Mormon beliefs include a strong belief in prophecy. They teach that just as God spoke to his prophets in the Old Testament, to help them learn and teach truth, and to help His people respond to what was happening in their world, God once again speaks to His children. The Old Testament prophets prepared the world for the first coming of the Savior; the modern day prophets prepare it for the second coming.
Prophets speak for God. God provided prophets to the world from the very beginning, when He spoke to Adam. Every now and then, the prophets would be withdrawn due to the wickedness of the people and their unwillingness to listen to the counsel of the prophets. However, in due time, God always restored a prophet to the earth.
After the death of Jesus Christ, and the death of His apostles, there were no further prophets. This led to the Great Apostasy, in which many conflicts over doctrine arose and the people floundered as they tried to find truth. God had always promised a restoration of all things, however.
“19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
In order for a restoration to happen, a prophet must be chosen by God. Only a prophet is authorized to speak for God in an official capacity. This occurred when Joseph Smith was chosen by God to lead the restoration as a prophet. God promised we’d never again be left without a prophet, and so, when Joseph Smith was murdered, He chose a new prophet. Since that time, there has always been a prophet to guide and advise us as to how to prepare for the last days of the world, and to cope with the rapidly changing world in which we live.
Today people are coping with a world more different than they could ever have imagined even one hundred years ago. People today are struggling to figure out how to make choices that were not available when the Bible was written, and the pressures to live in once unimaginable ways is great. There might never in history been a time when God’s children needed His direct guidance more desperately. As our time on earth comes to an end, we must know exactly what path we have to follow to end up where we want to be, and what God wants us to do to prepare for that time. A prophet gives us the assurance we are doing what God wants us to do in a complex world. With so many churches on the earth today, and each teaching conflicting doctrine even in areas such as traditional marriage, that were once understood without question, we must have a sure source of truth. The Mormons find this through their prophet.
Mormons are taught to pray to God for personal confirmation that the person named as the prophet is truly God’s prophet. If, at any time, they feel unsure about something the prophet taught, they are taught to go directly to God. This means Mormons aren’t blindly following a person, but are instead taking instruction from God about where to find truth. Ultimately, all truth comes from God. The prophet delivers and interprets truth, but personal responsibility always lies with the individual.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.