy—and a lot of what passes these days for “speaking prophetically.”

There is a psychological dynamic among much of American Christianity that pushes us to want to “call sin sin,” to “call out the sinner,” to “speak truth to power.” But my observation is that much of this dynamic is a pronouncement of judgment, much like Jonah at Ninevah. In other words, it is not proclamation for change. It is just enjoyable venting….

But truly Christian prophecy is prophecy for change and is as different from this sort of child-level telling off as what God had in mind for Nineveh differed from what Jonah had in mind. God will one day pronounce a summative judgment on all flesh, a final verdict. But especially for Arminians, almost all prophecy on this side of eternity must at least be hopeful formative prophecy, prophecy that longs for change in those to whom we speak.

This is definitely going into my introductory lecture on the prophetic tradition this spring.



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