Van Hale lists a number of moral failings ascribed to prophets and apostles in the Bible.

Oct 1985
Van Hale

Van Hale, “Could a Prophet . . . ?,” Scrapbook of Mormon Polemics 1, no. 1 (October 1985): 9

Scrapbook of Mormon Polemics
Van Hale
Reading Public

Critics have rummaged through Mormon writings in search of any apparent weaknesses or mistakes committed by LDS prophets. They claim their findings prove that Joseph Smith and his successors must be condemned as false prophets and that the Bible is our only reliable guide. However, upon examination, their argument is obviously inconsistent. They have resorted to the use of a double standard to maintain their own faith while condemning Mormonism. The Bible portrays prophets as human, capable of virtually any human weakness or mistake. These critics, however, defend the Biblical prophets in spite of their apparent weaknesses, while they condemn LDS prophets because of their apparent weaknesses.

The following list reveals the wide latitude for human weakness allowed prophets in the Bible. “Prophet,” as used here, refers to one whom God has guided by revelation, or to one who has authored canonical scripture.

Could a prophet . . .

1. kill? Jg 14:19 (Samson) Ex 2:11-16 (Moses).

2. lie? Gen 12:10-20 (Abraham); Jer 38:24-28 (Jeremiah); 1 Ki 2:8-9 (David); 2 Ki 8:10 (Elisha); and Mt 26:69-75 (Peter).

3. get drunk? Gen 9:21 (Noah).

4. boast? 2 Cor 11:16 (Paul).

5. for a small fee, use his supernatural powers to tell where to find lost animals? 1 Sam 9:6-8, 20.

6. prophesy of an event which fails to occur? Jon 3:1-10; Jer 18:5-10.

7. gamble? Jg 14:12-20.

8. be angry at God? Jon 4:1, 19

9. believe something unscientific? Lev 11:7; Deu 14:7 (the hare does not chew the cud).

10. curse children? 2 Kg 2:23-25 (Elisha).

11. want vengeance? Ps 137:9; Jer 18:19-23.

12. contradict a former prophet? Mt 19:3-8 compare Deu 24:1-4 (divorce); 2 Sa 24:1 compare to 1 Ch 21:1 (who caused David to sin?); Ex 34:7 compare Ez 18:20 (are children punished for the sins of their father?); Ex 23:7 compare Ro 4:5 (does God justify the ungodly?).

13. fail to understand a revelation? Ac 10;3, 17; 1 Cor 13:9-12.

14. advocate divorce? Ezra 9, 10:3, 11, 19, 44.

15. institute strange sounding rituals? Ex 29.

16. give counsel not approved by the Lord? 2 Sa 7:1-5 (Nathan).

17. worship false gods? 1 Ki 11:9-10.

18. accept a position as the chief of magicians, astrologers, and soothsayers? Dan 5:11.

19. break God’s moral law? Jg 1:1 (Samson visits a prostitute); 2 Sa 11 (David and Bathsheba).

20. give two contradictory prophecies? 1 Ki 22:14-18.

21. lie to another prophet in the name of the Lord? 1 Ki 13:11-32.

22. accuse God of deception and betrayal? Jer 20:7.

23. go out in public naked? Is 20:1-6 (Isaiah); 2 Sa 6:20-22 (David); Mic 1:8 (Micah).

24. attribute doubtful characteristics to God? 2 Sa 6:6-7 (God kills in anger); Ex 7:3 (God hardens Pharaoh’s heart); 1 Sa 24:1, 10 (God punishes David for a sin he “moved” him to commit); 1 Ki 22:9-23 (God causes prophets to lie); Ez 14:9 (God deceives prophets); Am 3:6 (God is the cause of evil in a city); Ez 20:25-26, 31 (God gave laws and judgments which were not good, including child sacrifice); Hos 9;15-16 (God hates and curses); Deu 20:10-11, Lev 25:44 (God commands and condones slavery); 1 Sa 16:14, 18:10 (God sends evil spirits to influence men); 2 Th 2:11 (God will delude men); Ex 32;14, Deu 28:68, Am 7:3, 6, Jonah 3:9-10, Jer 26:13; 2 Sa 24:16 (God changes his mind).

God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. 1 Cor. 1:27

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