Charismatic prophets show few signs of recanting after failed prophecies

Leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), who prophesized that Donald Trump would be reelected, show few signs of recanting their predictions, according to scholars assessing the movement at a recent meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, which RW attended. This is even as a formalization of the movement seems likely, with more denomination- like networks emerging. The NAR, a coalition of charismatic megachurches, church networks, and evangelists teaching that the biblical prophetic and apostolic offices are being restored, attracted worldwide attention for its prophecies about the Trump presidency starting in 2016—and ending in 2020, when its reelection predictions were met by Trump’s defeat at the polls. Stuart Wright of Lamar University has been compiling a growing database of 49 of the movement’s prophets and found that 70 percent still say the election was stolen and that Trump should be president, with some prophets even claiming that Trump was declared president in heaven. Meanwhile, 10 percent have remained silent on the matter, at least for now, while seven percent have stated that their prophecies were wrong and have apologized to their followers, most notably Jeremiah Johnson and Chris Valentin.

Wright argues that there is a strong “party line” among prophets and pressure to maintain the validity of their prophecies. As reported in a paper by Damon Berry, any reassessment of the prophetic ministry that might be discerned came in the issuing of a “prophetic standards statement” last spring that sought to establish protocols for making prophecies. In another paper, J. Gordon Melton of Baylor University reported that there are now 220 apostolic networks that often function like denominations. He said that new NAR prophecies emerge daily and are “vague enough that what constitutes fulfillment or failure is difficult if not downright impossible to discern.” But the Trump prophecies were clearer and more definite, making them more difficult to recant or re-interpret, which suggests why very few prophets have announced that they are wrong and have apologized.