No, The Prophets Were Not Epileptics

[Spoiler Alert: I break down and give away the first season in the opening paragraph.]

Screenshot 2017-03-26 at 8

Judge Pernell Harris being monitored by neurologists.

Amazon recently released the second season of Hand of God, a show whose first season I’ve reviewed in the past. Hand of God is about a judge who believes he is getting messages from God which will help him save his son’s life. Judge Harris speaks in tongues, has visions, and receives audible directions which actually do lead him to uncover many things about what really happened to his son, a young entrepreneur who allegedly attempted to kill himself. However, by the end of the first season his son, who was in a coma, dies.

Harris, who thought God promised to save his son from death, loses faith in God. Season two follows a disillusioned Judge Harris who is trying, among other things, to find out why he is experiencing what he once thought were supernatural revelations from God. Harris’ disillusionment with the idea that he is receiving divine revelation leads him to seek out a neurological expert for help. The doctor, an agnostic it seems, says he believes Harris’s visions, like the visions of Moses and other religious figures in history, are really epileptic episodes.

derpy neets
Nietzsche, like his Romanticist contemporaries, identified the prophetic with mental illness/madness.

A Fascinating Theory?

What is fascinating about the “Visions = Epilepsy” theory isn’t its ability to naturalistically explain away supernatural revelation. It doesn’t actually do that, like, at all. No, what is fascinating about the theory is that it flies in the face of what is actually written in the Scriptures about Moses’ experiences with the Lord. You see, while Moses’ first experience with Yahweh is a private matter (see Exodus 3), his later experiences of communing with God, hearing from God, and performing miracles are public matters. Unlike the ancient and modern pagan “seers” who rely on hallucinogenic drugs and self-induced trances (via mantra repetition, for example), Moses, Israel, and even the enemies of God came into direct contact with Yahweh, the Lord of lords.

Moses’ interaction with the Lord differed in some respects from that which the others experienced (e.g. compare Numbers 12:6-8 & Exodus 33:12-34:8), but it was not absolutely distinct from that of the people of Israel. God’s self-disclosure is, in other words, consistent. Moses could not start saying things that were outside of the character of God’s self-revelation, which was itself, at least to some extent, a matter of public knowledge (see Exodus 1:15-21).

What’s more, the Lord’s dealings with Moses and Israel were in accord with his dealings with the patriarchs of Genesis. There is an unbroken succession of individuals and their families who individually and collectively encounter Yahweh, speak with him, know him. God has consistently revealed himself to individuals and families as early as Genesis 1. In Genesis 3, in fact, he shows up in person, the pre-incarnate Son of God walks in the garden and talks with his creation.

Conclusion

So upon what basis do some speculate that Moses’ experiences were the fruit of a neurological malady? The answer is simple: They simply assume that is the case. Rather than giving any textual evidence of Moses being an epileptic, they assume that whatever he experienced was not of divine origin. Rather than listening to the Word of God foretell the coming Messiah in painstaking detail, those promoting the “Visions = Epilepsy” theory assume they are not of divine origin, assume that they are of the same value as any other purported visions from any other religion, and then make assertions.

Were the prophets of the Bible epileptics? No. The prophets of the Bible were men who had the onerous task of serving as God’s representative, bringing to men messages about repentance and judgment that were usually unwelcome by those to whom they were sent. The prophets’ words came to pass, and the Lord’s Word was accompanied by signs and wonders which made it clear to the people that these men were not hallucinating or imagining that God was speaking to them. And just as Hand of God and other contemporary “demythologizers” of the Bible ignore the Biblical prophets’ words, choosing instead to attribute their warnings and admonitions to madness, so too did their forefathers in unbelief (cf. Jeremiah 29:26; 2nd Kings 9:11; Hosea 9:7).

The true madness we can observe in all of this, however, is this:

Fallen men think they will escape the judgment of God by ignoring his Word, or by some other means than faith in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who suffered in the place of sinners in order to remove their sin debt and reconcile them to God.

Rest assured, they will not.

Soli Deo Gloria

-h.

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One thought on “No, The Prophets Were Not Epileptics

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