Is the church that claimed to reverse the apostasy – apostate?
Meridian is an online Mormon magazine that I largely ignore because it is usually trying to sell me food storage racking, cake recipes, tours of “Book of Mormon Lands”, or unmissable business opportunities. Once in a while though it comes up with something worthy of attention and my attention was caught by the promise of 10 predictions for 2012.
The most fundamental claim of Mormonism is that a church without current, on-going prophecy is effectively apostate, that Mormonism is a restoration of that essential prophetic gift, that “prophets speak today.” “So what does Mormonism’s ‘living prophet’ have to say about the year ahead?” I hear you ask.
Oh, sorry. Did I give you the impression that the Mormon prophet had made 10 predictions? Well, no – actually. I did look up what Thomas Monson had to say to help us as we face 2012 – well, you do, don’t you? You can find it on the official Mormon website.
But the fact is, in a world that continues to see major conflict in different parts, the toppling of dictators, violent and destabilising uprisings in the “Arab Spring,” rising religious fundamentalism, unprecedented financial instability and confident predictions of climatic disaster the Mormon prophet brings us neither dire warning nor reassuring certainties; just a pep talk.
Mormonism promises an authentic, true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool cross between Elijah and Paul the apostle then delivers a smooth talking, make-your-own-luck Norman Vincent-Peale. Like a stereotypical preacher from a certain temple movie of yester-year - “a fine congregation!” – he offers simple, home-spun philosophy that proves second-hand after all as he quotes William James, Charles Swindoll, Cardinal Wolsey (via Shakespeare), Thomas Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson; not a single “Thus saith the Lord.”
No, these predictions come from a public opinions pollster named Gary C. Lawrence. From the Middle East, through the upcoming elections, international affairs, the economy and the fate of Europe, even missionary work and the future of the Mormon Church, Gary Lawrence has a prophetic word. You can find his predictions here.
It will be interesting to see at year end how well he has done and how it compares with the track record of those who speak officially for the Mormon Church. Meanwhile, one comment on the article is interesting. Chuck Whicker writes:
“You have pretty good prophetic insight on several of the items you have covered. But you lack the same when it comes to the church, itself. It is always a mistake to assume the church is a righteous and worthy entity, as if she has not fallen away from the fullness of the gospel that Joseph put in place. You are right to preach against the salesmanship tactics that the church has inculcated among its missionaries - that tactic is a far cry from the spiritual power that is manifested by true servants of the Lord. There are many pure in heart members in the church; but they must learn not to view the church as righteous, nor their leadership, and must return to the original principles revealed in the foundation Joseph laid. Otherwise they will never be able to recognize the Zion that is rising up.”
“Fallen away from the fullness of the gospel…salesmanship tactics…they…must return to the original principles…”? Are even Mormons beginning to recognise the paucity of authentic prophetic leadership? Is the church that claimed to reverse the apostasy – apostate? If the Mormon Church can remain authentic in the absence of current, on-going prophecy what does that say about the Christian Church over the past two-thousand-years? Perhaps Reformation, not restoration, was the answer after all.