Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Year of the Woman

At a recent "Glory, Signs and Wonders conference" Prophet(1) James Goll declared that this is "The Year of the Woman." This “word” was featured in a Charisma Magazine column on June 4 and was presented as a "timely and relevant" message for the body of Christ from a "recognized prophetic voice." In actuality, Goll has been proclaiming this "prophetic word" for several months, and as to its timeliness, the year is about half over. The ever-popular "Elijah List" published such a proclamation on February 29. 2009:



It is the Year of the Woman

Women in ministry and leadership will be released globally across the Body of Christ. The two righteous seeds of Michal Ann Goll and Jill Austin have been sown into the ground and there will be a harvest of women in both spiritual and secular leadership arising to be champions of the poor, in justice, prayer and creativity flowing freely as the prophetic anointing increases in Jesus' name.

Lest there be any confusion - some would say that these are just word-faith style proclamations and not presented as propehcies - Goll, in his preface to his Elijah List article states:



The Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about some Declarations for 2009 and beyond, so I have composed a portion of what He has been saying to me.

OK, so we have established that Prophet Goll has declared a "thus saith the Lord." What do we do with it?




* * * *


I've not seen such a knee-jerk reaction to the "prophetic church" since the Lakeland fiasco last year. To be fair with some who have reacted with outrage or bitterness in the blogosphere, Goll did appear at Lakeland, an event which sadly included "prophetic" proclamations of his now-deceased wife's healing. But that should not make Brother Goll a target for anyone’s animosity. We should take pity.

I for one am emphatic about not speaking on behalf of the Lord when He has not spoken. But I also think that we too-quickly attribute "False Prophet" status to our brothers in the Lord when a better way of stating that would be to say that one has falsely prophesied. If we are to judge prophetic words in the congregation, does everyone who falls short of the mark instantly become destined for eternal damnation? Can we add preachers who mess up on a sermon to that group? If so, the safe thing would be to get saved and never open your mouth again.

Actually, I think the intent of the scriptural injunctions to 1) judge all prophecies and to 2) not despise prophecies is that we thoughtfully consider the so-called "prophetic word" and make a judgment as to if it is indeed from the Lord. Note that the goal here is to judge the word, not the word-giver. And so I say to James Goll, bless you brother, but I think you are wrong to attribute your exhortation to the Lord (2).



Background

Much of the visceral reaction to this word is attributed to the silly prophetic church practice of "year of" proclamations(3). Perhaps some think that if it is good enough for the Chinese (this is the "Year of the Ox") then it is good enough for the rest of the world. But seriously, I think much of this stems from the Word/Faith movement practice of declaration. You know, speaking things into being, a.k.a. a "creative word."

Here's one such reaction to Goll's word that reflects this: "While we have the choice to receive a word spoken over us, it holds no power unless it comes from our mouth. So you women out there that so desire, take that word and speak it into your life...A prophets words have no power until we speak them over our life!"

Here we see two things that I find interesting. First, the writer seems to think that this is not necessarily a word from God, but she call's it "a prophet's word." I don't want to try to find something in this that isn’t there, but this seems to reflect the general understanding in the Word/Faith movement that we can speak things into being with our declarations (apart from God’s instigation).

Second, the theologically bankrupt concept that a prophetic word "holds no power unless it comes from our mouth." I call this concept theologically bankrupt because it directly contradicts God's Word which states in Isaiah 55 "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

I will be the first to bring up the importance of what we speak, and what comes out of our mouth. But, PLEASE, let's move past the Word/Faith voodoo concept that God can do nothing unless we speak it. Quite frankly, we just are not that important in the overall scheme of things. God is sovereign, and by golly, He will accomplish that which He pleases.


Mammon

We can never know that real motives of those prophesying. And we need to be careful. The NAR obsession with "Wealth Building" and the “Great Transfer of Wealth" does not make it easy to resist the temptation to attribute base motives to everything they do.

One commenter on Goll's word states "Now I get it: After going to Goll's website I saw why he proclaimed this special year: he's having a women's conference with nice hefty registration fees and needs to promote it." In Goll's defense, I would have to mention that this is his 12th annual Women's Conference. And that if this indeed is a word from the Lord, that hosting a themed conference (and the fee's are not that “hefty”) would be a natural thing to do.

