Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11: Why stop?

This is going to be a short one, and not the movie post I should be making. I'm behind on a writing deadline and so ou guys get the short end of the stick! Sorry! But I promise I'll reply to all the comments. Guys have been leaving tomorrow, and I'll talk about Skyfall, which won out over Lincoln for this weekend's viewing pleasure.

My post is really mo of a question for you guys than anything else. I'm sometimes left wondering why God would stop sending prophets. In both Christianity and Islam there's the idea/understanding that He's stopped, that there aren't any more. In Christianity it's because, as I was given to understand, Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies and once he delivered his message there was no more need for Prophets of the OT style, making John the Baptist the last of them. And in Islam Mohammed is said to be the last prophet with his message being meant for all the generations after him.

But why?

We certainly haven't stopped screwing up or reinterpreting/misinterpreting the texts that we have, so why doesn't God send down people any more to tell us where we're messing up? Or to give us revelation relevant to the times we're living in now? (Which is not to say that the old revelations would be *irrelevant*, but that with every change of society and technology, new questions in regards to morals come up and rather than trying to apply something from 2,000 years ago, it might be helpful to have something a little more modern.)


  1. SKYFALL!!!!!!!!!! I am not a Bond fan. At all. Daniel Craig is my favorite of the Bonds, but still not good enough that I had any interest in watching this. And then...Q! He's so young and adorable and messy-haired and I love their banter in the clip I saw and I need to see more of him. So I'm very interested to see your thoughts on the movie and maybe what else I can look forward to in case the excitement of little!baby!Q wears off. It won't. But just in case.

    I can try to give the view of my liberal Christian classmates as I understand it, though it's probably not what you're looking for. I think the starting point there is asking what a prophet means and whether we think that there was a special class of people called prophets who existed in Biblical times but not today. I think most of my classmates would say that there isn't, and that a prophet is just someone who is called to speak God's truth in a situation. In ancient times when more people had a magical worldview and religious/mythical texts were expected to be full of miracles, the prophets were written more fantastically - hearing directly from God, predicting the future, and performing miracles to prove themselves.

    For non-literalists, that doesn't mean that's exactly what actually happened, any more than they would necessarily believe the world was created as shown in the beginning of Genesis or that Balaam's donkey literally spoke to him. Therefore the prophets of Biblical times would just be people whose ministry is to see where people and society are corrupt or just need to change and to call people to make those changes. And that's still considered an important part of the ministry today, so their answer might be that God didn't stop sending prophets. People just stopped canonizing everything prophets said.

    (Another consideration is that it's fairly easy for a single relatively small nation to keep track of all its prophets. Once Christianity spread to such a large audience, a single prophet at a time would have difficulty reaching everybody. There would likely be prophets all over the place for various Christian communities, and writing down everything all those prophets taught would either lead to a ridiculously large central canon or individual traditions and canons for each local group - division in the body of Christ. Not really a good or useless thing in either case.)

    1. *useful, in that last sentence. Oops.

    2. *hums Adele's theme song*

      bb!Q is as adorable as you think he is. More so.

      I tend to think of prophets as a separate class of people, I guess. Because anyone can receive prophecy, but they're not all prophets. Does that make sense to anyone but me? Bueller? Bueller?

      or that Balaam's donkey literally spoke to him

      Are you trying to tell me that the magical talking donkey story isn't true? *wails*

      *considers your last paragraph* But if the prophets are all saying the same things, from God, then the central canon shouldn't be that unwieldy. And they shouldn't be giving contradictory information out either, right? So individual groups problems/answers shouldn't interfere with the practices on the other side of the world. They should all be able to mesh.

    3. Yeah, it makes sense and I think a lot of Christians would probably agree, it's just not the perspective I was sharing. :D Like I said, this was probably not at all what you were looking for. Oh well! I'll tackle the last-paragraph question anyway.

      Well, that really depends again on whether prophets are literally speaking God's exact words or if they're speaking his message in their own words. If all prophets everywhere were spouting the exact same message like the kids in "Children of Earth"...well then, yeah, the central canon would all be the same.

