Every so often, I like to check out evangelicals’ prophecies for a year just passed. Since the pandemic, I’ve definitely slacked off a little there. But I thought it’d be fun to check out what what one evangelical prophet thought would happen last year, then compare his prophecies to what actually did happen. I’m sure we’ll all be totally shocked by the results. Oh, most definitely we will. Yep yep.

Were you fooled? See, that was me acting like a typical evangelical prophet! I’ll turn out to be completely wrong, so it’s a spot-on impersonation! But we’ll also hear from another evangelical who will totally review this guy’s prophecies to see how accurate they really are. You won’t be too surprised by her assessment either, I don’t think.

(This post first appeared on Patreon on 2/9/2023. Its audio ‘cast lives there too! If you’d like early access, please consider becoming a patron. <3)

A quick review: What evangelical prophecies are supposed to be and why evangelicals make them

Just in case anyone’s not familiar with evangelicals’ love of making prophecies, here’s what’s going on with them:

Evangelicals tend to be charismatic Christians. All Christians tend to think that Jesus possesses them when they convert or—for the lifelong Christians—dedicate themselves to him. But charismatics think that Jesus, in possessing them, also sometimes grants them a special supernatural power to work miracles in his name. These superpowers are called charisms by Catholics, but evangelicals don’t tend to use that term specifically. Instead, evangelicals usually call their superpowers gifts of the Spirit, which means exactly the same thing but in English.

For the most part, evangelicals tend to categorize these superpowers thusly:

  • Prophecy
  • Distinguishing between good and evil spirits (not being fooled by fakers)
  • Teaching
  • Word of wisdom (generally incredibly wise advice)
  • Word of knowledge (cold reading x100)
  • Exhortation
  • Miracle-working, generally
  • Magical healing, particularly
  • Service, helping out, surreally good leadership
  • Tongues-talking
  • Interpretation of tongues-talking (some evangelicals fuse this one with the preceding entry; others are okay with free-form babbling in private devotions, but think that babbled prophecies in church settings always need interpretation or they’re demonic)
  • Giving (money, time, etc)
  • Faith
  • Mercy

In cases where the gift seems kind of pedestrian, like “giving,” we’re talking about over-the-top, beyond-the-call-of-duty, how-do-they-even-DO-that levels of it.

Usually, an evangelical has only one gift. So someone with the gift of healing might not be a good public speaker. Or someone who is a brilliant teacher might have terrible judgment about other Christians.

Prophecies in particular as a gift of the Spirit

Prophecies command a great deal of attention in terms of gifts of the Spirit. They’re very flashy and out-of-context, so it’s easy for the flocks to see one being given and think something supernatural is happening. And, too, prophets learn quickly how to work up a crowd while giving them.

Best of all, Christians have always taken considerable liberties with their prophecies. Anything can be a prophecy. It doesn’t need to be a prediction of anything in particular happening at a particular time. It can just be a rah-rah message to give the flocks hope for the future. Or to slam someone the prophet doesn’t like from a safe remove.

Many Jews—though hardly all—don’t even think real prophecy exists anymore. But Christians always feel free to swan around making and repeating them! Their leaders have taught them to have very poor memories for the many failed prophecies littering their field, so they’re convinced that prophecies are obvious evidence of their many claims about their god.

Then, they can claim that heathens who scoff at these ZOMG PROPHECIES just don’t want to believe all this incredible evidence they have.

The appeal and low, low risk of making prophecies for the year ahead

I love checking out evangelicals’ past prophecies because evangelicals themselves never seem to do that. We did that in depth a while ago for one evangelical magazine’s 2016 prophecies, and it was so much fun. We also talked about all that Blood Moon bullshit that was going around in 2018-2019, and loads of other stuff besides.

The hyper-dramatic Harold Camping-style Rapture predictions aren’t quite in vogue like they used to be (probably thanks to him and his string of constant, well-publicized failed predictions). But as you’ll see, evangelicals still figured out ways to tickle the flocks’ itching ears.

And oh, those ears were itchin’ for a scritchin’.

Prophecies make evangelicals feel like they’re in control again. The more threatened and challenged evangelicals feel, the more power they feel leaking away from their tribe, the more they glom onto prophecies—and, of course, prophets. Popular prophets can quickly become superstars in evangelical circles. Their many misses get forgotten or can be easily hand-waved away, so there’s no risk at all in saying whatever they wish.

