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Prophet, seer, and revelator

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Prophet, seer, and revelator is an ecclesiastical title used in the Latter Day Saint movement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is the largest denomination of the movement, and it currently applies these terms to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the past, it has also been applied to the Presiding Patriarch of the church and the Assistant President of the Church. Other denominations of the movement also use these terms.

Origin of the phrase[edit]

The phrase "prophet, seer, and revelator" is derived from a number of revelations Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, said he received. The first revelation Smith said he received after the organization of the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830, declared that "there shall be a record kept among you; and in it [Smith] shalt be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ".[1] In 1835, Smith further clarified the role of the President of the Church, "to preside over the whole church, and ... to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet".[2] In 1841, Smith recorded a revelation that again restated these roles: "I give unto you my servant Joseph to be a presiding elder over all my church, to be a translator, a revelator, a seer, and prophet."[3] In 1836, at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple, approximately one year after Smith organized the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he instructed that the members of the First Presidency and the apostles should also be accepted by the church as prophets, seers, and revelators:

I made a short address, and called upon the several quorums, and all the congregation of Saints, to acknowledge the Presidency as Prophets and Seers and uphold them by their prayers. ... I then called upon the quorums and congregation of Saints, to acknowledge the Twelve, who were present, as Prophets, Seers, Revelators, and special witnesses to all the nations of the earth holding the keys of the kingdom, to unlock it, or cause it to be done among them, and uphold them by their prayers.[4]

Later, Smith further confirmed that people other than the President of the Church may hold these titles. For example, in 1841, a revelation described the role of Smith's brother Hyrum Smith as Assistant President of the Church: "And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph".[5]

Current usage within the LDS Church[edit]

At the semiannual general conference of the LDS Church, the name of the President of the Church is presented to the members as "prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".[6] Members are invited to sustain the president in these roles, and the signalling for any in opposition is also allowed. Additionally, the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are sustained by the membership as "prophets, seers, and revelators".[6] Until October 1979, the Presiding Patriarch of the church was also sustained as a "prophet, seer, and revelator".[7] Apostles who are not members of the Quorum of the Twelve or the First Presidency and other general authorities, (e.g., members of the Quorums of the Seventy and Presiding Bishopric) are not sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.

The procedure of sustaining is repeated in local congregations of the LDS Church several times per year at stake, district, ward, or branch conferences. These procedures are mandated by the theology of the LDS Church, which dictates governance by the "common consent" of the membership, wherein no one serves on the local or general level unless he or she has been formally sustained by individual congregations or the church as a whole.[8]

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