Another Mormon Podcast

Prophets and Apostles

The foundation of the authority of the Mormon church rests on the existence of modern, living Prophets and Apostles.  The truthfulness of the church, then, boils down to one very simple question:

Are these men REALLY Apostles or not?

This to me is the most important question anyone can ask about the Mormon church.  I spent two years on my mission testifying that the Mormon church had something special, that it was led by real Prophets and Apostles today.  I believed it with my whole heart.  According to the bible dictionary:

The calling of an Apostle is to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, particularly of His divinity and of His bodily resurrection from the dead. (emphasis mine)

An apostle is

  1. a special witness
  2. in all the world;
  3. of Jesus’ Divinity; and
  4. of Jesus resurrection from the dead

These then are the 4 questions we should ask.

  1. Are the Apostles special witnesses?  What makes their witness special?
  2. Do the Apostles witness in all the world?
  3. Do the Apostles witness of Jesus’ divinity?  How is their witness of Jesus’ divinity special and how do they share that witness?
  4. Do the Apostles witness of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead?  How is their witness of Jesus’ resurrection special and how do they share that witness?

My entire faith was based on the reality of Jesus Christ as testified by His special witnesses.  I used to skim through conference talks until I got to the most important part, the testimony at the end.  To me, that was the whole point.

After doing this for some time I noticed that where the Apostles were supposed to testify boldly of the Lord Jesus Christ, they mostly practiced what started to look like hedging and obfuscation.  I had no idea if the Apostles really were special witnesses.  I had no idea what made them special witnesses; they wouldn’t tell anyone.  If asked if they had seen Jesus, they would always respond that such a question is too sacred to talk about.  But it wasn’t too sacred for Peter or Paul to talk about!  Why so much careful wording and avoidance of the most important thing to the church and our lives – the reality of the resurrected Lord?  The testimony that the Apostles gave was no different from any testimony I had heard from Stake Presidents, Bishops, and even the testimonies I would give as a young missionary.  I knew it was true because of the Holy Ghost.

But I consecrated my time, talents, and even my life to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because I thought it was led by living Apostles, men who had a special witness of Jesus Christ.

After much searching I have come to the conclusion that the modern Apostles are not special witnesses.  If they are, I hope that they would share that witness and at least explain to me how that witness is special.  Maybe they haven’t seen Jesus.  That’s fine.  What makes their witness special, then?  I don’t know, and neither do you.

And for some reason, it seems that they want to keep it that way.

6 thoughts on “Prophets and Apostles

  1. JManuelCamposN

    Have you added your podcasts to stitcher? If you haven’t done so… Please do it… great article… I couldn’t agree more

  2. Theodore

    Very insightful. I have to say that I really admire your boldness and courage in asking such important questions, even in face of opposition or just plain silence of church leadership. I am myself am an evangelical Christian, but after studying the scriptures with an open mind I came to the same conclusion you have about ‘modern day’ Apostles.
    In the evangelical church there are many leaders who proclaim themselves to be Apostles (this is very prominent in the charismatic movement) and to bear the same authority as the 12 apostles, but upon closer scrutiny it really doesn’t seem to fit; these modern day apostles do not seem to have any of the ‘earmarks’ that the Biblical apostles have, neither in their ministries, nor in their lifestyles/life experiences (having been witnesses to Jesus, etc). This has led me to question seriously whether or not anyone can be legitimately called an apostle after the close of the new testament period.

    Two passages in Acts have really influenced my thinking about apostleship, I will try briefly to share them with you.

    The first passage is when the 12 Apostles (really the 11) look to replace Judas (Acts 1:15-26). Judas was a traitor, Peter explains, but it was actually the fulfillment of prophecy – and so therefore it would be necessary to replace him. The two things that strike me are 1. Their desire to replace Judas is based on their understanding of the need of 12 Apostles to fulfill the post-resurrection ministry of Jesus Christ.
    2. Their main requirement for anyone to be an Apostle of Jesus Christ is that they be a contemporary and a follower, but especially having been present during the time of the resurrection.

    The second passage is shorter, and admittedly open to more interpretation, but it’s the death of the first of the Apostles, James (Acts 12:1). What really calls my attention (esp in contrast to the passage in Acts 1) is that after James dies, the rest of the Apostles don’t do anything to try and name a successor or fill in his space. They seem completely unworried about passing on the Apostolic authority. One could say it was because of fear or even shock, but this is hard to believe because immediately afterwards they continue on in their ministry (one could even say that they amp it up). In a way, it is as if they recognize implicitly (who knows if they explicitly had a meeting talking about this or not) that the Apostolic ministry that James was needed to carry out had been completed, and there was no need to appoint a new Apostle to fill his shoes.
    Much later, when the rest of the apostles die (this is not in the New Testament, but can be read in the Early Church Fathers), they all seem to have disciples and even ‘successors’ of their own – but curiously enough, NONE of them are called Apostles (John had Polycarp, Paul had Timothy and Luke, Peter had Mark – who late wrote down the Gospel named after him, etc.).
    While certainly this isn’t an exhaustive study on the topic, I just thought I would add in a few words for thought, and do my best to contribute to what I see as an interesting and fruitful discussion 🙂

    Thank you and may God bless you and I both as we continue to seek Him and the truth!
    PS would love to talk more!

    1. Sarah

      Thanks for your comment Theodore. I honestly haven’t thought much about other Christian’s claiming to be modern day Apostles. Thanks for pointing that out. And thanks for sharing your thoughts about how they called themselves disciples later one. What you said made a lot of sense. Thank you!

  3. Chuck Hansen

    Sarah,
    Love your input. Please listen back to yourself talking. You tend to laugh when you say things that are uncomfortable in nature a bit more than others.
    Please know I say this not in a mean way.
    Chuck

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