If those issues of power and abuse that have such prominence throughout the Bible are neglected, the ‘prophet’ in question is getting his/her moral guidelines from somewhere else besides the Bible.
I guess for many years I thought false prophets were detectable by (a) their holding wrong teachings on basic theological issues, or (b) being proven false by the irrelevance and unfulfillment of their rantings. But many false prophets, even in the Bible, were fairly accurate in their theological basics. And the unfulfillment (irrelevance) issue can take a long time to really discern – longer than a lifetime or two.

Obery Hendricks, in The Politics of Jesus, Doubleday, 2006, also comes down to two basic criteria, but I think they are much more on target than my old standards. And, come to think of it, they are more ethically based. Interesting.

There have been false prophets throughout history, and there are many today. How can a false prophet be identified? There are two telltale criteria:

(1) they are silent about issues of social justice, and

(2) they function as uncritical supporters of rulers and politicians, rather than as their moral conscience and dedicated arbiters of biblical justice.

Instead of challenging political regimes – and all earthly regimes need to be continually challenged to do right – false prophets either align themselves with them or say nothing at all. (p31)

Jesus and the prophets repeatedly hit on issues of mistreatment of people by others in society, and they put special emphasis on abuse of power by the powerful, the wealthy, or religious authorities. If those issues of power and abuse that have such prominence throughout the Bible are neglected, the ‘prophet’ in question is getting his/her moral guidelines from somewhere else besides the Bible. That is a basic issue and cannot be just waved aside. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”

And when religious leaders are cozying up to the “big boys” of power and money, you would be safe to guess they are compromising their prophetic insight and their prophetic message. That is the almost inevitable price of being a long-term insider. The powers that be like to have prophets that support their agenda, and they are in a position to choose which prophets to honor.

Well, I think Hendricks is pretty much on target. What do you think?