Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The "Sometimes" Prophet?

Ever since the letter from the First Presidency came out with a worldwide letter asking members to get vaccinated, I have had dozens of conversations with members of the church who have chosen not to get vaccinated. Below are compilations and copy and paste of my text messages back and forth with a wide array of friends. Thankfully they all put up with me and allow me to share my view on things.

Before I proceed it is important to note that I don't give a hoot who does or does not get vaccinated. The vaccine is a personal choice and no one should be told to get the vaccine.

But yea verily, I have been fascinated to watch the mental gymnastics members who don't want to be vaccinated are doing to explain away that First Presidency letter. They have taken the letter and treated it as though it was forensic evidence at a crime scene that needed to be broken down and decoded word by word. Phone calls to the church office building ensued and explanations given on Facebook seemed to travel the globe as one friend living in Europe sent me a near identical screenshot as a friend in the U.S. sent me of one person's conversation with the church office.

The prophet of the world sent a letter to every member of the church and said to get vaccinated and he said that the vaccine "has proven to be both safe and effective." End of story. (Contrary views can be found. One such is from a Federal Government HHS whistleblower video.)

The common response from members who don't want to get vaccinated are as follows:

1. "President Nelson wasn't speaking as a prophet." "Sometimes he's a prophet, sometimes he speaks as a man."

2. He didn't actually write that letter. There is an "administrative side to the church", and a "revelatory/prophetic side". The administration side wrote that letter.

3. That letter was for "xyz" type of vulnerable people. He didn't mean that letter for everyone.

Is a prophet someone who speaks with God face to face and then delivers God's message to the world?

Or is he, "someone who sometimes" delivers a message from God and "sometimes" from the government or an administrative side and that "it doesn't really matter what the prophet says anyways", you always have to pray to know if what he said "is true for you personally" because his message "isn't true for everyone, only certain people".

I have a question for you, if I was teaching a new convert to the Church about prophets, how would I explain to them about that letter? 

This upcoming General Conference will be interesting to see the messages given. The church office has received hundreds, if not thousands of phone calls from unvaccinated members up in arms about the letter from the First Presidency. I imagine it will go one of two ways. Either there will be backpedaling to do damage control or there will be doubling down on President Nelson's role as prophet, seer, and revelator. My guess is the latter and I think moving forward we are going to hear more bold declarations by the brethren of being witnesses of Christ, mentions of Second Coming and Zion, and messages of interactions with the divine. 

I had two conversations within a week where friends had pointed out how much "the Second Coming" and "Zion" are being mentioned in General Conference since President Nelson has become the prophet. In response to the increase of the mentioning of Zion and the Second Coming I will say what has been said before: 

There is no place in scripture where you can find a people who brought Zion about as a result of generations of slow and steady work and partial mentions of Zion every six months in general conference. 

Enoch did not lay a foundation for others to gradually build on over generations.

Neither did Melchizedek.

They came with power, held the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood, and through teaching the truth to people willing to live it, established Zion.

Each time Zion has come, the Lord visited and dwelt with them.

In the Book of Mormon, Christ came to Bountiful after His death and ministered to the Nephites. It was Christ who established a people of peace. His community then dwelt in harmony. They touched the Savior personally. They were healed by Him. Listened to Him teach for days. Had their children blessed by Him. Christ personally established His church among the Nephites. Additionally Jesus left three translated beings living among them for four generations...

***...and yet even they still fell into apostasy (3 Ne. 28: 4-23).***

Are you greater than those at Bountiful during the time Christ ministered to them directly?

How much more cautious must we be in our day, four generations after Joseph’s death, with no translated beings directly remaining with us and no personal visitation from Christ like the people in Bountiful?

This is why Joseph truly lamented the failure to complete the Nauvoo Temple while he was still alive when he said: “And I would to God that this temple was now done, that we might go into it, and go to work and improve our time, and make use of the seals while they are on earth.” (TPJS p. 330). Joseph died and Zion had not been brought again and we are further away today than we were in Joseph's day and much further than the days of Bountiful. We pridefully consider ourselves to be heirs with those who have gone before us and have sacrificed their all for the Kingdom, though we have yet to have made such a sacrifice ourselves. 
It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him. (Lectures on Faith 6:8)
As you listen to General Conference and attune your ears for Zion and Second Coming talks, remember, we have moved further away from Zion since the early days of Nauvoo and are nowhere near the connection the people at Bountiful were. We are more prideful than we have ever been as we continually declare to be the only ones on the earth who have the power to save through a complete gospel and temple ordinances *neither of which we understand or are assured that we have personally attained salvation for ourselves. We have become the spiritually dead doing work for physically dead. 

