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What does a prophet look/act like?


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1 hour ago, Ipod Touch said:

I think the Church would gain some publicity were President Nelson to behave like Isaiah or even Elijah.

Were he to walk around naked in SLC for 3 years as a warning to the nations or, call down bears from Mt. Timp to maul children, he's probably trend on Twitter for a bit.

Ah, you beat me to it :) 

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37 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

I'm waiting for the day that your President has a bear kill some children because they made of him baldness... ;)

Well, President Nelson meets the criterion for ridicule ... all we need is: (1) for someone(s) to ridicule him and (2) for him to call forth the she-bears ... :D;)

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1 hour ago, california boy said:

Don't most religions claim to be speaking for God because they have been moved upon by the Holy Ghost to know his will?  And don't most people in those religions feel what they teach has been confirmed to them of its truthfulness by the Holy Ghost?

I've lost count at how many times a church critic has wielded the following clubs on me and mine:

"The audacity of mormons, having a warm fuzzy emotion and thinking they've been spoken to by the Holy Spirit!"

"The Bible is the full and final word of God.  Anything else that comes, like a mormon's 'revelation', is another gospel warned about in the book of Revelations.  The heavens are closed!"

 

True, there are no shortage of Christians praying to learn God's will, and laying claim to spiritual witness/promptings.   I hear terminology like "I've been convicted of the Lord that I need to do X".   But no, I do not believe most, or even many, Christian denominations, claim to be speaking for God.  To many, "Church" is "when two or three are gathered in my name", and y'all read the Bible to find out about God's will.

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13 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

But no, I do not believe most, or even many, Christian denominations, claim to be speaking for God.  To many, "Church" is "when two or three are gathered in my name", and y'all read the Bible to find out about God's will.

I agree. Protestants really missed things up for everybody ;) 

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2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Hi Smac!

Thanks for opening the topic here. I enjoyed the conversation on this topic that was had on the other thread and am interested to see wider input on a thread solely dedicated to this topic. I also wanted to say that I hesitated a second before hitting submit, because my tone/tenor was a bit more critical than I usually am. My personal purpose on this board is to learn more about the LDS faith, tp clarify things concerning Catholicism, and now, after these years, to enjoy the personalities of those who post. But the issue of a living prophet and continuing revelation is one that I don't mind gently criticizing.

I'm quite okay with your tone and approach.  I very much appreciate your presence here.

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I do want to include something here from my original post. I don't really want to get into the discussion of which church is Christ's church (that would settle the topic, ha). I'm more interested in what I see as a difference between what is claimed and what appears to be going on.

Okay.

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I suppose all religious claims are grandiose to a degree. And yes, the claims surrounding the papacy are grandiose. Perhaps, though, more people are used to the claims of the papacy, since it's been around for 2000 years (give or take, depending on your view of Catholicism). I'll say within Christendom, though, the LDS claims concerning a prophet who sees and speaks with God and delivers the actual words of God to the world are unique and sound quite impressive.

I tend to agree.  As I see it, the claims of Catholicism and the claims of the Latter-day Saints are both "grandiose."  I am reminded of this excerpt from Elder LeGrande Richard's book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder:

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A Catholic Opinion. – Many years ago there came to Salt Lake City a learned doctor of divinity, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. I became well acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen, languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy, and was never weary of displaying his vast erudition. One day he said to me: “You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. If we are wrong, they are wrong with us, for they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we really have, as we claim, the apostolic succession from St. Peter, there was no need for Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the Gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the Gospel in latter days.”

Thoughts?

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And it's this that I want to focus on. How does the prophet and continuing revelation actually work?

That's an arcane topic.

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Is it unique?

I think it is, yes.  We believe apostles are "Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ."  See, e.g., here:

And here:

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Every time one of the Twelve says in general conference that he is a special witness of Jesus Christ, internally I’m like, “Cool, he’s basically saying he just hung out with Jesus before this meeting.” Truthfully, I think many of us assume that when an apostle says he’s a “special witness” of Christ’s divinity, he’s actually saying that he’s physically seen Jesus Christ.

But is that even true? What exactly does being a “special witness” entail? And does a member of the Twelve (and the First Presidency) HAVE to see Christ to be an apostle?

To be completely honest, the answers to all of those questions sometimes seem a little murky — but there’s actually a lot of things we do know.

The role of a special witness is, essentially, to testify to the world of Jesus Christ. This is different from a regular witness of Christ, as we are typically only called upon to testify locally.

The term “special witness” comes from D&C 107:23:

The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witness of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.”

The Twelve (and the First Presidency) are called to testify of Christ — His divinity, His mission, and His gospel — to the entire world. Obviously this comes into play at general conference, which is broadcast throughout the world, but it also applies to the dozens of trips they make every year to various countries.

Talking about the role of a special witness, David A. Bednar said:

There are endowments of spiritual power that attend the office of the apostleship. So when one is ordained to the office of apostle in the priesthood, and then set apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and receives the keys of the kingdom — the rights to direct the work for the priesthood in all the world — there are spiritual powers that attend that.

But that also applies to a twelve-year-old boy who’s called to be the president of the Deacon’s Quorum. Now he has a smaller field in which to work — a quorum — but the principle is the same. Our field is the entire world; for that twelve-year-old boy, it might be six or seven or eight young men in that Deacon’s Quorum.

Primarily, then, the role of a special witness has to do with testifying and to whom the general authorities preach.

So yes.  "Unique."

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Do they match the appearance/expectation?

Hard to say, since such "expectations" vary from person to person, sometimes in significant ways.

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And you've aptly titled your thread based on that.

Ok, #1: Difference in Titles:

True. And you correctly quoted/summarized the Catholic view of the Pope and the bishops. We do not claim they are apostles -- the apostles were those that were sent by Christ with the Great Commission to teach and baptize. They are the successors to the apostles with the priesthood authority of the apostles.

I do agree with your statement here. The claims between Pope Francis and President Nelson are significantly different. Pope Francis does not claim to be an apostle. He claims he is a successor to the apostles, and to Saint Peter in particular. But, my whole point is to see if the claim (the words) match up to the way both actually function.

I'm wondering if "see if the claim (the words) match up to the way both actually function" could be more accurately stated as "see if the claim (the words) match up to the way a given individual subjectively and perhaps arbitrarily expects them to both actually function."

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My contention is that they (Francis and Nelson) function the same, despite one claiming to be a prophet and an apostle, so in the end it's only words, even though one sounds more grandiose than the other.

I don't think they function in the same way.  I think the claims of revelation and priesthood authority differentiate them quite a bit.

In broad terms, all religious leaders "function in the same way."  But when we get down to brass tacks, I think there are significant differences.

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#2: Continuing Revelation and Open Canon

Now we are going to get into the issue of what the word "revelation" means in LDS and Catholicism. They are not the same, and that causes some difficulty.

I can understand and appreciate that.  But when we speak of "revelation" in a Latter-day Saint context, the concept can and ought to be construed the way Latter-day Saints intend.  When that happens, I think most of the difficulty goes away.

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Yes, and that has stated many times before Vatican II. However, revelation here does NOT mean receiving truth, information, understanding, etc., from God. It means that the deposit of faith, the full and complete gospel, the truth and means of salvation, were revealed in Jesus Christ. Christ's apostles were not lacking any truth needed for salvation. Nothing was withheld from them. From the catechism:

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Interesting stuff!  Thank you for sharing.  

