Beware of false prophets.

In this short video (4:45) Ritch Sandford provides a solid overview of what the Bible says about false prophets.

At the end of the video Mr. Sandford cites Matthew 7:15-16 where Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets…You will recognize them by their fruits.”

In 1999 Mormon apostle M. Russell Ballard also cautioned, “beware of false prophets and teachers.” He listed several fruits of false prophets and teachers that will allow people to recognize them for what they are. One such fruit was that false prophets might attempt to

“redefine the nature of the Godhead, and they…arrogantly attempt to fashion new interpretations of the scriptures to demonstrate that these sacred texts should not be read as God’s words to his children but merely the utterances of uninspired men, limited by their own prejudices and cultural bias. They argue, therefore, that the scriptures require new interpretation and that they are uniquely qualified to offer that interpretation.” (“Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers,” Ensign, November 1999)

This sounds a lot like the origins of Mormonism. Indeed, Joseph Smith fares badly when his prophetic fruits are examined.

As Mr. Sandford said in his video, “Mormons…have a God-given commandment from Jesus to search out the truth of Joseph Smith.” He notes that the Bible makes it clear that all of us “will be held accountable for holding all of our spiritual leaders to God’s standard.” May we all have the courage to do so.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Early Mormonism, Joseph Smith, Mormon Leaders, Prophets and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Beware of false prophets.

  1. makeitshine says:

    “Redefine the nature of the Godhead” oh the irony. Thank you ensign for pointing out exactly what Joseph Smith has done.

    I have heard so many different things about the apostasy and restoration. Mormon leaders can’t keep their story straight.

    – They say that the teachings and structure of early Christianity was restored. However when you can’t find any evidence of those teachings or structure (and you CAN find Christianity) they will divert to…

    – Joseph Smiths teachings were not actually know yet as God hadn’t revealed them yet or possibly had only revealed them to a select few and they were stomped out by the evil bishops. (what about the fullness of truth being delivered like the scriptures say, maybe the apostles just didn’t want anyone else in on it.)

    -Then it’s “the early church fathers became heretics and wanted to teach their own thing and gain political power and that’s how “priesthood” was lost. ” ……You know…. because they had perfect foreknowledge of Christianity becoming legalized and 1000 years later the pope of Rome claiming supremacy over the whole church (something the eastern church had never accepted since day 1). Makes sense. It’s also a big insult to the bishops who were martyred for the first 300 years before the legalization. At the first council of Nicea many bishops came in missing limbs and eyes, but they were all about “political power” right?

    -ok, Well they just became unrighteous and that’s how they lost the “priesthood” power. Which is pretty lame to think that the apostles themselves didn’t have enough discernment about who they were making bishops.

    I once saw an article in the ensign that was trying to prove this priesthood “authority” and “keys” existed in the early church. It pointed to some verses in Ignatius, Polycarp and Clements writing to try and prove such authority existed. Yes they do speak of this authority, but it’s not even the same thing that Mormons are talking about! An unknowing mormon would read this and say, look he’s right!

    The Mormon “priesthood power” and ordination/authority is not the same thing as the Orthodox priesthood or ordination/authority. Ordination was an office/function that operated WITHIN Church community. It wasn’t something that operated outside the church community or something an ordained guy “took home with him” so to speak. It has more to do with keeping the apostolic faith in unity/handing down the teachings than a person’s ability to get some special power by demonstrating his own righteousness/earning it. That’s why when a Bishop started teaching something not in line with the rest, they were put outside the church! They didn’t “lose” this power as an individual, it was never theirs to begin with because it belonged to the church. Also not every male over 12 was not “ordained” the way Mormons do it, that in itself is proof! This would be a great thing for the Mormon feminists wanting “priesthood” to learn about. Everyone baptized into Christ can be that kind of priest.

    If you want to know what the aspotles taught, read Ireneus “Demonstration of the apostolic teaching” He was a student of polycarp who who was a student of John. You can’t get much closer than that. Mormons would have to choice but to call him a heretic, but really? If that was so why didn’t any of the other bishops make a stand against his “false Christian teachings” Maybe it’s because they all learned the same thing? The teaching of “that which has been handed to us from the apostles.”as Ireneus calls it.

