By Holly Pivec
I was disturbed this week by Kris Vallotton’s article titled “5 Tests of a True Prophet.” I was even more disturbed to see that his article was published by Charisma Magazine. For those who don’t know, Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, and a bestselling author. His article in Charisma is excerpted from a curriculum he developed titled Basic Training for the Prophetic Ministry.
Not a single one of Vallotton’s five tests of a true prophet is given in Scripture. Astoundingly, he completely overlooks the three tests that are given. Here are Vallotton’s woefully inadequate tests.
Vallotton’s 5 Non-Biblical Tests
Vallotton’s Non-Biblical Test No. 1: Does the prophet believe in the redemptive work of the Son of God?
On the surface, this test may seem good. Surely, a true prophet of God would believe in Christ’s redemptive work. But if you think that, by belief in the “redemptive work of the Son of God,” Vallotton is referring to belief in the gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, think again. In the article, Vallotton redefines the redemptive work of the Son of God as present-day miracles. He says that people who don’t believe in the “redemptive work of the Son of God” are “people who try to tell you that Jesus doesn’t do miracles anymore.” In other words–in NAR-speak–any individual who questions the authenticity of the alleged miracles being performed by today’s NAR apostles and prophets cannot be a true prophet. Where in Scripture can this test be found? It can’t.
Vallotton’s Non-Biblical Test No. 2: False prophets do not like to listen to anyone; they believe that God tells them everything.
At first glance, this test may also seem good to some people. But Vallotton’s description of the test shows what he really has in mind. He says that a true prophet will submit to “real spiritual authority.” In the NAR, the real spiritual authorities are the movement’s prophets and apostles. This point is crucial to understanding NAR teachings. The idea that a true prophet of God must submit to the authority of contemporary NAR leaders simply cannot be found in Scripture.
Vallotton’s Non-Biblical Test No. 3: False prophets are not motivated by love, but are motivated by a need to be noticed.
In other words, Vallotton is saying that false prophets are motivated by pride, not love. Sounds true, right? Not so fast. Certainly, a true prophet wouldn’t be motivated by pride, and a true prophet would have love for others. But the verses Vallotton cites in support of this test–1 John 4:7-9 and 19-21–apply to all believers in Christ generally. They’re not criteria given as tests for determining if someone is a genuine prophet of God.
Vallotton’s Non-Biblical Test No. 4: False prophets commonly use fear to motivate people.
Vallotton says that “‘doom and gloom’ tend to be the central theme of a false prophet’s message.” Yet, numerous true prophets of God in Scripture had the sober task of delivering “doom-and-gloom” messages about sin and judgment. Though their messages held out hope for forgiveness and restoration, their major themes also included grim realities. For example, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah was given the following gloomy message from God regarding the unfaithful Israelites:
“Do not pray for the welfare of this people. Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.” (Jeremiah 14:11-12)
Not a happy-go-lucky message, to be sure. In contrast to his downer message, the false prophets delivered upbeat words: “‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place’” (Jeremiah 14:13). Yet, according to Vallotton’s test, it is they who would be the true prophets of God, and Jeremiah would be a false prophet. Go figure.
Vallotton’s Non-Biblical Test No. 5: False prophets are not in a covenant relationship with the body of Christ.
This test–that a true prophet attends a local church–is not given in Scripture. While every believer should attend a local church and strive to have a healthy relationship with the membership, this is not a test given for determining whether someone is a true prophet.
In short, Vallotton gives five tests for a prophet that aren’t given in Scripture. The passages of Scripture he cites in support of his tests say nothing about prophets. They’re passages that apply to all believers.
Why wouldn’t he want to address those passages of Scripture that apply specifically to the evaluation of prophets? They’re the obvious go-to passages when teaching about prophets. Is this mere oversight on his part? If so, such oversight is inexcusable for a teacher with his influence.
So what are the key tests of a true prophet of God? The Bible gives three. These three tests are explained in detail in two recent books I co-authored on the NAR. I will explain them briefly here.
The Bible’s 3 Tests
The Fulfillment Test
The fulfillment test, given in Deuteronomy 18:21-22, requires that a prophet’s predictions must come true. Though Scripture gives this test for a true prophet, oddly, Vallotton does not. In fact, his article seems to allow for the possibility that true prophets will err in their predictions where he writes: “We will make mistakes, mess up, and even fail at times.” The idea that true prophets of God can deliver erroneous prophecies is a common teaching in the NAR. This explains why NARprophets continue to be regarded as genuine by their followers even after making erroneous predictions.
The Orthodoxy Test
Another test Scripture gives for prophets is the orthodoxy test, which requires that a prophet’s words must line up with the revelation God has already given. This test is found in Deuteronomy 13:1-5. It shows up again in the New Testament, where we see that all teachings in the churches –including teachings given by prophets–were held to the standard of teaching that had been handed down by the apostles of Christ. Why has Vallotton omitted this crucial test? Could it be because of the fact that so many NAR teachings do not line up with Scripture?
The Lifestyle Test
A third test Scripture gives for prophets is the lifestyle test. Jesus said that false prophets could be known by their bad fruit–that is, by their lawless conduct (Matthew 7:16-23). Why does Vallotton omit this test? Remarkably, some of the most influential NAR prophets have confessed to significant moral failures, including Bob Jones and Paul Cain. Yet, they have continued to be regarded as genuine by many in the NAR.
It’s baffling that Vallotton would give five tests for a prophet that are not given in Scripture and completely ignore the three tests that are given.