Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Phil Strickland: Where Have All the Prophets Gone? (part 1 of 4)

(Phil Strickland, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, wrote this speech for presentation to the TBC Breakfast at the BGCT meeting in Austin, November 14, 2005. Unable to attend because of illness, he asked his friend and pastor George Mason, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, to deliver the speech. Phil passed away on February 11, 2006.)
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various tongues…” (1 Cor. 12:27-29).
Prophets! I thought we got rid of them a long time ago. Actually, I haven’t seen many around lately. Where have all the prophets gone?
You may remember the Pete Seeger song made popular by Peter, Paul, and MaryWhere Have All the Flowers Gone? Well, I think we need new words to that tune. On any given Sunday morning in a Baptist church, there are plenty of flowers in front of the pulpit, but not a prophet to be found behind it.
Where have all the prophets gone?
Lord knows we need them. Consider:
  • One-half of the world is living on $2 a day. But that’s the other half, right? They are used to that.
  • Twenty-five percent of our Texas children are living in poverty. But that’s other people’s children, right? Figure that’s the way God thinks of them?
  • Religious liberty is being lost without our seeming to notice. It’s oozing away through our fingers like a fist full of sand until we open it all too late to discover there is not much of it left in our grasp.
  • And then there’s the dramatic and continuing shift of the world’s wealth away from the poor and the middle class to the largest corporations and the wealthiest people. But not to worry, we can trust them to do the right thing with all that money, right? After all, the marketplace evens everything out in the end. Isn’t that where we can depend upon the “invisible hand” of God to work? Or was that just Adam Smith’s hand?
  • Environmental regulations are disappearing every day. But we are given by God the right to have dominion over all the earth, aren’t we? Well, something like that.
  • And what about another tax cut of $70 billion that will be funded by $50 billion of cuts to children? That proposal will probably be passed by the House this week and is supported by the administration. There will be 300,000 people who will lose food stamps, and another 300,000 will lose access to daycare. The bill cuts Medicaid by $45 billion when we already have 45 million people who have no health insurance. Something tells me that’s not what Jesus meant by “Suffer the little children ….”
Where have all the prophets gone?

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