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I'm told the amazing story of Joseph Smith and can read 100+ revelations he received from God -- God spoke to him!

Are you under the impression that we believe God has not spoken to any of Joseph's successors?

 

No, I know you believe he has. But there is marked difference between how Joseph Smith appeared and how President Nelson appears.

True.  Different prophets will function in different ways.  A friend (perhaps my dad?) once suggested that Joseph Smith could not have led the Latter-day Saints west out of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young could not have received the revelations Joseph did.  I think that's probably correct.

It bears some attention that Joseph Smith was a "dispensation head," along with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the original Twelve Apostles.  He therefore filled a singular and preeminent role in our day.  So contrasting Pres. Nelson to Joseph is akin to contrasting Isaac to Abraham, or Joshua to Moses.  These are prophets, but the latter ones are "dispensation heads," and so play more prominent roles.

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Joseph Smith gave out the revelations to read. He acted like a prophet.

This presupposes a narrow meaning of "revelations."  Consider this:

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TYPES OF REVELATION. A dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is a series of personal revelations from God. These revelations may be direct manifestations from God, as in the following typical cases:

1. theophanies (seeing God face-to-face), as in the first vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, which came at the beginning of the present dispensation (JS-H 1:15-20)
2. revealed knowledge from the Father that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:13-17; see also Spirit of Prophecy)
3. visitations of angelic persons, such as the appearance of the angel Moroni to Joseph Smith (JS-H 1:30-32)
4. revelations through the Urim and Thummim, by which means Joseph Smith translated the book of mormon
5. open visions, as when Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were shown the kingdoms of the hereafter (see Doctrine and Covenants: Section 76)
6. physically hearing the voice of God, as is recorded in 3 Nephi 11
7. receiving the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, as in the experience of Elijah (1 Kgs. 19);
8. receiving the gifts of the spirit (D&C 46)
9. having a burning in the bosom as an indication of the will of God, as in the explanation given to Oliver Cowdery (D&C 9:8)
10. dreams (1 Ne. 8:2-32)
11. manifestations of the Light of Christ, by which all men know good from evil (Alma 12:31-32; D&C 84:46-48).

I think you have in mind - as you have said - the more "grandiose" types of revelation, such as 1 (theophanies), 3 (visitations of angelic persons), 4 (Urim & Thummim), 5 (open visions), and so on.

Is a prophet only a prophet if he experiences a literal theophany?  I don't think so.

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President Nelson, from what I can gather, does not act like Joseph Smith.

Again, Joseph Smith was a dispensation head.  

Also, Pres. Nelson is nearly two centuries "downstream" from Joseph.  It's understandable that his ministry would function differently from the establishing the foundations of the Restoration, as Joseph (mostly) did.

Also, I think Pres. Nelson acts like Joseph Smith in many important ways.  They both testify as "special witnesses" of Jesus Christ.  They both function as apostles with restored priesthood authority.  They both claim to be receiving revelation from God.  

I can't help but wonder if your comparison here is mostly about subjective expectations about how a prophet "should" act.

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There are no revelations to read. There are no direct words of God.

Again, you seem to be utilizing "revelations" in a very restricted way.  By your reckoning, we could almost toss out Peter as a prophet or apostle because we have little or no "revelations to read" from him.  The same could be said for many, many other prophets.

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So his claim in a very blatant way does not match up to Joseph Smith's claim.

I think there are differences, owing largely to A) Joseph being a dispensation head, and B) Joseph's prophetic responsibilities differing a lot from Pres. Nelson's.  I mean, a lot.

But that doesn't mean Joseph was a prophet and Pres. Nelson is not.

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He is called a prophet, but I see no prophecy.

I do.  All sorts of it.  But like "revelations," I think you are construing "prophecy" very narrowly, and not in ways that don't quite fit the Latter-day Saint paradigm.

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I see advice, exhortation, instruction.

So do I.  It's all over the Doctrine & Covenants, and also in today's General Conference talks.  Joseph's prophecies included all sorts of "advice, exhortation, instruction."

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But it nothing like what Joseph Smith did.

I'm okay with that.  Again, Joseph was a dispensation head.  He restored the foundational principles upon which his successors build and grow the Church.

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The Pope frequently issues counsel, clarification, and understanding through papal encyclicals and apostolic constitutions. There is a list of recent ones here. He also frequently gives homilies. There is also the most solemn address Urbi et Orbi that is given 2 or 3 times a year.

So the Pope has the equivalent of general conference.

Well, sorta.  He's not claiming to be an apostle.  That's a pretty significant difference.

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Remember, my point is that the way the LDS President (not Joseph Smith -- he acted like one would think a prophet would) functions and the way the Pope functions are nearly identical, despite the difference in names/titles.

The phrase "he acted like one would think a prophet would" really jumps out here.  What an individual subjectively (and arbitrarily?) expects is seldom going to be determinative.

By way of illustration: I graduated from law school in 2004, and have been practicing law as a litigator ever since.  I have participated in many hundreds of hearings before state and federal judges.  Some time ago I realized something: judges never use gavels.  And I mean never.  I can't think of a single hearing I have attended where the judge has used a gavel.  I also came to realize that I had a pretty strong expectation about this, no doubt arising from me having watched all sorts of courtroom dramas on TV and in the movies where the judge bangs the gavel and yells "Order in the Court!"  I've never heard a judge yell, either.  Or even lose his/her temper.  Or hold someone in contempt.  And so on.  As it turns out, I realized a while back that I had tacit expectations that judges would act "like one would think" they would.  And yet . . . they don't.  Does that mean they aren't judges?  Clearly not.  It means my expectations and assumptions needed some examination and adjustment.

I wonder if you similarly have tacit expectations about how prophets should act.  This would apparently involve regular production of first-person narrative writings, attributed to revelation, such as we see in the Doctrine & Covenants.  And then these regularly-produced writings would be regularly canonized.  I'm just not sure that such expectations are determinative.

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Now, when I compare that to Official Declaration 2, I gotta say that the Papal pronouncement has got a little more oomph behind it, but I guess that's not terribly important.

I dunno.  Official Declaration 2 is presented as a revelation from God.  The Papal pronouncement is . . . not?

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My point is, you have Official Declarations, we have ex cathedra infallible Papal declarations.

We have an open canon, which included two Official Declarations, one of which was canonized in my lifetime.

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Now, this was not added to "the Canon" meaning to the Bible. The Bible is closed. But we are not sola scriptura, so even though nothing will be added to the Bible, Pope Pius XII declared a new dogma. You could consider this, using your definition, as continuing revelation.

I think the paradigms are too different.

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You also include a list of what you consider contemporary revelation. Those are exactly the same sorts of things that the Pope has/can/would do.  You respond to that idea with this:

It seems pretty similar to me. There is really nothing in that list if tweaked to be related to Catholicism that I would say that the Pope couldn't do.

And yet the Pope wouldn't present it as revelation from God to his Presiding High Priest, to the senior Apostle on the earth.

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And the disclaimer of revelation is only a matter of semantics and definition, as I hope I've shown above.

