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December 14th, 2014
Can Prophets Come from Outside Church Leadership?
I find it troubling that, speaking generally, people seem unable or unwilling to observe something in the present that they readily admit occurred in the past.
This pattern permeates scriptural application (or lack thereof), which is fairly odd since the very purpose of these scriptures is to be applied in our lives.
Consider an example I find extremely problematic: the widespread ignorance or outright rejection of what I consider to be the Book of Mormon’s secondary purpose. With repetition and great emphasis, the book’s editors point out historical evidences for “secret combinations” and the manner by which they overpower a society (through the government), and then make explicitly clear that we will face the same conflict in our own day. Most Latter-day Saints are comfortable reading about and recognizing the influence of these groups in past societies, but are ill-equipped to discern who they are—and what they’re doing—in our day.
For another instance of this inconsistently held belief, think of the many calamities related in scripture, and foretold regarding the future. Famines, fires, flood, and rampant chaos are historical oddities we casually read about in the comfort of our home, yet the scriptures warning about similar circumstances at our doorstep are disregarded as irrelevant, thus not motivating any significant percentage of the Mormon population to materially and spiritually prepare for such calamities.
There’s also plenty of evidences of past call-outs, whereby God, through a prophet, told a group of people to abandon their society and begin their own. Perhaps in some theoretical sense Latter-day Saints are open to the idea of this happening again, but it’s never discussed in any church setting and therefore few individuals, I presume, pursue the idea in their personal study.
While these are important issues, I want to address another in detail that nearly shouts from the many scriptural passages which support it—for those who have ears to hear, anyway. I’m speaking about God calling prophets outside the hierarchy of the established Church to call people to repentance.
The Book of Mormon opens with the story of one such prophet, Lehi, whose prophetic commission came from a vision he received of God. He, along with many other prophets, “went forth among the people, and began to prophesy” about the impending destruction of Israel should they continue to alienate themselves from God. Positioning himself as a prophet among a wicked people brought him mockery and attempted murder by “God’s people” who rejected God’s message.
A contemporary of Lehi’s shared many similar experiences. Jeremiah had been foreordained to become a prophet, yet found himself rebuking the religious leaders of his day for their misdeeds; the church leaders called for the death of the Lord’s emissary. Yet he delivered his message: “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.” This prophet, whose source of authority was a direct call from God, was imprisoned, punished, publicly humiliated, and eventually killed for delivering unpopular messages he had been instructed to convey.
What of Abinadi? King Noah employed false priests who encouraged corruption and infidelity, leading God to call “a man among them” to call them all to repentance and threaten destruction for continued disobedience. The establishment, unsurprisingly, was “wroth with him, and sought to take away his life,” which they eventually did.
When discussing prophets, we Latter-day Saints are quick to cite Amos 3:7, wherein we read, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” But who was Amos, and what kind of prophet was he? He himself explains, to the king of Judah at the time: “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” His message was likewise an excoriating, divine rebuke against church culture, criticizing tradition and ritual and calling for judgment and righteousness instead.
How about Samuel the Lamanite? While the Nephites had languished “in great wickedness,” this man preached “the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart,” and which an angel told him, to Nephites who first expelled him, and then attempted to kill him. Those who believed him sought after Nephi, Helaman’s son, who then baptized them.
Of course, these prophets—and surely there are more I’ve missed, or whose prophecy and mission were not recorded and preserved for us to learn about—are merely a model for Jesus Christ who himself was sent of God, outside of church hierarchy, from humble and unlikely circumstances, to call people to repentance. The existing establishment of religious authority, most notably the Pharisees, claimed to be the conduit to God. Thus, when the Conduit himself appeared before them, rebuking them with simplicity and boldness, they, following the pattern, desired to exile him.
Like the other issues presented at the outset of this article, Latter-day Saints are comfortable with these scriptural stories, and perhaps some of us take note of the pattern. We recognize the Pharisees of the past, both literal and figurative, and shake our heads that they would find themselves at odds with a person who is clearly a prophet of God, not realizing how much we benefit from hindsight and taking for granted the fact that knowing these people were prophets requires no discernment on our part—we are told as much directly by the scriptures we accept as authoritative.
But how would we fare if a prophet came to us today outside of the hierarchy of the Church? Would we learn from the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them? Or would we side with the structure to which we have accustomed ourselves, thus removing the need for tackling hard questions such as determining if a person claiming a divine mandate, and chastising us for our wickedness, is in fact a prophet?
It’s instructive to note that these prophets are sent to God’s people because of general wickedness, and not necessarily corruption within church leadership. While in many cases the religious establishment had become rotten, this was not the experience of Samuel the Lamanite, whose mission came despite Nephi, and presumably others, righteously trying to do the very thing that Samuel was sent to do.
It’s irrelevant, then, whether leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are doing exactly what God wants them to or not. God can send—and perhaps has sent?—prophets outside of this organization. He would do so because of a general deviation from the path he wants us to follow. It has happened previously, so why not today? Are we so confident of our supposed righteousness, despite God himself noting that we are condemned, and our minds darkened?
I also find it interesting that the examples listed above entail missionary work within the ranks of the supposedly faithful. God’s prophets, in these cases, were sent to rebuke those who claimed to be God’s disciples, yet who had deviated from the course they claimed to follow. None of these instances entail a non-hierarchical prophet being tasked to preach the gospel among nonbelievers; the pattern, it seems, is that iniquity or idolatry within Christian communities causes God to shake things up a bit in hopes of getting the people back on track.
This is uncomfortable doctrine—the idea has led people since time immemorial to reject, if not attempt to kill, people who claimed to be prophets but didn’t come up “through the ranks,” as it were. It’s difficult for us to sift through claims of prophecy and we therefore rely upon the scriptures, or the structure of the church, to tell us who is in a position of authority—who can be trusted to relay God’s message. We want somebody else to do the thinking—and deciding—for us.
I recognize that there are people in our day who claim, or who others have claimed, to be called of God to deliver a message of warning and repentance. I take no position in this article on any of these individuals or their messages—I only wish to establish that this type of thing can happen. It’s scripturally sound. We should expect it.
Cultivating a spirit of discernment—deciding for ourselves, with God’s guidance—therefore becomes key. Perhaps in recognition of this imperative, and in reference to the very time in which we live, Christ told his disciples that just prior to his Second Coming—an event soon pending—there would “arise false Christs, and false prophets.” Speaking of false prophets previously, Jesus had given the key to discernment: “by their fruits ye shall know them.” You’ll note, of course, that he did not say that we shall know them by whether they hold a position within the Church.
Can prophets come from outside the leadership of the Church? The scriptural record is clear—and if we’re sincere about believing that what we read is indicative of present and future events, then we must concede that an unchanging God may very well commission people in our own day to preach repentance unto God’s people.
57 Responses to “Can Prophets Come from Outside Church Leadership?”
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Connor, this is fantastic. I’ve observed this message in the scriptures for several years and often get weird looks from people when I bring it up; but it’s right there in your face. Interesting how it’s always God’s people that reject the “prophets” who never seems to be part of the hierarchy, but outsiders.
I’m glad that you noted that their objective wasn’t to ‘start new churches’ but to call to repentance. If you do a little research you’ll find that this usage of the word ‘prophet’ fits with the definition of “forth-teller” rather than “fore-teller” (Bible Dictionary) and as a “teacher of known truth” (Widtsoe).
Just a few weeks ago in a Gospel Principles class, the teacher was saying “there is only one prophet on the earth, period” and misquoting scripture to make his case. I did my best to gently point out some areas where this attitude is dangerous and wrong, but I’m not sure how successful I was. Stuff like that disturbs me, it’s not hard to see why the Lehis of their day were rejected. It is true that there is only one PRESIDENT of the Church and that we sustain 15 men to act as prophets or forth-tellers for the Church as an institution, but I think we blur the lines by calling the president “THE prophet” (singular).
