Friday, September 10, 2010

Follow the Brethren and Never Fall

Today I happened to be thinking about the story in the Book of Mormon of the 2000 stripling warriors and how not one of them was killed in battle. I began to wonder why the Lord wanted this story written and transmitted to us. How does it apply to us? How many of us have to fight on the front lines? (Some of us do, but what about the rest of us who don’t?)

But wait, all of us fight spiritual battles EVERY DAY. That’s when I realized what a great lesson and promise this story has. Those stripling warriors were firm and undaunted and obeyed and observed to perform every word of command with exactness and according to their faith it was done unto them (Alma 57:20-21). And they were commanded by a prophet. The result of their zealous obedience was that not one of them died.

The lesson is clear. If they followed their prophet-general and not one of them fell, then if we follow the prophet and our leaders, then not one of us will fall away. If everyone in our families follows the prophet, none of our families will fail. We will look back on our mortal lives with wonder and say:

And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of [our] exceeding faith in that which [we] had been taught to believe—that there [is] a just God, and whosoever [does] not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power. Now this was [our] faith… and [our] minds are firm, and [we]… put [our] trust in God continually. (Alma 57:26-27)


Clean Cut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clean Cut said...

Personally, I'm more comfortable with this scripture as a metaphor to follow Christ with exactness--"our prophet, priest and king"--marching onward as Christian soldiers.

I'm generally less comfortable with an intense mantra of "follow the prophet" only because I don't believe that a fallible prophet is necessarily synonymous with following Christ. While there are obvious virtues for both, such a militant intensity of focus/zealousness to any mortal might actually lead to looking past the mark--or The Mark.

Jared said...

To understand that following the prophet, fallible as they are, is looking past the mark is sound doctrine, I'd hope Clean Cut will provide some scriptural background to support his position.

Michaela Stephens said...

I think it was distinctly unscriptural.

wendy Olsen said...

I recently gave a talk on scripture study and I narrowed it down to likening them unto ourselves. I like how you have done this with the stripling warriors. We must see how we can do that in our own lives and how we can become like they were. I don't believe that they just blindly followed, however, mother of a son who desires to enter the military soldiers live when they obey with exactness. We can become better spiritually when we follow the example set forth in this story. great post Michaela.

Clean Cut said...

Jared, as I posted on my own blog, please don't misunderstand me. I never said that following the prophet is looking past the mark. I was only concerning myself with extremes (ie: the militant metaphor). The scriptural support for my position can be summarized by "Come follow me" and "Follow the Son with full purpose of heart", etc. In fact, there's plenty more scriptural support for keeping an eye on the Savior ("Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not") than keeping an eye on the bretheren.

Michaela, what was it that you perceived in my comment as "distinctly unscriptural"?

ji said...

I appreciate CleanCut's point. We all follow Christ, and our prophet follows and teaches us to follow. So our prophet is a leader but is also a fellow pilgrim, and he and we are all following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Michaela Stephens said...

Clean Cut, here's the part of what you said that seemed unscriptural to me:

"I don't believe that a fallible prophet is necessarily synonymous with following Christ."

Perhaps you were trying for something nuanced, but this raised my hackles. Consider the following scriptures:

What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38)

4 Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. (D&C 21:4-5)

For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; (D&C 84:36)

And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. (D&C 124:45)

Your second comment in this, however, has considerably smoothed down my said hackles. It strikes me that we all have a pretty good idea of the proper loyalty between personal revelation and testimony of the Savior, priesthood direction, and scripture. I get the feeling that perhaps it is our anxieties for each other that may be getting in the way of our underlying unity.

I think I may have hurt you, and I apologize for that. I forgive you as well.

LeAnn said...

Ok, I loved your thoughts. I think you are right on. We are told to follow the prophet. He will not fail us and if by some remote chance he did; the Lord would remove him from his place. By following the prophet and obeying the commandments we will be saved regardless if this means by living or death; we will make it. We need to look at things in an eternal perspective.
Thanks for your thoughts today; I think they were awesome.
Blessings to you! LeAnn

Anonymous said...

Michaela, the scriptures you quoted were all taken out of context.

When the Lord said, "my servants" on November 1, 1831 in D&C 1: 38, who was He referring to? When He said, "his words" on April 6, 1830 as detailed in D&C 21: 4-5, who was that man the Lord was talking about? Who were the leaders "appointed to lead my people" on January 19, 1841 as written in D&C 124? Who were "my servants" the Lord spoke of on September 22 and 23, 1832 as recorded in D&C 84: 36?

Assigning any nebulous future leader to the individuals spoken of in these revelations takes the revelation out of context, because the Lord wasn't speaking of future leaders, but of specific people who lived at that time.

If you were to apply these revelations to the primitive church in Jerusalem and take them out of context as you have done, so that they mean all the future church leaders and not just the leaders who lived at the time the revelation was given, then that would mean that the Roman Catholic church leaders could be followed without another thought, as they are the church which traces its priesthood back to Christ.

LDS Anarchist

The Last Man said...

And then there's this little tidbit from a prophet, which teaches beautiful doctrine:

I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.
- Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 9: 150.)

The key is not following the prophet in and of itself. The key is living the gospel in order to make, keep, and renew covenants that keep us tightly bound in a living relationship with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as directed by a prophet, that we might lay hold of the atonement and its attendant blessings. Prophets point to Christ. Christ is the mark. Following the prophet is a means, not an end. I suspect this is what Clean Cut is getting at.

The Last Man

Michaela Stephens said...

I repeat what I have said before:

I think we all have a pretty good idea of the proper interaction between personal revelation and testimony of the Savior, priesthood direction, and scripture. Let's not let our anxieties for each other get in the way of our underlying unity.