I have written of Charlie Johnston here in the past, and you can find those posts here.
I will not rehash everything I’ve previously written, but if you are not familiar with him it would be worth revisiting those posts.
So, Charlie always, first and foremost, said his message was about a broader, greater, and more general message than the simple act of prophecy (in the sense here, of predicting specifics of what is to come). His message has been pretty simple at the base level: trust God, don’t get all stressed out about what’s going on around you – just know that we’re in a Storm, and with that sense of awareness take the Next Right Step. (hence, the acronym TNRS for his followers as a short summation of what it means to live in these times).
All of that is well and good. But Charlie made a claim along the way that he has been visited by Angels since his youth, and along the way would receive visitations by others as well, including Jesus Himself. According to his own words, he has had Spiritual Advisors who have not considered him or his messages inauthentic. A review of his diocese did not fully embrace him, but neither did it pull the plug on him. Basically, the results of the review showed that Charlie has not stated anything heretical or against Catholic teaching, but since the nature of the claim to supernatural insight was unknown, he was restricted from speaking on Church property. He was careful to comply in obedience.
From all accounts, Charlie is a good and faithful man who did not profit from his ministry along the way, nor did he seem to indulge in self-aggrandizement. He was careful to tell people not to make any preparations for the Storm beyond their means. However prepared we thought we could be, it wouldn’t be enough anyway and may serve as a distraction.
So, anyway, it is clear that Charlie certainly had and has a good sense of where we’re headed, and how we’re trending as a culture, country, and world. It is clear that his message is sound, and very good. And it is also clear that he cares very much for the Church and is obedient.
The difficulty at the moment is determining what we should make of the inaccuracy of his one real prediction: That Obama would not finish his term, and that a peaceful transition of power would not take place with respect to the Presidency. Further, the specific prediction of a Rescue occurring at the end of 2017 is not yet proven wrong, but certainly seemed to depend upon the former prediction.
What first must be said about this is that Charlie stated before Inauguration Day that if his prediction did not come to pass that he would consider himself unreliable and would withdraw from the public. Once the day passed, he was good to his word. He said he was clearly deceived, that for whatever reason the deception was undetected by him and also for whatever reason his error was left uncorrected. He is taking that as a sign that he is intended now to suffer that embarrassment, withdraw from what he was doing, and pass the torch of the general message on to others. He has done so. In my view, this is the proper thing to do and I think it actually bolsters his credibility. Too many times we have seen people make predictions, and then when it doesn’t come to pass, they act as if it really did come to pass but in some vague way that defines logic. Charlie said he has no taste for that and made no excuses.
I met Charlie in Green Bay. He visited for a talk and my wife and I decided to go with some friends. It was nice to see him and introduce myself. There was little he said that I didn’t already get from his blog, but sort of like how it’s fun to see a band in concert even though you have their CDs, it’s nice to see someone talk in person what they’ve been writing about.
So, having established that Charlie was wrong and there are no excuses, there are some things worth musing about, that falls under the category of “how wrong was he?” Think about it for a moment: Two years ago Charlie started saying that there would be chaos and there wouldn’t be a peaceful Presidential transition. While that didn’t come to pass, the last two years in politics in the US have been absolutely mind-numbing. Everything that happened, the devolution of civil discourse, protests, claims of hacking and voting disruptions, calls for Electors to ignore their duty… I saw article after article by even mainstream publications openly wondering what would happen if Trump were assassinated at the inauguration, or predicting mass chaos in the streets no matter who won… On all levels, this was bizarre. Good, reasonable, and not particularly out-there folks were stocking food, and wondering whether or not something really changed, or if there would be some sort of anarchist revolt. I know I have never lived through an election that came with so many twists, turns, threats of violence, and outright uncertainty.
All of that falls short of Charlie’s prediction. But the very fact that people were openly wondering what in the world was happening still gives one a sense that Charlie knew something we didn’t, and started seeing it before it was self-evident.
So, here’s my musings: Is the miss here because he simply doesn’t get the messages he claims? That’s entirely possible. And if true, it either means he was making it up, or that he really believes it and is delusional. It would seem an odd delusion, since much of what he says went down the directive path that he spoke about. But, it could be that he is simply a perceptive man with gifts and talents in the area of foreseeing cultural trends, and then conflating a supernatural element on top of it. In any case, I find it difficult to accept he was just lying about it all. But really, only he knows. So, suppose he really does receive these messages. The question, then, is how was he wrong? Well, the simple explanation is that Private Revelation does not hold the same guarantee of infallibility as Public Revelation. The errors here could be one of not understanding that the prophecy was conditional. This means that if people responded with sacrifice and prayer, then the prophecy could be mitigated, delayed, or reversed. Normally, the seer would understand the conditional nature of it because a message would be delivered with the conditions required to change it. Further, Private Revelation is dependent upon the understanding and communication of the seer, so it could simply mean that he misunderstood what was communicated. Whether the message was meant to be allegorical, for example.
Charlie maintains that he does receive messages, but he was simply deceived by a dark spirit, and that this deception went uncorrected. If this is true, one might wonder on two questions: (1) why would the spirit deceive him in the first place, and (2) why would he not be corrected?
Only God truly knows the answers to all these questions, unless Charlie was simply deceiving us, in which case he too knows the answers. But supposing there was a supernatural deception here, it could well be to drive a wedge between Charlie and his followers and get them thinking all is really well with the world. Charlie has brought to light the Storm. We can all see it around us, and Charlie simply articulated what we all saw and helped give meaning to it. To the extent people became better because of it, the evil spirits would wish to counter that. One possible explanation is that he was too close to right, so he was deceived on the details exactly for the purpose of destroying his credibility. Perhaps many who were girding their loins and preparing not just materially, but spiritually, have renewed doubts and will now relax. Perhaps this deception was allowed to find out whose faith was dependent on Charlie’s success and accuracy as opposed to simply focusing on the Gospel message. Perhaps. It could well be that Charlie will ultimately be right about the greater prediction that the next stable leader will not come from this election, and that there will be a time of chaos for which we need a Rescue. But now we’re a little less certain about all of that, aren’t we? And maybe God’s OK with that.
What I will say is that I believe signs and/or prophetic accuracy are important. Not as important as truth – for deceivers may be able to work signs and give accurate prophecy. But given truth in the messages, the apparitions that the Church have accepted came with these things. God knows that we are surrounded by deceivers, and it is important that we do see something to hang our hat on. We did not get it in this case.
No sense getting down about it. We can still keep Charlie’s message in mind as something solid to consider, and move on to loving God and neighbor the way we’re supposed to no matter what anyway.