Yesterday I had a conversation on the bloggernacle. It concerns me enough that I think it is important to share part of what I said with you today:
Anyone who does not follow God’s chosen prophets is not following God’s chosen prophets. I will not apologize for that.
God has chosen, called, ordained, and sent forth his anointed servants to do His work on earth, to act in His stead, and to say the things the He would say if He were here. They are His representatives, and act in vicarious authority as if they were Christ here in person, and if we don’t stand close to what they say, we are not following the One who sent them ((Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, p. 256)). For He has put into their mouths the things which they should say ((D&C 100:5-6, 24:5-6)).
When Paul was converted and called he was told,
The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. ((Acts 22:14-15))
The living prophets and apostles are called in the very same way today.
The Church has said,
…it is not acceptable when [our] digging and questioning leads to public opposition against doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold. . . . Unfortunately [Danzig] was not able to reconcile his personal beliefs with the doctrine Church leaders are charged to maintain by divine mandate. ((“Care for the Flock”, LDS Newsroom, February 24, 2008))
Some members of the Church have said over and over again that it is not necessary for us to sustain what our leaders say, that we should think for ourselves instead, that what they say is unoriginal and old-fashioned, and that we must put personal revelation above everything else. That is not following God’s chosen prophets, and will certainly lead to apostasy, as we have clearly seen. President Kimball warned that many in the Church are “mentally stoning the living [prophets]” ((Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, p. 253; see also Matthew 23:29-30, 34)).
Nibley himself often said that his words were worthless, and that his writings should be taken with a grain of salt. He also spared no expense in extensively quoting from the brethren and the scriptures, ad nauseam. How old-fashioned of him. Couldn’t he think for himself?
How could the Danzigs believe that their position on same-sex marriage was in harmony with the “gospel of Christ” when they are now no longer in the church which proclaims that true gospel? ((“Fallout from debate over gays leads musician to leave LDS Church”, Salt Lake Tribune, February 25, 2008)). They will now not be able to partake of the blessings and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ unless they repent and come back into the fold, for His arm is stretched out still.
But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. ((John 10:26-29))
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. ((2 Nephi 9:28-29))
While Peter Danzig’s motivation and understanding of the Gospel seem to be questionable at best, the reaction of many members of the Church reveals a deeper misunderstanding. One of Brigham Young’s prophetic fears seems to be coming to fruition —
“What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders…” (JD 9)
Joseph Smith warned of leaders who teach this false doctrine —
“Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority, have taught… that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.” (MS 14)
Thanks for your comment.
Are you suggesting from the quotes of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith that we might disregard the counsel of our leaders as false, that we might be afraid that they could lead us astray? I don’t think that is what they were saying. I believe that we are to use our heads and have faith and question doctrines and pray about them and seek for deeper and deeper understanding, but I do not agree with open opposition to the leaders of the Church because I might think they are mistaken.
We do not believe in blind obedience. But we do believe in having faith. We don’t obey because we are blind; we obey because we can see. We understand and have testimony that God has called these men by His Almighty hand to lead and direct His Church on the earth today. Are they imperfect? Yes. That is why we need to have faith and seek confirmation by the spirit. Might they say something that is incorrect or false? Yes. But those things will work themselves out on their own. They have in every case of the Church in the past.
Of course we do not obey without asking questions and seeking confirmation in all we do. That is what Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were teaching. We need to have the spirit in our lives such that we know that the brethren are speaking the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t think they were teaching that we need be fearful of apostasy in the leadership of the Church, and that I may of my own free will oppose them if I am in disagreement. We need to be very careful how we interpret what these prophets said, or we might find ourselves in a paradox where even these statements themselves can be disregarded as untruths from the Lord’s anointed.
As a short answer, I do not advocate open opposition, since, at the very least, the temple keys are in the possession of the LDS Church and I greatly value the temple.
Remembering... | TempleStudy.com - LDS Temple Study Blog - Sustaining and Defending the LDS (Mormon) Temple
[…] http://www.templestudy.com/2008/02/26/mentally-stoning-the-living-prophets/ […]
remember when nephi heard words from his father that his brothers voiced doubts on, he inquired of the lord for himself. we may always seek heavenly fathers confirmation of what the prophet tells us. when the lords guidance is given it is based in a whole and complete knowlege that we don’t have.