Guidance and Revelation to the Blind Only?
Today, I stumbled across a Patheos post that asked, “Is Mormonism a Postmodern Religion?” I’ve heard people make the claim before, and I feel there is a strange thing that happens to many Mormons as they try to maintain their faiths, but I was interested to see what someone at Patheos would have to say about it.
And then I stumbled on this set of lines:
The role of a prophet is not to be a substitute for God. Rather, the prophet speaks to those who do not (or cannot) speak to God themselves. For the rest of us, it is far better for us to individually receive revelation than to rely on some intermediary who can only interpret the oracle he delivers, and whose interpretation is no more valid than any other interpretation by those who receive it.
Later on, the author says:
Not all Mormons will agree with this assessment.
I ultimately have to second Chino’s nomination of this as the understatement of the year in the comments (maybe it’s not too late for this to be a Brodie category?)
The first line I don’t really have problem with…Sure, the role of a prophet isn’t to serve as substitute for God. But I’m not sure if the rest follows from that. I’m not sure that the ability of those to receive personal revelation negates the role of a prophet for believing Mormons, and I’m not sure that personal revelation is meant to be just as valid as the Prophet’s revelation (or, as stated, I don’t think the Prophet’s revelation is “no more valid than any other interpretation by those who receive it.”)
But supposing that this is an acceptable interpretation of Mormonism, this creates an interesting viewpoint of the role of prophets as guides and the members as the guided.
Namely, those who can receive personal revelation should follow that whenever they can, and those who can’t or don’t — those for whom God is silent — ought to defer to the Prophet.
Even if the Prophet’s direction seems wrong?
Suppose if one hasn’t had personal revelation confirming the Prophet’s role as an intermediary of God. Suppose that is the issue about which an individually cannot personally speak to God. How does that fit in here?
Well, if I’m reading it right, if someone cannot speak to God themselves on this issue, they ought to…defer to the Prophet.
…Ultimately, this doesn’t even matter. This is just a thought experiment within a thought experiment. The first thought experiment is trying to step back into a world of Mormon orthodoxy (whatever that is). The second thought experiment is trying to step into Ben McGuire’s Mormonism, and compare and contrast that with the first thought experiment.
I don’t feel Ben reconciles with the Mormonisms I know (…but then again, even Ben predicted that might happen) — and I wonder why that is. I wonder why flexible, “postmodern,” new order, or liberal brands of Mormonism appeal to some but not others. Is it that some people are at a different “stage” of faith? What does that really mean? Is that just a way for someone to smugly feel superior to someone else? — but more importantly, I don’t feel like the Mormon orthodoxy has much power for our world anyway. Some days, I feel like I’m quibbling about plot holes in Harry Potter…it’s fun, but at the end of the day, there is little intersection with our real world other than that new theme park…