Was he Elijah the Prophet?
Below is the response to an
e-mail sent by one of our readers which queried us regarding the prophetic status of The
Kingdom's founder, Frank W. Sandford. We reprinted the basic question as a thread in
the original Guestbook, and may now be found in the Dialogue Archives, if you're interested
in other former members input on the subject.
Reggie forwarded a copy of an email you sent to him a month or so ago for me to answer,
and I am just getting around to it. Sorry about that. You asked a question about whether
any of Sandford's prophesies ever came to pass. Prophesies that no one would have known
the answer to at the time. Of the two of us, he knew I had done the most research on that
subject and so tossed your question in my direction.
I have felt that question is the key to all belief in the Sandford phenomenon. If it can
be shown that Sandford could correctly and accurately prophesy, then we should pay close
attention to the rest of his pronouncements. I think we must define what we mean by an
accurate prophesy. To me it means a reasonably accurate foretelling of a future event of
which no one else would have any way of knowing. Also it would mean predicting the outcome
of future events better than statistical guesswork could produce, such as the Bible
prophets who predicted the outcome of battles and laid their prophetic status on the line
depending on the outcome of the battle. Scripture clearly places significance on accurate
prophesy when it says not to be afraid of a prophet whose prophesies do not come true.
Scripture also tells us to test everything.
There appears to be some change in what was a legitimate prophesy by the time the New
Testament rolls around. Paul seems to make a place for prophets in the church who say good
things about God without being specific about the outcome of future events or predicting
future events that no one else could have seen. The modern prophet movement seems to fit
into this definition. Some modern prophet movements also have indicated we should not
expect them to be accurate all the time. In any case, Sandford claimed to be an Old
Testament prophet and if we do not hold him (or others) who claim to be a prophet (modern
or ancient) to some reasonable standard of accuracy we have no way to determine if they
are really a prophet or not.
In a nutshell, I found no prophesy of Sandford's that could stand this test. A common
Sandford prophecy his supporters point to as successful is his prediction of the first
world war in 1904. At that time he also indicated it would mark the beginning of the
Tribulation. We now know it was not the beginning of the Tribulation and, in spite of
Frank Murray's assertions in Sublimity of Faith to the contrary, and a check into
the history of that period shows that many who read the newspapers would have been
able to predict that heavy duty conflict was on the horizon. Nationalist tensions were
strong in Europe from 1871 to 1914. Germany's unification in 1871 allowed for the start of
the Industrial Revolution in that country. Several times between 1898 and 1914 economic
rivalry in Africa amongst France, Great Britain and Germany with Germany on one side and
France and Great Britain on the other almost started a European war. The expansion of the
German navy was begun in 1900 and because of the build up in armaments around the world,
the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 were held to try and bring about worldwide
disarmament. They of course were not successful. Germany and Austria-Hungary had mutual
protection agreements on one side with Great Britain, France, and Russia and their allies
on the other. In any event, it did not take a genius to figure out by 1904 that
something was going to pop sooner or later. Therefore, in my opinion, Mr. Sandford does
not pass on that one.
(In the July 1898 issue of Tongues of Fire" Mr. S.
re-published an article entitled "The Impending Crisis" from The Christian
Herad that the world is on the verge of cataclysm. At the time, the
Spanish-American War was just breaking out. RSP)
The one prophesy that to me seemed to have the best chance of success for him was when he
stood on Mt. Hor in 1906 and prophesied the restoration of the land of Israel. Of course
Scripture already prophesied this to happen anyway, though I would have given him some
points on timing. But when I researched it I again found that the return of the Jews to
the land was already in the news. During the 1800's a Zionist movement was in the works
with small groups of Jewish pioneers settling in Palestine. In 1897 the first Zionist
Congress was held in Switzerland which called for the settlement of Jews in Palestine.
Although the Balfour Declaration calling for the establishment in Palestine of a national
home for the Jewish people did not come until 1917, Sandford in all probability was aware
of the earlier Jewish activity. So the question is, was his restoration announcement in
1906 something either new or timed by God to start things happening? When the original
Elijah prayed for rain there wasn't a cloud in the sky. There were certainly plenty of
"clouds" for Sandford to see on this one, so I can't give him this one either.
The one proof I hear most often is that you shall know a prophet by his fruits, and
Sandford's ministry yielded much good fruit. Scripture says we shall know a false
prophet by his fruits, but in spite of the Kingdom's twist in the definition it is still a
legitimate thing to examine. The Scripture does not describe what fruits are, but I assume
that it means either accurate prophesies or Scriptural preaching and doctrines or even God
fearing followers. However, Scriptural preaching, doctrines and God fearing followers
could be the fruits of any God fearing preacher who is not necessarily a prophet. That
being the case, we are left with determining his accuracy as a prophet, and, in my view,
he fails on that. I think to some people "fruits" means the quality of good
Christian people drawn to that prophet's banner. My observation is that The Kingdom has
had it's share of distatsteful human nature, like the rest of humanity and any Christian
population. Does Sandford's miserable treatment of his followers, like for example, the
splitting up of families regarding their belief in Elijah count as fruits? If those
represent even some of the fruits of his ministry, then I'm afraid he fails again.
I suppose some people might look at faith healing or praying for money to come in by a
certain time as prophesies. (See below) I don't know anything specifically in
Scripture to back that up. "The prayer of faith shall heal the sick"
seems to apply to any believer. My reading of Sandford's writings shows that he made sure
a lot of people knew of his money battles, and there was ample documented arm twisting and
general manipulation of people's fears that worked to make the money come in.
I think some interesting things to think about are was Frank Sandford:
~ bi-polar (manic depressive)?
~ and/or sociopathic?