Where Have All the Prophets Gone

June 5, 2012

By Rev. D. Ayesha Robinson

Robinson Dominique 150x150 Where Have All the Prophets GoneMarvin A. McMickle presents a provocative critique of preaching in his text Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in America.[1]  Throughout his text he attempts to answer the question that he posed in the title, “Where have all the prophets gone?”

It is McMickle’s contention that there is a gross absence of prophetic preaching throughout the world.  He offers four main reasons as to why there has been a decline in prophetic preaching.  First, McMickle identifies a narrow scope of justice as a major hindrance to true prophetic preaching.  He claims that the compass of justice needs to be broadened beyond same-sex marriages and abortion (37-38).

Secondly, McMickle mentions the newfound personality of preachers, “patriot pastors,” to be an obstacle to prophetic preaching.  Patriot pastors misconstrue the concept of prophetic preaching by making its message synonymous with the policies of a particular political party and permitting that to constitute authentic Christian faith (66).  Another obstruction to prophetic preaching is the new fascination with praise and worship rather than social justice (78) which tends to leave congregants ill-prepared and unaware of the –isms that plague the land because they are so mesmerized with gyrating and musical arousal.  Lastly, McMickle identifies the emergence of “prosperity theology” as a reason for the decline of prophetic preaching (100).

McMickle responds to the decline in prophetic preaching by answering the question:  what is prophetic preaching?  Prophetic preaching entails addressing the social ills of today.  Prophetic preaching is unashamedly shedding light on the principalities and systems that imprison, entangle, and incarcerate people emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, socially, financially and psychologically.  It’s about encouragement and improvement.  Prophetic preaching is about lifting up a true standard of holiness and accepting nothing less than equality.  Prophetic preaching is what abolitionists like Peter H. Clark, Samuel Cornish, William Craft, Martin Delany, Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Maria Stewart did as they fought for liberation from slavery.  Prophetic preaching is what Civil Rights leaders such as Ralph Abernathy, Susan B. Anthony, Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers did during a time when racial discrimination and inhumane injustices were the social norm.  Prophetic preaching is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. effectively demonstrated as he proclaimed “I Have a Dream” on August 28, 1963.  “Prophetic preaching is designed to motivate people to move beyond lifting up holy hands and begin to extend helping hands to those Jesus describes in Matthew 25 as ‘the least of these (85).’”

Indeed times and conditions have changed since the days of slavery, world wars, and Jim Crow laws but the world is still in disarray.  Even now there is political unrest, financial devastation, and bigotry plaguing our land.  Nowadays the content of sermons no longer address the political and financial war zones that people in society are experiencing.  Sermons are more concerned with deducing salvation to that of self-help, wealth, and power.  The messages that are being declared behind pulpits are stripping the sacredness from the pulpit.

We are certainly in need of a restoration to prophetic preaching.  A myriad of matters need to be addressed.  Victims are in need of healing, liberation, and encouragement; perpetuators are in need of deliverance, instruction, and direction.  Where have all the prophets gone?

I am encouraged in knowing that the prophets are reading this blog right now.  There is a new generation of prophetic preachers coming to the forefront of the preaching spiritual battlefield.  We have no hidden agendas; we just want to see justice roll down like rivers (Amos 5:24).  We seek to do and be what we preach… where have all of the prophets gone? WE ARE RIGHT HERE!

[1] McMickle, Marvin A. Where Have All the Prophets Gone? Reclaiming Prophetic Preaching in

America. Cleveland: Pilgrim, 2006.




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