Currently, there is a sensitivity around the definition of prophets. In the church, we believe that there can only be one prophet at a time on the earth. Those of us who were raised mormon had it drilled into our minds from the beginning. We drill it into our children’s minds, and they’ll probably do the same. Their must be a differentiation in our understanding between a prophet (for the administration of the church upon the earth) and a prophet (who has spiritual gifts of a higher order). Perhaps it would be easier to title them differently to keep them straight. For the purpose of this blog I’ll call the administrative role, the “Prophet” (like we traditionally teach). I’ll identify those with higher order of spiritual gifts as “Wise-Men/Women,” or “Wise-Ones” for short. These two are not mutually exclusive. A person can have both.
We confuse traditions with scripture when we claim to teach that there can only be one prophet at a time, and that prophet cannot lead us astray. We often confuse the concept of one prophet at a time with having only one “wise-one” at a time. And we often consider a prophet that “cannot lead us astray” as a man that cannot make mistakes. Both concepts take the focus off of what is really the matter of it all. All true prophets always point to Christ, and encourages all who will listen, to obtain a personal relationship with Christ themselves. There is no other purpose for the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is why “…upon all these hang all the laws and the prophets.”
The Prophet: We all understand how our Prophet obtains his appointment as the head administrator of the church. Since the time of Brigham Young, the senior apostle was chosen by revelation and inspiration of the 12, was called and sustained by the entire membership of the church, as the new prophet. That wasn’t how it was planned by Joseph Smith, though. According to Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith was to be the next prophet, but Hyrum went with Joseph to his death. Both Joseph and Hyrum were Prophets and Wise-ones, and both were put to death. Brigham Young campaigned and received the majority vote of the quorum, and was placed into office as stated in the Doctrine and Covenants. Since the appointment of Brigham Young, all of our prophets were called in like manner, by the revelation and inspiration of the quorum of the 12 apostles. Once the decision was made by the quorum of the 12, the new president was presented before the body of the church, and we took a vote to signify that we would sustain the new president. The president is usually the next senior apostle.
It wasn’t until later that David O Mckay started the sustaining of the president as Prophet/Seer/and Revelator. Prior to David O Mckay (since the time of Brigham Young), the position was always referred to only as President. Think about it, can we really simply vote for someone to be a Prophet/Seer/ and Revelator (a wise-one)? Is that how one becomes a wise-one, by getting enough people to vote you in? Ponder on that one…
A Wise-One: How does one become a wise-one then? That is something that has created the drive behind my scripture study. It seems like Nephi, from verse one is trying to tell us that, that’s the whole purpose for writing his record. To oversimplify the process, here is what the scriptures say about how one becomes a wise-one:
- Have great desires to know of the mysteries of God
- We must seek them by crying unto the Lord
- The Lord will visit you
- Angels will continually teach from that point
How did I come up with all this? It’s written in the scriptures that we are all commanded to liken unto ourselves.
1 Nephi 2:16
“16. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken of by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.”
The highlighted portions are the steps. That is the pattern that not only Nephi followed, but Lehi as well in the first chapter of the book of Nephi. Abraham shares a very similar experience in the first and second verse in the Book of Abraham, in the Pearl of Great Price. The reason I highlighted “my father” in the place of the angel step, is because Lehi had seen the Father, and was a personal witness of Christ, and Lehi was given charge to deliver a message to his sons, therefore Lehi was a messenger from the presence of Christ, or an angel of the Lord. That is why Nephi says that his heart was softened to all the words which his father, the angel, had spoken. A person who has become a wise-one cannot lead people astray because they have been given the mind and will of God. Like Nephi was told in Helaman 10, you will not ask anything contrary to my will. That is why Christ makes him a wise-one. It’s not because he stands to have a greater punishment, but because it is always aligned with Christ’s and God’s will.
There can only be one head administrator of the church, or there would be total chaos. That leader can make mistakes and not have received angelic messengers, as Brigham Young admitted to never receiving. However, there is no limitation on how many wise-ones there can be. All are invited to “see my face and know that I am.” (D&C 93:1). The scriptures are a sounding beacon to all who will hear it, to become wise-ones, to desire to know the mysteries of God, and to cry unto the Lord. The Lord desires to visit each of us if we will seek not His face in vain. Then will we have the privilege of receiving angels to explain the ordinances, as did Adam.
