Thursday, January 20, 2011

Literally following the prophet


I come across really interesting websites sometimes. One I came across recently is an entire site totally devoted to following the current president of the LDS church. Literally following His actions. "The aim of the website is better access to the current President of the Church." I have to wonder about that aim, and what hitting that target will or will not produce.  How can we hit the mark if we aren't even aiming at it?  I have no doubt about the good intentions behind the site, such a focus and obsession with the current leaders is a cultural trend and focus nowadays.  But no leader has ever asked this.  It smells of idolatry.  It's got the wrong focus. The prophet has become an object of adoration and that by getting closer to him and where he eats, somehow that gets you "in" with God?

Reminds me of the primary song "Follow the Prophet". Some seem to want to take that counsel a bit literally. I see many posts on this website ranging from how President Monson gave a hug to someone outside a hotel, to the airplane he uses to travel, his attendance at a Jazz basketball game, or even him having dinner at Dee's.  I'm not making this up.  It's www.followtheprophet.net.

I suppose I could add my own "sighting". As I was backing out of my parking stall in the church office parking lot two days ago the security guard motioned to wait for a second, as I turned to the side to see why I saw President Monson on the little golf cart go whizzing by the back of my car.  I didn't give it much further thought.  Wow "sightings" of General Authorities and the President are not going to get anyone brownie points.  God promises us a member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost to be our constant companion. Hopefully we don't instead prefer the privilege of knowing the location, personality, and eating habits of men called to lead.

These are the scriptures cited to support the premise of the website. (D&C 21:5) "For his (Joseph Smith) word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." And (D&C 1:38) "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.

The first part of the verse speaks of Joseph Smith.  This website has taken the liberty of applying what was specifically about Joseph and extended it to cover every president of the Church since Joseph.  God was speaking of Joseph, not a office in the Church.

That last part of the verse also seems clear enough. God's word is the same regardless of a servant speaking the words or God's own mouth. What matters is still Gods word, and whose voice it speaks through doesn't diminish it's importance or change the origin. I think the last part of that scripture is commonly read to mean something else. It's read to mean that God and the servant are pretty much the same.  Whereas I think the sameness had reference to God and His word, the idea of God being the same yesterday, today, and forever is mentioned a few times in scripture. Not so much that God and earthly servants are the same.  Therefore I personally think this scripture refers to that idea, not that we should presume we can praise and honor the servant because of His calling. That could lead to a testimony of a man, but we are called to have the testimony of Jesus.

I support the church the leaders and the scriptures. I support them and their callings.  My point in this post is to point out there is a problem when people take that scripture as a suggestion to honor or celebritize the speaker, or rely on them as if they were God.  Following them almost as one would a movie star with paparazzi.  

Elder Bednar recently taught that the purpose of Apostles and Prophets are to testify of Christ. Fixating on the servants doesn't sound like the right kind of "following".  We are taught in scripture to follow the Lord, not his servants.  And certainly not follow them around town, to restaurants, and sporting events.  

Where we look determines were we go. Christ has said "Look unto me in every thought". That's the right aim.  There exists no scriptural teaching that says following the current President of the Church around town and watching his every move brings you closer to Christ.  That is not how to gain access to God.  No leader, and no scripture that I know of has ever taught to do such a thing.  

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