Darin Slack. Reclaiming Prophecy: Encouraging Church Leaders to Rethink Prophetic Ministry. Apopka, FL: Certa, 2015. See here to buy the book.
More than one person has said that prophets can be a destabilizing
presence. A person can enter a congregation with a “Thus saith the
LORD” and end up destabilizing the church. Not only can that happen,
but it also has happened. The apostle Paul himself dealt with the issue
of prophesying in the Corinthian congregation, and Paul in I
Corinthians 14 gives the church instructions on how to preserve prophecy
in its midst, while also regulating it for the sake of order and the
edification of the church.
Darin Slack’s goal is similar. He wants for prophets to be part of
prophetic teams that are accepted and integrated within the larger
church body. That can allow prophets to mature, lessen any arrogance or
alienation on their part, and remind them of their mission to love and
edify the church. Meanwhile, the church can be edified by prophets and
reminded of the presence of God within its midst.
The book can be repetitive, at times. Moreover, I sometimes wondered
if there was a cost to lessening the spontaneity of prophecy and
subordinating it to an institution, though I can understand the
rationale for doing so.
There were things that I appreciated about the book. Slack is honest
about his vulnerabilities and areas in which he needed to grow. He
tells good stories: one story was about a time when he prophesied to a
waitress and then a guy on the street, who (unknown to him at the time)
turned out to be the waitress’ boyfriend; the other story was about when
he worked well with a prophetic partner who was unlike him in so many
Slack states that prophecy is intended to encourage and not to
condemn, and that made me wonder about the Old Testament prophets who
rebuked rather harshly. Slack states that, after the death of Christ,
God does not condemn his church, for Christ paid the penalty for
people’s sins. I did not find that entirely convincing as an
explanation for why Old Testament prophets rebuked whereas Christian
prophets are supposed to encourage, for it seems to imply that God
arbitrarily changed his character in the transition from the Old
Testament to the New Testament (not that Slack would say that, but I do
wonder if that could be an unintended implication of his argument).
Slack also says that prophecies, even ones that correct, are supposed to
offer hope, and I would say that even many of the harsh Old Testament
prophecies do that, in the end. While I did not entirely agree with
Slack’s discussion here, I do respect him for addressing the question.
Another question that was in my mind as I read Slack’s book concerned
the nature of prophecy. Prophecy, from what Slack said, is not
necessarily a clear “Thus saith the Lord.” It can require some
interpretation, and there is the possibility that prophets can
misinterpret the message that they receive. Slack states that prophets
need each other and the church because no single prophet sees the whole
story. Slack often advises prophets to say that they believe that God
is impressing a certain message on them, as opposed to being dogmatic.
Slack states that there are different levels of prophetic anointing, and
that (to Slack) may explain why prophets today are not as authoritative
as the prophets who wrote Scripture. In Numbers 12, Slack notes, God
distinguishes God’s revelation to Moses from God’s interaction with
other prophets. I appreciate Slack’s wrestling with these issues.
There was one place in which Slack was not particularly clear, and
this is on pages 211-213. In I Corinthians 14, Paul says that tongues
should be interpreted for the edification of the body, since people
cannot understand tongues. Slack is wrestling with the question of how
to distinguish an interpreted tongue from a prophecy that was inspired
by hearing the tongue but is not an attempt to interpret it. I was
unclear about whether Slack believed that the tongue needed to be
interpreted, and what his Scriptural basis for his position was.
Overall, I found this book to be a reasonable and judicious discussion of prophecy.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Bookcrash in exchange for an honest review.