I don’t want to use up to much space here, so I hope you don’t mind me linking to an article I wrote that I think meshes perfectly with yours: http://oneclimbs.com/2013/01/20/the-three-tests-we-must-pass/
Remember when Heber C. Kimball prophesied that “A test, a test, a TEST is coming?” Well, while reading one of Avraham Gileadi’s books on Isaiah, I found this quote:
“In the Book of Isaiah, these consist of three tests God’s people must pass in order to inherit a millennial peace. The tests have a refining effect on Israel. When Israel passes the tests, she demonstrates her loyalty to God. At the same time, the tests weed out from God’s people those who will not repent of wrongdoing.” (Avraham Gileadi, The End From the Beginning, p.27)
These are the tests as Gileadi interprets them and it’s number three that I think relates to your article:
1. Will Israel give her allegiance to [the archtyrant, Assyria (secret combinations)] or to her God?
2. Will Israel worship things made by human hands, or will she worship God, her Maker?
3. Will Israel yield to pressure from false religious or political leaders?
The more I read about number three in his book the more I understood that discerning true from false prophets would be critical for the Saints, as it always has been. Civilization reaches a point where God sends them to try his people.
To those who would take issue with Connor’s words, consider strongly how when the prophets appear, it’s God’s people who attack them particularly because they don’t feel that they have the authority to be telling them what to do.
Not every man or woman who arises in that manner is necessarily a prophet. With every Lehi, Abinadi and Samuel, there is a Sherem, a Nehor and a Korihor. It’s up to us to judge via the Spirit.
I applaud you for posting this and I hope others reading will understand the spirit in which it was written and study the scriptures to find the keys for discerning true vs. false prophets.
“… an excoriating, divine rebuke against church culture, criticizing tradition and ritual and calling for judgment and righteousness instead.”
Oh, how I cringe at the constant self-congratulatory sense I feel Latter-day Saints give themselves. Gordon B. Hinckley constantly warned against any such arrogance.
You’ve had me grinning ear to ear with this. I’m humored partly because I expressed this thought within family a month ago, citing Abinadi, Samuel the Lamanite, and making note of no real seeming church organization among the Jaradites, at least which is spoken of, and prophets there came out of the woodwork when God called them to do so and there were those with ears to answer. In expressing this, one beloved brother was indignant at my seeming “position” which is not mine, it’s the scriptural record, citing D&C passages about the Lord’s church being a house of order, that we know who is in authority and only “one man” is called upon at one time on earth to hold this authority.
Anyway, fun stuff. I laugh again and again at the boldness of your expressions and writings, Connor. I keep a smile as I contemplate that boldness and how simple it should be for LDS folks to comprehend, yet many may prove to find offense. I think you’ve got tact and credibility in expression with citation and appeal to common sense that should win over anyone capacitated in basic mental cognition.
It’s tempting to forward this on to a brother, but that would be me runbing the obvious in his face—though I do concede his D&C scriptures pose a bit of a contradiction he/we must move through.
I read this just earlier today, Connor: http://rationalfaiths.com/fourteen-fundamentals-falsifying-prophet/
It and your essay corroborate each other quite nicely.
The difference is that in every other dispensation The Church passed away. In ours it is prophesied that it will not.
Can God call people outside The Church to bring others closer to him? Of course. Could they be definined as prophets in some sense of the word? Yes.
However, because The Church will not pass away in this the last dispensation, there will never again be the need for a prophet from outside The Chuch. They will never need to speak on behalf of God to direct the whole world as the modern day prophets and leaders have been called to do.
Someone receiving revelation for the current prophets and apostles is counter to the doctrine unless The Church had completely fallen into apostasy.
As a BYU Senior on June 3, 1973 I wrote and essay with Apostle Howard W. Hunter concerning the law of consent (D&C 26) where the members are in charge of the “church” and not the leaders! In 1901 new President Joseph Fielding Smith Sr gave a speech detailing that every member has a right to challenge any talk given by a General Authority, and even the Ward Bishop.
Then in the October4, 1994 Geneeral Conference, President Howard W. Hunter gave a talk, stressing the same message by President Smith in 1901. President Hunter followed after President Benson……thus his words removed everything of Benson (The Prophet will never lead one astray)!!
@Skyler wrote: “However, because The Church will not pass away in this the last dispensation, there will never again be the need for a prophet from outside The Chuch. They will never need to speak on behalf of God to direct the whole world as the modern day prophets and leaders have been called to do.”
The church does not have to “pass away” for God to send prophets. I believe that it is specifically because of this principle that allows him to course correct. When the church divided in Nauvoo, the church didn’t pass away. Total apostasy is not the only time God sends prophets. He does so from time to time when he sees fit.
@Skyler wrote: “Someone receiving revelation for the current prophets and apostles is counter to the doctrine unless The Church had completely fallen into apostasy.”
With Abinadi, the leadership and the people both were indeed all in a state of apostasy but were still redeemable, hence, Abinadi.
With Lehi, you had a corrupt people and corrupt leadership, so there were several prophets in addition to Jeremiah.
However, consider that Samuel the Lamanite appeared at a time when Nephi was righteously leading a wicked people. Nephi had sealing keys, he was a solid guy. Samuel was sent by God to deliver a message, perhaps as an additional witness. He didn’t start a new church or supplant Nephi, he was calling the people to repentance. Why didn’t God just keep using Nephi or have Nephi stand atop the wall instead of this outsider?
Read D&C 107 and note that the church is lead by councils or quorums, the main three being the presidency of the Melchizedek priesthood (1st presidency), the traveling council of apostles and the seventy. Each of these quorums must agree by unanimous consent. Fifteen we sustain officially as prophets, seers and revelators, and recognize those gifts for the benefit of the members.
However, this does not limit the prophetic gift to these councils alone. A prophet is primarily a “forth-teller” a “teacher of known truth”, someone with a testimony of Jesus who calls to repentance. While the officers of the church may act in these roles, like Nephi, that doesn’t prevent God from sending Samuels. He raises up prophets whenever he needs to, and they are usually stoned and cast out by people who think they don’t have any authority to tell them what to do. If God did send prophets to the Saints in this manner, I would imagine that most if not all would be rejected and cast out because most people have a better understanding and devotion to cultural tradition than the scriptures. That seems to be the pattern.
I agree that the church will not completely pass away, but it will suffer a purging and much tribulation. It may divide again and splinter off like it has in the past and it may perhaps wither to only one righteous people to sustain it’s existence, but it will not completely pass away.
People are constantly and continually apostatizing, especially lately, and many are prideful and puffed up. As we near the sifting time, doesn’t it seem reasonable that God would send more messengers from wherever as a final attempt for repentance like he’s done in the past? It seems that he always tests the saints this way.
I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss history, especially patterns in the Book of Mormon. I don’t think Mormon gave us anything except that which would be applicable to our situation.
There are a few things I disagree with in your article. Perhaps I am reading this wrong, but I am hearing that you are calling all of the prophets you cited above as examples in your article as “outside” of the church or at least outside of what you have called the “rank and file”. I see it differently.
For example, Samuel the Lamanite was cited by you as being “outside” the church, which I see as a false premise. Samuel was indeed called within the church as a prophet. While we don’t know exactly how he was called, we do know that we can look to those patterns found in scripture and modern day. He most certainly was called of God (3 Nephi 23:9) and held the holy Priesthood of God. This places him “within” the church. We can not cite the visitation he received from the angel (Helaman 13:7) as the beginning of his calling as prophet. Rather this follows another pattern of prophets having angelic visitations. Reason would show that he probably received this revelation as part of his prophetic duties he was currently called to. I highly doubt he was called out of the blue to only preach to the Nephites and then go back home, never to serve anywhere again. (That is not the pattern.) Reason would show, in concordance with the Savior’s later words regarding Samuel and the people’s response the the Savior’s questions about him, that he had been serving as a prophet both before and after that small account of his service, and that he had been called by proper Priesthood authority. The Book of Mormon establishes in many places, that the Lamanites at that time had the gospel. So it is not unreasonable to pull these pieces together to show that he too had proper priesthood authority.