  2. falcon says:

    Sort of interesting that when Mormons read God’s Word without the filter of the lenses of Mormonism, they don’t stay in the LDS church. Why is that? Well it’s because Mormonism can’t be found in the Bible. In fact, God’s Word totally contradicts any and all the “prophetic” utterances of Mormon prophets.
    In addition to not being consistent with the Word of God, Mormonism has the additional problem of dealing with their “prophets”. Quite frankly these guys taught doctrine that wouldn’t even be considered good heresy. They were mainly in a free flow of consciousness so if something popped into their minds it came out of their mouths. The results were such that Mormons in the modern era have had to invent an explanation which includes “the opinion of the prophet” and “folk doctrine”.
    So the major brag of Mormonism, having modern day prophets, falls apart in the light of the truth of God’s Word. Funny, I was reading Matthew 24 last night. Jesus really laid it on the line regarding false prophets. Mormons need to go back to God’s Word and see what God’s revelation is all about. Don’t depend on men who lay claim to a prophetic office which they don’t really have.

  3. makeitshine says:

    *please excuse all the typos*

  4. falcon says:

    shine,
    I’m always amazed at the willingness of cultists to accept any lame explanation in order to continue to believe the most outrageous claims of false prophets. Mormonism is just full of conspiracy theories and the application of Biblical verses and historical writings that have to be tortured in order to say what they want them to say.
    Have you ever looked into the history of the Community of Christ Mormon sect? This was the group that didn’t sign on to Nauvoo Mormonism and Brigham Young’s leadership. Their doctrine most nearly lines up with orthodox Christianity. Interestingly enough, Joseph Smith’s legal wife, Emma, belonged to this sect as did Joseph Smith’s son who became their leader. The LDS members don’t like to bring this up if they even know it. But here’s the deal. This sect has moved way away from the BofM giving the members the option of seeing it as a “spiritual” book and not historical. But in talking to a young man at the CofC visitors center in Nauvoo I learned that the BofM isn’t even used or very rarely used by the sect. I guess we’d say they’ve moved on.
    But that’s what happens when Mormons give an honest and humble examination of Mormonism and look at the evidence and put their emotions aside.

  5. falcon says:

    Wouldn’t you think people would figure it out?
    False prophets have a profile and it’s the same routine over and over again. Quite often these men and women start out on a positive note. They are dynamic, articulate, personable and preach the Word of God. But then little by little they start putting strange twists on Scripture and introduce practices that are out-of-step with Christian tradition.
    I’ve seen this and it’s not unusual that the “prophet” is a sociopath. The followers are there for the glory and use of the “prophet”. It’s always, eventually, all about power, money and sex. Smith was a picture of this.

  6. historybuff says:

    If false prophecy doesn’t seem to Mormons as adequate justification to doubt Joseph Smith’s legitimacy as a prophet of God, how about false prophecy plus flat-out lying, even to the members of his own Church.

    Joseph prophesied in scripture that he was not practicing polygamy:

    “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, C1, p. 251

    He also proclaimed it in the Church’s newspaper, the Times and Seasons, in 1842. (Volume 3, p. 939) Two years later his brother Hyrum did the same:

    “[S]ome of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practiced here.” Times and Seasons, Volume 5, p. 474 (March 1844)

    Joseph said basically the same thing in his published History of the Church:

    “…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (Joseph Smith, May 26, 1844. History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 411)
    http://mit.irr.org/joseph-smith-statements-denying-polygamy
    http://www.sltrib.com/lifestyle/faith/1733664-155/plural-marriage-essay-smith-church-joseph

    Really, how much more proof does a reasonable person need?

  7. makeitshine says:

    falcon – I just looked up a graph on the community of Christ vs LDS. I would be interested in how they actually view the trinity though since they use the JS inspired version of the Bible, seeing the chop job Joseph did on the most important verse.

    JST, John 1:1–34.
    1 In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.

