Mormons believe that their top leader (known as the prophet) receives modern-day revelations and teachings. While this verse is used to support this idea, it has nothing to do with a perpetual reign of prophets. Instead, it says that God will raise up a prophet when He is about to bring a judgment on the people, as He promised to do here. And while the Old Testament prophets were very important, Luke 24:19 states that Jesus is the ultimate prophet who continues to speak today to His people. Heb 1:1-2 says, “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son…” While there were certainly New Testament prophets and those with the prophetic gift, the question that must be asked is whether or not a “prophet” is teaching true doctrine. Since the Mormon prophets have distorted and denied every basic teaching of the historic church, why should Christians desire to follow them?
Amos 3:7 reads, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Prior to this claim, God asked if it is possible for two to walk together unless they are in agreement (v. 3). He then gave several rhetorical questions that can be answered only in the negative (vv. 4–6).
Mormons usually insist that verse 7 is a general rule, implying that the New Testament church will be led by a living, mortal prophet who will reveal the Lord’s “secrets” to the church. However, the context of this passage is speaking of impending danger and judgment upon the nation of Israel for the people’s iniquities (see v. 2). In other words, God used mortal men to warn theocratic Israel on His behalf. To disobey a prophet in the Old Testament often resulted in judgment and punishment. Their words were considered final, authoritative, and, ultimately, binding.
Nothing is implied in the Amos passage that this refers to the governmental role of a prophet living in post-Old Testament times.
In fact, Christian theologian Wayne Grudem notes,
There is no convincing evidence that New Testament prophets in their role as prophets ever governed early churches through “charismatic leadership” by means of prophetic declarations about the direction of the church. This theory is based on some people’s ideas of how the church “must have” or “could have” developed, but it is not supported by the facts of the New Testament itself (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, 169).
Grudem points out that the role of a New Testament prophet is quite different from that of the Old Testament prophet. He writes,
It is not surprising, then, that when we read the New Testament we find several times when the apostles are connected with the Old Testament prophets, but New Testament prophets, by contrast, are never connected with Old Testament prophets in the same way (Ibid., 28).
Though the LDS Church claims to be a restoration of how things were done in ancient times, it breaks with Scripture by insisting there can be only one “living prophet” whose authority is above all others. This pattern is not found in the New Testament. For instance, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:29 that when two or three prophets spoke, those who heard them were allowed to weigh, or judge, what was said. How were they to be judged? Grudem explains,
As a prophet was speaking, each member of the congregation would listen carefully, evaluating the prophecy in the light of the Scripture and the authoritative teaching that he or she already knew to be true” (Ibid., 57).
In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, Paul told the Thessalonian believers that they should not despise prophecies but were to prove, or test, “all things; hold fast that which is good.” Obviously this would include prophetic utterances.
For other passages discussing common passages used by Latter-day Saints, click here.