Girard’s test of a prophet

The false prophet will want people to imitate him. The true prophet will have absolutely none of that. They only point the way.

Christ warns us in turn about the dangers of the Antichrists, in other words, those who want to be imitated. The aspect of Christ that has to be imitated is his withdrawal. Holderlin made this dramatic discovery. This is why in the Bible we never find a fight to the death like that of the prophets of Thebes, for example, Tiresias and Oedipus. A fight to the death is impossible because in the Bible the point is precisely to give up claims to difference. There is thus something anonymous and impersonal in the Songs, even though the Servant sometimes speaks on his own behalf and sometimes on behalf of the community that condemned him and that later understood what it had done.

An unambiguous answer is now possible to the question of what distinguishes true prophecy from false: true prophetic words are rooted in the truth of the consenting scapegoat. The consenting scapegoat does not claim to incarnate that truth; he says that truth is other and that it is more specifically there, outside of the system. However, the prophet is not truth, for otherwise other “prophets” would want to seize it. The prophet bears witness to it, announces it, precedes it and in a sense follows it.

-Rene Girard, Battling to the End, p. 51

Who passes this test? John the Baptist. Quite a few of the catholic saints. Martin Luther on a good day. Paul on a good day (imitate me as I imitate Christ).

Who utterly fails the imitation test? David Koresh. Joseph Smith. Muhammad. Nothing made them happier than to reproduce themselves in their followers. Pointing to God was a front.