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Sunday, October 18, 2020

An Illegitimate Scripture or an Illegitimate Church President -- Pick One

Imagine your bishop moving from your ward. A day or two after he's gone, the ward council gets together and installs a new bishop - without your sustaining vote.

Imagine the same thing happening with an Elders, Teachers or Deacons Quorum President or any local ward auxiliary president. All these leaders sustained…and you had absolutely no say about it whatsoever.

You and I both know that that's not the Lord's way. That's because we, as church members, believe in the Law of Common Consent, which means that all members have a say in who assumes an office in this church.

Even though Pres. Nelson once said that "You and I do not "vote" on Church leaders at any level," [1] others have said otherwise: 

  • Elder Mark E. Peterson said, "Neither does the Lord allow for any secret ordinations in his work. To be valid, everything is done publicly and by the vote of the people." [2]   
  • Elder Marion G. Romney said, "In the body of the Church there lies great power. No man can preside over any organized division of the Church without the consent of those over whom he is to preside. That is a power which God has vested in the membership of this Church. The power of approval resides in the membership of the Church." [3]
  • Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith: "No man can preside in this Church in any capacity without the consent of the people. The Lord has placed upon us the responsibility of sustaining by vote those who are called to various positions of responsibility. No man, should the people decide to the contrary, could preside over any body of Latter-day Saints in this Church, and yet it is not the right of the people to nominate, to choose, for that is the right of the priesthood." [4]
  • Church D&C Students Manual: "Accordingly, church officers are selected by the spirit of revelation in those appointed to choose them, but before the officers may serve in their positions, they must receive a formal sustaining vote of the people over whom they are to preside. (D. & C. 20:60-67; 26:2; 28; 38:34-35; 41:9-11; 42:11; 102:9; 124:124-145.)" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 149-50)" [5]
  • All these statements align with what the Lord also said: "No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church." [6]


Despite what we may see these days, nominations and sustainings to church offices are not necessarily a sure thing. 

The best example of this can be find in October, 1843, where a special conference was called to consider "the case and standing of Elder Sidney Rigdon." Joseph Smith had "stated his dissatisfaction" with Sidney Rigdon. Charges were leveled that Rigdon had correspondence "of a treacherous nature" with John C. Bennett, former Governor Carlin, and "the Missourians." Rigdon was also accused of "leaguing with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent." Smith told the conference that, in light of the charges, he was requesting Rigdon's removal as First Counselor. [7]

The Times and Seasons and the History of the Church both record that Rigdon addressed the conference, denied the charges and made a "moving appeal". They record "the sympathies of the congregation were highly excited." A vote was called and the congregation held that Rigdon would be permitted to retain his position.

The History of the Church records that Smith replied to the vote by saying, "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. You may carry him, but I will not." [8]

Source: Joseph Smith Papers (here)


In fact, not only sustainings, but ordinations are also deferred until the membership can have a say. Elder Erastus Snow said, "And therefore, where there is a regularly organized branch of the church, ordinations to the priesthood shall not be made without a vote of approval of said church." [9]  Referring to his stay in the Whitmer Home in 1829, Joseph Smith said, 

". . . the word of the Lord came unto us in the chamber, commanding us that I should ordain Oliver Cowdery to be an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ; and that he also should ordain me to the same office and then to ordain others, as it should be made known unto us from time to time. We were, however, commanded to defer this our ordination until such times as it should be practicable to have our brethren, who had been and who should be baptized, assembled together, when we must have their sanction to our thus proceeding to ordain each other, and have them decide by vote whether they were willing to accept us as spiritual teachers or not." [10]


  • January 2, 2018: Pres. