On the Death of the Mormon Prophet

by Sharon Lindbloom
8 January 2018

On January 2, 2018 Mormonism’s 16th prophet and president died. Thomas Monson was 90 years old and had served in the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for nearly seven decades. He was known for his focus on individuals and their individual needs, and was loved by Mormons for his quick wit and his inexhaustible cache of personal story illustrations. President Monson’s death was not unexpected, yet it brought deep sorrow to millions of people.

I am saddened by President Monson’s death on several levels. I am sad for the grief of his family and friends, as they face a new world without this man they truly loved.

I am sad that President Monson has lost his earthly life, that he will not be here for the births, deaths, joys, and sorrows experienced by the rest of his family.

I am sad that Thomas Monson passed away without ever having placed his faith and hope in the finished work of Jesus Christ (as far as we can tell from our limited perspective), and that he must, therefore, stand alone before God to be judged.

I am sad that Thomas Monson, a man who was believed by Latter-day Saints to be the voice of God on earth, no longer has a chance to point his millions of followers to the biblical Gospel, the biblical Jesus, and the biblical God.

I am sad for Thomas Monson and his family. I am sad for Latter-day Saints. I wish Thomas Monson the man was still among us to share his joy, his laughter, and his age-won wisdom. But I struggle with the passing of Thomas Monson the prophet.

There is no escaping the fact that President Monson was, according to the Bible, a false prophet. He led a religion that proclaimed false Gods; he called people to go after (worship) these false Gods; he proclaimed a false gospel and falsely promised it would make men into gods themselves. He falsely taught that the purpose of life was to, by obedience, prove oneself worthy to spend eternity in the presence of God. The Bible says that false prophets are enemies of God (Ezekiel 13:8). For those who love and follow the true God of the Bible, how are we to think about the death of a false prophet?

If the world were not filled with false prophets waiting in the wings to step up at the first opportunity, we might be thankful when a false prophet has been removed from his sphere of spiritual influence. But this is not the case. Jesus said that many false prophets will arise and lead many astray (Matthew 24:11). One false prophet’s passing will not rescue the world.

God Himself says that He has no pleasure in the death of false prophets (i.e., “the wicked,” Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11). His desire is to see all people repent and turn to Him. Indeed, He withholds the day of judgment and waits patiently, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

While the people of God recognize God’s enemies as our own enemies, God nevertheless warns His people, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased…” (Proverbs 24:17-18).

Though there is a time and a place for imprecatory prayers, as Christians we must mourn at the deaths of false prophets, even while affirming God’s perfect and irreproachable sovereignty.

Our mourning is for the grief of their loved ones.

Our mourning is for their wasted years in deception.

Our mourning is for the unalterable loss of their souls.

Last August, for Thomas Monson’s 90th birthday, I wished (and prayed) “that he would abandon the false idea that his good works have qualified and earned for him a place in Heaven, that he would embrace the one true God (John 17:3), and that he would rely solely on the Lord’s mercy and grace for forgiveness of sin and eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).” Now, as Russell M. Nelson steps into Thomas Monson’s place as the president, prophet, seer, and revelator of the LDS Church, I lift this same prayer for him.

Christians, I invite you to join me in praying these things, not only for Russell Nelson, but for all Mormon leaders and for every Latter-day Saint. May God’s merciful patience toward those who do not know and love Him provide time enough for them to come to repentance and receive eternal redemption in Christ Jesus.