Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of the BofM, No. 1 (1850), p.2
The conduct of millions in relation to the Book of Mormon goes to show that they would reject all true revelations as well as false ones: they are determined to reject at all hazards, without the least inquiry, everything under the name of new revelation. They seem to be absolutely certain, as their conduct abundantly indicates, that God will never favor men with another communication of His will concerning them. To expose this popular, though fatal error, invented by priestcraft in the early ages of the apostasy, and transferred to succeeding generations, will be the object of the following numbers [chapters]. In the first, it will be shown that to expect more revelation is neither unscriptural nor unreasonable, and in those which follow, it will be further shown, that the doctrine of continued revelation in the Church of God, is one that rests upon the most infallible testimony, being necessary for the salvation of man, connected with which, the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon will be demonstrated.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 2 (1850), p.26 - p.27
24. Where certain men began to teach heresy and introduce false doctrines into the Church, commanding the Gentiles to be circumcised the Holy Ghost immediately gave a revelation on the subject and corrected the error; thus preventing endless controversies and strifes. (See Acts 15.) If this great guide and revelator of the Church be rejected as unnecessary how quickly the body falls to new revelation is the only principle which will preserve the unity of the Church. The wisdom of man taken individually or the wisdom of councils, taken collectively is fallible, unless directed by immediate revelation and therefore liable to err; hence all doctrines, or principles or matters of controversy which are not clearly revealed in ancient revelation will be continually the subject of dispute; and if any man or council without the aid of immediate revelation shall undertake to decide upon such subjects and prescribe "Articles of Faith" or "Creeds," to govern the belief or views of others there will be thousands of well-meaning people, who will not have confidence in the productions of these fallible men, and therefore will frame creeds of their own which they suppose are more consistent. In this way contentions arise divisions multiply sects are formed the Church becomes rent into ten thousand fragments, and the whole world becomes a babylon of confusion. As an effectual preventative against all false doctrine against all strifes and divisions, against all contentions and controversies in the Church God has placed within it a great and infallible teacher or revelator, called the Comforter, who cannot err, whose decision is an end of controversy whose counsel is perfect and whose judgment upon all points of doctrine cannot be otherwise than correct. Differences of opinion cannot exist in the Church for any length of time; for the Holy Ghost will decide all matters of controversy and thus preserve the unity of the Church: while all who rebel against his decisions, will be excommunicated as heretics or apostates and will form no part of the Church of Christ anymore than the Chinese form a part of the English government. Hence in the Church of Christ there is a unity of faith--a oneness of spirit such as characterizes no other people. In the Church of Christ, there can be no differences of opinion in regard to baptism, or any other ordinance; for the Holy Ghost will guide into all truth and teach the Church all things pertaining to doctrine or ordinances, things present, or things to come. The great variety of opinions which have torn asunder modern Christendom and bewildered the minds of millions, can have no existence in the Church of Christ; for there, all matters of importance are decided by revelation and not by creeds invented by human wisdom; there, the deep and hidden things of God are revealed by the Spirit of truth; there, rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge are brought to light; there, they have no need of uninspired councils to invent "Articles of Religion" to fetter the mind of man; there the Holy Ghost takes the things of the Father and shows them by revelation unto the Church and there infallibility is indelibly and unchangeably stamped upon every doctrine principle, ordinance and law of the Church. With such a revelator, certainty and knowledge abound in every heart; parables mysteries and intricate subjects are unravelled; guess work conjectures and opinions flee away. With such a guide there is no danger of being deceived. The elect cannot be deceived; for they have an infallible detector of all delusions, however cunningly devised: they have a test by which they can try all things prove all things judge all things and overcome all things not ordained of God; they can soar aloft to the third heavens and gaze upon the mansions of the blessed where the highest order of intelligence reigns: or they can descend in the visions of the spirit and behold the kingdoms, dominions, principalities and powers, in worlds of an inferior order, in the great scale of universal existence.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.36
17. Doctor Milner, to show that the tradition of the apostles together with the scriptures, was the only rule of faith in the early ages of his church, cites us to the writings of St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Cyprian, Origen, etc., of the third century--St. Basil, and St. Epiphanius of the fourth century--and St. John Chrysostom at the beginning, and St. Vincent of Lerins, at the end of the fifth century. All these writers, instead of contending for the great and infallible guide, namely, New revelation, which instructed the Church during the first century, have contended merely for ancient scripture and tradition as their only guide--as their only rule of faith. Thus we can see, how early apostasy succeeded Christianity--we can see, how early this rule of faith was changed.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.36
18. If all the decrees and decisions of the Pope and general councils among the Catholics be examined, it will be seen that such decrees and decisions profess to be founded, not upon new revelation, but upon ancient scripture or tradition. She professes that her general councils are guided by the Holy Ghost in ascertaining what the apostolical traditions are, but that the Holy Ghost does not give them anything new. That these are really the views of the Catholics, may be perceived on almost every page of some of their standard works. The Right Rev. Bishop Milner, in his "End of Religious Controversy," has very definitely, and at some length, set forth this view. J. Murdoch, a Roman Catholic Bishop, has highly recommended a work by Joseph Mumford, entitled "Question of Questions," or "Who ought to be our Judge in all Controversies?" In this work the author states most clearly that the Roman Catholic church, "pretends to no new revelations, but only to declare clearly what she finds to have before been revealed." ("Question of Questions," Sec., 24, par. 14) These general councils are considered infallible, not because they are inspired with the word of God direct to themselves, for this power they deny, but because they suppose the Holy Ghost assists them to find out ancient tradition.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.36 - p.37
20. Let no one suppose that the Catholics believe in new revelation; for in the above quotation it is expressly asserted that "the unwritten word is made known to the church only by tradition," and that this tradition must come through their fathers "from the Apostles themselves." The business of the Catholic councils, then, is not to get any word from God direct to themselves, but to determine what God said to the Apostles. That this is all that they pretend to do, is also evident from the words of Vincentius Lirinensis, as quoted by Mumford; he says, "This only, and nothing but this, the Catholic church does do by the decrees of her council; that what before they had received only by tradition from their ancestors, that now they leave consigned in authentical writing to all posterity." ("Questions of Questions," Sec. 19, par. 2) Councils, then, are convened to determine traditions--they are convened to write traditions in the form of decrees. Now all this is good as far as it goes, but it stops infinitely short of the true rule of faith, established in the apostolical church, namely, direct and immediate revelation through her officers, whether assembled in council or dispersed individually among the nations.
21. That the apostate papal church does not obtain new revelation, as the apostolical church always did, is still further evident from her defining the canonical books, called scripture.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.37 - p.38
22. Here is the most incontrovertible evidence that this apostate church, who define the canon of scripture at the close of the fourth century did not believe in any inspired books being given after the first century. For if she had believed that any man or officer in her communion had been inspired to write the word of God, during the second, third or fourth century she would most assuredly have incorporated such inspired writings in the sacred canon; but the very fact that no books were admitted by the council of Carthage into the canon, which were written after the first century, shows most conclusively that they did not consider any later books to be inspired. Here, then, is demonstrative evidence, that the apostate Romish church, during the second, third and fourth centuries were destitute of that great and infallible rule, namely, NEW REVELATION which characterized the Church in the first century, and in all previous ages whenever and wherever God I had a people living in righteousness before Him.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.37 - p.38
Who can, for one moment, suppose that a council, composed of a set of contending apostates so destitute of the spirit of truth and faith, that they could not inquire of God and get a revelation upon any subject, however important--who I say, can suppose that they could sit in judgment upon God's holy word, and infallibly decide by the aid, not of new revelation, but tradition alone, which books were the word of God and which were not? Had they believed in new revelation, and inquired of God which was His word and which was not, there would have been some confidence to be placed in their decisions; but as it is, there is scarcely any confidence whatever to be placed in them in regard to this matter. Where inspired officers, possessing power to obtain new revelation, have ceased, there infallibility has ceased, and there uncertainty and doubt must remain. Tell about the councils of the church of Rome being infallible! Who ever heard of any council being infallible where there were no prophets and revelators that could decide with a thus saith the Lord, and thus end all controversy? The Church of God never pretends infallibility upon any other grounds; yet, this apostate "Mother of Harlots" can, with one breath, call herself infallible and with the next breath deny new revelation.
Orson Pratt Divine Authenticity of BofM, No. 3 (1850), p.41
Tradition, and a small proportion of scripture that it explains, are therefore not a sufficient guide. If the Catholics had all the lost books of scripture and a perfect tradition of all the unwritten word of God that has been spoken since the world began, then they would have a little more pretext for holding forth scripture and tradition as an infallible guide, but until then, they have no authority to preach up a part of the books of scripture, united with so little tradition, as an infallible rule of faith.
B. H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.61, p.356
It is but just also to the Prophet to say that he made no claim for himself of either impeccability or infallibility. "Where is the man that is free from vanity?" he asked on one occasion. "None ever was perfect but Jesus," he continued; "and why was he perfect? Because he was the Son of God, and had the fulness of the Spirit, and was greater than any man."
Later Bro. Roberts said:
"I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man, and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than any one else. Suppose I would condescend--yes, I will call it condescend!--to be a great deal better than any one of you, I would be raised up to the highest heaven; and who should I have to accompany me? I love that man better who swears a stream as long as my arm yet deals justice to his neighbors, and mercifully deals his substance to the poor, than the long, smooth-faced hypocrite. I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not." p.357 The sentence "many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else," will bear further consideration. President Smith relates that once when he was in conversation with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet," he told them to the contrary. "But I told them," are his words, "that a prophet was only a prophet when acting as such."
These two remarks linked together, disclaim for the Prophet impeccability; and limit his words and actions to which sanctity and inerrancy are to be attributed, to his official or ex cathedra actions and utterances.