Actually, I don't think you have.  This takes me back to my "Washington County Judicial Assembly" experience.  Saying "Well, anyone could do what Pres. Nelson does" is, in some ways, like saying "Well, anyone could do what a police officer does."  But acting like a police officer doesn't make you one.  The investiture of law enforcement authority from the government is not just "a matter of semantics and definition."  Similarly, the investiture of priesthood authority from God is not just "a matter of semantics," either.

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How so?  One disclaims apostolic/prophetic authority, while the other makes emphatic claims to such authority.

The Catholic Church absolutely makes claims to apostolic authority. The bishops are the successors of the apostles. They have the authority of the apostles. They are not called apostles, but they have their authority. That is what our entire Magisterium (and Church) is based on: Apostolic succession.

I stand corrected.

And yet that authority is, by your accounting, necessarily less than that of the apostles, is it not?  Apostles could receive revelations and write scripture, but the Pope cannot?

In any event, I have long felt that the the quote above from Elder Richards is pretty spot on.  When all is said and done, it comes down to the Catholics or the Latter-day Saints.

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Above, in section 1, you wrote about claims of apostolic status, and I agreed with you. Pope Francis does not claim to be an apostle. But he must definitely claims apostolic authority, as do all bishops in the Catholic Church.

This is where I need to construe Catholic doctrines from within a Catholic paradigm.  For me, apostolic authority is held by apostles.  

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Also, I noticed you used "apostolic/prophetic authority." Why does the LDS church equate the two? Why does apostle = prophet?

"Apostle" is a priesthood office.  "Prophet" is not.

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Claims of authority, revelation, open canon, etc. are pretty important, as is actually having them.

Two responses to this. It appears to the me that the claims of revelation and open canon were obvious to all in Joseph Smith's time.

And yet whether Joseph Smith was a prophet was still, in the end, a matter of faith.  The same goes for believing that Pres. Nelson is the prophet today.

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The claim matched the actions and appearance, and the actions and appearance were markedly different from the Catholic Church. Today, however, the claims don't seem to match the actions and appearance much, and the actions and appearance are similar to the Catholic Church.

I don't measure a prophetic mantle by contrasting the individual to the head of the Catholic Church.  That's just not on my radar.

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In other words, it appears like false advertising to me. I know that might sound a little harsh, but I guess it just seems quite clear to me as an outsider that the words don't match up.

I can appreciate that perspective.  I respectfully disagree with it.  I think it's based more on subjective expectations about and prophets and revelations and authority and such work, and less on how they actually work.

 

I understand what you mean and can appreciate it, too. I guess my issue is that Joseph Smith set up some pretty strong expectations.

And Joseph Smith was a dispensation head, so expectations as to his successors should be adjusted accordingly.

Also, Joseph Smith was laying foundations for successive prophets and apostles to build upon and strengthen. 

If I want to build a house, I'll hire a contractor to come in, clear the lot, do excavation and leveling work, and pour the foundations.  Then I'll hire another contractor to do the framing, and another to do the drywall, and another to to the electrical, another the roof, and so on.  And then, many years later, I may need to hire yet another contractor to renovate the basement, and another to replace the roof.  All of these guys were contractors, but they weren't performing identical work.  

Another example is found in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul spoke of "diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit," and "differences of administrations, but the same Lord," and "diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."  "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. ... For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. ... But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. ... And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness."

This is how I perceive your understanding of Joseph Smith.  Joseph performed the function of the "eye," therefore all of his successors should also have been "eyes."  But I don't think that's the way it works.  Joseph had his role to play - and it was a prominent and particularly notable one - but that doesn't mean the Lord intended for his successors to perform identical labors.  Again, I don't think Joseph could have lead the Saints west, and I don't think Brigham Young could have received Joseph's theophanies.  

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When I read the story of Joseph Smith and am told that he was a prophet and President Nelson is a prophet, I guess I would expect some similar actions/appearances. They just aren't there. Why?

I think there are all sorts of "similar actions/appearances."  Apart from canonized revelations, what is it that you think Joseph did that Pres. Nelson does not do?

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And when the LDS church makes emphatic claims of continuing revelation as something unique to it, but I don't see any real difference between what the LDS church does and what the Catholic Church does, I also ask, why?

I think the Book of Mormon is a "real difference."  So are the claims of restored priesthood authority, living prophets and apostles, continuing revelation, an open canon, temple work, and so on.

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Again, this sounds to be more about subjective expectations than anything else.  What do you think an "open canon" would look like?  Are regularly-scheduled canonizations necessary?

Maybe it is subjective. But it is based on what Joseph Smith set up.

Joseph, the dispensation head.  Joseph, who laid the foundation his successors would build upon.  Once the foundational principles have been restored, it makes little sense to have them restored again.  

That does not mean that we can't or won't receive further revelation.  I believe that will happen, and I believe it is happening now.  

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And the two additions since the 1800s are official declarations, which sounds a little different than a revelation. But I don't need to quibble too much over that.

Both are canonized revelations.  

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I'll just reiterate that the LDS open canon has a parallel in Catholicism.

In some ways, yes.  

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By way of comparison, let's take a look at the U.S. Constitution. 

I don't think this analogy works. Continuing revelation and an open canon are hallmarks of the LDS faith.

But the timing of when revelations are canonized is not predictable or consistent.  

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The fact that the constitution can be amended is not a hallmark.

I think it is.  The Constitution was never intended to be a one-and-done kind of thing.  To the contrary, it was drafted to allow for amendments, for "more" to be added to it.  It's more akin to an "open canon" of scripture than you may think.

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LDS missionaries often begin with, "we have a prophet who receives revelation from God." Advocates of the constitution do not being with, "we have a constitution that can be amended."

Well, it's an analogy.  A comparison of two otherwise dissimilar things. 

Very thoughtful comments, my friend.  Thank you for sharing them here.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Thoughts?

Did Paul Dunn tell that story?

Forgive my skepticism, but the story is a bit too "perfect" and sounds more like what a Latter-day Saint would *want* to hear from a Catholic.

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52 minutes ago, Ipod Touch said:

Did Paul Dunn tell that story?

Forgive my skepticism, but the story is a bit too "perfect" and sounds more like what a Latter-day Saint would *want* to hear from a Catholic.

I have known a couple of Catholics who have said the same thing, including one who has studied the Restored Gospel in depth.  He chose to become Catholic because he never received a witness of the Restored Gospel iirc, logically he saw it as between Catholicism or the Restoration.  Reformation made no sense to him due to authority.  I can’t remember if he ever discussed Orthodox though.  It has been forever since he posted on this board and ZLMB has disappeared from the internet, so not sure if I can find where he says this, but will try.

David has since withdrawn from official Catholicism as currently inconsistent with history if I understand him correctly as of 2010...will need to do more research to find current stance.  3D0P (Rory) may be able to provide the info as it appears he reads David’s blog where I haven’t for a long time.

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8 hours ago, smac97 said:

..................................

The leader of the Catholic Church (colloquially the "Pope") has a number of titles: "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God."  See also here:

................................

The term Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff) is a pagan Roman designation once held by Julius Caesar, and it means "High Priest."  The term Vatican is another pagan term which means "Prophet."  The term Pope merely means "Papa Bishop."