On the flip side, It must be noted that Goll's extended prophetic word regarding 2009 also states:




It is Time for Property Procurement

For some, it is time to purchase property, land and gold. It is a time when wise investments now will pay off later. Whole strip malls and department stores will go up for sale and the discerning and wise will purchase property (in certain situations) for a dime on the dollar.

So here we have God giving us investment advice. And its kind of a duh! type advice, except I'd like to know which strip malls. As long as the NAR remains fixated on wealth, the criticism from many about perceived greed will continue. That's not a "thus saith the Lord," but rather a "you can bank on it."


The Word

I wanted to place up-front some of the visceral reactions to Goll's word just to get them out of the way, and now I would like to suggest some more valid ways of judging prophecy in general, and specifically this word. Because in the overall scheme of things, the objections outlined so far really don't matter.

Most importantly, a prophetic word must stand in light of the scriptures. It must not contradict the scriptures. For many years the charismatic church has promoted "new revelation" as a license to stray from scripture. The lastest twist on that scheme is to redefine it as "hidden truth." Apostle Bill Johnson will tell you that the Canon is complete - no new relevation - but will condition that by stating that God is now "unveiling" what is already there.
Friends, God will not contradict his Word.

In evaluating Goll's word two scriptures come to mind- both from Galatians. In many respects the term "Foolish Galatians" could be applied to much of the "prophetic church" today. In Galatians 3 we learn that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." What would our reaction be to a so-called prophetic word that stated "(The Lord Says) This is the year of the Gentile"? In like manner, would we expect God, who has already stated "There is neither..male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" to now state emphatically "This is the Year of the Woman"?

I think this is a legitimate question.

Galatians 4 gives us even more fodder for thought.

“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”

This if course, is the scripture behind the knee-jerk reactions to the "year of" propehcy genre. We see many prophetic words which seems comparable to the Chinese "Year of the Ox" in all of the assorted Elijah List declarations that come down every year. As a biblical principle, I think one should be very cautious about declaring special years. God seems to be.

I have noted elsewhere that I have been unable to come up with any "year of" declarations attributed to God in the scriptures aside from the recurrent "year of jubilee." Of course, there is the "acceptable year of the Lord" mentioned in Isaiah 61 but this does not quite seem to be the same. But as a rule, we do not find God declaring this is the year of the woman, gentile, man, jew, gecko, or any such thing. This, of course, is consistent with God's position stated in Galatians 4.


Women Rising Up

This is not to say that women rising up is an unbiblical principle. At the risk of sounding sexist, I jokingly note that the Proverbs 31 woman rises up "while it is still dark." We read in Judges 5 of Deborah arising. And we read of Esther, who arose to leadership for "such a time as this." Which is probably as close to the concept of "The Year of the Women" as you can get without really going there.


Disney Prophecies

My friend Amanda (a "woman of the year") has observed that faux-prophecy very often involves Disney-esque Characters. I'm not sure why this is, but I have heard of numerous such "words" involving characters such as "Sleeping Beauty," "Snow White" and even the "Wizard of Oz." Goll, in his "prophetic word" says to the women "You're like Tigger, and you have been wound up, and you're going to jump all around." I'm not quite ready to add the Disney disqualification to my criteria, but I'd say to Amanda, as John Wayne said to his Chinese servant in Rooster Cogburn, "You might be right."


Itching Ears

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that God cannot speak a prophetic word that we would not get excited about. However, too much of what passes for prophetic today is the ear-tickling stuff referred to in 2 Timothy 4:3.

I found the reaction of Goll's audience at the "Glory, Signs and Wonder's conference quite telling. First, for a movement in which women have been held back, it sure was disproportionally attended by women. It looked like about 70%, or more, of the people in attendance were of the distaff side of the church. Second, note the standing applause by those women. It causes one to ask, if this was indeed a word from God, why were so many men sitting down?

I have often noted that the most profound words given by God through his prophets are seldom received with enthusiasm. Leonard Ravenhill, in his seminal work "Picture of a Prophet" makes this point when he states "The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men."

