Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Seeing through a glass, very darkly?

Rick Joyner, U.S. Christian leader, made what we can safely call a prediction touching on the current federal election, last year.

Parsing his delphic prophecy from last fall, I am surmising that he predicted that there will be a Liberal or NDP government after the June 28 federal election.

Here's his prediction, in case it mysteriously disappears from his website. Emphasis mine:

"SOUTH CENTRAL CANADA: I saw a black cloud darkening over this portion of Canada—just east of Calgary to east of Montreal. Then it started spinning and became a powerful storm of confusion and disorientation, growing tighter and tighter in order to become stronger, doing much damage before suddenly breaking up. It was followed by brilliant sunshine. When people started coming out of their storm cellars, they were all saying, “We will not let that happen again!” I felt this storm was both political and spiritual. Though this storm was preventable, it did much damage. However, the result left behind an almost fresh, virgin territory in which strong, brilliant, spiritual, and political leadership will prevail, setting a very bright course for the future.

Let's look at this from the standpoint of the social conservative Christian that Mr. Joyner is, judging from other things I have read by him.

Yes, he is not explicitly talking about this election but, unless there is an outbreak of religious-based terrorism, the only scenario that seems to make sense to me is that Mr, Joyner is talking about an election and the disastrous consequences of a vote gome wrong, from "God's perspective." Canadians by and large would not care about the flowering and end of a political and spiritual movement if it didn't have some sort of direct effect on their own lives. Unless we see FLQ type activities, an election seems to be the best way to make sense of Mr. Joyner's prediction.

[A caveat to my progressive friends and readers. I am not going out of my way to be anti-Liberal or anti-NDP here. From Mr. Joyner's perpective, it would make the most sense that he would see our Liberals or NDP as bad. So, I am following his lead in poking at the prophecy in an attempt to figure out what he means.]

Is this "black...political movement" the Tories? I would hope not, but it is possible that the Harper Tories could be just that bad. Aside from my own prejudices, this doesn't make sense as the Tories would probably not bring in various government policies that are hostile to Christian moral thinking.

Is this "black...movement" the Liberals? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. This prophecy seems to refer to something *new* happening. As students of Canadian politics will remember, after the last election, the Liberals hold most of those seats already. You could say that he is foretelling that some kind of sweep will develop for the Liberals in the last three weeks of the election, which would result in them being wiped out (as in 1958 or 1984) in the next federal election. But why use such language in the prophecy if the Liberals win again exactly as they have in the last few elections?. Unless they win every seat in this region he is talking about, this is not really new.

It could well be that the Liberals would be relected, only to prove so "bad" from a conservative Christian perspective that they sow the seeds of their own destruction. But the "new" feel of this "black" thing makes me think that isn't the case.

With due respect to my New Democrat readers, the most likely "bad" candidates, from what I am guessing is Joyner's point of view, are probably from the NDP.

Here's a scenario, in tune with the prophecy. The Liberal vote drains to the left enough that the NDP starts to pick up seats in Sakatchewan and Manitoba (quite plausible as both have NDP provincial governments) and enough seats in Ontario to either finish first or force the Liberals to include them in a formal, or de facto, coalition government.

Ridiculous? Well, I was in Ottawa during the 1990 provincial election when the provincial Liberal vote switched to the NDP and stunned commentators watched as an NDP government was elected in Ontario. Bob Rae's government gave Christian conservatives lots of headaches in the following years.

I can see the stop-Harper vote swinging to the NDP as the "stronger anti-Harper choice" in some urban ridings. Given the gravity of what Joyner seems to be pointing at, we could even go out on a limb and say that the government will be an NDP government with Liberal support. The next election, in this scenario according what I am guessing the prophecy says, will see Canadians cured of NDP-Liberal thinking and a straight right-left fight as you would see in Britian or the U.S.

This we can safely say. Mr. Joyner is not predicting a win for "godly conservatives" who will govern wisely in the June 28 vote. The government to come, he predicts, will be a national hangover for Canada.

This prophecy is maddeningly imprecise. Not quite "A virgin will have a baby and..." or "A king named Cyrus will commission the rebuilding of Jerusalem." Sigh.

How accurate is Mr. Joyner?


Several conservative Christian groups have critiqued Mr. Joyner's theology and his
tendency to get things wrong when he is predicting the future.

This is not helpful, as the Bible advises that in Old Testament days, anyone who used the phraseolgy that "The Lord says..." without the events coming to pass as specified was a false prophet. He was to be stoned. (By having rocks thrown at him until his death...you wiseacres! :) )

Several years ago, he widely distributed a prophecy by Bob Jones that stated that Los Angeles would be destroyed in an earthquake and/or nuclear war...in 1998.

[Although, to be even-handed, I'd also like to point you to Mr. Joyner's response to the above linked story that includes the prediction and other criticisms of his ministry. You may see it here.]

What do I think? Well, I do like the idea of Mr. Joyner trying to share what he believes The Lord is telling him.

However, I do hope that Mr. Joyner has the grace to admit that he is glad that he was wrong if The Tories win the election later this month and his prediction a "black political movement" proves unfounded and they govern Canada well. If so, I think Canadian christians would extend grace to him in return. Christianity is a faith of second and third and fourth and fifth chances...so anyone can make mistakes. Even modern day "prophets". But, they should be prepared to admit their mistakes too.

It will be interesting to see if he was right. I wanted to get this online before the votes are counted...thus this post.

Update: Of course, what Andrew Coyne says here could happen too:

"Of course, there's one scenario I'm overlooking: a Liberal-NDP-Bloc "Stop the Conservatives" coalition. Don't think it can't happen."

That would be diabolical if you think about it. Never foresaw that that could happen when I first posted, certainly.