“Follow the living prophet” …and Excommunicate Joseph Smith? Part 1

This will be a four part article due to the length and great amount of information contained in it.

Author Unknown
We don’t know the origins of this article, other than it is a pdf we came across and felt it to be of benefit to the Saints or those that would call themselves saints.

For scores of years, controversy raged over everything Mormon.  Through the revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Mormons sought a better way to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.  They met with resistance and persecution.  Their doctrines were peculiar to a world steeped in the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.  Approximately sixty years after its organization, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began its several concessions to governmental and internal pressures.  Currently, the Church can no longer claim the distinction of standing firmly by the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  It has gradually adopted whatever changes were necessary to become friends with the world.  Such a position has brought the Church to the predictable point where controversy has become internalized.  Many Latter-day Saints today are alarmed because of changes in principles and ordinances, and, more recently, because of teachings from Church leaders that are in conflict with those of former leaders, and with scripture.

Some of the present teachings of the Church are contrary to the words of ancient and modern prophets.  The Church seems to be finding fault with itself by declaring some of the essential teachings of its former prophets to be invalid, thus raising doubts and causing contention in the Mormon community.  Informed Latter-day Saints know that the fall of churches has rarely occurred because of outside forces as such.  Degeneration from within has been the primal cause.  Church leaders themselves throughout the dispensations have often begun the retrogression by proscribing eternal laws as nonessential, or of singular application to particular times and interests.

The design of the Church to alleviate potential Mormon unrest and ensure unquestioning loyalty despite changes in doctrine and ordinance, has taken the form of an oft-repeated admonition – “Follow the living prophet.”  The concept is urged upon the Saints in nearly every sermon from Church leaders, and in nearly every manual for Church auxiliaries.  It could very well become the 14th Article of Faith.  But pressing the Saints to follow the living prophet, is tantamount to assuring them that some teachings of the living prophets are likely to differ from those of the dead.  And more and more Mormons are questioning.  Those Saints who are excommunicated for their uncertainties, merely become a part of the “weeding out.”

A blow that dealt the most recent misery originated with a talk delivered by a Church leader on February 26, 1980, at Brigham Young University, in which “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” were outlined.  We are in harmony with some of the teachings, but are at variance with several others.  Let us examine those issues that are relevant to our concerns, the first four “Fundamentals.”  In doing so, we hold to the lines drawn by scripture and former prophets of God.  Therefore, it is to those teachings that we must turn for our guidelines.  There is much information available, but we will extract only portions of scripture and writings, and invite the reader to study entire chapters and speeches.  We also invite the reader not to weary of quotations, since we want to know what the past prophets have taught as a result of revelations from the Lord.

First: “The Prophet is the Only Man Who Speaks For the Lord in Everything”

     A study of keys of Priesthood, Church, and Kingdom is recommended to the reader.  It will not be undertaken here.  Suffice it to say, the president of the Church is limited by common consent.  Church members may exercise the right to withhold consent.  The president of priesthood is not restricted by that rule.  Brigham Young made this clear when he invited the Saints to vote for Ann Lee as their president, if they chose, after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  (HC 7:230)  Whichever way the Church elected to go, he knew who presided over the priesthood.  Priesthood existed prior to the Church and was the power behind its organization.  The Church did not create priesthood.  Priesthood exists without the Church, but the Church cannot exist without priesthood.  The lesser cannot create the greater.

At one time, the Prophet Joseph desired to resign as president of the Church, preferring his brother, Hyrum, to preside over it, while he, Joseph, presided over Hyrum, Church, and Kingdom, as president of priesthood.  Church members, exercising their right to withhold consent within the organizational structure, would not have it so.  Joseph continued functioning in both positions.  (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pages 317-318.)  Had Hyrum held the position as president of the Church, he would have been prophet to the Church while Joseph was president of the priesthood and prophet over all.  Both prophets would have been authorized to “speak for the Lord” in their callings.  Further, the Church was organized in 1830, and the Kingdom of God (a separate organization) was not organized until the spring of 1844.  The Prophet, then, introduced another structure under the priesthood in need of a president.  (See HC 7:382)  Most Church members are not familiar with the total structure of the House of the Lord as Joseph Smith established it.  The Prophet Joseph could well say today, as he expressed his feelings then,

“It is strange, brethren, that you have been in the Church so long, and not yet understood the Melchizedek Priesthood.” (TPJS 317)

The BYU speaker, in placing emphasis on his premise that the prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything, referred to Section 21 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses 4-6.  We suggest that the scripture was misused.  The revelation was given at the organization of the Church in 1830, and referred to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  The intent of the scripture is plain.  “Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his [Joseph Smith’s] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, [without change] ….” (D&C 21:4).

