Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Prophets, Part 3:
We Thank Thee, O God, for a Princess

Therefore, thus saith the Lord: Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of the Nephites, except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer, and I will turn the hearts of their brethren against them.
—Helaman 13:8


In the first two posts in this series, we discussed the fruits of a prophet, and the standard set by the Lord for discerning a true prophet. "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matthew 7:20)

We also covered the fact that, without the fruits of prophecy, visions, and revelation, it's impossible to tell if someone is a prophet, seer or revelator. The fruits come by gifts of the Spirit, not by virtue of any office in the church. Sadly, these fruits have been absent from the LDS church for quite a long time—that is, we cannot point to any new revelation, prophecy, or vision to the church in the last hundred or so years. 

When I have pointed out this fact to my brothers and sisters in the church, and even church leaders, the most common reply is that we receive revelation at every General Conference. Indeed, some regard every talk by the members of the First Presidency or an apostle as revelation—because these men are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators. 

I disagree. As I discussed previously, prophecy and revelation are different than inspiration. Many church leaders give inspired talks by the power of the Spirit, teaching great truths. Many General Conference addresses share this common inspiration and are filled with light. But revelation is something more. Prophecy is something different than just a great talk.

Is it Prophecy?


Allow me to illustrate what I mean. For purposes of this discussion, let's accept the proposition that our sustained prophets give revelation at every General Conference. In fact, to make things simple, we'll confine our search to just the President of the Church. Nobody will question that he is certainly accepted and sustained as a prophet, and therefore the common belief is that his words are revelation to the church. 

Therefore, since he is issuing revelation as a prophet, his talks should be qualitatively different than what is offered by, say, a member of the Second Quorum of Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, or the Relief Society General President. If you take the names off the talks and simply read them, you should be able to pick out the revelations of prophets, which are different than the talks of non-prophets, right?

Try these. Which of these was spoken by a prophet at General Conference?
  1. We’ve all felt anger. It can come when things don’t turn out the way we want. It might be a reaction to something which is said of us or to us. We may experience it when people don’t behave the way we want them to behave. Perhaps it comes when we have to wait for something longer than we expected. We might feel angry when others can’t see things from our perspective. There seem to be countless possible reasons for anger.  
  2. Pride is essentially competitive—it is competitive by its very nature...Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone....it is pride which has been the chief cause of misery in every nation and every family since the world began...pride always means enmity—it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God. 
  3. Are we really aware of the perilous circumstances surrounding our own children? We can usually determine if their physical needs are met, but what about their spiritual needs? Do they know of the light and peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ? The scriptures teach, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” Children need the peace that comes from knowing they have a loving Heavenly Father, who sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to bring light and hope into the world. It is up to us as adults to direct children to that peace and light.
  4. Many people are longing not only to be loved but to have someone who will listen to them. When we love God with all our hearts, then we have the capacity to love our neighbor. The greatest need in the world today is not more science, not more social engineering, not more teaching, not more knowledge, not more power, not even more preaching-the greatest need we have today is for love. 

OK, what do you think? Which words were spoken by a prophet and which were not? Clearly, all are inspired messages, and teach truth. But which rise to the level of revelation or prophecy? Here's the answer key:

Number one was spoken by President Monson in the October, 2009 General Conference. These are the words many will elevate above the others and call them revelation. Read them again. Any new revelations there?

Number two is tricky. These are the words of Christian author C.S. Lewis, but some of them were borrowed by Ezra Taft Benson for his April, 1989 General Conference address. When the words originate with a non-prophet, but then are spoken by a prophet, do they become elevated to revelatory status?

Number three was sister Coleen K. Menlove, Recently Released Primary General President, from the April, 2005 General Conference.

Number four came from Christian evangelist Billy Graham.

Now, I'll admit that such a test as I just offered is necessarily limited. I've only taken excerpts of talks, devoid of context. But I did that intentionally to focus on the message, rather than the setting in which it was offered. 

Nevertheless—and I won't take the space here to do so—I submit that you could do the same with entire conference talks. Take off the speakers' names, then try to pick out the talks of prophets vs. non-prophets. Could you conclusively say what is revelation and what is merely inspiration?

This was brought to my attention forcefully, when someone emailed me a link to a fictional general authority website, containing absurd parodies of General Conference talks. The site was sent to me in the context of being an important addition to the topic at hand. It wasn't until a couple of days later, as I recall, that the sender realized the deception and told me the site might be fake. 

Hey, if you use the right vocabulary, speak the correlated phrases, and parrot what other general authorities have said, guess what? You'll sound just like them.

And that's just the point. Men and women, even children, speak inspired words and teach beautiful truths. People of all faiths do so. LDS leaders certainly do. Calling such words prophecy or revelation because they come out of one person's mouth, but merely a good talk when they come out of another person's mouth makes the owner of the mouth the most important deciding factor in discerning truth. It elevates the speaker above the message, and relieves us of our obligation to seek confirmation from God. It makes a man into an idol and God's word into a secondary consideration. This is against Christ's injunction to know the man by the fruits, and not the fruits by the man.

Most important, such an idea supports the notion that God's words are really no different than man's words, and that revelation and prophecy are really no different than any other banal platitudes that may be offered as religion.

Prophet or Princess?

You may not want to read what follows. It's a harsh reality, but it wasn't my idea. No, it's an idea promoted by the LDS Church. More specifically, I got what follows from an article in LDS-church-owned magazine, LDS Living, in which a quiz was offered comparing the words of LDS prophets to those of Disney characters. Check it out at this link.

Yes, that's right. Prophet or princess? Hard to tell? That's what makes the quiz so fun! The words of the prophets are entertaining! It's not like your soul is at stake or anything. Have some fun!

Though I write a lot of stuff, there are times when I'm so caught off guard that I'm at a loss for words. 

This is not one of those times. 

Two words, in fact, come readily to mind. But this is a family-friendly blog, so I'll edit them and present them as follows:


HOLY!  CRAP!

Are you SERIOUS? Let's compare what we claim are the direct words of Jesus Christ—to vapid platitudes of Disney Princesses? For fun? And THIS is what passes for revelation? THIS is how we claim to receive the very oracles of God? THIS is where so many of us will hang our salvation, secure in the knowledge that we can never be led astray? 

Allow me to quote another animated, fictional character—namely, Homer Simpson: "Feeling stupid? I know I am!"

But it's OK, because in the words of the Pooh prophet Winnie: "You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

And it's a good thing, too. Because you're going to need those smarts to beat the next quiz (Again promoted by the LDS church in LDS Living magazine). That's right, it's time to play Dieter or Dumbledore!


In this fast-paced religious extravaganza, you get to guess which hackneyed clich├ęs were uttered by fictional wizard Albus Dumbledore and which were spoken by prophet, seer and revelator, Dieter Uchtdorf. After all, as the introduction states, "They both have silvery hair, speak with foreign accents and are known for their wisdom." 

Having trouble? Here's a hint: if it's about flying a plane, it's Dieter. If it's about flying a broom, it's Dumbledore. You're welcome.

I hope you'll forgive the sarcastic tone of the above. Sometimes this is the best way to highlight utter absurdity. When the sayings of those called prophets are viewed as sources of entertainment, when the words of eternal life are confused with the slogans of fictional wizards, when we, like fools, trifle with sacred things, unable to discern God's word from man's, we are indeed "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." (Revelation 3:17)

Would we ever play such games with the words of Christ? Isn't the fact that we play such games proof enough that, though we claim the prophets speak for Christ, we don't really believe they do? Do we not show, by our own works, that prophecy has ceased? When those we call prophets only offer what is commonly available and ceaselessly repeated every six months, how will we ever know God's will? 

