How to determine real life prophets

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mkprr
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by mkprr » Sun Apr 19, 2009 2:33 am

By “real live prophets” I assume the question being asked is who determines if they are true prophets of God as opposed to false ones.

In Bible times God called true prophets, lots of them, He always did. There were also many false prophets. Some false prophets came from among His own people but were none the less false and wicked prophets. He then left it to his people to determine if they were true or not.

I would suppose it works the same today. God calls prophets, and we determine to follow them or not. It is our individual responsibility. If you trust the ancient Biblical prophets than that is a great place to start. You can’t go wrong with Deut. 18:20-22 as a guide to deciding who is true and who is false. It's also good to look at the many examples we have in the Bible. It's one thing to read the instructions, another to see the principle applied in action.

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mkprr
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by mkprr » Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:23 am

Referring to Paul and the New Testament Church Danny said ” There is a noticeable lack of hierarchy.” I would suggest reading through Acts again. There is a very clear hierarchy in the early church. It is a common thing to overlook maybe because the leaders of the church followed the teachings of Christ who said “but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”

They apostles loved being with those they served and were edified by their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They didn’t elevate themselves but they did followed very strict lines of authority.

The hierarchy is very clear. There was authority and there was an order of things both on a local level and as a whole. Yes, the New Testament church looks very similar to a cult, the old testament church looked even more like one. (obey Moses' prophecies or he’ll make you drink molten ground up gold and have his men kill you by the sword. Check out Exodus 32, it's a pretty intense chapter.) It doesn’t mean it wasn’t lead by God though. The church or Body of Christ wasn't a cult because they were following Jehovah, not man.

I would make note that this thread was started in reference to the living prophets that lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Everyone who has the gift of prophecy is a prophet. It isn’t necessarily important for us to know about every prophet and every prophecy uttered.

The leaders of the LDS however have more of a unique claim that I feel is important. If they are false prophets we need to know. If they are true prophets we need to know. They claim the chain of ancient authority that was held by the Old and New Testament prophets and apostles was broken not long after the last books of the New Testament were written. (Ever wondered why the Bible has an end if God is the same yesterday today and forever?) They also claim that this authority to act in the name of God is essential to salvation if we are to perform baptisms and establish and maintain true doctrine. The LDS understanding of the importance of authority is in some ways similar to the Catholic view of authority. A main difference being the Catholics believe the authority has been passed down unbroken since the time of Christ, and the LDS teach that it hasn’t. It had to be restored. I think their claim is at least worth looking into. Find out what they are officially teaching by going to http://www.lds.org. I'll post links to some interesting articles on the sight sometime here soon.

I would be interested in understanding the protestant view of authority better. I’m sure it makes sense when properly explained but after listening the TNP for 3 years it still seems rather mysterious to me. How does a protestant decided he or she has authority to baptize someone? How do they know they are authorized to lead or start a church? The Bible can't answer those questions, at least not in the affirmitave as far as I can tell. If it’s the Spirit that directs them than why does there seem to be so many differences in opinion on so many matters. Not just on trivial things like the time of rapture or was Job a real person, but there are huge differences of opinion on questions pertaining to salvation. How is man saved, Is Jesus God, what is baptism for, do works have anything to do with salvation, do we choose to follow God or does God decide who follows him, and on and on and on. It feels like a constant argument.

If the LDS church is lead by false prophets I want out, but I sure do enjoy not wondering how or if I’m saved. I get to focus all my energy on serving the Lord and sacrificing my whole heart to Him. I am sure most protestants are themselves as sure of their own salvation as I am of mine and aren’t worrying about the theological debates on the issue but there sure is a lot of confusion out there between different protestant theological views.
the presence of prophets in our midst does not negate or diminish our ability--nay, our responsibility--to hear directly from God and follow accordingly.
Amen to that for sure Danny!

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christopher
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by christopher » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:04 am

Hi mkprr,

Are you suggesting or supposing that there are no theological debates among LDS members? Or could it be that nobody feels at liberty to openly challenge the "authority" of the church?

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Homer
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by Homer » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:31 pm

mkprr,

You wrote:
How does a protestant decided he or she has authority to baptize someone? How do they know they are authorized to lead or start a church? The Bible can't answer those questions, at least not in the affirmitave as far as I can tell.
As to the first question, why do you assume a person needs "authority", other than being a Christian, to baptize another? You might benefit from reading the Book of Acts again as you suggested. Note carefully the accounts of Peter at the house of Cornelius. Luke noted in one account that Peter ordered those who accompanied him to baptize the new converts. In the other account Luke informs us that those who accompanied Peter were "some disciples", that's all. And I believe that is all that is required.

Regarding who can start a church, do you mean congregation? Jesus started His church, and He has only one. As far as a congregation goes, all it takes is getting together with other christians and you are "congregated". And He promised to be there in spirit.

