Prophets in Mormon Belief
Although the Old and New Testament are full of prophets and the mention of prophets, although the Lord has always used prophets to bear testimony of Him and His word and will, most Christians do not believe prophets live today. Members of the Mormon Church believe that the Lord still uses prophets to guide us. They believe that a prophet of God currently leads The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Why do we need prophets?
In Amos 3:7, the Lord says, ““Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Has the Lord ceased to act? Has the world remained static since the coming of Christ and His sacrifice? We are still in need of God’s truth and God’s guidance, and not just the guidance He provided to prophets centuries and centuries ago. Modern prophets continuously reveal truths that God would have us have today.
Again, the world has not remained static. Change is constant. Our time is not Christ’s time, or the time of the early Christians. Our challenges are not the same as their challenges. The Lord’s modern, Mormon prophets stand to give His people guidance and direction for today’s unique challenges.
Didn’t prophets become unnecessary after Christ?
As Christ was greater than any prophet, many Christians believe that, after His coming, prophets were no longer useful. Therefore, there were no prophets then and none today.
However, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, the New Testament speaks of multiple prophets in His Church. Acts 13:1-3 gives us the following. “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Prophets and powerful spiritual gifts still existed after Christ and were not at all unimportant to the Church. Through prophets, the Church was able to make decisions guided by the Holy Ghost and revelation. Mormons believe that their Church is guided by the same.
But doesn’t the Bible give us the guidance we need?
Many Christians do realize Christ’s Church had prophets within it, but do not believe that, after the period described in the New Testament, they were needed further. After all, after the Bible was complete, Christians had all the guidance necessary and no other revelation need come at all.
However, Paul states the following in Ephesians 4:11-13, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
Paul also explains that “for the perfecting of the saints” until “all come in the unity of faith,” prophets are needed. In Mormon belief, and probably all Christian belief, the saints are not yet perfect, nor perfectly unified in faith.
Therefore, the New Testament says nothing about a new lack of need for prophets. In the beliefs of Mormonism, their Prophet, as well as their Twelve Apostles, is called to be a “special witness of the name of Christ in all the world.” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23)
What about these Mormon prophets?
Mormon doctrine teaches that the original Church of Christ lost essential truths over the centuries, after the death of the apostles. Mormons believe that a restoration of these lost truths was essential – if Christ’s true and complete Church was to exist again on the earth, He Himself would have to bring it forth again, through prophets.
Joseph Smith, the first Mormon prophet, was called of God to bring forth a previously hidden record (and testament of Christ), the
Book of Mormon. He also organized the Mormon Church, originally called the Church of Christ and later The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Although Joseph Smith was eventually killed, there have been prophets at the head of the Church since. Gordon B. Hinckley leads the Church today.