Living Prophets

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

9th Article of Faith

This Sunday I will be teaching the lesson “Why is it important to listen to and follow the living prophets?” I thought I’d put down a few ideas here to help organize my own thoughts.

So a few different thoughts come to mind. One of the main ones is that this is one of the very striking things about the LDS faith; that we believe in living prophets and apostles.

I love this. I love that the heavens are not closed. I love that God still speaks to man. I love that we can receive a witness of those prophets and their teachings (Elder Oaks discussed this topic quite well in his talk “Two Lines of Communication“).

The twelve apostles we have today are very different people (Here’s a fun exercise: go through the scriptures and try to pick out the personalities of the various prophets, seeing how they compare with each other). A judge, a surgeon, a nuclear phycisist, an educator, and a car salesman are some of the former occupations of our current apostles. Very different experiences and ideas.

Elder Ballard discussed this briefly in the CES devotional he gave earlier this week. He said something to the effect of, “We each have strong personalities; so when we are unified in a decision, you can rest assured that we have counseled together and come to that decision after much prayer and thoughtful discussion.”

Personally, in my own experience both in various Church callings and at work, I’ve seen how difficult it is to come to a unanimous agreement. If my coworkers and I made no decision until all parties involved agreed unanimously, then nothing would get done.

Elder Christoffersen gives some additional insight into how the Church is led by the apostles in his talk entitled “The Doctrine of Christ.” He discusses how changes in practices are made, how prophets are not infallible, but how they keep the body of the Church from straying.

I really like the imagery of the prophets as watchmen on the tower, who can see approaching danger from a long distance. Elder Tingey gave a devotional in which he discussed this parable:

In addition to the trees and the nobleman, there was a watchman, and he was to stand on a tower. I believe the watchmen today are the prophets and apostles. The Lord has designated President Gordon B. Hinckley as our chief watchman on the tower today. We will be guided and protected from the enemy if we follow his counsel. President Boyd K. Packer is also a watchman on the tower… Trusted local priesthood leaders, including stake presidents and bishops, are watchmen on the tower to their members and congregations. Certainly a father is a watchman on the tower to his family. Each of you should be a watchman to yourself.

Another really good discussion on the watchmen on the tower vs. prophetic infallibility can be found here.

I truly believe that we are led by modern apostles and prophets. I believe that individually they are very different people. But through them the Lord guides His Church on the earth today.

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

Doctrine and Covenenants 1:38