When it is stated that the prophet speaks for God in everthing, such an assertion must be qualified.  Additionally, a man is a prophet of God only if he truly speaks for God.  We will extend our remarks on this issue later.

Second: “The Living Prophet is More Vital to us Than the Standard Works”

     We agree with this premise upon one condition and one condition only.  It is that the world was in gross darkness, and gross darkness covered the earth and the minds of the people, until God again revealed His scriptures through Joseph Smith, a prophet of God.  He, like Moses, spoke to the people because he had seen God face to face.  And such a prophet, revealing the proper interpretation of the law and the testimony to the children of men, knew what he was talking about.  His word and his testimony were of more value than the scriptures, because he was God’s mouthpiece to our generation.  He did not contradict former prophets and scripture.  Joseph Smith was the Moses of this dispensation.  We are told through his successors that if we do not obey that gospel which he taught, God will peradventure give to us a law of commandments that will not give us eternal life, just as he gave it to ancient Israel through Moses.  For God will judge us by the manner in which we follow our Moses, as He judged ancient Israel by the manner in which they followed their Moses.

Brigham Young did make the statement that the living oracles were more important than the scriptures, but he also said that this was true providing the living oracles sustained what the dead prophets had written.  He sustained the gospel unchanged and unvarying as it had been declared from the Lord through Joseph Smith.  And we will be judged by those precepts and commandments.

It seems to be a tendency since the beginning of the world that satan, the master architect of deceit, will seek to divert men’s thoughts and affections from God, and to focus them upon human forms; he leads them to remember the gift and not the Giver, and to ignore the Lord in whose hands we are.  We hear much more today about what the living prophet says, and very little about what Joseph Smith has said.

The issue with us is not whether the living prophet is to be esteemed above the scriptures, or the scriptures above the living prophet.  There is no question about the value of both.  We are troubled only when the two conflict.  Scripture represents the revealed word of God in the past, and if the living oracle receives the present word of God, why does the Church feel it is necessary to raise an issue?  It would seem necessary only upon introducing contradiction between scripture and the teachings of the living prophet.

We believe that “No prophecy of the scriptures is given of any private will of man.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21, JST).  If the living oracle receives modern revelation from God, harmony with scripture is inevitable, since we have an unchanging God.  It needn’t concern the Latter-day Saint to wonder which is greater.  The issue of choice need not be raised.  But Church leaders today are unusually exercised about it.

Joseph Smith himself casts doubt upon the notion that the scriptures should take a backseat.  Said he,

“If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter” (Times and Seasons, April 1, 1844).

This better view was supported by the late Church President, Joseph Fielding Smith:

“If I ever say anything which is contrary to the scriptures, then the scriptures prevail” (Church News Aug 23, 1975).

And he was a living prophet at the time.  We view this as a conflict with the present Church representative.

However, if we have neither oracle nor scripture, then of course the oracle would prevail in importance.  It is obvious that the writer must precede that which is written.  The oracles are greater than the written word in the sense that they precede the written word.  It was the business of the prophets to write those portions of their revelations designed for man generally.  The scriptures are necessarily fragmentary, an abbreviation from the prophets of their dialogue with the Lord through the ages.  They are a condensation.

The living oracle gives life to the scriptures.  This is why the sectarian world is paralyzed.  The Prophet Joseph was told in the sacred grove that the sectarian world has a form of godliness, but that they deny the power thereof.  The power comes from the living oracle.  All the Bibles in the world cannot perform a single ordinance in behalf of the Saints.  But neither is the living oracle privileged to teach a doctrine of his own.  He cannot conflict with principles and ordinances formerly revealed.  They are eternal in nature.  They are eternal by definition.  A measure of the prophet is whether his words square with the scriptures.  It is not enough for us just to be thrilled with what they teach.  Their words must conform, or “hew to the line and to the plummet.”  If the living oracle does not measure up to the scriptures, something is wrong.  The Saints have been admonished unceasingly to study and search the scriptures and know for themselves whether they are led of God or of man.  It seems elementary to emphasize that this is crucial.  It is not spiritually safe to fall asleep on the arm of flesh.