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Post by Jill » Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:55 pm

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Last edited by Jill on Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Murf
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by Murf » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:22 pm

I like Steve’s definition as stated earlier. But I also believe, based on scripture, that if someone is a true prophet he will be 100% accurate, which in my mind excludes the prophecy group from KC and men like Joseph Smith. I believe all the gifts of the Spirit are valid until Christ’s return. But unfortunately false gifts will be with us as well.

Other things to consider:
Is there a difference between a “Prophet of God” and someone simply stating prophesy?
What impact does a prophet of today have on scripture, is it still open?

tim

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selah
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by selah » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:59 pm

karenprtlnd wrote:My views have been way too strong here......



(edit: retracted entire statement).
Karen,

When I read your original post here, I was excited to read your views! :D I hope you remember what you said, and how you said it!

Yes, I thought your considerations and viewpoints were strong--and RIGHT-ON! ...more...more...of the same...

together following Jesus Christ,
selah*
Last edited by selah on Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Jesus said, "I in them and you in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:23

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Paidion
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by Paidion » Mon Apr 20, 2009 8:24 pm

But I also believe, based on scripture, that if someone is a true prophet he will be 100% accurate
Have you ever encountered such a prophet? And if not, does that mean that there are no true prophets at the present time?

Was Jonah a false prophet? He announced, "Yet 40 days and Ninevah will be overthrown!" Jonah 3:4 ESV. It was an unconditional prophecy, but it didn't happen.

Was Micah a false prophet? He prophesied:
Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height. Micah 3:12 RSV
This prophecy didn't come to pass.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

Avatar shows me at 75 years old. I am now 83.

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Danny
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by Danny » Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:57 am

Hello mkprr,
Referring to Paul and the New Testament Church Danny said ” There is a noticeable lack of hierarchy.” I would suggest reading through Acts again.
I appreciate your helpful suggestion. However, I've spent the last few years intensively studying the New Testament (including Acts), as well as extra-Biblical documents (such as the Didache) with an eye towards understanding the structure and function of the early church. What I've come away with is that the church in New Testament times was decidedly non-hierarchical in terms of an authority structure. Attempts to read an ecclesiastical hierarchy into New Testament texts are just that; reading it into the text based on an assumption that later (or Latter Day? ;)) church hierarchies existed from the beginning.
There is a very clear hierarchy in the early church. It is a common thing to overlook maybe because the leaders of the church followed the teachings of Christ who said “but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.”
So you say, but you offer no evidence to support your claim. Do not confuse an absence of hierarchy with an absence of leadership. You can have leadership without hierarchy. Let's look very briefly at a few pieces of scriptural evidence that seem to show that this was the case with the early church:

If you read about the Council of Jerusalem (as it's often called) in Acts 15, you see Jewish Christians coming together to determine what to do about the recent phenomenon of Gentile converts. Should they be circumcised and made to follow the Torah? We see a diversity of opinion about the matter. We see discussion and debate. Who are the parties involved in the discussion? Paul, Barnabas, Pharisees-turned-Christians, Apostles, elders and "the church" (aka "the brethren", which in Greek is adelphoi and can be translated as brothers or brothers and sisters). In other words, everybody is involved. This is not a closed-door private meeting among the "elite". Ultimately, the elders (which obviously includes the Apostles) are looked to for guidance. Elders are, by definition, mature and wise voices who provide guidance--rather than mandate obedience--within a community.

Notice the conclusion of the council [emphasis added by me]:
Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas--Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas,leading men among the brethren, and they sent this letter by them, "The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. "Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will also report the same things by word of mouth. "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell." So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. (Acts 15:22-30}
The picture that emerges is that out of a diversity of opinion a consensus was reached. Rathen than an edict being issued from the top of a hierarchy, you have elders, Apostles, ex-Pharisees, missionaries and "the brethren" (meaning everyone else) coming together to try to discern what the will of the Holy Spirit is in the matter (this is a methodology, by the way, still practiced among some Christian groups, such as Quakers). A letter is drafted. Who is it addressed to? To the bishops of Antioch, Syria and Cilicia? No. To the pastors of the churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia? No. It is addressed to "the brethren". In other words, it is addressed to everyone in the churches in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. How is the letter delivered? Is is given to the bishops to then be disseminated to the "rank and file"? No (there wasn't any such thing at that time as we think of bishops nowadays). Was it given to the pastors? No. It was given to the entire congregation.

You will notice this same pattern throughout the Pauline epistles. They are almost always addressed to the entire church at a given location, not to a bishop or pastor.

In 3 John, which is a personal correspondence, the author bitches about an elder named Diotrephes who is abusing his eldership by controlling who can and can't come to church and rejecting what John and others have to say. Apparently, John can't pull rank on Diotrephes. There is no hierarchy.