What are we to do in such circumstances? 

Well, it ends where the restoration began, with James 1:5. 
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
It never was about finding a man to follow. It's always been about finding God for ourselves. Of course other mortals can point the way to Christ, but ultimately the journey to find him is undertaken alone, "relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save." (2 Nephi 31:19)

His voice is yet in scripture. His voice is yet in the flood of revelation that came through Joseph Smith. And His voice will yet speak to all who will ask and listen. His words never cease. (Moses 1:4)

But seeking Him will take work. And faith. And it may require letting go of cherished, but false, traditions. And that might be uncomfortable. 

So it might be more entertaining to just go read this article about what prophets have said on the topic of Santa Claus. Oh—and I hear the Muppets are delivering the glad tidings of great joy this year too!

Yep, that'll do it.


And the people bowed and prayed 
To the neon god they made 
And the sign flashed out its warning 
In the words that it was forming 
And the sign said 
"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls 
And tenement halls 
And whispered in the sound of silence"
(Paul Simon, The Sound of Silence)

Oh that we would turn to God ourselves, search the scriptures, cry in mighty prayer, and seek to know Him. Then, having obtained a hope in Christ, perhaps we may again hear words over the pulpit like those of Benjamin:

My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.
—Mosiah 2:9


63 comments:

  1. You might not be speechless, but I pretty much am. Wow.

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  2. I also say wow.

    Anyway, if conference talks by the President of the church are automatically as good as the D&C revelations, then the conference talks of President Young teaching Adam-God and Seed of Cain doctrines must be accepted as scripture.

    But if President Young was actually wrong to some degree in these teachings, that would mean that the church Presidents after him (that claim their authority through him) could also be wrong to some degree in their talks. If fact, they could be wrong about him being wrong.

    On the other hand, the D&C does say that a talk inspired sufficiently by the Holy Ghost can be considered "scripture":

    "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." D&C 68:4

    But there is no honest reason to believe that everything spoken by a church President in conference should always be considered as good as scripture.

    Hopefully the Holy Ghost would inspire the speaker to say "thus saith the Lord" or some other indicator to know when it is to be accepted like scripture, because we know a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such.

    Since Presidents Young, Taylor and Woodruff all wrote "Word of the Lord" oracles in the same PATTERN as the D&C revelations, there is no reason to believe this gift was no longer necessary after Joseph died.

    But as you noted, there is no evidence any church General Authority has had this gift since 1889-- over 125 years. If the gift has been lost as D&C 43:8-10 warned, then the promises with the gift are also lost.

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  3. Another useful post, Adrian. There is an additional twist in sample number two in that it was Benson's daughter-in-law who ghost-wrote the famous pride talk. Sadly she didn't give Lewis the credit. He's probably up in heaven having a chuckle every time someone praises 'Benson's' talk on pride which is arguably one of the best ever to appear in a Conference.

    http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1009703,1009882

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    1. Thus begging the question when the talk became revelation. Was it when C.S. Lewis wrote the original ideas, when May Benson plagiarized them, when Hinckley read them, or when Benson was given credit for them?

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  4. Adrian-

    I want to take a quick moment to thank you. You have done an excellent job of crystallizing many of the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head for the last few years. So many of the people I go to church with every Sunday get really excited about General Conference - while I feel so alone in dreading it each time. It's just so sad for me - we have so many gifts given to us by the restoration that we just don't use - and each conference that comes along just proves that more and more for me.

    For those of you who don't mind a bit (well, sometimes a lot) of sarcasm - the podcast Infants On Thrones covered this topic - by comparing GC talks with quotes from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul. After reading your post, your readers should already know what to expect.
    http://infantsonthrones.com/guess-who-said-it/

    And of course your Simon & Garfunkel quote reminds me of Rush's take on the song (The Spirit of Radio - which we could rename The Spirit of General Conference)
    For the words of the profits were written on the studio wall
    Concert hall
    And echoes with the sound of salesmen

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  5. Another great example of narrowly viewed facts, selective quoting, and the twisting of words to make one feel justified in their own position and to make a mockery of others. I could point out dozens of other examples of this on this blog… but this is not the format for that. I feel sorry for those who use such narrow views of God and men to judge.

    However, I must say… to all those that say a "prophet" must use the words "Thus saith the Lord..." Or some variation of it to constitute "prophecy or revelation" or that those of you who are basically saying ‘prove to me he is a prophet’ also put themselves at risk like Laman and Lemuel (1N 15:9).

    I HAVE asked the Lord. I HAVE received a witness from God that Monson is indeed our prophet today. So what if he likes to tell stories, so what if he likes to "entertain" people? Joseph himself was a "jovial" person and loved to laugh with the saints and enjoyed wholesome entertainment. Prophets are human (I know shocking, right?).

    Again, for those of you who believe “revelation” MUST be something “new” that we have never heard before… you have a very sad understanding of, and again narrow view of, what revelation is (in my opinion). See http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revelation

    REVELATION (per one source, admittedly still not all inclusive):
    1a : an act of revealing or communicating divine truth
    b : something that is revealed by God to humans
    2a : an act of revealing to view or making known
    b : something that is revealed; especially : an enlightening or astonishing disclosure
    c : a pleasant often enlightening surprise

    Notice that the word “new” is NOT found in this definition. However, it does say that “communicating divine truth” IS revelation… oh wait, so that would mean that even if EVERY conference talk we heard was not “new” information, but communicated divine truths (i.e. pretty much any principle of the restored gospel) then that would count as revelation. You say “…we cannot point to any new revelation, prophecy, or vision to the church in the last hundred or so years”, wow. (Ezekiel 12:2) Why must the revelation be “new”? Maybe the world is not living by the revelations we have already received… maybe?

    For those who are doubting their faith, before doubting their doubts (borrowing a phrase)… 1N15:8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?

    I submit that many of you have inquired of the Lord, and many of you have received personal revelation, as I have, of the fact that we do have a living prophet, and you have been moved upon by the Holy Ghost from time to time as you have heard the divinely communicated truths and God has witnessed unto you that they are true. And yet now you now doubt? I would ask you to read Chapter 5 of Alma. Specifically verse 26, where it asks if can feel so now (still)?

    Adrian, I do not wish to be “contentious” but there is quite a bit of hypocrisy in much of what you write… I would address this more with you personally, if you care to do so, and maybe we can be reconciled together (3N 12:24).

    -A fellow seeker of truth.

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    1. "If anything should have been suggested by us, or any names mentioned, except by commandment, or thus saith the Lord, we do not consider it binding; therefore our hearts shall not be grieved if different arrangements should be entered into." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 136; Epistle to the church, written in Liberty Jail, March 25, 1839)

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    2. If you want to use dictionary definitions, I suggest using Webster's 1828 dictionary, which reflects the current usage in the days of Joseph Smith, rather than a modern dictionary. Here's the 1828 definition:

      Revelation: The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them; appropriately, the disclosure or communication of truth to men by God himself, or by his authorized agents, the prophets and apostles.

      I would hold that you cannot "reveal" that which is already known to the receiver. But to each his own, I suppose. You are certainly free to define revelation in whatever way makes you most comfortable.

