During my time as a missionary I often used to wonder how receptive would I have been to the missionaries if they tried to speak to me. I concluded that had I not been born in the church, it was very unlikely that I would have joined the church. Being raised in the church made it far easier to believe in the church than it would have been to convert to it. Of course, even those born in the church at some point must find their own reasons to believe in the church.
Recent experiences have made me think once more about how receptive I would have been to the message of the restored gospel. What would my response have been if a teenage boy told me that God had called him as a prophet and he had translated a set of scripture? Would I have been one of the spiritually elite who perceived the young Joseph as God’s spokesperson or would I have seen him as a charismatic charlatan?
There is a prophet in the town I live in. This prophet lives less than 10 miles away from me, and I have even seen him shopping at the local ASDA/WALMART. This is not just any prophet; he claims to be the rightful successor to Joseph Smith. This is Matthew Gill, the prophet, seer and revelator of The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ.
The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ
Doubtless, most of you have not heard of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. This is not surprising as it is a small Mormon splinter group based in the UK. (Apparently the US doesn’t have a monopoly on Mormon break-offs). Matthew Gill claims that the LDS church has fallen into apostasy and that he was called as a prophet (read his own account of it in this interview and his podcast on Mormon Expression) to restore the restored church once again. The rise of the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ (See their blog here) provides a crucible in which to think about the genesis of our own church, and further reflect on what a false prophet is and ultimately how can we know if they are a true or false prophet. In considering our own reasons for rejecting Gill’s claim as a prophet, we are reminded of the reasons that people had for not believing in Joseph Smith in his time.
Matthew Gill is not pioneering in his claims of being a prophet; there are many splinter groups from the LDS church who all claim some kind of prophetic calling for breaking from the mainstream church. What makes Gill stand out to me (other than the fact that he lives 9 miles down the road from me) is the Book of Jeraneck and the way in which he cultivates a replication of the life of Joseph Smith. As Jacob Baker and Matt B observe about the religion over at the Juvenile Instructor:
The Latter Day Church is fascinating in part because of how skillfully Matthew Philip Gill engages in prophetic mimesis, replicating the experiences and language of Joseph Smith to create himself as Smith’s heir, calling to repentance the failed church of Salt Lake City and promising a re-invigorated version of Mormon spirituality – one which both invokes Joseph Smith’s charisma anew, but which also rewrites the sacred history of Mormonism in ways that follow the cultural accommodations the LDS church has made.
Central to Matthew Gill’s claims is the Book of Jeraneck. The Book of Jeraneck (download it here) is a tale about a lost tribe of Israelites (known in the book as the people of light) who were taken to another promised land (now known as the British Isles) and is the writings of the people there. He is presenting another another testament of Jesus Christ. Like the Book of Mormon it claims that the indigenous people who made stonehenge were Christians, and that Stonehenge was in fact the temple for these people. The Book of Jeraneck (Gill apparently did not have the same skill or much originality coming up with names as we have Araneck, Isnah, Lioneck, Cataneck and Hadjaneck as names in the book) was translated from some plates given to Gill by the angel Rapheal (Moroni must have been too busy to bring these plates himself, although Gill does claim to have been visited by Moroni when he was 12 years old). In many ways one can see a parrellel between him and Joseph Smith. Rumour in my ward states that Prophet Gill found the plates in the back of his car one day or that they were left on his doorstep in a cardboard box, and antagonists of the Prophet Joseph Smith speculated wildly about the origin of his ‘gold Bible.’
It is even possible to see these plates according to Gill’s website; however, this is only after having manifested your faith in Gill (by donating money to his Zion community plans) and after they have prayed to see if Jesus wants you to see them (so far no one outside of Gill has seen them). Having read part of the book, it appears to be a poor imitation of the Book of Mormon and echoes its narrative all the way through. Consider the following passage which seems to imitate the passages about the Liahona:
The Angel then showed Sharaneck how the ball or sphere must be used. The Angel told Sharaneck that the outer ball was to guide the ships during the light and the inner ball was to guide them during the darkness. Now the Angel continued to tell Sharaneck and Hadjaneck many great things but I have been commanded not to write them here but to write them on the plates that deal with our religion.
Just as the Book of Mormon was placed as ‘the key stone of our religion’ by Joseph Smith, the Book of Jeraneck is intrinsically intwined with Gill’s prophetic claims. It echoes and imitates the Book of Mormon in so many ways, from its narrative devices to its place in the prophetic motifs that Gill invokes to garner his divine calling. Even the process of translation and witnesses (You can see one of them in this video) seem to be lifted from the Joseph Smith narrative.
There are certainly better pseudographia from the Mormon tradition, such as the Sealed portion (yes that’s right we have the long awaited sealed portion of the golden plates) by Christopher Nemelka (The Church Office security guard who was called as a prophet and claims to be Hyrum Smith reincarnated). In fact if one was to follow the scriptural argument of ‘by their fruits he shall know them’ Nemelka is a superior prophet of God, as the scripture he revealed is comparable in its quality to the Book of Mormon (Even if, as FAIR points out, there are logistical issues with it being literally the sealed portion). Unfortunately, his personal conduct (he is constantly in court for various reasons – again not unlike Joseph Smith) and his declaration that he made it up (he later said he was lying for the Lord so that he could get out of court) would undermine this reason for thinking he was prophet (not to mention some of his strange beliefs outlined in his project ‘A Marvelous Work and A Wonder®).