Martin Luther was surely inspired to say,

“When we have God’s word pure and clear, then we think ourselves all right; we become negligent, and repose in a vain security; we no longer pay due heed, thinking it will always so remain; we do not watch and pray against the devil, who is ready to tear the divine word out of our hearts.  No greater mischief can happen to a Christian people, than to have God’s word taken from them, or falsified, so that they no longer have it pure and clear.  God grant we and our descendants be not witnesses of such a calamity.”

Similarly stated, Watch and pray always.

While we are indebted to those who preceded us, the need for revelation to us in our day is imperative.  The scriptures help guide us toward the light of the Lord, and the living priesthood is here to bring us to Christ.  It is certain that without revelation today, we are not the people of God.  The scriptures are clear on that.  But it cannot be revelation that is contradictory to that which preceded it.  Mormonism offers more stable standards in the revelations than in changeable “living oracles.”

We note, then, the foolishness of a quarrel.  In this last dispensation, we are blessed with both the revealed word and the living oracles.  We ought to have great respect for both, for it is hazardous to the soul to disregard either.  Of course in the final analysis, what really matters is the state of our hearts and our standing before the Lord.  When we come to stand before Him, yearning for His approval, this debate of scripture versus the living prophet will sink into the obscurity it deserves.  This issue, having been made an issue, is as if to apologize for past digression, and to set the stage for more.

Third: “The Living Prophet is More Important to Us Than a Dead Prophet”

     This declaration falls into the same category as the preceding issue.  If it is difficult to receive ordinances from between the lids of the Bible, it is equally difficult, at the present time, to receive them from a dead prophet.  We need a living prophet.  But both dead and living prophets are vital.  And if they are true prophets of God, they will be in harmony with one another.  The living cannot have precedence over the dead, simply because he happens to be alive.

For that matter, who is “dead,” and who is “alive?”  There are those in mortality who are very spiritually dead indeed, and many among the dead who are wholly alive.  Jesus is dead as to mortality.  So are Joseph Smith, Abraham, Brigham Young, John Taylor.  But from whom, after all, does the living prophet receive revelation?  Who is more important?  Is the current Church president more correct in doctrine and ordinance than they?  While we hope we understand the intent of the speaker, this sweeping statement also needs modification.

As the speaker illustrated, “God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark.”  That is true.  Nor did God’s revelations to Noah instruct the Brother of Jared on how to build barges.  And today it is not necessary to send the seagulls after the crickets.  Our concern is not with weights and measures, or whether corn grows better than squash, but with sacred principles and ordinances which must remain unchanged throughout this last dispensation if we would at last sup with the prophets.

Those who insist that God will change His instructions at any time and upon any issue, usually refer to the scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124, verse 49, which says: “…When I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.”

Charles W. Penrose, in a less than tranquil approach, offered the proper view of that particular scripture.  He said it is similar to other

“quotations sometimes referred to by the weak backed who need a ramrod fastened parallel with their spinal column.  It is a little singular that some people will persistently refuse to see the difference between a certain special work and a principle or law.  The consistency of the Lord relieving a people from any such obligation as the building of a house when prevented by enemies from accomplishing it is self-evident.  When it comes to the abrogation of a law, a principle, a truth, the matter is entirely different.  The revelation does not apply even remotely…” (Des Eve News June 5, 1885).

This is our view.

Ten years later, George Q. Cannon took occasion to restate the point.

