FAIR (The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, not affiliated with the LDS church), has issued their “Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions,” their answers to 50 questions about Mormonism, questions posted by Tower to Truth Ministries. Here is the first installment of how to answer these 50 Mormon answers to 50 “Anti-Mormon” questions.
Question from Tower To Truth:
1. Why does the Mormon church still teach that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God after he made a false prophecy about a temple built in Missouri in his generation (D&C 84:1-5)
Answer from FAIR:
This was not a prophecy, but a command from God to build the temple. There’s a difference. Jesus said people should repent; just because many didn’t doesn’t make Him a false messenger, simply a messenger that fallible people didn’t heed.
Learn more here: Independence temple to be built “in this generation”
Actually, yes, this WAS a prophecy. Doctrine and Covenants 84:1-5—1 A revelation of Jesus Christ unto his servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and six elders, as they united their hearts and lifted their voices on high. 2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem. 3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased. 4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. 5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.
Notice all the times that “Jesus Christ” says “shall.” The city “shall be built beginning at the temple lot…” In verse 4, “New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of saints…” And this temple “shall be reared in this generation…” Verse 5, “…this generation shall not pass away until an house shall be built, and a cloud shall rest upon it…the glory of the Lord shall fill the house.” These are not commands, these are things Jesus Christ Himself is (supposedly) saying shall happen. The one giving the revelation does not say, “build my city…build New Jerusalem…build My temple…” as if he is commanding that it be done. The voice is saying, “It shall come to pass…”
In their response, FAIR says, “This was not a prophecy, but a command from God to build the temple.” Yet if you follow the link Independence temple to be built “in this generation”, you find this little tidbit:
Meaning of “shall”
It is unclear from the wording of the 1832 revelation whether Joseph Smith meant it to be a prophecy or a commandment. When he declared the “temple shall be reared in this generation,” it’s possible that he meant this as a directive. If this is the case, D&C 84 is not actually a prophecy.
Well, which is it? Was this a command, or can we not be sure? Then there’s this:
Meaning of “generation”
If the revelation is meant as a prophecy, the timeline for its fulfillment depends on what Joseph meant by “generation.” Typically we consider this to mean the lifespan of those living at the time of the revelation.
Also notice in D&C 84:1, it is termed a “revelation,” not a “command.” In Doctrine and Covenants 1:37, it says, Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. This (the building of the temple) was a prophecy, one which went unfulfilled, thus one of many reasons to conclude that Joseph Smith was indeed a false prophet.