Prophets and Profits

Prophet.  Is there any such thing today?

Does God ever tell someone to say to, I don’t know, America things like…

You’ve brought on yourself doom by shedding blood and defiled yourself by making idols.  You’re guilty because of the blood you have shed.  God says He’s making you an object of scorn to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries.  Those who are near and those who are far away will mock you.  See how each of your leaders use their power to shed blood. In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the alien and mistreated the fatherless and the widow. You have despised my holy things, says God, and desecrated my Sabbaths. In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who worship false gods and commit lewd acts. In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor’s wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father’s daughter. In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD.

God once said things like this through people called Prophets.  I was taught at the university that Prophets no longer exist, but prophets do. The prophets speak, communicating God’s truth as understood from scripture to God’s people. They are able to see more clearly than the rest of us how God’s revelation through scripture applies to the current state of affairs and they verbalize that insight.  But Prophets were God’s mouthpieces in a special way, my teacher said, uttering new revelations about God.

And they didn’t do so for profit.

I sometimes call the guy who’s brutally honest and, honestly, not all that liked a prophet.  But is he?  Could it be that he’s just socially retarded and mean and, for whatever reason, likes ticking people off?  Or is he filling some special role, speaking for God and it’s God who’s a bit edgy to our ears?

And what about profit?  Can you be a prophet for profit?  Can a flesh and blood human being see the circumstances and the people before him clearly, hear God without being polluted by ego or personal agenda, if he’s getting paid to do so?  If he stands to gain anything in this world at all?

I just got off the phone with Justin McRoberts, a musician and possibly a prophet…an even-tempered one.  We’re talking about doing some shows together in 2008 and just spending some more time together discussing music, God, and how expensive cell phones have gotten.  I think he sees the state of the American church very clearly.  And he articulates it well.  So well that he seems to be speaking for Someone other than himself.  And he gets paid to do that from a stage.

So, I’m thinking.  Not that it matters I suppose.  But what is a prophet/Prophet?  And can you be one for profit?

I know what my professors and my textbooks taught me.  But they weren’t all that convincing.  What do you think?  And more importantly, why?