the thinker

Infallibility of Prophets

For those wondering when prophets and apostles actually do speak for God and when they don't, you may want to read MormonThink's essay "As if they were speaking for God."

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"...if any man preach any other Gospel than that which I have preached, he shall be cursed; "

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 366, also in History of the Church, v. 6, p.365

“Just a few scant days before his martyrdom, Joseph affirmed:
'I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught. Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught?'”

- The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 368

“A prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 5, p. 265

“As the Apostle Paul said ‘If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than that we have preached let him be accursed.'”

- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, v. 12, p. 276

“I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations that Brigham Young has said "when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture." I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 261, October 6, 1870

“I have never preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 95

“God will do nothing regarding His work except through His own duly anointed prophets! They are His servants. They are the watchmen on the towers of Zion.
“They will give us the Lord's word in no uncertain terms as God makes it known. That is why He has His prophets on earth. They are for the edification of the Saints and to protect us from every wind of doctrine. Let us follow them and avoid being led astray.”

- Apostle Mark E. Peterson, “When Shall It Be?,” Church News, December 12, 1981, p. 16

“Christ and his prophets go together... it is not possible to believe in one without believing in the other... by rejecting the prophets we reject Christ himself.”

- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, cited in 1978 Devotional Speeches of the Year: BYU Devotional and Addresses, 1978, p. 118

“Second, in the midst of all these things, Joseph like his colleague prophets was so busy being a special witness for the Savior that he had little time to heed all of the false witness being borne about him. Joseph was usually more inclined to endure than explain himself, even though the drumbeat of dissent was at certain points almost unrelieved. In Nauvoo, in March 1842, for instance, while intensively engaged "day and evening" in translating the Book of Abraham, he said that he simply did not have time to attend to all his public duties. His duties as a seer were more important than his ceremonial chores.
Joseph did not respond at times, of course, such as by issuing a summational disclaimer as from the temple stand in Nauvoo, saying, "I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught."

- Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, Meek and Lowly, pp. 105-106

“There is no error in the revelations Joseph taught!"

- Apostle Neal A. Maxwell, Sermons Not Spoken, p.6

“My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he tells you to do something wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.”

- Prophet Heber J. Grant, as quoted by Apostle Marion G. Romney in “The Covenant of the Priesthood,” Ensign, July 1972, p. 98

“A prophet is wonderful because he sometimes speaks for the Lord. This occurs on certain occasions when the Lord wills it. On other occasions, he speaks for himself, and one of the wonderful doctrines of the Church is that we don't believe in the infallibility of any mortal.”

- Apostle Henry Eyring, Faith of a Scientist, p. 23

“No man holds divine authority equal to or above the president of the Church. In his position he is pre-eminent!
“Let us understand fully the clear identity of the president of the Church. He is the mouthpiece of God on earth for us today.”

- “The Certain Sounds,” Church News, October 9, 1983, p. 24

“Thus the issue for those who signed the New York affidavits was the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith. Since Rodger Anderson argues so intensely for respecting Hurlbut and his signers, evidently their supposed view of Joseph Smith is really his: "For them, he would always remain a superstitious adolescent dreamer and his success as a prophet a riddle for which there was no answer" (p. 116). But the New York townsmen had a stronger answer-­fifty-one signers in Palmyra said the Prophet was "entirely destitute of moral character." The Prophet answered the core issue of his youth in the blunt Nauvoo comment: "I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught."

- May 12, 1844 discourse, in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith (Brigham Young University Religious Studies Center, 1980), p. 369, also in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, by Richard Lloyd Anderson, p.62.

“When the work of the Prophet Joseph Smith was completed, when he had received the keys, powers, and ordinances, and had conferred them upon the heads of the Quorum of the Twelve when he realized and sensed that the time had come when he would give his life for his work, he seemed to speak, upon occasion, more emphatically than ever before with regard to the truth of the revelations which he received, indicating that there were those within the Church then who opposed and did not accept all the revelations which God had given through him. These were his words upon the memorable occasion of one of his last addresses to the Saints.
"Oh! I beseech you go forward and make your calling and election sure -- when did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect -- but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught."

- The Historical Record, May 12, 1844, v. 7, p. 548, also in History of the Church, v. 6, p.366

“The idea that nothing negative should be said about past Church leaders was a natural consequence of the position that nothing negative should be said about present leaders. ‘Sustaining the authorities' includes the idea, for Mormons, that one does not tear down, criticize, or otherwise resist the decisions of the leadership.”

- Davis Bitton, “Like the Tigers of Old,” Sunstone Review, September-October 1982, v. 7, p. 47, no. 5

“My stake president told me that if the prophet told me to do something wrong, I would be blessed if I obliged. He said what I had written was anti-Mormon because it wasn't uplifting.”

- Dawn Tracy, “LDS Bishops Want ‘Faith-Promoting' Articles,” Herald (Provo, UT), May 22, 1983, p. 3