    I vaugely knew as a mormon that many of Joseph followers left. It seems pretty clear to me that those closest to him began to doubt him though weren’t able to fully let go. Being LDS is like being in a relationship. Its like if you have been with someone 20 years and have built a life together and you start to find out that this person isn’t who they say they are, which makes you feel like you can no longer trust them. Maybe they treat you well, but are a bit controlling. When you dont do what they want, they turn on you making you believe there is no one out there who will love you or treat you as well. You believe them and make excuses why not to leave since you have so much invested… because there are some good things about them….because it’s not technically abusive.

    Community of Christ has gone in a positive direction it seems. I think God is still trying to get through to the mormons and I have even seen some positive shifts there, but until they completely let go of Jospeh it will never happen, well because like you said Mormonism IS Joseph Smith. They might as well leave entirely. If they decided one day that Joseph was wrong about the nature of God and they would now accept the trinity their whole system would implode.

  8. falcon says:

    shine,
    Here you go. This is what the Community of Christ lists as it’s basic beliefs. I’ll provide a link below.
    God
    We believe in one living God who meets us in the testimony of Israel, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. We affirm the Trinity—God who is a community of three persons. All things that exist owe their being to God: mystery beyond understanding and love beyond imagination. This God alone is worthy of our worship.

    Jesus Christ
    We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the Word made flesh, the Savior of the world, fully human and fully divine. Through Jesus’ life and ministry, death and resurrection, God reconciles the world and breaks down the walls that divide. Christ is our peace.

    The Holy Spirit
    We believe in the Holy Spirit, Giver of Life, holy Wisdom, true God. The Spirit moves through and sustains creation; endows the church for mission; frees the world from sin, injustice, and death; and transforms disciples. Wherever we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, there the Holy Spirit is working.

    Revelation
    We affirm the Living God is ever self-revealing. God is revealed to the world in the testimony of Israel, and above all in Jesus Christ. By the Holy Spirit we continue to hear God speaking today. The church is called to listen together for what the Spirit is saying and then faithfully respond.

    Scripture
    Scripture is writing inspired by God’s Spirit and accepted by the church as the normative expression of its identity, message, and mission. We affirm the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants—not to replace the witness of the Bible or improve on it, but because they confirm its message that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. When responsibly interpreted and faithfully applied, scripture provides divine guidance and inspired insight for our discipleship.

    http://www.cofchrist.org/basic-beliefs

  9. historybuff says:

    I strongly suspect that when the Community of Christ says they “use” the Doctrine & Covenants, they don’t mean they regard it as inspired. More likely they use it as a doorstop…

  10. falcon says:

    buff
    My sense is that the CofC just isn’t that into it. They’ve become a “peace” church. They have also gone in other directions on a couple of issues.
    “Unlike the Mormon church, Community of Christ has ordained women since 1985, and more recently has made steps toward LGBT inclusion. After over 150 years of divergence, the two churches can scarcely be recognized as cousins.”
    “…the LDS version of the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains God’s revelations, has had few substantive changes since Joseph Smith’s death. The Community of Christ version, on the other hand, has been added to constantly and provides for a number of doctrinal changes, including women’s ordination and full participation for gay members.”
    See:
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/01/women-lgbt-mormons-community-of-christ

  11. historybuff says:

    Gee, I would think the odds are pretty good that the LDS Church would be willing to accept the Community of Christ version of the Doctrine & Covenants as, you know, part of the LDS Church’s ecumenical effort….

  12. historybuff says:

    We can never remind ourselves too many times to follow the counsel of Brigham Young:

    “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, 1978, page 126)

  13. Mike R says:

    That was an excellent video . The information from the Bible which Mr. Sanford it shared clearly identifies Mormon leaders as the kind of prophets who would arise in the latter days that Jesus pre warned us about — Mk 13:22-23 . My wife was once a member of a false prophet led organization whose leadership make the same exclusive claim of authority as Mormon leaders do . She was a Jw .

    In my experience with looking at all things Mormon I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of LDS do not think their leaders are false prophets because to them false prophets are like Brian David Mitchell , since Mormon leaders dress well , act polite and so they just could’nt be false prophets!
    Strange .

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