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2. Continuing Revelation and Open Canon

For Catholics, "Vatican II states 'no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord, Jesus Christ.' The notion of progressive or continuing revelation is not held by the Roman Catholic Church or by Eastern Orthodoxy, who instead favor the idea of tradition and development of doctrine, while progressivist and continuationist approaches are specifically condemned in the declaration Dominus Iesus."

In fact, the Roman Catholic Church accepts miracles and revelation in our day, although they carefully investigate each instance.  Every Catholic knows of these instances:

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............................................ It was added to in 1918, and again in 1978.

Again, this sounds to be more about subjective expectations than anything else.  What do you think an "open canon" would look like?  Are regularly-scheduled canonizations necessary?

I'm okay with that (broadly speaking - I think we can and ought to do more, collectively and individually, to obtain further revelation from God).  I think canonized revelation comes in fits and spurts.  Take a look at the chronology of the Doctrine & Covenants:

It looks like 1829-1833 and 1838 were pretty intense in terms of canonized revelations.  I believe more will come.

Meanwhile, however, I'm curious as to what sort of canonized revelations are "missing."  For folks who feel that we don't have enough, what sorts of revelations would you hope to see received and canonized?  .........................

These gaps ......................

The gaps have always been substantial, even in biblical times.  God even speaks of such gaps as times of famine of revelation (Amos 8:11-12, Prov 29:18, Hos 4:6).  Indeed, there is no reason to have a revelation, unless one is needed for some purpose.  The initial revelations to Joseph Smith Jr were for the purpose of  restoring all things (Acts 1:6, 3:21).  Once that had been established, there was no more reason for a constant burst of further revelation -- except in very specific instances, such as the Mormon Exodus across the Great Plains by Brigham Young (D&C 136).  Since then, for the most part, the LDS leaders have been carefully guarding their own 'sacred deposit of the faith" via their own magisterium (sacred and authoritative teaching of the Church).

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Could we perhaps say something similar about canonized revelations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

What does a prophet look like?

What does a prophet act like?

How do we know?...........................

For answers to such questions, I always recommend a more than casual look at ancient prophets.  What did they do, and how did they do it?   LDS members and scholars usually ignore this essential academic exercise.

And revelations do not have to be canonized to be revelatory.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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14 hours ago, smac97 said:

What does a prophet look like?

What does a prophet act like?

How do we know?

We can't know. We might draw conclusions based on one premise or more, like using historical precedent or statements in adopted texts. But those are only assumptions which have to various extent become tradition. That's not knowledge about God or the identity of God's mouthpiece.

 

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9 hours ago, Ipod Touch said:

Did Paul Dunn tell that story?

Forgive my skepticism, but the story is a bit too "perfect" and sounds more like what a Latter-day Saint would *want* to hear from a Catholic.

I don't think such cynicism is warranted. 

First, the statement is eminently plausible.  It makes quite a bit of sense when examining our "position," and yet makes no ultimate concession to it. 

Second, Elder Orson F. Whitney, the source cited by Elder Richards, seems to have been a well-regarded man.

Third, the Catholic theologian quoted by Elder Whitney, John A. Reiner (see here), is not the only Catholic to have developed ideas along these lines.  See here:

Quote

Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) wrote the following about an exchange with a Catholic:

 

Quote

 

A Catholic Utterance

Many years ago a learned man, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, came to Utah and spoke from the stand of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I became well acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue's end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science, and philosophy. One day he said to me: "You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don't even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that's all there is to it. The Protestants haven't a leg to stand on. For if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there was no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism's attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the Gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the Gospel in latter days."

My reply was substantially as follows: "I agree with you, Doctor, in nearly all that you have said. But don't deceive yourself with the notion that we 'Mormons' are not aware of the strength of our position. We are better aware of it than anyone else. We have not all been to college; we cannot all speak the dead languages; we may be 'ignoramuses,' as you say; but we know that we are right, and we know that you are wrong." I was just as frank with him as he had been with me. (Orson F. Whitney, The Strength of the "Mormon" Position [Independence, Miss.: Zions Printing and Publishing Co., 1917], 9-10; the Catholic was a John A. Reiner. On this, see Kevin L. Barney, A Footnote to “The Strength of the Mormon Position”)

 

One was reminded of the above from Elder Whitney after reading a new book published by Catholic Answers on the papacy by Joe Heschmeyer of Shameless Popery about how the LDS position (here, on the issue of the Apostasy) is better than those of the Protestant churches:

 

Quote

 

The Apostasy Free-for-All

If the entire Church founded by Jesus could go wrong for several centuries, until a German monk like Luther or a French lawyer like Calvin restored orthodoxy, is there any particular reason to believe that orthodoxy even exists today? Norman Fox, a nineteenth-century Baptist professor, became convinced that everybody was wrong about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper other than himself. In his book on the subject, he anticipates the obvious response: “Do you really mean to say that the whole church has been in error for so many centuries” (Norman Fox, Christ in the Daily Meal [New York, NY: Fords, Howard & Hulbert, 1898], p. 105)? But Fox is sly. He sees that there is no way a Protestant could seriously object to this. After all:

Quote

The Baptists do not hesitate to declare that nearly the whole church fell into error regarding the subjects of baptism; the Presbyterians affirm the same regarding orders in the ministry, and the Congregationlists make the same assertion concerning church government. (Ibid.)

If it’s believable that Christ let his entire Church fall into error for 1,500 years, why not 2,000? Or, for that matter, why not 30,000? And if it’s believable that the whole Church could err on the structure of the Church, why couldn’t the whole Church be wrong about the Trinity or any other doctrine?

Indeed, believing that we’re still in a state of apostasy would be more coherent than believing the standard Protestant views offered. As implausible as it is that Jesus allowed is Church to almost immediately fail, it’s a great deal less plausible that he then allowed it to be restored by a German monk (Luther), a French lawyer (Calvin), etc. Mormon apologists have been quick to point this out. Since Jesus himself founded the early Church, they reason that the founder of the restored Church must at least be a prophet, so it makes more sense to follow Joseph Smith than Martin Luther.

James E. Talmage, regarded as an “apostle” within Mormonism, points out that “the weakness of the Protestant sects as to any claim to divine appointment and authority is recognized by those churches themselves” (James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy [Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News, 1909], p. 159). In other words, Protestant denominations don’t even pretend to be the Church of Jesus Christ. Whereas “the Roman Catholic Church is at least consistent in its claim that a line of succession in the priesthood has been maintained from the apostolic age to the present,” the Protestant denominations “are by their own admission and by the circumstances of their origin, manmade institutions, without a semblance of the claim to the powers and authority of the holy priesthood” (Ibid., p. 160). The point here isn’t that Mormonism is right—it isn’t. But Talmage is right about this much: the idea that the whole visible Church fell into apostasy makes more sense if you’re arguing for Mormonism than if you’re arguing for Protestantism. (Joe Heschmeyer, Pope Peter: Defending the Church’s Most Distinctive Doctrine in a Time of Crisis [El Cajon, Calif.: Catholic Answers Press, 2020], 215-17, emphasis in bold added) 

 

 

Posted 6th July 2020 by Robert Boylan

Thanks,

-Smac

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13 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I suppose all religious claims are grandiose to a degree. And yes, the claims surrounding the papacy are grandiose. Perhaps, though, more people are used to the claims of the papacy, since it's been around for 2000 years (give or take, depending on your view of Catholicism). I'll say within Christendom, though, the LDS claims concerning a prophet who sees and speaks with God and delivers the actual words of God to the world are unique and sound quite impressive. And it's this that I want to focus on. How does the prophet and continuing revelation actually work? Is it unique? Do they match the appearance/expectation? And you've aptly titled your thread based on that.