How can we spot a false prophet from a true prophet?
The reason why I raise Matthew Gill and Christopher Nemelka is that they raise questions about what it means to be a prophet. We view the president of the Church as the prophet, yet outliving rivals is not the way prophets are called in our holy texts. We find it easy to accept President Monson as a prophet as he comes ready made with an institutional seal of approval of his divine calling. It is far less easy to accept anyone outside of an institution as a prophet. Yet historically God has called his prophets with no seal of institutional support. In fact, they are raised to correct the failings of the current institution.
Critics are quick to point out the hypocrisy in how LDS view these upstart prophets. They are quick to draw parallels between the Matthew Gills of the modern world and Joseph Smith. The absurdity of one should, they insist, mean that the other is equally absurd. As this article about one of the converts to Christopher Nemelka shows in dismissing these ‘false prophets’ both Dan Peterson and Elder Holland use arguments that were made against Joseph Smith to dismiss him as a false prophet. Considering the case of Matthew Gill has brought home to me that had I been in Palmyra, New York there is a good chance that I would have viewed him as a self-aggrandizing deceiver. But more importantly it reminded me that if we are going to dismiss prophetic claims by people such as Matthew Gill and Christopher Nemelka amongst others, then it is not enough to simply dismiss their claims out of hand. The very reasons we give to disbelieve them apply equally to our own prophets. In the end how do we really know who of all those who claim to be prophets are true prophets?
- Would you have followed the prophet Joseph Smith if you had been alive at his time?
- Why do you think that Mormonism seems to inspire so many splinter groups?
- What criteria do you use to judge on who is a true prophet and who is a false prophet?
- Why do we accept President Monson and the Apostles instinctively and as a matter of protocol as true prophets, and dismiss those outside of the institution as false prophets?
One thing that many people who join the Church, my Mom as an example, say in essence is that they were prepared to receive the missionaries, which follows Alma the second advice to his son corianton in Alma 39:16
“And now, my son, this was the ministry unto which ye were called, to declare these glad tidings unto this people, to prepare their minds; or rather that salvation might come unto them, that they may prepare the minds of their children to hear the word at the time of his coming”
I think we accept Pres. Monson as a Prophet and others as not because the LDS prophets IMO lead us to Christ. Our stake in Canada had a self proclaimed prophet and his whole deal was leading young women down to Utah to be his plural wives and of course he was exed and kicked off church property. Even Christ mentioned in DC 93:8 has him as the “messenger of salvation” so there is a point to Christ as in he leads us to salvation. So true prophets, seemingly, don’t get the message confused with the messenger
Whizzbang: “true prophets, seemingly, don’t get the message confused with the messenger” And yet, many felt that JS made this mistake and was self-aggrandizing and too charismatic (hence, polygamy as his dynastic right). So, this argument can still be levied against our own originating prophet as Jake points out. It’s an interesting question.
Jake, I’ve often had a similar thought exercise, but not about JS. I’ve wondered whether I would be drawn to the church if I had amnesia and didn’t know I was a Mormon. I think I would find something about the church very appealing, but it’s not about its claims or the BOM or prophets; I would find the majority of the people and their values appealing (contrary to the outliers we discuss in the ‘nacle).
Christopher Nemelka is a freak’n superstar. I spent one-half of a day reading his stuff. It was amazing. If it weren’t for Salt Lake City Weekly (as well as my own skepticism), I might have been convinced.
As for Matthew Gill, the guy bores me to tears. Watching Gill is like watching paint dry. Or at least that was my feelings after watching some of the conference for his Latter Day Church.
I would ask, “What really is a prophet?”
I do use the same criterion. I read their works, study them, and pray about them.
I once wrote a post on Christopher Nemelka asking very similar questions to you. Plus, did you know that he has a grave where puts his name next to Hyrum Smith’s in order to illustrate his belief that he is the reincarnated Hyrum.
Joe S, boredom is not a very good criteria. I find Pres. Monson boring but that does not mean, at least to me, that he is not a Prophet.
The don’t confuse the message with the messenger argument isn’t so straightforward. I agree with Hawk th same can be applied to Joseph Smith I can just think of Joseph Smith and his Nauvoo Legion and when he ran for president, walked about dressed up as a general and insisted on being called General Smith.
Joe S, I couldn’t agree more, Matthew Gill, is both boring and uncharismatic. He kind of embodies all the dull parts of the church and bits that I have major issues with. He’s like a bad cover version.
You do raise a good point though that is at the heart of this which is what fundamentally it means to be a prophet. In the scriptures it seems to me that prophets are called when the church (body of believers) has lost its way and needs to be called to change their ways. Samuel the Lamanite was called as a prophet, called from outside the mainstream church to call the mainstream church to repentance. This seems paradoxical to our current definition of what a prophet is (the oldest member of the Apostles).