Whatever Samuel’s occupation was before he was called as prophet, doesn’t matter. Nor does it today. That point serves to support your claim, however you have not presented any evidence to say that any of those prophets did not have proper priesthood authority or keys handed to them. Rather the evidence shows that they did. Thus proving that authority is the key, not only a calling by a dream or vision.
Samuel just happened to be from a different nation. We see that happening today. Look at all of the General Authorities currently serving who come from other nations. Also note, that they are all still within the church. While many are not the prominent son of so-and-so or the wealthy governor of such and such, they are all called by God, through proper Priesthood authority, from a variety of circumstances and situations, just as has been the pattern throughout the scriptures.
There is no “rank and file” within the church, at least not from the Lord’s point of view. We are each equally given covenant opportunities, each solely based on personal worthiness. Those who serve in the positions of greatest leadership in this church have all come from a variety of circumstances, backgrounds, and nationalities, AND all have been given the keys of the priesthood through proper authority for their particular callings.
Lehi also follows this pattern. Lehi was just an ordinary merchant to start with. At some point he was called to be a prophet. From whom he received those specific priesthood keys, we do not know, the record does not say. But we can be certain it was done through proper priesthood keys and authority. We know there were contemporary prophets prophesying in the city. He could very well have been ordained by one of them. Also, he didn’t contradict the current leadership of the church.
Lehi’s angelic visits and visions came also as a prophet. He had been already preaching and prophesying along side other contemporary prophets (whom you cited) from “within” the church who held priesthood keys and proper authority, when he received some of the great visions he had recorded. There is no scriptural evidence to the contrary.
Even the Savior was baptized by proper priesthood authority that held the keys (John the Baptist).
God is and always has been and always will be the head of the church. He calls whom he calls, no matter their nationality or circumstance. It is certain, though we may not know much about Samuel or the other prophets initial callings or ordinations, that they too followed the chain of proper priesthood keys and ordinations, that they righteously held the priesthood of God, which would mean that they were all “within” the church.
I could go on to recount a multitude of prophets from all cannons of scripture and we could look backwards to see that they too had received proper priesthood keys from the priesthood lines of authority. (Elisha, Elijah, Samuel, Saul…etc.)
Even Jesus Christ followed the pattern of proper priesthood authority. Though he may have been outside of the current Jewish mixed religious and secular government, he nonetheless possessed and held the priesthood keys handed down through priesthood authority. His priesthood line is clearly listed in the scriptures. It is no different today.
Thus, I do not believe that a prophet will arise out of the midst of the current or future church membership, or outside of the church, and suddenly preach to all, without also having received the divine mandate AND passing of keys of proper priesthood authority from those who currently hold it.
Furthermore, Joseph Smith stated in reference to this very concern, not only the quote you cited about fruits, but also this: ” “I will give you a key that will never rust, if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.” 1
The Prophet also stated: “The Priesthood is everlasting. The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James, and John, on the mount, when they were transfigured before him.” Peter, James, and John conferred the keys of the kingdom of God upon the Prophet Joseph and ordained him to be an Apostle and a special witness of the name of the Savior and to bear the keys of his ministry. Keys that pertain to the gathering of Israel, the dispensation of Abraham, and, indispensably, the keys of sealing were conferred upon the Prophet by Moses, Elias, and Elijah in 1836.”
You will most certainly be led astray if you go looking for some obscure prophet to come preach repentance, share visions, or give counsel who does not possess these priesthood keys from proper authority and who contradicts those who do. (Samuel never contradicted Nephi. Rather the people came back to Nephi for baptism.)
Certainly the men who lead our church at its head today come from many obscure circumstances, but they ALL have that authority that has been handed to them through those proper channels. To say that it was different in days past, denies all that the Savior himself taught while alive and even goes in the face of what he did on the mount in his passing of keys.
One day, it will be the prophet of church who hands those keys back to the Savior to rule and reign on this earth. Not anybody else. Anybody who arises, who claims authority, but had not these keys and contradicts the majority of the twelve, can be certain to be an anti-Christ.
This article will add some clarity to our studies:
Here is another post today that just might help out with those who have made comments on this post. By the way it’s excellent http://www.totheremnant.com/2014/12/prophets-part-2-are-fruits-forbidden.html
He most certainly was called of God (3 Nephi 23:9) and held the holy Priesthood of God. This places him “within” the church.
I never claimed that the prophets were not members of the Church. I did claim, as I see it written in the scriptures, that they were not part of the recognized/established leadership (hierarchy) of the Church.
I don’t believe, as you contend, that each of these prophets needed keys and any priesthood office to fulfill their divine mandate. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Lehi were each contemporaries. While they may have been ordained to the priesthood previously in various capacities, the prophetic charge appears to be separate and distinct.
Of courses, as Moses noted (and as Joseph Smith affirmed), the goal is for everybody to be a prophet. It’s not an office thing. It’s a Saint thing.
That is very well written I must admit. However, I do not agree with the conclusions made on several of the examples expressed. I view the question “Can Prophets Come from Outside Church Leadership?” as being rhetorical with the author insinuating some kind of antithetical doctrine. What is the motivation for that expression? Does it bring the reader to a better understanding of the revealed structure in the latter days of the Organization of the Priesthood. Or help an individual to come closer to an understanding of His Gospel? Or does it Confuse? (Yes I know, these things I am saying are rhetorical in nature also but I believe, hold a different motive than the author seems to be expressing) The word Prophet is a very broad label that requires context in each case. The Prophet at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints along with all prior Presidents back to Joseph Smith, have been endowed with the Keys Of Administration for all Spiritual Authority and dealings with Jesus Christ’s Church. Christ’s Church ultimately includes all people within the church and without the Church. This includes the Gift of Prophecy. That administration is generational organizationally and given hierarchically to each individual in the Church and extends out to the whole world. The Lord is no respecter of persons according to the scriptures. The mission of the Church is to bring all persons back to the presence of The Father. Yet there are those who will not accept the Gospel as revealed through his Prophets. The Waters of Baptism being the Gateway and all the ensuing ordinances, powers, authorizations, administrations along with everything and anything pertaining to the Fullness of the Restored Gospel, has only ONE HEAD. That HEAD is Jesus Christ. The LORD has revealed to His Prophets that His House is a House of Order. He has Revealed that there is only ONE Prophet on the Earth that Holds “ALL” the Keys of Administration for the Whole World at a time. Right now that Prophet is Thomas S. Monson. There are various other Prophets that also hold Keys. Like of course the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles that Hold collectively the Keys in the event of the death of the Lord’s Anointed. They are Prophets. The Stake Patriarch , Stake President, Bishop, Fathers, Mothers and each individual is entitled to the Gift of Prophecy. But let is be said, No Prophet outside the Church or inside the Church or otherwise has the Authorization from Jesus Christ to speak Prophetically for the peoples of the earth be way of the pronouncement of ‘Thus Saith The Lord!” unless the Keys of the Priesthood have been obtained and exercised in righteousness by and only by those who have been duly Called, Set Apart and Ordained Through those appointed lines of Melchizedekian Authorization!
