Requirements of Prophethood and recognising true Revelation


This thread is for people (preferably Christians) who already agree that the intellect alone can attain the knowledge of God’s existence and His general attributes, or similar. Likewise, this is for people who agree that divine revelation is a necessity for humanity.

I have discussed this topic on other threads. Due to the fact that in the Bible there exists narratives which tell us how numerous people considered to be Prophets or divinely inspired or instruments in salvation history, have fallen into sin and even apostasy, Christians often have said to me that God may commission whomever He wills for the aforementioned roles. I agree that God may commission whomever He wills, in fact, if He willed, He would not give us any divine revelation, because divine revelation is a necessity for humanity, and not necessary for God. But, if He did give us divine revelation, although it would not be for His own gain, all of His actions are according to His wisdom. So the question is NOT, who He could and could not commission to Prophethood, rather the question is how would we recognise true divine revelation and a true Prophet?

I maintain that even prior to being commissioned to Prophethood, and receiving divine revelation, the would be Prophet must be known among his people for his truthful and upright character, and must be protected by God from lying and disobeying God especially after being commissioned to Prophethood.

God would not give anyone a valid reason to object to the truth, because there is no valid reason to object to the truth; that’s why it is the truth, and this is His wisdom. If the Prophet was a liar, he would be untrustworthy, if he was of general bad character even after being commissioned to Prophethood, (i) the people may object that his being commissioned by God is of no efficacy, and (ii) the people would be required to obey the Prophet in sinning. Finally, if God does not protect the Prophet, nor does God commission one of worthy character, then Satan may intervene at any time, never allowing for trust or certainty.


To the Church – and not to individuals – is given the authority to teach. Therefore, it is the Church’s role to identify what is Divine Revelation and what is not. She has fulfilled this role by providing us with the Deposit of the Faith – the Scriptures and Apostolic Teaching.

With respect to prophets, there was the notion that ‘true prophets’ were known by the accuracy of their prophecies; therefore, one way to discern false prophets was that they said things that didn’t come to pass. Moreover, a true prophet would never say something at odds with God’s Word or His covenants.

Being a ‘good guy’ wasn’t part of the discernment for prophets: Elisha set a ravenous bear upon some children who annoyed him, and Jonah attempted to run away from his calling (and even regretted doing God’s will!).

God never keeps us from exercising our free will. Wouldn’t you say that Jonah disobeyed God by going in completely the opposite direction of Ninevah?


If they are ever wrong in their prophecy or prophecies in the name of a false god, they are not real prophets.

The Church should give a good approval, but still individual revelation is not needed to be believed.


The problem with that is that it’s assuming the church has the authority, how do we know it does? Please don’t point to scripture, because that is just begging the question and leads to circularity.

There are two positions from the orthodox schools of theology in Islam. The Asharis say that prior to being commissioned to Prophethood, it is possible for the would be Prophet to commit both major and minor sin, because obligation comes solely from revelation, but nonetheless he must have an upright character among his own people, so in the case of would be Prophets among the children of Israel, they must observe the Torah even prior to being commissioned to Prophethood. However, after being commissioned to Prophethood, it is not possible for a Prophet to commit a major sin, but it is possible for him to commit a minor sin out of heedlessness, except a minor sin for a Prophet wouldn't be a sin for us, the Prophets are simply held to a higher standard of morality; so the Asharis would say that Prophet Yunus (A) committed a minor sin out of heedlessness, and repented immediately. The second opinion is that of the Maturidi school, they take the position of Imam Abu Hanifa that a Prophet may not commit major and minor sin, both before and after being commissioned to Prophethood, but it is possible for a Prophet to make a minor mistake out of heedlessness.

What do you say about the intervention of Satan?


Once again, you’re assuming the church has the authority. And you assume this from the Prophets previous to the coming of Isa ibn Maryam (A). How would an atheist for example, know whether to trust the church has the authority, rather than someone else who has claimed to receive divine revelation?


An atheist doesn’t believe in God, the source of authority, so I have no idea how one would make an atheist realize the authority of anything.

I also gave you another test, the answer given in Deureronomy


Obviously, this would be after convincing him of the existence of God and necessity of divine revelation.

I don’t understand how that’s a criteria at all, how could the Israelites believe the Prophets based solely on something that is yet to happen?


