“I’m just sayin'” can be sin, too

FALSE PROPHETS: Just finished reading Jeremiah, and part of it’s story is that false prophets greatly outnumbered true ones. God says, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they run around claiming to speak for me. I have given them no message, yet they go on prophesying.” (Jer 23:21)

I’m convinced of the same today. This could include people who are actually saying they are predicting the future (Dana Cornerstone, for example [1]) or people – and these are more frequent in my circles – who “run around claiming to speak for” God, without claiming a special revelation, but who condemn people like Cornerstone for his presumption.

In Jeremiah’s day, if one even just passed along false prophecy, that person incurred guilt as well.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness” is the ninth commandment – and I note that it has no asterisk that says, “Thou CANST pass along false witness, so long as you qualify it with ‘For what it’s worth!’ or ‘I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m just sayin’!’ or ‘It’s only Facebook’ or ‘I have a right to my opinion.’

Hence my conclusion: “Those who pass along information without having first verified that it was true are responsible for its content; of a lesser grade than the person who originally made it up, but still liable.”

In 2009 the big rumor was that FEMA was planning on putting all Christians in concentration camps. No proof, just plenty of, “I’m just putting the question out there!” And no retraction when it turned out to be mere rumor. It’s the same kind of insinuation that led to millions of Americans stating, still, “I’m just saying, how do I know if Barack Obama is really an American citizen? or is not a Muslim?” In 2020, lockdown has made people more anxious than ever: that along with the US election and constant social media has resulted in one “Hey, what do I know? I’m just putting it out there!” after another.

One rule of thumb is to ask: “Am I so certain that what I am sharing is true, that I would be willing to go to court for it? If not, why am I ‘putting it out there’ and asking people to make up their minds?” I am reminded of when Procter & Gamble won a suit against four Amway distributors, who had “just put it out there” that P&G gave their profits to Satanic cults. P&G took them for $19.25 million. Are you sure enough about your opinion on COVID, that you would risk people’s lives by “just saying”? If you think a lawsuit or human casualties are bad news, it is exponentially worse that “every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matt 12:36)

“I don’t know, I’m just sayin'” and “Who knows if this is true, but here it is,” “Look at this ‘evidence’ (which I cannot back up) and you tell me!” are no amulet against divine judgment. Falsehood is not just saying something we know to be untrue; it’s also saying something we do not know to be true. And loosing our grip on the truth does worse damage than any faux-FEMA.


[1] Cornerstone keeps having vague dreams, which seem mainly to be his unconscious mind going over the news he has seen: he sees a headline about a coin shortage in the US, then dreams about it, and then says, “You see? My dream revealed it! And it’s the end of the world!” Some reject Cornerstone because, they claim a priori, there is no possible prophetic word since the apostolic age, therefore he is a false prophet. The approach I take is both more direct and more defensible: he prophesies falsely, therefore he is a false prophet.

“I’m just sayin’ can be sin, too,” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

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