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I recently came upon a blog post called "Follow the Prophet" in which the author stated the following:
I’m sure no one is surprised that I am no fan of the phrase “follow the prophet,” nor do I appreciate holding up prophets as some kind of saints/superheroes/celebrities. I prefer “follow God” or “follow the spirit.” Many would argue that “follow the prophet” is synonymous with these phrases, but my personal experiences with revelation contradict this. And focusing on these men can detract from our focus on God and following them can verge too close to worshipping them.
What is interesting is that this isn't the first time I've heart this complaint about the phrase "Follow the Prophet." Growing up, we are taught that hymn in Primary and are taught to learn and appreciate the old and modern day prophets. Prophets, are very important in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as it what separates us from other religions. We believe that God has called once again a mouth-piece on Earth for him to speak to His children. This importance of prophets is easily stated in this verse from the New Testament:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Ephesians 4:11–14)
From the very beginning of man’s mortal experience, the Lord established a dual avenue for communicating with His spirit children. One was by personal revelation to the individual for matters pertaining to him and his stewardship. The second was through prophets who would receive revelation for the entire world.
So why is the phrase "Follow the Prophet" problematic for some members? According to the author of the blog post mentioned earlier, they say:
I’ve seen people recently challenging Mormons who criticize the LDS church’s social media posts, believe in conspiracy theories, and are outspoken about their disagreement with the prophet publicly getting the vaccine. They say, “But I thought you followed the prophet?” This taunting phrase makes sense because, frankly, “follow the prophet” is frequently weaponized and used to shame and silence those (often more liberal members) who question, doubt, or disagree.
The response from many members (I believe) will be to shrug this lady off and her opinion, along with those who share this opinion. By completely dismissing beliefs like this, members miss the fundaments of what it is to be member of the Church. They miss the opportunity to "mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort."
This right here is why it is important to follow the advice from Richard Ostler who titles his book: Listen, Learn, and Love. If members can learn to just at least LISTEN to the beliefs of other members, we might find more unity and love in the Church. When we realize that some statements like "Follow the Prophet" are problematic to some, because they've experienced that phrase weaponized AGAINST them and used to challenge their testimony, then we will be able to LEARN and grow from it.
Because in all reality, the phrase "Follow the Prophet" is NOT problematic, but when it is weaponized against members to challenge their testimonies, then it becomes a problem. We as members need to do better. We as members CAN do better.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!