Seers seeing

Mosiah 8:15-16

15 And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.

16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.

joseph_smith_jr-_portrait_owned_by_joseph_smith_iiiA few weeks ago in Sunday school, we the teacher led the class in a rather routine discussion about what a Seer is (relative to a Prophet or Revelator). It was interesting to me that she focussed on how a Seer has (not just can) seen everything from the beginning to the end of time) However, the class took a turn into the teacher asking for specific examples from the modern Seers leading the Church.  Below is the list of specific items the class came up with:

  1. President Hinkley predicting the dot-com bubble popping
  2. Hinkley saying Y2K wouldn’t be the end of the world.
  3. The Proclamation on the Family
  4. The Gay’s are coming! (see #3)
  5. The feminists are coming! (see #3)

Aside from raising my hackles with all the anti-gay, anti-feminist discussion and ignorant comments, what was most striking to me was watching a room full of saints grabbing at anything they could to try and find evidence of seership.

Lets take a look at these one by one.

1 – In July-Aug of 1998, the stock market took a huge tumble, after a long period of rapid growth (dot-com bubble).  The market soon came back up and continued climbing, but the swing prompted President Hinkley to address part of his October remarks to his desire for all of us to get out of debt, due to the unstable nature of the economy.  He discussed the problems with debt, and the freedom and relief that comes by being free of it.

In what was a quite memorable speech at the time, he quoted from the story of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream of the 7 fat/skinny cows. It indeed sounded prophetic as he recounted it… until he finished the story with the following:

Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.

So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings.

So, in our first case of him forseeing future events, and acting prophetically in giving a warning, President Hinkley was actually explicit in saying he was NOT prophesying.

y2k12 – In 1999, as fears of the Y2K Bug encouraged apocalyptic thinking both within and without the church, President Hinkley rose to let everyone know they could relax a bit.

We stand on the summit of the ages, awed by a great and solemn sense of history. This is the last and final dispensation toward which all in the past has pointed. I bear testimony and witness of the reality and truth of these things. I pray that every one of us may sense the awesome wonder of it all as we look forward shortly to the passing of a century and the death of a millennium.

Let the old year go. Let the new year come. Let another century pass. Let a new one take its place. Say good-bye to a millennium. Greet the beginning of another thousand years.

And so we shall go forward on a continuing path of growth and progress and enlargement, touching for good the lives of people everywhere for as long as the earth shall last.

At some stage in all of this onward rolling, Jesus Christ will appear to reign in splendor upon the earth. No one knows when that will be. Not even the angels in heaven will know of the time of His return. But it will be a welcome day.

Basically, this “prophecy” is a non-prophecy… it’s an expectation that nothing too exciting is going to happen. Not, he didn’t actually say he’d received any revelation on the subject; never claimed to have seen Jan 2, 2000, and the rest of the world going about its business as if nothing had happened.  In fact, it seems little different than the statement by Elder Foust:

Today many people are obsessed with the Y2K problem and worry about the date coming up right because of the way computers measure time. As someone once said about time: “[It] changes with time: in youth, time marches on; in middle age, time flies; and in old age, time runs out.” We have come to rely on electronics for much of our daily work, and we are naturally concerned about the need to reprogram computers to move into the next century. While some glitches may occur, I am optimistic that no great catastrophic computer breakdown will disrupt society as we move into the next century. I have a far greater fear of the disruption of the traditional values of society.

Similar sentiment… I’m optimistic that things will be ok. Not what I’d expect from someone who just had a vision of the future or heard the voice of God telling them we don’t need to worry.

family_proclamation_23,4,&5 – The Proclamation on the Family

The first thing to point out, is the wording of the document its self:

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage…

We, the 15 leaders of the Church, proclaim…  Not “Thus saith the Lord:”  Not, “It has been revealed to us that…” Not even, “After much prayer and fasting, God has impressed upon all our minds that…”

No, instead, this is a proclamation from these 15 men.  This in no way denies the possibility that it could be any of those things above, but it most certainly does not claim to be a revelatory document. Rather, President Hinkley introduced it more as a restatement of existing, oft repeated teachings of past church leaders:

[We] now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history”

So, by President Hinkley’s introduction, I wouldn’t look at this document as breaking new ground.  Rather, as a message to the rest of the world about what we Mormons have been teaching for generations.

Finally, with respect to the Gays and Feminists….yes… the proclamation does express some views which are very unpopular with Gays and Gay Allies, as well as promoting traditional gender roles which has been unpopular with feminists.  But there’s nothing new in here about the churches antagonism towards both.  See President Packer’s talk to the All-Church Correlating Council.

There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church…

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency.

In then end, it was such a disappointing list… This was the best that a group of ~20 saints, most of them life-long members, could come up with when searching for evidence of revelation in the church since President Kimball lifted the Priesthood/Temple ban.


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