As you watch General Conference pay attention to the overwhelming adoration the apostles have for President Nelson and how rather than quote Scripture directly, they continually quote each other. Never forget that when Jesus was called "good", He quickly rebuked that and pointed those listening immediately back to God (Luke 18:19). You will never see a prophet or apostle do that that. Ever. It is a circular pattern of praise, adoration, and quotation of apostles and prophets.

President Nelson's birthday party

And also recognize that when Zion and the Second Coming are mentioned, you will not be told how to sanctify yourself so that you can bring again Zion and usher in the Second Coming. There will be no mention of the required 144,000 thousand who will rise up to be the final gatherers. They may say to 'hasten' the work which means "more baptisms", "more temple work", "more ordnances". We can do all the ordinances in the world but if we aren't even sure if we have been granted eternal life, how can we be Saviors on Mount Zion and offer that work for others? 

It will be those who have stood in the Lord's presence (as taught in the endowment) who will be invited to build Zion and usher in the Second Coming. All are invited to receive it. But few have believed the invitation and sought for it. 

Do not wait for a "sometimes" prophet, "sometimes" man to mention Zion and never give you step by step instructions on how to be assured of your standing before the Lord. Real authority resides in Jesus. When we base authority on anything other than an embodiment of God's truth, be it by title, position, employment, academic degree, or alleged apostolic succession, we take a step away from learning how to follow Jesus and substitute someone or some thing in His place. A cursory view of history makes it clear that a hierarchy of human leadership does more to disfigure the church than it does to protect it. Perhaps the severest price we've paid for doing so is that we no longer see authority resting in Jesus but in the institution we have created by our own hand - perhaps not so dissimilar from the idols crafted in ancient Israel to replace the God they could not see.

Jesus' example separated authority from hierarchy. The early apostles seemed to have gotten the message and did nothing to create a centralized structure in Jerusalem to manage the burgeoning church. In the litany of human history that is so unique as to be profound. While some argue that the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) was proof that the Apostles ruled over the congregations, a reading of Acts comes to a very different collusion. All the brothers were together and they were seeking a solution for the good of all. The apostles offered no edict that everyone had to follow. James offered an assessment that resonated with others present so that they could say that it "seemed good to them and to the Holy Spirit." What's more, they didn't use the occasion to set up an institutional hierarchy, define orthodoxy by doctrinal statements, or write a handbook of instructions for the church to follow. They asked only three things - abstain from immorality, remember the poor, and don't eat meat offered to idols. Can you imagine any group today that would come up with such a simple solution to not burdening others or setting up a permanent council to resolve future conflicts?

God gave us an unmediated spirituality which means that we all have direct access to God through the work of the Son. There is only one mediator between God and man, and it is the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). No one who understands that would insert themselves between Jesus and His people, and no one understanding it would look for a leader to follow instead of Jesus Himself. The invitation of the New Covenant is that "all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:11). There may be others further down the road than you are, and they can be incredibly helpful in equipping you to know God and learn what it means for you to follow Him. But those who follow Jesus will never ask you to follow them or their program instead. 

When the disciples argued over who would be the greatest in Jesus' kingdom, He taught them about real leadership. The world exploits power to lord over others, and its leaders dole out benefits and punishments to gain more (Mark 10: 42-43). "Not so with you." He didn't so much forbid them to do it, as he was letting them know such use of power had no place in his kingdom. People who have come alive in Christ have neither a desire to manage others or to be managed themselves. They want to learn to listen to Him, respond to Him, and help others find that same joy.

Part of the flavor of the antichrist spirit that John referred to in his letter is not the end-of-the-age personification of evil. He said many antichrists were already in the world. He was referring not to those who were hostile to Christ, but to those who wanted to provide a Christ-substitute, making people dependent on themselves rather than on Him. 

Sweet Redeemer


City of Enoch