How to refute a false gift of prophecy?


#1

How do you refute an argument from a protestant who claims to have been given the power by the Holy Spirit to predict the future?

I recently encountered someone (a pentecostal / non-denominational) who told my wife that someone in their church, who has a 'gift of prophecy" predicted that she would have a son.

I can’t help but think that these Christians are incorporating elements of fortune telling into their belief system. Technically, it serves the same function. I’d really like to call them out on this nonsensical behaviour, but I’m wondering if anyone else here has encountered the same behaviour. Any advice?


#2

In my country we have a saying; “Never argue with a mug.” One, it is kinder. Two, it does not needlessly increase the blood pressure. My wife has a friend who believes in Riki or some other sort of withcraft; and charges people for angel healings. I find that many women appear to delude themselves into a belief that they have arcane powers that they can use for good. I dare not look into the psychology as I may find myself sexist; judgemental or some other less than modern thing. However it does not require comprehensive reading of the DSM V to call them Wacko. Coherent rational argument goes nowhere when dealing with emotionally generated delusions.


#3

That’s a tough one. Try and make a distinction between the public revelation of God in the Bible and supposed private revelations. Never say that it is false or of the devil but say that it doesn’t sound right to you and that it may go against the word of God so he or she should use prudence with their “gift” because there may be a chance that it is not of God.

Try and be as respectful as possible. I have had conversations with a friend who says God told her that being gay was okay and he was fine with that. It was a very weird conversation but…anywho. Lol

God bless!


#4

A prediction about a child’s gender is easy - you’ve got a 50/50 chance of being right. All you need to do is wait for the first “revelation” that is flat-out wrong. One failed prophecy is all that it took to get a false prophet stoned in OT times.


#5

I had a friend who did this. She was convinced that her husband was a prophet and was helping her find her inner prophetess. Supposedly, he saw and did battle with demons and angels. I noticed that these demons and angels generally showed up every time the conversation or focus of attention drifted away from him. For example, when my friend and I would begin talking about our time together in school, her husband would begin pawing at “angels” in the air and interrupt to tell me that the angels were telling him that I had a bad relationship with my father. I could have argued with them about the unBiblical nature of this position, but I chose to ignore it completely as I’m convinced he was just doing this for attention anyway. My friend was raised in a religious community where faith healing is very common and the faithful are expected to demonstrate powers of some kind as proof of their choseness.


#6

It’s not fortune telling if she asks for that knowledge from the Holy Spirit. But I do think it is offensive to Him to attempt to use him as a fortune teller in effect. When the Holy Spirit wants a person to know something of the future, then He will decide. All gifts come from God. Some gifts are not appropriate for which to ask.

You might point out to her that such gifts have become a point of pride and self-exaltation in her. True prophetic gifts always come with enormous crosses to bear in order to keep that person from becoming prideful. This is not something you ought to petition the Lord to give you. He decides and you serve.

Lastly, point out that she might get what she wants, which is a false prophesy given to her by a demon. If she persists in pride and error, then a demon very well might petition God to afflict her, and God might allow that to humble her.


#7

The whole doctrine of The Rapture so popular among Protestants was actually an emotionally generated delusion from a mentally challenged woman/follower of John Nelson Darby in the 19th century.:shrug:


#8

Some people have been gifted in this area, but if someone is bragging about it then that alone would make me skeptical. I am open to the possibility of someone having the gift even if they are not Catholic, words of prophecy has come through even non-believers in the past. I had a vision in a dream happen one time about a coworker of mine who got killed, the vision happen a few months beforehand, and it happened exactly in every detail and was so real, powerful dream that effected me, so much so that even when I would see him at work before he actually got killed it was still a little creepy. Even the day that he got killed I had an extremely overwhelming feeling come upon me, I knew something had happened, he worked day turn and I was on evenings. I don’t believe that I have the gift of prophecy, but I was given a vision that had a purpose of giving me evidence that there is something beyond what we see in the flesh.

As for how to refute someone, you don’t need to, their false predictions will do that. It just takes one.


#9

We are not obliged to believe in private revelation, whether it’s a church approved apparition or your friend’s “gift.”

I agree with what was posted about pride.

A note also needs to be mentioned about control. People can use a prophecy, vision, or locution to lend an air of divine authority to their own opinions or perspectives. I discern a lot of this going on with so-called visionaries and locutionists in our time whose messages have an axe to grind against the church. They dress up their opinions in divine phenomena to elevate it and try to persuade other people to believe and/or do something.

Not sure I would get into an argument with someone about it. Perhaps if we had a close relationship and I was concerned about them.

You can always resist attempts at control by claiming to receive a different word from the Lord. :thumbsup:


#10

You know that doesn’t work with these kinds of people right?, They will alter the claim or add something else to the mix. For example, the prediction in question was actually already proven wrong in that my wife was supposed to get pregnant within the year. Well a year passed and then she got pregnant. But do you think that matters? No, that fact is ignored. Of course, I attribute that to our prayers and the help we received from the Share Life program. They of course will say otherwise. I just feel that it’s a losing argument.

If I could prove that it’s a sin, which I think it is, that might help.


#11

It sounds like the best thing you could do is avoid the person.

If that’s not possible - family member or boss - you have my sympathy. I have a relative who used have “a word from the Lord” for almost every occasion. The false “prophecies” escalated, until the last one hurt her daughter profoundly. She never had another one.


#12

Sadly, I’ve experienced this sort of thing in non-denominational churches. My first thought would be to ask why they would use the word “prediction” to describe a divine prophecy. Fortune tellers make predictions - prophets speak what God tells them. I would document the “prophecy” - date, time, who heard it, exactly what was said, etc…, and get the “prophet” to sign the document. If they won’t put their name to it, that should say something. Keep the documentation of all such predictions, and note if they are fulfilled or not. If a prediction fails, pay a visit to the “prophet” and remind them of Deut 18:22. If you get more than 1 false prediction, inform the person that you believe them to be a false prophet and to stop bothering you with their witchcraft.

That’s what I would do!


#13

In the Catholic understanding, prophecy is not primarily about the future. But, even more important:

1 John 4:1-6
Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
Testing the Spirits

4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits[a] to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist, of which you heard that it was coming, and now it is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are of the world, therefore what they say is of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are of God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and he who is not of God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.


#14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.