I don’t recall where I read it, but there’s some interesting research out there that claims that the title ‘Prophet’ as applied to the ‘President of the Church’ is a 20th century (even, if I remember correctly, post-David O. MacKay) innovation. Before that time, to members of the LDS Church, ‘the Prophet Joseph’ was THE prophet of the dispensation, and his successors were safeguarders of the dispensation restored through him. That’s certainly more congruent with the role current LDS church presidents and apostles fill, in my opinion. They are administrators, not poets/prophets/madmen as were the great creative innovators of religious movements.
the mormon expression episode is worth listening to, if only the sound quality weren’t so bad. I don’t like false trichotomies, but gill really does force the issue. either hes god’s prophet, he’s crazy, or hes a liar. not a lot of middle ground there, and if the only proof he has is the book of jaraneck, i’ll go w/ options 2 or 3. it really does suck to read.
Not long after joining the Church, I went with the missionaries to teach a female investigator. When they started relating the story of Joseph Smith’s vision, I waited for the look of incredulity on her face. But it was then that she was moved to tears by the spirit that I felt as well.
In my case, there’s no criteria for knowing a prophet that would extend to all candidates. But usually it involves at least one spiritual experience of clarity/confirmation.
There were several splinter groups formed while JS was still living, and their leaders must present themselves as prophets in order to draw followers. The reasons for so many groups are as numerous as the reasons people get dissatisfied in the first place.
Sorry, Matthew Gill looks like Dana Carvey with his Church Lady wig askew. And the other guy is the religious version of Dog the Bounty Hunter.
I am sorry to say that I did not get any still small voice confirmation on these guys.
The Book of Jerenack? Wow!
How does Brian Mitchell and Art Bulla figure into this?
“Would you have followed the prophet Joseph Smith if you had been alive at his time?”
I was just thinking yesterday that it would be interesting to have someone write about what they think the church would be like today if JS were alive and the current prophet. Hawk, I think this would be a great post for you to write. Just sayin’….
As far as if I would have followed him during his time, I really don’t think that I would have, especially if I had heard about his secret wives. I probably would have tried to talk Emma out of staying with him and made some plan to bust him with one of his other wives, so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t around.
The idea that its a 20th century invention to refer to the president of the church as the prophet seems to make sense to me. Brigham Young never really claimed to be a prophet. I remember a quote along the lines of ‘I have never said that I am a prophet, but the people at times have said that I am.’ I could be vastly misquoting here though.
The idea of the leadership as being stewards and safeguarders of the religion makes more sense to me then the idea of them being prophets in the same sense of Isaiah, Elijah, Lehi and Moses. I mean they were called by God in a vision, our prophets are called by a committee. It seems a bit misleading to use the same term for both roles.
Honestly, I kind of prefer a bureaucrat to a scary weird visionary guy. Right?
@hawkgrrrl Depends what for. Bureaucrats for a bureaucracy, I say. Let’s just be clear on the extent of their access to information about the next life.
No prophet is perfect and this applies to Joseph Smith and he even said if people expect perfection from him he should expect it from us, although I don’t agree with the assesments of Joseph and his Nauvoo Legion or political activities. I don’t think we should hold up the OT prophets and their times, church organization or not, as the standard by which all prophets and their times are measured. If we accept Pres. Monson as a prophet should accept the idea that he wasn’t called by a commitee? wasn’t he foreordained to become such?
Just to clarify how GAs are called in The LDS Church. The LDS Church has a software system that it uses to track “potential candidates”. The system tracks these candidates over time. When a position needs to be filled… VIOLA!
@Mark Gibson #9
If you want a little more information on the LDS succession crises, I would recommend the John C Hamer Mormon Stories interview. It is fantastic. I would also recommend “Scattering Of The Saints: Schism Within Mormonism”. He wrote this book with Newell G Bringhurst. It too is fabulous. Here are some links.
@ Joe S
What’s your source on the computer software tracking potential GAs? How does someone get recognized as a potential GA in the first place? What kind of tracking is it? I mean, do they hire someone to follow them around and that person sends in updates to the software or something?
My bet is that the Seventies who interact with Stake/Mission Presidents will be impressed with someone and forward the name to some kind of master list with some biographical data on it (wife’s name, number of kids, occupation, favorite Beatle, etc.) When it’s time to fill a position, a group will go over the list and (by revelation or otherwise) select their candidate. From there it probably goes up to the First Presidency and 12 for confirmation. This is just my guess. I could very well be wrong.
Interesting but weird.
It was pondering the question of whether I would have accepted Joseph Smith, and for that matter, Jesus and the Apostles, that led me to research the surprisingly numerous and often neglected “Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets”:
Click to access prophettestsfv5.pdf
On the second page, I wrote:
“The overall picture includes all three elements—tests to apply, actions and attitudes to demonstrate, and mistakes to avoid—and reveals an organic interaction between them. That is, those who use the appropriate tests for prophets also demonstrate the behavior recommended for seeing truth. Those who reject true prophets fall short of the recommended behavior. In consequence, they miss or misapply the actual tests for true prophets, and repeat the kinds of arguments used by those who rejected true prophets anciently. This shows why Jesus said “He that receiveth you receiveth me.” (Matthew 10:40). Despite the passage of millenia, that same issues arise. We too quickly congratulate ourselves for being modern.”