      I appreciate that you have prayed about President Monson. May I inquire which of his prophecies or revelations you prayed about? Or in other words, which of his fruits? Merely asking God about a man is, of course, against what Christ taught us to do. Therefore I would not trust any answer to any such inquiry. But again, to each his (or her) own.

      As for my hypocrisy, I welcome your correction and promise to carefully consider it. No doubt I need to improve in significant ways, and if you can help me on that path, you'll have my gratitude.

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    3. Adrian:
      Wow, where do I start…(Part 1)

      First of all, your reference to the “March 25, 1839” letter is incorrectly cited. It was actually March 20, 1839.

      But more importantly, it is out of context.

      If you read the actual context you will see that Joseph, who was dictating this letter to the church and Edward Partidge (the presiding bishop), was addressing the issue of where the saints ought to settle.

      I encourage everyone to read the context for themselves, but in summary, Joseph laments his inability to council the members on where they ought to settle (due to his incarceration) and not being able to refer to that which was already written in the other documents of the church. But as he doesn’t have access to prior writings, he tells the church that these “general affairs” of the church ought to be handled

      “…by a general conferance of the most faithfull and the most respictible of the authorities of the church and a minute of those transactions may be kept and fowarded from time to time to your humble servant and if there should be any corrections by the word of the word of the Lord they shall be f[r]eely transmit ted and your humble servant will approve all the things what soever is acciptable unto God if any thing thing should have been sejusted [suggested] by us or any names me ntioned ex[ce]pt by commandment or thus saith the Lord we do not concider it binding. therefore our harts shall not be greaved if diferant arraingments should be entered into”

      Clearly, the reference here to “thus saith the Lord” is Joseph referring to the previously established protocols, policies, and documents that were already established. He is simply saying that as long as what the general conference decides is not against something that has already be commanded by the Lord, that he will not be upset “greaved” if different arrangements were made…

      Notice, the OR in the phrase “by commandment or thus saith the Lord” It actually seems to imply (in my own opinion) that maybe commandments of the Lord (received via prophecy and revelation) might not ALWAYS have to have a “thus saith the Lord” attached… maybe?

      Your selective narrow use of this quote may lead others to believe that Joseph is saying that unless direction given by any prophet on any topic is couched with “thus saith the Lord” or similar language it is not from God. Obviously not the intent of Josephs 20 March 1839 letter.

      -A fellow seeker of truth. (to be continued...)

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    4. Wow, where do I start…(Part 2)

      Secondly, now you are twisting my words. You are implying that somehow I know Monson is a prophet by virtue of specific words he has said.

      Your assumption that I must pray about a specific prophesy or revelation from President Monson in order to receive a witness that he has been called of God is flawed. I lacked knowledge (I wanted to know if this man was a prophet) so I asked God, and I received personal revelation that he is a prophet.

      When Joseph Smith entered the grove of trees, he was not asking God about a specific “prophesy or revelation” to find out which church was true… he said, “…My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join.” His was a fairly generic question. Said he, “…I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right”. He lacked knowledge, he asked, he was given an answer.

      You have repeatedly said, and implied, that a “…prophet must identify clearly that which is, indeed, a message coming from the Lord. Unless a statement is identified as prophecy, the only safe course is to assume it is not.”

      Wow... This seems like a dangerous “assumption” to make not a "safe course". Wouldn’t it be better to NOT assume anything, and instead do as the scriptures teach and “ask God” if what you are hearing from the prophet comes from God? And if it Is his will and is the message that He wants you to hear from his prophet today?

      I do not take ANYTHING said by ANY man at face value. I ALWAYS ask God if what I have heard is something that applies to my life or is Gods will for me, regardless of who says it, EVEN IF it is prefaced with some “key words” that magically make it a “prophecy”.

      Also, don’t you think it is a bit arrogant and self-righteous to say that just because the Lord is not inspiring his prophet to “prophesy NEW things” or “tell us all something that YOU don’t already know”? The Lord must not be speaking through his prophet. Huh, must not be prophesy, or the word of the Lord, because he is talking about something I already know?

      I will further address the hypocrisy and narrowness of your presentations in another post later on. If you'd like?

      -A fellow seeker of truth.

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    5. Hello Anonymous Fellow Seeker,

      Thank you for taking the time to offer so many corrections. I have no doubt you are convinced by your arguments, and I don’t expect I will change your mind by responding. However, lest others should be misled, I will respond to some of what you’ve offered.

      First, as to the date of the letter. It was started on March 20, 1839 and completed on March 25, 1839. It is so cited in TPJS, and there is an explanatory footnote about why they chose to use the date of completion rather than the date of initiation of the letter. My reference is correct. I don’t mind being called out when I make mistakes, but you should probably make sure I’m wrong first.

      But seriously, the date of the letter is the least important thing for us to discuss.

      As to your accusation that I have taken Joseph Smith out of context, I have not, and you have made my point better than I did. Thank you.

      Joseph makes a clear distinction between things he said or wrote as general directions versus things he gave as commandments and as the Lord’s direct word. Clearly there is a difference, and Joseph goes to some trouble to point that out. Joseph’s word can be changed, ignored, revised, etc. But the Lord’s word must not be. And Joseph tells us how to know the difference.

      Unfortunately, those we sustain as prophets sometimes say things that are incorrect, foolish, or false. Just like every other mortal. Unless we have a way to separate the man’s opinion from God’s opinion, we are in grave danger of believing God is a fool.

      Your original point:

      However, I must say… to all those that say a "prophet" must use the words "Thus saith the Lord..." Or some variation of it to constitute "prophecy or revelation" or that those of you who are basically saying ‘prove to me he is a prophet’ also put themselves at risk like Laman and Lemuel (1N 15:9).

      Joseph just said that what is prophecy or revelation through him was presented as a commandment or “thus saith the Lord.” He therefore contradicts your original point, and I’m sticking with Joseph.

      I have not taken him out of context in the least; rather the context makes my point even stronger.

      (to be continued…)

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    6. Hello Anonymous Fellow Seeker (part 2)

      You Said:

      Secondly, now you are twisting my words. You are implying that somehow I know Monson is a prophet by virtue of specific words he has said.

      No, I’m not twisting your words at all. I know full well you didn’t use any of his prophecies or revelations in making your inquiry, and you have verified as much. The reason I asked this question was to point out the difference between your approach and the one commanded by Christ.

      Personally, I would not trust an answer that came in response to disobeying Christ in this thing, but you’re free to do as you please. Just realize, it’s possible to get answers to prayer from an unholy source.

      D&C 50:2 Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world.

      For more information, please see my posts “Feeling and Fooling the Spirit” and “Signs follow.”

      You Said:

      You have repeatedly said, and implied, that a “…prophet must identify clearly that which is, indeed, a message coming from the Lord. Unless a statement is identified as prophecy, the only safe course is to assume it is not.”

Wow... This seems like a dangerous “assumption” to make not a "safe course".

      I recommend this course for two reasons. First, so we will know what is from God and what is merely good advice, man’s opinion, etc. Second, to give the prophets protection when they are wrong.

      Of course, such a course requires that there are men willing to say they are speaking for the Lord. But, though they will say it about each other, we suffer a serious lack of any man willing to tell us he has received revelation or is speaking God’s word directly. We don’t even have a prophet who will claim to be one. And that’s the point of the series so far.

      You Said:

      Also, don’t you think it is a bit arrogant and self-righteous to say that just because the Lord is not inspiring his prophet to “prophesy NEW things” or “tell us all something that YOU don’t already know”? The Lord must not be speaking through his prophet. Huh, must not be prophesy, or the word of the Lord, because he is talking about something I already know?