I think this sense is the result of experiencing, realizing and appreciating the power, gift and companionship of the Holy Ghost. In other words, enough individuals appreciate how the light of God shines in darkness, no matter our circumstances, and how God works with us individually, as imperfect as we are. That is very impressive. We typically see others as we see ourselves.

From my standpoint, I think the prophets see and speak with God and deliver the actual word of God to the world just as I do within my scope of priesthood responsibility and frame of reference. Of course, words like “see,” “speak,” and “actual word” can be taken literally and/or figuratively, depending on one’s personal makeup. But in any case, the workings of the Spirit in the various forms are the same, and I have benefited greatly from what living prophets have had to say, see and deliver, as well as dead prophets (the scriptural canon).

The way things appear, or perceptions, are typically driven by expectation, and the interpretation of congruence is typically driven by bias.

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59 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think this sense is the result of experiencing, realizing and appreciating the power, gift and companionship of the Holy Ghost. In other words, enough individuals appreciate how the light of God shines in darkness, no matter our circumstances, and how God works with us individually, as imperfect as we are. That is very impressive. We typically see others as we see ourselves.

From my standpoint, I think the prophets see and speak with God and deliver the actual word of God to the world just as I do within my scope of priesthood responsibility and frame of reference. Of course, words like “see,” “speak,” and “actual word” can be taken literally and/or figuratively, depending on one’s personal makeup. But in any case, the workings of the Spirit in the various forms are the same, and I have benefited greatly from what living prophets have had to say, see and deliver, as well as dead prophets (the scriptural canon).

The way things appear, or perceptions, are typically driven by expectation, and the interpretation of congruence is typically driven by bias.

One of my former BYU ward members claims to see visions. The message from them is that Covid vaccines were created in Hell, and that taking one will stamp one's body with the Mark of the Beast. This person assures me that angels attend them and that this is a message from God. They seem very sure that this is revelation.

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13 hours ago, smac97 said:

I'm quite okay with your tone and approach.  I very much appreciate your presence here.

Okay.

I tend to agree.  As I see it, the claims of Catholicism and the claims of the Latter-day Saints are both "grandiose."  I am reminded of this excerpt from Elder LeGrande Richard's book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder:

Thoughts?

That's an arcane topic.

I think it is, yes.  We believe apostles are "Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ."  See, e.g., here:

And here:

So yes.  "Unique."

Hard to say, since such "expectations" vary from person to person, sometimes in significant ways.

I'm wondering if "see if the claim (the words) match up to the way both actually function" could be more accurately stated as "see if the claim (the words) match up to the way a given individual subjectively and perhaps arbitrarily expects them to both actually function."

I don't think they function in the same way.  I think the claims of revelation and priesthood authority differentiate them quite a bit.

In broad terms, all religious leaders "function in the same way."  But when we get down to brass tacks, I think there are significant differences.

I can understand and appreciate that.  But when we speak of "revelation" in a Latter-day Saint context, the concept can and ought to be construed the way Latter-day Saints intend.  When that happens, I think most of the difficulty goes away.

Interesting stuff!  Thank you for sharing.  

True.  Different prophets will function in different ways.  A friend (perhaps my dad?) once suggested that Joseph Smith could not have led the Latter-day Saints west out of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young could not have received the revelations Joseph did.  I think that's probably correct.

It bears some attention that Joseph Smith was a "dispensation head," along with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the original Twelve Apostles.  He therefore filled a singular and preeminent role in our day.  So contrasting Pres. Nelson to Joseph is akin to contrasting Isaac to Abraham, or Joshua to Moses.  These are prophets, but the latter ones are "dispensation heads," and so play more prominent roles.

This presupposes a narrow meaning of "revelations."  Consider this:

I think you have in mind - as you have said - the more "grandiose" types of revelation, such as 1 (theophanies), 3 (visitations of angelic persons), 4 (Urim & Thummim), 5 (open visions), and so on.

Is a prophet only a prophet if he experiences a literal theophany?  I don't think so.

Again, Joseph Smith was a dispensation head.  

Also, Pres. Nelson is nearly two centuries "downstream" from Joseph.  It's understandable that his ministry would function differently from the establishing the foundations of the Restoration, as Joseph (mostly) did.

Also, I think Pres. Nelson acts like Joseph Smith in many important ways.  They both testify as "special witnesses" of Jesus Christ.  They both function as apostles with restored priesthood authority.  They both claim to be receiving revelation from God.  

I can't help but wonder if your comparison here is mostly about subjective expectations about how a prophet "should" act.

Again, you seem to be utilizing "revelations" in a very restricted way.  By your reckoning, we could almost toss out Peter as a prophet or apostle because we have little or no "revelations to read" from him.  The same could be said for many, many other prophets.

I think there are differences, owing largely to A) Joseph being a dispensation head, and B) Joseph's prophetic responsibilities differing a lot from Pres. Nelson's.  I mean, a lot.

But that doesn't mean Joseph was a prophet and Pres. Nelson is not.

I do.  All sorts of it.  But like "revelations," I think you are construing "prophecy" very narrowly, and not in ways that don't quite fit the Latter-day Saint paradigm.

So do I.  It's all over the Doctrine & Covenants, and also in today's General Conference talks.  Joseph's prophecies included all sorts of "advice, exhortation, instruction."

I'm okay with that.  Again, Joseph was a dispensation head.  He restored the foundational principles upon which his successors build and grow the Church.

Well, sorta.  He's not claiming to be an apostle.  That's a pretty significant difference.

The phrase "he acted like one would think a prophet would" really jumps out here.  What an individual subjectively (and arbitrarily?) expects is seldom going to be determinative.

By way of illustration: I graduated from law school in 2004, and have been practicing law as a litigator ever since.  I have participated in many hundreds of hearings before state and federal judges.  Some time ago I realized something: judges never use gavels.  And I mean never.  I can't think of a single hearing I have attended where the judge has used a gavel.  I also came to realize that I had a pretty strong expectation about this, no doubt arising from me having watched all sorts of courtroom dramas on TV and in the movies where the judge bangs the gavel and yells "Order in the Court!"  I've never heard a judge yell, either.  Or even lose his/her temper.  Or hold someone in contempt.  And so on.  As it turns out, I realized a while back that I had tacit expectations that judges would act "like one would think" they would.  And yet . . . they don't.  Does that mean they aren't judges?  Clearly not.  It means my expectations and assumptions needed some examination and adjustment.

I wonder if you similarly have tacit expectations about how prophets should act.  This would apparently involve regular production of first-person narrative writings, attributed to revelation, such as we see in the Doctrine & Covenants.  And then these regularly-produced writings would be regularly canonized.  I'm just not sure that such expectations are determinative.

I dunno.  Official Declaration 2 is presented as a revelation from God.  The Papal pronouncement is . . . not?

We have an open canon, which included two Official Declarations, one of which was canonized in my lifetime.

