Some people think that if God did speak to true prophets, He would take over their brains and make them know everything perfectly. Where does this caricature of prophethood come from? Certainly not from any understanding of the Bible, where prophets are fallible and mortal. Showing that a prophet was mortal or that a prophecy was incomplete or subject to alternate interpretations hardly provides grounds for outright dismissal of the prophetic message. The critics demand certainty – they demand a prophet and a Church that would not let any bad things happen, that would ensure that every member called to every position was perfectly worthy or not called at all, that could give sound predictions for daily trades on the stock market, that could pick the box of Cheerios with the winning coupon inside, and that could make the Weather Channel obsolete (“Log on to LDS.org/weather – 100% accuracy with prophetic weather predictions up to 5 years in advance – for registered tithe payers only”). But their disappointment in the lack of comforting certainty must not be translated into a rejection of the Gospel.
Life is uncertain, knowledge is partial and incomplete, and it’s frightening. But we must not run from this fear. Rather, we should look forward to the perfection and joy that awaits, recognizing that this is a temporary time of trials laced with uncertainty and imperfection. Hear the wise words of Paul in I Cor. 13:8-12:
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. . . .
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Even the greatest of prophets and apostles prophesied and knew things only in part – it was incomplete, seen through a glass darkly. Those who expect error-free Bishops and godlike prophets, showing off their omniscience with daily miracles, are looking for excuses to reject the imperfect but divinely called mortal assistants God has appointed. There are a dozen reasons why I could reject Abraham or Moses or Peter or Paul – but to reject His servants is to display our own blindness and lack of faith.
But it is not blind faith that God demands. He has not left us without grounds for abiding faith. The Book of Mormon, for example, is a powerful witness of the divinity of Christ and the reality of the Restoration. Want to see if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has any merit? Read the Book of Mormon – put it to the test. That’s one of the key steps that we challenge people to take on their own. It’s why I am a member of this Church. As we encounter the word of God in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, we can know, through the power of the Holy Ghost – the Comforter – that Jesus Christ lives, that He is real, and that His work moves forth on the earth. The comfort and assurance that the Spirit brings to our minds and hearts as we seek God compensates for the terror of an uncertain world in which we only know in part at this time. Faith and patience are needed for now – but it’s worth it.
Now for those of you who want to ask all sorts of questions to attack our faith, this is not the forum. But I do provide a means for that in my LDSFAQ section at JeffLindsay.com, where I take e-mail and answer many common questions. Send me your questions by e-mail, and with a little faith and patience, you may get an answer. But if you’re just out to attack, don’t waste our time. Start you own blog and share your thoughts there – it’s free!