Being a life-long member…I ask all these same questions about if I would have converted if I wasn’t born in the church or what I would think of JS if I lived in the 1830s, etc.
I think the arguments and questions would be the exact same thing for Joseph Smith than other people claiming to be prophets today or any day. I can’t see how it would be different.
I guess, I just think that the Spirit is what validates, and so anyone can make claims, but I need confirmation to believe it.
I probably would have left the church by now, if I didn’t have spiritual experiences helping me feel OK to stay…in other words, get my own conversion. I think others I tried to teach on my mission that didn’t convert felt the same way.
Study it out in your mind. If you feel the Book of Jeraneck is true…put it to the test and follow the spirit. It can’t be a different process for one prophet than another, only different results.
For anonymity, I don’t want to provide too much information regarding the source of this knowledge. But a software application exists and is used for tracking/selecting GAs.
Your second paragraph actually describes part of what the software is designed to do. That said, my impression was that politics (rather than inspiration) influence who makes the list.
“The Test” simply doesn’t work. Christopher Nemelka’s “Sealed Portion” is pretty powerful stuff. If you rely on “spiritual feelings” alone, you would be convinced.
That said, Salt Lake City Weekly wrote several articles on Chris. These articles use Chris’s own words… Chris describes his work as “fraudulent”, but says he wrote the books/texts to inspire good.
And how would a good Mormon discount “inspired feelings” receive while reading the Koran, Mahayana Sutras, etc.?
Software tracking names of potential GA candidates?? Sure, why not.
When I served in a bishopric, we had a spreadsheet of names to help the inspiration process.
No different, just larger scale.
@Aaron R #5
If there is a God, I refuse to believe that he would choose the most boring person possible to be his anointed.
#22, Joe S. “The Test simply doesn’t work”
Moroni 10 doesn’t work? How so?
That’s great if there is powerful stuff. That’s great if the Koran, Mahayana Sutras, etc. also have truth. I say, accept truth wherever it is found.
That’s the fun part of all this…finding truth isn’t easy, its not just one way or nothing. There is paradox and complexity enough to keep us all searching for a lifetime. So, in the end, I have to follow my heart and try to make sense of it. Perhaps even make mistakes along the way.
But it doesn’t make sense to me that missionaries can say Moroni 10 is how we can learn truth…but only for this and not for that.
Having said that, it is a very difficult thing to discern answers. Some people don’t seem to get an answer. Its not easy or straight forward or quick. My point is, it is how we are asked to validate JS, so why would it be different for Gill?
I think the problem most people have with this is as follows:
 Shouldn’t God be selecting GAs? Can’t God provide a name when it is needed?
 Why does politics (family status and wealth) influence these selections?
Though skewing towards a slightly different discussion (sorry for the hijack, everyone), I think Runtu describes this disenchantment well when he recently said,
“Congratulations. You’ve discovered what the [LDS] church really is: a corporation that exists to provide wealth, power, and privilege to a network of connected individuals and families. Every financial decision the church makes can be understood when you recognize that fact.
Malls make money. Hawaiian resorts make money. Game-hunting resorts make money. Chapels don’t. Baptismal fonts don’t.”
The problem is that “Truth” is subjective.
For example, I meet a lot of members in the South who firmly believe that the quotes by BY, BRM, etc. regarding those of African decent are inspired and “True”. Me personally, I think those quotes/talks/etc. are complete crap. So who is right? And what is “True”?
The “Truth” test may be powerful, but it relies on emotion. And simply put, emotions are not a good baseline for determining “Truth”.
@ joe S
“I think the problem most people have with this is as follows:
 Shouldn’t God be selecting GAs? Can’t God provide a name when it is needed?”
How? By making it magically appear on the wall in the temple?
 Why does politics (family status and wealth) influence these selections?
I think you need evidence of this before you can assume that family status and wealth influence selections. That being said I think family status would have more to do with it than wealth.
“a corporation that exists to provide wealth, power, and privilege to a network”
Call me cynical , but if someone has the idea that the fast track to wealth, power and privilege is through the ranks of the Mormon church, they don’t get out much. Sure GAs are taken care of, but you can earn a lot more in the private sector. And the wealth, power and privilege the private sector provides is probably way better.
As far as I can see no one has pointed out the right way to discern the true nature of a prophet as the Savior Illustrated in Matthew 7 – by their fruits shall ye know them. In other words, Judge Joseph Smith by his fruits (the Book of Mormon, P&G, D&C) and not by all numerous opinions and stories of this life – polygamy, sneaking a gun into the jail, etc….
“I meet a lot of members in the South who firmly believe that the quotes by BY, BRM, etc. regarding those of African decent are inspired and “True”.”
I have a tough time believing this. I’ve lived in the South for the past eight years and I have yet to encounter a member here who firmly believes these quotes. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone ever mention them in church, except for the African-American members who talk about the struggle to reconcile the priesthood ban with their belief in the gospel.