That’s what happened to Jeremiah Johnson. In 2015, Politico tells us, this then-27-year-old predicted that Donald Trump would enjoy a surprise win in the 2016 election. He gained a huge following. But when he predicted—along with a bunch of other self-styled prophets—that Trump would win again in 2020, that obviously didn’t turn out at all. A few of those prophets, including Johnson, got really spooked by the January 6, 2021 insurrection attempt, at which time they apologized to their fans for having “misinterpreted” things.

That’s about the only time evangelicals turn on their prophets, which is exactly what they did with Johnson. They vastly preferred all the other prophets who still insist, to this day, that their prophecies were true.

So what did evangelicals think 2022 would be like?

Charisma Magazine gives us a bunch of prophecies for 2022. These come to us courtesy of one Chris Reed, who styles himself quite a prophet. He’s also the lead pastor at MorningStar Fellowship Church in South Carolina. He works under the grand huckster himself: Rick Joyner. Seriously. That Rick Joyner.

(If you saw the name of the church and immediately thought of Lucifer from the Bible, you’re not alone at all there. Me too. Oh yes. Me too. It’s such a weird choice. If you thought of Lucifer Morningstar from the Lucifer TV show, well, then you are also not alone.)

And wow, does this guy not look like the textbook definition of “self-important.” Like he’s about to give the flocks the deets straight from Yahweh:

Of course, he hedged his bets considerably. First, he tells us they are only “likely to happen in the coming season.” Then, he says that not everything on the list would for-sure happen “by the end of 2022,” but he still thinks they’re totally coming at some point in the future.

I honestly do not know how evangelicals don’t understand that these guys are just narcissistic hucksters looking for attention.

Let’s look at his list. First, here’s my grading system:

NAP: Not a Prophecy. Too generic to grade, or too easily guessed by doing a few Google searches or keeping up with the news.

A-F: Letter grades based on how well a prophecy turned out.

The list of prophecies that are sorta-kinda supposed to happen in 2022

  1. Covid would “finally” begin to “fizzle” after the spring. Oh, it was really bad in January 2022, but even if it’s tapered off a bit since then, it certainly hasn’t fizzled out. This might have felt like a fairly safe guess, though, because (according to this fun interactive graph at Google) the hugest spikes in new cases and deaths are mostly behind us. He sure didn’t think a big huge holiday spike was coming last November, though. Grade: F
  2. There’ll be another “worldwide virus breakout—like a flu or swine flu.” Again, a safe guess. New viruses, particularly one that make the leap from animals, are going to come up from time to time. But I don’t see anything that leaps out at me from the World Health Organization’s master list of disease outbreaks. I don’t think Reed is talking about monkeypox, but obviously that’s a concern. It’s not new, either, not by a longshot. Grade: F
  3. “Joe Biden will not finish his first term.” Again, this might just be a bet that counts on Biden’s advanced age. But don’t worry, Reed tells his Mouseketeers: Jesus will “frustrate” Kamala Harris’ socialist desires. Grade: NAP
  4. “A rise of women in political leadership,” which includes a UK woman who will “replace a corrupt politician” and be “much like a Margaret Thatcher.” Again, a goofy Hail Mary guess. So far, a new Iron Lady has not shown up. Grade: F
  5. Yet another mass shooting that will kill “a high-profile, well-known person.” Too bad Jesus can’t be more specific, eh? But Reed tells his followers that lots of prayer might prevent the shooting entirely, or at least “minimize the damage.” We need to sue the pants off of every evangelical church in America for not praying enough, clearly, and hold them responsible for every death caused by a mass shooter. Grade: NAP

This guy’s hilarious. Does he really think nobody can tell what he’s doing?

The international prophecies for 2022

Now, we get to a few that are about international politics. I can tell Chris Reed is incredibly well-read and understands this topic very well.

6. “China will begin to emerge as a stronger superpower,” which will have them looking to expand their “dominance and borders.” They’ll try to take Taiwan by force, but won’t succeed! Jesus will stop them. Another safe guess, since they’ve been eyeing Taiwan for a while. Our own government seems to think they will attack there at some point in the next 10-20 years. So far, though, they haven’t done anything. I don’t think Jesus has had anything to do with that fact. Grade: F

7. More “competition between Russia and China in the space race.” Really? Because in June 2021, they pledged to work together on a few space projects. China also just opened its first space station in December 2022. I’m not seeing any particular competition here. Grade: F

8. More countries will leave the European Union. “Keep your eyes on Poland.” So far, the only sovereign country that has done so is the UK, though many decades ago three territories also left. It looks like a “Polexit” is very unlikely; The Economist thinks the bigger issue is that it refuses to leave. Grade: F

And my favorite:

9. Brazil will enjoy a huge sports victory, and then there’ll be a grand revival there. This sports victory will be a landmark, unique, significant one. Hmm.. gosh, how could a prophet go wrong there? It’s Brazil, FFS. Also, I sure haven’t heard about a Great Fundagelical Awakening there lately. Grade: F

Prophecies about Freedom Land

Now we circle back around to America.

