Since the mid-nineties, I have been charismatic in my beliefs. That is, I believe the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of prophecy, are for today. Going further, I not only want to believe in the theology of the gifts of the Spirit—I want to operate in the gifts and I want the church I lead to operate in the gifts.
Nevertheless, I have never witnessed anything like the fiasco of the failed Trump prophecies. Many who believe and practice the gifts of the Spirit are now confused, cynical, and jaded toward the gift of prophecy. Some are even abandoning the charismatic church for the “saner” evangelical church. Others have even walked away from the faith entirely because of this.
For those charismatics who don’t want to hear another dream, vision, prophecy, or encounter, I understand the way you feel. Nevertheless, Paul warns us not to “despise prophetic utterances” (1 Thess. 5:20-21).
As a pastor, my burden is for the multitudes who have been wounded and confused by these false prophetic words. I am especially concerned for those listening to the “prophetic voices” who are still claiming, somehow, Trump will be placed into office. And not to believe this is to be in unbelief, like the 10 spies who died in the wilderness. These false prophetic voices are giving many a false sense of hope.
Jeremiah 5:31 describes much of the charismatic church today: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so!”
I hope, from the ash heap of this embarrassing moment, God will purify the prophetic movement and raise up true and tested prophetic messengers, who will boldly declare the supremacy of Jesus Christ, call the church to repentance, equip the church to be true overcomers, preach Christ and Him crucified, promote the centrality of the Scriptures, admonish the church to live a Sermon-on-Mount lifestyle, and exhort God’s people to dwell in the secret place with Jesus Christ.
I hope there will be less predictions about the future (though some are still needed) and more proclamations of the beauty, glory, and majesty of the King of kings and Lord of lords—Jesus Christ. I pray we holdoff on our Super Bowl prophecies and presidential predictions and instead proclaim the gospel of the kingdom with greater boldness and clarity.
Questions from Our Church
After hearing from several in our church, who were confused about these failed Trump prophecies, I did a survey with our church and asked them to submit questions they had. What follows are my responses to their questions.
I really hope this helps you process this really confusing time in the charismatic church.
1. Why do we believe the prophets were wrong?
In testing prophetic words, it’s incorrect and unfair to group every prophet and prophetic word together. There is a vast spectrum in the modern-day prophetic movement.
It would also be incorrect to say “the prophets missed it” if we don’t evaluate every prophetic word given. The more correct way to say it is “many prophets missed it.”
As I have evaluated some of the words given, there were a few who properly spoke of the conditional nature of their prophetic words. For example, prior to the election, some suggested Trump’s pride and dangerous rhetoric could cost him re-election. Others warned the election could be stolen.
However, those who said Trump would win and serve a second term—without specifying the election could be stolen or warning of necessary conditions—missed it. From what I have seen, most of the prophetic voices fall into this category—plain and simple.
Even if you believe the election was stolen, which is about half the country, Biden still became the 46th president on January 20, 2021. We can’t say Trump is the spiritual president or the president in heaven. That is nonsense.
Loren Sanford uses the term “rubber-band prophecies” to describe how some prophetic ministers try to make their words fit when they have clearly missed it. We have seen many do this after their failed Trump prophecies. For example, some have said Trump won but it was stolen. If they warned before the election it could be stolen, then there’s a possibility they were correct. But most didn’t.
Others use plausible deniability, meaning they purposely phrase their words so they won’t be wrong if they miss it. For example, some have said if the church would have prayed more, Trump would have been re-elected. This can’t be true because I have never seen more prayer for an election in my lifetime. Millions of believers fasted and prayed like never before.
If there was enough fraud to steal the election, the Lord could easily expose it and move the right people to bring justice. Despite the most prayer I have ever witnessed for an election, for whatever reason, the Lord allowed Biden to be elected. And because of this, most of the prophetic voices who didn’t specify before the election the conditional nature of their prophecy, missed it.
2. Do you think any personal bias distracted prophetic voices from hearing clearly?
Yes. I think this is certainly the case with many who missed it.
Anyone who prophesies frequently knows the great power of the soul to deceive. Our mind, will, and emotions can easily masquerade as the voice of the Spirit. And so, in delivering prophetic words, there is a mandate for all prophetic voices to separate what is of the soul from what is from the Spirit (Heb. 4:12).
Soulish desires—such as personal bias; not wanting to see America lose her freedoms; viewing Trump as a political messiah who alone can save our nation; not believing God would judge America; not wanting to be the lone voice who prophesies contrary to their prophetic circle of friends; not wanting to lose popularity among peers; and a whole host of other issues—can easily mingle into what the Spirit is truly speaking.