Again in disclaiming perfection for himself, the Prophet said:
"Although I was called of my Heavenly Father to lay the foundation of this great work and kingdom in this dispensation, and testify of his revealed will to scattered Israel, I am subject to like passions as other men, like the prophets of olden times."
Times and Seasons, Vol.3, p.655
The law of God is infallible or perfect, because God who is infallible or perfect, devised it, and it does not exact things of men that they cannot do. If this law is perfect, and also the principle by which a men is made perfect; or in other words, that he cannot be perfect without obeying it, then if he rejects one principle of it, he is not perfect in his sphere.
Richard Lloyd Anderson, BYU Studies, Vol. 3, No. 3, p.56
"Even fifty-six years should wind up the scene" is unequivocal in time; the question is quality. That is, clearly here is an estimated time of arrival--but did Joseph Smith intend it as human opinion or divine revelation? He had room in his philosophy for both, and a by-product of treating the issue is an important insight into his theory of revelation. The Mormon founder, as should be known, was unwilling to glorify every utterance--even serious ones--with the label of divine direction. He avoided cheapening revelation by too extensive an application. Those about him very well knew that he did not take himself this seriously; the visitor typically had to be corrected: It caused offense to have a sight-seer remark upon introduction that Smith "was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man." Converts arriving at Nauvoo were not indoctrinated with infallibility; "I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect. . . . " And Joseph Smith records a private conversation "with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that 'a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such." Both elements were summarized in a near valedictory to the saints: "I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelation which I have taught."
Journal of Discourses, Vol.15, p.369 - p.370, George Q. Cannon, March 23, 1873
They were not content with the power and authority which he exercised over them, and they wanted a king. So with other Prophets. The more wicked the generation, the harder they were to convince of the truth of the predictions that were uttered among them by the servants of God; and so much was this the case, that it became almost an infallible rule, when a majority of the people decided against a man, he was sure to be a servant of God.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.333 - p.334, George Q. Cannon, October 6th, 1879
Stephen, the martyr, when he was being stoned at Jerusalem, said to the Jews: "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One"--scarcely a prophet that had ever lived among them who had not suffered persecution. Even Moses himself, the great law-giver, the great deliverer of the Hebrew nation, who had led them out by the exhibition of mighty power, several times during his career came very near being stoned to death, or killed by the people. It is an evidence, an infallible evidence, of truth to have persecution accompany it. It is not that every one who is reviled and who is persecuted possesses the truth. This does not always follow. But there never was a prophet of whom we have any account, raised up in the midst of the children of men to proclaim unto them divine truths, who did not receive in his life and experience these very things of which Jesus has spoken. They were hated, they were separated from the company of their fellows, they were reproached, their names were cast out as evil, they were reviled, their lives were sought; and this was especially the case with the Son of God himself--a Being who spoke as never man spoke, whose life was an exemplification of purity, who was without sin, whose doctrines were holy and pure, who performed mighty miracles among the children of men, whose work and labors were accompanied with great power; and notwithstanding these evidences of divinity which accompanied him, the generation in which he lived, and by which he was surrounded, were not satisfied until they had slain him. It is also recorded that every one of the Twelve Apostles, excepting John, died a violent death. There are reasons for this which are made plain in the Scriptures. There are two powers; there is God and there is Belial; or in other words, there is the Spirit of God and there is the spirit of Satan.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.24, p.184 - p.185, George Q. Cannon, July 15th, 1883
There has been no lack about this work. Its principles have withstood all that has been brought against them. They stand unshaken because they are founded on eternal truth. The whole clergy of the world may array themselves against them, as they have to a certain extent; they may endeavor to controvert these principles, but they are founded on truth and they cannot be overturned. Not a single principle that has been declared or been testified to by the Elders of this Church from the beginning up to the present time can be assailed successfully by any religionist, nor by scientific men, because they are impregnable, having had their origin in God. And so it is with everything connected with this work. It has never taken a step backward. It never will take a step backward. There are no mistakes to be corrected connected with it, either with its doctrine, with its organization, or, with its movement. Who is there--I speak to you, my brethren and sisters, who have been connected with this Church from the beginning--who is there that can recall a single instance of recantation of any of its principles? Has there ever been a doctrine declared by the authorities of the Church, as a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that they have had to take back or modify? Not one. Has there been anything in the organization that has had to be perfected? No. The organization was as perfect in theory--being revealed of God--50 years ago as it is to-day in practice, after years of experience, practically carrying it out in these mountains. That constitutes the strength of this work. It is its infallibility. Not that man connected with it is infallible, for he is fallible; but the work itself, its principles, and everything connected with it, is infallible, having a divine origin, being revealed of God. It was a wonderful thing to state, as was stated right at the outset of this work, that it should be preached in every land, that its doctrine should be proclaimed in every tongue throughout the world, and that it should gather from every nation under heaven, men and women who should be numbered as its converts. A remarkable feature, something unheard of, that the principles of this religion when preached should have the effect to gather out from every nation, kindred, tongue and people those who espoused them. Yet every word has been fulfilled. Wherever the Elders of this Church have gone they have gone accompanied by that wonderful power, the power of gathering the people together; not of one race, not of one language, but people of every race and of every language, showing the adaptability of its principles to the people of the frozen north as well as to those of the torrid south. Wherever these principles have been proclaimed they have gathered out from the nations unto whom they were proclaimed those who have espoused them, and as I have remarked here before, there is no power short of violence that can prevent these people from thus coming together. It has not been the inducement of the Elder; it has not been by persuasion; it has not been any influence of this character that they have sought to wield over the people that has gathered them together. They have come of their own accord. They have forsaken home, friends, old associations, ancestral tombs, and everything of this character that is calculated to bind men to their native land; they have severed all these and have gathered out and cast their lots with the people of their faith in these mountains. And this has been a peculiar feature of this work from the very commencement, and it will continue to be as long as the Gospel is preached. And it is this wonderful union, this Godlike union, that bears testimony that it is from God.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.24, p.275 - p.276 - p.277, George Q. Cannon, August 12, 1883
But there is an authority in the Church to whom God has given the right to counsel in the affairs of the children of men in regard to temporal affairs. When Joseph Smith lived upon the earth it was his prerogative to do that. He stood as God's ambassador--not clothed with the attributes of God, for he was a mortal man; but he stood as the representative of God upon the earth, holding the keys of the kingdom of God upon the earth, with the power to bind on earth and it should be bound in heaven. He occupied that position when he lived, and on his departure another took his place upon the earth and stood in precisely the same capacity to us as a people that Joseph Smith did. That was Brigham Young. When he passed away another stepped forward and took the same position, and holds the same keys and exercises the same authority and stands precisely in the same position to us that the Prophet Joseph did, or that the Prophet Brigham did, when he lived upon the earth. Now, was not Joseph Smith a mortal man? Yes. A fallible man? Yes. Had he not weaknesses? Yes, he acknowledged them himself, and did not fail to put the revelations on record in this book [the Book of Doctrine and Covenants] wherein God reproved him. His weaknesses were not concealed from the people. He was willing that people should know that he was mortal, and had failings. And so with Brigham Young. Was not he a mortal man, a man who had weaknesses? He was not a God. He was not an immortal being. He was not infallible. No, he was fallible. And yet when he spoke by the power of God, it was the word of God to this people. When he sealed a man up to eternal life, he bestowed upon him the blessings pertaining to eternity, and to the Godhead, or when he delegated others to do it in his stead, God in the eternal world recorded the act; the blessings that were sealed upon that man or that woman, they were sealed to be binding in this life, and in that life which is to come; they became part of the records of eternity, and would be fulfilled to the very letter upon the heads of those upon whom they were pronounced, provided they were faithful before God, and fulfilled their part of the covenant. There is no doubt about it. And so it is to-day. There is but one man, (as you have often heard), at a time on the earth, who holds this authority. There may be others who have this authority also; and I thank God there are many who hold this authority--that is the authority of the Apostleship; but they hold it subordinate to the man who holds the keys, they cannot exercise this authority only as he shall consent or delegate or authorize them to do so. There is but one man who has the power to exercise this authority, to stand, as it were, in God's stead, to be His voice unto the people, and that is the man who stands at the head and who is President, and who holds the keys by virtue of the appointment of God. God places him there. It is not man's act. It is God's providence. God knows the hearts of the children of men. By His overruling Providence He brings this man to the front, or He keeps him in the rear, just as it pleases Him.
Hugh Nibley, BYU Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2, p.177
The senators wanted to know just how much authority Dr. Talmage carried in his own inspired writings and he told them:
Mr. Worthington: Let me ask you about. . . the Articles of Faith. You say you were authorized by the high church officials to prepare such work. . . and it was approved by a committee of high officers of the church, appointed by the presidency. Is that work, or anything in it, binding upon any member of your church?
Mr. Talmage: Oh, in no sense.
Mr. Worthington (referring to earlier remarks of Talmage): It would have to be submitted to the church conference and adopted by them before it would bind any Mormon?
Mr. Talmage: Most assuredly. . .
Mr. Talmage: Most assuredly. . .
Mr. Worthington: Is there any publishing house authorized to publish works and send them out, which works bind the church as an organization?
Mr. Talmage: No such publishing house could be named. . .
Mr. Worthington: The Deseret News has been spoken of here frequently as the organ of the church. Has anybody in your church the power to put in the Deseret News anything which is not in the standard works, that shall bind the people of your church, if it has not first been approved by the people?
Mr. Talmage: No one, not even the president of the church. . . . No one could make anything binding by simply publishing it in the Deseret News, or any other medium, or any other form.
Smoot Senate Hearings. 24-26.
Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p.180
May God bless the presidents of the stakes of Zion and their counselors, and all the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May he help them to be pure, holy, honest, upright men, after God's own heart, free from the sins of the world, broadminded, full of the love of truth, charity, the spirit of forgiveness, mercy and kindness, that they may be as fathers indeed in the midst of the people, and not tyrants. You, my brethren, are not called to be masters; you are called to be servants. Let those who would be great among you be the servants of all. Let us follow in the footsteps of our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the perfect example for mankind. He is the only infallible rule and law, way and door into everlasting life. Let us follow the Son of God. Make him our exemplar, and our guide. Imitate him. Do his work. Become like unto him, as far as it lies within our powers to become like him that was perfect and without sin.-Apr. C. R., 1907, p. 118. (Doc. and Cov. 18:21-25.)
Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p.100
Many have said that the Mormon people were better than their religion. I heard a magnificent talk from this stand a few Sundays ago by Brother Joseph S. Wells, in which he repudiated this statement. He told how utterly impossible it is for a people to be better than the gospel of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. I don't know that I ever listened to remarks that impressed me more profoundly than his did upon that occasion, and I endorse them with all my heart. No man lives today, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who is fully living up to the teachings of the gospel of our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. By and with the help of the Lord, we are trying to do it; but there is no man in the Church of Christ who claims infallibility. We acknowledge our weaknesses, but while we acknowledge them we can also proclaim to the world our strength, strength in the knowledge that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that we have the truth to proclaim to the world.--CR, October, 1907:25.
David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p.322
THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP. Truly, the time has come as perhaps never before when men should counsel together, and in wisdom determine how the world may be made a better place in which to live.
To achieve this desired end, the first and most important step is to choose as leader one whose leadership is infallible, whose teachings when practiced have never failed. In the present tempestuous sea of uncertainty, the pilot must be one who through the storm can see the beacon in the harbor of peace.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that there is but one such guiding hand in the universe, but one unfailing Light, and that the Light of Christ who said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10.) An active, sincere faith in the basic teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is the greatest need of the world. Because many reject this truth is all the more reason why sincere believers should proclaim it.-CR, October 1940, p. 102.
Joseph Fielding Smith, The Restoration of All Things, p.66
There are two views taken concerning the interpretation of the scriptures. One proclaimed by the great mother church is that there is a sure way of interpretation, and this is the power vested in the pope who is infallible in such interpretation. The other view is that man must depend upon his own reason for his scriptural understanding. The fact remains beyond successful dispute, that false interpretations and incorrect practices have come into existence and have been in vogue almost since the days of the apostles. This condition was prophesied of by Paul, Peter and other inspired writers.
These prophets pointed out very clearly that the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.66
There are those who, in a laboratory, will follow in the minutest detail the rules of combining chemicals to get a certain result, but, strange to say, the same student will deviate far from the rules in spiritual matters, taking liberties with the same, and yet denounce religion when results are not obtained.
And yet the program is infallible, and can be followed to a successful conclusion by anyone willing to pay the price-"do his will." It is not an easy thing to do. There must be belief and faith, the living of a clean life and prayer that will keep the communication channel open. There must be sacrifice and service and love. And when all requirements are met, the promise is given to all: "Ye shall know of the doctrine."
The story is told of a lad flying a kite on a windy day in March. His long cord had permitted the kite to fly so high that it was hidden in the low overhanging clouds. A gentleman, seeing him straining at the cord, asked what he was doing. "I'm flying my kite," said the boy. "But I can see no kite," replied the man. "How can you know that there is a kite in the air when you cannot see it?" And as the boy braced himself in the wind, he said, "You may not be able to see the kite, but I know it is there for I can feel the pull on the or And those who will keep and follow requirements will know also of the existence of God and his power, by the pull and the feel. (46-03)
Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.319 (excerpts)
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.465
A prophet needs to be more than a priest or a minister or an elder. His voice becomes the voice of God to reveal new programs, new truths, new solutions. I make no claim of infallibility for him, but he does need to be recognized of God, an authoritative person. He is no pretender as numerous are who presumptuously assume position without appointment and authority that is not given. He must speak like his Lord, "as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:29.)
He must be bold enough to speak truth even against popular clamor for lessening restrictions. He must be certain of his divine appointment, of his celestial ordination, and his authority to call to service, to ordain, to pass keys which fit eternal locks. p.466
He need not be an architect to construct houses and schools and high-rise buildings, but he will be one who builds structures to span time and eternity and to bridge the gap between man and his Maker. (70-02)
No man comes to the demanding position of the Presidency of the Church except his heart and mind are constantly open to the impressions, insights, and revelations of God. (75-51)
By one means or another, the swiftest method of rejection of the holy prophets has been to find a pretext, however false or absurd, to dismiss the man so that his message could also be dismissed. Prophets who were not glib, but slow of speech, were esteemed as naught. Instead of responding to Paul's message, some saw his bodily presence as weak and regarded his speech as contemptible. Perhaps they judged Paul by the timbre of his voice or by his style of speech, not the truths uttered by him.
We wonder how often hearers first rejected the prophets because they despised them, and finally despised the prophets even more because they had rejected them..
The trouble with using obscurity as a test of validity is that God has so often chosen to bring forth his work out of obscurity..
The trouble with rejection because of personal familiarity with the prophets is that the prophets are always somebody's son or somebody's neighbor. They are chosen from among the people, not transported from another planet, dramatic as that would be! ...
In multiple scriptures the Lord has indicated that he will perform his work through those whom the world regards as weak and despised. Of course, rejection of the holy prophets comes because the hearts of the people are hardened, as people are shaped by their society.
Prophets have a way of jarring the carnal mind. Too often the holy prophets are wrongly perceived as harsh and as anxious to make a record in order to say, "I told you so." Those prophets I have known are the most loving of men. It is because of their love and integrity that they cannot modify the Lord's message merely to make people feel comfortable. They are too kind to be so cruel. I am so grateful that prophets do not crave popularity.
James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.4, p.xiv
In 1930 when Brigham H. Roberts published his six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church under the sponsorship of the First Presidency of the L.D.S. Church, he wrote the following in the preface to the work (Volume 1:vi-ix) which might appropriately serve also as one summary statement of introduction to this present volume. He said:
The position is not assumed that the men of the New Dispensation -its prophets, apostles, presidencies, and other leaders-are without faults or infallible, rather they are treated as men of like passions with their fellow men. Bearing indeed a heavenly treasure, no less a thing than delegated authority from God to teach the gospel and administer its ordinances of salvation to the children of men; to gather modern Israel from among the nations of the earth, and establish Zion; to perfect the lives of those who receive the truth the church proclaims, and prepare the world for its coming lord, the rightful King of all the earth, Jesus the resurrected and glorified Christ. But while the officers and members of the Church possess this spiritual 'treasure,' they carried it in earthen vessels; and that earthliness, with their human limitations, was plainly manifested on many occasions and in various ways, both in personal conduct and in collective deportment. But back of all that, and it should never be lost sight of, is the supreme fact-and it was a controlling element in all their proceedings-that they occupied such relations with God that they were, on occasion, moved upon to speak and act as God would speak or act. And when they spoke and acted as prompted by the inspiration of God, then what they said and what they did was the word and will of God, and the power to God unto salvation. (Doctrine and Covenants 68:3-4).
It is always a difficult task to hold the scales of justice at an even balance when weighing the deeds of men. It becomes doubly more so when dealing with men engaged in a movement that one believes had its origin with God. Under such conditions to so state events as to be historically exact, and yet, on the other hand, so treat the course of events as not to destroy faith in these men, nor in their work, becomes a task of supreme delicacy; and one that tries the soul and the skill of the historian. The only way such a task can be accomplished, in the judgment of the writer, is to frankly state events as they occurred, in full consideration of all related circumstances, allowing the line of condemnation or of justification to fall where it may; being confident that in the sum of things justice will follow truth; and God will be glorified in His work, no matter what may befall individuals, or groups of individuals . . ."
Burton, ed., We Believe, Priesthood: Church Government
599. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stands next in authority to the First Presidency in the Church.
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith
While the Prophet Joseph Smith stands at the head of this dispensation for all eternity, yet it became necessary in the government of the Church for others to be invested with divine power to stand to direct and preside over the affairs of the kingdom of God on the earth to succeed him after he was taken from mortality. Therefore the Lord made provision for this emergency and in this revelation said: "Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church." The interpretation of the term "oracles" as used in this revelation is given in the dictionary to be "an infallible authority." For the perpetuity of the Church that provision must be made for a successor to the president who holds the keys, when he shall pass away. The word of the Lord was fulfilled wherein he said that through Joseph Smith the oracles should be given to the Church, and by command of the Lord the Prophet, in Nauvoo a few months before his death, called the apostles together and said to them that the Lord has commanded him to confer upon them all the keys and authorities which he had had conferred upon him, so that the work could be "rolled off" of his shoulders onto theirs. He thereupon conferred upon them this divine governing power, but this governing could not be exercised by any one of the twelve while the Prophet was living. Upon his death the right to preside and set in order and to hold the keys of authority in the Priesthood and in the Church, rightfully belonged to President Brigham Young and by authority of the ordination he had received under the hands of Joseph Smith and by being sustained by his brethren and the Church, he was vested with the supreme power. So likewise each of his successors, President John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff and all the Presidents of the Church down to the present have exercised this authority by divine right when the position of presidency in the presiding council has come to them. Each of the apostles when he is ordained has conferred upon him all the keys and authorities which were given by Joseph Smith to the apostles before his death. These brethren, however, cannot exercise these authorities except when the occasion arises that they come to the presidency. Before that time the powers lie dormant. This is one reason why they are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators in the Church, but there can be but one revelator for the Church at a time. CHMR1:388-89
Burton, ed., We Believe, Prophets, Seers and Revelators
Joseph F. Merrill
Do the people of the Church want a safe guide to what is well for them to do? It is this: Keep in harmony with the Presidency of this Church. Accept and follow the teachings and advice of the President. At every Conference we raise our hands to sustain the President as prophet, seer and revelator. Is it consistent to do this and then go contrary to his advice? Is anyone so simple as to believe he is serving the Lord when he opposes the President? Of course, the President is not infallible. He makes no claims to infallibility. But when in his official capacity he teaches and advises the members of the Church relative to their duties, let no man who wants to please the Lord say aught against the counsels of the President. CR1941Apr:51
Charles W. Penrose
We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility. (IE1912Sep:1045) TLDP:537
George Q. Cannon
The First Presidency cannot claim, individually or collectively, infallibility. The infallibility is not given to men. They are fallible. (Gospel Truth, 1:206) TLDP:537
Burton, ed., We Believe, Scripture
712. Written scripture is the recorded testimony of prophets who receive gospel truths by revelation from the Lord.
Mark E. Petersen
It is an infallible sign of the true church that it has in it divinely chosen, living prophets to guide it, men who receive current revelation from God and whose recorded works become new scripture.
