This question isn't about a specific situation but was brought on when I read about a few "prophecies" in the US claiming that Trump would win the 2020 election - a prophecy we now know to be false. They claim that God is telling them these things - there are many people that follow these speakers and are led astray by them.

Is there any responsibility on others within a Church (of any denomination) to denounce these people using the Lord's name to further their own goals?

i.e. if a Catholic Priest were to make such claims and so publicly should the Pope step in to separate this view from that of the Catholic faith to minimise the damage done to that congregation?

  • "a prophecy we now know to be false". Oh if only things were that simple. My guess is the 'prophets' who said this are now saying "but he did win - it's just the media, the courts, lawyers, the justice department, the state electoral systems, other Christians, international observers and everybody else is lying to you about it". And then "I know all those people are lying to you because God told me". Feb 15 at 18:23
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    Prophecy may take the form of a prediction. Just because someone predicted an event that went sideways, does not make it a prophecy. Their prediction was simply wrong.
    – Ken Graham
    Feb 15 at 21:53
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    @kengraham In the case of the Trump election predictions the claims were that God had come to them in dreams and told them he would serve a second term. Not mere predictions but supposedly passing on the word of God. Feb 15 at 23:58
  • @DJClayworth Of course - if they were the sort of honest people who would admit when they were wrong they wouldn't have made the claims in the first place. Feb 16 at 0:01

Yes, there is a responsibility for the Church (Body of Christ), to call out and denounce these false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:22 says, "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. - Ephesians 5:11

Pastors are the undershepherds of God's people. They have an onus to warn the sheep about the wolves.


Should a Church call out False Prophets who claim to speak with God's word?

Most churches would call out such false prophets out in one way or another.

At the end of His Sermon on the Mount the Lord warns the faithful against false prophets, comparing them to wolves in sheeps’ clothing. The "dogs" and "swine" the Lord just spoke about have a depraved way of life that is obvious; they can only be repellant, and are thus not as dangerous to believers as false prophets. False prophets present their lies as truth, and their rules of life as godly ones; one must be sensitive and wise in order to see the spiritual danger they represent.

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." - (Mat. 7:15-23).

In the Catholic Church, usually the local bishop will make some kind of official announcement on such a subject, which would I turn be published in the local Catholic information sites, both in paper and electronic media. Sometimes Rome will make such a call, if the magnitude merits the situation or notoriety.

Here are examples of visionaries judged to be false in the Catholic Church. Although it deals more with visionaries, the steps are the same for someone claiming to be a prophet. Many of these visionaries predict certain things to happen.

Some individuals have been pronounced against by name, e.g., Vassula Ryden, and the Little Pebble, William Kamm. Vassula has been condemned twice by the Holy Office (the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), on the grounds that her revelations do not come from God, and because they contain errors against the Faith.

You hear people say: "But her writings are so spiritual and so beautiful!"

I agree; possibly 99% of Vassula's messages are in conformity with the Catholic Faith — but that is just how the devil operates to deceive pious Catholics.

It is the 1% that does harm.

A poison apple is mostly good apple — but will harm you nevertheless. The devil knows he cannot mislead devout Catholics with outright heresy, but he can appeal to their piety and then subtly plant errors within.

In any case, there has been no approved revelation in the history of the Church where God took someone's hand and gave messages by writing with his pen. But you do find handwriting messages given at séances and séances are condemned by the Church as a practice of the occult against the law of God.

I have seen one pious magazine defending Vassula by saying that Cardinal Ratzinger never signed the statement against her printed in L'Osservatore Romano. A man I know sent them the official statement from Acta Apostolicae Sedis, the official Vatican gazette, which has the cardinal's signature at the bottom, along with that of the bishop secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Unfortunately, the editor of the magazine had neither the humility nor the honesty to print a correction in the next issue.

Another example: the alleged apparitions in Garabandal in northern Spain, in which four young girls alleged that the Virgin Mary appeared to them from 1961-1965. The response of successive bishops of the diocese of Santander has been uniformly negative, and the present Bishop Vilaplaua has concurred with this verdict.

Despite this, there are a number of active associations supporting Garabandal.

A simple case of disobedience to lawful authority.

This is only one of a countless number. There's Montichiari in Italy (1947), Necedah in the United States (1949), Palmar de Troya in Spain (1968), Bayside in the U.S. (1970), Dozule in France (1972), and hundreds of others — to say nothing of all the alleged visionaries and locutionists past and present, such as the Irish lady, Christina Gallagher, and many other poor deluded souls.

