Revelation or Imagination?

Revelation or Imagination?

Robert Wurtz II

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3)

Suppose the prophet Ezekiel had lived in the twenty-first century. In that case, I have little doubt that he would have received a word from the Lord regarding the conflation of imagination and revelation that is normalized today. Like the conflation of enthusiasm with the Holy Fire of God, the one is earthbound, and the other is Heaven-sent. The only question That puzzles me is whether these conflations are deliberate or mere naivety? 

I chose the word “conflate” to describe this phenomenon because it succinctly describes the problem. It comes from mixing two things, such as metals, or fusing two things into one. Imagination is not revelation, and enthusiasm is not Holy Fire. A careful reading of the story of Nadab and Abihu against the backdrop of a proper understanding of the Holy Fire of God will demonstrate my point. Fake fire has no place in the Kingdom of God. 

What does it mean to “follow your own spirit?” If I say, “I dream of one day owning a car,” it is not the same as saying, “I dreamed that one day I will own a car.” The first dream is more of a statement of imagination and hope. It is my own spirit. The second took place while asleep and could be a consequence of anything from my own mind to divine revelation from God. If it is divine revelation, we could say we have “seen” something. If I conjure it up, it’s my own spirit, but if God reveals it, I can say I have “seen” it. That’s the simplicity of it. 

Another example is when we speak of people having “vision.” If I say, “I have a great vision for _______,” it is not the same as receiving a vision from the Lord. The first case is “corporate speak” and assumes that a man or woman’s gift or talents are God-given, reliable, and equivalent to the Holy Spirit’s insight. They are not. Many unsaved people have “vision,” but this is not the vision we need in the churches. Yet, in modern times, “have vision” is akin to saying “dream big” and follow your dreams with a pinch of involvement by God. Because there is no biblical precedent for it, secular success stories and business models are used to sell the ideology. This kind of error and conflation build man’s kingdoms that often compete with God’s Kingdom. 

It’s been almost ten years since I published the book Televangelicalism where an entire section is devoted to challenging this serious error. Once the corporate methodology of the world gains a foothold in a church or organization, “the culture of the church turns from building fellowship practices to management systems, from having beliefs to having a brand, and from cultivating revival to reputation.” (Wurtz II, Robert, Televangelicalism, 2012, P. 194) In simple terms, truth falls in the streets as the method becomes the message. 

Can the Gospel survive the practices that corporations employ for success? Do we want a church where people are treated like replaceable human resources rather than people for whom Christ died? Can we afford to have men and women who behave like corporate executives guiding our churches? What happens to people who don’t fit “the vision” of the church or organization? How many books have you read on church growth that promote letting the people go who stand in the way of progress? Is that what Jesus told Peter to do when He told them to feed His sheep and lambs? (John 21:16-17) Is that what Paul was talking about when he wept before the elders at Ephesus? (Acts 20:27-31) 

First, understand that people who have no corporate experience are vulnerable to these concepts, methods, and teachings, especially those unfamiliar with the theological implications. However, because spiritual-sounding words like “on-fire” and “vision” are employed, most vulnerable saints are none the wiser, and “leaders” can follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing (Ezekiel 13:3). 

Joining Promise Keepers in the middle 1990s (I still have the card in my wallet) taught me that there is no substitute for “book of Acts” style salvation and evangelism. I’ve experienced the enthusiasm of people (men) who marched on DC in 1997 or stormed the stadiums across America. But, unfortunately, I’ve also experienced the ruthless unChristian behavior of corporate-minded people. Yet, the Fire of the Holy Spirit is not enthusiasm; it’s the actual presence of the Holy Spirit burning inside a person, making them lights in the world. The genuine Holy Spirit moves us from the realm of imagination to revelation. It enables men and women to bear the fruit of the Spirit, and moves them to engage in God’s will, follow His leading, and build His Church. 

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3)

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