In the last two weeks I've had the chance to listen to and contemplate two very different sermons, two very different preachers.
Two weeks ago we were checking out a new church not far from where we live. The sermon was on prophecy and the modern day prophet, and whether that exists at all. Without generalizing on the denominations, I'll say that this was a church different from my own tradition. I watched as this preacher did what I've seen done all my life, but in reverse: that is, he chose the portions of scripture that suited him and left the others out, all the while claiming that to leave his chosen passages out was theologically impossible. And he did this with a sincerity and sense of authority that had those around me nodding. I left discouraged because he hadn't dealt with the fact that his own pet theology necessarily emphasized and reduced in equal measure to the denominations he railed against. In order to focus one must intentionally blur all else.
Today I watched another preacher at a different church wrestle with an equally difficult passage--divorce, and Jesus saying that divorce in cases of adultery was possible. What immediately struck me was the difference in tone, the humility: "People have argued this different ways...I'm not sure...I'm on shaky ground here biblically...I'm not even going to write this down, because I'm not sure...Lord, let them hear your voice and forget mine."
The prophet, if he exists at all today, is as he always has been: human. The prophet is flawed; the prophet is without guarantee; the prophet is weak. "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."