Mrs. Gallagher's messages, in part, read like a frantic worried woman lamenting the state of the world.

There are plenty of frantic worried people, lamenting the state of the world, who are good Catholics — but the Blessed Virgin from Heaven does not talk like them, in such a human, earthly, fretful fashion. To attribute such talk to Our Lady is an insult.

"Have visions; will travel" — such publicity seekers are not to be believed. Genuine visionaries fly from publicity. They do not go around with photographers and camera crews. They submit to investigation by Church authorities; but they do not have publicity agents. - Apparitions True and False

As for statements attributed to the Pope (such as "I heard that the Pope told Mr. Smith after Mass in his private chapel that he believes in Garabandal and Bayside" or "The Pope told Jane Doe that he could go ahead and print that condemned book") — no one is entitled to act on such gossip. The Church is governed by publicly promulgated statements — not by hearsay and personal communications.

Rome publishes it responses for all to see.

The Popes may choose to show their approval of certain revelations, after the decision of a local bishop or conference of bishops, by speaking of them, or by placing a new feast in the liturgical calendar, or by visiting the places connected with them.


Should a Church call out False Prophets who claim to speak with God's word?

It's not sure whether you mean a specific local congregation, or the denomination to which the speaker belongs, or the collective world-wide body of Christ, so I'll address it at several levels.

The pastors and elders are the spiritual shepherds and guardians of the flock, and as such are responsible to condemn false teachers and false prophets. Unfortunately, when these things happen, the person is usually the top leader of a ministry, Television Network, or church, so there's no one who can punish them - Case in point is David Wilkerson, Pat Robertson, Kim Clemment, and Ellen White, leader of the 7th Day Adventists.

More often, individual members are put-off and so disgusted when the prediction doesn't happen, that they leave the church or ministry.

The case of Ellen White was that she claimed to have many visions from God, and she plagiarized works by someone else as her own, but never actually predicted the rapture would happen on a specific day.
The result was a split, with thousands leaving the 7th Day Adventist group, and establishing another similar group- still 7th Day Adventists, but who denounce Ellen White altogether.

There are scores of examples down through history, of Christian leaders, pastors and even popes predicting the rapture, or second coming, or end of the world, or something specific about a president, or the rise of the anti-Christ, and yet we are still here and none of the things came to pass that they predicted.

Three of the most notable examples in the last 50 years are Pat Robertson and Harold Camping, who made very specific prophecies about the rapture, and Kim Clemment was one who made a very specific prophecy about Donald Trump, that did not happen.

  • "On his show in 1976, Pat Robertson predicted that the end of the world would commence sometime in the year 1982. He was wrong, of course, but that didn't stop him from trying again. In his book The New Millennium, released in 1990, Robertson foretold the last day to be April 29, 2007, and, no."
  • The most famous recent end-times prediction is probably the one made by Harold Camping for May 21, 2011. He predicted the Rapture would fall on this date, with Judgement day occuring six months later, on October 21. When nothing remarkable happened in May, Camping claimed that a "Spiritual Judgment" had taken place, and the Rapture and Judgement day would both happen in October. He also predicted the end of the world on September 6, September 29, and October 2, 1993; and March 31, 1994." - 10 Super-Specific Doomsday Predictions That Didn't Pan Out

In the case of Harold Camping, so many people were disgusted by his false prophecy, that the radio show went off the air.

Other times, people like David Wilkerson, make predictions which are very dire and scary, but stop short of actually saying that the end of the world or the rapture will happen on an exact date, - but rather saying that they had a dream or a vision from God.

Here's a very good article which exposes two people who both prophesied that Trump would win, and it highlights the stark contrast in how both responded when their predictions were wrong: Minister Prophesies Trump Comeback, Says 'God Hates' Biden Support of Equality Act, Abortion Rights.

The most surprising thing is that people still follow and support people like this. It's particularly surprising since the standard in the old testament was 100% accuracy, 100% of the time.

Prophets were the voice or mouthpiece of God, and if they made a prophecy and it didn't come to pass, they were stoned. Today, they may or may not apologize, but they explain how even though their "prediction was wrong" - they are not a false prophet.

Paul and Christ both warned of false prophets and teachers - and it is for this very reason that Paul admonished Christians in

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to show yourself as an approved workman unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth", and
  • Acts 17:11 - Paul commended the Berean Christians who "searched the scriptures daily to see that these things were true."

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