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Who Is the Head of This Last Dispensation?

March 21, 2009

The current post and comments over on Mormon Coffee caught my attention.

One of the LDS commenters was saying that Joseph Smith is the head of this last dispensation.  I wanted to spotlight Aaron’s response to this commenter as I feel his comments were powerful and worth repeating:

As the chief prophet, priest, and king, Jesus is the head of the final dispensation, and it was set up that way so he got all the attention. Introducing another dispensation and putting Joseph Smith at the head of it sidelines Jesus, no matter how much one is able to integrate the phrase “Jesus Christ” into a prayer or service.

The fullness of time was 2000 years ago, not 175 years ago. As Paul said in Ephesians 1:

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The mystery hidden for ages and ages was not waiting for Joseph Smith to be revealed. Consider how Paul spoke in Colossians 1:

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.

It’s all about Jesus. Time centers around him. Dispensations and priesthoods culminate in him. Temples and sacrifices end with him. He is the new temple. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) And so he did.

“That’s my Jesus.”

The curious thing about this supposed dispensation under Joseph Smith is that I fail to see ANY foretelling or foreshadowing in scripture like we see between the OT and the NT.

The OT looked ahead to the first and second comings of Jesus and included specific, detailed prophecies about His birth, life, death, and resurrection. The OT canon closed with a prophecy of the next thing on God’s prophetic calendar: John the Baptist who would prepare the way for Jesus (Mal. 4:5-6; Luke 1:13, 17).

The NT canon ended with a look ahead toward the second coming of Jesus (Rev. 22:12, 20), but no mention is made of any prophet that we should be looking for who would prepare the way for Jesus’ return.

If this supposed dispensation under Joseph Smith is essential to salvation, why wouldn’t God have told us beforehand?

Rather, we were warned by Jesus Himself that false prophets would appear in the last days and would deceive many (Matt. 24:11, 23-26).  I’m on the watch for false prophets.  Nothing indicating we were to be looking for a true prophet.

God spoke “in time past unto the fathers by the prophets…[but] in these last daysby His Son” (Heb. 1:1-2).

9 Comments leave one →
  1. MadChemist permalink
    March 21, 2009 5:06 am

    I understand that you fail to see any promise of a new dispensation of Joseph Smith’s call by Jesus,.
    Do you also understand that Jews fail to see a promise of a suffering servant and Messiah from the Old Testament? I’m not saying they’re right. We agree that some Jews were overlooking the mark in only looking for a miliary victor and king, when in reality they had the Son of God and Savior. But, you have to admit, that New Testament authors played just as fast and loose with the Old Testament as Mormon prophets have. That is, when Matthew quotes the book of Hosea (“Out of Egypt have I called my son”) Hosea was talking about Egypt, not about a future Son of God, or Messiah. Yet Matthew felt comfortable using this quote out of the immediate context of the scripture. Now just because this doesn’t follow the modern standards of biblical scholarship, I would be wary of condemning this prophet who wrote in the New Testament. Just as I would be wary of condemning latter-day prophets for finding things modern scholarship does not. I mean, don’t Evangelicals also believe that “God’s ways are not man’s ways?” Just because Jessica does not see it does not mean it is not there. The same goes for me, just because I can’t understand it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Isn’t that the ultimate in human arrogance, “I have to understand it in order for it to be true.”?

    While it is true that the New Testament as received today (e.i., not the original manuscripts) does not contain as explicit a promise as the Old Testament did (“A prophet shall the Lord God raise up among you, and ye shall hearken…”), the New Testament does contain a promise that there would be a falling away, or an apostasy. While I recognize that this argument will not win over Evangelicals (they will not accept the argument), all I’m asking is that they see that it is a possible (if highly improbable) explanation. Both Mormons and Evangelicals tend to portray the other viewpoint as not being logical. Part of “loving someone else” is trying to understand them from their viewpoint, instead of just trying to attack. Couldn’t it at least be possible that some of the more explicit statements about the apostasy and restoration have been excised? Logically yes, unless one accepts abiblical standards of inerrancy being defined as divine preservation of the text. This viewpoint has been compeltely invalidated as a historical fact. Only a single variation of the text shows the historiocity of this being contrary, and those who’ve read any scholarly works know that there are some variations and adulterations of the text. It’s simply historical fact. You can compare different manuscripts and see valid differences. And while the differences are not as damning as the atheists would have you believe, they are certainly enough to negate the false, and abiblical assumption that “God won’t allow anyone to change the text.” That doesn’t mean that the bible isn’t the Word of God, or that one can’t extract the fullness of the Gospel from the Bible, but it does renege the common screeches of infallibility and inerrancy. Please note that this argument only encompasses the received text, and not the original autographs, following the convention of the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy.

  2. MadChemist permalink
    March 21, 2009 5:27 am

    We have a biblical record of Apostles who authoritatively led the Christian Church. These apostles athoritatively proselytized, preached, wrote scripture, collected alms, condemned to death those who withheld alms, added leaders to the authorized body, changed doctrine, argued and decided doctrine, saw the Father and the Son, saw angels, etc. etc.

    If Christ came to visit, perform His atonement, and then disappear to heaven and never give any new revelation, how come the Bible specifically describes post-pentacostal revelations to Peter, to Paul, and to Stephen? These are questions that your argument simply fails to address. And therefore, I ask you, in love, to address those arguments.

    Finally, it would be good if you would recognize that Mormons view the restoration of the gospel as a restoration of everything Christ revealed to the early Christians.