The prophets prophecied many things.

If they are ever wrong once, they are false prophets.

It’s that simple.

Consider the “fortune tellers” of today, or the Lady Baba or whatever her name is, they say things like "84% success rate in telling the future"
That would mean they are not a prophet, and is a common thing.

Getting them to believe in the authority of the Church would depend on what they believe specifically about God. Do they believe in any prophets? What do they think of Christ Jesus? Etc etc


It really doesn’t. The answer isn’t “because the Bible tells me so”; the answer is “because Jesus said it.” The Bible is one of the sources that reports Jesus’ grant of authority, but it’s not even the first! This was believed and practiced and lived out by the Church for a good 30 years before it was ever written down in the Bible!

To call it circular would be like saying that it’s circular to ask, “Does the U.S. Government have the power to declare war?” (Yes.) “How do we know that?” (The Constitution.) “Who wrote the Constitution?” (The Government of the U.S.)

That’s not ‘circular’ – that’s an example of the proper authority exercising its authority!

Perhaps we’re using the term ‘prophet’ in different ways, then. In an OT perspective, Jonah is clearly a prophet: he receives a commission from God to prophesy, and the word he tells the intended audience is the Word of God that he received. His personal sanctity has nothing to do with it. :man_shrugging:


Yes it does, because the only reason you trust Isa ibn Maryam (A) is either because of scripture (in this case the Old Testament, and this would lead to circularity), or due to his own merits (which would mean you agree with my position).

What about if Satan intervenes in any of this?


Hold on a second, though. You didn’t ask me why I believe in Jesus – you asked why I believe in Divine Revelation. The two questions are distinct, wouldn’t you say?

If by “intervenes”, you mean “Satan causes sin”, then no; but, if by “intervenes”, you mean “Satan tempts humans”, then yes, that’s a possibility. On the other hand, it could simply be that we, as humans, are subject to weakness and sin, and therefore, a prophet may sin simply by virtue of being human.


Not really.

You stated about a Prophet, “he receives a commission from God to prophesy”, and since sanctity has nothing to do with this commission, I ask what if Satan intervenes in this and deceives the Prophet?

You also stated, “and the word he tells the intended audience is the Word of God that he received”, and since God would not protect this Prophet, I ask what if Satan intervenes in this and deceives the Prophet?


A true prophet would not prophecy in the name of satan or any demon or other god.

Discernment is separate from whether or not you ever sin, and one wonders if God would even let a true prophet fall to such?
One who does this according to the Law of Moses would be deserving of death.


Without having to mention Prophet Muhammad (S), I’m sure there are other so called ‘prophets’ who claim to prophesy in the Name of the God of Ibrahim (A), who you reject. So that cannot be the only criteria.


How many prophecies did (insert would be prophet name) make that turned out accurate? How many that did not turn out accurate? Did what they teach preach against known truth? Etc.


Well you have a lot of intellectual opinions on the prophetic.

John Paul Jackson was viewed as prophetic to literally millions of people.

As was Kenneth e Hagan.

Your criteria is interesting . but take a look at
Fr john harden.
And his teaching on mystism visionaries and visions.
He couldn’t figure it out ! And he is viewed as a great appoligiest!!!

Good luck!!


There are mystics in Islam, but they are not considered to be on the same level as Prophets, because Prophets are those who have received divine revelation.


What of a mystic who has received prophecy? Or does that not happen?

Typically a prophet would also be a miracle worker.


Yes their are mystic’s . in every religion . and each claim relationship with the source.

Its like the internet. Availability for all. Or not.


By mystic, I’m simply referring to an ascetic who has not received Prophethood (which in Arabic is Nubuwwa). In that case, it’s possible for a mystic to attain irfan or marifat (which means gnosis/awareness), but not wahy (which means divine revelation), which is reserved for Prophets. Awliya of Allah (which means friends of Allah, or simply Saints), may receive karamat (miracle gifts) which they may perform, but not mu`jizat (inimitable miracles) which is reserved for Prophets. Above the Prophets (which in Arabic is Nabi) are the Rasul (meaning Apostles or Messengers), these are all Prophets, with the difference being that they have been ordered to convey publicly what has been revealed to them by Allah.

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