10. “Donald Trump will announce he’s running for president again, but he is watching and waiting.” His announcement of running will come around or after the 2022 midterms. A really dumb guess, but a safe one, as Trump was playing coy a lot in 2021. As a former president, it wouldn’t be out of left field for him to want another term. He did announce an intended run in mid-November 2022, but it was so weaksauce that I didn’t even remember him doing it. (TY Jasen!) Grade: NAP

11. “A powerful African American woman [will] rise in America with a strong, unifying, conservative voice.” Jesus apparently told him this “may be Candace Owens,” but whoever it is will be “significant.” She’ll greatly advance conservative politics and “Judeo-Christian values.” Nope. In 2022, Candace Owens was far too busy dealing with the collapse of her various money-making schemes to worry about politics, and I know of no other Black women who fit that bill. Grade: F

12. “Many bizarre and strange religious groups [will] rise in the next year or two [. . .] When you hear about these fringe groups and cults, remember the Lord showed this to me.” What an arrogant jackass. A lot of folks might well consider MorningStar Fellowship Church itself a “bizarre and strange religious group,” and with QAnon still infesting Christian groups, a lot of these “bizarre and strange religious groups” are actually hard-right Christian. We are seeing a rise in violent, scary Christian groups like that, but he’s saying they’ll arise because “people will be trying to fill the void and emptiness in their lives and get answers.” You know, like evangelicals promise they can do. But there are always lots of fringe religious groups floating around, so it’s a safe guess. Grade: NAP

Of course, prophecies about THE ENDTIMES

Would they be evangelicals if they weren’t obsessed with the Endtimes?

13. “A supernatural event will come out of Israel, perhaps Jerusalem, that will be a real testimony to the Christian faith once it is discovered and released.” Yes, because we must make sure to discover and release big miraculous events. Otherwise how do we know they happened? But in 2022, nothing really spectacular or miraculous-sounding happened in Israel, much less Jerusalem. Grade: F

14. Iran super-duper wants to develop uranium and nuclear weapons, and it’s pissing Israel off. “Soon Israel will have had enough, and on one of their holy days they will attack and retaliate, and the Lord will preserve them through this.” Now, I’m not Jewish and I’m no expert here. But somehow I doubt they’d be chill with initiating war on one of their holy days. As for Israel attacking Iran in general, yeah, it might happen in a few years. Hasn’t yet, though it’s a perfectly safe guess considering the countries’ history together. Grade: NAP

And then, Reed grants us one last parting salvo about the 2024 election combined with another attempt to sell his vision of a magical Black conservative lady:

15. I saw another person rise to greatness in America. I cannot say he will be at the top of the ticket, but we need to pray for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He is popular right now, but God has marked his life to be a younger version of an America-first, freedom-loving, political leader. God has been anointing him. We will continue to see him, and a black woman, who will be greatly anointed by God in the earth, both rise in the next year or two. Her voice will also gain prominence.

Whoof. Where to begin. This is absolutely not a prophecy. In fact, he hedges his bets and covers his ass better here than almost anywhere else in this list. That “we need to pray for Ron DeSantis” thing is just an attempt to slide in the name. If DeSantis doesn’t end up on the ticket in 2024, no harm no foul. If he does, then Reed gets to claim him as a prophetic victory.

Evangelicals will not ask why he “cannot say” that DeSantis will get the nomination. You’d think Jesus would have shown him very clearly who was there, right? Or why give Reed the prophetic vision at all? But if he’s too specific and gets the name wrong, then his misses could come back to bite him. It doesn’t happen often at all, but it does often enough that “prophets” have learned their lesson.

Why evangelicals cannot be trusted to accurately judge prophecies

As I was gathering info for today, I ran across another Charisma Magazine column from a couple weeks ago about Chris Reed. In it, their writer, Shelby Bowen, breathlessly relayed how totally for realsies accurate Reed’s past prophecies had been. And her column very succinctly demonstrates why evangelicals get so turned around here. They can’t view prophecies critically. Instead, they’re all too willing to shoehorn anything into a prophecy and declare it true. (I’m suddenly understanding why Jews have so little patience for Christians’ gullibility.)

