Since I left the Family in 1984, there are a half-dozen-or-so ministers who, through their writing or preaching, have helped me to re-strengthen, and sometimes re-position the major building blocks of my faith. Questions about the meaning of Redemption, faith, morality, New Testament leadership (including the role of women), Bible prophecy, etc.
Most of my input has been from "Spirit-Filled" Christians, like T.L and LaDonna Osborn, but some, like Philip Yancey and R. Maurice Boyd, have made me see things from new angles; have made me question even some of the things I was sure I had right. They have helped me to formulate new questions which call for deeper, stronger answers than I had looked for before. The nice thing is, I've never been asked to sign a loyalty contract by any of them, and I can pick the good out of what they say, and leave the rest.
With all the "prophetic" hype going around about the meaning of all the latest current events, I want to hear what a level head has to say on the subject. I have ordered a new series by Dr. Boyd, which deals with the WTC attack. He is a Methodist-trained Irishman, in the ministry for about 50 years. He came to North America in the early 60's and ministered in Canada for a number of years with the United Church of Canada, but who, for the last decade or more, has lived and worked in New York, within blocks of where the towers once stood.
When it gets here, I'll post some excerpts. In the meantime, I found a couple of paragraphs that may interest you in an early book of his called "A Lover's Quarrel With the World" (from the sermon "Fundamental Fallacies"). Tell me what you think:
"Fundamentalists affirm that the Bible is relevant, and then proceed to trivialize its relevance. One clear instance of this is their use, or as I would say, their abuse of biblical prophecy.
Driving out of London (Ontario) recently, I saw a sign outside an evangelical church. It was one of those portable, illuminated signs, and it said, 'Armageddon, 1983, 1984, 1985?' I must not have taken the question very seriously, because I didn't stop for an answer. If you pass by such a sign and don't stop, you don't take it very seriously, either. But people who put up such signs take their predictions very seriously indeed, and they say that the relevance of the Bible is that it gives us many predictions to answer questions of that sort and tell us all that is going to happen. [They tell us that] the Bible is relevant because it descrives events and nations and characters who act in the great drama which will soon result in the end of the world. With great zeal and ingenuity, the proponents of this view of prophecy take the scriptures and apply the ancient prophecies to current events. We are told that Joel knew about atomic warfare. And Ezekiel foresaw that Ronald Reagan would be elected. And Daniel foresaw that Russia would invade Afghanistan. The events of our time are all there in Scripture and in prophecy. If we read them properly, then we will know what will happen. This kind of preaching from prophecy is often lurid and violent and catastrophic. Some of the wilder and more confident interpreters of prophecy even put a date on it -- 1983 or 1984 or 1985 (or 1993!!)! And one of the most mischievous things about it is the assumption that, because such disasters are prophesied in Scripture, they are inevitable. Some advocates of this view of prophecy not only predict the date of Armageddon, which they identify with a nuclear holocaust; they at times appear to relish it! How disappointing if it didn't happen just as they predicted!
Somebody asked me recently, 'Why don't you attempt to relate prophecy to current events in this manner?' The answer is that I believe that to do so is to misunderstand the nature of prophecy and to distort the Word of God.
The fulfillment of prophecy is not the end of the world; the fulfillment of prophecy is the Incarnation, God coming in Christ to love a broken world back to sanity and wholeness. The relevance of the Bible is not that it gives us a time-scale of events leading to the end of the world, but that it sees the events of our time, and all times, in the light of the judgment and mercy of God. And there is as much relevance in that as we can bear!"