“There are revelations in that book (D&C) concerning counsel and the management of affairs that are not binding upon us only so far as they are applicable to us.  When, however, it comes to the revelations concerning principle, then those revelations are unalterable, and they will stand as long as heaven and earth will endure, because they are true.” (Des Eve News Sept 21, 1895)

That the living prophet is important to us is not disputed, provided he does not conflict with dead prophets.  This is our position.  We must offer principled resistance against such conflicts.  We uphold the gospel as restored by Joseph Smith.  We are actuated by that single motive in obeying and perpetuating all of the restored gospel.  Said Joseph Smith,

“Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.  All must be saved on the same principles.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 308)

The speaker warned against “those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets.”  This again alerts us to expect further contradiction, like the ringing of a buoy in heavy seas.  But pitting the prophets against one another is precisely our point.  Those taking that course are our leaders. We would not have it so.  Our unrest is in consequence of our leaders taking issue with the former prophets.  Our leaders are introducing division between the living and the dead, while warning us not to pit them against one another.  They tell us in their sermons to “forget” vital principles for which our former prophets shed their blood.  If we raise questions on these important issues, we are then summarily dismissed as malcontents who try to pit prophet against prophet.  But the issue began at the “head office.”  Perhaps the living prophet must beware of pitting himself against the issue.  Our position is that no man, whoever he is or however great his office, can change God’s laws; he can only administer them.  An outline of certain changes and contradictions will follow.

An article recently written by a historian outlined the actions of the United States government since World War I.  He spoke of our nation’s policy of appeasement after appeasement, the consequence of which has been the loss of face and trust with most of the world.  This fall from grace has been because of our unwillingness to honor our word as a nation.  We have become a “paper tiger.”  Since “the horn made war with the Saints and prevailed,” which made history in the 1880’s, the policy of the Church has been the same as that of our nation, to yield again and again in order to harmonize with the persuasions of the world.

There was a finer day when the LDS leaders were those who were warning the nations of the coming crises and judgments facing this nations and all the world because of disobedience to the teachings of Christ.  We now hear those cries of warning from the other churches, who realize that prophecy is being fulfilled. The Mormons seem to be walking in darkness at noonday, peacefully going about their way with the assumption that the true Church is impregnable.  Warnings and prophecies seem not to pertain to us because the Church members have a special immunity.  But the overflowing scourge will not pass us by, and all is not well in Zion.

The trend of the Church since its concession to the world in 1890, has been to apologize and to yield on one point after another, thus implying that the early Church leaders were either in error or were only temporarily correct.  Let anyone stand firm for former principles and ordinances, and it isn’t long before they receive their separation papers.  But is it possible that some of those whom the Church is wont to call apostate because they adhere to original principles, are actually those who refuse to apostatize?  Apostasy means to turn away from truth.  If our earlier leaders were limited in knowledge and of shallow understanding doctrinally, how in the world have we managed to inherit a true Church from inept prophets?  When do doctrinal reversals cease?  We’ve read that Joseph Smith explicitly names a curse upon those who teach any other doctrine than what he (and his predecessors) taught.  Will the Church continue to do this?

Bishop Heber Bennion, who was a brother-in-law to President Heber J. Grant, said:

“We are told that the living oracles take precedence over all other authority, living or dead.  We agree that the living oracles take precedence, provided they do not conflict with the dead oracles.  ‘To the law and the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.’  If it is true that the living oracles take precedence over all others regardless of their disagreements with the dead prophets, then the Saints must necessarily change their faith every time there is a change in the presidency, to conform to the views of the new president.” (Gospel Problems p 6)

This is our position.

Fourth: “The Prophet Will Never Lead the Church Astray”

     Or, put our trust in the arm of flesh.  This is a doctrine of infallibility.  The people insisted upon following the living prophet after the days of Christ.  They now follow the living Pope. If the living prophet will never lead others astray, we Mormons had better transfer our 3 X 5 membership cards to Rome.  “Follow the living prophet!” was the cry of those who departed from the truth.  It was the cry of the Roman Catholics at the time of the Inquisition and the Diet of Worms.  It was the cry of the Protestants when they settled New England and drowned or burned the “heretics.”  It is now the cry of the Mormons, and we shall see where it will lead.

The notion that the living prophet cannot lead anyone astray very likely has its basis in early Church history.  The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith to test Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.  We are all aware that Heber’s test involved Vilate.  Brigham Young records a promise given to him and others at a later date.  It was given not long before the Prophet Joseph’s death.

