Theme: The Integrity of the Prophetic Gift
Leading Question: When speaking of prophetic messengers, what does the word “integrity” mean, as in the phrase, “The Integrity of the Prophetic Gift”?
When scholars in the 19th century began to dissect “inspired” writings, identifying sources and the work of editors and secretaries, the effect on believers was often deadly. Indeed, the whole fundamentalist movement could be said to be a reaction to that kind of fragmenting of the biblical text.
Because of the work of Ellen White among Adventists, we are in a good position to address issues of “integrity.” The shrill criticism that was so prominent in the 19th century has abated somewhat. Just as music lovers would allow music composers to “borrow” from other musicians, just as devotees of drama would allow authors to borrow from other sources, believers are now somewhat better prepared to allow Bible writers the privilege of using sources.
The study of parallel passages in both Testaments (Samuel/Kings and Chronicles in the OT; Matthew/Mark/Luke in the NT) provide us good guidelines to measuring the extent to which Bible writers used sources. The crucial question is: Are these writings trustworthy?
But from the standpoint of the believer, the question of “integrity” involves no so much the origin of inspired writings, but their use and applicability in our day. In our use of inspired writings, are we maintaining the “integrity” of the prophetic gift? Three biblical examples can help us address that question:
1. Nathan and David (2 Sam 7:1-7). Is there any evidence that David doubted Nathan’s prophetic calling when Nathan returned to the kind and reversed his counsel on building a temple? How does such an example of a prophet who “got it wrong,” shape our thinking about the integrity of the prophetic gift?
2. Micaiah and Ahab (1 Kings 22). One of the most vivid examples of an attack on prophetic authority is provided by the story of Micaiah and Ahab. Ahab was afraid that Micaiah would not affirm the king’s plans to go out against Ramoth-gilead. As a result, the messenger who summoned the prophet tried to manipulate Micaiah’s message by telling him of all the prophets who had already given the king their blessing. Micaiah resisted the attempts to shape his message and gave the king the straight message. Can the written messages of the prophets be as crystal clear in their application as the physical presence of Micaiah standing before the king?
3. Jeremiah and the refugees (Jer 43-44). Two chapters in Jeremiah describe how the people listening to Jeremiah’s counsel simply scorned his message, claiming that Baruch had been influencing the prophet. Jeremiah remained firm. Are the possible parallels for us today as we seek to apply the messages of prophets who are no longer alive?