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Definition of a prophet?
Are we defining our terms correctly? A prophet is not an office in the priesthood, but something else: "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelation 19:10).
Every time Joseph Smith was asked if he was a prophet, he always cited this verse to prove his calling:
- "No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.160)
- "If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.269)
- "These things are revealed in the most holy places in a Temple prepared for that purpose. Many of the sects cry out, "Oh, I have the testimony of Jesus; I have the spirit of God; but away with Joe Smith; he says he is a prophet; but there are to be no prophets or revelators in the last days." Stop, sir! The Revelator says that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; so by your own mouth you are condemned." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.312).
- "Last Monday morning certain men came to me and said: "Brother Joseph, Hyrum is no prophet—he can't lead the church; you must lead the church. If you resign, all things will go wrong; you must not resign; if you do the church will be scattered." I felt curious and said: "Have we not learned the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, which includes both Prophets, Priests and Kings: see Rev. 1 Chap., 6th v., and I will advance your Prophet to a Priest, and then to a King—not to the Kingdoms of this earth, but of the Most High God. See Rev. 5 Chap., 10th v.—'Thou hast made us unto our God, Kings and Priests, and we shall reign on the earth.'" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.318).
We really have two definitions here: one is the presiding high pries, the other is any member whatsoever who has a testimony of Christ. If you reread the last quote carefully, we move from prophets (that is, normal memebers with testimonies), then to priests (that is, enter into the Order of the Priesthood D&C 131:2), and then exaltation, or kingship, (Words of Joseph Smith, 336). One definition is institutional; the other very personal.
- In the discussion, it's generally a good idea to leave a signature. This is done with four consecutive tildes like so ~~~~. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Cheatsheet
- Anyhow, you make an important point. The issue is confused even further by the odd page title. We have the title "Mormon prophet", which in my mind suggests the idea of The Prophet, or President of the Church. This page, however, uses the phrase "a prophet", which is certainly not a specific office one is called to. I think there are three senses in which the term can be used. Certainly anyone can be a prophet, the only prerequisite being the testimony of Christ. However, there is another sense in which we speak of a prophet, in which the prophet speaks to man on God's behalf, the classic man on the wall mediating between God and man. This role implies some kind of stewardship giving authority to receive revelation on the behalf of another. The prophet, of course, is the one prophet who has stewardship over the entire church and, in a sense, over the world. The job of the prophet is an office one is called to. These kinds of distinctions, I think, get terribly muddied in the article as it stands. It'll probably require more work than I can put into it now, but I'll attack it.
- Common understanding of what a prophet is partakes of the idea of the man standing on a wall. Thus when we sing "we thank thee oh God for a prophet" we aren't thanking God for the fact that somebody has received a testimony of Christ, but that he has chosen, called, and sent a messenger who delivers to us the words that God would have us hear. Considering this makes the important distinction a little more difficult to make clear. --Seanmcox 19:23, 29 July 2007 (MDT)2007 (MDT)
It looks like this page ought to be forked. There needs to be a more general page about prophets to compliment this page which, by its title, would seem to refer to the President of the Church. I'm somewhat concerned with the idea of what such a page would be named. Here are my thoughts.
- A Prophet
I like the first option best, but based on the naming conventions I've seen, the second option seems to comply better. Any thoughts? (I'll probably go ahead with this myself using the second option if I don't get any feedback.)--Seanmcox 19:43, 29 July 2007 (MDT)
I just reverted a suspicious looking change by a new user, which seemed to misrepresent Mormon theology. In any case, if you're the new user, and you're friendly, I just wanted to make note of what I did and why. As long as you're not hostile, feel free to continue editing ot to discuss the revert and the reasons for it here. --Seanmcox 14:54, 7 August 2007 (MDT)