Just look at Peter in Matthew 16. One minute he rightly claimed Jesus was the Son of God and Israel’s Messiah. The next minute, Jesus rebuked him and called him Satan. Why? Because Peter had a selfish desire to make Israel great and this caused him to resist the idea of Jesus dying on the cross.
If the Apostle Peter can have soulish mixture, then even the most accurate prophetic voices with a proven track record can too.
3. Do you think some of these prophetic words are due to people getting swept up in emotions and hysteria and then feeding off each other? Thus, prophecies and words are born? A group-think type phenomenon?
Yes. I think this is exactly what happened.
It reminds me of Micaiah and the 400 prophets in Israel. If you don’t know the story, King Ahab wanted to go to war, so King Jehoshaphat encouraged him to seek the word of the Lord.
Four-hundred prophets were in agreement. They said to him, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:6). They proclaimed, “You will gore the Arameans until they are consumed” (1 Kings 22:11). And “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and prosper, for the LORD will give it into the hand of the king” (1 Kings 22:12). Sounds a lot like our modern-day prophetic words of breakthrough, success, and prosperity, doesn’t it?
But there was one prophet named Micaiah. King Ahab dreaded his prophetic words because they weren’t pleasant, hopeful, and promising. Micaiah prophesied negative words the king didn’t like. Sure enough, when Micaiah prophesied to King Ahab, he warned of a great defeat for Israel. Because Ahab ignored this word, Ahab was killed in battle.
Not many prophetic voices want to be the Micaiah. There is pressure to prophesy in agreement with the famous and influential prophetic voices, for if you prophesy a word contrary to general consensus, you will be canceled by popular leaders with influence.
Many Christians are complaining about the rise of the cancel culture in our nation. But there is also a cancel culture in the church. Some of the prophetic voices, such as Jeremiah Johnson and R. Loren Sanford, who admitted their error, are experiencing this cancel culture like never before.
If you speak contrary to what is popular in the prophetic movement, you risk being canceled as a conference speaker, being invited to prophetic round tables and prophetic council meetings, and losing book sales, influence, donations, and followers.
4. How could so many have been so wrong? Is this an example of God sending a strong delusion to His people who don’t love the truth (2 Thess. 2:11)? Do you believe God sent a lying spirit upon the prophets?
I do believe a lying spirit has infiltrated into the modern-day prophetic movement.
When Micaiah saw a vision of the Lord’s prophets, he witnessed the Lord “put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets” (1 Kings 22:23). Notice carefully it wasn’t the devil who deceived the prophets. The Lord sent a deceiving spirit to the prophets. The result: They falsely proclaimed breakthrough, prosperity, and success to the king.
Before you quickly dismiss this event, since it occurred under the Old Covenant, consider what Paul said in the New Covenant. Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul said, “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false” (2 Thess. 2:11). I don’t know about you, but this verse is sobering to me.
When I hear some of the words coming from the modern-day prophetic movement, I am convinced this same dynamic is at play. It appears a deceiving spirit has infiltrated the modern-day prophetic movement.
After praying about this deception, I will summarize what I believe is happening.
There is a tribe in the body of Christ who are like Peter when Jesus was going to the cross. Peter, for selfish purposes, because he wanted an earthly Messiah to defeat Rome and make Israel great, tried to hinder Jesus from going to the cross. His mind and heart where not set on Christ but himself. Not on heaven but on earth.
And what seemed like compassion—trying to prevent Jesus, whom he loved, from dying—was actually Satanic.
This tribe is like Peter. They love and serve the Lord. They move in miracles and God is using them. But they want glory before the cross. They want a crown before crucifixion. They want heaven before tribulation.
And like Peter, they have become a voice of mixture that is confusing the church. Because their hearts are set on an earthly kingdom—on heaven coming to earth in fullness apart from Christ being on the earth—a door has opened for deception.
Self-interest—due to the absence of the cross and self-denial—has brought in soulish mixture and demonic deception.
Some are saying peace, peace when there is no peace. Some are trying to superficially comfort God’s people.
If this could happen to Peter, it can happen to anyone of us. I want to live in the fear of the Lord. I don’t want any selfish motive or selfish ambition to dilute the pure word of the Lord.
My Closing Appeal
Let’s not build our lives upon the prophetic words of modern-day prophets. Instead, let’s build our lives upon the tried, tested, and proven Word of God. Let’s go deep into Scripture and construct our lives based upon what we know will never fail.
As Isaiah said, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8).
In Part 2 of this article, I will answer the remaining questions I didn’t have time to answer.