Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: The Making of a Prophet by Jennifer LeClaire: Practical Advice for Developing Your Prophetic Voice

Review: The Making of a Prophet: Practical Advice for Developing Your Prophetic Voice
by Jennifer LeClaire
Chosen Books
Baker Publishing Group

The problem with Jennifer LeClaire’s The Making of a Prophet” is that she doesn’t believe God answered Moses’ prayer: “Would to God that all God’s people were prophets!” It is not the only problem but it is the main one from which all the other problems grow.

The hint that LeClaire lives in the Old Testament paradigm of certain special people called to guide nations, ministries, leaders, because of their spiritual gifts begins early in the book. At page 16, she writes “perhaps you are consistently seeing revelatory gifts- such as words of wisdom, words of knowledge, and discerning of spirits-- manifesting in your ministry. That gives you a hint of your Kingdom vocation.”

By the time one reaches page 136, where the author shows her belief that those who are part of the prophetic ministry get more spiritual warfare than regular believers, one has about lost one’s patience with all the specialness and the Old Testament model of how God’ gifts works. The idea that God has poured out his spirit upon all flesh gets lost in all this prophetic specialness. While Paul writes that all members in Christ’s body are equally important -- with the “eyes” that specialize in seeing, the ears, the mouth, etc--  LeClaire takes many of the charismatic gifts mentioned in the New Testament and gives them all to the prophet.  Although LeClaire is not Catholic, there is a deep sense here of the Catholic idea of clergy --who all do important things in the church- and the lowly laity who are acted upon by the prophet. Indeed, the prophet of LeClaire’s vision seems answerable only to the pastor, but even then the prophet must be wary of dangerous pastors who may not understand or who may distort or envy the prophet’s vision. This kind of mindset goes counter to God’s idea of parts of the body being dependent on other parts. Although St Paul separates those who have the gift of prophesy from those who have discernment, etc, LeClaire hoggedly usurps all these gifts, thus making the specialized office of prophet way more self-sufficient than Paul does. While St Paul speaks of those with gifts of discerning of spirit, or those with gifts of healings, LeClaire lists prophetic intercessor, prophetic deliverance minister, etc.  LeClaire writes that she discussed her fears with an apostolic mentor. It is unclear who this apostle is therefore this reviewer found it difficult to accept that apostle’s say-so about spiritual warfare. While the apostolic ministry still exists, Christians must be wary of calling anyone an apostle. The signs of an apostle are many and one of them -according to St Paul 2 Corinthians 12:12--is that an apostle is one who has done great signs and wonders including raising someone from the dead.  

Interestingly, the book would be good for all Christians. It shows all the challenges that come to those who believe the Word of God. Jesus declares in the parable sower that persecution comes because of the word, but LeClaire continually seems to insist that these trials are worse for the prophet.   

One of the charismatic gifts is the gift of faith - the gift of speaking forth a thing and commanding it to come. LeClaire speaks mostly of the revelatory gifts however. So there is an imbalance.  

This book is almost a spiritual equivalent of the YA book, Divergent. It talks about the specialness of a kind of people. Unlike other books such as Seeing the Voice of God by Laura Harris Smith or You May All Prophesy by Steve Thompson, ---books which help the reader feel equal to the writer and which are about the working of the Holy Spirit in all of God’s people-- LeClaire’s book is a subtly disguised paean to herself and uniqueness. Whereas those books teach from their author’s unique experiences but somehow seem universal, this book is for everyone, but it doesn’t think it is.  The Making of a Prophet purports to be a charismatic book but it could easily be a sermon written by a non-charismatic about the pitfalls of ministry.  

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