the thinker

As if they were speaking for God - when do prophets and apostles speak for God?


We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord.

"Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets," President Spencer W. Kimball, May 1977 Ensign. (Emphasis added.)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints positions itself as the sole conduit for God's word and will to the earth so that individuals can gain salvation in the highest kingdom in the next life. They believe the LDS Church is "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth." (D&C 1:30)

If the Church is the only dispenser of God's complete word and will, and to avoid being cut off and damned, then there must be a way to know if what the Church teaches is in fact God's will.

The Church teaches two ways to learn God's will: the Holy Ghost1 or God's servants (scriptures, talks, articles, etc).2

In the Church, the "servants" charged with speaking on God's behalf are the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Each of these 15 men are called a "prophet, seer and revelator." ("Prophet, Seer, and Revelator," Encyclopedia of Mormonism)

Collectively, over the past 185 years, these men have produced a large body of spoken and written words ranging from official doctrine to opinion and commentary. They've addressed such topics as: where God lives; how to return to Him; priesthood permissions; prohibitions; polygamy; chastity; what kind of underwear temple-endowed members must wear; gender roles; earrings; tattoos; modesty; abortion; communism; how the sun receives its light; appearance of people who live on the moon; etc. But how do we know when a prophet has reveal God's word or just their own thoughts?

The purpose of this piece is to explore when LDS prophets (any of the governing 15) speak God's word. This is prerequisite to discussing any church doctrine or policy. Are the words under discussion actually God's will? How does one know? If prophets can express their own opinions, why do their followers assume their words are divine?

Disagreements about the doctrine and history of the LDS Church are often framed around whether words spoken by one prophet are true, and if they agree with words spoken by another prophet. The term often used in such discussions is "infallible" ('incapable of error,' Merriam-Webster online dictionary). Are prophets incapable or error? Joseph Smith is recorded as saying, "I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that 'a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:265) This is often referenced to show that Joseph did not see himself as infallible—only some of his words should be taken as God's words. Common sense also dictates that no human is infallible, whether a prophet or not.

Instead of focusing on infallibility, disagreements between differing words spoken by different prophets should instead focus on if and when prophets spoke God's word or their own thoughts. Without knowing this, how is a member to know when a prophet's words are wheat and when they are chaff; doctrine or advice; divine or human?


On August 17, 1949, the First Presidency released a statement saying,

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.

The First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949. (Emphasis added.)

LDS prophets repeatedly reaffirmed that African Americans couldn't receive the priesthood in many official settings. Joseph Smith's statement that "a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such" seems to fly in the face of the First Presidencies of 1947, 1949 and 1969 who were clearly acting in their capacity as prophets when they gave their official statements, only to be retracted by a later prophet.3

Is it possible that it was God's will for 140 years that blacks were cursed, and that His will was also presented in the LDS Church's 2013 essay on "Race and the Priesthood": prophets, seers and revelators before 1978 were simply wrong and sharing theories instead of God's word and will? It cannot be both it was God's will and it was not God's will.

How could prophets think they spoke God's word while acting in official capacities, only for us to find out they were speaking theories? Why did these men speak as if they were speaking for God? Where was God's word in correcting such a grievous error that caused untold numbers of His children to be deprived of receiving the blessings of the priesthood?

It's ironic that in the 1969 First Presidency Statement, they say that the "reasons [for not allowing blacks the priesthood] we believe are known to God,"—they here admit that they do not know if God knows the reason— then later in the same letter they specifically declared the role revelation played in their statement—"revelation assures us" it is God's will that blacks be denied the priesthood because of their behavior in the "pre-existence."3 The 2013 essay specifically condemns such thinking as a "theory." For men who believe they have God's secrets revealed to them and interpret God's mind and will, why did they claim God revealed it to them, but in 2013 we are told they were actually teaching erroneous "theories"?

There are few choices to make sense of the contradiction the 2013 essay uncovers: 1) prophets only think they speak for God but really don't; 2) God is not the benevolent, unchanging being the Church claims and it is His fault for the changes. The latter seems to be the position the Church takes when it says things like, we don't know why God wants it this way, but He does. (See for example the 1969 First Presidency quote that "for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man" as referenced in footnote 3) One day He will fix it, but He hasn't told us when.

Regardless of the reason, why was an omnipotent God lax in correcting the errors? Why would an all-knowing God allow prophets to teach theories He knew would cause confusion? Why would a God who reveals His secrets to prophets not reveal this information? For men who interpret the mind and will of God, why weren't they? If the prophets were not speaking God's word, they were leading the people astray.

