Present-Day False Prophets Undermine Church and Culture
This is a growing existential threat, for Judeo-Christian values no longer provide a "sacred canopy" over American culture. These historic, foundational values are no longer ascendant or respected or even referenced by a vast cross-section of society.
So false prophets now practice their craft with seemingly little resistance.
False Prophets, False Teachers
The term "false prophet" is never used in the Old Testament, though examples can be found like the prophets of Baal who Elijah challenged on Mt Carmel (1 Kings 18) and Baalam on his donkey (Numbers 22-24, 31:7).
But the New Testament includes many specific and at times lengthy (2 Peter 2) admonishments about individuals who, motivated by greed or arrogance, attempted to speak for the Sovereign God they did not worship (Jude 4).
Peter also cites "false teachers," who apparently somehow differ from prophets but who are just as wrong in their presentations of "destructive heresies," people who 'will bring the way of truth into disrepute and...will exploit you with stories they have made up" (2 Peter 2:1-3).
In Matthew 7:15-16, Scripture warns, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them."
Then in Matt. 24:11, "and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people."
In 1 John 2:18, the Apostle says, "Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come."
And again in 1 John 4:1-3, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world...but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is in the world."
False prophets are people who preach, teach, or speak untruth while claiming they speak for God and his Word.
Present-Day False Prophets
When I was younger and read about "false prophets," I envisioned "preachers," bad clergy who led people into heresy.
Surely these false-prophet-preachers exist, and they always will.
But in an era when religion, the Church, and preachers have lost considerable cultural influence, should we limit our understanding of false prophets or false teachers simply to preachers? Bible scholars seem to be of two minds on this.
Some Bible scholars use the terms false prophets to refer only to religious leaders engaged in heresy. But most Bible scholars embrace a broader view, using the term false prophets to describe anyone—religious or irreligious—who leads the Church or culture astray with false, idolatrous ideas, narratives, or worldviews.
What matters is not so much the word "prophet," as Scripture's warning:
"See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ" (Col. 2:8).
Present-day false prophets—wolves in sheep's clothing—are thriving. They propagate ideas, philosophies, and ideologies contradictory to biblical teaching, antithetical to Christianity, subversive to the Church, and destructive to a free culture.
Present day false prophets are exercising considerable influence, not just in churches but—
--in public schools --on university campuses --on political stages
--in media entertainment –through social media --via bestsellers
--in corporate training sessions --in government --in the US military.
Some false prophets are "online influencers," operating lucrative websites, video channels, or social media sites, marketing lies, especially to young people.
False prophets can be intellectuals/professors, politicians, protestors, activists, or celebrities.
Cultural Values Tsunami
Present-day false prophets market political correctness, woke cancel culture, open hostility to a biblical worldview of law, order, and justice, tout grand nihilistic ideologies and economic or racial determinism, celebrate rebellion in the name of absolute freedom, promote tribalistic identity politics and a culture of fear, and sow chaos, madness, nausea. Division and discord are their parallel tracks to power.
Present-day false prophets are active every day in the nation's schools from kindergarten through graduate university, promoting anti-biblical sexual orientation and gender ideology (SOGI). They act as online influencers, literally telling young children and teenagers how to develop "origin stories" for their sexual proclivities, i.e., that they have "always felt this way," or how to dress in terms of SOGI, or how to "come out."
Present-day false-prophet-gender-activists redefine vocabulary, because in their view language constructs reality, so change the pronouns matching your biological sex and, voilà, reality is recreated in your new image. You don't like yourself? Become one of 112 gender options.
Present-day false prophets use critical race theory to teach reductionist racial division, animosity, and victimhood. In the guise of "anti-racism" they market new forms of segregation like Black-only commencements.
SOGI and critical race theory have rapidly become a kind of received religion, which no one is permitted to speak against, or even raise questions. These views are not simply being promoted but demanded in tyrannical fashion in government and business and education.
Among entertainment celebrities, false prophets present selfie-dominated hedonism, i.e., wear fewer clothes with each Instagram picture, hop in and out of intimate relationships, and live for self-gratification demonstrated in your latest TikTok video. The message many celebrities offer is the sexual revolution and materialism writ large. It's Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
"News" hosts, themselves celebrities, embrace a highly biased, irreligious views of the world, so nothing is resolvable. There is only politics and turmoil.
Rooted in one broad humanistic theme, anti-Christian values and ideologies are running amok today, even in the Church, and in a very short time have achieved a remarkable level of cultural dominance:
Moral Relativism, There is No Truth,
Just "Your truth" and "My truth"
This epistemological assumption has practical consequences:
- • If no truth > no life-changing Word = believe "whatever"
- • No truth > no Holy God = detached, undemanding deity
- • No truth > no sin = non-judgmental anything goes
- no sin = all problems are psychological, therapeutic,
- no forgiveness, no remedy, no hope
- • No truth > no law and order = lawless riots, crime
- • No truth > no believable reporting = fake news
- • No truth > no beauty, no standards
- • No truth > no trustworthy science = pandemic pandemonium
- • No truth > not made in the image of God = LGBTQ+
- • No truth > no financial accountability = debt no longer concerning
- • No truth > no freedom = no inalienable human rights
- • No truth > No certainty or tranquility, only power, politics
The battle today is not between Republicans and Democrats, nor liberals and conservatives.
Neither Democrats or Republicans are sufficiently committed to lasting objective ideals to put up much resistance, so neither is going to slow the influence of present-day false prophets. In fact, our challenge is spiritual not political, and there are no political solutions to spiritual problems.
The battle today is between a postmodern, morally relativistic vision of society versus a historic Judeo-Christian vision of society.
And it's increasingly generational. Younger people's worldview is decidedly less Judeo-Christian and objective than the beliefs of their older relatives. Today's Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with the idea "all beliefs are equally valid, even if they're mutually contradictory. That's because a person's feelings are the ultimate standard for defining what's real, what's true and what's right for them. Consequently, to challenge someone else's beliefs is seen as the height of intolerance, and a personal attack on their very identity."
How then should Christians respond?
These are dark days and likely to get darker, but we need not despair.
God is not surprised by 21st Century issues any more than he was surprised when Lincoln prayed in the White House during the Civil War.
Threatening though moral relativism and its philosophic offspring may be, they are not outside the providence of the Sovereign God. Our omniscient, omnipotent God is greater than the spirit of antichrist.
Present-day false prophets may challenge the Church, they may enjoy a season of cultural success, but their end is certain, for God is still God.
Pastor John Piper said, "The shape of error is always changing. You can't preach enough negative sermons to stay ahead of it. And you don't have to. The best protection against the darkness of error is the light of truth."
The best way to respond to untruth is with the truth that sets us free (John 8:32):
1. Put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17).
2. Discern truth from error (Phil. 1:8-9).
3. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
4. Be ready always to give an answer (1 Pet. 3:15).
5. Participate in a ministry of reconciliation (1 Cor. 15:11-21).
6. Pray for grace and unity in the Church (Eph 4:1-16).
Dr. Rex M. Rogers, President SAT-7 USA,