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Why haven’t we seen any more prophets in the last 1400 years?

Some say that prophets are a thing of the past. I argue that’s not true.

We have to ask what exactly a prophet is. And to assist us in that effort, we must understand what religion is. If we accept that there is some fundamental truth that is beyond the comprehension of human beings, then prophets are people who are in touch with that truth and are able to provide an explanation for that truth understandable to a certain community of people. Thus Abraham, Moses and the other Jewish prophets were in touch with the spiritual reality most of us can’t see, and they were able to communicate an understanding of that reality to certain Middle Eastern tribes several millennia before Christ. Similarly, Mohammed was able to make spiritual truth understandable to the Arabs of the sixth century,as was Buddha in Northern India. Therefore, if we understand prophets as being those people gifted with an ability to comprehend the Almighty in a way most of us cannot, and then are able to communicate that understanding to a community of people, then there have been many prophets over the centuries.

Indeed, one might argue that even in the last century, there have been a number of important prophets who started movements in the United States. I would argue that Martin Luther King Jr. probably qualifies under that definition. He was able to communicate certain spiritual principles to the oppressed African-Americans as well as to certain potential allies in the 1960s. Similarly, Bill and Lois, the founders of AA and Alanon were able to communicate a spiritual message that has become the basis for a philosophy guiding people struggling with addiction. In each of these cases, the individuals had a spiritual connection beyond what most of us have and through that connection were able to make the Almighty understandable to those who might not otherwise achieve such a connection.

Such an understanding of prophesy makes sense when one looks objectively at the fundamental truths that form the basis for religion.Forget about the practices that form the superstructure of most religions.Instead focus on the truth that all religions communicate — that we are all connected; that we need have faith that God, the Almighty, the Higher Power, or whatever you call it will guide us and take care of us; and that we must take personal responsibility for our actions. Those fundamental truths are universal in religion. It is only once religion gets into the hands of people, with our flaws, our petty jealousies, and our egotism, that it becomes corrupted and results in the intolerance and hatred that we see all too often.

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Mike is an Assistant Professor of Management for Legal and Ethical Studies at Oakland U. Mike combines his scholarship with practical experience in politics.

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