Why do we need prophets?

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Why do we need prophets?

Postby Heber13 » 09 Mar 2012, 16:14

In my inbox today was a Daily Gem inspirational message coming from the church. It reads:

Why Do We Need Prophets?
Posted: 09 Mar 2012 08:00 AM PST

From the days of Adam, God has spoken to His children through appointed oracles who are charged with revealing His will and counsel to others.
We often discuss on this site thinking for ourselves, getting personal revelation, and that we are ALL prophets. We have various thoughts on that subject.

Sometimes we also acknowledge the wisdom that can come from listening to prophets in the past or in our day, and although we check it against our own thinking, realize there is value to having prophets to guide us. Staying aligned to prophets' words to the church can be a blessing to us and our families as we stay connected to our tribe, even if we reserve the right to have our own opinions on some matters.

Now, often in the church we hear the 14 fundamentals, and think that is going too far (see other thread on 14 fundamental discussion here: http://www.staylds.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2172)...that it sometimes sounds like we are taught to turn the brain off and just being obedient to the prophet. IOW, the debate has ended.

Indeed, in the church manuals, it teaches:
We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord, who declared: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).

Of course, I wish it was so simple. The problem comes to me when I see in the past they have been wrong, in my opinion with 2020 hindsight, or when it is hard to know if they are speaking as a man or a prophet, or when there are changes that I think God would have told the prophet to get it right the first time. But I'm not sure that makes prophets worthless for their time, just fallible (it keeps this earth game fun and exciting to know they aren't 100% right all the time, right? :eh: ).

We don't need to debate the 14 fundamentals again, or about obedience or challenging authority, but I am more interested in discussing how the group feels about the Daily Gem I received.

WHY DO WE NEED PROPHETS?

...Or are they just nice to have?

Thoughts?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby On Own Now » 09 Mar 2012, 16:56

I think that integral to this discussion is the distinction be Prophet as an Oracle of God and the organization office of Prophet. I dispute the idea that the prophet, as the earthly head of the church won't ever make a mistake. How about when the church went to 18 month missions for men, and then reversed the decision just 32 months later?

I think, as a general rule, that it's OK for the church to have a sort of authoritarian form of government. I mean, everyone here is a pretty independent thinker, but I believe the church would collapse if each ward voted for their bishop or on matters of policy, to be implemented locally. Each one of us has at least some ideas that we would change about the church if we could, but the sad reality is that if we at StayLDS collectively started our own church with all our own ideas, somehow I doubt that we would be as successful as Joseph Smith.

I believe that on matters of both doctrine and policy that the President of the Church (Prophet) and a majority of the Qof12 must be in agreement, and that should make for pretty steady hand guiding Church affairs.

But unless and until the Prophet says, "Thus saith the Lord..." which I don't expect any time soon, then they are just acting as agents, not Oracles... and agents can make mistakes.
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby SilentDawning » 10 Mar 2012, 13:43

Now, do we need prophets? I'm not sure anymore. I do think they are useful when society loses its conscience on basic matters of morality, as in the time of Noah, Lehi, etcetera, and there is a need to get back to basics. But I find much of the modern day advice tends to be focused primarily on matters that benefit the Church. There is lots of good morality and family stuff thrown in there, but my recently cynical nature sees that stuff as necessary for gaining the hearts of the righteous. I wouldn't have joined without all the morality and family concepts we hear from prophets.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Church pictures are not always accurate" -- Unknown.

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it".

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby Ray DeGraw » 10 Mar 2012, 15:17

because we need prophecy

The ideal, however, is stated in our scriptures as all having the spirit of prophecy. So, maybe it's because we aren't prophetic enough at the individual and local level. I know I'm not as prophetic as I'd like to be - and I mean that much more broadly than most people would read it.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby jamison » 10 Mar 2012, 15:56

I think it is important to juxtapose our legacy of prophets with that of the legacy of pope in the Catholic church and how Protestantism attacked that ideology and resulted into its fragmentation of everyone a self-proclaim bible thumper.

I heard Huston Smith a religious scholar say that the problem with evangelical Christianity is that it worships the Bible, and that the people are guilty of "bibliolatry." I have heard a philosopher state in a religious studies course that surveyed the history of Christianity from the Jesus movement of the early 1st century throughout the modern day that the Protestant Reformation made every person a "pope." I guess the same could be said about Joseph Smith that the restoration gives every man or woman the opportunity to become a prophet (note the lowercase p).

I have found myself disappointed at times however that much of the advice our prophets give us has already been revealed and isn't too different from mainstream Christianity. Sometimes I find myself guilty of thinking of the Apostles and Prophets as administrators of a rather large organization where many others do much of the grunt work, while they are the "think tank" that helps create the agenda. Nevertheless, I am grateful for SWKs 1978 revelation on the change of priesthood policy. I am grateful for ETBs emphasis on the Book of Mormon, his pride talk, and his emphasis on the freedom of America that needs to be maintained. I am grateful for Howard W. Hunter's short humble service of a prophet that placed much emphasis on the Savior, forgiveness, and having a Current Temple Recommend. I am grateful for President Hinckley's talk in 1999 about warning us of the years of plenty and the lean years. I see a prophetic viewpoint here. I am grateful for President Monson and his acts of Charity and Kindness which trump the gift of prophecy. The Apostle Paul taught that Charity is the greatest of all, and I believe Pres. Monson epitomizes charity as a prophet.
"Encumbered forever by desire and ambition there's a hunger still unsatisfied. Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon though down this road we've been so many times. The grass was greener. The light was brighter. . ." - "High Hopes" by Pink Floyd
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby SilentDawning » 10 Mar 2012, 17:25

Ray -- perhaps you can expand on the idea that we need prophecy because we need prophecy, which is what I think I heard you say.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Church pictures are not always accurate" -- Unknown.

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it".

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby mormonheretic » 10 Mar 2012, 22:47

We had a lesson in Priesthood on this exact topic. I really wanted to bring up the fact that the RLDS church just canonized section 164, and they seem to have more revelation than we do, but I successfully resisted the urge. Mike at Wheat and Tares had an interesting post about Opening the Canon--I do wish it was more open. See http://www.wheatandtares.org/2012/03/02 ... lds-canon/
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby wayfarer » 11 Mar 2012, 04:59

mormonheretic wrote:We had a lesson in Priesthood on this exact topic. I really wanted to bring up the fact that the RLDS church just canonized section 164, and they seem to have more revelation than we do, but I successfully resisted the urge. Mike at Wheat and Tares had an interesting post about Opening the Canon--I do wish it was more open. See http://www.wheatandtares.org/2012/03/02 ... lds-canon/

What I find interesting in the Community of Christ (nee RLDS) is the process whereby they first seek revelation through focus and discussion amongst the members, then declare revelation from the leadership, then seek confirmation of the revelation again through prayerful consideration and discussion amongst the members. So, in a way, both hierarchal and consensual as well -- fascinating.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby SamBee » 11 Mar 2012, 08:04

I think we need prophets to deal with things in the here and now.

Having said that, I haven't heard recent presidents doing much in the way of prophesying, not unless we count "proclamation to the world".
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."
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Re: Why do we need prophets?

Postby Brown » 11 Mar 2012, 10:21

This really has me thinking. The only significant modern prophecy I can point to is the revelations undoing previous prophecy. Which kind of destroys the relevancy if you ask me.
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