      But if they're not, then even though the messages would be in agreement, they'd still be slightly different, and treating all the prophets as that special class of people from Biblical times would still mean separate canons. Not incompatible, but different. It would still cause some division, because there would be too many for anyone to know all of them, and talking to a Christian from the next region would be confusing with everyone quoting strange scriptures you've never heard before.

      Other considerations - Why have all those prophets if they're not going to speak directly to those people and their needs? It's unlikely groups in every region would need the exact same things clarified and would have the same difficulties, so the prophets would have to give different messages. So again, each community winds up having a separate canon of teachings only applicable to them. Without the OT-style prophets, those regional distinctions aren't canonized, and people are left with a central text for everyone and then more flexible local teachings to apply that to each community and keep it practical and living.

    4. And now you've invoked That Which Must Not Be Spoken Of! *friggin RTD, never forgive you for Ianto...*

      Okay, yes, I see what you're saying. And...I don't know. I get it. I understand it and it makes sense. But it doesn't make me happy with the answer, you know?

      We can't even agree of the stuff that we do have though, so maybe it's for the best that we're not getting any new canon.

  2. "there was no more need for Prophets of the OT style"

    I'm actually curious what you mean by this.

    1. People like Ezekiel and Elijah, or John the Baptist, they just don't happen anymore, do they? After Christ the big 'p' Prophets either stopped happening or we stopped recording them.

  3. Maybe God has sent "prophets" after them just not in such an obvious way. Think about it. If someone ran around now claiming to be a prophet of God we'd all think he/she was nuts and dismiss that person. If it was more subtle then we may not recognize them as a prophet but the amazing things they did would be similar to what a prophet might do. A prophet is a person sent to deliver a message to the people. That can mean a lot of different things.

    Ghandi is a good example. There are people who say he may have been a prophet because of the message he delivered through his actions. Not a prophet of a specific religion though (even though Muslims will try to claim him as one of them). Which may be the hang up. Prophets now probably wouldn't belong to one specific religion but would span concepts for all people. Despite religious affiliation you will find numerous people who have respect for Ghandi. It really makes you wonder.

    The other theory is that we are on course for the end of the world. Given all the scary things that have happened the last few years I could see how someone may come to that conclusion as well.

    1. Some of them got the 'you crazy' eye back in the day, too.

      But what good is a prophet if no one recognizes you as a prophet? It's like being Cassandra.

      You can find numerous people who have respect for almost any important figure. That...does not equal prophet-hood, I think.

      *laughs* I remain unconcerned about the end of the world, and kind of admittedly scornful of the people who are obsessed with it. *strikes her judgmental pose at them all*

    2. Maybe that isn't the point? Maybe now its more about the lessons learned and less about religion? Considering many countries are going away from organized religion that would make sense. God still wants us to know what we are doing wrong :p. And no, important figure does not = prophethood.

      Its an option. But maybe we'd need a word that isn't prophet?

    3. Have we really learned any lessons? I'm not being sarcastic, that's an honest question. Have we learned anything at all or are we just doing what we've always been doing?

  4. "I'm sometimes left wondering why God would stop sending prophets. In both Christianity and Islam there's the idea/understanding that He's stopped, that there aren't any more."

    Mormons (who generally aren't lumped with general Christianity despite believing Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world like other Christians) believe there is a prophet on the earth today. They believe that, for a time, God removed the authority to act in his name and stopped calling prophets because of a great apostasy among the early Christians, but the time came when God called a prophet (Joseph Smith) to restore what had been lost. The belief in modern-day prophets is one of the fundamental differences between Mormons and other Christians.

    1. True, and the Mormon's are led by men they consider prophets, aren't they?

      I admit I don't know as much about Mormonism as I do other faiths, so if I'm getting that wrong I apologise. :)

  5. This is something I wondered about a lot as well when I began questioning religion.

    Also, and this is more Islam-related, if God couldn't keep his first two books (the Torah and the Bible/Gospels) safe, why should we believe he could keep the third/last book (the Qur'an) safe. And also, I would half-way jokingly say he ought to send a new book/revelation, maybe in the form of an iPad :P


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