It is an infallible sign of the true church also that it will produce new and additional scripture arising out of the ministrations of those prophets. This unfailing pattern of God is clearly made manifest through his dealings with his people from the beginning. CR1978Apr:95-96
George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p.206
A United Presidency Speak Will of Lord
There are at the head of this Church, chosen by the Lord, three men who constitute what is called the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One is the President. The other two are his counselors. But all three are Presidents, according to the revelations. One, however, holds the keys. President Woodruff is distinguished from every other one of us by the fact that he possesses the keys of the Kingdom on the earth. He represents the Supreme authority. His voice to us, in its place, brings to us the voice of God. Not that he is God, not that he is infallible. He is a fallible man. His counselors are fallible men. The First Presidency cannot claim, individually or collectively, infallibility. The infallibility is not given to men. They are fallible.
God is infallible. And when God speaks to the Church through him who holds the keys, it is the word of the Lord to this people. Can President Woodruff do this without his counselors? I do not know what he can do, or what he might do, but I know that he does not do it. I know that President Young did not, nor President Taylor. I know that President Joseph [p.207] Smith did not. He sought the counsel of his counselors. They acted in concert. And when the First Presidency act in concert, they are a power..
Now, how is it with the First Presidency? Do we have a mind of our own?.It is our duty to make our thoughts known upon every subject. But we should not be hard in our hearts; we should be soft and tender so that the Spirit of God will influence us. It does not do for us to be opinionated and set in our feelings and think that our view is the correct view; but to hold our hearts open to receive the manifestations of the Spirit of God.
I suppose each one of us is fond of having his own way. I know I am. I am willing to confess that I like to have my own way. But I do not like my own way well enough to want it in opposition to my brethren's way. That is our duty as the First Presidency of the Church. It is the duty of every presidency throughout the Church.
George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p.207
The First Presidency ought to have in the first place their hearts [p.208] single to the glory of God, to have no personal feeling that will influence them in any policy but have their motives pure, and then when they unite on anything and give any counsel, I tell you that God will sustain that and carry it through; He will supplement it by His wisdom and power and make it effective.
The First Presidency are but mortal men. We can only see a certain distance. God sees to the utmost limit. There are no bounds to His sight. But there are bounds to ours. Does He require superhuman wisdom of us? No, only as He gives it to us. He points out the path, and if our motives are pure and we are united on any plan or policy, He will bless and sanctify that, and He will make it successful. That constitutes the strength of the First Presidency, their unity and the purity of their motives.
They may err-and who does not? As I said, we are fallible men. Whatever my views may be concerning the Church and its infallibility, I suppose there are none of the officers of the Church who claim infallibility. Certainly, I do not claim it for myself. But when we are united, our motives pure and we divest ourselves of every personal desire and bias and ask God to take away all hardness from our hearts and all blindness from our minds and then supplicate Him for His blessing, it will surely come. Then the Twelve Apostles and the other officers of the Church, when they carry that counsel out unitedly and in the same spirit, will be blessed, and the Church will be blessed, and, as I have said, God will supplement our weakness by His strength and our want of knowledge by His infinite knowledge and His great power..
Occasionally men arise who tower above the multitude in the extent of their knowledge, such as the Prophet Joseph and others whose names I need not mention; for, as the Lord revealed to Abraham, there are differences in spirits. He spoke of the Kokaubeam or the stars and of the difference manifest in them, that one star was greater and brighter than another until Kolob was reached, which is near the throne of the Eternal; and He said it was so with the spirits of men..
J. Reuben Clark, Jr., On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, p.49
So the Roman Church must either produce the revelation from God authorizing a bishop to exercise the apostolic calling (and it is understood the Church does not admit the principle of continuous revelation from God, nor claim it), or it must surrender the claim of the alleged divine apostolic authority of the Pope, for which it has no such authorizing revelation. And in this relation we may observe that argument is not revelation, and neither is tradition, however old, either accepted or ex parte.
These principles and conclusions apply equally to every Church in Christendom claiming apostolic authority through and from the Primitive Church.
The doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope which, though mooted before, was apparently not formally adopted by the Church until it appeared in the decrees of the Vatican Council of 1869-1870, a doctrine which rests on inadequate authority and which the history of the papacy, with its varying pronouncements and recants (see for example, history following Leo I, and of Vigilius and Honorius I) will not support, this doctrine seems inadequate to cover for the Roman Church new and additional revelation from God, and apparently it has not been so affirmed.
We who are on the way to immortality and eternal life, must pray constantly for guidance that we may not be led astray by such fallacies. That God may give to each of us this guidance, I pray in the name of the Son. Amen.
J. Reuben Clark, Jr., On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, p.190
The Western Church--the Catholic Church--laid down its dogmas on this question at the Council of Trent (Session of April 8, 1546) and reaffirmed them in the Vatican Council of 1870 where the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope was announced and formally adopted. The creed of the Church seems clearly to come to this: The written words of the canons of the Old and New Testament and the unwritten traditions of the Church are to be received as the full revelation of God to man; the written word must be received in all its parts as containing the Gospel of Christ and anyone not so receiving it is anathema. In matters of faith and morals the Pope is infallible in determining and declaring the true doctrine thereon, and any person contesting this infallibility is anathema.
In other words, there is no further revelation of Gospel truths pertaining to faith and morals either necessary or acceptable; thus continuous revelation from God is in effect denied. In the provisions defining infallibility no claim is found that the Pope may or does receive further revelations from God on the matters concerning which he issues his pronouncements, but only that his decisions on matters of faith and morals are infallible. He is an interpreter, not a revelator.
The Eastern Church--the Orthodox Catholic Church--apparently follows the Western Church in the essential parts of doctrine on this point, and defines tradition thusly:
"By the name holy tradition is meant the doctrine of the faith, the law of God, the sacraments, and the ritual as handed down by the true believers and worshipers of God by word and example from one to another, and from generation to generation."
St. Basil is quoted as citing as matters of tradition,--the making of the sign of the cross, invocation in the ceremony of the eucharist, the 'blessing of the water of baptism,' the oil of unction, the anointing with oil, the rule of trine immersion. St. Basil then asks. 'What is the written word for these,' "from what Scripture are they taken? Are they not all from this unpublished and private teaching, which our Fathers kept under a reserve inaccessible to curiosity and profane disquisition. . . ."
Thus admittedly for these named matters of tradition there is no authority therefor in the recorded words of Christ and the Apostles. It seems clear that the great Eastern and Western Churches hold virtually the same views and they adhere to the same dogmas in the matter of the non-continuance of further revelation from God.
J. Reuben Clark, Jr., On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, p.315
Pope Pius IX, who fled from Rome in fear of his life, was, while in temporary exile "a most devout worshipper of Mary." Under date of February 2, 1849, while still in exile, he issued an encyclical letter (a letter addressed by the pope to all the bishops) in which he asked the opinion of the bishops as to the feeling in the Catholic world that the Apostolic See should, by some solemn judgment, define the immaculate conception, and by such means secure great blessings to the Church. He expressed his own feelings thus: "'You know full well, venerable brethren, that the whole ground of our confidence is placed in the most holy Virgin,' since 'God has vested in her the plenitude of all good, so that henceforth, if there be in us any hope, if there be any grace, if there be any salvation (si quid spei in nobis est, si quid gratiae, si quid salutis), we must receive it solely from her, according to the will of him who would have us possess all through Mary." (Italics by James R. Clark.) p.316
One might at this point recall the words of the Savior in the great intercessory prayer: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."4 More than six hundred bishops answered the letter; four only dissented; fifty-two thought the time inopportune; the rest went along with the Pope. One of those not sympathetic with the suggestion of the Pope (Archbishop of Paris, Sibour) declared that the immaculate conception "could be proved neither from the Scriptures nor from tradition, and to which reason and science raised insolvable, or at least inextricable, difficulties."5
Following the letter, a preliminary special commission of cardinals and theologians, and a consistory of consultation worked over the matter.
The Commission, in 1853, reported (it is said) "that no evidence from Scripture was needed for a dogmatic declaration, but that tradition alone sufficed, and that even this need not be shown in an unbroken line up to the time of the apostles."