In the October 2014 General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard directly contested this idea that prophets, seers and revelators can lead people astray when he said

"…the leaders of the Church…will not and cannot lead you astray.

"Stay in the Boat and Hold On!" Elder M. Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 2014. (Emphasis added.)

In LDS Church canon, Official Declaration 1 corroborates Ballard's statement:

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.

Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2. (Emphasis added.)

Canon is the epitome of God's word in LDS theology: it is doctrine. Since 1908 this manifesto has been printed in the Doctrine and Covenants. If this statement from Woodruff that "the Lord will never permit [the] President of this Church to lead you astray" is false doctrine, there has been plenty of time for correction. Yet it stands as more proof against what is learned in the 2013 essay: God's prophets led people astray with their own theories concerning blacks and the priesthood.

On February 26, 1980, Elder Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk at BYU.4 This talk espouses 14 fundamental truths about the prophet of the Church. Of those 14, the following are relevant to the discussion:

1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

2. The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

4. The prophet will never lead the church astray.

5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

6. The prophet does not have to say "Thus Saith the Lord," to give us scripture.

14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true.

First Presidency Message, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," President Ezra Taft Benson, Of the Quorum of the Twelve, Liahona, June 1981. (Emphasis added.)

When Benson "testif[ied] that these fourteen fundamentals…are true," what did he mean? What testimony did he have? How did he receive that testimony? In the LDS Church, one testifies when they know that the things they are speaking are the truth because the spirit has provided that confirmation.5 It sounds like Benson believed he was speaking God's word. And that leaves an important choice for the member: Ezra Taft Benson was wrong, and he testified of something that was not true, meaning he lied or was deceived, or these fourteen fundamentals are indeed true principles.

Some claim that the "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" are not doctrinal. However, there has been ample time for erroneous doctrine found there to have been officially corrected. Additionally, the Church allows references to the "Fourteen Fundamentals" in their official publications, thereby endorsing the words and doctrine found in that talk as official. (As of 10 December 2014 general conference talks, magazines and manuals published by the Church quote from Benson's "Fourteen Fundamentals" at least 19 times.)6

Taking these Church-approved Fourteen Fundamentals, how must one interpret the teachings of Brigham Young in 1852 and the First Presidencies in the 1940s and 1960s regarding blacks and the priesthood? The voice of God through His prophets on these matters was spoken as doctrine. The 2013 essay says they weren't.7

If prophets, seers and revelators cannot discern God's words from their own, how can a member discern when a prophet's words are God's words?

One would hope that simply because one was a prophet acting in that official capacity, that words spoken at that time would in fact be the word of God. As has been shown, that isn't the case. There must be another way for people to determine if and when God's prophet is speaking His word.

It is taught that through personal revelation Church members can know if God's servants are speaking God's word.8 This seems reasonable, until one decides to take that course of action and receives personal revelation in direct opposition to God's servants.

Adrian Larsen, Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, Alan Rock Waterman and others have faced censure or excommunication because they did not receive a conviction that their leaders were in the right. Adrian Larsen said:

I have not yet met [the Lord] in the flesh, though I actively seek this gift. I have heard His voice, and He has spoken to me.

"40 Days on Death Row," by Adrian Larsen on his blog To The Remnant, quote found in the comment section dated November 15, 2014. The post talks about his excommunication.

Although an ardent believer in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, Adrian was excommunicated for sharing his thoughts that one can gain their own testimony of truth without the leadership of the Church.

This highlights one of the problems with the idea that one can gain their own testimony of what a prophet says: If one receives a personal witness that the prophet's words are not God's word, and the person reveals that to anyone else, they can be found guilty of apostasy.

Sometimes members' actions contradict Church doctrine and lead others astray. While uncommon, some members in effect choose to take themselves out of the Church by actively teaching and publicly attempting to change doctrine to comply with their personal beliefs.

"Church Responds to Church Discipline Questions," 11 June 2014, LDS Newsroom. (Emphasis added.)

Adrian Larsen believes the leaders are the ones not following the doctrine, and he pointed it out. What we see is that apostasy is not simply just not following Church "doctrine," but not following Church leaders:

[W]e must each guard against personal apostasy by keeping covenants, obeying the commandments, following Church leaders, partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening our testimonies through daily scripture study, prayer, and service.

"Apostasy," Gospel Topics, (Emphasis added.)

Whose truth should then be believed, personal revelation or God's servants?

A major problem with the teaching that personal revelation should be used to determine if a prophet is speaking God's word is that it then marginalizes the need for prophets. If one has to pray to find out if prophets speak truth, why not just go to God in the first place and skip the middlemen? Shouldn't each person find their own path to God and not simply follow the leaders blindly?