I think the paradigms are too different.

And yet the Pope wouldn't present it as revelation from God to his Presiding High Priest, to the senior Apostle on the earth.

Actually, I don't think you have.  This takes me back to my "Washington County Judicial Assembly" experience.  Saying "Well, anyone could do what Pres. Nelson does" is, in some ways, like saying "Well, anyone could do what a police officer does."  But acting like a police officer doesn't make you one.  The investiture of law enforcement authority from the government is not just "a matter of semantics and definition."  Similarly, the investiture of priesthood authority from God is not just "a matter of semantics," either.

I stand corrected.

And yet that authority is, by your accounting, necessarily less than that of the apostles, is it not?  Apostles could receive revelations and write scripture, but the Pope cannot?

In any event, I have long felt that the the quote above from Elder Richards is pretty spot on.  When all is said and done, it comes down to the Catholics or the Latter-day Saints.

This is where I need to construe Catholic doctrines from within a Catholic paradigm.  For me, apostolic authority is held by apostles.  

"Apostle" is a priesthood office.  "Prophet" is not.

And yet whether Joseph Smith was a prophet was still, in the end, a matter of faith.  The same goes for believing that Pres. Nelson is the prophet today.

I don't measure a prophetic mantle by contrasting the individual to the head of the Catholic Church.  That's just not on my radar.

And Joseph Smith was a dispensation head, so expectations as to his successors should be adjusted accordingly.

Also, Joseph Smith was laying foundations for successive prophets and apostles to build upon and strengthen. 

If I want to build a house, I'll hire a contractor to come in, clear the lot, do excavation and leveling work, and pour the foundations.  Then I'll hire another contractor to do the framing, and another to do the drywall, and another to to the electrical, another the roof, and so on.  And then, many years later, I may need to hire yet another contractor to renovate the basement, and another to replace the roof.  All of these guys were contractors, but they weren't performing identical work.  

Another example is found in 1 Corinthians 12, where Paul spoke of "diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit," and "differences of administrations, but the same Lord," and "diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all."  "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. ... For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. ... But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. ... And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness."

This is how I perceive your understanding of Joseph Smith.  Joseph performed the function of the "eye," therefore all of his successors should also have been "eyes."  But I don't think that's the way it works.  Joseph had his role to play - and it was a prominent and particularly notable one - but that doesn't mean the Lord intended for his successors to perform identical labors.  Again, I don't think Joseph could have lead the Saints west, and I don't think Brigham Young could have received Joseph's theophanies.  

I think there are all sorts of "similar actions/appearances."  Apart from canonized revelations, what is it that you think Joseph did that Pres. Nelson does not do?

I think the Book of Mormon is a "real difference."  So are the claims of restored priesthood authority, living prophets and apostles, continuing revelation, an open canon, temple work, and so on.

Joseph, the dispensation head.  Joseph, who laid the foundation his successors would build upon.  Once the foundational principles have been restored, it makes little sense to have them restored again.  

That does not mean that we can't or won't receive further revelation.  I believe that will happen, and I believe it is happening now.  

Both are canonized revelations.  

In some ways, yes.  

But the timing of when revelations are canonized is not predictable or consistent.  

I think it is.  The Constitution was never intended to be a one-and-done kind of thing.  To the contrary, it was drafted to allow for amendments, for "more" to be added to it.  It's more akin to an "open canon" of scripture than you may think.

Well, it's an analogy.  A comparison of two otherwise dissimilar things. 

Very thoughtful comments, my friend.  Thank you for sharing them here.

Thanks,

-Smac

Wow! Judges don’t use gavels? My worldview just changed. This has thrown me for a loop!

Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK. I just need some time to process this. 
 

Incidentally, I HAVE seen a judge hold someone in contempt of court. I will explain: 
 

In the early years of my career as a newspaper reporter, I would routinely attend and observe judicial proceedings as part of my job. On one such occasion, after the judge had dealt with an accused offender, a woman in the courtroom, apparently a relative of the accused, stood up and essentially demanded to be heard, much like I had seen unruly citizens occasionally behave during city council meetings. 
 

The judge refused her, saying he didn’t know who she was. He meant, of course, that you don’t just show up and demand attention from a judge without going through proper procedures first. 
 

Well, this woman waxed indignant, harrumphed, and ranted about how she had just been treated. The judge immediately held her in contempt of court for “trying to tell the court its business,” gave her a stiff fine, and ordered her to pay it by the end of business that day on penalty of being confined in jail. 
 

The courthouse was only minutes away from closing for the day. I have seldom seen someone move that fast, as she hustled downstairs to the county clerk’s office to get that fine paid to avoid having to spend the night in jail. 
 

It was and is the first and only time I have observed a moment of real-life courtroom drama as entertaining as what I’ve seen on TV. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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7 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

One of my former BYU ward members claims to see visions. The message from them is that Covid vaccines were created in Hell, and that taking one will stamp one's body with the Mark of the Beast. This person assures me that angels attend them and that this is a message from God. They seem very sure that this is revelation.

One day someone will actually find a way to completely debunk the Mark of the Beast is an implant nonsense without dismissing the prophecy altogether.

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12 hours ago, Ipod Touch said:

Did Paul Dunn tell that story?

Forgive my skepticism, but the story is a bit too "perfect" and sounds more like what a Latter-day Saint would *want* to hear from a Catholic.

The story has been in print for many, many years in a prominent and perennially published book (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder), widely regarded as a classic in the literature of the Latter-day Saints.. In all that time, it has never been contradicted. That and the fact that it is attributed by name to a prominent theologian speaks to its veracity. Comparing it to Paul H. Dunn’s anecdotal, spurious and ultimately discredited yarns strikes me as ill considered. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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Regarding the question, "What does a prophet look/act like?", I spent years gathering Biblical passages that distinguished true and false prophets, and came up with a list of 28 or so distinguishing features. It occured to me that anyone could have done what I had done, and no one had.  Why not?

I gathered passages in the Bible that described what a person should to see truth, with contrasting warnings about what not to do, about behaviors that prevent a person from seeing truth.  These turned out to describe a pattern of inquiry and behavior designed to put at risk what a person previously thinks is true and what a person desires, what they want to be right.  That is, in order to see truth, a person must be teachable, willing to make the sacrifice of a contrite spirit, rather than, beginning behind the notion that "That cannot be right!", and a person must also be willing to sacrifice their personal desires, that is, offer the sacrifice of a broken heart.  These are precisely the sacrifices that Jesus calls for in 3 Nephi 9:20 at the begining of the Nephite endowment ceremony at the Temple.  And Joseph Campbell observed that Ancient Temples typically had two guardians at the entrance, representing Fear and Desire, what we think is so, and what we want to be so.  I recall that when the Buddha mediated under the Bo tree, he was tempted by Maya, God of Illusions, using Fear and Desire.  Fear and Desire must be discarded to enter the Real.  We must be willing to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Then I gathered Biblical passages that recounted arguments given against Biblical prophets.  I gathered around 70 of these, and was first startled to see that none of them had gone out of date.  All were still in common use.  And eventually I realized that they all boiled down to people saying, "It's not what I think", (for example, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" or "Have any of the rulers or of the pharisees believed on him?") or, "It's not what I desire," for example, "And at that saying, the young man left for he had great possessions," or "I hate him, for doeth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil," or "If we let him alone the Romans will come and take away our nation...")