There are many other examples, but I don't want to belabor the point. An excellent book on this topic is "Who's Your Covering?" by Frank Viola.
The hierarchy is very clear. There was authority and there was an order of things both on a local level and as a whole.
So you say again. But again, where is the evidence? Repeating a statement over and over does not make it true.
I would make note that this thread was started in reference to the living prophets that lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Many other groups claim to have living prophets. And then of course there are the many supposed prophets of times past, from Mohammed to Joseph Smith. My test (as stated in my earlier post) applies to all of these post-Biblical prophets. As soon as you replace egalitarian community with hierarchy you are headed for danger. Authoritarian hierarchy is the antithesis of true community. The Body of Christ is true community. Hierarchy is the breeding ground for errant teaching, abuse of power, injustice, disenfranchisement and disempowerment of the "rank and file". It is a system which places mediators between God and man (in direct contradiction to scripture).
The leaders of the LDS however have more of a unique claim that I feel is important. If they are false prophets we need to know. If they are true prophets we need to know.
I'd say in either case they need to be ignored. In a listening community God will speak to the members of that community through the members of that community (I'm talking about relational community here, not hierarchical organizations). This is prophecy. There is no need for governmental Prophets. We have the direct living Presence of Christ within us and in our midst when we gather. Why turn from the Living Christ to mere men when we seek direction from God?
They claim the chain of ancient authority that was held by the Old and New Testament prophets and apostles was broken not long after the last books of the New Testament were written. (Ever wondered why the Bible has an end if God is the same yesterday today and forever?) They also claim that this authority to act in the name of God is essential to salvation if we are to perform baptisms and establish and maintain true doctrine. The LDS understanding of the importance of authority is in some ways similar to the Catholic view of authority. A main difference being the Catholics believe the authority has been passed down unbroken since the time of Christ, and the LDS teach that it hasn’t. It had to be restored. I think their claim is at least worth looking into.
Good points re the similarities and differences between Catholicism and LDS as it pertains to authority. I would say, however, that there is and never was a "chain of ancient authority" other than that which was fabricated by man for the purpose of power and control. Christ is our authority. We need no other.
I would be interested in understanding the protestant view of authority better. I’m sure it makes sense when properly explained but after listening the TNP for 3 years it still seems rather mysterious to me. How does a protestant decided he or she has authority to baptize someone? How do they know they are authorized to lead or start a church? The Bible can't answer those questions, at least not in the affirmitave as far as I can tell. If it’s the Spirit that directs them than why does there seem to be so many differences in opinion on so many matters. Not just on trivial things like the time of rapture or was Job a real person, but there are huge differences of opinion on questions pertaining to salvation. How is man saved, Is Jesus God, what is baptism for, do works have anything to do with salvation, do we choose to follow God or does God decide who follows him, and on and on and on. It feels like a constant argument.
This paragraph sounds remarkably Catholic. Part of the whole point of Protestantism is that it is not monolithic like Catholicism or LDS. There is such a thing as unity without uniformity. We don't need to be in agreement on all points of doctrine in order to serve the same God. God is bigger than our doctrinal frameworks. I am accountable directly to God and to the members of my faith community. If God tells me to plant a church or baptise someone then my responsibility is to be obediant to God and to seek counsel from my community to help me make sure I heard God correctly. My authority is Christ who said "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:18-20) I need no other authority.

Ultimately, what I am accountable for is not how closely my doctrine matches some heavenly rubric but rather how much I love and allow God to love through me. That is the real test if one is a follower of Jesus. As Paul wrote, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." (Rom 13:8)
If the LDS church is lead by false prophets I want out, but I sure do enjoy not wondering how or if I’m saved. I get to focus all my energy on serving the Lord and sacrificing my whole heart to Him. I am sure most protestants are themselves as sure of their own salvation as I am of mine and aren’t worrying about the theological debates on the issue but there sure is a lot of confusion out there between different protestant theological views.
There is a difference between confusion and diversity of opinion. One expects diversity in a non-monolithic environment. But, as you say, none of that is really consequential to serving and surrendering to the Lord. I believe you can follow Jesus within LDS, but you don't need LDS to follow Jesus.
My blog: http://dannycoleman.blogspot.com

“Both read the Bible day and night, But thou read’st black where I read white.”
-- William Blake

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selah
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Re: How to determine real life prophets

Post by selah » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:13 am

Danny wrote
I believe you can follow Jesus within LDS, but you don't need LDS to follow Jesus.
Danny, this is a beautiful statement. It deserves to be repeated.
I believe you can follow Jesus within LDS, but you don't need LDS to follow Jesus.
selah*
Jesus said, "I in them and you in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me." John 17:23

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