Whereupon, Pope Pius IX, on the day of the Feast of the Conception, December 8, 1854, in the Church of St. Peter, before two hundred cardinals, bishops, and other dignitaries, invited to be present, but not to discuss the matter, proclaimed, after the Mass and the singing of Veni Creator Spiritus, "with a tremulous voice the concluding formula of the bull 'Ineffabilis Deus:'"
"In honor of the holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the Catholic religion, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of our own office, we declare, pronounce, and define the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary was, in the first instant of her conception, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, with regard to the merits of Christ Jesus the Savior of the human race, preserved free from every stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore is to be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful." While seemingly no ecumenical council has approved this dogma, yet since, under the decree of the Vatican Council of 1870, the pope is infallible (to contest which infallibility is anathema), this bull becomes an infallible dogma which may not be questioned.
The dogma of the immaculate conception may, it seems, be laid at the doors of the schoolmen of the middle ages, who, it would appear, are responsible for not a few of the "falling aways" of the Church. Reading of their arguments and contentions, their wild speculations and metaphysical dissertations on the mysteries, one feels that they, in truth, were in the condition of which Festus falsely accused Paul: 'much learning hath made them mad.'
J. Reuben Clark, Jr., On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, p.333
We have seen that reasonably interpreted there is no scripture, and it is alleged by scholars there is no tradition, supporting the finally developed dogma and cult described by the scholars as Mariology and Mariolatry, and the scholars so asserting are not alone the Protestant scholars, but a great portion of the Catholic scholars as well, speaking over the centuries of a millennium and a half, until they were finally silenced in word (we hope the conscience is still left free) by a Papal Bull that is buttressed by the decree of a Council that the Pope's word is infallible, with the penalty that "if any one--which may God avert--presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema,"--seemingly the most terrible curse known to the Roman Church.
J. Reuben Clark, Jr., On the Way to Immortality and Eternal Life, p.336
G. the "Falling Away" From and Loss of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood After the Order of the Son of God
Cardinal Manning, an Anglican archdeacon who was converted to Catholicism, pronounced this far-reaching dictum:
"To appeal to history is treason."
Perhaps his faith admitted of no other declaration, for Lowndes quotes Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) as declaring:
"Alone, notwithstanding my unworthiness, I am the successor of the Apostles, the Vicar of Jesus Christ; alone, I have the mission to govern and direct Peter's bark; I am the way, the truth, and the life.'
(It was Christ, in the Passover Chamber, who declared: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.")
Upon this premise of Pope Pius IX, it would necessarily follow, as Leo X (1513-1521) had long before proclaimed:
"It is clear as the noonday sun that the Popes, my predecessors, have never erred in their canons or constitutions."
It would seem that the dictum, "To appeal to history is treason," is necessary to protect this papal claim to infallibility, else would be discovered such things as that in 1616, Pope Paul V declared in a "Feria V." (which is a decree by the Pope and the Inquisition combined and which is infallible and irrevocable):
"That the earth moves daily is absurd, philosophically false, and theologically considered at least erroneous in faith." This decree of Paul V was confirmed by Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644). Other decrees have similarly proved erroneous.
It may be well to quote here the Decree of the Vatican Council of 1870 (the Council called and directed by Pope Pius IX) which, after centuries of dispute and indecision, lays down the dogma of the infallibility of the Pope.
". . . the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.
"But if any one--which may God avert--presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema."
We might here give again the words of Paul to the Thessalonians: "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."
Matthias F. Cowley, Cowley's Talks on Doctrine p.161
The statement of the Savior, recorded in St. John vii: 17, covers the ground in the broadest light: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." This secures to every true Saint, if he is faithful, protection against imposture, the abuse of power and the false decisions of man-made councils. In [p.162] this particular the Church of Christ is distinguished from all other system and institutions. He has promised to guide and direct, and that He "doeth nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants, the prophets." (Amos iii: 7.) This does not imply the infallibility of man, but it does imply the promise that no man or council of men who stand at the head of the church shall have power to lead the Saints astray. With this assurance, then, the people of God in every dispensation have been justified in rendering absolute yet intelligent obedience in the direction of the holy prophets. It is an undeniable fact in the history of the Saints that obedience to whatever has come, either by written document or verbally, from the presidency of the church, has been attended with good results; on the other hand, whosoever has opposed such council, without repentance, has been followed with evidence of condemnation.
Applying this principle of obedience to organizations of a civil and business character, confusion and weakness result from men refusing their support to the decision of the presiding authority or of the majority, where the action is left to popular vote. Carlyle, the great English writer, said: "All great minds are respectfully obedient to all that is over them; only small souls are otherwise."
The obedience rendered to God is based upon a conviction that He is perfect in all His ways possessing the attributes of justice, judgment, knowledge, power, mercy and truth in all their fullness. Obedience to His appointed authority upon the earth is obedience to Him, and is so taught by the Savior. "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth Him that sent me." (Matthew x: 40.) He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me. (Luke x: 16.) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send, receiveth me; and he that receiveth me, receiveth Him that sent me." (St. John xiii: 20.)
Mark E. Petersen, The Way to Peace, p.272
No well-informed person now thinks that the Church organization as established by the Savior in mortality has survived the centuries.
Everyone who knows the facts recognizes and acknowledges now that there has been a tremendous change in the views, doctrines and organization of Christian churches as the years have rolled on.
And they recognize the need of returning to Christ's basic doctrines!
Hence the ecumenical councils which have been held; hence the public statements of high church officials that religions long since considered infallible and unchangeable, now must be altered to more nearly resemble the teachings of the Bible.
It was most significant that one of the world's great religious leaders, associated with a church whose claims to infallibility have persisted over the centuries, now announces that his church must be brought back to Christ and the Bible.
James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Ch.31, p.566
Charles F. Deems, in The Light of the Nations, pp. 583-84, says in speaking of the irreverent use of ecclesiastical titles: "The Pharisees loved also the highest places in the synagogs, and it gratified their vanity to be called Teacher, Doctor, Rabbi. Against these Jesus warned His disciples. They were not to love to be called Rabbi, a title which occurs in three forms, Rab, Teacher, Doctor; Rabbi, My Doctor or Teacher; Rabboni, My great Doctor. Nor were they to call any man `Father,' in the sense of granting him any infallibility of judgment or power over their consciences.... `Papa,' as the simple Moravians call their great man, Count Zinzendorf: `Founder,' as Methodists denominate good John wesley; `Holy Father in God,' as bishops are sometimes called; `Pope,' which is the same as `Papa'; `Doctor of Divinity,' the Christian equivalent of the Jewish `Rabbi,' are all dangerous titles. But it is not the employment of a name which Jesus denounces, it is the spirit of vanity which animated the Pharisees, and the servile spirit which the employment of titles is apt to engender. Paul and Peter spoke of themselves as spiritual fathers. Jesus teaches that positions in the societies of his followers, such as should afterward be formed, were not to be regarded as dignities, but rather as services; that no man should seek them for the honor they might confer, but for the field of usefulness they might afford; and that no man should lead off a sect, there being but one leader; and that the whole body of believers are brethren, of whom God is the Father."
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, APOSTATE
Apostasy may be accelerated by a faulty assumption that scripture or Church leaders are infallible. Joseph Smith taught that "a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such" (HC 5:265). He also declared he "was but a man, and [people] must not expect me to be perfect" (HC 5:181). Neither the Church nor its leaders and members claim infallibility.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.1, CONVERSION
Prospective converts are invited to seek through prayer a spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost to let them know the truth. As Roberts stated regarding the Book of Mormon, "[The Holy Ghost] must ever be the chief source of evidence for the truth of the Book of Mormon. All other evidence is secondary to this, the primary and infallible. No arrangement of evidence, however skillfully ordered; no argument, however adroitly made, can ever take its place" (pp. vi-vii). A quotation from the Book of Mormon is generally used to invite the prospective convert to seek this spiritual manifestation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of the gospel message: "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost" (Moro. 10:4).
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.2, FOLLOWING THE BRETHREN
Because Church members are entitled to divine confirmation of prophetic declarations, there is no teaching among Latter-day Saints of "prophetic infallibility." As Joseph Smith taught, "a prophet was a prophet only when.acting as such" (TPJS, p. 278). Prophets have personal and private opinions, and they are "subject to like passions," as all people are (see James 5:17; Mosiah 2:10-11). However, when acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the prophetic role, "whatsoever they shall speak.shall be the will of the Lord" (D&C 68:3-4; see Scripture). As the Savior told Joseph Smith, "He that receiveth my servants receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth my Father" (D&C 84:36-37; see also Matt. 10:40; 3 Ne. 28:34).
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.3, SMITH, JOSEPH, PRIESTHOOD.
Priesthood is authority and power centered in Christ. It is conferred only by tangible ordination, by the laying on of hands of one having authority. Joseph Smith taught the importance of priesthood keys: Jesus Christ "holds the keys over all this world" (TPJS, p. 323). John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, and Elias held various keys of priesthood functions and restored them to the earth by conferring them upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
Priesthood is not indelible; it can be lost. It is not infallible; only under the influence of the Spirit can one speak for and with the approval of God.
The opportunity for the fulness of priesthood blessings is conferred on both men and women when they make and keep unconditional covenants with Jesus Christ and then with each other as husband and wife (see Fatherhood; Motherhood).
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith explained and established the roles of apostles, prophets, bishops, Evangelists, pastors, teachers, and so on, in analogue to their New Testament functions. He dissolved the distinction between laity and a priestly class: All priests, teachers, and administrators are lay people, and all worthy laymen are priesthood holders.