Scuze the typos…lol
Sarah! Par Excellence!
let me make a clarification: (“That administration is generational organizationally and given hierarchically to each individual in the Church and extends out to the whole world. The Lord is no respecter of persons according to the scriptures.”) What I mean here in case my words are misinterpreted. There is a structure in the lines and organization of the priesthood. It is through this priesthood that all Blessings of Salvation come. That Blessing is extended to all peoples of the earth and the dead. This does not mean that a person merits rank in a military fashion etc…
Just to re-iterate the fact George stated; “He has Revealed that there is only ONE Prophet on the Earth that Holds “ALL” the Keys of Administration for the Whole World at a time.” D&C 132:7 “And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, AND THERE IS NEVER BUT ONE on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”
I’ll let Bruce R. McConkie answer the rest of your question, I suppose you will deal with the answer as you choose. “A person claiming to be a true spiritual leader might present such a good imitation of a true prophet as to deceive those who do not themselves have the guidance and inspiration of the Spirit. But in addition to giving lip service to the assertion that Jesus is the Christ, a true prophet must conform his life to the divine pattern; he must conform to the laws and ordinances which the Lord has revealed. “He that speaketh,” the Lord says, “whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.” (D. & C. 52:16.)
In this day and age true prophets will be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; they will be persons who have received the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost when they were confirmed members of the Church; they will be persons who have so lived as to merit receiving the promptings and whisperings of the Holy Spirit; they will be people who are in harmony with the prophets and revelators whom God hath chosen to govern and control the affairs of his earthly kingdom. They will not be found in cults or sects which are running counter to the established church order; they will not be in rebellion against the First Presidency and the Twelve, “for the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Cor. 14:32.)”
Some other statements (All from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, (2011), 315–26) from the Prophet Joseph worth considering in connection with this discussion: “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”
Heber C. Kimball, while serving as a counselor to President Brigham Young, reported: “I will give you a key which Brother Joseph Smith used to give in Nauvoo. He said that the very step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of this church and kingdom, and that whenever you discerned that spirit you might know that it would lead the possessor of it on the road to apostasy.”
Orson Hyde, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, reported: “Joseph the Prophet … said, ‘Brethren, remember that the majority of this people will never go astray; and as long as you keep with the majority you are sure to enter the celestial kingdom.’
Ezra T. Clark remembered: “I heard the Prophet Joseph say that he would give the Saints a key whereby they would never be led away or deceived, and that was: The Lord would never suffer a majority of this people to be led away or deceived by imposters, nor would He allow the records of this Church to fall into the hands of the enemy.”
George, I believe that your rhetorical questions miss the point that Connor is trying to make. Is there any reason that God may not choose whomever he likes to share a message? After all, He chose Saul on the way to Damascus at a time when the Quorum of apostles was already in place. If He were to send a warning through unexpected channels to see whether or not we could discern a true message and a true messenger, I don’t want to run the risk of rejecting it simply because it didn’t come from recognized church authorities. Simply opening myself to the possibility and learning to hear His voice in many different circumstances seems to me a good way to ensure I don’t miss an important message. The Spirit needs to be my ultimate source of not only recognizing a true message, but knowing how to best respond to it.
I would be interested in hearing the background for the quote that the church in the last days will not enter apostasy. I tried finding that reference recently and an institute manual led me to the dream of Daniel and the stone cut out of the mountain without hands. Does anyone have any more specific citations to the effect that the latter-day church will not need any course corrections prior to the Second Coming?
Good words to live by Mike
I recall Brent L. Top driving this point home when I took Doctrines of the Gospel from him at BYU. He said that essentially the question becomes does the Holy Ghost bear witness of the truth of the message. If so, then it is scripture. It is neither the person, nor the pulpit, nor the publication, that makes a doctrine or prophecy true, it is whether or not they speak the word of the Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost. This places full responsibility for discerning truth and living worthy of inspiration on us as the hearers of the word.
Parable of zenos makes it very clear that no outside prophets will gather the people in this dispensation. This is the last dispensation and the keys of the gathering are held by Thomas S. Monson.
The fruits of a true prophet will lead a person into memberdhip with the church. A false prophet will lead them out.
Well done, Conner.
Someone above said (and others repeated): “The difference is that in every other dispensation The Church passed away. In ours it is prophesied that it will not.” No. The source of this false tradition is a wresting of something Joseph Smith said, which was: “From thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth” (D&C 65:2). The gospel was revealed through Joseph Smith. The kingdom was revealed by Joseph Smith. Despite claims to the contrary, neither are the exclusive property of the LDS church. Never in the history of the earth has God suspended man’s agency to ensure that an organization would not deviate from the truth.
This and other false traditions are quickly dispensed whenever someone makes a logical, coherent, scriptural argument that causes cognitive dissonance, much like chaff launched from a jet to counter a heat seeking missile. Unfortunately, individuals who do this (like Sarah above) can’t seem to realize that their scriptural gymnastics are contradictory to historical pattern, totally ignore church history, and are highly unlikely to boot.
Even IF the church would stay until Christ’s coming (which can be simply disproved by the fact that the Lamanites and not the Gentiles will build Zion), this is no guarantee that prophets will not be called from outside the hierarchy. Samuel the Lamanites’ call did not interfere with Nephi’s church. In fact, people who believed Samuel went to Nephi to be baptized. Paul was called of God as an apostle directly. He had no contact with Peter and the others for years after his call, during which he actively preached and baptized. Yet, his converts were converts to God, and thus accepted Peter, who was a true messenger. The examples continue.
God determines who his word comes from, and it can come from anyone. A prophet is not a church office, but a spiritual gift.
Previous comments keep convoluting the two meanings of a “Prophet”. I don’t disagree that “Prophecy” is a spiritual gift and can be bestowed upon the “rank and file” or even someone outside the church. But the average member of the church understands a “Prophet” to be the individual called by God to hold keys which authorize ordinances and direct the Kingdom of God on earth through revelation. In this definition, there is but one Prophet and He is Thomas S. Monson. The Keys are in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and so they will stay throughout this entire dispensation, Wilford Woodruff made it very clear, “When the Lord gave the keys of the kingdom of God, the keys of the Melchisedec Priesthood, of the apostleship, and sealed them upon the head of Joseph Smith, He sealed them upon his head to stay here upon the earth until the coming of the Son of Man. … They were with him to the day of his death. They then rested upon the head of another man. … He held those keys to the hour of his death. They then fell by turn, or in the providence of God, upon Wilford Woodruff.
“I say to the Latter-day Saints the keys of the kingdom of God are here, and they are going to stay here, too, until the coming of the Son of Man. Let all Israel understand that. They may not rest upon my head but a short time, but they will then rest on the head of another apostle, and another after him, and so continue until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of heaven to ‘reward every man according to the deeds done in the body.’” Millennial Star, 2 Sept. 1889, p. 547.
Nobody in this discussion has addressed the single words in 2 Nephi 3, where Joseph Smith Jr. (3rd son to Joseph Smith Sr) was mentioned by Lehi while talking to his son, Joseph. So the “independent” Prophet of the Lord saw everything in these latter days, including the name of Joseph Smith Jr.
After Joseph Smith Jr. was identified by the Prophet Lehi, an apostasy HAD TO HAPPEN. was stated in verse 24. = 22 And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old prophesy. 23 Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book. 24 And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do much good, both in word and in deed, being an instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great in the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto the house of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren. 25 And now, blessed art thou, Joseph…..
The restoration is the return of the 1830 Original Book of Mormon. Until the LDS people return back to the unedited version (Mosiah 3:19 warning), the “Church is condemned. The Law of Consent is the tool whereas the leaders will be called to repentence. The Internet was given by the Lord for the “person” mention in this verse to restore it. It commenced back in 1970 when the RLDS commenced to re-print the book (they have the legal rights because Joseph Fielding Smith Sr. (son of Hyrum Smith) fought against Joseph Smith III, commencing in 1901 to destroy the good name of Joseph Smith Jr.