“Before Joseph’s death he had a revelation concerning myself and others, which signified that we had passed the ordeal, and that we should never apostatize from the faith of the holy gospel; ‘and,’ said Joseph, ‘if there is any danger of your doing this, the Lord will take you to Himself forthwith, for you cannot stray from the truth'” (JOD 12:103).

But that was a promise intended for the faithful Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and a few others.  We have no indication of that promise being perpetuated to automatically embrace all Church presidents.  Let us examine another point of view.

Could Joseph Smith himself have fallen?  We read that he was given several stern warnings, one of which told him to beware lest he fall (D&C 3:9).  It was very likely, then, that he could.  The scriptures also make provision for the President of the High Priesthood of the LDS Church: “And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church… thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God….” (D&C 107:81-84).  Section 43 of the same book, verse 4, states that a prophet can fall and would have no other power save to appoint another in his stead.  Section 20, verse 34, warns even the sanctified to take heed.  Clearly, mortal man, regardless of his position or calling, is not infallible.

Brigham Young knew this was true and frequently challenged the Saints to fill their own heads with knowledge, their souls with righteousness, and to stay close to the Lord.  He said,

“You SAY you wish to do right, and please the Lord in all your actions; but were I to adopt an evil practice, the greater portion of this community WOULD FOLLOW IT!” (JOD 2:125)

He had a trained eye and keen discernment.  He did not welcome any focus upon himself as the living prophet; he discouraged it.  He pointed to the Lord and Joseph Smith.  And he urged the Saints to look to their own responsibility.  His position on being led astray reflects our own.  “The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and He will not suffer you to be led astray IF you are found doing your duty.”  He gave us the key.

The Lord said that He suffered some of the persecutions to fall upon the Saints in Missouri because they deserved it.  Did the Saints also deserve the diverting of a holy law in 1890?  With so many modern innovations taking form, what will the Saints deserve in 1980?  Recorded history verifies the fact that man has often imposed limitations upon the prophets by their acts of disobedience.  Given enough time, mortal tendencies toward certain weaknesses repeat themselves over and over.  In earlier years, John Taylor expressed similar concern.

 “We are getting into such a condition that if we were to meet the Lord, we could not look Him in the face, and the way we are going it will soon be impossible to tell what we do believe” (Des News Mar 9, 1889).

Our point is that if the Mormons are led out of the way, it is often because many Saints insist upon it.  In respecting the free agency of man, God does allow the prophets to give the people the ends of their demands.  Samuel of the Old Testament appealed to the Lord because the people rejected him in favor of a king over them.  The Lord let them have their desires, and disaster followed.  But did Samuel lead them astray?  The majority of modern Israel in 1890 wanted out from under an unpopular program.  Plural marriage was unpopular both inside and outside the Church.  The Lord let the Mormons make their choice.  Approximately 97% of them voted their way to greater comfort, and the Lord made provision for the rest under priesthood authority.  But did Wilford Woodruff lead the people astray?  It still remains a worthy observation, that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Our hindsight ought to be at least 20/20.

We read that if the people go astray or are at some time led astray, it will be because they ought to be.  Brigham Young said,

“And if He should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray” (JOD 4:297-298).

It would appear, then, that the burden of the strait and narrow is not entirely upon the shoulders of the prophet.  Moses struggled and plead with the peple to bring them up to the Lord.  But they did not want the burden of the fullness of the gospel.  The Lord gave them their desires and required only the lesser law of them.  Did Moses lead them astray?  It is always wiser that people are granted a lesser law and are permitted to partially digress, than that they became a total loss.

Further, the Lord has promised delusions to those who would impose limitations upon the full gospel.  A vacuum does not remain when we turn away from truth.  Delusions are always lurking nearby to fill the void.  Paul said “…Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thess 2:10-11).  Is this promise applicable to everyone but modern Mormons?

The Book of Mormon also makes a point of this same issue.  “…For God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it.  And because they desired it, God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

As part of the grand delusion for being negligent of God’s revelations, Brigham Young

“told the people that if they would not believe the revelations that God had given, He would suffer the devil to give revelations that they – priests and people – would follow after.  Have I seen this fulfilled?  I have.  I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth they would have error sent unto them, and they would believe it.” (Des News June 18, 1873)

This is where we are today.