Here are Reed’s totes-for-realsies prophecies, and what Bowen said about them:

Prophecy from June 2021: “Hurricane to hit west Florida.” Bowen: ZOMG y’all, 2022’s Hurricane Ian was really bad! Reality: Reed didn’t say how powerful it’d be, and Florida gets hit by hurricanes all the time.

Prophecy from August 2022: “A tragedy will befall the Pelosi family that will catch the worlds eye. We need to pray for Nancy’s child/children, regardless of how much we disagree with her views.” Bowen: ZOMG y’all, her husband got attacked! Reality: The attack had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi’s children, and her husband is already out of the hospital. Also, Paul Pelosi’s attacker could easily have come straight from a church just like MorningStar. He was a QAnon believer.

Prophecy from February 2019: Boris Johnson will become the new Prime Minister of the UK. Bowen: ZOMG, y’all, he did! Reality: Major news sources saw Johnson as the likely winner very early on.

Prophecy from August 10, 2020: On August 8, Reed claims he posted a request for everyone to pray real hard for Donald Trump because Reed had gotten “a strong immediate warning of danger” for him. He claims he saw a vision of “an attempted shot fired at him.” But he says the prayers obviously worked because Trump survived just fine! Bowen: [sound of swallowing bullshit whole].

Reality: This would have been the one time Reed actually made a solid, specific prediction of something that was happening in the immediate future, though it’d still qualify as a safe guess. Sooner or later, some nutbar was going to do something like that.

But gosh, wouldn’t ya know it, neither he nor Bowen appear to have kept the Facebook post from August 8th. We just have him gloating about being right after the event. However, the President did not appear to be in any danger. Trump was giving a pandemic briefing, and his Secret Service protectors just hustled him to another area in the White House. It doesn’t even sound like the shooter got very close.

Bowen didn’t comment on any of the rest of Reed’s prophecies, not even the ones her own magazine had run less than a year earlier.

Why evangelicals can’t really meaningfully judge prophecies

I’m not surprised to notice this strangely selective review of Reed, either. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone go back and review prophecies in the Christ-o-sphere. Why would they? They’d just end up either being disingenuously over-generous, as Bowen was in her short mini-review, or else they’d have to admit that none of these prophecies count as valid, real, true, miraculous predictions of the future that only a god could possibly have known.

Instead, they’re safe guesses mixed with enough titillation and war and Israel and death to excite even the stodgiest holy roller and Bible thumper.

Worse still is Reed’s constant exhortation to the flocks to pray to alter the outcomes of particularly troubling predictions he’s made. That’s not how prophecies work. They’re predictions meant to impress heathens with the grandeur and power of Yahweh.

Then there’s this even more troubling thought: If their god can change those outcomes as a result of prayer, then why aren’t evangelicals constantly praying to fix all of this? Because their god sure chooses to let a lot of other people die and suffer horribly without lifting a finger. If he’s letting those people suffer because evangelicals just aren’t praying enough, then they have the blood of potentially millions of people on their hands. Oh, I mean, I know Reed’s just issuing that call to prayer to cover his ass more. Like he can say that his flocks’ prayers is what kept Trump safe in August 2020, whew, isn’t that a nice close call! But he’s just pissing on his own shoes here. He’s creating his own Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

At least, I hope that’s what’s happening. The alternative is that Chris Reed is well aware of exactly what theological nightmares he’s weaving here, and what an idiot he looks like to heathens who actually pay attention to his fakery and hucksterism, but he doesn’t care because his prophecies get him loads of attention.

And in evangelicalism, attention is the most important currency of all.

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Captain Cassidy

Captain Cassidy is a Gen-X ex-Christian and writer. She writes about how people engage with science, religion, art, and each other. She lives in Idaho with her husband, Mr. Captain, and their squawky orange tabby cat, Princess Bother Pretty Toes. And at any given time, she is running out of bookcase space.

1 Comment

Why evangelicals love prophecies so much - Roll to Disbelieve · 02/18/2023 at 1:08 AM

[…] Last time we met up, we talked about one evangelical’s abysmally-inaccurate 2022 prophecies. Even by evangelicals’ alarmingly inexact standards, this guy didn’t issue a single accurate prophecy out of 15+ guesses pulled directly out of his hind end. But an evangelical faux-reviewing his past prophecies sure thought he was the real deal. Indeed, most evangelicals believe that prophecy is real. Prophecy fulfills a very important role in evangelical culture, one that they can’t bear to lose even if it means countless failures and humiliations. They’d rather keep prophesying than stop and miss out on those many benefits. […]

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