This paper considers the experiences, ministry, prophetic work, and church groups started by three different but related twentieth-century prophets in lesser-known Latter Day Saint denominations. Otto Fetting, Thomas B. Nerren, and William A. Draves each claimed and produced messages reportedly given by a resurrected John the Baptist. None claimed to be “a prophet,” nor did their respective church organizations institutionalize a person or office of “prophet.” However, each functioned in the prophetic role, and with the death of each, the messages ceased and the original church groups foundered. Latter Day Saint church groups that have prospered, on the other hand, tended to focus on the prophetic office, as distinct from the person and any reported messages, often institutionalizing the “prophet” as both spiritual and administrative leader. As both artifact and material culture, “prophet” is an essential ingredient of the Latter Day Saint movement and is central to the community of the church.
Steven L. Shields