Traits of a False Prophet
Following is a list of traits false teachers seem to have in common: “False Perfection”—All of the folks who take on these personas (yes, they’re playing characters) put on an air of flawlessness that seems kind of grotesque and cartoonish from arms length. But this is a very necessary part of the formula, because they represent the absence of every problem that you or I seek to escape. Their teeth are whiter, bank account is bigger, and they are never, ever sad. If they seem like a regular person, why would we want to emulate their lives?
“False Authority”—false prophets always claim to have access to information you can’t otherwise access without them. But seriously, if your loved one who died wanted to connect with you, do you think that they’d do it through a bleached blond in stiletto pumps? Similarly, if God had a message for you, don’t you think it could be conveyed by a mean other than through a guy with perfect hair, capped teeth, and a $5,000 suit?
“False Hope”—along with this authority, there is some sort of reassurance or certainty offered. But it’s always transactional or conditional in nature. Buy tickets to my show, purchase my book, come see me on tour, or put your check in the offering plate and I’ll make sure you get the hope you’re looking for. But that’s another thing about this brand of hope: it’s always hope for something. But God isn’t a vending machine. God doesn’t sit back and wait for us to pray hard enough or earnestly enough before giving up the goods. True hope is independent of conditions or circumstances, just like real love doesn’t require anything in return. Both simply exist for the sake of themselves. Conditional, contingent hope is really just a wish.