      I’ll reply that I’m using Joseph Smith as the standard. If we’re to assume our current leaders get to use the same titles God gave to Joseph, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to produce the same fruit. Like Jesus said.

      Joseph produced a veritable flood of new light. That light has not grown since he died, and has, in fact, dimmed considerably. We’ve lost, ignored, hidden and removed much of what Joseph taught.

      Do we truly “believe that [God] will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God?” If so, it is a sign of faith to expect these things.

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  6. As for my hypocrisy, I welcome your correction and promise to carefully consider it. No doubt I need to improve in significant ways, and if you can help me on that path, you'll have my gratitude.

    Brother Larsen,

    You haven't posted comments of mine, nor responded to them, where I have tried to help you. There does appear to be an easily described pattern to things.

    If a man asks of God in sincerity, he can find out for himself from God whether the Brethren are prophets, seers, and revelators, in the absence of publicly visible fruit.

    Does dissuading men from applying that test - asking of God - serve any holy and pure purpose?

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    1. Log,

      The comments of yours that I did not post were you reiterating the same things you had already said repeatedly. They served no purpose in advancing the discussion, and I had already responded to them. I don’t want to contend with you and I have no interest in trying to convince you of anything. You’ve made your point, I’ve made mine, and I’m glad to still embrace you as my brother even if we disagree. There’s no need to continually re-hash the same points.

      Yes, I understand that you believe a man who does not prophesy can still be a prophet and that God will reveal that to you if you ask. I suppose you could also ask God to reveal to you anything else that is private in that man’s life, but not put on public display. Whether an answer will be forthcoming about such questions remains to be seen.

      But if a man admittedly does not prophesy, then what does it matter if he's a prophet or not? That is to say, suppose President Monson is frequently meeting with the Lord, receiving revelation, and seeing visions. But he never tells the church what the Lord says, and in fact never even tells the church he has heard from the Lord at all. What, then, is the point of calling him a prophet if he does not serve as such to the church? What he does in his private religious life is no more relevant to this question than what I do in mine or what you do in yours.

      To paraphrase Mark Twain: A prophet who does not prophesy is no better than one who cannot prophesy.

      I believe that the definition of prophet, particularly as applied to the President of the Church, is one who has and uses the gift of prophecy, and that fruits are required before we can know such a man, according to the word of Christ. I will use Joseph Smith as the example, and defy anyone to demonstrate his equal in his successors.

      I believe I stand on solid ground when I stand on the word of Christ. By their fruits ye shall know them.

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    2. Brother Larsen,

      For those who yet are members the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and find value in participating in the ordinances of the temple, it matters a great deal whether the Brethren are prophets, seers, and revelators, whether they bear public fruit or not.

      I only keep iterating this point because I feel that the cause of Christ is served, not by posturing, nor by silencing uncomfortable voices, but by speaking truth even if it undercuts our egos and our desires. What use are we to the Lord if we hold silent where we see a conflict with the truth and our own perceived self-interest rather than repent and embrace the truth?

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    3. Hi Log,

      I guess I don't see the connection you're making between prophets and the temple. Other than that, I completely agree with your statement about the cause of Christ. Well put!

      Delete
    4. Brother Larsen,

      Temple attendance is predicated upon temple recommends, and temple recommends are predicated upon a person acknowledging the Brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators. An honest person would want to know whether they were prophets, seers, and revelators before so acknowledging. The only real way to know is by inquiring of God. "I don't know if they are prophets, seers, and revelators" is not an answer that will pass muster with most bishops, I hazard to guess.

      If this is a repeat comment, please forgive me, the connection I'm using sucks.

      Delete
    5. Ah. Gotcha. Thank you for the clarification. Makes sense.

      I had been thinking in terms of "sustaining" them to be such, not necessarily testifying that the ARE such. From that perspective, taking the question as written, even I can say Yes. I do sustain them.

      But I'm also aware that it's totally up to local leaders and that there is quite a bit of variability in how each leader may approach these questions. I know of people who are denied recommends even though they "sustain" and there are those who are granted recommends even though they say they don't believe the gifts are present.

      But you make a good point. This should matter a great deal to all of us.

      Delete
    6. There's not supposed to be any variability at all. The CHI, to my knowledge, forbids the interviewing authorities from interpreting the question for the interviewee. "Support" and "sustain" have ranges of meanings - and which one the interviewee wants to use when answering the questions is within the sole discretion of the interviewee; the interviewee has no requirement to make their intended meaning known to the interviewer.

      But, that's assuming everyone's playing by the rules.

      Delete
  7. Adrian, thank you for your posts and for putting yourself out there for criticism. To anonymous at 10:01 am, why can't you identify yourself? Your words hold a lot more weight with people when you are brave enough to put your name behind them. Nobody here is going to think less of you for putting your name on your comment. Without it, most people will not take you very seriously, as you end up looking like another run-of-the-mill internet troll to ignore.

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    1. Charles-

      As Adrian himself points out, it is the message not the messenger that is important. So, if I am a 12 year old girl or a 90 year old man, member of your church or prophet of your church... that should not matter.

      Deal with the content of the message.

      Besides, I would much rather address these issues on a personal basis than in public anyway...

      -A fellow seeker of truth.

      Delete
  8. It's cowardly and confusion. Who knows which anonymous this is, or if this is the same anonymous as the previous anonymous, what if it's someone with multiple identities answering their own questions, pretending to a chorus of opposition or support?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Everyone,

    First, let me tell you how much I appreciate all who have taken the time to read and comment. There have been some important things said, some of which I may yet respond to. But for now, I feel it's important to offer the following reminder:

    In both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, Christ warned us about false prophets and taught how to discern false from true. He gave a lengthy explanation that can be summarized as follows: Ye shall know them by their fruits.

    In this series I have proposed that it’s important to do it the way Christ commanded. I use the term “commanded” because “ye shall” is the plural form of “thou shalt.” It is written in the imperative. Therefore it is a commandment from Christ.

    If there are no fruits to examine, there’s no way to follow Christ’s commandment in determining whether a man is functioning as a prophet.

    Some have proposed other methods of making the determination. And that’s their right. Anyone can approach this question any way they like. They can just ask God without any fruits, they can roll dice, they can simply believe what they’re told by family or church leaders, they can consult a ouija board, or they can just go by their feelings. If you prefer one of these methods, go ahead. That’s your business.

    But please realize, Christ only offered one method.

    If you propose that you know of another method, that He perhaps forgot to mention, or that you have a better idea than our Lord, or that you can go to God and get a trustworthy answer while disobeying Christ’s command, have at it. That’s up to you.

    In the end, it’s your own salvation at stake. You can do what you want. But you won’t convince me there’s a better way than Christ’s way. I’m sticking with the fruits.

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    1. Excellent reminder!

      Delete
    2. But please realize, Christ only offered one method.

      If you propose that you know of another method, that He perhaps forgot to mention, or that you have a better idea than our Lord, or that you can go to God and get a trustworthy answer while disobeying Christ’s command...


      Brother Larsen,

      Christ counseled us to beware false prophets. Beware means "be aware." By their fruits shall ye know them; this means you shall - as a matter of inevitability - recognize them by their words. There is no commandment therein, and there is no prescribed test in what Christ said.

      But even were we to accept Christ's counsel and warning as a prescribed test - though there is no procedure described therein - it does not follow that there is no other way to know, or that a man is in violation of the commandments of God in asking of God according to God's commandment.