Joseph Smith Sr. is the name to focus on in these latter days as the false prophet………….he is no one is the works for the Lord, and yet the Patriarchal Law presides over the members today.
Things are happening because over 60,000 copies of the Original Bood of Mormon have already been distributed throughout the world! Plus it can (and the Book of Commandments) are available at many sites! Way to go, all the truth seekers!
@Mike Zollinger wrote “Previous comments keep convoluting the two meanings of a “Prophet”. I don’t disagree that “Prophecy” is a spiritual gift and can be bestowed upon the “rank and file” or even someone outside the church. But the average member of the church understands a “Prophet” to be the individual called by God to hold keys which authorize ordinances and direct the Kingdom of God on earth through revelation. In this definition, there is but one Prophet and He is Thomas S. Monson.”
Mike, I think this is where some of the underlying problems are. Just because the average member of the church understands something incorrectly or in a different context does not make it right. I don’t mean that to be insulting, there are actually a lot of things we interpret differently for a myriad of reasons. So context becomes key and I think there’s a bit of a context issue in this discussion.
For example, I had to correct a class yesterday where the word “peculiar” came up and everyone was talking about the word as if it meant “weird.” The original meaning of the word has nothing to do with “weirdness,” the English meaning is “belonging to a person and to him only” while the Greek word as found in the New Testament is peripoiesis which means, “acquisition; by extension, preservation:–obtain(-ing), peculiar, purchased, possession, saving.”
When Conner and a few of us are talking about prophets, we are talking about them in a very specific sense. I know we call the president of the church “The Prophet” but “Prophet” is NOT an official title, it’s NOT an office in the priesthood.
Personally, I think calling the president of the Church “the Prophet” isn’t helpful for other reasons (Just look through D&C 107 for example). The organization of the Church is not one Prophet > people. It is three core councils or quorums, the presidency of the Melchizedek priesthood (first presidency), the traveling council of the twelve and the seventy. Each of these are EQUAL in authority and EVERY member must agree unanimously if they are to act. Yet we portray that we are “led by A prophet” instead of several councils upheld by the membership. We aren’t led by just one man, that’s not how the church is organized, but we speak of it like it is.
I understand and approve of a pattern of “keys” established so that the organization operates with order.
The Bible Dictionary states: “It was also the prophet’s duty to denounce sin and foretell its punishment and to redress, so far as he could, both public and private wrongs. He was to be, above all, a preacher of righteousness. When the people had fallen away from a true faith in Jehovah, the prophets had to try to restore that faith and remove false views about the character of God and the nature of the divine requirement. In certain cases prophets predicted future events, such as the very important prophecies announcing the coming of Messiah’s kingdom; but as a rule a prophet was a forthteller rather than a foreteller. In a general sense a prophet is anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost”
Think about it this way: A bishop has keys over his ward, a stake president has keys over his stake, the apostles and first presidency have keys over the church and the world, but Jesus Christ also has keys over the entire earth (and possibly much more). Bishops, stake presidents and the first presidency can call and assign people to minister within their spheres of authority, and Jesus can do the same within his much larger sphere.
The first presidency can send out apostles and missionaries to everyone, but can’t the Lord send an angel to an individual member, or perhaps even a group (Alma, Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, Lamanites, etc)? Are angels ordained by the president of the Church? I don’t think so, they have authority directly from the source. If he could send an angel with authority directly from Christ, then why not a mortal? Because ultimately isn’t Christ the ultimate source of authority on this earth?
If we look at Samuel for example, he did not come to contradict Nephi. His mission supported Nephi’s and added to his influence. In my opinion, God sends extra prophets when the extra effort and witnesses are needed. I can see a scenario where if a great majority of members stop listening to the apostles, God may send them others as additional witnesses. Nephi struggled to maintain order in his day and the people were becoming dangerously close to destruction so God sent in some extra muscle so to speak.
I think the same thing happened in Jeremiah’s day. Several individuals were tapped by God to call the people to repentance because wickedness was so widespread. Is the same situation not plausible in our day when so many Latter-day Saints are inactive and cut off from the people? If God cannot reach them through the priesthood channels that they are ignoring, then could he not raise up prophets from where they will be heard to call them to repentance to avoid destruction?
I think this illustrates the context of Conner’s article. It’s not coming from a place where Conner thinks that church government is a failure and we should all be on the lookout for the next new thing (which I’m sure that some are). I think Conner and many others see these patterns in scripture and are trying their best to understand what is possible to expect from God based on past patterns and how that fits into today.
The point is to not repeat the mistakes of the past, to not stone or cast out any true messenger from the Lord. I don’t know if or how any of these things will play out, but I propose that we should not be so quick to assume, and be open to possibilities, while ultimately living close enough to the Spirit so that we may have discernment in these things.
There is a difference between the prophets and churches that you use to illustrate your points and that of the churches and prophets that our Lord Jesus Christ set up in Israel, here in the Americas after the resurrection and then once again in these latter days through Joseph Smith.
That difference being a quorum of these church leaders that are supported and sustained by the people. There is a reason we sustain them every year.
But Christ’s church never fell away because of wicked prophets. It fell because of the wickedness of the people and those that killed the prophets. We are told though that His church shall not pass away this time for we are to prepare the way of the 2nd coming.
What we will see though is a separating of the wheat from the tares. We are seeing a lot of people trying to go against our prophets warnings and teachings. They use well organized ideas like what you wrote out above to cause a lack of faith in leadership while wrapping yourself in righteousness. What I see it always coming down to is a doctrine that an individual usually struggles with and rather than doing the hard work of bringing themselves in alignment with it, they seek ways to justify why the system is wrong or no longer the Lords.
In the end, there will be a separation and I’ll be standing on the Lord’s side because I follow the guidance that has always been given. That guidance is to gain my own testimony and use the spirit of discernment through the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I can follow our prophets, not because it is easy to do all they ask, but because my Savior has given me testimony that these prophets are His agents and will continue to be.
@Cory wrote: “We are seeing a lot of people trying to go against our prophets warnings and teachings. They use well organized ideas like what you wrote out above to cause a lack of faith in leadership while wrapping yourself in righteousness.”
@Cory wrote: “In the end, there will be a separation and I’ll be standing on the Lord’s side because I follow the guidance that has always been given.”
Methinks I detect a little wrapping of oneself in righteousness, Mr. Pot 😉
Kidding aside, I get your point Cory and I can appreciate where you are coming from. If you are led by the Spirit and discerning proper instruction coming through the established order, then I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I also don’t think you’d be the kind of person that God would send these other kinds of prophets to.
In none of my points is there any attempt to divert people from their duty to uphold and sustain the church and it’s officers. I use the example of Moses, Aaron and Hur where when Moses is physically weak and unable to perform the duty the Lord gave him, Aaron and Hur came to his side, sat him down and physically held his arms up. This is what it means to sustain.
Insinuating that I am “going against” church leaders or teachings or “causing a lack of faith” and “wrapping myself in righteousness” is simply resorting to ad hominem attacks instead of addressing the issue.
Sure, Aaron and Hur could have complained and led a rebellion against Moses at the first sign of his weakness but they didn’t and neither am I, if that wasn’t clear, I apologize and hope that it is abundantly clear now. I have no desire to see the church or any leader fail in their duties and I recognize my obligation to help them, and what we have here succeed.
On the other hand, the purpose here is to note a scriptural pattern where God can and does send messengers outside the institutional order (yet within the eternal priesthood order) to call to repentance. Why God does this is up for debate, but that he does it is supported by scripture. We are exploring this subject here.
There are many reasons why God raises up prophets that appear to be outsiders, a few appear to be (with possible examples):
• To call the leadership to repentance (Abinadi)
• To call the people to repentance (Samuel, Lehi, Amulek?)
