Prophets, Prophecy and the Mormon Church
Why the ‘prophecy’ spoken by the Mormon Church is not from God
by Mark Grote
When we examine the behaviors of the Mormon Church, we must compare that which it practices with the examples set by those in the bible who followed God before us. In His ministry, the Lord Jesus said at times, “You have heard it said … “; then He would quote a verse from the Old “Testament. He would follow that by saying, “But I say to you” (Matthew 5). These new words brought change, a different understanding and new practice.
There are many things that flow out of the Old Testament and into the New. There are some things that clearly do not, such as animal sacrifice, polygamy and stoning people caught in sin.
When we examine the prophetic ministry through both covenants, there are areas of similarity but also of difference.
Both are called by similar titles: prophet, man of God, servant of the Lord and messenger of the Lord.
There are many similarities in terms of their function as prophets. In both covenants, they would act as spokesmen and the mouthpiece of God. They would be engaged in forthtelling and foretelling. They would pronounce judgment and interpret the law. They would communicate their prophecies in the same way by word of mouth, in dreams and visions, by action and symbolic drama, strange burdens and also by the written Word.
Both covenants have prophets of vision, with Daniel and Zechariah in the Old and John (Revelation) in the New. There are prophets of judgment in both covenants. There are prophets of Scripture, such as Isaiah, and in the New Covenant many of Paul’s Epistles are written with a strong prophetic influence.
Prophets in both covenants are concerned with the morality of the Church and are actively preparing the Church to be the Bride of Christ. There is also a strong spirit of justice at work in all prophets that speaks out against all moral, social, governmental and political corruption and injustice. They are a part of that Kingdom voice of God that calls all men everywhere to repent from idolatry, sin and unfaithfulness to God.
The Old Testament prophets were also called seers, a term not applied to or within the Church. Under the Old Covenant prophets gave guidance to people who came looking for a word from the Lord. In 1 Samuel 9:4-10, Saul and his friend went to inquire regarding the whereabouts of a certain donkey, and Saul found a kingdom instead!
Inquiring of the Lord and seeking guidance from the prophet is a major function of the Old Covenant that is completely outlawed in the New.
Under the terms of the New Covenant, we have all been given the Holy Spirit and if we invite him into our heart we can enjoy an intimate relationship with the Lord. Guidance is the by product of a right relationship with God not as a means to it. In the Old Testament the priests represented man to God, and the prophets heard from the Lord and spoke to men.
Now we have Jesus the great High Priest and the Holy Spirit, who is our helper, resident within our lives. Anyone one can examine the bible and see that no New Testament prophet was ever used to give or to bring prophecies that guided, steered or governed people in the will of God. Instead they are used to give confirmation to people. Even when receiving new or future words, we, His people are instructed to judge and weigh them and wait for confirmation.
There is a check on this kind of activity in the Church by the process of examining every prophetic utterance. Christian prophets do not tell people what to do; they confirm what God is saying. To go to a Christian prophet for direction and guidance is to violate the New Covenant, which gives us direct access and approach to God through Christ by the Spirit. People do not “need” a prophecy; they need the Lord Jesus. There is absolutely no need to seek a prophecy. New Testament people receive guidance, direction and oversight of their lives from Scripture, which is infallible, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Prophets, as well as other witnesses and ministries, can confirm what we receive personally from the Lord.
We need to understand the difference between guidance and directive prophecy. Guidance occurs when people seek out the prophet and ask for prophetic insight into their lives and situations (e.g., I Samuel 9). This is an Old Covenant approach, because the Holy Spirit came upon people.
In the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit resides within people and teaches them to know the voice of the Lord for themselves. A directive prophecy is therefore an unsought word, sovereignly imparted by the Lord into our lives to bring either confirmation or, indeed, to completely open our lives to some new purpose. The initiative lies completely with the Lord. However, we are to judge and weigh everything in a responsible manner.
Christian prophets, when asked for guidance, should ask questions to examine the quality of the individual’s walk with God. We cannot take God’s place in this area, but must point people towards an improved relationship with the Lord Jesus through the activities of the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Covenant the prophets were some of the main historians and were used to write infallible Scripture. This aspect of their ministry was given to the apostles in the early Church who, like John, may have had a very strong prophetic element to their gifting.
In the Old Testament, prophets were very forthright in rebuking, warning and chastising people, and were often used to denounce people and their sins. In the Church, prophets minister the word by exhortation, teaching example and confirmation. The Gospel is redemptive, and we are serving a God of grace and mercy; therefore, our prophetic utterances are tempered by the Kingdom message.
Christian prophets should not have the function or personality of their Old Testament counterparts such as we see in the Mormon Church. Prophets were feared before the time of Jesus. They were eccentric, intimidating, authoritarian individuals who gave messages of great portent, often with a foreboding or a sense of impending doom that seemed to hang around them. They were strangely independent, not easy to receive and at times deeply unpopular. Whether their lack of acceptance was due to their presentation, personality or their message (or a combination of all) is perhaps open to question.
By contrast, the Christian prophet must be exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit with all grace and humility. They must be accountable members of the Body of Christ and living under authority of God and other leaders while acting as team members, not an individual or ministry. Never, as illustrated by the bible, does a prophet set doctrine. That’s God’s job and He finished that job 2000 years ago.
In the Old Testament, the prophets were mainly a blessing ministry that over the centuries represented the heart of God to man. In the New Testament, the prophet is a building ministry working with the apostle to lay foundations and establish the Church as the house of the Lord. For that reason the prophetic ministry is subject to the apostolic and comes under its authority (1 Corinthians 12:28-29).
The last prophet of the Old Covenant, John the Baptist, laid his life and ministry at the feet of Jesus who is the first in a new line of New Testament prophets.
Sadly, far too many people, including the Mormon Church, are displaying an Old Testament ministry and personality in a New Testament Church setting. The Mormon Church wrongly operates exclusively in the Old Testament setting and attempts to build its credibility through plagiarized theologies, writings and traditions.
This, I believe, accounts for the large number of horror stories, misunderstandings and misrepresentations that come out of the Mormon Church and belittle real prophetic ministries and on the whole discredit the gift. Many of us can speak of examples where those with undeveloped gifting and limited understanding are seeking an Old ‘Testament anointing.
People like the Mormons with no prophetic gifting from God, or Christians with immature gifting are trying to understand negative words, judgments and pronouncements, without an accurate understanding of grace or how to handle their own frustrations, rejections and lack of humility. It takes time, effort and specialized training that no Mormon that I have met has, to sort these things out and develop Christian prophets fit for the New Testament Church.