Who is Your Spiritual Leader?
Follow the Prophet/The Prophet will never lead us astray. I think this is a topic that needs to have a follow up. This is a doctrine that is taught everywhere. It is faithfully accepted by millions of Latter-day Saints around the world.
We’ve all heard it, dozens of cute little voices singing, “Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, Follow the Prophet, Don’t go Astray.” What a lovely song to sing, we think. I’m so glad my/those children are learning to follow council of the Lord’s chosen servant. In fact we can even remember back to when WE used to sing that same song. What a catchy little tune. Hmm hmm hm hm hmm. Great, now it’s stuck in my mind.
Isn’t this just a lovely teaching of the Restored Gospel. To bad other religions don’t have true prophets that they can look to, to know the Lord’s will. So let’s examine the beauty of this restored teaching. Let’s turn first to the Joseph Smith, Jr the first prophet of this dispensation and…What? Joseph Smith never taught that prophets can lead us astray? Oh… Well we believe in continuing revelation so maybe it was restored during a later prophet. So let’s look at Brigham Young…Oh, he didn’t teach it either. Well John Taylor…Oh, still not restored. Well just when was it restored?
Here is the first instance when it was taught that the prophet can never lead us astray.
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.)
It was taught in general conference of 1890 that’s about sixty years after the restoration of the gospel. So why did it take sixty years for this pure an simple teaching to be restored. Well let’s look at the events surrounding that statement. The year was 1890 and Wilford Woodruff had just declared that the church would no longer practice Plural Marriage. Now many members were concerned about why the Lord would change his mind about Plural Marriage. So Wilford Woodruff told them that he, the Lord’s prophet, could never lead them astray.
But why were the people so concerned, or rather why was Wilford Woodruff concerned that the people might not accept the Manifesto? Well what most people don’t know is that in 1889,one year before the Manifesto, Wilford Woodruff gave a revelation where the Lord stated, “Let not my servants who are called to the Presidency of my Church deny my word or my law, which concerns the salvation of the children of men.” The Lord further stated, “I cannot deny my Word, neither in blessings nor judgments.”
In the 1889 the Lord specifically stated that He cannot deny His Word, which included Plural Marriage. So of course Wilford Woodruff had to teach that he could never lead the Church astray because he was issuing a manifesto which ran completely opposite to not one, but FOUR previous Revelations all which said the Lord would never do away with Plural Marriage.
Now of course since the teaching that the Prophet can Never Lead us Astray is true the it must also have been true for all other Prophets in the history of the world. So where are the other accounts of this teaching. Well to be honest you wont find them in the Bible. You wont find them in the Book of Mormon. You wont find them in the Pearl of Great Price. You can find it in the Doctrine and Covenants in one place, but that is Official Declaration 1 and it is just quoting Wilford Woodruff.
But don’t worry everybody we do have another account of the wonderful teaching that the Prophet will never lead us astray. It is taught in the Chruch that Christ established. Could it make anymore sense? Of course since our Church is a restoration of Christ’s church then obviously both of them would teach the same thing.
So now lets travel back in time. Wait not that far, we can’t go back to the time of Christ, Christ never taught that prophets will never lead us astray. Christ did teach that HE would never lead us astray. But that is a different subject. Ok now lets go forward to the year 1870. During this year Pope Pius IX declared that the Pope was infallible meaning that the Pope could never lead the people astray. This is the first time in Christ’s original church, that the teaching that Prophets(Oops, I mean PROPHETS) will never lead us astray, shows up. But wait I thought that by 1870 time Christ’s original church has long since fallen into apostasy. So how come this pure teaching only surfaced when Christ’s church was in apostasy and not when it had pure doctrine. It don’t make any sense.
(As a side note isn’t it strange how Papal infallibility and Prophetic infallibility show up only twenty years apart. Scary.)
That’s right the only other instance of being taught that our leaders can never lead us astray surfaces in APOSTATE Christianity. So if this teaching only surfaces within apostasy, what does that say about this teaching?
To understand this a bit more let’s examine what Christ taught.
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Note how the only way to come to the father is through Christ. Jesus never said, “you can only come to the father through me, and you can only come to me through the prophet.”
In Doctrine and Covenants 1:38
38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
Whether the Lord speaks or His servants speak it is the same. Oh, there it is, that must mean that whatever a prophet says it is God’s word. The reason why it is the same is because, what the Lord has spoken, He has spoken and His word shall not pass a way. So the words of the Lord and the words of His servants MUST be the same. So if one of the Lord’s servants speaks something that contradicts the Lord’s word, then he is NOT speaking the Lord’s Word. Why? Because they will ALWAYS be the same. So if a modern prophet teaches that tithing is 10% of any income, yet the Lord has spoken that tithing is 10% of your increase then the modern prophet is WRONG! It’s that simple. If there is a contradiction between the Lord’s Word and what a prophets speaks then the Lord’s Word trumps everything. The Lord showed us the way, we should be following the Lord.
Now let’s look some more at what some prophets have said.
9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
1 Kings 22:21-23:
21 And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him.
22 And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also; go forth, and do so.
23 Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.
