Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To Uphold or Not to Uphold: Prophets and Their Unfulfilled Prophecies

So I'm a little frustrated. I got it in my head that I'd try to do a post a day, and despite it's absurdity I'm ridiculously stubborn, so I probably won't settle for twice a week or something until I utterly fail at my newly adopted once-a-day policy. In any case, I feel like I've somewhat left my Joseph Smith prophecy posts hanging. They were started because of an individual on YouTube who had asked me questions about the nature of a prophet. He has since sent a rather lengthy response which I intend to address, unfortunately I'm relatively erratic when it comes to the subjects of my posts, and I've just moved on to other things since my prophet series.

I had thought to write little bits on a post made on a LiveJournal I read years and years ago, but since then the account has been deleted, and subsequently, so was the post. Because the post was just a re-post of something someone else posted, I thought I'd find the source post, but I haven't been able to find it. The LJ post I had read was entitled, "A Faith of Lies." The writer was upset because some of their family had joined the LDS Church.

But, I think I'll post little bits of my response to what this YouTube person had to say to me recently...

He thanked me for my response and promptly asked: "If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and that thing does not come to pass, should I uphold him as a true prophet? Do you think that's OK?"

This is very much an individual matter. I would never presume to have any kind of power over other people's choices, nor would I ever try to force someone to "obey" me.

Now I defer to the scriptural history of a prophet. A prophet was not originally a man who could "predict" the future, rather they were seers. Now you must be thinking, "Hey, I read the post you wrote about the term 'prophet' and 'seer' and you said they were..." blah, blah, blah. According to scripture though, this seer/prophet was one who the Lord chose to show himself to in a vision, who he chose to speak with. It's only relatively later that the scriptures show a change in the prophet's role: to that of the Lord's mouthpiece (see also: Jer. 1:9 and Isa. 51:16). If you've really read through the Old Testament (and I confess I've not read it cover-to-cover) you know the real task of the prophets was to foretell of the Messiah, and re-align the people to God, to remind them of His commandments. However, the prophets would, on occasion, foretell of events to come in the near future to enhance their abilities in the eyes of the people. However, these predictions were always secondary to the prophet's purpose.

And onto the meat of my response, turning this into a personal matter, yes, I would uphold the man as a prophet. For those of you who are thinking, "how silly, how misled," I ask this: Do you uphold Jonah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Nathan and/or Samson as prophets? If so, what about Jonah's prophecy to the people of Nineveh that they'd be destroyed in 40 days? They weren't destroyed. And what about Ezekiel and his prediction of the complete destruction of Tyre by the Babylonians? It wasn't completely destroyed, King Nebuchadrezzar didn't receive the riches of Tyre. And Jeremiah prophesied that King Zedekiah would die in peace. Sure, he died of natural causes, but only after the Babylonians conquered his land, killed his sons, and blinded him. Even then, he died while he was imprisoned. Hardly peaceful. Samuel promised that through Solomon, the Davidic empire would be established permanently; that the children of Israel would live in the promised land, stay there, and no longer be afflicted by the wicked. Well, that's is, thus far, not the case. As for Samson, and angel told his mother he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. This didn't come close to happening. Period. No conditions were placed on these prophecies; it wasn't a question of obedience, the prophecy was simply stated and expected to come to pass.

So, do I uphold the previously listed men as prophets? Even knowing about these prophecies of theirs that never transpired? Yes. Do I think it's OK to uphold a prophet who makes a prophecy that doesn't emerge as a recorded event, in scripture or otherwise? Yes.

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