When we say we cannot be led astray by a prophet, we are foolish.  Most of us have capacitated ourselves to receive only so much of the full gospel, and we leave the rest up to the living prophet.  We study very little, strain even less to sanctify our lives, and then lean upon every word of the prophet to give us hope.  If the scriptures say that we stumble because of the foolish traditions of our fathers, it must necessarily include the Mormons.  As a result, “Few there be that find it.”  The Latter-day Saint Church is the Lord’s true Church upon the earth.  But many Mormons have abdicated their responsibility toward it.

The author of the “Fundamentals” referred to a remark attributed to one of our late Church presidents, in which he counseled one of the brethren to keep his eye on the president to the Church.  And if he received instructions by the president to do anything that was wrong, to do it and the Lord would bless him for it.  (See Conf Report, Oct 1960, p. 78)  We thought the scriptures said that the Lord does not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.  We have thought that one’s position does not determine the value of principle.  We think this is leaning upon the frail arm of flesh.  We think this is one having a little authority (as they suppose) and exercising unrighteous dominion.

George Q. Cannon advised us to know truth for ourselves.

“If we hear any principle taught from the stand that we do not understand, let us seek to comprehend it by the Spirit of God.  If it be not of God, we have the privilege of knowing it.  WE ARE NOT REQUIRED TO RECEIVE FOR DOCTRINE EVERYTHING THAT WE HEAR.  We may say, ‘I do not know whether this is true or not, I will not fight it, neither will I endorse it, but I will seek knowledge from God.  For that is my privilege, and I will never rest satisfied until I have obtained the light I require'” (Jrnl of Disc. 12:46).

It is spiritually unsafe for Latter-day Saints to neglect their responsibility to know the truth for themselves.  The issue, then is to follow the living principles, and the living prophet if he administers principles and ordinances according to the pattern estalished by Joseph Smith.  If the living prophet operates within the confines of those guidelines, he will not conflict with the dead prophets.  Can we not reasonably expect no change in the plan of salvation as long as a man remains to be saved?

It is interesting to note in passing, that the BYU speaker insists that the living prophet is more vital than the dead prophets, but quotes liberally from the dead prophets to give life to the living prophet.

That the people of God would be led astray in the latter days was prophesied by Isaiah.  “The ancient and honorable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail.  For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isaiah 9:15-16).

“…But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7).  Wine and strong drink are symbolic of pride and power.

A perfect description of modern Israel: “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.  O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

The submission of Ephraim to the world was predicted in these words: “Because ye have said, we have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves” (Isaiah 28:15).

It is far from unthinkable that some of the leaders of modern Israel have strayed from a more perfect path.  Former leaders thought to change principles and ordinances.  Their followers were certain that their living prophet would never lead them astray.  Today, most Mormons are also certain that no living prophet could lead anyone into error, even if they deserve it.  It is a peculiarity that the living of all ages claim infallibility for the living, but readily admit to the errors of the dead.

…continued in part 2 to be released on December 22, 2020.

23 thoughts on ““Follow the living prophet” …and Excommunicate Joseph Smith? Part 1”

  1. Wow! I have been wondering why certain things are being said and done. When I would ponder and pray about it, what came to mind every time is the Lord giving Israel Saul because they wanted a king more than a prophet. I guess I was on the right track, but this adds so much more detail. I can’t wait to read the rest.


  3. An important element not addressed is the judaisation of the Church. When leaders of the church hob-nob with rabbis without calling rabbis to repentance and to the waters of baptism but instead give the rabbis church money in the name of charity the influence becomes one sided. Instead of leading the rabbis to salvation the rabbis are leading the leaders of Christ’s church to deconstructing (nullifying the word of God) Christ’s church. As the rabbis have done throughout Israel’s history. If we don’t look at the radix of the problem, but only the systems a corrective course will not be found. It is codified in the books of the rabbis to deconstruct Christianity. Or to use their terms it’s a Mitzvah to deconstruct Christianity. Oaks, Holland and Cook all get their inspiration from rabbis.

  4. The Lords house is a house of order and not a house of confusion. The Lord will not tell some member that the people he called to preside is wrong.

    Modern Revelation is an integral part of the church. We don’t gather to headquarters and missionaries no longer go without purse or scrip.

