A recent flow of conversation on a Signposts02 thread raised an interesting question when a blogger, conveniently named ‘Anonymous’, gave a partial prophecy of impending doom from God for a well known Australian-based ministry with global connections.
Since the blogger used the most common pseudonym it is appropriate to use it for this post, but the subject matter could refer to anyone, not a specific person, or incident.
In reference to prophecy, Paul the Apostle clearly admonishes:
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge”
(1 Corinthians 14:29)
This is an instruction for the Church, but there are a number of questions which come out of this directive, especially when it comes to people who advance prophetic warnings and utterances via the medium of the internet.
Prophecy in church
In a church setting, the person who prophesies would generally be known. If they were not known, and the prophecy were judged to be error, how, then, could they be corrected successfully? The clear implication Paul raises is that prophecy is subject to the prophets, and that each utterance should be judged before it is accepted as from the Lord.
This is simple to administer in a local church. If it is judged to be accurate to scripture (the most basic prerequisite), faithful to the circumstances of the church and congregation, and of the Spirit, not of man, then it can be considered accurate if it is edifying, encouraging or comforting to the church, and to any members affected.
If it carries warning with dire consequences, which would happen on fewer occasions, the whole church can be put on notice.
If, on the other hand, it is judged to be error, it should be dismissed and declared so by the leadership of the church, and the person delivering the prophecy left in no doubt that what they have said is not accurate to the Word, or is delivered in the wrong spirit and not edifying, nor a true warning members can act on. This is only possible where the person prophesying is identifiable.
The person delivering the prophecy can be privately told why their message is not received, and given advice on how a prophetic utterance should be given, and the motives behind it, which always begin, continue and end with love.
None of these things are possible online, particularly where the person prophesying has determined to remain anonymous, where there are no recognised prophets designated to judge the prophecy, where there is no oversight in place to bring direction or correction when error is discovered, and where no-one can take responsibility for the content.
An anonymous blogger could be commenting from anywhere on the planet, and have any number of motives for their claims without being accountable to anyone.
In examples of online prophecy, say with Danny Nahlia, who has given a number of prophecies which some of us deem to be unbiblical in their content, motives and delivery, we at least know who has claimed to be the one given a word from God. We are able to judge the prophecy. Indeed, Nahlia has been rebuked publicly by some recognised leaders in the Australian church for giving what they saw as wrong prophecy.
On Signposts02 Ian Williams is the most obvious choice for someone who has publicly prophesied doom over New Zealand. The regular contributors here have generally considered his utterances to be conspiratorial, contrived and geographically obvious, and therefore not of God, and to be dismissed as unlikely. Declaring the probability of an earthquake in Christchurch is the equivalent of predicting rain in Manchester or sunshine in the Sahara. Sooner or later it will happen.
Is anonymity valid for prophecy?
But when someone comments anonymously, or using a pseudonym, which amounts to the same thing, why should anyone take any notice of what is being said? How can that person be taken seriously if they do not reveal themselves? How will they be judged as giving false or true prophecy if they are not known to the recipients and therefore untouchable in regards to confirmaton or correction?
Indeed, why would God even use a person who is not prepared to be upfront with the people he or she is speaking to, to be judged for what is being said, and to be possibly corrected for error?
My question is: Should a person giving a supposed warning or prophecy from God to any group online be asked to reveal themselves so that their prophecy can be Biblically judged before being given license to speak on behalf of God on an online forum?