So there is an organic relationship between the steps a person takes to discern truth (that is, "knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come") and the specific arguments they end up making to justify themselves, to justify their preconceptions and rationalize and defend their own desires.   For example, after seeing the angel, where Alma looks to his own sins and repents, Laman and Lemuel look to fear and grievance as self justifications.

So there are 28 Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets as well as patterns of inquiry to follow and bad examples to avoid.  They are freely available to anyone who seeks them.  You don't even have look them up own your own.  Just look.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets

The alternative is to rely on one's own subjective preconceptions, and one's own present desires, to see whether a prophet measures up to those.  "Is he what I expect, does he agree with what I think, is he what I want him to be?" rather than, "Is his inspiration Real?"  And that is why the Biblical passages recounting arguments against Biblical prophets remain timely.

"For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall also be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you again." (Matt 7:2)

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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27 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

The story has been in print for many, many years in a prominent and perennially published book (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder), widely regarded as a classic in the literature of the Latter-day Saints.. In all that time, it has never been contradicted. That and the fact that it is attributed by name to a prominent theologian speaks to its veracity. Comparing it to Paul H. Dunn’s anecdotal, spurious and ultimately discredited yarns strikes me as ill considered. 

Perhaps. But there is often no malice in sharing stories tailored to prove a specific point.  

As I say, this story is just too perfect and frankly, Legrand Richards isn't exactly always a reliable source.  And he has all the motivation necessary to tailor an account to serve his overall goals of promoting the Gospel message.

 

Edited by Ipod Touch
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56 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

One of my former BYU ward members claims to see visions. The message from them is that Covid vaccines were created in Hell, and that taking one will stamp one's body with the Mark of the Beast. This person assures me that angels attend them and that this is a message from God. They seem very sure that this is revelation.

And what does she say about the prophet?

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

First, the statement is eminently plausible.  It makes quite a bit of sense when examining our "position," and yet makes no ultimate concession to it. 

Second, Elder Orson F. Whitney, the source cited by Elder Richards, seems to have been a well-regarded man.

I agree that the general sentiment of the conversation is accurate given LDS theological positions.  But I still remain skeptical that the conversation is being conveyed exactly as spoken.  It's just too good to be completely accurate, IMO.

Having said that, I think there are lots of other religionists that have "Holy Envy" when it comes to the Latter-day Saints.  With temples, wonderful communities, success in education etc...  there is much to be admired by other believers.

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57 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

One of my former BYU ward members claims to see visions. The message from them is that Covid vaccines were created in Hell, and that taking one will stamp one's body with the Mark of the Beast. This person assures me that angels attend them and that this is a message from God. They seem very sure that this is revelation.

Stuff like this is why we have multiple means of evaluating such things.  Consider these remarks by Michael Ash:

Quote

Roman Catholics take a three-legged tripod-like approach to determining truth—Scripture, Tradition, and the Pope. I believe that we Latter-day Saints are asked to take a four-legged approach to truth, like the four legs of a stool. These would include: Scripture, Prophets, Personal Revelation, and Reason. By utilizing the methodologies for all four of these tools, we have a better chance of accurately determining what is true.

Your friend seems to be relying solely on one leg of the stool (personal revelation) and mostly or entirely disregarding the other three: reason, prophets and scripture.

  • Reason: The vaccines have been created by experts working very hard for many months.  The intent of the vaccines is to help the world overcome a pandemic.  There is no evidence of any artifice or ulterior motive in play.
  • Prophets: Pres. Nelson and the other leaders of the Church have been vaccinated and are encouraging us to get the vaccine.
  • Scripture: The Lord's house is "a house of order."  (D&C 109:8.)  The scriptures are replete with exhortations to listen to and follow prophetic guidance, which in this case is to get vaccinated.

If your friend were to use "the methodologies for all four of these tools," he/she would "have a better chance of accurately determining what is true."

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 minutes ago, Ipod Touch said:

Perhaps. But there is often no malice in sharing stories tailored to prove a specific point.  

As I say, this story is just too perfect and frankly, Legrand Richards isn't exactly always a reliable source.  And he has all the motivation necessary to tailor an account to serve his overall goals of promoting the Gospel message.

 

Having no malicious intent scarcely mitigates foolish behavior, and passing off a fictional account as true is not justified by a desire “to prove a specific point.” 
 

That said, I don’t accept your insinuation that Elder Richards is guilty of such a thing in this instance. Nor do I accept on the strength of your unsupported assertion that Elder Richards is a less-than-reliable source. 
 

And Elder Richards is not the primary source of this story anyway. As Smac pointed out, the quoted source is Orson F. Whitney, who documented it. 
 

I still say your comparison of this to Paul Dunn’s spurious tales is inappropriate. 

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16 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

Hi Smac!

Thanks for opening the topic here. I enjoyed the conversation on this topic that was had on the other thread and am interested to see wider input on a thread solely dedicated to this topic. I also wanted to say that I hesitated a second before hitting submit, because my tone/tenor was a bit more critical than I usually am. My personal purpose on this board is to learn more about the LDS faith, tp clarify things concerning Catholicism, and now, after these years, to enjoy the personalities of those who post. But the issue of a living prophet and continuing revelation is one that I don't mind gently criticizing.

I do want to include something here from my original post. I don't really want to get into the discussion of which church is Christ's church (that would settle the topic, ha). I'm more interested in what I see as a difference between what is claimed and what appears to be going on.

I suppose all religious claims are grandiose to a degree. And yes, the claims surrounding the papacy are grandiose. Perhaps, though, more people are used to the claims of the papacy, since it's been around for 2000 years (give or take, depending on your view of Catholicism). I'll say within Christendom, though, the LDS claims concerning a prophet who sees and speaks with God and delivers the actual words of God to the world are unique and sound quite impressive. And it's this that I want to focus on. How does the prophet and continuing revelation actually work? Is it unique? Do they match the appearance/expectation? And you've aptly titled your thread based on that.

Ok, #1: Difference in Titles:

True. And you correctly quoted/summarized the Catholic view of the Pope and the bishops. We do not claim they are apostles -- the apostles were those that were sent by Christ with the Great Commission to teach and baptize. They are the successors to the apostles with the priesthood authority of the apostles.

I do agree with your statement here. The claims between Pope Francis and President Nelson are significantly different. Pope Francis does not claim to be an apostle. He claims he is a successor to the apostles, and to Saint Peter in particular. But, my whole point is to see if the claim (the words) match up to the way both actually function. My contention is that they (Francis and Nelson) function the same, despite one claiming to be a prophet and an apostle, so in the end it's only words, even though one sounds more grandiose than the other.

#2: Continuing Revelation and Open Canon

Now we are going to get into the issue of what the word "revelation" means in LDS and Catholicism. They are not the same, and that causes some difficulty.