    Policies for the time change. Advocating Plural marriage is grounds for name removal now. Lord told prophet he called to end that practice. Polygamy is not required for exaltation.

    Lord told prophet time to give all people the priesthood and prophets foretold the day it would come.

    Hiram Page with aid of Oliver Cowdery received revelation for the church or thought he did and Lord corrected him Doctrine and Covenants 28.

    Doctrine and Covenants section 42:11 also says it some obscure person will not get revelation to direct the church. Who told you the people the Lord called do not know what they are re talking about? Since the Lord called his prophets will he not speak to them. And do they look for ways to lead members of the church astray.

    Are you saying if they do lead the church astray the Lord will not move them.

    M Russell Ballard at BYU and Byuh gave a talk were he explained how the brethren cannot lead the church astray. Was published in an ensign article too.

    His talks in Oct 99 and Oct 2017 Conferences were good on that matter too.

    Here is his talk form a BYUHawaii devotional, paragraph long I want to emphasize of how they cannot lead you astray. Meeting every Thursday and prayerful consideration. How confusing it would be if every member received a revelation for The President of the church the lord called.


    If link does not work go to the devotional archive page at byuhawaii or similar talk h gave a few years earlier at BYU that was published in the ensign. I believe people I know who are called over self appointed bloggers.

  5. Living prophets give us “today’s news today”. The ancient Jews couldn’t grasp that principle either, so they trusted in Moses while they crucified the Son of God.

    1. That’s exactly what Catholics say about the need for the restoration through Joseph Smith. The Jews couldn’t grasp why Jesus couldn’t follow the living high priest, Catholics don’t understand why Joseph couldn’t follow the living Pope and on and on.

  6. The Savior confirmed the words of Isaiah regarding the danger blindly following leaders. See JST, Mark 9:40–48. Compare Mark 9:43–48.
    Thank you for this spirituality crucial article.

  7. This is SUCH a hard topic for people. It is such a paradigm shift. Every person I have attempted to tell this to (save one) has rejected it and accused me of “philosophy” (I guess they don’t know what the word philosophy means.)

    Mormon culture teaches people to believe anything and everything without thinking first.

    Members pray to know “THAT” what the leaders have said is true, not “IF” it is true.

    I’ve been told “if the president says it in conference then it is right.” Then I point out that lots of conference statements have been renounced. “Well follow the majority” they reply. I point out that the majority has been wrong on plenty of topics. “Well the prophet said in conference that he can’t lead us astray so he can’t!!!”

    Circular reasoning is real and prevalent.

    It is frustrating but I can’t make other people see. I can only worry about myself I guess.

    1. Listen to what the prophet says. Russel M. Nelson and those under his direction. Doctrine and Covenants section 1:38. Wether by my voice or the voice of my servants it is the same.

      The Lord calls the Apostles and the senior Apostle is the President of the church. Counselors, Quorum of the twelve, Seventies serve under his direction and also declare the word of the Lord.

      The Lord house is a house of order. Spirit will not contradict itself. The Lord does not reveal individually what he has revealed collectively to the church.

      If you keep your eye on the prophet and listen to local leaders you are on the right path. They reveal what you need to hear today and you won’t go wrong listening to them.

      1. But they say that prophets of the past were wrong. If they were wrong, why can’t current ones be wrong. If the current ones can’t be wrong, past ones can’t be wrong.
        If we are going to be taken seriously and not seen as a cult, we have to stop acting like one and be intellectually honest.

          1. Loved this article. I have been praying to see things as they really are for several years. Little by little things are revealed I have felt very alone in my feelings about the leaders of the Church. It is almost impossible to talk to family and friends who only want to “follow the prophet, he knows the way”. I now know there are others who see and are starting to see “Things As They Really Are.”

        1. The importance of following the current prophet is that times have changed. The way our ancestors viewed and understood the world and how things were done then are so different than how we view them today. Sometimes when I read of how Brigham Young handled things seemed so harsh at the time but if we were there it would have felt normal for the time. Was he wrong? The proof is in the pudding, the church has grown into a world-wide church because of the foundation he helped build.
          When the children of Israel lead by Moses disobeyed the earth opened up and they were swallowed within. Pretty harsh! However the Saints back then were like children compared to even JSJ’s day, and now with the fullness in full swing ours even more so in maturity. Prophets must lead every group of people based on their knowledge and understanding of the time. Our church does handle things differently especially the last decade, for as President Packer said at the time, our children are now being raised in enemy territory. We fall into a trap to use the same lense for all peoples and judge former or current against each over. It’s a slippery road to question our modern day prophet when he is in constant contact with our Savior.
          What I’m reading here is potential seeds of apostasy being planted!