“I was trolling through the W&T blog one day…..”
LOL. But you always say that, Jeff.
I served my mission in the South, and I am referring to my experiences here. The problem is much more prevalent/visible in small towns. And it it also more prevalent with older members. Some of the stories I could tell are disgusting.
Where did you live? Atlanta? Greenville? Etc.? You won’t see it (much) in a large city. There are too many transplants.
Also, I served in the late 90s. So maybe the worst offenders have finally passed?
The only source I know of about this computer software for tracking potential candidates is John Dehlin. I doubt that a computer will tell someone who would make a good candidate as the brethren that do get called don’t all have the same church calling, job background
Wow. Now my mind is playing tricks on me. I live in SLC, and I know a lot of people who work in App Div for The Church. I have had a lot of professional-based conversations with these friends.
My memory is going back to an old conversation with a friend who worked on this particular App Div project… and who was a little jaded by the whole thing.
But now I am wondering if this is a false memory… or a revised/modified memory based upon some JD podcast? Ugh. I am pretty confident with my memory. But now I can NOT say this is fact with 100 percent surety. Maybe I need to retract until I can reconfirm. Hmmm.
Will, I’ve always wondered about the “by their fruits you shall know them” method. When is the fruit ripe for knowing? It seems Joseph Smith had some bad fruit and good fruit.
In hindsight, one could pick the good fruits and say, “See judge by this” – but others see the bad and do the same. Those perceptions truly are subjective.
While Joseph was developing/restoring the church, it seems it would be hard to know how to judge that fruit while in process of growing. Doesn’t Gill show some good fruits? Isn’t that the danger of false prophets, they appear to have good things that attract people to their message at first? I’m confused on the “by the fruits” method.
I just stick to my subjective approach to truth, what feels right in my heart. Don’t know what else to go by. I was taught that from my primary days.
Help me understand your point. If you think truth is subjective, why is prayer or emotion not a good tool? It seems to me like a valid tool for subjective things.
The interesting thing to me about this Original Post is that it reminds me, that as mormons we just accept JS is a prophet, that’s a given and it makes so much sense to us, and we have our reasons (the fruits we like). But do we realize how similar JS is to others, like this Gill guy, or Emanuel Swedenborg, or Muhammed? Do we dismiss these others so quickly, and yet wonder how others dismiss JS just the same?
My bigger question is: Do we think Mormons have the monopoly on revelation and prophets? Why do we quickly discount anyone non-mormon as false or just plain crazy? Why?
I think that the “by their fruits you shall know them” method works when you look at the tree(person) as a whole. If the majority of the fruit the tree gives is good, then it is a good tree. Most good fruit trees do give off some bad fruit. I will never forget those days picking cheeries in Kaysville.
@36-Happens to me all the time!haha! Dehlin is the only source anyone I have read or heard of using, but I a willing to be corrected. Now where got his info may be the same places (church employees) that you got yours, I dunno!
I think every persons individual interpretation of what’s true is subjective (if you use emotion). I think you need to apply some scientific measurement to the equation. That’s why I so wholeheartedly agree with Will (#29).
I hadn’t heard about the computer programme to monitor potential new members of the quorum of the twelve. It did make me think about how apostles are chosen though. Its interesting we know the procedure for the president but not for how an apostle is chosen. It certainly makes sense for them to have a system in which to have a net in which they can draw upon for ideas.
Researching a bit about it and I found this passage from the Smoot hearings in which they question president Smith about the calling of the Apostles in it he says the following:
Senator McCoMAS. When vacancies occurred thereafter, by what body were the vacancies in the twelve apostles filled?
Mr. SMITH. Perhaps I may say in this way: Chosen by the body, the twelve themselves, by and with the consent and approval of the first presidency.
Senator HOAB. Was there a revelation in regard to each of them?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; not in regard to each of them. Do you mean in the beginning?
Senator HOAR. I understand you to say that the original twelve apostles were selected by revelation?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Senator HOAR. Through Joseph Smith ?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir; that is right.
Senator HOAR. Is there any revelation in regard to the subsequent ones?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; it has been the choice of the body.
Senator McCoMAS. Then the apostles are perpetuated in succession by their own act and the approval of the first presidency?
Mr. SMITH. That is right.
The book can be found here http://www.archive.org/details/proceedingsbefor01unitrich (page 92)
I find this very interesting as it states that apostles are not chosen by revelation but by the consensus of the quorum. I don’t quite know what to make of this. But it does seem to undermine the idea that the prophet is chosen by God. Not that it means they don’t have his seal of approval, but that in the sense that we often take the phrase ‘called by god’ to mean is not an accurate way of describing their call.
By their fruits, the tool the Savior gave us to Judge Prophets, is really effective and needs to be fully understood. It does NOT necessarily mean the actions, mistakes or good or bad deeds of a man as you suggested. It is really the spiritual equivalent of “show me the money”. What have they done? What have they accomplished? Since all of us are human, this is the best way we can discern true Prophets. I think translating one of the most read and revered books on earth, with a holy spirit witness available to those that sincerely seek to know of its truthfulness is a great example of this concept.