One other aspect of judging a prophecy is to try to determine if indeed it is something God has spoken, is it just a much needed exhortation, or is simply something that is stirring within the "prophet." This is really a question the prophet should be asking him/herself before giving the word. One must seriously consider if there are externals - life experiences as it were- that are clouding your own hearing of what God may be saying.

Goll himself stated: "this is the year of the Woman. Now one of the reasons I say that is because of a hard deal in my life." He goes on to speak of his wife's passing. Goll is wrong - he should not be saying "(thus saith the Lord) this is the year of the woman" because his wife died, he should be saying this ONLY (if) God spoke it. I would suggest that a proclamation from the Lord should not be tainted by one's own feelings, ideas and perceptions. The ideal should be God speaks it - we pass it on.

Goll seems to imply that after 2000 years of the church that finally it was the year of the woman because his wife and Jill Austin passed. I'm not trying to be unkind, but as much as Michal Ann Goll and Jill Austin were "righteous seeds sown into the ground" so also were the millions of Godly women who preceded them in death. Not a few, or dozens, but millions. Surely at least a few of them were of such spiritual status as to warrant a "Year of the Woman" proclamation.

Which brings me to my last point - be very wary of any so-called prophetic word that implies that somehow THIS generation is in some manner far more spiritually significant than any of the previous generations that followed hard after the Lord. It is demeaning to their faith - bought with the same precious blood as ours. This great end-times army concept of course ties in with the Latter Rain foundations of the NAR.


Does the Word Apply?

An Exhortation may not be a prophetic word from the Lord but still have application. What this means is that the truth of the "prophecy" does not necessarily validate the prophecy. Perhaps, as I am now old-school Pentecostal, I have been too long removed from the Charismatic Church. Or what today is called the Prophetic or Apostolic church (NAR). Are women so oppressed in that movement? Judging by the reaction at the conference, I'd say they must be. Goll states:



We (men in leadership) can no longer hold you down....This is now the appointed hour of the release of women in leadership.

And so this sounds almost a like a Word/Faith "binding and loosing" thing. I find it unfortunate that women have been so repressed in the NAR churches. Since the rest of Christendom has never even heard of James Goll, nor will they ever hear his word, I have to assume the target demographic was the prophetic/apostolic church. He certainly got a reaction from that audience.

So I would have to concur with Goll that it is a time for women in the NAR churches to rise up and take a place of leadership. Alternatively, they should seek out places where they are not repressed. That's just plain good advice. I would not go so far as to say "(Thus saith the Lord) This is the Year of the Woman." The proclamation of freedom from repression, and the fact that each of us (regardless of gender) should be striving to move in our gifts and talents is never limited to a year, to a generation, or even to a dispensation. It is, it has, and it will always be part of the timeless gospel message.

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."




Footnotes:

1 Matt Sorger's "Power for Life" televison program June 1, 2009. Sorger introduced his guest as "Prophet James Goll."

2 Jim, you are still welcome to stop by for a tomato sandwich the next time you come through the Shenandoah Valley on I-81. I should have some good ones in late August.

3 A useful discernment exercise is to search the Elijah List
prophetic word index for the phrase "year of," and evaluate those words, especially in restrospect.



5 comments:

  1. If so, the safe thing would be to get saved and never open your mouth again.

    This is probably the best advice anyone could give these people who proclaim to be prophets/apostles. How about instead preach the gospel and let God do the rest. Get man out of the way and let God do the converting, the regenerating, the actual drawing of men to himself.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anon, that was supposed to be sarcastic. My point was that that would apply both to wrongly prophesying and wrongly expositing the Word of God.

    That topic was discussed recently on the Line of Fire radio program.

    http://lineoffireradio.askdrbrown.org/2009/05/27/may-27-2009/

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was being sarcastic as well... though, there is some truth in what I was expressing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Regarding the year of the woman, and speaking what we want into existence: I wonder what would happen if I, as a woman, asked for a maid, a cook and a laundress? Probably every woman I know would rather speak that into existence than to go around prophesying all over the place. Those guys need to get real.

    ReplyDelete

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