Friday, 21 November 2008

Mormons Today

The original vision and claim of Mormonism was that:

“After his death, Jesus continued to lead his Church by revelation to his apostles and prophets...They taught the truth and recorded these teachings in the scriptures. In this way, the truths about the plan of God were taught clearly without confusion.

Because of the wickedness of the people, the apostles and many of the righteous Church members were killed. The Lord took the priesthood authority and his Church from the earth. There was no longer a church on earth directed by revelation. Because men relied on human wisdom to understand the scriptures, many plain and simple truths were lost.

The [Mormon] Church is led today by a prophet and twelve apostles. The Lord has called these men in our day just as he did in Bible times. They receive revelation from God and have his priesthood authority...We follow the guidance and direction the Lord gives us through them”
(Mormon Missionary Discussion 3, 1986, pp.4, 6, 12)

Consequently Mormons like to think of their church as operating as described by the following quotes:

"It was the Lord Himself who installed prophets in this modern Church. ... This, too, has He done for the successors to the Prophet Joseph, even down to our present wonderful and humble leader. He, too, is inspired of God. He, too, is a revelator. He, too, is the voice of the Almighty to the saints of this day." (Editorial, Church News, September 26, p. 12, 1981)

"Words of Our Living Prophets — In addition to these four books of scripture, the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us. Their words come to us through conferences, Church publications, and instructions to local priesthood leaders. 'We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God' (Articles of Faith 1:9)." (Gospel Principles, p. 55, 1992)

“There are those who would assume that with the printing and binding of these sacred records that would be the ‘end of the prophets’. But again we testify to you that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organised, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognised of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord” (“Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets,” Spencer W Kimball, Ensign, May 1977, 78).

"Today I would like to address [a] major doctrine which characterizes our faith but which causes concern to some, namely the bold assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture... I testify that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, a modern apostle with the keys of the kingdom in his hands, a man upon whom I personally have seen the mantle fall. I testify that the presence of such authorized, prophetic voices and ongoing canonized revelations have been at the heart of the Christian message whenever the authorized ministry of Christ has been on the earth. I testify that such a ministry is on the earth again, and it is found in this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Jeffrey R Holland, April 2008 Conference)

A. However, there has been no written prophecy since:

1978 – Declaration on Negroes and the priesthood. NB not a canonised revelation

1918 – Joseph F Smith’s vision of Jesus’ visit to the dead while his body lay in the tomb; (D&C 138)

1890 – Declaration on polygamy. NB not a revelation.

1847 – Brigham Young’s revelation at Winter Quarters regarding the organisation of the saints; D&C 136

1844 – An account of the “martyrdom” of Joseph and Hyrum Smith; D&C 135 NB not a revelation

1843 – Four revelations regarding (1) how to distinguish angels (D&C 129);( 2) eternal marriage (D&C 132); (3) Three degrees of glory (D&C 131); (4) The Second Coming, the celestial earth and the law of eternal progression (D&C 130)

It seems, then, that 1847 saw the last church-developing revelation in the Mormon Church. That is a gap of 153 years. Inevitably a Mormon will mention the 1978 revelation on Priesthood and indeed the Doctrine and Covenants contains a ‘Declaration’ to the effect that such a revelation had been received - but no canonised revelation. This is also the case with the infamous 1890 Declaration on polygamy, reversing a so-called eternal principle; A Declaration but no canonised revelation. Where is the revelation in the Mormon Church? Even if we were to be generous and allow that these declarations are revelation we still have 136 revelations from 1830 - 1847 and then 5 from 1847 - 2000. Not a “Thus saith the Lord”, not a “Hearken, O ye elders of my church”, not a peep from “the voice of him who dwells on high” for 153 years.

I suggest that revelation died with Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church has followed the classic pattern for all organisations, i.e. the Visionary stage, the Organisational stage and the Management stage. The result has been that Mormonism is becoming more conservative and satisfies itself with safe declarations of moral rectitude and expressions of conservative values. There is no revelation in the Mormon Church; but then there never was.

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