False Prophecy

Yes, I realize it’s been 10 days since my last post. I was just seeing if you were paying attention. We’ll go with that lie. Sure.

Imagine confirming that what the prophet decreed was God laying down exactly how the world would end and abandoning everyone and everything you ever knew to help fulfill the prophecy, but then you discover the prophecy was wrong. My grandfather, along with a few hundred people, gave up their lives, thinking they were specially chosen to survive, but then the Soviet Union never pushed the button.

At that point, they had two choices. Either:

A) Admit they were wrong and leave the church. Maybe try to restore some of those relationships they severed.

B) Double down on the incorrect prophecy with an additional prophecy explaining how the first was correct and would still happen. God just chose to test their faithfulness, which they passed with flying colors. Well, most of them. Some were disillusioned and left the church.

My grandfather opted for option B. The thing is, like any lie, in order to cover it up, you have to lie again, so things make sense. Thing is, this wasn’t an isolated incident. It begat 50 years of whoppers that some still believe to this day.

Wal-Paul abandoned his family and started a new life based on a lie, which became a twisted perspective on reality.

But he was happy. What harm could it do?

Oh, let me tell you.

Which One?

I never wanted to hug Wal-Paul. Note how I refer to him. It’s either by his official title of “my grandfather,” which denotes how we were related genetically, or I call him Wal-Paul, a name concocted by smashing two other names together, one being the identity he used when visiting, and the other being the mantle he picked up to show how important he was. Whenever I saw him, I never knew which personage he’d put on parade.

Both Wal and Paul were gregarious and eager to be the focal point for the evening. Wal was stationed near the front door and would pull whomever stood within arm’s length in for a bearhug, exclaiming, “Come give your grandpa a hug! I’m so glad you came to see me.”

Paul would sit either at my uncle’s kitchen table or in a metal folding chair near the family room’s fireplace. Here’s where it got tricky. Whenever he got comfortable, you never knew if it was Wal or Paul who sat there. They both looked exactly the same. They were both flanked not only by the second woman they married after leaving my grandmother but also by the Full Gospel Assembly’s resident prophet as well as his wife.

The only way to tell the difference is if nonsense started coming out of my grandfather’s mouth.

What’s in a Name?

Did you notice in the prior post that I referred to my maternal grandfather as Wal-Paul? No, that wasn’t his given name. Born Waldon William Meeks back in the 1900’s, he went by Wally, until the prophet decreed his heavenly name was Paul. Yeah, the few remaining members of the Full Gospel Assembly Church in Benson, Arizona would claim they practice prophecy. Here’s where it gets a little muddy.

Prophecy is when God gives someone a message to declare to another person or group of people. The person declaring the message has the gift of prophecy and may be referred to as a prophet or prophetic. If what they declare comes true, God’s actually speaking through them; if not, they’re a false prophet and shouldn’t be trusted.

Furthermore, one can quantify prophecy into two categories: general and personal. General prophesy is declared to a group of people, usually to serve as encouragement or in some cases, as a warning. Personal prophecy is a message from the Lord spoken specifically to one person. Makes sense, no?

Well, the Full Gospel Assembly church that my grandfather joined practiced personal prophecy, and somewhere along the way that personal prophecy became a vehicle for instructions to be given, such as give this much money to the church, here’s your heavenly name, you’re going to marry this person, or here’s what you’re going to name your children.

That’s why we referred to my grandfather as Wal-Paul. We knew his real name was Wally, but he referred to himself as Paul, so my family combined the two. Oh, we knew better than to call him that to his face. He was our grandfather and we needed to show him as much respect as we could muster.