Prophetic speech is not unique to the Judeo-Christian community, not by a long shot. In the current world, there are many forms of prophetic voice.
A short list (i.e., not exhaustive) of prophetic voices: environmental collapse; sustainability (related, but not the same as environmental collapse); gender identification; minority redress (including, but not limited to, white privilege); economic growth; and so much more.
From a Judeo-Christian standpoint (and certainly from a number of political points within the church), it might seem dangerous to call these “prophetic.” The Global Wesleyan Dictionary of Theology says that prophecy is, “…an urgent message from God to an audience.”
That being said, the only similar words with the same underlying (i.e., surpassing the human condition) meaning are revelation (firmly culturally tied to Christianity), apocalypse (mostly having turned into meaning the fall of the modern world), oracle (too new-age-y even for many new-age-ers), and vision (which has too many meanings to be useful).
The reason this is important is that for many of these “prophetic” voices they are sharing the urgent message from their “god”. In some of these cases, it should be understood that we are not talking about gods as if they were God. We are talking about a world understanding framework that for Judeo-Christians we would think God. This means that faith is as much a part of their prophetic voice as God is part of ours.
On the other hand, there are many prophetic voices in these areas that are believers in and followers of Jesus Christ. For them, there is a direct tie between God, their voice, and the issue. As with many important human issues, it’s quite a mess.
The great sage, Ben Parker, once said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Christians have been given a unique power, that of the Holy Spirit. In combination with the Word of God (the Bible), we have the ability to influence others, and thus must be very careful in using what we have. This is especially true when used with other believers.
What has become also very evident is that people are disregarding prophetic voices that don’t agree with their line of thinking. This is the most dangerous. When we disregard the prophetic voices solely because they do not align themselves with our brand of Christianity (including denomination, political-alignment, lifestyle choices, or national origin), we are in grave danger of repeating the patterns of the Israelites…casting out the voices into the darkness, while condemning ourselves.
What prophetic voices have you been hearing? What makes them prophetic? What, if any, change in your life have they prompted?
Holy Spirit, you are living and active in this world right now. Give us the heart, wisdom, and discernment to hear the prophetic promptings of your people called by your name. Amen.