1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
13 And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them: thus shall it be done unto them.
31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
13 For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
We read repeatedly that the Lord allows Prophets to be deceived yet we read only ONCE that the prophet will never lead us astray.
In Deuteronomy we read that the Lord used prophets to test us if we will follow His word. So look at you’re life today. Who’s word are you following? Are you following the words of the Prophet or the Words of the Lord?
Here is what Joseph Smith taught:
“Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?’ Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. … Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 119, 160.)
In Revelation 19:10 tells us that te testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. We all are our own prophet. We all have a direct communication with Heavenly Father. No man can prophecy on our behalf unless we also receive confirmation that what that man has taught is true. Prophecy is a gift of the Spirit NOT a gift of the Priesthood. Man can be prophets and women can be prophetesses. There is not only on prophet on the earth at any time.
The Lord will remove a prophet from his place
In 1829 Joseph Smith received a revelation telling Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page to sell the Canadian copyright of the Book of Mormon to raise money to pay for its publication. When they returned from Canada they had not sold the copyright. They wondered why they couldn’t sell it when it have been revealed they would sell it. Joseph Smith looked into his seer stones and received the following, “Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil.”
So Joseph Smith himself taught two things, first that Prophets can receive false revelations. Also that Joseph Smith himself lead Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page astray with this false revelation. So my question, If what Wilford Woodruff taught it true; and if a prophet tries to lead the people astray he will be removed from his place; why wasn’t Joseph Smith removed from his place? Now the wording of Wilford Woodruff statement says that a prophet will be removed if he TRIES to lead the people astray. Meaning he is making an attempt but is unsuccessful at leading the people astray, because the Lord removes him during the attempt. This excludes the possibility that a prophet would ever be successful at leading the people astray and then later is removed.
So again my question, why wasn’t Joseph Smith removed out of his place when we himself admitted he was deceived? The only solution is that all the scriptures and words of the Lord are correct and prophets can deceive us. And the singular statement by Wilford Woodruff, given in defense as an action that defied the Word of God, is false and in itself a deception.
Let’s look at another example. In the Book of Mormon, King Noah was duly appointed the religious and political leader fo the people, the prophet.
1 And now it came to pass that Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father.
In the next verse we read:
2 For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.
King Noah lead the people astray. So Noah was the properly appointed leader, both religiously and politically, and he led the people astray. Why, then, did the Lord not remove him from his place while he was still attempting to lead them astray? The answer is simple. The Lord doesn’t prevent prophets from leading the people astray! He doesn’t remove them if they attempt to do it! He doesn’t stop it! He wont strike a prophet dead with a bolt of lightning as he opens his mouth to preach a falsehood.
As stated in the scriptures the Lord tells us that if a prophet speaks falsely we are not to listen to that prophet. He doesn’t tell us that listen to whatever a prophet says and he’ll make sure there are no false teaching.
Now lets examine two different teachings:
Heber J. Grant
Joseph Smith, Jr.
My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it….But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” [In Conference Report, October 1), p. 78]
“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and 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.”
-JOSEPH SMITH: Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595. (Apostle Samuel Richards on Nov. 13, 1852, recorded in the Millennial Star, 14:393-395.)–
Doctrine and Covenants 1:31
31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;
So in light of these statements, was what Heber J. Grant teaching correct? If the prophet, who can never lead us astray, does somehow manage to teach us something wrong, will the Lord bless us for following the prophet?
If what Heber J. Grant taught was incorrect, then it must mean that the prophet CAN be deceived.
Knowing true teachings from false teachings
Since we know now that prophets can be deceived and mislead the people, how do we know what are correct teachings?
As stated earlier by Christ what He and His servants teach is the same. So if what a prophet teaches differs from what Christ taught, then the prophet is not teaching Christ’s word.
Joseph Smith said:
“There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. [Gives an example].. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation.” (Joseph Smith, TPJS, pp. 214-215(emphasis added))
The way a lying spirit, either speaking in person or through a prophet, may be known is that they contradict previous revelation. So our next action should be to examine what we are taught by the prophets and see if they match what had already been revealed. Let me give you a starting point, the teaching the prophets will never lead us astray contradicts the teaching of the Saviour, and is thus a false teaching. Now try comparing Doctrine and Covenants Sections 20, 89, 119; to how the church currently teaches them. Remember if you find something that doesn’t match the original revelation is what we are to follow. A modern prophet can reveal new things, but they cannot contradict previous things.
In conclusion I ask do we still want to continue to believe a teaching that puts us on the same path as the Catholic Church? Or do we want to follow the teachings of Christ. Prophets CAN lead us astray. Only Christ will never lead us astray. Let us trust in the Arm of God rather than the arm of flesh. Also we might consider changing the words of the song to: “Follow the Saviour, follow the Saviour, follow the Saviour, don’t go astray.”
I’m pretty sure that Satan smiles every time a child sings follow the prophet.
As a short post script, with General Conference just a few days away I want to share something that I’ll be doing. I’ve felt really strongly about the coming conference and I have no idea why. I never felt that way about any conference previously. So on Saturday and Sunday I’ll be keeping a tally of the following things:
– Calls to Repentance
– Compliments on our Works
After conference I’ll post the results here on my blog. If anybody else wants to keep track of these too I would be excited to have you post your results so we could compare.