Some say that it is not blindly following leaders, but rather it is showing obedience to what the leaders say.9 However, no matter what kind of lip-service the Church and its leaders pay to the idea that individuals should find out on their own if leaders are giving God's word, it is assumed/believed that the leaders are in fact speaking God's truth.10 This becomes the touchstone for whether or not personal revelation is indeed from God: does it match what the leaders say? If not, it is not from God. So what is the point in prayer?

For example, President Uchtdorf's teachings seem to flatly contradict the idea that personal revelation should be sought for confirming the truthfulness of a leader's words. In fact, he seems to remove the direct relationship a person should have with the divine when he says:

In the midst of the ominous problems of our day, Heavenly Father provides us with prophets to answer our petitions for divine guidance


Today, we have … apostles, seers, and revelators who are watchmen on the tower, messengers of supernal, healing truth…God speaks to us through them.

"Sustaining Our Prophets and Apostles." website.

At best this means that if our personal revelation is different than the prophets' words, then their words trump the individual's. At worst, prophets, apostles, seers and revelators stand between the individual and God and it is through them that we have access to God's will and word.

It is confusing to members when they are told that they should follow the prophet, but that they should seek confirmation that the prophet is correct, but the prophet is always correct, as expressed in this teaching:

Personal revelation won't conflict with what the Lord has told us through His prophets.

"Questions and Answers," New Era, April 2003.

In fact, Elder Ballard admits that prophets can make requests of people that aren't important to their eternal salvation, but obedience to those non-consequential requests do have eternal consequences when he said,

Wearing two pairs of earrings may or may not have eternal consequences for this young woman, but her willingness to obey the prophet will.

"Sustaining Our Prophets and Apostles." website. (Emphasis added.)

In other words, God may not care about how many earrings people have, but He allows His prophet to let the people believe He cares, but He might damn those who have more than one pair because they didn't "obey the prophet." The implication is that the prophet dictates to God what God must do.

One could find statements contradicting what is put forth above to show that the Church believes individual revelation is of great worth. Or following the prophets "blindly" is not what the Church teaches. Or that prophets, apostles, seers, revelators, servants, leaders, etc., are simply fallible, mortal men, trying the best they can. And herein lies the problem: The leaders continue to perpetuate the belief they speak God's word even when they speak contradictory and confusing things. If God allows them to misrepresent His word, why should we trust them or a God who allows that? If they are wrong about one thing they spoke as God's mouthpiece, how many other things are they wrong about? Why should one trust anything these men say?


This piece relied heavily on the discrepancies surrounding the "Race and the Priesthood" essay. However, many other topics and doctrines could just as easily be used to point out the problems of deciphering if and when a prophet speaks God's word and will because of the confusing and contradictory words spoken concerning so many things in the last 185 years by leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.





…if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right…" (D&C 9:8); "[God] will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart…this is the spirit of revelation…

D&C 8:2-3

back to body




Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets,

Amos 3:7

One of the purposes of a prophet is to seek the wisdom and the will of the Lord and to teach his people accordingly. …That is the purpose of a prophet, to give answers to people for the dilemmas in which they find themselves. That is what happens. That is what we see happen.

"This Thing Was Not Done in a Corner," President Gordon B. Hinckley, October 1996 General conference.

[W]hether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same…

D&C 1:38

…they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people…

D&C 1:14

back to body



[3] The 2013 Church essay "Race and the Priesthood" gives this Brigham Young speech before the Utah Legislature on 5 February 1852 as the beginning of the doctrine that blacks could not hold the priesthood (all capitalization, punctuation, spelling as found in the original):

the Lord told Cain he should not receive the blessings of priesthood until the last of posterity of Abel had received the priesthood until the redemption of earth if there never was a prophet or Apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before I tell you this people that commonly called Negros are children of Cain I know they are I know they cannot bear rule in priesthood first sense of word for the curse upon them was to continue on them was to remain until the residue of posterity of Michael and his wife receive the blessings they should bear rule and hold the keys of priesthood until times of restitution come the curse wiped off from the earth [more/from?] Michael's seed fullest extent then Cain's seed had in remembrance and the time come when that should be wiped off

now then in kingdom of God on earth a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one one jot nor tittle of priesthood now I ask for what for upon earth they was the true eternal principles Lord Almighty has ordained who can help it angels cannot all powers cannot take away the eternal I Am what I Am I take it off at my pleasure and not one particle of power can that posterity of Cain have until the time comes the Lord says have it that time will come they are under curse so are we they will come and have the privilege of all we have the privilege and more. [remainder of line blank]

