Notions of a Holy Nation…

A few days ago someone commented on a post I wrote about Jean Darnell’s ‘fires from the north’ prophecy- you can read the post and the comments here. It set me thinking about the whole charismatic thing…

The original point of my post was to record something of my internal struggle with my previous experience of all things charismatic, and my relationship to prophetic utterances like the one that Jean Darnell made about Scotland. I think my feelings can best be summed up as ‘Sceptically ambivalent, but also trying to remain respectfully open.’

I suppose my position is post charismatic. I have been around a lot of these meetings- as a young man, alienated and captivated by the wierd wonderfulness of it all in equal measure. Then later as a worship leader.

There was a lot of mad nonsense. There may even have been some of God in the mix.

Along with the pursuit of experience however there was also a lot of associated converging belief, or world view. This increasingly have been driven by American televangelists. So along with convictions about the power of healing came ideas about how certain sins might get in the way and so if you were not healed then this was some how your fault- your sin or your lack of faith.

And then there was all the spiritual warfare stuff. The temporal world- politics, disasters, HIV or almost anything else- all had a deeper subtext in the spiritual world- that required ‘discernment’ to fully understand. And a lot of this is mixed up in ideas about the ‘end times’, and the role and place of Israel.

Sometimes it seems as though these ‘discernment’ goggles  all sorts of dreadful things and terrible suffering can be overlooked, and understood only on the basis of spiritual warfare or escatological implications.

Finally, there is a triumphalism often present- God is mighty, all powerful and will come in power and judgement, and revival is always just around the corner, if only we can somehow make ourselves receptive and worthy.

Coming back to the comment made on my earlier post, some of the themes above were present in the things that were said. I do not mean to criticise or judge this perspective- it is a very familiar one to me, and contains much that still fels precious and right- but one that mostly I am no longer personally comfortable with. Particularly the world view that seems to come along with it all.

So in this case, the comment was pointing to particular issues in Scottish history-

Just yesterday, the Lord prompted me to revisit the Scottish National Covenant of 1638 (a Covenant that makes Scotland unique, as the only nation on earth, outside of Israel, to make a solemn Covenant with Almighty God)

…That was the day that Scotland married God and, although she has long since walked away from her husband, he does not forget or forsake his covenants…

…Do you suppose the fires of Revival that God himself will light in Scotland are the lamps of the Hannukah menorah? – The lights of Rededication of the Temple – A Temple which is now his holy people…

Rather against my better judgement, as I do not think that we were ever going to find common ground on this one, I replied. I suggested that I did not believe that the New Kingdom would ever have an earthy location, nor that the Jewish people would ever be replaced as a Holy Nation by the Scottish or the Americans.

And I also have a problem with any spiritual understanding that builds it’s legitimacy on the ways of the Covenanters, who were fighting and killing in the name of Jesus at a time of great political and religious upheaval. The legacy of these troubles in terms of the Catholic/Protestant divide continue to be a stain on Scottish life.

Is it admirable to die for what you believe? To resist the imposition of a book of prayer, and a way of religious observance that belonged to a distant foppish king? Possibly. But how about to kill and slaughter to prove your point? And can we overlook this, even forgive it, if it suits our particular religious agenda, or spiritual understanding?

It is not a fair question of course- the 1640’s were different times.

And such discussions are rather pointless.

Because I think my commenter would say that he and I are seeing on different dimensions- his the deeper spiritual one, mine the limited one that lacks discernment and spiritual awareness.

He may well be right.

2 thoughts on “Notions of a Holy Nation…

  1. Thanks- I find this to be a thoughtful response. I followed the exchange of posts with interest….

    I think I am with you. I am part of a gathering of ministers. A while back someone sent round a prophecy. I found it like the Daily Mail and I responded this time instead of being quiet and seething and found unlikely allies..

    I think I find myself in a similar space ‘post charismatic’ maybe. I cannot deny that God speaks in unlikely places and unlikely ways (classical liberalism never held any legitimacy for me)…and yet…. I struggle with many of the things I once accepted yet am still hungry for God.

    Thanks for putting this conundrum with such grace!

  2. Hi Graham

    One of the things that I found helpful was the idea that the prophetic words in the Bible were usually meant to speak truth into the present, rather than predict future events. There are people who I regard as prophetic in this meaning of the word, but given that there are so many competing voices, then our particular set of preferences and prejudices will very much steer our attention…

    Faith is not an exact science is it?

    Cheers for the encouraging words.

    Blessings to you and yours.

    Chris

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