Side note: How many of us really understand the ordinances anyway? If we are not allowed to talk about them to each other, how are we supposed to understand the stuff that just doesn’t seem to make sense? We can learn from Adam’s example, when he offers up sacrifices, that we are supposed to expect angels, and those angels will tell you why you perform certain ordinances, as they did to Adam.
If the stuff I am talking about here generates thoughts in your minds like, “hocus pocus,” or “weirdo,” or “freaky,” then you gotta ask yourself if you really believe that Moses parted the Red Sea, or if that was just a coincidental wind that happened to come at the right time for them… they just lucked out. You gotta also find another way to explain standing in the middle of fire and not being burned, or Nephi’s ability to shock his brothers, or Nephi’s ability to be conveyed away in the spirit (Helaman 10:16).
If being a wise-one simply means scholarly, book savvy, educated, experienced in the dealings with men, then you too have reduced the scriptures to your understanding, rather then raising your understanding to that of the scriptures. You too have placed the Pharisees and the Sadducees (scholars and noblemen) in charge of creating the Laws that produce your salvation, instead of Christ. The less and less we believe in a real connection to the heavens, the more and more we look like any other religion with rules and regulations, external rites, meaningless sacrifices, and drawing near with our lips, but our hearts being far from Christ.
We are not supposed to be just like everyone else in our seeking for Christ. No one else believes in a personal witness of Christ. No one else really believes in instructing angels that teach us how to ascend into the heavens. Very few believe in healing the sick, prophecy, speaking in tongues with angelic beings. Yet, that is the very foundation of our restored gospel. Joseph stated that he could gaze five minutes into the heavens and know more about the subject than any book ever written. That is because within our religion we believe in the power to connect to the heavens, and we limit our priesthood based upon our ability to connect to the heavens (D&C121:36). There is nothing common in the gospel that Joseph Smith restored. It is far freakier than what the world thinks. If we try to make it look like the world, we too have strayed from the ordinances and have followed after the image of our own god, which is in the likeness of the world (D&C 1:16).
As the saints refuse to study the words of Christ given by revelation, we too are condemned by our ignorance. We too reduce our expectations to merely having a whisper and not a visitation. We will define angels only as common men (not wise-ones), who have aided you in some way. We don’t seek to connect to the heavens. We don’t seek the face of Christ. When we give blessing we use disclaimers like, “by your faith…” or “if it be thy will…” This is the condemnation spoken of in D&C 84:55. We live beneath our privilege because we don’t understand what’s available to us, because the scriptures are inconvenient. We don’t know our God.
St John 14:23
“23. Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
I will suggest that one who keeps Christ’s words is being promised, in this scripture, that God and Christ will literally come unto him. And making their abode is a permanent calling to becoming a wise-one. Abraham called it becoming a Father, and so did Melchizedek. I believe that Malachi is talking about our hearts being turned to the covenants made to the wise-ones (fathers), and then for our hearts to be turned to the wise-ones, so that their hearts can be turned to ours as well. This signify’s, to me, that it is the wise-ones that visit us (angelic visitations) to teach us what we must do and know to be clothed in glory, so that we can withstand the heat at the coming of the hosts of heaven- the fiery ones/ the burning ones.
Never, has the administrative position been regarded as a substitute for a personal witness. Never was a people of Christ directed to look to the prophet and live. Always and forever, a prophet points to Christ. Always and forever we are instructed to look to Christ and live.
I sustain the prophet as the president of our church. I believe that he is the only one able to receive revelation on behalf of the administration of the church and the ordinances within them. I believe that he is a Prophet/Seer/ and Revelator. But I don’t believe that it is because I voted him so. I don’t believe that my salvation will be obtained through worship or following him. I know that in order for any man to obtain exaltation and salvation, it will be by facing Christ himself. The prophet speaks of Christ from personal experience only. Christ is the savior. He is the one that performed the atonement. It is He that I desire to be At-one with. It is he that makes men “Wise-Men.” The Prophet has not the power to make us into new creatures, nor do the angels. It is Christ Himself that does this. Let us seek His face as we are instructed to in D&C 93:1.