In the kingdom of God on the earth the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in government they are the subjects the eternal servants of residue of children and the residue of children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of saying to posterity of Cain inasmuch as the Lord [is?] will you may receive the Spirit of Lord by baptism that is the end of their privilege and no power on earth give them any more power

but let me tell you further let my seed mingle with seed of Cain brings the curse upon me and my generations reap the same rewards as Cain in the priesthood tell you what it do if he were to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain bring not only curse upon them selves but entail it on their children get rid of it

As referenced in "Race and the Priesthood," fn. 9. Document retrieved 12 December 2014. A link to the document is found in footnote 9, but the text above is a little more readable.

On July 17, 1947, the First Presidency released this statement:

From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.

Statement of The First Presidency on the Negro Question, July 17 1947, quoted in Mormonism and the Negro, pp. 46-7. (Emphasis added.)

On August 17, 1949, the First Presidency released a statement saying,

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.

The First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949. (Emphasis added.)

On December 15, 1969, the then First Presidency released the following:

In view of confusion that has arisen, it was decided at a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to restate the position of the Church with regard to the Negro both in society and in the Church.

A word of explanation concerning the position of the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes its origin, its existence, and its hope for the future to the principle of continuous revelation. "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes…were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, "The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God….

"Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man's mortal existence, extending back to man's pre-existent state."

Until God reveals His will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man comes as a blessing from God, not of men.

[W]e believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the priesthood must await His revelation. To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established.

"Letter of the First Presidency Clarifies Church's Position on the Negro," Era February 1970, pp. 70-71.

On December 8, 2013, the LDS Church's official website,, released an essay addressing "Race and the Priesthood." Within that essay are the following admissions:

Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.

…Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics.

back to body



[4] According to President Spencer W. Kimball's son, Edward Kimball, President Kimball was a bit uncomfortable with some of the content of Benson's talk. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, Signature Books: Salt Lake City, UT, 1997.) However, a year and a half later, while Spencer W. Kimball was still President of the Church, the speech was published as the First Presidency Message in the official Church publication Liahona (and the Filipino version called Tambuli). Additionally, the talk continues to be used today (see fn. 5 below).

back to body




And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants."

D&C 68:3-5

back to body



[6]A list of 19 places "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" has appeared (some quote all 14 fundamentals, some just quote parts of the talk):

back to body



[7] In June 2007, the Church's PR and news arm, LDS Newsroom ( tried to help establish what is doctrine when they issued this statement:

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four "standard works" of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

"Approaching Mormon Doctrine" (May 4, 2007), Newsroom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Emphasis added.)

This LDS Newsroom article does not meet its own test for whether or not it is doctrine, therefore, it is not a doctrinal proclamation for how to determine what Church doctrine is, if it is actually correct. Assuming for a moment that LDS Newsroom correctly shows a way to determine Church doctrine, and using these criteria to assess the policy against blacks holding the priesthood, it does seem to prove that the ban on blacks was doctrine and therefore binding. But again, this disagrees with the 2013 essay, "Race and the Priesthood."

back to body




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. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.

Found on the Church's official site, Church History, as quoted from Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 135. (Emphasis added.)

Such is the way many approach the dilemma of contradicting statements made by prophets, seers and revelators who claim they are speaking God's word. What better source to go to then to verify God's word with God Himself? As explained at LDS Newsroom:

Belief in prophets and apostles at the head of the Church does not mean that members blindly follow their leaders. While the prophet of God receives revelation and inspiration to guide the Church as a whole, revelation flows at every level, including to the leaders of congregations and to individual families and members. In fact, individual members are expected to seek that kind of divine guidance to help them in their own lives, in their responsibilities in the Church and even in temporal pursuits, including their occupations. Members are also expected to prayerfully seek their own "testimony" or conviction of the principles their leaders teach them.

"Modern Prophets and Continuing Revelation," Newsroom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Emphasis added.)

back to body



[9] In an April 2002 General Conference talk, R. Conrad Schultz of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, seems to agree that one shouldn't simply follow God's servants when he said:

[Satan persuades] us that 'blindly' following the prophets and obeying the commandments is not thinking for ourselves. He teaches that it is not intelligent to do something just because we are told to do so by a living prophet or by prophets who speak to us from the scriptures. Our unquestioning obedience to the Lord's commandments is not blind obedience.

"Faith Obedience," R. Conrad Schultz, April 2002 General Conference. (Emphasis added.)