• To call everyone in general to repentance (John the Baptist, Paul)
These prophets seem to act as course correctors, not founders. They may not be sent to the people as a whole, but perhaps to smaller segments. Sometimes they appear to rebuke the established order (John the Baptist) and sometimes they work parallel to it (Samuel).
Why are these examples in the Book of Mormon? Why did Mormon see the need that we should know these things? When the people were stoning and killing prophets, were they stoning and killing their official leaders? Or were they stoning and killing people that they deemed “outsiders” who had no right to tell them what to do? Read the scriptures and look at every attempted or actual martyrdom; how many of the martyred or persecuted were recognized leaders of the established order of the time?
Here are some potential candidates:
Alma and Amulek
Lehi and Nephi
Samuel the Lamanite
John the Baptist
All of Jesus’ apostles
Joseph and Hyrum Smith
Now in some cases, we did have a complete apostasy or no authority to begin with. Yet the perception was the same, the prophet was rejected because they didn’t feel that he had the authority to tell them what to do, so they killed him (or tried to).
We talk a lot about God and his patterns. Is it possible that this pattern is now irrelevant in the last days? We know that false prophets will arise, but what happens when true ones do as well? To whom would they be sent, and how would they be discerned?
One of the hallmarks of the people that kill the prophets is that they all go down in flames assuming they are 100% in the right singing “all is well.”
Conner is making a case for this being a legitimate pattern that could appear even in our day. Clearly some reject this and they are entitled to their views. Perhaps we are not yet at a time or situation when these prophets would appear. We have the advantage of present comforts and conveniences. We know that circumstances will change, there will be pain, destruction and confusion. I know of nothing that prevents God from sending messengers to whomever he wants to for whatever purpose he designs.
Apologies for being long-winded. Controversial issues are complex, and simple website comments often seem unsuited to exploring the entire scope of a topic. This leads to insufficient information, faulty assumptions, and contention.
I am trying my best to communicate and explore with each of you in the spirit of brotherhood and truth. I do not intend any insult or belittlement and though I am not blind to flaws, contradictions or inconsistencies, I remain a true and loyal friend to God and the cause of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Where I am wrong, I hope to be corrected and where truth is obscured, I hope to help expose it.
@ Sarah – I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that Lehi must have received his prophetic calling “through proper priesthood keys and authority…” Nephi, who wrote the narrative, alludes to that fact that Lehi was a righteous father who taught his children in the ways of the Lord, but makes absolutely no mention of him having a position in the leadership hierarchy. Even you admit there exists no proof of him receiving priesthood keys from any other individual and the entire base of your theory rests on the fact that “[your] certain” that it must have happened…
I can tell you exactly where he got his authority. He exercised faith in the Lord, prayed for confirmation and received a vision wherein the Lord Himself ministered to him and showed him “many marvelous things,” including the impending destruction of Jerusalem. His errand to prophecy to the people “concerning the things which he had both seen and heard” came directly from the Lord, who is the source of all authority.
Us members of the Church are deeply mired in the paradigm that there is no other way to receive authority than through other men; so deeply so that I believe most of us, if we were to have the Lord appear to us in a vision and command us to exercise faith and move a mountain, would go to our bishops first or wait to “hear the brethren’s opinion on the matter.” We simply cannot wrap our minds around the fact that if the Lord wants to appear to an individual and give that person authority to complete an errand, He can do that in whichever way pleases Him.
Another individual you forgot to mention was Abinidi.
There is no doubt that Noah and his priests were the ecclesiastical authority over the people of Lehi-Nephi. They put money into the workmanship of the temple (Mosiah 11:10) and later on, during Abinidi’s message to them, it is established that Noah and his priests were in charge of teaching the word of God to the people (Mosiah 12:25-27). There is also no doubt that Noah and his priests were all wicked and corrupt (Mosiah 11:1-19).
Abinidi is described as being “a man among them (the people of Lehi-Nephi)” who “began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath He commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord-Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in anger.” (Mosiah 11:20). We learn from this that Abinidi was commanded (and given authority) by the Lord Himself and that directly spoke the Lord’s words (he said “thus saith the Lord” twice in his message) as a prophet or revelator should. Surely Abinidi did not receive any authority to prophecy these things from Noah or his priests, not just because they themselves were wicked, but also because most of what Abinidi had to say was condemning to them and very much out of their favor (except for Alma, who of course repented and was converted after hearing Abinidi’s message).
Again, not anywhere in these passages is it mentioned that Abinidi was a priest or indeed possessed or received any keys or authority from the hierarchy. We are ONLY told that Abinidi’s authority came from the Lord Himself by way of commandment. There is no reason why we should infer anything further than that.
Again, the Lord may choose whomever He wants, however He wants, to convey His word. “And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned.”
Connor: It is so great that you have brought this out. When I was being raised I was always told that there is only one true church. I think that there are very good people in a lot of the so called organized religions of this world.
Hopefull the Church will continue to grow in the knowkledge that there are people like you that are willing to find out for yourselves. As Jesus said “Seek and you shall find”. It is the responsibility for everyone to have their own personal relationship with GOD and to seek out the truth. You should be commended for pointing out things that will only help to educate people who are in ignorance.
Thanks for the link to Elder Maxwell’s talk, Sarah. Stick with the President and the “majority of the Quorum of the Twelve”. The rock cut out of the mountain without hands will continue to roll forth until it fills the whole earth. Don’t wait around for the Church to implode.
Everyone needs to reread zenos’s parable again and very slowly if they think the church of jesus christ or thomas s monson and apostles need repenting.
Individuals being called to repentance is one thing. Calling The apostles and the church they lead to repentance is a different thing and that aint gonna happen. Thats the prophesy.
Lehi could not have been ordained as part of the established priesthood organization in Jerusalem because it was the birthright of Levites and the Sons of Aaron. We know from the Book of Mormon that he was from the tribe of Manassah.
While I was aware of prophets coming from outside the hierarchy, you have made some points I hadn’t considered. Amen!
We know the BOM was written TO US, the members, in this day. Who were Nephi, Mormon and Moroni warning if not those who read the record? The only way we can truly learn and apply the message within the scriptures is to apply it directly to ourselves.
When we begin to supplant the workings of the spirit with rules and policy written by men, we also begin to follow the path that led other believing peoples towards destruction and kept them from recognizing those called of God to preach His word, and even to reject Christ Himself.
I pray we wake up to the message of the Book of Mormon, realize WE are the very people to whom it was written, of whom the condemnations and warnings speak, and that the path to repentance taught within it’s pages are an invitation for *US*. Prophets are PLEADING from the dust for us to awake, arise, and break free of the shackles that bind us. May we have the courage to do so.
I should probably state from the outset that I do believe church leaders hold proper authority, I sustain them and I believe others ought to as well.
That being said there are serious problems with some of the quotes people have brought up, mainly stick with the majority of the twelve/church members and church record type things. First off, there was a point where sticking with the majority of the twelve in Nauvoo would have meant apostatizing from the church, cause that is what the majority did. So that doesn’t really work out so well. In addition to that I think there are major problems with assuming that we can just follow the herd into the celestial kingdom. You know straight is the way and few there be that follow it? Doesn’t really sound like this idea that is being peddled that if I just follow along with whatever my neighbors are doing then my salvation is secure. That taste like bitter fruit to me.
Also it is highly unlikely that Brother Joseph ever taught those things. Adrian Larsen has done an excellent job showing that here: http://www.totheremnant.com/2014/07/history-hearsay-and-heresy-part-2.html
The conclusion is not that we shouldn’t sustain church leaders, just not for those reasons.
No where in the scriptures that I have read does the Lord state that his leaders are infallible.