      Ether 3:2
      2 O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.

      Who benefits if one man shall say to another, "Pray not, and ask not, but follow ye my precepts and accept my reading of the scriptures!"?

      Delete
    3. Brother Log,

      Your interpretation of Christ’s word is that we will inevitably recognize God’s servants by their words.

      My interpretation is that Christ told us to use their words as a way to judge.

      Can we agree that we are coming at the same thing from both sides? Either way, the words are required.

      The prophets must prophesy for us to judge.

      When the words of the prophets are indistinguishable from those of non-LDS preachers, Disney Characters, or as one commenter pointed out, Chicken Soup for the Soul, we are in a predicament. When nobody even claims to prophesy, see visions or receive revelation, by what shall we judge?

      Most church members judge by their feelings. This is a very dangerous course.

      In any event, I think we will all agree that the way Joseph went about fulfilling the roles of prophet, seer and revelator (and translator) is very different than what we see today.

      And I have never, anywhere, counseled anyone not to pray and ask God. We absolutely must do this, and do it in the right way. It matters.

      Delete
    4. Unfortunately, Brother Larsen, I cannot agree that we are coming at the same thing from both sides.

      Your position, unless I am utterly mistaken, is that without words to judge by, a man is no prophet - and there is no need to pray over it, and, in fact, if one prays one is in violation of what you claim is Christ's commandment in testing for false prophets.

      If I have misunderstood your position, I would gladly be corrected.

      My position is that words are not required. If there are no words to judge by, the Lord is able to make the truth of the matter known through sincere prayer.

      I agree Joseph displayed all the gifts publicly. That's not the point I am addressing. The sole point I am addressing is whether the current Brethren can be known to be prophets or not, even in the absence of "Thus saith the Lord"s, and in the absence of firsthand testimony of Christ (as opposed to dogmatic statements sans explanations which pass as "testimonies" in the Church today).

      Delete
    5. What use is a prophet that does not give words of prophecy? Why should I listen to him over any other person? More importantly, when this man offers council contrary to words God has spoken, why should I listen to him?

      Delete
  10. I just spent the last 30 minutes typing out a nice rebuttal to contend with "Anonymous", but then I decided that responding to him/her was a total waste of my time.

    Joseph Smith said, " Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy."

    The LDS Bible dictionary defines prophet as: "The work of a Hebrew prophet was to act as God’s messenger and make known God’s will. The message was usually prefaced with the words “Thus saith Jehovah.”

    I've never heard that, have you? Without an indicator such as "thus saith Jehovah", how are we supposed to know when the man stops talking, and the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator begins?

    Adrian, I heard a quote once that said something to this effect, "People of integrity expect to be believed, and when they're not, they let time prove them right." I think that would apply perfectly in this situation.

    Thank you for your testimony as always.

    Brent








    ReplyDelete
  11. What makes you so sure that the fruits talked about in the Sermon on the Mount have anything to do with prophecies?

    If it's true that you took part of Joseph Smith's 1839 letter out of context, isn't it possible you did the same thing with a few verses in a 3-chapter sermon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mtman318,

      I'm offering my opinion that the fruit of a prophet is prophecy. This is the identifying mark of a prophet. Anyone can read us the scriptures, give a good talk, tell inspiring stories, and quote other leaders. But it's entirely different when one stands up and claims to have received a message for us from God. Of this, we must take notice and must judge.

      Remember, prophecy does NOT imply predicting the future (thought this is fair game.) Prophecy, as I'm using it here, means delivering a message that was received directly from God.

      And no, I didn't take Joseph's letter out of context. (See explanation above.) It was the context that made his letter so valuable to us. It teaches us a vital truth.

      Delete
  12. Joseph Smith said, " Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy."

    Indeed. What motivates reluctance to accept this definition? Which of you shall declare this-or-that leader has no testimony of Jesus?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brother Log,

      Now we're getting to something substantial and important. In Joseph's quote and in the original source (Revelation 19:10) it is stated as THE testimony of Jesus, not "a" testimony of Jesus.

      If "a" testimony of Jesus makes one a prophet, I suppose we all are prophets and this entire discussion is moot, as is general conference.

      But if we're talking about THE testimony of Jesus, that's a different matter entirely. There's much more here than meets the eye.

      Delete
    2. Brother Larsen,

      I can make a scriptural case that the baptism by fire is THE testimony of Jesus. See, for example, 3 Nephi 11:35. I do not know that there can be another scriptural case which can be made that anything else is THE testimony of Jesus.

      While I am open to the idea that the angel speaking to John might have meant something else - it is possible - it is hardly an open-and-shut case against the argument I would make. Indeed, scripturally speaking, it's a weak case, consisting of assertions only.

      And it gets weaker - to the point of falling apart, in my view - when we remember that Joseph asked the Church to acknowledge the twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators - suggesting that Joseph took the same view I think can be established relatively firmly from the scriptures.

      Now, I don't like it, really, because it has the effect of collapsing the distinction between saint and prophet. But there it is.

      Delete
    3. Brother Log,

      I hold a different idea about what constitutes the testimony of Jesus. But I'm perfectly content to leave that for another day. This is not the time or place to teach it, and you've made your point. So I'll just leave this one alone.

      Delete
  13. Indeed, Brother Larsen,

    Your proposed non-revelatory test for prophets - which is an interpretation of Christ's words - seems, in principle, to agree precisely with President Hinckley.

    We don't need much revelation. We need to pay more attention to the revelation we've already received.

    2 Nephi 28:31
    31 Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Brother Log, let me be clear. I am not proposing a non-revelatory test for prophets in any way. I am proposing that they deliver their prophecy, and we go to the Lord for confirmation by personal revelation.

      Trusting in a man because of his position, title, or anything else conferred by the flesh is indeed cursed.

      We must go to God and get revelation about the prophet's fruit. But there must first be fruit.

      Delete
    2. A barren fig tree remains a fig tree. Apple trees in winter remain apple trees. A prophet who does not prophesy remains a prophet. A prophet who does not prophesy can be known as a prophet through inquiring of God as to whether he is a prophet.

      I feel I have put this clearly enough that if truth were the issue the point would have been conceded. Therefore I begin to wonder what the real issue is. What do you have against asking of God whether the sitting leadership are prophets, seers, and revelators, even in the absence of prophesying, visions, and revealing?

      From where I'm sitting, the only rational answer that occurs to me is the worry that God might say "Yes," they are prophets, seers, and revelators, even if they indeed bear no fruit. But if God calls them prophets, seers, and revelators, how are you damaged? How is anyone damaged by God telling them the truth?

      Incidentally, you are to be commended for posting my comments; I recognize that I am taking some hard shots at your position.

      Delete
    3. At this point, we're really only discussing a title. We both agree the public fruits are not present. And THAT is the issue, in my opinion. If we want to call a man a prophet who does not prophesy, we're all free to do so.

      In a similar vein, we can call a man a farmer, though he's never grown a crop, we can call a man a mechanic, though he's never repaired a machine, and we can call a woman a mother, though she's. never born or adopted a child. At some point it just gets silly.

      I don't know much about trees. If I come upon a tree I don't recognize, the only way I would know it to be an apple tree is the by presence of apples. Otherwise, I would know it is a tree, but I would know little else. Isn't this what Christ taught?

      Yes, I realize there are other ways to tell an apple tree from, say, a maple tree, and yes, I realize that an apple tree remains an apple tree all winter long. No need to reiterate that.