It is clear that Schultz is equating "Lord's commandments" to what "a living prophet or by prophets who speak to us." It is also telling that he doesn't say that people should not have unquestioning obedience, in fact he implies they should, it's just that such unquestioning obedience is not called "blind obedience." He goes on later to quote President Harold B. Lee:

'We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet. … There will be some things that take patience and faith.'

Then President Lee added a warning when he went on to say that we may not always like what comes from the authority of the Church, because it may conflict with our personal views or interfere with some of our social life. However, if we will listen to and do these things as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, we will not be deceived and great blessings will be ours.

"Faith Obedience," R. Conrad Schultz, April 2002 General Conference. (Emphasis added.)

If we listen to and do what things? The things the authority of the Church tells us to do. Schultz says we must be obedient, but he says that obedience isn't "blind" obedience, but rather "faith obedience" which is "a matter of trust. The question is simple: Do we trust our Heavenly Father? Do we trust our prophets?" (ibid)

The difference he is trying to make is that "blind obedience" means one simply obeys with no thought or reason whereas one who has "faith obedience" obeys because they believe in the person they are obeying.

But is there really a difference between these two obediences? Faith, according to LDS doctrine, "is things which are hoped for and not seen" (Ether 12:6). Isn't not seeing the thing you hope for the same as being blind to that thing? So if one has faith in the person they are obeying, they are blind to the outcomes the person has given for being obedient to them.

The two words are used by Shultz to make the hearer feel certain ways. "Blind obedience" has a negative connotation and "faith obedience" has a positive one. But both of them are obedience—doing what the leaders tell you to do.

A definition for obedience: "compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority." ("Obedience." The Oxford American College Dictionary, through 2014)

Regardless of how one labels obedience, it is still obedience: particularly, obedience to God's servants. This is circular reasoning, and generally bad policy. To know if someone is telling the truth, believe they are telling the truth and do what they say "as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, [and you] will not be deceived."

back to body



[10] It has been demonstrated that leaders can be wrong and sometimes they do not speak God's word. Although many leaders within the Church say that individuals should seek confirmation of a leader's words on their own, many quotes prove that they already assume that the leaders are speaking God's words:

President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, says, 'We must... follow [the Lord's] servants.'

'In the midst of the ominous problems of our day, Heavenly Father provides us with prophets to answer our petitions for divine guidance,' says President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency.

'Today, we have … apostles, seers, and revelators who are watchmen on the tower, messengers of supernal, healing truth,' he says. 'God speaks to us through them. They are profoundly aware of the different circumstances we members are living in. They are in this world but not of this world.'

When we follow the President of the Church as the prophet who leads the Church, President Uchtdorf says, 'It is our responsibility not only to listen but also to act upon his word...'

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says, 'I cannot stress enough the importance of listening to and following the prophet and the apostles...there is one clear, unpolluted, unbiased voice that you can always count on. And that is the voice of the living prophet and the apostles.'

'It is no small thing to have a prophet of God in our midst. Great and wonderful are the blessings that come into our lives as we listen to the word of the Lord given to us through him. At the same time, knowing that President [Thomas S. Monson] is God's prophet also endows us with responsibility. When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt.

Elder Ballard shares a story of a 17-year-old girl who, after hearing the counsel of fifteenth President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) to only wear one modest pair of earrings, 'came home from the fireside, took off the second set of earrings, and said to her parents, 'If President Hinckley says we should only wear one set of earrings, that's good enough for me.''

Elder Ballard continues, 'Wearing two pairs of earrings may or may not have eternal consequences for this young woman, but her willingness to obey the prophet will. And if she will obey him now, on something relatively simple, how much easier it will be to follow him when greater issues are at stake.' He continues, 'I make you a promise. It is a simple one, but it is true. If you will listen to the living prophet and the apostles and heed our counsel, you will not go astray.'

'I caution you to not disregard the counsel of the President of the Church. He has spoken to you plainly. Study his words and strive to obey them. They are true and come from God.'

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles teaches that the best way to respond to problems and peril is to follow the living prophets. '...the importance of heeding the words of the prophets. This is one sure way to respond to physical and spiritual dangers of all kinds.'

'…If we follow the prophet, we can look to the future with great optimism.'

"Sustaining Our Prophets and Apostles." website. (Emphasis added.)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

"[God] has not abandoned us today but continues to reveal His will to us through His prophets. Our fate and the fate of our world hinge on our hearing and heeding the revealed word of God to His children."

"God's priceless instructions to humankind are found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In addition, the Lord speaks to us through His servants, as He will again at the upcoming general conference."

"Why Do We Need Prophets?" President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, First Presidency Message, March 2012 Ensign.