That said I think what Connor might have been getting at is that we live in the wickedest time of the world and Gadiantonesque secret combinations rule over us. Should a “prophet” come and expose these secret combinations and how they entice us to “unite with ‘them’ and become acquainted with ‘their’ secret works” so that we might share in the spoils would we listen, or say “Well, it wasn’t President Monson so I will continue in my path.”
LDS people like to think that Gadiantons don’t exist yet (the all is well type) or that they are the Washington politicians and special interest groups. Yet no one realizes that they themselves are partaking of the spoils of Gadianton when they vote for rent seeking laws or support regulations of the same. Did you take a student grant when you went to college? Do you work in a profession that is licensed? Do you work in the finance industry? You are a Gadianton robber without the boldness of Giddianhi.
The church leaders have fallen silent in exposing these practices because the Saints ignored them (Ezra Taft Benson being the most recognizable), and as such we are under condemnation.
People are funny. How can the Lord do anything with us when we are so rigid in our tradition? This article should not be a threat to anyones salvation. It is a very simple premise and question. “Can ‘prophets’ come from outside church leadership?” Well, if we believe our Book of Mormon, “the most correct of any book on earth,” then the answer is, yes. The Book of Mormon, as well as other canonized records put forth, not only the pattern, but how to test these messengers. It’s ok everyone. Chill. Simple question. Simple answer based upon scripture. Yes. And you won’t be dammed for being open to a pattern the scriptures put forth for us. That said, be wise. Do not be deceived. “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
I always found the teachings of Mah?v?ra to be inspiring.
I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Apostle Paul. Anyhow, I’m not sure I agree with the gist of your post. Joseph Smith fulfils the pattern of being called off the farm and rebuking the ruling elite religious leaders. God has established his leadership structure and succession in a very clear way to lead us into the last days. Call me simplistic, but this is my plan on how to make it through these final days.
I was thinking about this last night as I went to bed…and the thought came to me that we must apply scripture to OUR situation if it is to be of any worth to our salvation. Thus, the test for true prophets should be applied within and not only without the hierarchal structure. Do our leaders display the fruits of prophecy? Seership? Revelation? Or are we seeing corporate policy changes mingled with inspiration and good intention?
And it certainly should apply to us as individuals and not just a group. Do we display the fruits of faith as a people? Do we see miracles on a frequent basis? Do we speak with angels? Do we prophesy, dream dreams, see visions, etc? These aren’t figurative, they are literal –literal.
Mormon 9: 24 “And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover;”
Moroni 7:38 “For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.”
God is unchanging, He is no respecter of persons. It is not enough that a leader now or 150 years ago received these miracles and practiced this faith…that cannot save us. We must receive these blessings for ourselves as a consequence of our own faith, they are the promised signs that follow those who believe. We are told that if we do not see them, it is because of unbelief, and there is no promise of salvation for us. God could not have stated it more plainly.
Sean, JS rebuked the philosophical foundations of other religions, not the leadership failing to live up to their religion. He also founded a new religion. Different from rebuking someone for failing at a set of ideals, based on a particular set of premises.
One of the questions that needs to be answered is, what is a prophet, and who can become one? We have the words of an angel of God:
10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
So, anyone who has received the testimony of Jesus will have the spirit of prophecy, for they are the same. Both come from the Holy Ghost.
The Lord tells us, at least five times, in the Book of Mormon that there were “many prophets” among the people. Why? What does this knowledge do for us today? The plates were small, why not record it only once? Why record it at all?
What do we know about them, other than that they were sent by the Lord to call the people to repentance? We assume that they were men who held the priesthood, but do we really know that?
Lets consider Huldah for a moment. Men came to her, and she spoke the word of the Lord to them:
14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.
15 ¶ And she said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,
16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:
(2 Kings 22:14–16)
From the above scriptures, we see that there can be many prophets among the people, and that they can be men or women, as long as they have the testimony of Jesus. Further, we learn that even little children can speak great things when inspired by God:
And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.
(3 Nephi 26:14)
Concerning our day, the Lord revealed through Joel that even teenagers can be prophets:
28 ¶ And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
By the scriptural definitions above, anyone with the gift of the Holy Ghost can be a prophet. Paul goes one step further and encourages all to seek after the gift of prophecy:
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
(1 Corinthians 14:1)
Given all these witnesses from the scriptures, isn’t it possible that home and visiting teachers can be inspired to deliver the word of the Lord to us? Even call us to repentance? Could the same be said of family and friends who have the testimony of Jesus? And what about little children? I have a personal witness that God reveals great things through them.
Since the Lord planned on pouring out his Spirit on all flesh, then many people can be inspired, or see visions or have dreams, and they can be directed by the Lord to share those things with others, even the general public. It is solely up to Him.
The other definition of a prophet, as we seem to use it in the church today, is that of the president of the church. That person is the only one that the Lord will give revelations to that are for the whole church. It is only through him that the Lord will make known new things to the church. And, there is a provision in the revelations for a church president who falls. So, there is no need for an outsider to call the fallen church to repentance.
The scriptures make it clear, to me anyway, that the church will never fall away, so I do not believe that there will ever be a need for a course correction initiated by anyone outside of the church or outside of the hierarchy.
This subject is a favorite of apostates. They view themselves as prophets called to fix the church, or they want us to view their special “strong man” as “the one mighty and strong”. Or, they think that the church should be informal, as they think it was in the days of the Book of Mormon or of Enoch. They forget that this is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, not a repeat of a past dispensation. This is the only dispensation to include all that came before. It is to be like no other.
One of the major signs of the last days is that of deception.
O be wise; what can I say more?
Would you please be so kind as to elaborate somewhat more concerning your commentary on 12-14 wherein you referenced; President Hunter followed after President Benson……thus his words removed everything of Benson (The Prophet will never lead one astray)!!
Elder B. H. Roberts (1857–1933) of the Seventy also spoke on this doctrine:
“While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established for the instruction of men; and it is one of God’s instrumentalities for making known the truth yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend. … All the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God’s children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them.”
Wow. So much false doctrine here. Just come out and say you don’t care for the way the Church is being run and you’re trying to justify whomever you intend to support in their crusade to reform it.
This is an example of pernicious doctrines that will be spread in the latter days.
That’s an interesting (and false) assumption, Brett. As indicated in the post, I have nobody in mind and take no position on specific claims that others might. This post is about the concept itself, and not about any issue (“the way the Church is being run”) or any person, within the institution or not.
I wonder if you have scriptural backing to justify your objection, or is it a knee jerk reaction only?
And where would this prophet receive his keys and commission? The keys of the priesthood to receive revelation for the body of the church lie with the First Presidency and the Twelve. This is the last dispensation and all of the keys have been restored through Joseph Smith and passed down through his successors. We’ve been promised that unlike the church in ancient days, this one will never fall away. The threat is now individual, rather than collective apostasy.
I should note that I agree with you that it is unfortunate so many disregard the presence of secret combinations. I believe they do exist in our times. I do not believe, however, that God will use any other channel other than the one that is in place at this time. Just because there is scriptural precedent for certain things does not mean they will be applied in all times(maybe you think we’ll receive the Law of Moses again as people set their hearts on material things and false images?). Nor will the circumstances that warranted those occasions rise again. The church as a whole will never run astray as it had in scriptural times.
It has been my observation that in almost every situation such as this, these ideas were formulated as a response to one’s internal struggles with their beliefs. I do believe you are probably having difficulties reconciling the word of god with certain ideas that you have and as a result feel that some sort of restoration is needed in order to bring the word of god into line with your ideas.
I would stop preaching these notions as if they are received from on high.
And where would this prophet receive his keys and commission?
From God, who holds all the keys. Keep in mind that the non-institutional prophets are not seeking to set policy for the institution, alter ordinances, etc. They’re just delivering a message that God or an angel told them to deliver. This is the pattern established in the scriptures I referenced.
We’ve been promised that unlike the church in ancient days, this one will never fall away.
