Monday, April 07, 2008

I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

I've been hearing the word "prophet" used to describe the not-so-Rev. Wright. I find it disturbing. So does Dennis Prager. If you read his column at, you'll see yet another list of the abhorent statements made by this worrisome man of the soiled cloth. One is also encouraged by his abettors to listen to or read the text of the entire sermon wherein he spews the aforementioned "prophetic" statements.

No thanks. For the life of me I cannot see how context can smooth over the grainy surface of an outright lie. I do not wish to have my intelligence so insulted. I doubt such a review could possibly convince me.

But back to "prophet". According to Merriam Webster, we define the word thus:

"1: one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible bcapitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God's will
2: one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet
3: one who foretells future events : predictor
4: an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group
5: Christian Science a: a spiritual seer b: disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth"

From all I can tell, they have to mean definition #4. Shame on anyone who uses #1,2 or 3. Yet, by the many quotes offered by Prager in his piece, it seems that too many are indeed trying to compare Wright to something he is not.

Besides, for the average Jew or Christian, a prophet had direct communication from God, as one man would speak directly to another. And the communication from God would generally be, ah, prophetic, in that some future event would be foretold and then it would play out as advertised. So the use of the term as it is being applied to preachers like Wright can only mean either or both of two things:

a) A method of marketing whereby one hopes to encourage a belief by the listener of the "prophet's" infallibility.
b) A measure of a man's ego that he should view himself as a prophet.

I'm hoping it's #4, but the mere use of the word has to conjure thoughts of real prophets and therefor the use elevates the user to a higher level of regard, in the same class as the Biblical prophets. In any case, no matter which definition is meant by the use of the word, the fact that Wright blatantly lied from the pulpit makes him the sorriest prophet ever, and it speaks poorly of those who defend him. Whatever good he might have done throughout his ministry, such dangerous and damaging rhetoric stains it all.


Dan Trabue said...

According to the Easton Bible Dictionary...

The "prophet" proclaimed the message given to him, as the "seer" beheld the vision of God. Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spake in God's name and by his authority. He is the mouth by which God speaks to men...

So, when someone was speaking prophetically, they were a prophet. That is not to say that all prophets always spoke prophetically. Not every word out of Elijah's or Isaiah's mouth was prophetic or even good, necessarily. Sometimes they despaired, complained.

That did nothing to take away from when they WERE speaking prophetically.

Doc said...

"The Chicago Tribune (March 28) reported that "Wright's preaching … is in the 'prophetic' tradition, one of many that have evolved in black pulpits. … 'Shocking words like 'God damn America' lie at the core of prophetic preaching,' said Rev. Bernard Richardson, dean of the chapel at Howard University."

It appears the term "'prophetic' tradition" is defined as using "shocking words" in the discourse of preaching. If that is the case, then, fine, he's a prophet. But so are Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and David Duke. (Both of whom speak in "God's name.")
Being called a prophet these days is probably not a compliment anyways: David Koresh, anyone?
Who cares what we call the guy?
A better question is whether to agree with what he is saying. Martin Luther King spoke a positive faith-based prophetic message. Rev. Wright speaks a negative, hateful, and angry prophetic message.

Les said...

You're killin' me, Art. You're just killin' me. I've picked on you in the past for selectively accepting sources only when the content fits your agenda, and here you are doing it again. Remember this?

"So, is your dictionary of recent printing, or a pre-1970 edition? Should I be surprised if the newest books off the presses includes a more liberal (per)version of the word?"

Care to guess which dictionary you were discrediting? That's right - Merriam Webster. So now their definitions are acceptable?

ELAshley said...

c) A measure of a man's ego that he should view himself more highly than he was designed.

Elijah and Isaiah were prophets BECAUSE God used them to proclaim the future as though it were the present. None of their prophecies (those that are fulfilled) have proven false. Can the same be said of Jeremiah Wright... A man who has uttered lies from the pulpit?

He may come from a "tradition" of "prophetic preaching," but it is more a style of rhetoric than God speaking the future, through men, as though it were the present. A "Tradition" ...of men... and "Prophet" a name given to themselves because they desire a greater name for themselves than the one they've been given. Wright is no prophet.

Lastly, what difference does it make what year the dictionary was published? None, that I can see.

Marshall Art said...

"You're killin' me, Art. You're just killin' me."

Nonsense. You suffer from your own misunderstanding. And you of all people. I'm dissappointed.

What I questioned in the past was your reliance upon a definition certainly not known over 20-30 years ago (officially, that is), but here, I'm merely attempting to find a definition that would explain the usage of a word that for most means something that does NOT describe Jeremiah Wright. I would wager that definition #4 is the most recent added to the list, though the "tradition" goes back farther than the '70s. I don't "accept" this definition, either, since I believe it was applied by one person to himself for the purposes of puffing up their status.

The meaning of words changes over time. There is no doubt of this. How they change is another thing. When one small group seeks to redefine words to their advantage, as we can see in both this example and the one to which Les refers, that's hardly a "natural" shifting of definitions. But no matter, once the word is commonly used in the new way, it will find a place in the list of definitions in most dictionaries.

Definition 4 comes the closest to Wright's usage (or to whomever applied it to him) in that he is (was) "an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group", even if the leading places the flock on the wrong path. I reject the definition because, as I've said, it's mere utterance puts most in mind of Moses or Isaiah rather than a mere spokesman, and I believe that is the purpose of using the word.

Les said...

"And you of all people."


ELAshley said...

"...even if the leading places the flock on the wrong path."

There is a such a thing as a FALSE prophet.

