By Aaron Shafovaloff
The following is based on part 5 of a Viewpoint on Mormonism radio series, Haynie and Modern Prophets.
I don’t have a problem in principle with being told that I should not pit the teachings of ancient prophets versus later prophets. All of the Bible is inerrant and harmonious. The doctrine of inerrancy forces me to take the patience, time, and perseverance to think through how scripture fits together. That ends up being beautifully fruitful for the Christian life, and inerrancy is a historic Christian doctrine.
The problem is that Allen D. Haynie (LDS General Authority Seventy) grounds the idea of not pitting one prophet against others—really the modern ones against ancient ones—in the idea that the older prophets aren’t like a vintage comic book or a car that increases in value over time. This is a very strange comment to Christians and I’ll tell you why:
First, we understand the background: many Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles have taught public false doctrine that today the Mormon Church rejects. By their own standards, they have rejected some of their own historical teachings from the General Conference pulpit.
Second, for Christians, the words of ancient prophets become sweeter to us over time. They are like a fine wine that ages well. For Christians, the prophetic counsel inspired by God, put into words, is like honey. For us it tastes even sweeter as time progresses.
Consider Jesus who opens up the scriptures to His disciples on the Road to Emmaus. He shows them how the ancient scriptures were pointing to the Messiah, how they were pointing to the Christ-figure, to the Son of God. He helped them to see even more clearly how it all comes together.
For Christians on this side of the cross, having the benefit of the clarity of the life and the death and the burial and resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ; this side of the cross, having the benefit of the full revelation of the person of Jesus Christ, and having the indwelling Holy Spirit, the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are now able to revisit the Old Testament, and, as Christians, more appreciate the fuller sense of scripture and the Christological significance of it. The clarity with which it pointed to Christ is even sweeter to us now than it was for the original audience of the Old Testament.
So for Christians, the Word of God bears and reflects the very attributes of God because God can’t lie. His words are truthful because God has the authority of himself and not of another. Because he is not a domain-specific deity in a hierarchical polytheism as Mormonism teaches. Because God is the Great I AM, his words take on a special character.
When Mormonism goes after the nature of the word of God, and denigrates the words of dead prophets, and denigrates the very nature of inspiration, it’s doing so because it has a low view of the doctrine of God. Mormonism’s polytheism and its lower view of deities—of these domain-specific regional family-tree branch-specific deities—makes for a “mumbling” problem.
The God that we believe in, who is the great I Am, the Trinitarian Most High God, his words last. They endure. They accomplish the purpose for which they were given. They don’t return void.
They are not like blades of grass, they are not like flower petals, they are not like spoiled milk. They are not like roof tiles that need to be replaced. They are more like the foundations of a house. Jesus says, if you hear his words and obey them, you will be like a man who builds his house on a rock. Otherwise, you will be like a man who builds your house on the sand. And Jesus quotes the Old Testament with such a high view that at least should challenge us. The word of God cannot be broken (John 10:35). And Jesus quotes the Old Testament to combat the temptations of Satan.
This should be a rebuke to you if you are a Latter-day Saint. You should tell yourself, wow, I don’t have as high a view of scripture as Jesus did! And I don’t have as high of a standard of evaluation and testing of alleged prophets as Christians in the Bible or Jesus or Moses did. I ought to hold them to a very high standard.
You hear people say in Mormonism, “The prophet will never lead us astray”, but when you really dig underneath and you ask about these statements, like Adam-God, and so forth, you essentially get, “Well, maybe the prophet can lead us astray, but he won’t officially lead us astray.” And they resort to some standard of officiality—what constitutes official doctrine.
This whole game, this whole rigmarole of the complexity of having to define what is binding and official, what lasts, what’s more like a vintage car. Oh my goodness, the mess of the refrigerator of historic Mormon doctrine is full of moldy old leftovers that they don’t want to eat anymore.
This is a mess. You don’t need to suffer that mess. If you would reject Mormonism and become a born-again Christian who trusts in the Word of God, this will be a sweet refuge and a rock and a place of comfort and reliability.
Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Jesus says, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63). Jesus says, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life” (John 5:24).
This is much more of a rock to stand on for your family, for your kids, your future grandkids. You are building your life on a sandy foundation if you have to keep putting up with and making excuses for the thorns and thistles of historic Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles.