Prophets of Doom and The Nature of God
I first heard the term "prophets of doom" when listening to Dan Carlin's "Hardcore History" podcast. It was the title of an episode focusing on a radical group of Anabaptists who rebelled and took control of the city of Munster in 1534. They intended to turn it into a "New Jerusalem"—a sort of headquarters for their cult-like group. When those expelled from the city in the rebellion besieged Munster, the Anabaptists believed they were in the end times. Their leaders claimed to hear directly from God, falsely prophesying of horrible coming events for the rest of the world. These leaders were prophets of doom.
For us today, there are many prophets of doom, prophets who do not go as far as those Anabaptist leaders in Munster, but who make it their life's work to prophesy doom. It might not even be their life's work, but whenever the topic of end-times events comes up in conversation, or whenever they study the prophetic books of the Bible, their focus turns to doom and gloom. As Christians have become steeped in this end-times attitude, speculation rises that a secretive society with wealth and power is at fault when calamities reach a worldwide effect. Many subscribe to conspiracy theories of deep state involvement in political and personal affairs.
From a human viewpoint, is there a deep state? Yes, to an extent. Government agencies require a certain level of secrecy for their nation to retain sovereignty. However, it's unlikely a single secret society causes governments to do their bidding. As history shows us, whenever ultimate power is placed in the hands of a few people, they utterly corrupt everything around them to their own demise—and it becomes anything but secret. Look at the Soviet Union in the Twentieth Century, a dictatorship built upon secrets and concentrated power. Their secrets spilled out through the carnage and destruction of their people. That is what happens when secrets and power collide within a small group of people. There can be no successful secret society able to cause world events to occur without it coming to light and being mitigated or destroyed.
More importantly, it is unbecoming of Christians to think this way. We understand that because of the limitations of language, perspective, and bias, not everything popularly considered as the real explanation of historical or present events are completely true. We also must understand there is no need to search them out through theories.
There is a good reason for this.
Conspiracy theories distract from what truly matters. They not only distract us from God's nature and attributes but when they have finished terrorizing our minds, they leave us with a crippled understanding of God. When the powers that be are presented as more powerful than they are, the omnipotence of God is diminished alongside His omniscience and sovereignty. Is God not the creator and sustainer of all things? Is God not all-powerful and all-wise in His rule and reign over everything? Then what is there that will overturn His will, or what will impede His plan? "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1). If Solomon's wisdom is correct, conspiracy theories about secret earthly powers controlling the helm of earth's ship are borderline blasphemy. They reject the sovereign providence of God in the affairs of men. Or, perhaps, they serve as a distraction from the sovereignty of God for those who reject the idea of God's rule.
God is the 'secret power' behind governments. Throughout the entire Old Testament, God moves nations and armies to do His bidding, whether for good or evil. Does this make God evil? This question is the reason many would rather substitute earthly powers for God to explain the reason why things are the way they are. The biblical answer, however, embraces that question with an emphatic "no!" for an answer. God is not evil because He uses evil in His plan for the world. That is not a necessary connection. God uses evil to display His holiness, justice, dominion, and goodness to His creation.
"Prophets of doom" is a most fitting moniker for those who peddle this distraction from God's nature and attributes not only because their message consists of gloom but also because their distraction dooms many Christians to despair. That, however, is not the purpose of prophecy in Scripture.
Prophesy in Scripture has two purposes: call sinners to escape impending judgement and comfort believers with the promise of deliverance. When prophecy is observed through the lens of doom and gloom, both the call to sinners and the comfort to Christians is forgotten. As a result, the interpretation of prophecy is miscalculated, just like the Pharisees who, although they had memorized most (if not all) the prophecies of Christ, missed the Messiah by a mile.
We would do well in these times to saturate our minds with the character and nature of God and to enjoy the promise of deliverance through Christ. Do you fear what may happen to you at the hands of others? Fear God, because He is in control. Do you fear possible future events? Fear God, because He is in control.