Do All Prophecies Come From God?
“GOD . . . must be conceived of as being too large and too universal to confine Himself to just one religion, one path or, for that matter, just one people.” So wrote a philosopher in The Guardian, a Nigerian newspaper. He holds that African traditional religions were revealed by God for the African situation and suggests that other great religions were conceived to fit local circumstances.
Traditionalists see Christianity as a European religion and traditional soothsayers as genuine agents of prophecy. A letter to the Nigerian Daily Times said: “Almighty God manifests himself at different times to different peoples . . . The wise men of the world murmur that the Supreme Being is currently manifesting Himself in Africa.” Some even hope for an African prophet, similar to Jesus and, some say, Muhammad.
These views give rise to such questions as these: Do all prophecies come from God? Did he reveal the different religious concepts that divide the world? Does he have different religious requirements for different races? Or are there true and false prophets, and true and false religions? What really is true prophecy, and what is the purpose of it?
What Is Prophecy?
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines prophecy as “the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose 2: an inspired utterance of a prophet 3: a prediction of something to come.” This suggests that there can be various sources of prophecies.
In defending traditional religions, a university professor of religious studies, E. Bolaji Idowu, speaks of “the multi-sided concept of God in Africa.” His book African Traditional Religion explains that this “usually takes its emphasis and complexion from the sociological structure and climate.” For example, he says that “whereas in most of Africa, God is conceived in masculine terms, there are localities [particularly in matriarchal communities] where he is regarded as feminine.” Could such localized and contradictory notions be inspired by God? Professor Idowu acknowledges that “there is nothing to prevent . . . any . . . race in Africa from developing its own concept of God.” This suggests that such religious concepts spring from human ideas and observation rather than from divine revelation.—Compare Romans 1:19-23.
Traditional soothsayers and oracles do not reveal the true God’s personality or his will and purpose. They deal with the taboos and rituals demanded by a variety of local “gods.” Their predictions are based on mystic knowledge and divination. Therefore, such prophecies are not inspired declarations of the divine will. Almighty God, who inspires true prophecy, is not their source.—2 Peter 1:20, 21; Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-22.
What, then, is the source of such predictions? Please read the next article for the answer to this question and the others raised earlier in this discussion.