In my opinion, people who quote/reference Scripture in a letters forum like this are setting themselves up as prophets; and the Rev. Jeremy Hiltz, in his letter (“Obamacare exemplifies the way of Satan,” Aug. 3) engages in the very sort of well-intentioned false prophecy denounced in the 10th chapter of John’s gospel.

In the passage, which Hiltz references, Jesus talks about how people will instinctively recognize the authenticity of well-constructed truth. Hiltz also talks about how the villainous Judas suggested to Mary that she sell her “private property” to aid charity. In context, this “private property” turns out not to be the title deed to the “old home place,” as Hiltz implies, and obviously hopes everyone will infer, but only a large clay jar of, yeah, probably somewhat expensive ointment.

Jesus’ prophecy was authentic, and still calls us, nearly 2,000 years on, not to turn our backs on human need. He also said something about “render-(ing) unto Caesar,” which has long and often been construed as urging basic, though not absolute, compliance with the rule of law, taxation included.

When taxes are paid willingly, even if grudgingly, the results can thus be just as virtuous as charity. In contrast, Hiltz’s prophecy does not ring true, and I believe it is just mean spirited and ugly as well as unmistakably dishonest.

It makes me wonder how much of it originates with him, and how much consists of the sort of pre-compiled talking points that circulate widely among certain groups of Protestant fundamentalists.

However, to his credit, he did cause at least one reader (that would be me) to review numerous scriptural passages.

James Silin