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False Prophets

In the Bloggernacle, it seems that the main players are atheists, liberal Mormons, and Orthodox Mormons.  It is pretty rare that an evangelical Mormon enters the debate, and I think is even more rare for a Mormon to become an evangelical.  (Granted, my view could be biased by my experience.  From my experience, most former Mormons tend to be atheists here, so hearing one turn evangelical seems unusual.)  Kullervo happens to be one of these rare people—a Mormon turned evangelical, and I thought it would be interesting to bring his perspective for a topic.

Back in March, Hawkgrrrl had a popular post:  Is Belief in Polygamy Required for Church Membership?  In the comments, Kullervo and I got into a debate about whether polygamy is a false revelation, and whether Joseph Smith is a false prophet.  In my unorthodoxy, I said that I think Joseph Smith was deceived about polygamy, and that it was a false revelation.  I think more than one biblical prophet has issued a revelation that was not God’s will.  I am on record as saying

Immorality comes from man, no question, and often men blame immorality on God. It happens all the time, and when it happens, man takes God’s name in vain and offends God. Men blame genocide on God, and I have a post about Joshua’s Unholy War. I take exception to the idea that God commanded circumcision in Abraham’s day. Circumcision was a pagan practiced adopted by Abraham as godly. I don’t think God had anything to do with his marriage to Hagar. God didn’t command (but permitted) sex slavery in Exodus 21. Balaam wasn’t a true prophet. I could go on and on.

Man blaming such atrocities on God is an affront to God. This type of God is like Zeus, or Apollo. It is a primitive belief in God. We need to grow up and quit blaming God for atrocities, rather than rely on primitive tales of 3000 years ago. We used to blame floods on God, and now we blame them on the weather because we understand it. (We come close to calling this an “Act of God”, but it is an act of nature that can often be predicted, thanks to our better understanding of the planet and satellites. Nobody blames this on God anymore.)

So I find Joseph in a bit of company with biblical prophets. Furthermore, I stated previously in comment 30

“Implying or outright stating that historical polygamy was not inspired when we have canonized revelation to the contrary accuses [1] Joseph Smith of being a liar (or [2] being deceived by Satan) and other church leaders as accomplices.”

I vote option #2. I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that Satan is capable of counterfeit revelations. (1) He claims to be the “god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4, also referenced in temple ceremony),

(2) Satan tried to tempt Jesus (Matt. 4:6, Luke 4:9) “Since you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here..”

I’d love to hear your take on some of these biblical issues, rather than piling on Joseph (which it seems you relish doing lately.) But maybe that should be the subject of another post, instead of threadjacking this one. Let me know if you’d like me to create a post on false prophets/immorality of the Bible.

Kullervo responded

Well, there’s no question from Scripture that even the prophets were pretty regularly moral disasters. But I’m not asking whether Joseph Smith had moral failings. I’m asking whether he made a false prophecy in the name of the Lord, because that has massive Biblical implications.

If your answer is “well, so what, because I think all the Old Testament prophets made false prophecies too,” meaning that you are admitting that the Bible itself contains bona fide false prophecy, then obviously the discussion about whether or not Joseph Smith was a false prophet is a non-starter between us, because our view of scripture is so radically different.

It was interesting to me that Kullervo said, “even the prophets were pretty regularly moral disasters,” so I guess that means we don’t really need to delve into a prophet’s actions as prophet.  In an email exchange Kullervo focused on another definition of a prophet that I’d like to discuss further.  He said,

  1. A prophet is someone who speaks the will of God. In the more dramatic sense, we think of Old Testament prophets who were directly inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak God’s revealed word, but in a more common sense, if you or I speak God’s will, we are also acting prophetically. The touchstone of prophecy is “Thus Sayeth the Lord.”

The role of a prophet is to call God’s people to faith, repentance, obedience and covenant relationship with God.  Moses led God’s people because he was specifically called to do so, not automatically by virtue of his role as prophet.

  1. So, if a prophet is someone who speaks God’s will, a false prophet is someone who claims to speak God’s will, but in fact does not. Joseph Smith was a false prophet because he falsely claimed to receive direct revelations from God. Contra Mormonism, there is no office of prophet granting special authority to lead God’s people or act in God’s name beyond declaring God’s will.

Even if you think that all of the D&C is true prophecy (and you yourself have said that you do not), Joseph Smith made many specific prophecies about the future that did not come to pass.