Marshall Art said...


Never thought you would perceive a flip-flop in my position by comparing the two events. In fact, as I've tried to clarify in my last, I've been consistent on the subject of dictionary usage.

"There is a such a thing as a FALSE prophet."

But, by definition, a "false" prophet is no prophet at all. If he continues to call himself a prophet, or the term is applied TO him despite proofs of false preaching, the charade is upheld to some degree.

Some will question the proofs. How many buy into the US-Gov-created-AIDS-virus-for-the-purpose-of-exterminating-blacks over arguments to the contrary? Heck-fire, just being a minister speaking from the pulpit commands a degree of reverence and if you're not one who assumes every preacher is a lecherous drunkard with bad intentions, then you're likely one who automatically gives a higher degree of respect than usual to a man of the cloth. There is an almost innate compulsion to rely upon the truthfulness of one who is a minister. The title "Reverend", "Pastor", "Father", etc., before your name gives you extra credibility points to the general public. How much more for some to have the term "prophet" applied in any way to another's name? This, unfortunately, gives some license to spew whatever crap they choose for whatever reason they choose. In the meantime, some, too many, lap it up as truth BECAUSE they got it from a preacher.

Mark said...

A prophet of doom, maybe. If Obama gets elected in spite of what we have learned about his spiritual advisor, perhaps America will get what we deserve for our inattention to true prophecy.

Erudite Redneck said...

I'm thinking its No. 2 that most people mean when they say the Rev. Wright is within the prophetic preaching tradition -- and that's what people say, not that he is "a prophet."

And I think I would agree.

Marshall Art said...

Would someone with extraordinary spiritual and moral insight not see a blatant lie before he tells it? I think not. #2 fits him not at all.

Erudite Redneck said...

What blatant lie? The AIDS thing?? Are you telling me that you can't imagine the U.S. government -- author of Tuskegee syphylis studies, author of native cultural genocide, author of Abu Ghraib -- you think it's not possible? Really?

Then you trust the government more than I do, and that should give you pause. :-)

Les said...

"...a definition certainly not known over 20-30 years ago..."

And, once again, I'd like to point out that there are many words whose definitions aren't identical to what they were 20 or 30 years ago. A "cookie", for example. Or a "cell". However, because YOU don't agree with certain evolutions of words' meanings, you dismiss them. You basically admitted as much in your response:

"I don't 'accept' this definition..."

Well, good for you. You've got a legitimate reason to contest its usage there. However, that doesn't mean you're always going to be in the right simply based on your personal convictions or interpretations. Accordingly, it's a contradiction for you to cite any particular source as credible when it helps your argument and dismiss it when it doesn't.

Marshall Art said...


What's possible is not at issue. What is true is at issue. It's one thing for that idiot to believe the US created AIDS to wipe out the black population, it's one thing for him to believe the government distributes drugs in the black communities, but to actually stand up and preach such absolute crap without any effort to confirm his beliefs is irresponsible and unworthy of a minister of Christ. He hasn't clue one to support such a belief, he has only his own racist hate to compell him to spew it anyway. It's absolutely shameful.

Erudite Redneck said...

Only because you are a middle-class white guy.

And yes, I, a Southerner to my bones, am calling you out, on your Yankeee racism and classism.

I've never seen you exhibit even the HINT of the human desperation that comes with "knowing Christ." Not that you're NOT desperate.

I'm just saying I've never seen you exhibit it -- the kind of desperation that causes "truth" and "fact" and hope and fear and sin to get so tangled up you don't know which way is up.

You've got it figured out?

I don't know shit. You don't either. But I do know this: For you to condemn ANY professed brother in Christ -- pissed-off black preacher, everyday gay Presbyterian, Jesusian anti-war patriotic American -- is for you to mistake yourself for God Almighty.

You should quit that shit while yer ahead.

Man! It's ALL a bitch, ain't it?

Marshall Art said...

I don't see where calling out someone for so casually lying makes me either racist or classist. Did he or did he not speak outright lies in the sermons highlighted so often? I don't wanna hear about his roots, his ancestors, whether he thinks his crap is justified or not. Did he speak lies? He could be the most in-your-face-hate-whitey caricature in the world or the most race blind lover of mankind. Doesn't matter. Did he speak lies? He says things to rile up the crowd and they get all excited. And they keep coming and donating because he provides from the sanctity of the pulpit an excuse that is easier to accept than is reality. He's the same as a Jackson or Sharpton. He just stayed in his church.

"I don't know shit. You don't either."

Well, I'm not gonna debate the first part, but as to the second, it ain't really that you think I don't know shit, it's that you don't like what I know. I just don't see as how Einstein's help is required to know what has been so plainly revealed. And to know what a lie is doesn't take a whole lotta chutzpah, either. Good gosh, why didn't he just throw in the Rozwell incident for pete's sake?

As for desperation, I'm no more or less desperate than the next guy, only a lot less so having accepted Jesus Christ. If desperation is some kind of litmus test for you, I'm not your guy.

As has been stated many times in one way or another, it's not condemning anyone to point out or comment on public displays of bad behavior. You obviously don't have such a problem pointing out how I fall short in your world. And I have a much smaller audience than does a Jeremiah Wright or Barry Obama.

What it comes down to is this:

1-He knows he tells whoppers
2-He's an idiot and actually believes it's true and never thinks to investigate
3-He doesn't care if it's true or not cuz it sounds good and riles up the people.

None of the above is a good thing in a preacher.

Anonymous said...

Go to Newsmax and read Ronald Kessler's piece about Wright. Mom2