Friday, October 18, 2019

The Prophetic Responsibility by Matthew L Stevenson III

I have reservations about this book. It is aimed at people with a prophetic calling, encouraging them to take responsibility for it. My concern is that almost all of Stevenson's teaching on the prophetic comes from the Old Testament, a time when people could, in general, only hear from God through prophets. The New Testament believer's access to God through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are truths pretty much ignored in this book. Stevenson seems to think Christians cannot understand the will of God, do not have the opportunity to hear the voice of God and people will not be saved without the active ministry of those with prophetic calling (quotes below).

Because this is a theological book, my critical review is lengthy. I address many areas in the book with which I take issue.

The first issue is how important Stevenson thinks the prophetic voice is. “The prophetic even set up the moral code of the whole human race, as it was the prophetic, through Moses, that gave us the Ten Commandments.” (26) I am pretty sure the finger of God wrote the Ten Commandments on the tablets. (Exod. 31:18; Deut. 9:10) Here is another: “Through prophecy we discover His truth and His will.” (32) My goodness! Then what good is the written Word, the Bible? Along with Paul, I thought Scripture was good for knowing His truth and will. (Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 3:16) And this: “Wherever there is human crisis, human indifference, or human indecision, the only thing that solves those issues are people who move in prophetic responsibility.” (33)

Stevenson makes it sound like the prophetic voice is the only hope for ministry and evangelism. “If we don't have the prophetic, we have no real way to pull people out of death, danger, disaster, and deception.” (38) In a prophetic drought, Stevenson says there would be “no opportunity for God to speak.” (41) There would be “no redemptive power.” (42) The Lord would “not be accessible.” (47) I thought God's word was alive and active, speaking to us constantly. (Heb. 4:12) I thought we could enter God's presence with boldness and confidence and come boldly to the throne of God – talk about access! (Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16)

The prophetic is the way God has chosen to speak.” (133) Remember the writer of Hebrews tells us God spoke through prophets in the past but has now spoken to us through His Son. (Heb. 1:1-2) The prophetic may be one way God speaks today but is by no means the only way. I also think we need to remember that God gave four (or five) giftings to the church to build it up. (Eph. 4:11) Prophets are just one of those offices.

Interestingly enough, I just read another book from this same publisher on a balance of Word & Spirit. The author, R T Kendall, distinguished the prophetic word in the Bible from that of today. I feel much more comfortable with Kendall's book than I do with Stevenson's.

If you want to be an Old Testament prophet, this is the book for you. If you understand the Spirit indwells believers and that believers can be “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18) without the need for a prophetic voice, this book may be less than satisfying, as it was for me.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Matthew L Stevenson III is the founder and senior pastor of All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago, home to over fifteen thousand people through ten locations. He has authored seven books and has traveled internationally. He oversees the All Nations Network, a conglomerate of autonomous ministries that look to Stevenson for spiritual covering. He and his wife have three children.

Charisma House, 208 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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