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.4, Ch.6, p.216
But the business of control does not end with the selecting of evidence. Once our texts have been chosen for presentation, we discover that they are all without exception in an imperfect and fragmentary state, marred by scribal slips, emendations, interpolations, and deletions. Generations of careless, or (what is far more dangerous) careful and deliberate scribes have been busy day and night at the game of controlling the past by altering the texts they were supposed to be copying, and as often as not the alterations have been intentional. And what is the cure for this? More correction! The conscientious, modern editor proceeds to control his text by reconstructing it to say what he believes the original should have said. Such reconstructions are not always infallible. In fact, in the opinion of most scholars, the reconstructions perpetrated by most other scholars are pretty bad.
**Note: There are many changes between Pratt's fifth and sixth editions of "Key to the Science of Theology".
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.4, Ch.6, p.217
In George Orwell's much cited and disturbing novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the tyrannical super-state of the future is operated by its masters on the proposition that "who controls the past controls the present, and who controls the present controls the future." That is the secret of power: If you can control people's ideas of the past, you control their ideas of the present and hence the future. The unhappy hero of the story works in a public relations office where the past is controlled. His task is to check all back newspapers kept in the official files of the state for any piece of news, no matter how old, that might embarrass the government if brought to light--old promises and prophecies that have failed, glorious deeds of men now out of favor with the rulers, friendly alliances with governments now odious to the state, and so forth.
When he comes upon such an item, our hero immediately cuts it out and burns it, substituting in its place a revamped version of the same story of exactly the same length but so rewritten as to make it seem that the present government has always been right, infallibly vindicated in the unfolding of events. It is a careful, deliberate controlling of the past, a rewriting of history in retrospect to suit the present interests and support the present policies of the Party, whose authority is thus confirmed by the verdict of history. p.218
All this seems to us very cynical and sordid, and yet, appalling as it seems, Mr. Orwell has given a very fair description of what has been going on for thousands of years in the learned world! Except in its cold-blooded mechanics, wherein does the operation described differ from that of the learned Hebrew Meturgeman? In his business of rendering ancient Hebrew into contemporary Aramaic, "the most difficult passages were simplified, or explained, the incidents of the past conformed to the ideas of the present . . . and, finally, the laws expanded in accordance with the practice and teaching of later times . . . the Meturgeman did not scruple to transform the text before him in the boldest fashion."
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.4, Ch.6, p.235
But more damaging to the past even than the wilful and mechanical application of lazy hand-me-down "science" to its reconstruction is the rule of vanity. In the end, as Housman demonstrates at length, a scholar's right to reconstruct history or restore a battered text rests on the possession of personal gifts which escape analysis. Here is high art indeed! The expert feels in his bones that what he says is what is right, unaware that his bones have been undergoing constant conditioning since the day of his birth. He is trained and intelligent; he means to be perfectly scientific and detached; he is constitutionally incapable of wanton error; how then can he be wrong?
Answer: simply by being human! Purity of motive is no guarantee of infallibility; the greatest of errors are by no means intentional, and are often made by the ablest of scholars. Yet because Dr. Faugh means to write an honest, impartial, and objective history we are expected by his publishers to have the decency, or at least the courtesy, to believe that his history is honest, impartial, and objective. No scholar alive possesses enough knowledge to speak the final word on anything, and as to integrity, let us rather call it vanity.
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.7, Part.1, Ch.1, p.3 - p.4
The second mortal offense of the Book of Mormon was the admission on the title page that this record, translated "by the gift of God," might possibly contain mistakes. Mistakes? In a book revealed by the power of God? Another blasphemous conception. Yet today Bible scholars accept this proposition as readily as they do the first, and labor day and night to come up with a more correct text of the Holy Bible than any at present available. The idea that a book can contain many things that are true and of God and at the same time many things that are false and of men was one that Catholics and Protestants alike found perfectly unthinkable in the days of Joseph Smith, though most students of the Bible accept it today. And once the possibility of human error is conceded, why should the idea of corrected editions of the Book of Mormon be offensive? Revised and improved editions of the Bible are constantly coming from the press, and the Mormons have never believed in an infallible book or an infallible anything in which men have had a hand. God allows fallible humans to be co-workers with him on the road to a far-distant perfection, but he expects them to make lots of mistakes along the way.
Christ's Ideals for Living, p.122
Spurgeon said of Gladstone:
We believe in no man's infallibility, but it is restful to feel sure of one man's integrity.
Members of the Church are grateful in the knowledge of the integrity of their authorities. Nowhere on earth are men so devoted to their trust, more determined to seek to know God's will and to carry it out in love and humility.
Christ's Ideals for Living, p.365
"For he that is not against us, is on our part."
Tolerance is defined as "the disposition to tolerate beliefs, practices, or habits differing from one's own." The basis of tolerance in religion is that religion is a matter of the relation of the individual soul to God, and therefore, should not be coerced or intimidated by any other person or institution.
Hastings Encyclopedia points out that tolerance "assumes the existence of an authority which might have been coercive, but which for reasons of its own is not pushed to extremes. It implies a voluntary inaction, a politic leniency. The motives that induce (or lead to) a policy of tolerance are:
1. Weakness and inability to enforce prohibitory measures.
2. Lazy indifference.
3. The desire to secure conciliation by concessions.
4. The wisdom to perceive that "force is no remedy."
5. The intellectual breadth and humility that shrink from a claim to infallibility.
6. The charity that endures the objectionable.
7. Respect for the right of private judgment.1
Tolerance is a fundamental principle for Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith wrote: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." (11th Article of Faith)
"Meddle not with any man for his religion," Joseph Smith is quoted as saying, "for all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested."
[p.366] James E. Talmage makes clear that tolerance and conviction are possible together. He points out:
Tolerance is not acceptance-The human frailty of running to extremes in thought and action finds few more glaring examples than are presented in man's dealings with his fellows on matters religious. On the one hand, he is prone to regard the faith of others as not merely inferior to his own, but as utterly unworthy of his respect; or, on the other, he brings himself to believe that all sects are equally justified in their professions and practices, and that therefore there is no distinctively true order of religion.
My allegiance to the Church of my choice is based on a conviction of the validity and genuineness of its high claim as the one and only Church possessing a God-giving charter of authority-nevertheless, I count the sects as sincere until they demonstrate that they are otherwise and am ready to defend them in their rights.3
L. Evans gives tribute to the ideal of tolerance and distinguishes it from complacency and indifference. He writes:
.Again, we wouldn't want to live in a world without an honest and open and earnest tolerance. And certainly we would never want to tolerate intolerance. But neither would we want to tolerate the false type of so-called tolerance that countenances complacency, that encourages the compromising of principles, or that induces indolence or irresponsibility or downright dangerous indifference. That type of false tolerance is intolerable.
Christ's Ideals for Living, p.369
The fifth motive of tolerance listed above is "the intellectual breadth and humility that shrink from a claim to infallibility." Latter-day Saints highly esteem intellectual breadth and humility, but they also hold to the infallibility of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since the Gospel is true, should there be deep humility and tolerance and encouragement for intellectual breadth? This is controversial among people who may stand opposed to each other, one with deep convictions, the other with pride in intellectual breadth. The Gospel, however, is not subject to this apparent contradiction of attitudes. Truths are eternal; yet they unfold and are enlarged as we expand our experiences. Mormonism is Christianity restored to the earth and it is also a new vision for the future of man. Indeed, here is an essential of the Gospel understood by every Latter-day Saint, that God continues to reveal, and that we may always make progress. This doctrine encourages both deep conviction and tentativeness in an apparent contradiction, yet not necessarily so. Truths of old are defended and truths that are new are welcome. Such is the full meaning of the law of eternal progression.
Daniel C. Peterson, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, p.171
Nibley is not infallible. Surprisingly enough, given his legendary command of the Book of Mormon, he occasionally even makes mistakes in reporting what it distinctly says. (This should serve as a cautionary example to those critics of the Book of Mormon who have nowhere near Nibley's control of the text, and who often leap to utterly unfounded judgments. The book is dauntingly rich and frightfully complex.) For example, contrary to the assertions on pp. 466-67 and 547, Alma the Younger did not give up the leadership of the church to serve as "a simple missionary." He relinquished his political offices, "but he retained the office of high priest unto himself" (Alma 4:18; cf. 8:11, 23; 16:5). (And how, by the way, can Nibley be certain that Samuel the Lamanite held no ecclesiastical or other office? See p. 547. We know next to nothing about Samuel, or any other Lamanite.) Furthermore, Zeniff's return to the land of Nephi did not occur during the days of Mosiah the Second, son of Benjamin, but, contrary to Nibley's aside on p. 486, during the days of Mosiah the First, who was the father of Benjamin. (Or, perhaps, at the very latest, during the early reign of Benjamin himself. See Omni 1:23-30.) Finally, on pp. 359 and 552, Nibley mistakenly reverses the positions of Gadianton and Kishkumen. It is the latter who is the "professional hit man" (see Helaman 1:9-12; 2:3-9).
David Rolph Seely, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, p.195
These examples are instructive. Nibley has never claimed for himself the kind of infallibility that some have attributed to him. He has always maintained that scholarship is a high-spirited and open conversation. For example, in regards to his work on the Abraham facsimiles, he once said, "I refuse to be held responsible for anything I wrote more than three years ago. For heaven's sake, I hope we are moving forward here! After all, the implication [is] that one mistake and it is all over with. How flattering to think in forty years I have not made one slip and I am still in business! I would say about four-fifths of everything I have put down has changed. Of course!" I have always assumed Nibley would be delighted for us to read his work critically, and statements such as the above should be taken as invitations to join the fray.
Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1., p.115
According to this school of interpreters of the prophecies, all the marks of the apostasy, all the characteristics of the man of sin, are found in the Roman church and the papal institution. The man of sin is represented as opposing and exalting himself above all that is called god, and this is considered fulfilled in the papal office, the incumbents of which exalt themselves above all authority, human and divine, claiming the title of "king of kings and lord of lords," and applying to themselves the words of the psalm: "All kings shall bow down before thee." The man of sin is seated in the "temple of God," showing himself as God, and this, they claim, is fulfilled in the papal office, where the popes assume divine attributes and prerogatives, such as infallibility and authority to forgive sins.
Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7., p.158
The Golden Rule. In the experience of a disciple of the Master, the question may at times arise as to what his duties are to his fellow men. The Golden Rule is the infallible answer to that question: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. For this," the Lord says, "is the law and the prophets." And, perhaps, we may reverently add, the Gospel, tool! For this rule embodies the entire moral code of the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom of God, equally binding upon nations and associations, as in individuals.
In Tobit 4:15, we read, "Do that to no man, which thou hatest"; but the precept, as delivered by the Savior, enjoins us not only to avoid harming our brother, but to do that which benefits him. [p.159]
B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, p.345
Thus none, not even the highest, is beyond the operation of the laws and councils of the church. However great and exalted any single officer of the church may be, the Church and its system of government is still greater and more exalted than he; for though the President of the church is God's mouthpiece--God's vice-regent on earth--yet be may be tried and his conduct inquired into by this court to which I have called attention. Therefore if the time should ever come that the church should be so unfortunate as to be presided over by a man who transgressed the laws of God and became unrighteous (and that such a thing could be, and that the President of the church is not regarded as infallible is quite evident from the fact that provisions are made for his trial and condemnation); a means of deposing him without destroying the church, without revolution, or even disorder, is provided in the church system of government*.
*This special court was once organized; before it Sidney Rigdon, one of the Presidency of the Church, was tried and condemned in 1844.
Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, Vol.2, p.237 - p.238
It is not to be suggested that church leaders are infallible. They are mortal men. However, the Lord works through these men to bless the membership of His church. Such blessings are predicated upon the membership following their counsel, regardless of their human weaknesses. The prophet Joseph Smith taught the saints to look past the human weakness of the leadership and render obedience to their counsel. He said:
I showed them that it was generally in consequence of the brethren disregarding or disobeying counsel that they became dissatisfied and murmured; and many when they arrive here, were dissatisfied with the conduct of some of the Saints, because everything was not done perfectly right, and they get angry, and thus the devil gets advantage over them to destroy them. I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities. (TPJS, p. 268)
Smith and Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, Sec. 42, p.225
21. Thou shalt not lie This commandment forbids the violation of all obligations of truth. It should be noted that lying is a crime, not merely a fault, or a weakness. To bear false witness against a neighbor is an aggravated form of offense against this law, but to lie about him, or her, in private circles is very little better than testifying falsely in court. Falsehoods have been divided into pernicious, benevolent, and jocose. The first includes all that are instigated by an evil motive and are designed to promote an evil end. The second are so-called "white lies," and the third are mirth-promoting and supposed to be harmless, because there is no pretence that they are true. To these should be added another class, the falsehoods of innocence. A man may be deceived and honestly believe that he is telling the truth, when, in fact, he is but repeating a falsehood. There are in the world both theologians and philosophers to whom this applies. It has been claimed, in support of the doctrine of infallibility, that a man may be a liar as a man and yet trustworthy as an official. It might just as well be alleged that an individual may be intoxicated as a man, and, at the same time, sober, as a clergyman. Lying and hypocrisy, in its various forms, are crimes, and "He that lieth and will not repent, shall be cast out" of the Church.
Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, p.10
But when the men of the schools became the leaders of the church, accommodating to the contemporary philosophy, there were many things in Enoch that they did not like. Charles himself doesn't like them; he puts it as tactfully as possible here. He says, "But our book contained much of a questionable character." This was the fourth century, of course. That was the time when the University of Alexandria won a complete victory over everything. That's the Athanasian Creed. The Book of Enoch fell into discredit. Under the ban of such authorities as Hilary, Jerome, and Augustine (three of the four Latin doctors of the church-their highest authority), it gradually became lost. Notice, they banned it. They would not allow people to use the Book of Enoch, and they were the authorities. It was Hilary who made more decisions than anybody else. He said that if a thing isn't found in the scripture, you can be sure that it never happened. Unless a thing is mentioned in the Bible, it didn't happen. Now that is absolute dependence on the infallibility of the scriptures.
Lowell L. Bennion, An Introduction to the Gospel, p.244
We do not believe in infallibility in human leadership, not even in those who are called of God. Looking back through the pages of religious history, we find only one person without sin, namely the Savior. Even he had said to one who addressed him as "Good Master," "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." (Matthew 19:16, 17) Moses took the honor unto himself. Peter had to be rebuked by the Savior. Paul acknowledged that he was least worthy to be an apostle. Joseph Smith was strongly admonished by revelation to improve his ways.
A. Burt Horsley, Peter and the Popes, p.107
Thus the pope is only infallible when he speaks as head of the Church, but then always and necessarily infallible. Infallible means he cannot sin against either faith or morals. The infallibility is part of the primacy of Peter and means that when the pope defines the doctrines he does not merely anathematize those who believe differently nor only exclude error, he also determines and defines truth (Aquinas Part 2ac).
A. Burt Horsley, Peter and the Popes, p.114
On at least one occasion, an item became doctrine by mistake. Pope Pius XII had given word of mouth counsel to a specific group. And, because the matter had to do with faith and morals, someone assumed this to be a statement of infallible weight. The following was reported by the press:
Pope Pius XII told Italian doctors in answer to a questionnaire here Sunday that the use of pain-killers is legitimate under certain circumstances, even when they hasten death. The statement was the latest of a long series of comments in which the eighty-one-year old Pontiff has discussed the moral problem of easing human suffering in childbirth and in sickness. The Pope told the doctors that the age-old ban of the Roman Catholic church on mercy-killing remains firm, but that in certain circumstances they may use death-hastening pain-killers. The Pope said that once a dying Christian has made his peace with God, said final prayers and discharged other duties and desires [p.115] such as leave taking with friends, he may accept anesthesia to cut pain at death's approach. But the Pope forbade doctors to force anesthesia on dying patients who wish to face their sufferings as a means of expiation and as a source of merit in order to go forward in the love of God in the abandonment to His will (Pope Pius XII).
A. Burt Horsley, Peter and the Popes, p.116
In summary, it is one of the great traditions of the institution of the papacy that the pronouncements of the popes represent the word of Peter, who is the Vicar of Christ unto the world. And, when these pronouncements on matters of faith and morals are given to the world and to the church, ex cathedra, they are infallible. The greatest tendency in the interpretation by non-Catholics of this particular doctrine is to assume that it means that the pope is perfect, that he can make no mistake. There is no intent to convey the idea that the pope does not make mistakes, that he may not be sinful the same as anyone else, but rather in matters of faith and morals, he would speak out infallibly, that is, without error, since he would be speaking for the Lord and he would not err in this respect. This does not mean that he cannot be sinful himself in matters of faith or morals, or that he cannot himself sin against morals.
A. Burt Horsley, Peter and the Popes, p.134
There has been confusion and misunderstanding among both Catholics and non-Catholics over the centuries about the doctrine of papal infallibility. Declared an official doctrine of the church by the Vatican Council of 1867-70, it holds that the pope is infallible when, under specified conditions, he speaks out on matters of faith and morals to the whole church. It does not mean that everything he says is always true or that he cannot be sinful himself.
Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.3, Ch.2, p.12
This true prophet, Peter explains, was Jesus Christ, the same who had brought this knowledge to the earth in his own day. He insists before all things that "faith in religious and holy matters requires the presence of a true prophet, so that he might tell us also how we are to understand everything." Someone is almost sure to protest that this smacks of authoritarianism, and Peter sees the point. In the dealings of men with each other, any assumption of infallibility or even superiority is sheer arrogance; we mortals are all highly fallible. For that very reason, Peter insists, it is all-important to prove that a prophet is a true prophet and not one of the swarming impostors. We must, he says, "before all things try the faith of the prophet by every possible test." A prophet is no ordinary person; he makes no ordinary claim; and he does not ask people to believe him, but to test him. God is not authoritarian: He asks no one to believe; but invites the world, as his prophets do, "Prove me herewith."
Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Report, April 1941, p.51
Do the people of the Church want a safe guide to what is well for them to do? It is this: Keep in harmony with the Presidency of this Church. Accept and follow the teachings and advice of the President. At every Conference we raise our hands to sustain the President as prophet, seer and revelator. Is it consistent to do this and then go contrary to his advice? Is anyone so simple as to believe he is serving the Lord when he opposes the President? Of course, the President is not infallible. He makes no claims to infallibility. But when in his official capacity he teaches and advises the members of the Church relative to their duties, let no man who wants to please the Lord say aught against the counsels of the President.
In the spirit of helpfulness let me give you a key. When in doubt go on your knees in humility with an open mind and a pure heart with a real desire to do the Lord's will, and pray earnestly and sincerely for divine guidance. Persist in praying in this way until you get an answer that fills your bosom with joy and satisfaction. It will be God's answer. If obedient to this answer you will always act as the President indicates. You will then be safe. God help us all to act wisely I pray in Christ's name.
Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, April 1946, p.50
Men do not give their lives to perpetuate falsehoods. Martyrdom dissipates all question as to the sincerity of the martyr. Personalities do not survive the ages. They rise like a shooting star, shine brilliantly for a moment and disappear from view, but a martyr for a living cause, like the sun, shines on forever. Great characters, students, businessmen, scientists, followed the youthful prophet to his death. They were not deceived. They lost him in martyrdom but inspired with the divinity of the Cause went forward without hesitancy, Thousands gave lives they could have saved, in Missouri, Illinois, and crossing the plains, and today a great people hailed for their education, practicability, and virtue, stand to bear witness that the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, like that of the martyrs before him, is another of the infallible proofs of the divinity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored in its fulness through that humble prophet.
Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report October 1949, p.25
ABOMINABLE PRACTICES INTRODUCED
Many other practices were introduced, one of the most serious, and I am sure one of the most abominable in the sight of God, was the selling of indulgences. This practice was based on the false theory that there was a treasure of merit-that certain of the saints and others through their works had performed more than was required for their salvation-and therefore, there was a treasure available upon which others might draw, who through their unrighteous lives may be short of the requirements for salvation. The doctrine of infallibility, the worship of relics, the introduction of pomp, ceremony, and mysteries, the use of incense, the worship of martyrs, applause to show the relative popularity of speakers in the Church, and even the purchase of office were approved and practised. Rivalry, strife, and disunity were rampant, probably reaching a climax when the bishop of Rome excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople and the patriarch in turn excommunicated the bishop.
[p.26] There remained then, only human churches, without authority, which had excommunicated each other. Surely the apostasy was now complete.
Antoine R. Ivins, Conference Report, October 1953, p.45
I was glad when President Clark said this morning that there are times when we must accept the requests of our heavenly Father even though we may not understand their purpose and, even though at times it be blind obedience that we render, that we should do it, if we expect to take the benefits and blessings that come from membership in the Church.
When I said that the other day, it was suggested that perhaps I was implying that the leadership of the Church is infallible, and that the free agency of man is circumscribed by that doctrine and teaching, but I do not believe that either applies. I have never been told what I should study. I exercise my freedom in the things that I teach trying always, of course, to make them conform to the teachings of the Church. But I feel that in it I am not particularly circumscribed in my liberties and in my privileges, and I glory in the fact that the Church throws open to me all of the books that have been written, if I care to delve into them. I have faith that if I delve, seeking the Spirit of God in my teaching, I will never find anything that will upset and disturb my faith in God and the restoration of the gospel.
The blessings of membership in the Church, brothers and sisters, are tremendous. Loyalty to it should prompt you and me to abide by its teachings.
When I have occasion to set up a presidency of a seventies quorum, I teach the members this: You are to think independently, you are to discuss freely, and give expression to your thoughts regarding the problems that arise in your meetings, but if you happen to be on the losing end of the discussion, and the majority rules one thing while you have felt and argued for another, then loyalty on your part demands that you not only withdraw from opposition, but that you say, brethren, if that is your will, I will help you. I believe that is the spirit in which we ought to serve, brethren and sisters, and if we could develop that loyalty in our own hearts and implant it in the hearts of our children, the bad stories that we read in the newspapers would be fewer and fewer, as our teachings might be absorbed by the people.
Delbert L. Stapley, Conference Report, October 1959, p.73
There are infallible guiding principles found in the revelations and in the historical records of the Lord's dealings with his people for their guidance and protection. Here is a very important one given in this last dispensation to the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord gave it as a guiding admonition to his people. Said he:
"And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith." (Ibid., 26:2.)
If the members of the Church will follow this counsel and act together in prayer and true faith, the Holy Ghost will not permit them to yield to the influence of error and false teachings of those who seek to overthrow the work of God. The great Nephite prophet, Mosiah, warning his people against kingcraft, counseled them concerning the manner in which judges to govern them should be selected, and wisely advised:
"Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law -- to do your business by the voice of the people." (Mosiah 29:26.)
Henry D. Moyle, Conference Report October 1960, p.19
The present teachings of our President are not the development of a philosophy by the wisdom of men that changes with time and experience. They do not result from the trial and error of improvement. They are not discovered as the result of laboratory experiments on the one hand or study of the past, present, or future on the other hand. They are eternal truths taught to the children of men by the prophets of God, ancient and modern. The truths of the gospel are unchangeable. They are infallible. The Savior of mankind-our Redeemer, the Son of the Living God, the Lord of lords and King of kings, who rules and reigns over this universe, brought peace to this earth as he dwelt among the children of men in the flesh. He is the man of peace. He came with a promise: "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God."
Richard L. Evans, Conference Report, April 1967, p.9
We have met no infallible men no indestructible men -- just men mostly honest and able, trying to do their best. And we have come to a deeper awareness than ever before of the need for divine guidance, for inspiration, for revelation, thanking God more fervently for a prophet to guide us in these latter days. We come with a greater awareness that without such guidance there are no adequate answers. Never in the past did we need revelation, inspiration, commandments standards, principles, and a prophet more than in the present.
John Longden, Conference Report, April 1967, p.128
The Lord has promised to guide and direct his Church upon the earth, for he "will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7.)
This does not imply the infallibility of man, but it does imply the promise that no man or council of men who stand at the head of the Church shall have power to lead the Saints astray.
Mark E. Petersen, Conference Report, October 1969, p.118
Tradition is by no means infallible. Often it has no basis in fact. And quite as often it is at variance with the original gospel.
Church News, The Conference Issues, April 9, 1994, p.21
Elder Robert D. Hales ".a marvelous work."
"Unfortunately, I am not a perfect man," he continued. "And infallibility does not come with the call. Therefore, I must ask for forgiveness from Heavenly Father for those things which I have done which are less than perfect, and ask forgiveness of anyone I might have offended knowingly or unknowingly because of my personality or style."
Joseph E. Cardon & Samuel O. Bennion, Testimonies of the Divinity of the Church.by Its Leaders, p.123
Elder Orson Pratt
Oh, what a wide and marked difference between the religion of Joseph Smith and that of the Protestant and Catholic religions-between his authority and that of the sectarian divines!
Joseph Smith's doctrine is reasonable, scriptural, perfect and infallible in all its precepts, commands, ordinances, promises, blessings, and gifts. In his organization of the church, no officer mentioned in the New Testament organization is omitted. Inspired apostles and prophets are considered as necessary as pastors, teachers, or any other officer.
Thomas B. McAffee; BYU Studies Vol. 25, No. 3, pg.161
While there are important formal and informal checks on the Supreme Court--including the appointment power, amendment of the Constitution, and the possibility of impeachment--none may be sufficient to prevent abuse of power by a Court that considers itself the moral prophet to the nation. The most important check is the Court's willingness to question its own exercise of power. As a people who have been warned of the tendency of almost all men to exercise power inappropriately (D&C 121:37), we are likely to appreciate Justice Jackson's reminder to his colleagues on the Court that "we are not final because we are infallible; we are infallible only because we are final." (Brown vs. Allen, 344 U.S. 443, 540 (1953) (Jackson, J., concurring).)
Book Reviews; BYU Studies Vol. 28, No. 3, pg.122
The last two chapters, "A General Authority" and "A Final Testimony," should be read by a wider audience than is likely to see them. They reflect the experiences of a man who was often a minority voice in counsel even when he held great power in administration. Observations on the nature of the General Authority calling (123-26) are important in a time when doctrines of infallibility are attractive to many Saints.
Michael W. Homer; BYU Studies Vol. 31, No. 2, pg.91
Ten years after the arrival of Elder Snow, while the elders were still attempting to spread their mission to the larger Italian-speaking and Catholic population, La Civilta' Cattolica, a journal with strong Vatican ties published its first article devoted solely to the thirty-year-old Church. La Civilta' Cattolica was founded in 1850 by the Jesuits to combat the increasingly vocal attacks on the papacy's temporal authority. The article is the text of a speech delivered by a Catholic cardinal (Cardinal Reisach) to the Accademia di Religione Cattolica. The cardinal made some of the same criticisms as Father Mazzuchelli fourteen years earlier, but the article also contains some interesting observations which reflect the author's concerns about the nascent Kingdom of Italy's stated goal to annex the Papal States and his belief that there were similarities between Mormonism and Catholicism. For example, he noted that Mormon-ism "mixes and unifies the church with the state . . . and [in] this horrifying and iniquitous, religious, social and political system, I ask myself, can one find a confirmation of Catholic truth. Without doubt . . . isn't it a Catholic principle that the church must not be separated from the state; . . . these principles are recognized in substance by the Mormons." Similarly, the author wrote that "the Mormons . . . resort to primitive revelation, through their inspired, infallible prophet. . . . No one can deny, that in this . . . there comes a testimony concerning the truth of Catholic principles. . . . Mormonism recognizes . . . it must teach with infallibility."
Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report, April 1911, p.115
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
"Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."
I am a believer, my brethren and sisters, in the infallibility of the law suggested in these words of the Savior of the world. By it all things must stand or fall. However much I might desire to avoid it, I know that inevitably a time must come when I shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. I know, too, that I shall be judged righteously, not by the testimony of wicked men, men unfamiliar with my life and works, but that I shall have a fair and impartial hearing and a righteous judgment. For this principle, this doctrine was settled more than six hundred years ago, upon the field of Runnimede, and it has continued to prevail until men, today, stand united in the doctrine, that before conviction there must be evidence. Those stalwart men who stood there with arms in their hands before a tyrant king, declared that the assertion of wrongdoing was not sufficient to justify conviction, and that from that time forth men must be judged by their peers, dispassionately, fairly, honestly judged. Thank the Lord that doctrine has survived the centuries and has become so thoroughly established that I have confidence that eventually intelligent people will be brought to reach conclusions by having applied it. It is not always easy in the beginning to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error; for vice, sometimes, comes clothed in the garb of virtue; and evil is, sometimes, presented in a manner so attractive that it appears to us to be good; but always we know that in the end the truth must be manifest.
I know, too, that I shall be judged righteously, not by the testimony of wicked men, men unfamiliar with my life and works, but that I shall have a fair and impartial hearing and a righteous judgment, by a righteous judge, who knows the intents and desires of my heart. I want the truth. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.