To me, it is the most correct book on earth by a long ways. To me it testifies Joseph, in spite of his many weaknesses was indeed a prophet. To me it testifies of Christ. To me it is the fruits of a true Prophet.
I think Joseph Smith is on record as saying if he didn’t go through what he did he wouldn’t have believed it himself!
@42-I think there are other statements out there that would suggest that the the new apostle is prayed about or at least revelation is involved, i.e Melvin J. Ballard’s call and Heber J. Grant and George Teasdale come to mind.
The problem with the evidence by their fruits. Is that you can pretty much define fruit by whatever you want to fit your prophet. In the case of Joseph its the Book of Mormon (but you then have to exclude some of the more nefarious aspects of his life), but then subsequent presidents of the church their fruits is the way in which they live their lives to the omission of any tangible object.
Other prophets can do the same Mohammed has the Koran, Gill the book of Jeraneck. that can be cited as fruits. I just think its a complicated way to distinguish and requires a lot more clarification about what constitutes a ‘fruit’ and you have simply shifted the discussion about if the prophet is true, to a discussion on if what they give us is true. And that is not an fair debate as you are selective about what you chose to present as the ‘fruit’
The questions you raise are exactly what I wonder about . I don’t think that we do have a monopoly on prophets or revelation. Its a nice idea to think that we do, but I find it too difficult to distinguish and make clarifications as to who is true or false. As even the people we consider prophets in the old testament is a result of what was included in scriptures what about Tobit? or many other people in the Apocrapha were they prophets?
I agree with Jake.
And in no way am I taking anything away from JS and all he did. Its just that Will’s response in #43 could very well be stated to support multiple individuals from multiple religions. Maybe that is what Christ taught, and we should not limit our acceptance of prophets to only LDS Church Presidents. Maybe there are lots of prophets out there, and lots of fruit we should not limit ourselves from? What if JS AND Gill are both prophets, just for a different purpose?
@ Whizbang #44
I have look at some of those passages that you mention I and they all seem to describe the very same process as President Smith describes. The only difference is that they have defined this process as ‘revelation’ and simply giving it that name doesn’t make it so. Your right in that they are probably inspired and prayerful in their decision about you they appoint. But making a prayerful decision is not the same as revelation.
specifically it is pretty easy to discount the claims of this supposed Prophet. If we accept the claims of Joseph Smith then God stated that he would speak through Joseph and no other (current Prophet). This was in reference to those who were claiming revelations. God named his Church. This schmuck renamed it.
Would I have accepted Joseph as a Prophet? Yes I would have. His vision, his doctrines, his teachings are simply so expansive that to me he testifies of Christ.
As far as I know the Prophet and President of the LDS Church still hold all the keys of the Priesthood. For that reason I sustain Thomas S Monson as Prophet. It is why, contrary to my own will, I would and will sustain President Packer as Prophet if it happened.
Jen – there was a pretty good Sunstone article a few years back that showed JS visiting a contemporary ward and his reactions to what he saw: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/088-54-57.pdf
One other thing…His fake scripture has this: “Oh Lord, my God, hear the words of my mouth” Hmmm, that sounds a bit familiar.
Are you sure you want to defend the fruits of Mohammad and the faith that stems from the Koran. I think it can and is best summed up in Issac’s blessing to Esau (from who Islam descends), by thy sword shalt thou live. The truth is they have been in constant conflict for thousands of years with numerous modern gadianton robbers– Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Bosniaks, Hamas, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, Chechen Rebels, IIPB, Hezbollah,Tamil Tigers and on, and on and on and on. Or perhaps it’s the humane way in which they treat their women that is deemed to be good fruits, such as genital mutilation, honor killings and the like. Oh, and let’s not forget the suicide bombers. And if you say it’s a small portion of the decendants of Esau and Ishmael that is this way, I’ll refer you to poll shortly after 9-11 in which more that 50 percent of Pakistanis supported Bin-Laden in his attack on the U.S.
As for Gil and his group, my cursory analysis is that they are ept with the Copy/Paste function in Word and the movement seems to be rather opportunistic and smells of British pride– almost like they are creating a mini-me of the LDS faith. That is my bias opinion with clear acknowledgment I have not read his book and really don’t see the need. I further acknowledge other prophets currently live on the earth as the 10 tribes of Israel will return with Prophets in tow. I just don’t see it with Gil’s group, but the tree is not ripe enough yet to bear fruit. We’ll see at the harvest.
@52-I don’t know if the ten tribes returning with their prophets is necessarily as you describe it, isn’t that what the gathering of israel is about? I know that in the last days we will have more scriptures revealed but as to a physical return of a group of people with their leaders sounds nuts to me. A guy in my stake is of the tribe of Benjamin and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t sustain anyone else other then Pres. Monson
Actually, Benjamin is not one of the lost Ten Tribes. Ephraim and Manasseh, however, are.
You will find that the lost 10 are not really lost anymore. I have met many from several of the various tribes. They have not all been spiritually gathered, but they are found among the people of the world.