Yes, and that has stated many times before Vatican II. However, revelation here does NOT mean receiving truth, information, understanding, etc., from God. It means that the deposit of faith, the full and complete gospel, the truth and means of salvation, were revealed in Jesus Christ. Christ's apostles were not lacking any truth needed for salvation. Nothing was withheld from them. From the catechism:

So, no new public revelation, because it was fully given in Christ. However, look at the bolded part. The Christian faith will continue, over centuries, to understand it, to develop it, to apply it to new situations. It will make the revelation more explicit. This is done with the inspiration of and under the protections of the Holy Spirit. This is the purpose of the Magisterium (the equivalent of the LDS Brethren). This is why there have been 21 ecumenical councils that are inspired by the Holy Spirit to further our understanding of what God revealed when He spoke His Word, Christ Jesus, into the world. This is why the Pope frequently writes encyclicals and other documents, to help clarify our understanding of the deposit of faith that was given by and through Christ.

We do not believe in further revelation, but our definition of the word is not really the same as your definition of the word, especially as it appears today. What the LDS church appears to claim as revelation today seems very similar to what the Catholic Church does. We just don't call it revelation, because we use revelation to mean something else. But we do believe that it comes from God, through the Holy Spirit.

The revelation of Christ will never pass away, so no new (in other words different) revelation is needed.

I included the last sentence in the quote because I hadn't really thought of it as possibly referring to the restorationist churches before. Now I think it does. Because of your belief in the apostasy, new revelation was needed. Because we believe there was no apostasy, no new revelation was needed (using the Catholic definition of revelation).

Now remember, no new revelation does NOT mean no inspiration, no guidance from God, no learning what God's will is, no clarification from God on what is true, etc. Catholicism very much believes in these things.

No, I know you believe he has. But there is marked difference between how Joseph Smith appeared and how President Nelson appears. Joseph Smith gave out the revelations to read. He acted like a prophet. President Nelson, from what I can gather, does not act like Joseph Smith. There are no revelations to read. There are no direct words of God. So his claim in a very blatant way does not match up to Joseph Smith's claim. He is called a prophet, but I see no prophecy. I see advice, exhortation, instruction. But it nothing like what Joseph Smith did.

The Pope frequently issues counsel, clarification, and understanding through papal encyclicals and apostolic constitutions. There is a list of recent ones here. He also frequently gives homilies. There is also the most solemn address Urbi et Orbi that is given 2 or 3 times a year.

So the Pope has the equivalent of general conference. Remember, my point is that the way the LDS President (not Joseph Smith -- he acted like one would think a prophet would) functions and the way the Pope functions are nearly identical, despite the difference in names/titles.

If we use the LDS definition of revelation, the answer is also "no" for Catholicism.

Again, from the catechism:

So, we also believe in private revelations, like your mission call.

The last ecumenical council closed in 1965 (I wasn't alive). The last infallible statement pronounced by a Pope was from Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950 (alas, I also wasn't alive). Let's take a look at that pronouncement:

Now, when I compare that to Official Declaration 2, I gotta say that the Papal pronouncement has got a little more oomph behind it, but I guess that's not terribly important. My point is, you have Official Declarations, we have ex cathedra infallible Papal declarations. Now, this was not added to "the Canon" meaning to the Bible. The Bible is closed. But we are not sola scriptura, so even though nothing will be added to the Bible, Pope Pius XII declared a new dogma. You could consider this, using your definition, as continuing revelation.

You also include a list of what you consider contemporary revelation. Those are exactly the same sorts of things that the Pope has/can/would do. You respond to that idea with this:

It seems pretty similar to me. There is really nothing in that list if tweaked to be related to Catholicism that I would say that the Pope couldn't do. And the disclaimer of revelation is only a matter of semantics and definition, as I hope I've shown above.

The Catholic Church absolutely makes claims to apostolic authority. The bishops are the successors of the apostles. They have the authority of the apostles. They are not called apostles, but they have their authority. That is what our entire Magisterium (and Church) is based on: Apostolic succession.

Above, in section 1, you wrote about claims of apostolic status, and I agreed with you. Pope Francis does not claim to be an apostle. But he must definitely claims apostolic authority, as do all bishops in the Catholic Church.

Also, I noticed you used "apostolic/prophetic authority." Why does the LDS church equate the two? Why does apostle = prophet?

Two responses to this. It appears to the me that the claims of revelation and open canon were obvious to all in Joseph Smith's time. The claim matched the actions and appearance, and the actions and appearance were markedly different from the Catholic Church. Today, however, the claims don't seem to match the actions and appearance much, and the actions and appearance are similar to the Catholic Church.

I understand what you mean and can appreciate it, too. I guess my issue is that Joseph Smith set up some pretty strong expectations. When I read the story of Joseph Smith and am told that he was a prophet and President Nelson is a prophet, I guess I would expect some similar actions/appearances. They just aren't there. Why?

And when the LDS church makes emphatic claims of continuing revelation as something unique to it, but I don't see any real difference between what the LDS church does and what the Catholic Church does, I also ask, why?

Maybe it is subjective. But it is based on what Joseph Smith set up. And the two additions since the 1800s are official declarations, which sounds a little different than a revelation. But I don't need to quibble too much over that. I'll just reiterate that the LDS open canon has a parallel in Catholicism. We don't add to the Bible. But when a dogma and/or anathema is declared, it is as binding upon the Catholic faithful as the contents of the Bible. Catholicism rests on Sacred Scripture (the Bible), Sacred Tradition (what was handed down but not written in the Bible), and the Magisterium (the Pope and the bishops in communion with him). They are equally important, so from a certain point of view you can say we have an open canon -- when the Magisterium declares a dogma.

I don't think this analogy works. Continuing revelation and an open canon are hallmarks of the LDS faith. The fact that the constitution can be amended is not a hallmark. Is it necessary? Yes. Is it a good thing? Yes. But the LDS emphasis on continuing revelation is much much greater than any emphasis placed on the fact that the constitution can be amended.

LDS missionaries often begin with, "we have a prophet who receives revelation from God." Advocates of the constitution do not being with, "we have a constitution that can be amended."

Someone who gives prophecies. Someone who speaks for God. Joseph Smith is a good example, I'd say.

I really appreciate your perspectives.

I've shared this before but I'll share it again. Back when I was serving as a bishop I had the opportunity to meet with Pres. Nelson one-on-one. (He was actually Pres. of quorum of twelve at the time) I was able to ask him what essentially amounts to this question "Why do prophets and apostles today not act like prophet's in the early days of the church? Where are the miracles?" Even though I was a super faithful/believing bishop I had this question and Pres. Nelson's answer left me feeling very unsatisfied. He essentially said, "isn't it wonderful that the brethren today are more mature in the ways of the spirit that such grandiose displays of miracles are no longer needed to teach them."

Ugh. Even then I thought this was a terrible, prideful comment. To my eyes Joseph acted like a prophet. There were miracles, visions, revelations. But Pres. Nelson seemed to be saying that the current leadership was better than that because they were more mature. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I think this interaction with Nelson started me on my faith journey away from belief in the LDS church.

In a sense I appreciate that the brethren aren't trying to  "act" like a prophet by being phony about how they experience revelation/inspiration, but at the same time I found myself wishing they had a bit more humility about it. I believe the brethren in the LDS church, like the magisterium in the Catholic church, do their best to follow the example of Christ. I believe they seek the spirit to do things according to the will of God and I believe they believe they receive inspiration that leads them in their duties, but I think they've dumbed down the expectations of what a prophet, seer and revelator should be so that they can hold the title without guilt for not being a party to miracles.

 

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