Saturday, January 21, 2012

False Prophets Among Us

There is more evidence this morning of false prophets in the last days. Yesterday the following ad ran in several newspapers around the country. This is a familiar pattern in the discernment required by all true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon contains accounts of anti-Christs, and the earmarks of false religion always include those who would presume to speak for God. The attempts to create "revelations" can easily be discerned if one has the spirit of prophecy, or the "testimony of Jesus." (See Revelation 19:10).

Warren Jeffs, 56, remains behind bars in a Texas prison after he was convicted last August of assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15. His defense was he took them as celestial wives. The charges came after a massive 2008 raid on the sect’s remote Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Jeffs' defense these children were his brides, given to him by God, wasn't particularly useful to him. That defense was reminiscent of David Brian Mitchell, aka "Emmanuel," another false prophet who claimed the same thing when he snatched 14 year-old Elizabeth Smart for nine months and repeatedly raped and abused her. Smart, of course, became the poster child for kidnapped and abused children, and she became the ultimate survivor when she announced yesterday she is engaged to be married this summer. Good for Elizabeth.

Joseph Smith
When discerning between who might qualify as a true prophet, and who might be a false one, the words they speak and write are a fair test to apply. On this topic, Joseph Smith gives an unerring guide:

"My enemies say that I have been a true prophet. Why, I had rather be a fallen true prophet than a false prophet. When a man goes about prophesying, and commands men to obey his teachings, he must either be a true or false prophet. False prophets always arise to oppose the true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very chosen ones.

"The doctrine of eternal judgments belongs to the first principles of the Gospel, in the last days. In relation to the kingdom of God, the devil always sets up his kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God. Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council. It is the testimony that I want that I am God's servant, and this people His people. The ancient prophets declared that in the last days the God of heaven should set up a kingdom which should never be destroyed, nor left to other people; and the very time that was calculated on, this people were struggling to bring it out. He that arms himself with gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it. I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife. When I was dragged before the cannon and muskets in Missouri, I was unarmed. God will always protect me until my mission is fulfilled.

"I calculate to be one of the instruments of setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord, and I intend to lay a foundation that will revolutionize the whole world. I once offered my life to the Missouri mob as a sacrifice for my people, and here I am. It will not be by sword or gun that this kingdom will roll on: the power of truth is such that all nations will be under the necessity of obeying the Gospel. The prediction is that army will be against army: it may be that the Saints will have to beat their ploughs into swords, for it will not do for men to sit down patiently and see their children destroyed." (TPJS, 365-366).

Such are the words of a true prophet. One of the acid tests is that they are not cowards who hide in shadows. Rather, they boldly declare the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ whom they serve, and offer themselves gladly for the truth when required. They do not fear death. They are not deceived, nor do they seek to compel others in any way to do anything by force or dictum. Years ago, I wrote extensively about the role of true prophets, including Jeremiah.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in a General Conference gave a stirring defense of  the Prophet Joseph Smith and offered into evidence the fact that he and his brother Hyrum willingly sacrificed themselves for their testimonies of the truth as they left home and family to give themselves up to certain death by their enemies in Carthage Jail.

Hugh Nibley offers these thoughts about recognizing the voice of a true prophet:

Hugh Nibley
"It was a test that few have ever passed: the humiliating test of recognizing a true prophet and taking instruction from the weak and humble things of the earth. Was the wondrous modern age of applied science that began in the nineteenth century to be excused from taking the same test of authority? Remember that the prophets of old came to generations that were very modern in their thinking, smart and sophisticated, advanced, liberated, intellectual; the Hellenistic world, if anything, surpassed our own in those qualities of social advancement." (Nibley, The World and The Prophets, [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1974], 7).

In the ancient and modern scriptures Babylon is referred to as a "whore." A whore is one who rejects her sacred opportunity to co-create life. She cannot obtain eternal lives except she repents and seeks it through righteous union with one God's sons. A "whore" in the scriptural equivalent uses her most sacred and eternal gifts to get worldly gain, to destroy others, and to create cults for personal, selfish power. She is the antithesis of Zion, the beautiful and pure bride of Christ. The examples abound, but one need look no further than Brian David Mitchell and Warren Jeffs for the example of a "whoring" misinterpretation of Zion.

Babylon is the moral equivalent of evil whoring for gain after other gods. In the scriptures we see references to false churches, the result of whoring originating with the "mother of abominations." (D&C 88:94).

When these abominations redefine the nature of Deity and the covenants, they often seek a redefinition of the divine role of motherhood. Joseph Smith referred to the teachings of a false prophet, a woman named Ann Lee, who taught, "You must forsake the marriage of the flesh or you cannot be married to the lamb, or have any share in the resurrection of Christ." She abominably concluded, "Those who are counted worthy to have any part in the resurrection of Christ neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like unto the angels."

Ann Lee was born in 1736, the daughter of a blacksmith. She married a blacksmith by whom she bore four children, who all died in infancy. At age twenty-two, Ann was converted by Jane Wardley and began to preach. Ann came to America in 1774, and from then until her death in 1784, she was able to found three Shaker communities. Joseph encountered the Shakers (see preface to D&C 49). She also taught the Second Coming had already occurred and Christ had come back as a woman named Ann Lee.

Conversely, there are those who have strayed beyond the authorized priesthood keys and still advocate plural wives. "More or less" is still abominable without priesthood authorization.

All false religions, false churches and false prophets will one day be revealed and we will exult, "She is fallen, is fallen!" (see D&C 88:105) when Babylon, the great whore of all the earth, finally expires. There are, of course, repetitive claims that Mormonism is a "cult," nothing more than resounding echoes from the "great and spacious building." (See 1 Nephi 11:18). Only truth can tamp it all down, and only those with "ears to hear" the truth can successfully discern the difference.

Sorry to get sidetracked on whores, but the contrast makes pure womanhood, as seen in the faces of my daughters, all the more delightful. The whore today comes in many guises and disguises. She can be alluring on the surface, but certainly there can be no lasting depth in believing a false premise upon which they are all founded. There is an Eternal Father in Heaven who has given revelation and pointed the way back home.

The test of this mortal life is to find Him and Christ crucified in spite of the demons of hell who abound to deceive us and point us in the opposite direction.

Sign on a gas pump in South Carolina
Nowhere can false prophets be more easily discerned than in the political arena. Without naming names, okay, I will -- Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich -- there is a clear cut choice on moral issues. Beware of all the siren voices in election season who are not anchored in moral and ethical principles. An admitted serial adulterer who excoriates the national media in a stirring bombastic display of righteous indignation to open a presidential debate, while interesting (and I admit I loved it too), should still rightfully have to answer the character question of moral turpitude befitting a potential presidential nominee. Can you say "presidential temperament?" Ironically, when you watch the primary results stream in, betcha the evangelical Christians back Gingrich big time instead of the three moral marriage candidates, Romney, Santorum and Paul. The world as we know it is upside down in South Carolina.

Despite what others may say about it, character still matters in national politics. At least it always has historically. One smack down of the national media in a presidential debate does not a lifetime of disciplined moral turpitude make. In discerning truth from error do not dismiss the making and keeping of marital covenants, even if the world dismisses the making and keeping of covenants out of hand. If a man will lie to his wife to cover his own secret gratification, particularly when he is publicly excoriating Bill Clinton who was accused at the very same time of an affair with Monica Lewinsky, he will undoubtedly lie to everyone else.

But, you would argue, there is such a thing as repentance. Of course there is, but can you discern sincerity?

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