      Christ said to judge by the fruits. The fruits are, in our day, absent. This is cause for alarm. This ought to have us deeply concerned and calling out to God. This ought to drive us to study scripture relentlessly to see what we're missing.

      My concern is that by using the vocabulary of the restoration, but changing definitions of words, we stay asleep, content to believe we have all we need and that we've lost nothing since Joseph. It is the sleep of Hell.

      Speaking to all (not just Log): Go ahead and call a man a prophet who doesn't prophesy, if that makes you feel better about the situation. If it's that important to you to follow a man and give him a title, you will never come to know the One you should actually be following.

      Following a man, even a man with a title, is not the same as following Christ.

      Delete
  14. Anonymous-

    Thanks for your reply. I also would prefer to address issues on a personal "one-on-one" basis rather than in public. I totally agree with you there. I also agree with the fact that the message is the most important, not the messenger.

    However, I can't think of one single example in all of scripture or church history where there was an "anonymous" messenger who the people couldn't identify by at least a name. Why are you special enough to not follow this pattern? Or do you not have a message you want people to take seriously?

    I also believe this is particularly important when you are publicly countering what an author who has identified himself by name, thus opening himself, his public reputation and his family up for criticism. It's just common courtesy to the author so he can know who he's speaking with. You could be a close friend or family member for all he knows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charles-

      Since you seem to want to press this issue, we will go there…

      You say you cannot think of one single example in ALL of scripture where there was an “anonymous" messenger who the people couldn’t identify by at least a name?

      Who (“by name”) penned the messages in the Bible, in the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth? Who (“by name”) penned the messages in the books of Kings of the Bible? Who (“by name”) penned the book of Job?

      Honestly, who “actually” penned the messages in most of the Holy Bible… “by name”. Maybe you do not consider the Holy Bible scripture?

      Maybe instead of saying you can’t THINK of any “unnamed” messengers and spouting off, you ought to actual take time to THINK about the facts… but I digress…

      As far as “common courtesy” toward Adrian, I can see your point where it might be common courtesy if that is what the author has asked for… but it was Adrian who said in his very first post to this blog…

      “So I'll simply ask you to ignore the messenger and focus on the message. That's what matters anyway. I'm not writing this because I want to. This isn't about me at all. It's about seeking truth, and thereby gaining saving faith in God. If we can manage to do that, we please him. That's what matters.”

      If Adrian has a concern with focusing on the message and not the messenger, I would advise you to leave that up to him.

      -A fellow seeker of truth.

      Delete
    2. I'll chime in here on a couple of points. First, I appreciate what Charles was expressing. I don't think there's any need to be unkind. Second, we have plenty of "authorless" books, but not nameless messengers. I think that was the point Charles was making.

      There are plenty of messengers without a back story, genealogy, title, etc. But they have names.

      Well, be that as it may, here's what I think:

      1. Anonymous, you say you prefer to address these things in person. I welcome that opportunity. If you know how to reach me, please do. I would welcome the opportunity to hear your concerns.

      2. Like it or not, when someone will not put their own name to their ideas, said ideas are considerably weakened. The implication is that the speaker wishes to avoid being held responsible for what is spoken.

      3. And along with weakened ideas, anonymity tends to invite a certain boldness that stems from knowing one will not be held to account for what is spoken. It therefore can *sometimes* lead to less-than-civil discourse.

      My advice is that there will be a much better outcome for all if we're all courageous enough to use our own names when we throw our ideas into the ring.

      These are the last days. What's at stake is far too important to be taken lightly. Courage will be required of all who follow Christ.

      Delete
    3. Good Evening All-

      Brother Adrian, forgive me for calling you out on the date of that letter. I was pointing out the fact that if we look at the original source of the letter (the original letter) there is but only one date on it… I like to go to the original source as much as possible so that I don’t get confused when someone else decides to use a different date for any reason… original letter is found here 
      http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/letter-to-the-church-and-edward-partridge-20-march-1839

      I guess we are going to agree to disagree on the interpretation of the context of the letter.

      Secondly, I will forgive you for implying that somehow you know the source of my “personal revelation”. I simply took the promise of the Lord found in Moroni 10:5 literally… “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of ALL things.” (emphasis added). I would include the witness I received from God that Monson is a prophet as one of the things that falls under the classification of “ALL things”. There is no qualifier that says you may know the truth of all things, expect if a man is a prophet or not, by the power of the Holy Ghost. I think you will agree that your implying that my testimony comes from an “unholy source” is inappropriate.

      Brother Charles, forgive me for speaking harshly. I get passionate about things sometimes, and I was out of line.

      I will admit that I still have a lot of concerns about much of what you have posted. I do intend to inquire with you about those things. If I can find the way to do it in person, I will try. Otherwise, I will try and remain civil and post on this site, if you will permit.

      Thank you,
      -A fellow seeker of truth.

      Delete
    4. In Matt. 7, Jesus speaks about false prophets and the way to know whether the alleged prophets are false. Is it possible that we know the false prophets by their fruits, but that I can't put the same test on knowing the true prophets?

      Delete
    5. Brother Adrian-

      It is becoming increasingly obvious that you and everyone else who has posted comments on this site (me included), have differing opinions, interpretations, and philosophies about how to interpret given scriptures or historical evidence. For example there are several people who have commented about the scripture you quote in Matthew 7:20 “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” But for as many people who have commented, we seem to have just as many philosophies about what is meant by “fruits”…

      What is being taught? The philosophies of men (and women) mingled with scripture. I think we all know where that started and where that leads…

      So for now, instead of worrying about your philosophy, or mine, or anyone else’s, about how we chose to define things, let’s focus on the things that are not opinion. Let’s look at statements/claims you have made that are not true.

      As one example of this, under your post “Prophets, Part 1: Mommy, Where do Prophets Come From?”

      In a response to some comments made, you stated the following:

      “The idea that the current, living prophet is Joseph's equal, or that the President is the Prophet is a very new concept, first arising in the 1950's (NOT 1850's). Prior to that, "the Prophet" always referred to Joseph Smith. Nobody called Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilfred Woodruff, etc. "the Prophet." They were always the President.”

      This is NOT true.

      In the April 1880 Conference Report, Elder Franklin D. Richards, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1849-1898, and President of the Quorum from 1898-1899 refers to Brigham Young as “the Prophet” when talking about the “Buchanan War” (aka Utah War).
      https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1880a/conferencereport151chur#page/48/mode/2up/search/prophet

      Also, in that same conference, Elder Moses Thatcher, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1879-1896 refers shares a VERY strong testimony that John Taylor is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator.
      https://archive.org/stream/conferencereport1880a/conferencereport151chur#page/98/mode/2up/search/prophet

      These are only two examples, but obviously show that your statement that “nobody” called anyone but Joseph a prophet until the 1950’s is just not true.

      -A fellow seeker of truth.

      Delete
    6. Christian,

      That is a very good point.

      Delete
    7. Dear (still) Anonymous Seeker,

      Thank you for fact-checking me on that. This issue is a nit-pick and an avoidance of the elephant in the room.

      We can choose to discuss the public display of God’s gifts to the church (or lack thereof) and consider the reasons they may be absent and what to do about our predicament. Or we can talk about who called who a prophet, as if what we call them makes them so.

