This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him.” — Micah 3:5
In my last post, I wrote about the dangers of creating a God to confirm what we already believe. I believe the hiring of “professional teachers” often is indicative of, and contributes to, this problem. I’m not arguing a minister / preacher / pastor is not worth his wages, but I am suggesting that, just like in Micah’s day, there exist today too many prophets for hire.
We create an atmosphere in many of our churches of “absolute correctness” in doctrine, and we come together several times each week to further convince ourselves of what we already believe. We hire a preacher from an approved school, to teach us our approved doctrine. We may even give that preacher a list of topics or texts he is to preach (and state how often). It’s well communicated to the professional teacher he’s expected to teach this party line in order to keep his paid position. And another prophet is hired.
I believe every church should interpret scripture in order to find truth; and I believe they should then teach that truth. But we enter dangerous territory when we begin to exchange open dialogue on the truths of God for the preservation of predetermined conclusions. When we require our preachers to arrive at a fixed interpretation of scripture, we’ve traded objectivity for pride and comfort. It’s become more important for us to defend our position and stance, than to be led by God to his heart. We quench the Holy Spirit in order to drink of our own arrogance and pigheadedness. Tradition trumps truth. And we pay a guy to cultivate this in us.
Joe Preacher is married with three children — he’s moved to a new city and state in order to proclaim the truth of God in a congregation there. They’ve hired him to be their prophet.
- When Joe argues the plan for salvation is not as cut and dry as they’ve made it out to be;
- Every time Joe suggests God is more concerned with greed and the abuse of material possessions than with the method of “worship” on Sunday mornings;
- Each time Joe questions the congregation’s longheld view of the church down the street;
…He is putting his family in danger of being without food and shelter. We’ve created this system, and Joe Preacher’s willingly submitted himself to it.
Proclaim the truth at any cost.
Or conceal the truth at a certain price?
So not all blame goes on the church. Every teacher should count the cost (and not the zeroes) of that salary before making a commitment to proclaim the word of God in the midst of a particular congregation. If I’m called by God to proclaim his truth, I must be willing to proclaim that truth at any cost. Too many preachers today are willing to conceal God’s truth for a certain price.
The dangers of a prophet for hire are many:
- God’s truth is not proclaimed as he desires.
- Members of a congregation are unable to wholeheartedly pursue God and truth — and often are ignorant that this is the case.
- The Bible is not the final authority on the word of God. An already agreed upon tradition / position is.
- Security and a salary are pitted against honesty and integrity in the life of the prophet.
- A prophet and his family are placed on the scales opposite preserving the status quo — and will always find themselves on the lighter side of that scale.
- The line is easily blurred between being called to another place and being “called” to another salary.
- If God is the same as in Micah’s day, the prophet will eventually be unable to see or understand the truth of God he was originally called to proclaim.
My goal is not to convince churches they shouldn’t be sure of any position on any issue. And my goal isn’t to convince congregations never to pay a preacher. But a church has to open to God’s truth. And a prophet has to preach God’s word, no matter the cost. I am only encouraging us to take an honest assessment of our current position.
Are we paying someone to further our own ideologies and opinions?
Am I willing to lose my paid position in order to speak on behalf of God?