SilverRain — 😉 Levi is also only partially lost (some were in Israel, some were in Judea).
@54-yeah, true true! and I hope we have gotten away from the idea that there is some mysterious group of people, who are in fact the ten tribes with prophets, when in fact they are as you say everywhere and Pres. Monson is the prophet
Silverrain is somewhat right, Benjamin was assimilated into the tribe of Judah and the sons of Joseph, which is the tribe most of us are associated with are part of the lost tribes. Moreover, my father in law has been a patriarch in the church for 30 years and has given blessings to a member of every tribe.
With that said, there will be a literal return of the tribes of Israel. It will be as indicated by prophecy a more spectacular event than the children of Israel coming out of Egypt in Moses’ day.
Jake, fantastic post.
Church was cancelled due to the devastation along the Wasatch Front, so I actually took the time to read the first 10 chapters of this book (out of morbid curiosity) after helping clean up the neighborhood this morning.
I am certain this book is a fraud. A total, absolute fraud; and, since it is a fraud, Gil is a false prophet, or a wanna-be prophet. It wasn’t the least bit inspiring. With a few days off work and a weekend to write, I could write a book that is better than this one. Seriously, it is horrible. I will say with certainty what I said above. It is totally opportunist — anyone taking bits of history mingled with the temple ceremony, modifying the articles of faith slightly, and having a good knowledge of the bible and Book of Mormon could create this ‘church’. My gut feeling was right above, but I think my comment about British pride is right as well as the book refers to the Sacred Island (I’m assuming England) as the ‘promised land’.
Sorry, Jake, this one is simple and by its fruits it shall be known as a total fraud. A total, absolute fraud. I was impressed at how many terms he was able to assign “neck” (Jaraneck, Hajaneck, Sharaneck, Zioneck,Misamaneck) to, he just forgot stiffneck to refer to himself. I keep pounding the point, but this is really bad—seriously bad. I have read books by self help gurus other Christian writers that are a 100 times more inspiring or spiritual than this. A Prophet, no; and opportunist con-man (not a very good one I might add), yes.
He looks like one of my old British companions (my favorite) Elder Michael Perkis.
Either you believe in the Church or you don’t. Either you have faith in the way GAs are called… or you don’t. Whether there is software to assist in the process has nothing to do with whether the process is inspired ny God or not. We are a worldwide Church, for heaven sake…not a thousand people wide. It makes sense to seek out priesthood holders who can fiscally afford a calling that would,by the very nature of the calling, force them to quit their job or move or whatnot.
For those of you who think the Church is false because of the way GAs are chosen … or who want to convince others that the Church is false because of this…go home and rework your argument. Your current strategy is embarrassingly lame. Are you REALLY expecting GOD to give the Prophet EACH AND ALL of the names of the Seventy IN VISION , no less? (Just so idiot members don’t lose their fragile testimony of prophecy?)
I think God is bigger than that . Remember, He is the Parent, we are “the child.” He can run His church any way He wants, actually . And computer technology is His knowledge anyhow. I could be wrong, but I imagine He cares a wee bit more about efficiency in this matter than whether or not certain doubtful children approve of the way His servants run the Church.
Besides, it isn’t as if the Brethren can’t (or don’t ) pray for guideance once they have the names gathered on rhe computer.
Some of you need to grow up or shut up.
Anyway, this is probably much ado about nothing, and I am sure I overspoke. I just find some folks’ need to be angry and suspicious and ANY and ALL aspects of the Church, no matter how petty, a bit insufferable.
@Glass Ceiling #60
Wow, Glass. I am almost speechless.
Okay, Not really.
For me personally, any testimony that I may have had regarding the restoration confirmed ONLY two things: First, the Book of Mormon is inspired of God; Second, Joseph Smith was a prophet.
HOWEVER, every single time I had any type of “spiritual experience” regarding this subject, the experience was always followed by a question. The SAME question: “But is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints MY Church?”
I never had anything that resembles a testimony of Brigham Young (as the successor of JS or as a prophet of God). Sadly, the more I study Church History, the more I doubt the BY succession claims.
I don’t think I am alone in this. And I think this explains why this post (and the topic in general) is so interesting to many of us.
There are problems with the current LDS Church. @Will #29 brings up “By their fruits shall ye know them.” If we look at the fruits of The LDS Church, confusing questions remain unanswered.
For me, the main question is, “Why don’t we see revelation (of any sort) in the current LDS Church?” In short, computers programs and good feelings are not synonymous with revelation.
At least… that is my humble opinion. But I can respect yours. And I understand that you feel differently about things.
I totally agree with you on Matthew Gill. That is what I tried to convey with #3. Did you read any of Chris’s stuff this weekend? If not, you missed out on the best stuff.
I don’t think the choice you set up is as simple as you claim. Faith is not black and white, its not a case of you believe in one thing or not, as every item of belief is made up of a complicated set of prior beliefs that can be believed or not believed as well.
I agree with you on the calling of seventy and mission presidents. With so many members some sort of system is needed to stop nepotism (at least try and restrict it – most of our apostles are related through marriages in some way). A programme gives them a bigger net then Utah. So I agree with you and think that is a good thing, and I am glad they are using it.
