Listen to the experts, but don’t take it to the bank.

“How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). 

Someone said to me, “He may be an atheist but he has a Ph.D. in Greek and has studied the Scriptures in their original languages.  That gives his views a great deal of weight.”

I laughed.  And so did “Someone” on the royal throne (see Psalm 2).

On the back of a book on prayer, a blurb described the pastor/author as an expert on prayer. I’m not sure why that offended me.  I felt as if one of my five siblings had announced that he/she was an expert in communicating with our parents. “What’s so hard about that?” I would have replied.  “They love us and are always available.”

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just anyone calling himself an expert that bothers me.

I have read that FDR had an innate distrust of anyone called an expert. It’s not a bad philosophy.

There are so few people in this life who should be called experts on anything. Veterans, yes, and we will accept advisors and counselors and instructors.  But rarely expert.

Historically, experts have a spotted track record

What follows is from columnist Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University. His column appeared in our Clarion-Ledger on Monday, July 30, 2018…

–Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers predicted that if Donald Trump were elected, there would be a protracted recession within 18 months.  Anyone noticed the low unemployment and booming stock market lately?

–When it became apparent that Trump would be elected, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman warned that the world was “very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.”

–In 1929, Irving Fisher, a professor of economics at Yale, predicted, “Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”  Three days later, the stock marked crashed.

–In 1945, Admiral William Leahy told President Harry S. Truman that the money spent on the Manhattan Project–billions of dollars–would be “the biggest fool thing we have ever done.  The (atomic) bomb will never go off and I speak as an expert in explosives.”

–In 1903, the president of Michigan Savings Bank advised Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in Ford Motor Company.  He said, “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty–a fad.”

–In 1916 an aide to Field Marshal Douglas Haig watched a demonstration for tanks on the battlefield and said, “The idea that cavalry will be replaced by these iron coaches is absurd.  It is little short of treasonous.”

–I love this from the U. S. Commissioner of Patents, Charles H. Duell.  In 1899 he said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

–The New York Times’ own experts announced in 1936, “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.”

–Isaac Newton (1642-1727), whose genius transformed our understanding of physics, mathematics, and astronomy, spent most of his waking hours on the pseudo-science of alchemy–the process by which base metal could be turned into gold.  He wrote volume after volume on the subject.  After his death, the British Royal Society said they were “not fit to be printed.”

–Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) achieved many great things in science.  But he predicted, “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” And, “I can state flatly that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

Walter Williams concludes, “The point of all this is to say that we can listen to experts but take what they predict with a grain or two of salt.”

And a thought or two from Joe….

–We who dwell in the basement portion of the Deep South pay scant attention to the number of hurricanes the experts forecast each year. We may as well ask a bunch of kindergartners.

–What is the stock market going to do?  No. One. Knows.

–I recall that people used to consider Jeanne Dixon a great prognosticator because she accurately predicted the assassination of JFK (if indeed she did).  But anyone who paid the slightest attention to her predictions had to admit that even if she did, she also said a ton of stuff that did not come to pass. That devalues the few times she got it right.

Scripture gives the test of a true prophet in Deuteronomy 18:17-22.  In a word, the test is: perfection.  All his prophecies must be accurate. Otherwise, he’s a fake.

Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, is on record as predicting that very tall men and women lived on the moon. They dressed like Quakers, he said.   When I asked a LDS representative what he did with that, he replied that at the time, Smith was not speaking prophetically but just rendering an opinion.  Oh, that’s how it works, is it?  When he gets it right, he’s speaking in the Spirit. But otherwise, he’s just running off at the mouth and no more to be listened to than any other citizen.  That does, however, make the more discerning among us question all the other revelations he is supposed to have had about God and eternal things.

I suggest that pastors never call themselves “Prophets.”  (You see that on a lot of church signs.)  Unless they are in the predicting business, and then they’d better have a perfect track record.

I’m a New Testament pastor (shepherd) and evangelist.  Just telling the good news. And that, my friends, has a 100 percent dependability rate!





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