Question [The following comments were received in response to a TBC update quoting ex-Mormons discussing the false prophet Joseph Smith]: I very much appreciate your ministry. However, the grace you give to prophets and prophecy in the church appears to me to be lacking. It is one thing to be diligent about testing prophets and prophecy and another thing to be outright skeptical. I would like to call you to account for a statement regarding Deuteronomy:18:20-22. The following is what you said: "The Bible gives a criteria for testing prophets in Deuteronomy:18:20-22. One false prophecy is enough to dismiss a person as a false prophet—forever!" Deuteronomy does not say that. This scripture says that we can know if a prophecy is from God. If the prophecy does not come to pass, then [it] is not from God. It does not say that we can know if a prophet is not from God if his prophecy does not come to pass. If it does not come to pass, then the prophet has spoken the prophecy presumptuously. He was not called a false prophet.
Response: You are correct that there is no specific verse in Scripture stating that one false "prophecy is enough to dismiss a person as a false prophet—forever!"
We're a bit puzzled, however, regarding your idea that "the grace [we] give to prophets and prophecy in the church appears...to be lacking," particularly since the excerpt that we quoted from ex-Mormons addresses a genuine false prophet who was never in the church. It seems a bit odd that calling Joseph Smith to account prompted the comment, especially linked with the idea of our being "outright skeptical."
This does raise a concern, particularly when considering that some regarded today as prophets teach that "prophets" have a learning curve. One has said, "Prophets are really messy. Prophets make mistakes; And sometimes when a prophet makes a mistake, it's a serious mistake" (Jack Deere, National School of the Prophets, "Mobilizing the Prophetic Office," May 11, 2000, 11:30 AM tape #3). Rather than excusing wrong behavior by using the word "mistake" instead of "false prophecy," consider the biblical example of Samuel: "And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground" (1 Sm 3:19). No low expectations here.
The passage in Deuteronomy:18:20-22 concludes that others should "not be afraid of him." This certainly indicates that one should have no further respect for nor pay attention to that individual. Why? Because he has shown himself to be false. When the Scriptures discuss "prophets," there are two categories: true or false.
Finally, there is one more criterion for judging a prophet. Deuteronomy:13:1-3 states, "If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."
Verse 5 continues, "And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee." The Lord is very serious concerning those who presume to speak in His name.