Perhaps I am an idealist, but I don’t think financial ability should be a consideration in some one being called. It essentially says that the only people who can be leaders are the wealthy and rich. How can rich americans really understand what the poor in africa, south america and asia really need? Considering that is where the majority of the church seems to be growing, you’d think God would want them represented in his leadership.
As Joe S raises why don’t we see revelation in the church anymore? The passage I quoted by President Smith stated that the apostles aren’t chosen by revelation. I am okay with that as long as they are honest about that – I think that God is fairly uninvolved with how the church is run and lets most decisions be left to personal choice (even who is called as an Apostle). The problem I have is that they aren’t really honest about the process they make it seem that they are chosen personally by God through revelation, when they aren’t – at best they are chosen by the apostles who pray about it and may (or may not as not getting an answer is still an answer to a prayer) get some form of confirmation of their choice.
The issue is not with how they are chosen but how they represent themselves. I don’t think this is petty though. As the faith and blind obedience that people have in leaders comes from how they represent (or misrepresent) themselves to the members. SO the mistaken attitudes can be traced (partly) to how this choice is presented to us.
I view President Monson as the true Prophet on earth and the one I turn to for my counsel.
I think Chris has some interesting stuff, but I don’t see him as a Prophet.
I am not sure who I would consider God’s Anointed. The waters (for me) on this issue are too murky. In short, nobody has presented a compelling claim.
As far as Chris is concerned, all you need to do is complete a Google search for “Christopher Nemelka” and “Salt Lake City Weekly” to find several articles where Chris himself dismisses his work. Nonetheless, his stuff is pretty amazing (meaning spiritually uplifting).
If you want to know more about the splinter groups of the LDS Movement go to the LDS Movement Wiki at http://ldsmovement.pbworks.com/w/page/15644454/FrontPage and the LDS Groups discussion group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LDSgroups.
Gill and Nemelka are “fantacists”;meaning they really can’t tell reality from fantasy. It’s a real condition. Was Joseph Smith too? Probably. I need “proof”. And I found it…in Dr. Dahesh, the miracle-working Prophet of Lebanon.
I did read some of Chris’s stuff and have concluded that guy is totally bonkers – a typical leftist with unrealistic expectations on how things should be, but totally ignoring reality.
My only issue is this:
Prophets have to prophecy SOMETIME during their tenure to live up to the title. Even little prophecies like, Japan will be devastaed by a tsunami or the Big One will hit utah in August, 2012. Something.
SEERS have to see something and disclose SOMETHING during their tenure.
REVELATORS, well, they have to revela something as well.
Otherwise, why carry those titles? For show?
False prophets will be a dime a dozen these days for the smple reason that certified ones aren’t doing anything related to their job descriptions.
The interesting think with Nemelka is that at least he is TRYING to be a prophet. He’s not. He would be better off claiming to receive revelations from Hyrum than saying he IS Hyrum reincarnated. Right there he lost me. His shaky background doesn’t bother me. Moses killed a man. At least Nemelka hasn’t. People have been brainwashed (in Mormonism) to think that only worthy and perfecte humans are going to be called to be prophets (and old men too)…History shows that prophets can be called from ANYwhere. THere is no preference for white, seasoned, BYU educated, alwasys mormon type of thing. That’s LDS culture. Besides, prophets that can’t relate to other nations, or even attempt to speak their language -unlike the Pope – and who have a 90% U.S. citizenship rate poses some serious questions about 7 billion people in the world and only ONE, generally from Utah, gets the baton.
(Except that I think we might be surprised when the church passes the baton to Urchtdorf) since he’s so adored by most Utahns. Pedro won’t make the list and neither will Jerome.
I have the book of jeraneck (read it ) and I have to say its incredible someone could produce a book that in many ways has now become superior to joseph smiths Book of Mormon, I think we need to keep our eyes on this guy, whether he is false or not.
Some people keep talking about praying about the book of jeraneck, as for myself, I just looked for the relics of civilization as described in that book, they do exist. These people who were the Ancestors of the Celts were the first pyramid builders, they built the pyramids in China around 5000 yrs ago, but were not native to China, they came from somewhere else ( in EUROPE ) they had build massive pyramids elsewhere 5000 yrs before the Egyptians did, in Bosnia. ( Bosnia is the land of the people of Ridnon ) Search out the Pyramids of China, those people arrived there to escape what was happening in Bosnia, it had become overrun by an evil people known as the worshipers of Odinon, worse than the lamanites, a people who raped the wives of their opponents and killed and ate their children. This they did to the followers of God in the name of their God Odinon. The book of Jeraneck serves a warning as well, It warns of catastrophe due to wars which are fought in the name of Religion. It warns of murderous fanatical religious hatred and councils against it, it predicts it’s outcomes, I urge you guys to search the data available to get the real picture
Do you know how refreshing it is to read your clarity, integrity and impartiality? Finally someone confesses that most of the LDS accept the church and its leaders based on nothing scriptural, and in fact against what the scriptures tell us, many of whom would reject Joseph and show it by their closed mindedness.