    Our assumption (1), is that at some point in time, that “everything” was excised, reduced, and diluted to something less than “everything”.
    You assumption (2), is that “nothing was excised, reduced or diluted.”
    Both Evangelicals and Mormons who state that this is clearly and plainly taught in the New Testament are on logically weak ground.

    Mormons assume (3) the excesses of the Catholic Church, the replacement of democritzed doctrines for authoritative doctrines on the nature of God, and the rejection of proper priesthood authority are evidence that their first assumption is correct.
    I hear Evangelicals assume (4) that because “The Bible couldn’t ever be changed” their first assumption is correct. Because I’m a Mormon, I’m obviously convinced by assumption 3 and not convinced by assumption 4, and therefore 1 is a logically good assumption to me, while 2 is not.

    If one is going to proof-text Matt 24:11 into saying there would enver be any more prophets, than they need to reject everyone else claimed to be a prophet after Jesus’ statement. Certainly Paul must be rejected for claiming to have seen Jesus’ resurrected body. And Paul only claimed to be an apostle after Jesus’ death and therefore after he said this statement. The same is true for Steven, who claimed to see both the Father and the Son. And whoever included in the book of Acts that prophesying prophets came up to Paul and told him he was going to be bound up if he went to Rome, must be condmened as false prophets by this same logic. Do you see the problem with this simplistic and biblically unsubstantiated viewpoint?

    Let’s look in the topical guide under the heading “false-prophets.” Click on the link for 1 John 4:1-2.
    “1 BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
    2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:”

    We trust that Christ has the ability to speak to man today just as He did right after His ascension. We believe that He hasn’t changed, and that He still communicates with prophets. We believe that the promise given in James is still true, we can still ask God to know what is true by praying and asking God. We will not limit our God by telling Him we’ve had enough of His word. We won’t tell Him, He’s not allowed to correct our false assumptions. We won’t be Evangelicals. We will be open to “every word that procedeth forth from the mouth of God.” We will, “hearken to his word.” We will “hear His voice, and be His people and He will be our God.” We are Mormons and believe that God still speaks to Man today.

  3. Goldarn permalink
    March 21, 2009 6:06 am

    Does Jesus communicate with prophets in the same way he did to Peter, Paul, and John?

    No. By their own statements over the last century, nobody gets visions anymore. If we are in the fulness of times, moving into the very last days, we should be getting more revelations, not less, and yet Pres. Hinckley openly stated that we really didn’t need revelation, because we had enough to run the church.

    All the leaders of the mormon church get is the good-and-bad feelings that they attribute to the Holy Ghost, same as any other member. Mormons don’t really believe that God speaks to Man today; they believe that God gives people good feelings. Maybe. Or maybe nothing happens, and they rationalize it somehow. I’ve seen it, and heard it told, over and over and over.

  4. Mad Chemist permalink
    March 21, 2009 4:06 pm

    Please release my comments. The links are ones that refute the statements of Goldarn.

  5. March 21, 2009 4:11 pm

    MC, I released your comment, but I’m leaving in about an hour and won’t be back until Sunday night. I don’t believe I will have any access to a computer so if you need to post any links you will need to post less than 3 per comment or they will end up in spam and I won’t be here to retrieve them for you.

    Have a good weekend everyone! 🙂

  6. March 21, 2009 4:48 pm

    MC, I don’t have a lot of time to respond as I’m supposed to be heading out the door in about a half hour, but you brought up a lot of different points in your posts that I want to respond to… Too much information, too little time… 🙂

    I agree that not all of the Jews believe Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies, but many of them do! We have tons of Jewish believers in Yeshua today BECAUSE of the OT prophecies, not because they were asked to embrace a new revelation that was not prophesied beforehand. I read an account of one Jew’s conversion where he read Isaiah 53 and thought he was reading the NT because the prophecies concerning Jesus are so clear.

    I realize that while Zech. 12:10 prophesies that the Jews will, in the future, realize that they were wrong about the “suffering servant” and will mourn over the One that they pierced. Nevertheless, it is exceedingly clear that the Jews are looking for a Messiah. The vast quantity of Messianic prophecies convinced them that a Messiah is to come even though they currently reject Christ as this Messiah.

    On the other hand, you point to one sole prophecy. I’m assuming this comes from Deut. 18:15? “The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken”

    Muslims claim this verse is a prophecy of Mohammed. Acts 3:22-26 states that this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ.

    Because Moses only prophesied ONE prophet and because Peter stated this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ long before Mohammed or Joseph Smith were ever born, it is impossible for this prophecy to apply to anyone after Jesus.

    I would be interested in hearing ANY prophecies that specifically point toward Joseph Smith.

  7. MadChemist permalink
    March 22, 2009 12:31 am

    Sorry, Jessica you misunderstood me. I meant that Deut 18:15 applied only to Christ. Not even JS.

  8. March 22, 2009 3:52 pm

    You covered a great deal of material and presented a number of unproven assumptions as fact. I am always suspicious of an argument that begins with the rejection of Scripture. Your assertion that the “New Testament does contain a promise that there would be a falling away, or an apostasy”, is an odd way of referring to warnings we find in the Scripture. When I look at falling away in the NT it appears that you need to differentiate between individual apostasy and a general or total apostasy like Paul is speaking about in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Is it the Mormon belief that this total apostasy has already taken place? How many total apostasies are there according to Mormon doctrine?

    What I don’t see is how the prediction of apostasy, either individual or general, is connected to predictions of Joseph Smith. For that matter I see the prediction of only a single general apostasy, so if that has already occurred according to Mormonism the next step it the Parousia (Mk 13:20–23; Rev 20:3; cf. 2 Thess 2:3–12).

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