          1. You’re conflating two separate ideas as if they were the same. What you are referring to re how leaders handled things is true, but not relevant to the topic at hand which is principles of the Gospel.

            If one is not going to engage with intellectual honesty and resort to veiled name calling, they will not reach those they are trying to help, but instead further entrench the other person

            This may be of of help to you https://faithfulsaints.com/5-principles-to-help-those-in-a-faith-crisis/

      2. This is also in section 1 of the D&C
        18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
        19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
        So he named his servant as Joseph Smith Jr. specifically as his servant.

        Then he says that the OTHERS he called represent the weak things of the world.
        I cannot see how a millionaire who is in charge of a multi-billion dollar 501c3 corporation with multiple umbrellas hiding assets as the WEAK things of the world.

        Finally we are admonished NOT to counsel one another or trust in the arm of flesh.

        We are also told in this section that that the arm of the Lord shall be revealed and in Section 103 that arm is described as being powerful and that it involves a man being raised up like Moses who will redeem Zion.

        Once again, I haven seen any of our current brethren showing signs that they are this powerful Arm of the Lord.

        Jeremiah called out a prophet in his time falsely prophesying in the temple. And in Jeremiah ch 7 he warned the people of his day that the leaders who were telling them The temple, the temple, the temple would protect them was false. That calamity was coming. And he was right. The book of Jeremiah corroborates the story of Isaiah, the the Us (Egypt in Isaiah) will be invaded by a coalition of foreign governments led by “the Assyrian” and that only a remnant of the Covenant people of our day will be saved. Those who are truly seeking Christ and taking the Holy Spirit as their guide. Jeremiah calls it “ the time of Jacob’s trouble” It is a 3 1/2 year period.
        Please stop leaning on others! Christ tells us that strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads to the kingdom of heaven and FEW there be that find it. He also tells us that He employs no servants there. You cannot get into the kingdom by following the prophet.
        Our job is to listen and test if the prophets message is true. Even Joseph Smith made prophetic mistakes according to our church history documents.

    2. You will know when you are the right path when the Spirit confirms it to YOU and no-one else.

      By that same Spirit you can know that the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve are called by revelation and prophecy. Let them stand or fall on their own merits.

      Once you have the Spirit for YOURSELF, you cannot be led astray by anyone or anything. The goal for all Saints should always be SPIRITUAL INDEPENDENCE which includes continuous revelation for your family and those you preside over. When you get to that point, the leaders of the Church are there to provide HELP, not enforce absolute power over your life (which is the pattern that Satan is very fond of).

      Remember: Moses wanted EVERY ISRAELITE to have the Spirit of Prophecy. Numbers 11:24-29. The Lord expects every Priesthood holder to be a prophet, seer, and revelator to his own household. “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”

      The author of this paper has a contention about polygamy. The answer is in the Book of Mormon:

      Jacob 2:28-30

      28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
      29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
      30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I WILL COMMAND MY PEOPLE; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

      (emphasis added)

      When the Lord refers to himself as Lord of Hosts, he is referring to his legions of angels. That is a forceful suggestion to listen carefully. He has the most powerful army in the universe at his back.

      The Church fulfilled the mission of raising up seed unto the Lord. The world has been blessed by thousands of missionaries who are the descendants of those keeping the New and Everlasting Covenant. Plurality of wives is an eternal principle that has not changed. Given the decision between continuing polygamy and having the mission of the Church thwarted, we should recognize the Lord’s wisdom in revoking the commandment temporarily.

      Currently we are not commanded to observe polygamy. As the prophet Jacob says, we must hearken unto these things (meaning strict and chaste monogamy).

      1. The answer can’t be Jacob 2… it was NOT used as an excuse to end plural marriage and therfore is null and void … it was to appease the government and the members of the church who were asking for a manifesto.

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