The threshold for false prophecy is pretty low. In Deuteronomy, God mandated the death sentence for even one false prophecy: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak . . . that same prophet shall die.”

And this is not just an Old Testament law-of-Moses issue we can conveniently brush under the rug. We get warnings about false prophets and false teachers over and over again in the New Testament, and some of the most serious warnings against false prophets came from Jesus himself. If we take the Bible seriously, and I do, then we have to take false prophets extremely seriously and be watchful for them. And Joseph Smith is objectively a false prophet.

So that’s Kullervo’s biblical definition from Deuteronomy:  “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak . . . that same prophet shall die.”  I guess on the one hand, it could be argued that Joseph’s martyrdom was a fulfillment of this verse if polygamy is a false revelation.

On the other hand Kullervo, let me have you answer some questions.

  1. Do you believe that God commanded Joshua to kill every man, women, child, and cow in Jericho? Was that truly God’s word to kill all the innocents?
  2. Was Balaam a true prophet? Supposedly he saw an angel, and proclaimed God’s word to Balak using the altar of Baal.  But ignoring Balaam’s moral failings, why would the same God who in the chapter before blessed Moses’s conquest of the polytheistic Ammonites and Amorites (and told Moses “thou shalt have no other gods before me” under penalty of death), give a revelation to Balaam on the altars of Baal?
  3. Do you find these scriptures as God’s word? (Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men.  All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle.  They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword.  Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder.  They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived.  After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

    Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp.  But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle.  “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded.  “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor.  They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people.  Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man.  Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

Is this an example of God’s word, or can it be explained as Moses’ moral failings in killing women but “saving” the virgins as sex slaves?  Do you believe this is God’s word, or should Moses be put to death (according to Deuteronomy) for putting false words in God’s mouth?

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7 comments on “False Prophets

  1. I think you need to leave that to God to judge. He is the only one who knows all of the answers. He has been there all along.

    But just to point out something, when God has issued a “course correction” to his prophets, He let us know of the correction and what it was all about. He does not leave us to wonder about this or that thing.hat is

    The prophets of Old and now were not and are not “moral disasters”.
    You are on record as saying “Immorality comes from man, no question, and often men blame immorality on God. It happens all the time, and when it happens, man takes God’s name in vain and offends God. ” Yet you, without benefit of revelation, try to speak for God by declaring Joseph’s revelation on polygamy no the be from God, in spite of many affirmations by other prophets.
    Brigham Young was appalled at first when He first heard of polygamy fro Joseph. He is recorded as saying that he ‘felt to envy the corpse in a funeral cortege” and “could hardly get over it for a long time”. Yet, we know that he came to accept it and believe in it. So, was he a fallen prophet also, as was all others who received their own confirmations?
    So, all of the prophets called of God have been wrong about this, but you are not???
    The same for Abraham’s circumcision. Your belief is that God allows a prophet to lead a people, a church, entire nations astray and never offers a “course correction” to inform those affected and turn them from those allegedly sinful practices. That belief flies in the face of reason and scripture.
    The Children of Israel were chastised many times during their history for falling away from God and following the practices of the surrounding nations. But circumcision was never listed as one of those practices. Nor was polygamy.
    Christ spoke of Abraham often during His ministry, yet he only told of Abraham’s faithfulness. Never did He say that that Abraham had erred in circumcision or in the matter of Hagar. Neither did Paul. Paul’s only beef with circumcision was with the belief by some of the Jewish converts that the Gentile converts should also be circumcised.
    Christ also neglected to inform us of the errors of polygamy during His ministry also, although he did speak against other marriage connected errors, such as adultery. (To the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

    Your beliefs do not conform to the scriptures or history, unless we are to understand that the scriptures and the words of the prophets are wrong when you disagree with them.

    Glenn

  2. Glenn,

    Another lecture along the lines of “How dare you question the Bible?”

    How about you actually answer any of the 3 questions I posed at the end of the post?

  3. Glen you are wrong in everything you said. First you said we have to leave it to God to judge. It is true God judges “the final outcome of things” but, we are told to learn to discern good from evil and to do this, we need to “evaluate/ make some type of judgement” in order to discern. It’s not the same as the ” final judgement of God” of course. So you are wrong when you say we should leave it to God. We can’t learn to discern unless we learn to judge certain things.

    Second, you said prophets were not moral dissenters. Wrong. They were and the post gives several examples of it. Is not killing women and children evil? It is very obvious to those that care about others and have compasion that killing (unless in self defense) is evil and agwinst the good nature of any man. (Unless ypu are a son of perdition with no light within and have not good nature in you anymore).

