Failed Trump prophesies create new divisions in charismatic and Pentecostal churches

Source: Elvert Barnes from Baltimore, Maryland, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There is new division and conflict between charismatic and Pentecostal leaders and their followers over their failed prophecies concerning the reelection of President Donald Trump, particularly after the riots and attempted insurrection of January 6. “Privately and on social media, these prophets and their thousands of followers are slugging it out in an orgy of self- blame [and] recriminations,” writes Julia Duin on the website Religion Unplugged (January 12). Meanwhile, other prophets who have apologized for getting it wrong have faced accusations, curses and even death threats. Duin cites prominent evangelist Jeremiah Johnson, who in 2015 prophesied that Trump would win the White House and, four years later, that he would be reelected, and who says his life was threatened after publicly apologizing. Several other prophets have cited conspiracy theories behind the January attack. Most of these charismatic and Pentecostal leaders belong to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which holds that the biblical offices of prophets and apostles still exist.

Duin cites Baylor University new religious movement scholar J. Gordon Melton, who found that 40 charismatic Christian leaders had predicted Trump’s reelection. “Only a handful [of prophets] got it right on the 2016 election, so they all jumped into this election,” he says. This is the second time in a year that the movement has faced prophetic failure: at a prophetic summit in late 2019, none of the elite prophets assembled predicted that the coronavirus was coming. James A. Beverley of Tyndale University, who has spent 40 years studying the movement, argues that these failures represent “the most significant crisis in the history of modern charismatic prophecy.” A few other prophets are apologizing, such as Kris Vallotton, the resident prophet of the influential Bethel Church in Redding, California, and Los Angeles pastor and spiritual coach Shawn Bolz. Some prophets have reformulated their prophecies to hold that Trump will be inaugurated “in heaven” and that God will replace Biden with Trump in the near future. Erica Ramirez, president of Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, said that, for most of these believers, January 6 ruled out such options and is most likely giving them a sense of resigned acceptance about the Biden presidency.

(Religion Unplugged,