Sunday 1 August 2021

How does predictive prophecy work?

I take some (but not most) prophecy - in the sense of prediction - seriously - as have almost all Men through history; therefore I need to understand how prophecy works. (I have written about this before.)

In a nutshell: a true prophecy tells us what God intends

Of course, Men are free agents, have 'free will', so God cannot compel any Man to make any particular choice. Nonetheless, since God is the creator, he can sooner or later make certain things happen - sooner or later events and decisions will line-up to make certain outcomes. 

This explains why it is seldom possible validly to put an exact date on prophesied true events. Because the date depends on the freedom of the agents involved in bringing about the prophecy, the achievement of the prophecy is affected by the cumulative effect of Men's choices. 

This also accounts for the well-known aspect of true prophecies - that they happen in unforeseen ways, such that they are recognized to have-happened only in retrospect. 

It also shows why true prophecies cannot be prevented from happening - because God (as creator) can (over time) find ways around anything that might tend to 'block' the prophecy. 

One problem of prophecy is the prophet himself; and from this the problem of communication. The prophet is a Man who will be - to some extent - fallible and sinful; so 'the medium' will affect the message. 

And the message itself - i.e. the prophecy expressed in language - will be subject to all the usual constraints of language: accurate expression and transmission, accurate interpretation and the psychology of the recipient etc...  

Therefore, the truth of prophecy cannot be sought in exact words and standard definitions; but needs to entail direct knowing; that process of heart-thinking or intuition by which we may be able to know directly and without mediation - by understanding forming in our minds. 

The actual event and words of the prophecy may, therefore, serve more like a stimulus or trigger to the directly-apprehending understanding. 

We read the true prophecy, and we gain understanding of it - but what has actually happened is that the words have opened us to direct knowing, and awakened our hearts to grasp it intuitively. 

1 comment:

HomeStadter said...

Not only does he have to work around choices people may or not make he has to work around intentional opposition. The forces of darkness will oppose everything. And of course the choices are the more important thing, not going through the motions of a certain prophesied event.
One thing that struck me from the new testament is how often he is portrayed as keeping secrets. Famously the hour that Christ returns. (Yes, I know you don't believe in that, but proof of concept). Also the seven seals of revelation keeping plans and purposes secret until they are ready to be executed.
Thus, prophecies might be written in a deliberately misleading way, in order to confuse those who oppose it, while the true meaning can be revealed by those who are more spiritual/discerning as they need to know, or can be trusted to know.