    Third, you said the blogs author has no “revelation” but claims polygamy is not true. wrong again. We all have the gift to receive ” knowledge/ revelation” in order to discern things. And ypu don’t need to be a prophet/ receive a revelation to know that polygamy is evil and not from God. Just asks those young women that flee polygamous communities all the time, if they know if polygamy is evil. These young women know because they lived it and they know the fruits of polygamy are bad. Polygamy is the most disgusting principle ever divided by man in order it covet their neighbors wife and get away with it. Disgusting and repulsive beyond description. I know this and I don’t need an angel to come down from heaven to tell me about it. I just used my inner light, the light of Christ that makes me feel like polygamy is the devil.

    Then you proceed to make a Brigham Young look like the victim he is not because he made a comment of “envying a corpse” when he heard about polygamy. Yeah, his words and his actions are two different things. I choose to believe his actions speak,louder than his words. His actions show us who he was and what he really thought about polygamy. No one forced Brigham Young to marry his 30 wives or more or to have sex with these women and have children. It doesnt seem it was so hard for him to get over it or that it took him a long time either. I could continue to spell this for you but I think you are in great need to learn to discern things by yourself. If you cannot see yet that polygamy was not a doctrine from God (even after prophet Hinckley said so on national TV on an interview a few years ago) then you are in great need to learn discernment and to pay attention to the prophets ypu so much protect that contradict each other with their statement on polygamy. Yeah, was Gordon B Hinckley wrong when he said polygamy was not from God? Think and learn Glen.

  4. Joseph Smith did not practice or teach plural marriage in any form. He’s been marred by his enemies but he will be vindicated as prophesied in the scriptures:

    “…although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.” (3 Nephi 21:10)

    Many are deceived by the cunning of the devil because they trust historians’ opinions that elevate non-contemporary accounts from biased hearsay to supposed fact. Joseph and Emma Smith repeatedly testified that they had nothing whatsoever to do with plural marriage. We need to listen to them and stop giving so much weight to everything else. Brigham Young and the other polygamists who took the reins of the church have done great damage to Joseph’s and Emma’s reputations as well as to the restored gospel itself. But many great truths have nevertheless survived and we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    There will be an event in the near future after which everyone will see that Joseph is innocent of the plural marriage charges and that he is a true prophet. But blessed are they that have not yet seen, and yet have believed.

  5. Angel, have you been reading Rock Waterman or old RLDS propaganda? Have you read the recent LDS essays? I’ve got a summary from last year outlining the main points of the essays. See https://mormonheretic.org/2014/10/26/big-week-for-lds-media/

    Clear back in June 2009, the RLDS prophet announced publicly that even they believe Joseph practiced polygamy. See https://mormonheretic.org/2009/06/04/amazing-coc-statement/

    To claim otherwise is to bury your head in the sand.

  6. This post addresses an earlier blog about Mormon Heretics……

    When it comes to general Christian principles, Mormons are legitimately labeled “heretics.” That should be of no concern to any Mormon, since history is full of great men who failed to embrace all the essential aspects of their religions, and who suffered greatly for their denials of a mainstream faith. I think it’s safe to say that those who blindly follow are the greater failures, allowing personal conscience to be abandoned by the need to quietly fit in with the group.

    The Mormon faith can never be designated “Christian” because it has doctrinal exceptions to the concept that Christ’s blood has the power to wash all penitent believers clean. As you’re aware, Brigham Young announced the doctrine of “Blood Atonement” and made it very clear to the “Saints” of his day that there were some sins that could not be absolved by Christ’s sacrifice. Likewise, those deemed by Mormonism to be “Sons of Perdition,” are denied the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice and universal love. Those two exceptions to the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice confirm that Mormonism is not, by definition, a Christian faith.

    Furthermore, while Joseph Smith made bold statements about the sacred monogamy of marriage, he made equally bold statements about the matter of polygamy, entering into documented “spiritual” plural marriages with both married and unmarried women. His statements on the need for plural marriage in achieving exaltation are also well documented.

    It seems to me that those who are living Mormonism today, in a manner which differs from the words of its prophets, are also heretics. That includes those who have professed to be the LDS prophets of our times.

    If one wants to look at strict interpretations of Mormonism’s many prophecies as the word of God, then it is only the fundamentalist groups that are in real compliance with the doctrines of Mormonism. To be a Mormon is to be a heretic.

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