      Nevertheless, since you brought up the April 1880 conference, here’s the rest of the story:

      By my count, which admittedly could be off by one or two, there are 23 uses of the word prophet in the entire two-day conference. 10 of those referred to Joseph Smith. Here’s the breakdown:

      Joseph Smith-10
      Daniel-2
      Isaiah-3
      Elisha-2
      John Taylor (as a prophet, seer and revelator, not THE prophet) 1
      Generic use of “prophet” -1
      Unspecified prophet-2
      Christ-1
      And finally, the reference you made to Brigham Young. Here’s the quote:

      “You remember what was called the Buchanan War—the speculators’ war, or war on the Treasury—when a detail of picked troops, comprising the flower of the United States army, came out to fight the ‘Mormons.’ But the Prophet told them to stop at Fort Bridger, and they stopped there until their ardor cooled, being blockaded in the snow, and having to consume some of their mules for food while we herded their cattle for them. [a reference to the Mormons stealing the army’s cattle at Brigham’s command.]”

      So the reference is to “the Prophet” telling the army to stop at Fort Bridger, and the army being stopped there by a blizzard.

      I’ll be the first to admit here that I could be wrong. However, I’ve been unable to locate a historic record of Brigham Young telling the U.S. army to stop at Fort Bridger and the army obeying.

      I think the more likely reading is that the speaker (Franklin D. Richards) is saying Joseph Smith (the Prophet) intervened from heaven to cause the blizzard and stop the army. This notion that Joseph was yet watching over the church and protecting it is reflected by the hymn, “Praise to the Man” by W. W. Phelps:

      “Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven! Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain. Mingling with Gods he can plan for his brethren; Death cannot conquer the hero again.”

      (Continued)

      Delete
    8. (Part 2)

      Now, that said, I’ll still gladly revise my earlier comment if it will settle the issue. “The Prophet” NEARLY always referred to Joseph Smith until the 1950’s when there was a shift in practice to referring to the sitting president as “the Prophet.”

      What a monumental waste of time this reply has been.

      We’re straining at gnats at this point and swallowing a camel. Rather than dissecting every minor comment I’ve made and scouring historical records to try and find an exception and “catch” me, why don’t we discuss the infinitely more important questions I’ve been bringing up:

      Why aren’t we led by those who display the gifts that Joseph Smith displayed? What changed? When? Why? What does this say about our current state?

      Why do we insist on still using those titles and claiming those gifts when they are so clearly absent?

      By doing so, can we ever awaken and arise to the awfulness of our situation?

      And most of all, will a religion that makes us comfortable and tells us we’re chosen, special, and safe as long as we follow a man—ever bring us to humility, repentance and faith? Will we ever cry out to God to save us when we trust in a man with keys? Will we ever give the search for Christ the attention it requires when we can get Disney Quotes every six months and chicken soup to soothe our souls?

      To Quote C.S. Lewis:
      Of course, I quite agree that the Christian religion is, in the long run, a thing of unspeakable comfort. But it does not begin in comfort; it begins in the dismay I have been describing, and it is no use at all trying to go on to that comfort without first going through that dismay. In religion, as in war and everything else. comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get neither comfort nor truth - only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair.

      Delete
  15. The example of a fig tree is a great example. What did Jesus do to the fig tree that bore no fruit? Matthew 21:17-22 It is interesting that "he hungered" and found no fruit to satisfy His hunger.

    Why have prophets if they don't prophecy? Why call seers if you never plan to show them anything? Why call revelators if you have nothing new to reveal? What did John Taylor mean when he said "Adam's revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah's revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves, and so had Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and Joseph. And so must we." I will concede the point that each of us should receive revelation for ourselves (the original plan for the Israelites before they demanded the Lord speak through Moses), but it is an interesting list of those he chose to mention by name since they all filled the classic role of prophets, seers and revelators.

    As far as asking the Lord, what would you say to those who have asked and the heavens remain silent?

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    1. I would encourage those who have asked and the heavens remain silent to remember this parable.

      1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

      2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

      3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

      4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

      5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

      6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.


      And, remember - no answer is not a "no." It is simply no answer. This is a test and a trial we all go through.

      Delete
  16. My son has a shirt that seems to me fits this string of comments perfectly.

    "I'm not arguing! I'm just explaining why I'm right!"

    I would like to add to this 3 Nephi 11:29 "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another."

    I don't do FaceBook or usually comment on blogs/forums for this very reason. Someone always has an opposing view and "KNOWS" that his/her particular view is correct and true and is the more righteous path. However, I feel the need to put this out there for ALL of you to ponder on. Adrian compiles information and gives his interpretation on scripture, principles and doctrine, which in full disclosure I happen to agree with most of his views but not all, and that's OK. The blog provides a forum where we can discuss his views as well as comment with our own thoughts. We are all on individual paths and your path may be a little different than mine or anyone else's. Quite often I see in the comments on this blog someone that has an opposing view or question or further clarification about what was presented. Adrian or someone else is always happy to expound or clarify as they see fit. However, we are seeing more and more someone try and explain why their particular view is right or correct and attack Adrian's views or him personally in a way that comes across as belligerent and defensive. These comments remind me of Zeezrom trying to trap or ensnare Alma and Amulek.

    I'm not saying that people shouldn't disagree or bring up valid points in a search for truth but in this particular trilogy of comment strings I believe the line has been crossed from diligently seeking truth to back biting, fault finding and overall being filled with a spirit contention. I plead with everyone to cast this spirit aside and seek for repentance and to be filled charity. Judgment and pride are in full force here and there is no place for it in a Zion community, which after all, is what we are aiming for right?

    My point is this, if you don't agree with someone's view point and feel it may be of benefit to share your own thoughts by all means do so. We can all learn valuable truths from each other if done in an uplifting way. However, we must be wary of trying to "catch someone in a snare". There is no love in this. That is simply trying to elevate one's self above his neighbor. I believe that those who go down this path will have their reward just as the hypocrites of old.

    Kevin

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    1. One additional thought from Alma 1:21&22

      "Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves. Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists."

      I wonder how long it will be before we see this come to pass yet again in our day...I pray that none of will be caught up in it on either side.

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    2. Here Here or is it Hear Hear Kevin. I agree completely with you. There is most certainly a spirit of contention here and I applaud Adrian in how well he has fended those who are straining at a gnat as he so aptly pointed out. I don't think it was pointed out here, so I will. I think those gnat strainers are in all actuality Idolators and hate the idea of being called out for what they really and truly are.
      I be known as Gary

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  17. It would seem that the view that Gordon B. Hinckley expressed about not needing more revelation, has been the view of the leaders of the church since Joseph died.

    In the Joseph Smith papers volume 2 page xxxiv it says "in criticizing Rigdon's approach, the twelve argued that their present focus was not to obtain new revelations but to implement the revelations already received by Joseph Smith."

    Then it goes on to quote parley Pratt stating as much. I won't post the quote here as I am on my phone, but Brigham does say that they held the keys to get revelation. So they at that time believed they had the keys to get revelation and yet chose not to use them? Said they didn't need it!?!? Now 170 years later I guess we still don't need it I guess.

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  18. I read the three articles that you wrote on Prophets and their fruit. I found them agreeable and thought provoking. I have some questions regarding the fruit that I would like Clarity on. In TPJS pgs 242-247 The Prophet Joseph Smith talks about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Gifts of the Spirit( I found it a very good read) . He says That not all gifts or the fruit thereof can be known by an observer TPJS pg 247 .......and we shall finally have to come to the same conclusion that Paul did—"No man knows the things of God but by the Spirit of God;" for with the great revelations of Paul when he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were not lawful to utter, no man was apprised of it until he mentioned it himself fourteen years after; and when John had the curtains of heaven withdrawn, and by vision looked through the dark vista of future ages, and contemplated events that should transpire throughout every subsequent period of time, until the final winding up scene—while he gazed upon the glories of the eternal world, saw an innumerable company of angels and heard the voice of God—it was in the Spirit, on the Lord's day, unnoticed and unobserved by the world. I would like to here your thought on the matter.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for sharing this reference. Excellent reading for all of us.

