Prophecy Update: Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD
November 4, 2020 we may know who has been elected President of the United States… then again, we may not. Let me, however, share a prophetic word about November 4, 2020. No matter who is elected, the day itself will be very much like the day that preceded it. No matter who wins, the other side will be aggrieved and the divisions that currently afflict us will remain and may possibly grow worse. By the time of the election, close to 200,000 of our neighbors will have died. No one elected, regardless of party, can bring them back. The day after the election, Covid-19 will continue to rage, the economy will still be struggling. Over 100,000 small businesses have closed across the country, with likely more closing before November. Like the lost lives, no one will miraculously bring those businesses back. Regardless of who is elected, we are likely looking at a recovery that will be measured in years rather than months. All this is to say, neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden will usher in the Millennium.
That is about the extent of my prophetic powers, but then again, I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.
Others, however, are not so reticent. Believers on both sides of the political divide are making astonishing predictions that somehow the day after the election will bring an era of Christian social justice if Mr. Biden is elected, or an evangelical religious revival will occur if Mr. Trump is elected. Of course there are also the more dire predictions that range from a probable Marxist regime to a possible Fascist junta depending on the outcome. Clearly, regardless of who wins, there will be some change that will take place. There is however one thing that will not change as a result of the election, and that is our ability to listen to each other and to believe the best of each other’s motives. Presently we (I include myself here) are doing a poor job when it comes to listening and believing the best of each other. This is, in my opinion, especially tragic for those of us in the household of faith.
Believe it or not, there was a time when one might have very little idea about the political affiliations of those in one’s congregation. In the first Episcopal church I served I knew the politics of precisely two people in a congregation of almost 300, and that was because one was a Republican senator and the other was the former Democratic governor of the state. Moreover, it made no difference as the church was not a political entity. When issues of the day came up in a discussion, or in an adult education class, there were a variety of points of view that were expressed and heard. I cannot remember labels being applied, much less insults being hurled. Perhaps, however, this was because we were face to face and not sitting at a keyboard looking at a screen using a moniker.
I have often said that the Church is an extension of the Incarnation. I have usually said this in regard to some sort of ministry, work of mercy, etc. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” At the heart of the Incarnation there are two equal realities – Divinity and Humanity. An extension of the Incarnation must also include both. We are often so very correct when it comes to the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. I sometimes wonder if we are as precise when it comes to his humanity. For it is in his humanity that we see not only “the least of these” but that we are also to see each other as fellow members of his body. Indeed, as he assumed all humanity to himself in the Incarnation, all humanity, in some sense, has been elevated and deemed worthy of regard, of value, of our care… and of our listening. After the George Floyd killing, I spoke to an African-American acquaintance about the deep divisions and wondered aloud about what I could do. He said, “Right now it’s not about doing, it’s about listening”. I cannot fix the deep divisions owing to politics and/or race in our country or even in the Church. What I can do is try to listen. Doubtless there will be much with which I disagree, but even in that disagreement I can show respect.
I will offer one more prophetic word about November 4, 2020. Unless we engage with each other on the basis of our shared humanity, no matter who wins, we may all lose.