Sunday, October 5, 2008

No Need for Modern-Day Prophets?

I recently returned from a business trip in western New York where I had the opportunity to travel for a few hours with an Evangelical colleague. I was surprised when he asked me to elaborate on the inception of the LDS Church as he knew we were driving through the same area where it had its humble beginnings. We spoke of the Book of Mormon, modern-day revelation and prophets. When I testified of a living, modern-day prophet he automatically replied with a handful of scriptures purporting to show that there was no need for prophets today as the Bible was to be our only guide.

In particular, he quoted from Hebrews 1:1-2:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.

I did not argue what the scripture clearly states. Indeed, the verses simply detail Paul’s understanding of the nature of the Godhead: the Father’s word was spoken over the ages by prophets, but recently the Father spoke more directly by his Son. This did not, however, signify God’s end of his modus operandi of always calling a "go-to-guy" on the Earth to lead his people. Instead, as I explained, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

As we are all familiar, Paul illustrated the importance of divinely appointed apostles and prophets in the Church in Ephesians 4:11-14:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive....

In other words, without apostles and prophets, even a community of believers may be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, drifting like a ship without a rudder. For example, the false doctrine of infant baptism did not emerge until apostles and prophets ceased to be called in ancient times, marking the inception of the much-prophesied Great Apostasy. Soon basic doctrines about the nature of God became replaced with ideas more palatable to the Hellenized thinking of the 3rd and 4th centuries. This transformation of the faith was obviously completed by the writing of the Nicene Creed in A.D. 325.

I continued to explain to my colleague that without continued revelation through divinely appointed apostles and prophets, his Evangelical church, no matter how devout it may be, is like a ship without a rudder, depending on human logic and debates among scholars to settle issues and provide guidance. I paraphrased Brothers Joseph Fielding McConkie and Craig Ostler in “Revelations of the Restoration” (pg. 55):

[T]he notion that salvation can be found in any of a host of contradictory doctrines defies reason and argues that God’s kingdom is one of chaos and disorder. We are being asked to believe that if a dozen people add a column of figures and each arrives at a different sum, we must accept each of them as right. After all, it is not the sum that you come to that matters but the zeal with which you add the figures that counts.

McConkie and Ostler continued to give another great example of contradiction:

Similarly, this notion argues that all men, women, and children who receive a prescription from a doctor are entitled to go to the pharmacist and concoct their own mixture of drugs. . . . [Such] a notion reveals itself to be a deceptive ploy lulling people into the belief that it is for them to dictate the terms of salvation and to determine the nature and character of God. In such a God, we have no interest.

Our theological discussion concluded when I boiled down Evangelical religion to Bible religion. In short, Bible religion is itself unbiblical as no one within the covers of the Bible ever had a Bible. Instead, their religion was one of apostles and prophets, and continuous revelation. Never in Bible times was God’s Church governed by a book!

God has always worked through apostles and prophets, and has not changed in that regard. As Amos 3:7 explains: “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Heavenly Father does His work through His servants, the prophets, to whom he reveals His truths and teachings. If there are no prophets, then something is clearly missing.

6 comments:

ldsphilosopher said...

Excellent post! Thank you!

Hans said...

As a follow up, how did the discussions conclude? Did he accept where you were coming from in attempt to understand what you believe better or was it just talking past someone?

Jeremy said...

I believe I was a bit more prepared to defend my beliefs than he was. He admitted that he was constantly force-fed a set of scriptures that would support his Bible religion.

By no means was this discussion contentious. Instead, I believe he gained a clearer grasp on why we believe in modern-day revelation and living prophets.

Jeremy said...

ldsphilospher:

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I just perused your site; looks like I'll have to stop by more often there.

lehislibrary said...

Great post. This is a fascinating topic. I especially liked these comments:

"...his Evangelical church, no matter how devout it may be, is like a ship without a rudder, depending on human logic and debates among scholars to settle issues and provide guidance."

I also really enjoyed this insight of yours, which I hadn't ever before put in so few words (brevity is the soul of wit):

"In short, Bible religion is itself unbiblical as no one within the covers of the Bible ever had a Bible. Instead, their religion was one of apostles and prophets, and continuous revelation."

Keep up the good work!

I have also blogged a bit about these subjects:

http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/debate-with-evangelical-heb-11-2-and-prophets/

Also:

http://lehislibrary.wordpress.com/2008/09/27/discussing-2-tim-315-17-with-evangelicals/

Sincerely,
James

Jeremy said...

LehisLibrary:

Thanks for the comments. I tend to peruse your blog quite often and find equally impressive (if not better) works.

I'll make sure and check out your citations for further information.