      I think the reference underscores the need for the gifts to be employed publicly for the benefit of the church. Joseph notes that of all the spiritual gifts, only prophecy and tongues are readily apparent to others. In other words, someone may have the gift of healing, but nobody would know it until that person actually healed someone.

      The gift of prophecy, however, Joseph puts into a different category. He asserts that one having this gift will display it publicly by prophesying. Lacking this evidence, there's no reason to say the gift is present. See page 246.

      And though Paul didn’t share his vision for 14 years, he did share it, and thus we can call him a seer. True enough, he was a seer before he shared his vision, but who would know it? How would they properly call him a seer until there was evidence he was?

      Joseph is perfectly in keeping with Christ’s teaching that we would know them by their fruits. Absent the fruits, there’s no way to tell.

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  19. Adrian,
    I would add that absent the fruits, what good is the tree. We read of Christ and the barren fig tree. Absent the fruit Christ's hunger was not assuaged and he cursed it. The whole purpose in the creation of a fruit trees is to bare fruit to be meat for Gods children.

    If we do have Prophets, Seers and Revelators among us and their fruit is not apparent for us to partake, as it were, then our hunger is not satisfied by them and and thus of little benefit to us, as is evidenced by the many in the church and who have left who are hungering still.

    Other tests I employ, in addition to the Lord's: One is referenced in Alma 36:24-26
    To taste as Alma has tasted and to know as Alma knew.

    Another from Joseph: "I want you all to know God, to be familiar with him. And if I can bring you to him all persecution against me will cease and let you know that I am his servant." --Words of Joseph Smith pg.349

    Josephs whole motivation was to get the "saints" to come up to the level of light he possessed. For truly that is the only way that the Lord will/can come and dwell among us. And in my mind if the current leaders are not bringing forth the kind of fruit Joseph and Alma did (as did others of the holy prophets). Then they are of little benefit to us.
    Great post.
    EricDL



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  20. I believe you are a very intelligent person, Adrian. However, it is pretty astounding to me how different your understanding is of the gospel, the church and revelation is from my own understanding. I have never viewed prophets as infallible human beings who should spout revelation with every breath. I have viewed them as imperfect human beings who also walk by faith as they are every bit as mortal as I am. Do I believe they talk to God? Yes. But I also believe every individual receives revelation differently, just as we all have different learning styles. Who knows what their exact relationship is or how they receive the revelation they receive. That's not really important to me. What's important to me is that they receive inspiration to give us the messages we need as a whole. And sometimes that message is a simple one. Maybe you'd love to have new revelation every time the prophet speaks, but in my mind that would be insane. The church would be changing daily if that were the case. Sometimes God works in quiet, simple ways, not in flashy, dynamic ways. And sometimes that's not enough for some people. People want a sign. They want fireworks. In my experience, the Spirit is quiet. God's voice is quiet. Sometimes, we have amazing spiritual experiences...I've had some incredibly sacred, powerful, miraculous experiences myself where I have been very close to my Father in Heaven, Savior and the other side of the veil. But, I also had way more experiences that were quiet and yet still strengthening and sustaining. The prophet may not be saying something as drastic as what you want to hear, but it doesn't mean that his words aren't what we need at that time as a whole congregation of worldwide members. And any good leader knows that delegation is key. If what we've needed to hear has been said by other prophets, seers and revelators during General Conference, why isn't that okay? Does it all have to come from one person? I have learned from so many different speakers at General Conference. I have used their words in my life so many times to help me, to strengthen me, to bring comfort to my heart, to bring understanding to my mind. I'm always amazed at how powerful their seemingly simple messages are when you really delve into them. There are so many layers to their messages.

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  21. And then there's this: when I was in college, years ago, I went with a family home evening group to the Joseph Smith Memorial building. At the end of the night, we asked a worker there if there was a private place we could use to say a closing prayer for our activity. He got a twinkle in his eye, looked around and said, "I have a real treat for you. Follow me." He took us down several hall ways past several roped-off areas until we reached a sort of board room that looked out directly at the temple. As soon as we walked into that room there was a powerful feeling that came over each of us. The worker explained that it was a room where the prophet and apostles often met to make decisions. We knelt in prayer in the dark with the temple shining in front of us, and each of us had tears in our eyes by the time the prayer was done. The room was hushed. We looked at each other, but we didn't say a word. We had a common understanding that this room was sacred. It wasn't because of what we'd been told. It was because of what we could FEEL. After we walked out, each of us described the peaceful electricity we could feel in that room. I'm sure each of us holds that experience dear to our hearts to this day. I know I do. I know it was a huge testament to me that our leaders are truly men of God and divinely inspired. They may not be perfect men....in fact, of course they're not perfect men, but they hold sacred callings. I honor them and support them. I'm grateful for the huge sacrifice they make to serve me and my family and all the world. And I know they are divinely called to direct this work. Nothing is black and white. People aren't all good or all bad. People are people. But God can do great good through ordinary people, and I do thank my Father in Heaven for the prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

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    1. Hi Holly,

      I want to thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. It takes some courage to do so, and even more to use your real name. I applaud you for doing so.

      It's undoubtedly jarring to realize someone like me can come to such different conclusions than you after careful and lengthy study. I don't blame you for being jarred.

      Thank you for sharing your beliefs. Of course, it doesn't matter one whit what you believe or what I do. In the end, what matters is truth. To the extent our beliefs are in God's truth, we are able to exercise faith unto life and salvation. To the extent our beliefs are in error, we CANNOT exercise faith and we will be damned.

      I recommend you read my blog from the beginning, where I covered and supported some of these very important concepts. I hope you will, and that you will continue commenting. But even more, I hope the questions I raise will send you to the scriptures and to the Lord, where you can receive the truths that will save us.

      Thanks again for commenting. I invite you to support your comments with applicable scripture so that we may all be edified.

      Kind regards,

      Adrian

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  22. This was eye opening.

    However, I couldn't help but have Bruce R. McConkie come to mind with your last quote and scripture.

    Say what you want about him as a person.

    When he stood at the pulpit to deliver his sermons he did so with the boldness you say that you long for at General Conference.

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  23. Your excellent second example of wisdom that might or might not have originated with a prophet has a curious back story in its connection to Ezra Taft Benson. What arguably is Benson's most profound theological address in a General Conference was ghost-written by his daughter-in-law, May Benson, who borrowed liberally from C.S. Lewis book, 'Mere Christianity' without the courtesy of an attribution. Benson was so ill and incapacitated that Gordon B. Hinckley delivered the speech in Conference. Every time we teach from the Benson talk--it is one of my favorite resources on the subject--Lewis probably winks and chuckles knowingly.

    Grandson, Steve Benson, tells the tale.

    http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1009703,1009882

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  24. Whoops. I missed Jessica's comment that already notes President Benson's famous 'Beware of Pride' talk being ghost-written by daughter-in-law, May Benson, who cribbed important sections of it from C.S. Lewis. Feel free to delete my comment, Adrian. It's noteworthy to me that May Benson felt strongly against pride because of the pride she perceived in her husband's family.

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