The Christian world moves from one bizarre scene to another – following manic laughter in Toronto, we now have angelic surgery in Florida. Against the background of the confusing times in which we live, there is a great need for a sober and soundly biblical treatment of one of the phenomena that is part of the charismatic mix – that of prophecy. Jim Thompson has provided us with a most helpful assessment in this short but solid book.
Some treatments of this perplexing subject have handled it by recounting anecdotes – a series of ‘horror’ stories of strange activities resulting from the words, ‘The Lord has told me…’ Thompson avoids that approach and confines himself exclusively to the scriptural material.
That surely is the safest method and we are grateful to him for his thoroughness and clarity.
He examines, firstly, prophecy in the Old Testament and its characteristics. Particularly valuable here is his elucidation of the ‘messenger formula’ – ‘Thus says the Lord’ is the introductory phrase to the majority of prophetic statements. They are truly proclamations from God delivered through the mouths of his called servants. The messenger ‘disappears behind his master’s words’.
The second section of the book then sets out to demonstrate that New Testament prophecy carries exactly the same hallmarks as that of the earlier dispensation. This is the point where there are differences of opinion, and not all will find Thompson entirely convincing.
What exactly did go on in the vibrant chaos that was Corinth? Plainly there were a goodly number of prophets and prophecies. Neither will all readers be persuaded of his conclusions concerning the meaning of ‘when that which is perfect is come’ (1 Corinthians 13:10). He is honest enough to admit that eminent worthies such as Calvin, Henry, Edwards, and Hodge arrived at a different position. Nevertheless, his treatment of a contentious subject is both accessible and helpful.
His final conclusion is generous to Bible-believing charismatics, but he feels they are wrong in this area, and many readers of this journal will share that conviction.