I’m not sure how you define “falling away.” Certainly we are under condemnation, as established in scripture and more recently by leaders of the church. Despite being asked to prepare for future calamities a small minority of the Saints do — so what if God wanted to call a prophet to preach on this specific message? I’d be careful about claiming what God might or might not do, especially when there’s precedent leaning in favor of the position you oppose and claim to be heresy.
It has been my observation that in almost every situation such as this, these ideas were formulated as a response to one’s internal struggles with their beliefs.
Are you so sure of this characterization that you feel comfortable applying it to every “situation such as this,” with no exception? You do not know me, or my beliefs, so I’d be careful making assumptions.
I would stop preaching these notions as if they are received from on high.
Sorry, but they were received from on high. They are in the scriptures and are there for us to consider how they apply to our day. You may feel they do not apply at all, and that’s fine—but I’d suggest not branding as a “pernicious doctrine” something that is repeated throughout the scriptural record.
I guess my question would be about the efficiency of setting up an organization where people are taught to look to a specific place for instruction (outside of personal revelation), and then call a prophet outside of the church to preach repentance rather than raise one up to use INSIDE the organization that He established. I mean, Mormons are a sliver of the forest of people in the world. To further divide it just seems so dang counterproductive. I’m not one to say what God can and can’t do, and there is a high level of complacency in the members of the church, but I can’t imagine Him dividing His own house, which is assuredly what would happen.
Also, it seems like outsiders were called because the insiders were rotten. I suppose if the apostles all became corrupt and encouraged others to sin, then an outsider could be called. I just don’t see that happening to that extent. Sure, there are some pretty vocal neo-fundamentalists out there saying that it’s happened, but in the grand scheme of things their points, while valid, are petty. Again, a house divided cannot stand. Why not use what you’ve got. We as Saints seem willing, and the leadership isn’t evil.
I think that you make a great point. But in addition was Joseph a member of the Church when he experienced the First Vision, recieved the golden plates, translated the Book of Mormon and all of that? Nope.
I am with you Connor. In light of recently published visions of the events to transpire in the end game of the world as we’ve known it and the rise of a new earth as we’ve studied it, the question “can prophecy (and by extension prophets) come from outside the heirarchy of the church?” is before us now.
I mean, would God really give a vision of future events to say a woman, one clearly NOT ordained with keys that never rust, or to say a man that we all know is not one of the 15 men currently sustained as prophets, seers and revelators? Would he command her/him to cry repentence or “wake up” to whomever would listen? Especially among the general membership of the church?
He certainly has in the past, and can surely do it again. You’re inviting us to expect it even.
Check this from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “The gift of prophecy, as demonstrated by Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and others, is not limited to any special ordination in the priesthood (AF, pp. 228-29) but can be given to all as Moses understood when he cried: “Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Num. 11:29; cf. 1 Cor. 14:1-5, 29, 31, 39). In the restored Church all are baptized, confirmed, and provided with the gift of the Holy Ghost, through which all can enjoy prophetic gifts pertinent to their stewardships.”
…which stewardship could be to be a messenger of God, atop a high stone city wall or to fulfill a specific pre-earth covenant to assist in ushering in the Second Coming of Christ. Hey, whatever Heavenly Father requires is a okay with me. Wouldn’t want to limit Him by my own truncated understanding of what he can do.
Paul admonishes the saints in Corinth…and us all BTW, to desire spiritual gifts, but especially “that we may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14)
I really appreciated the B.H. Roberts quote you referenced. ““While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established for the instruction of men; and it is one of God’s instrumentalities for making known the truth yet he is not limited to that institution for such purposes, neither in time nor place. God raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend. … All the great teachers are servants of God; among all nations and in all ages. They are inspired men, appointed to instruct God’s children according to the conditions in the midst of which he finds them.”
Great article. And a great discussion everyone.
@Skyler baird: You say “The difference is that in every other dispensation The Church passed away. In ours it is prophesied that it will not.”
In all other dispensations the Church did not pass away, the priesthood did. The Catholics are, according to them, the continuation of the Church set up by the Jesus Christ and the Apostles. What we have is the promise that the Aaronic Priesthood will never be taken from the Earth again. The prophesies that we have is that we need to live up to the gospel or a group shall be taken from us to set up a righteous society (I believe that this group is often described as a remnant).
An interesting exercise is to take Doctrine and Covenants 124 and compare it to the experiences of the pioneers – see how the Church was moved out of its place (Nauvoo) and how the members suffered during the move to Salt Lake – then tell me which of the outcomes occurred in that time and where we stand today because of it.
i don’t think the question is can a prophet can come from o/s the church hierarchy. rather, if a prophet were to be called by the Lord, would he be accepted by the existing priesthood leadership quorums and how would his calling be manifested to the Quorum of the 12 and the existing First Presidency following the Death of a Presiding Prophet?
Here is my problem your analysis. The examples given all through out the article cite instances prior to Christ coming and establishing His Church structured the way it is now. Before, although there were prophets and a “Church” establishment, it wasn’t set up as presently constituted. I believe the notion that Prophets coming from outside the established church would be outside the order that God intended to establish, perhaps causing confusion and disorder. Not to say that one cannot receive revelation from non church sources, as anything that is truth, no matter who it comes from, can be verified with the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Not to mention that I believe each one of the cited instances, did not necessarily come outside the Church. I believe in Lehi’s instance, he was apart of the “Church” of the time, and only intended to pray for the people to soften their hearts to avoid being destroyed. God knew what was coming and called him to a greater mission. I think you could find similar instances through all mentioned examples, that somehow, they were linked to the Church in some form, even if apostate like Alma, and Alma the younger.
There will be no prophets outside the hierarchy of the Church calling it to repentance. First, there is no need as we are constantly being called to repentance by our leaders. They lack neither ability nor authority to correct the Church precisely as the Lord sees fit. Second, it is contrary to the order of the gospel as set forth in both scripture and by those holding the keys of that gospel (just a couple of many examples):
“Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.”
“We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. … And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter” (President Joseph F. Smith , Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 41–42).
No one will come preaching repentance to the Church in ignorance of those who hold the keys for the entire world. I think it’s spiritually dangerous to expect otherwise.
@Rob, what do you mean by “the fact that the Lamanites will build Zion, not the Gentiles?”
The truth is, though we are guaranteed that THE PROPHET will never lead us astray, and also the united voice of the First Presidency, we do not have this guarantee for anyone else. Both prophetS and men are fallible in leading us. And both prophetS and men may be used as instruments in the hands of the Lord (regardless of “status”, “stewardships”, church callings, etc.)
In Matthew 10 it says,
40 ¶ He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
Which do you think qualifies you for the greater reward–if you follow a prophet or a righteous man? In my opinion it takes more faith to follow a righteous man because he comes without “title” and apparent “authority”. My hope would be that we aren’t so scared of listening to someone who falls outside the ranks of “authority” that we never consider what a righteous man may have to say. On the flip side, we can become so confident in those who lead us within the church that we become complacent in developing our own ability to receive revelation. We alone must take responsibility for being deceived. So it’s vital that we know the doctrine, and that we learn to judge the teachings of all men by God’s gift of revelatory light. I know this seems, for many, daunting to develop. But Jesus is very interested in helping us and increasing our confidence in recognizing His voice if we are sincere in our desire to do so.
One man I do wish more people would listen to is Ammon Bundy. I personally believe he is one who has been sent without “title” and “authority” to help save the constitution, yet most in the church have turned their backs on him. I believe that many will fall short of a righteous man’s reward for not “receiving” this true brother and follower of Christ.
Secondly, through temple ordinances both men and women can qualify for the “power and authority” of the priesthood. Authority to do what?
No matter how the Lord has called His people to repentance in the past, D&C 42:11 tells us how He does it today.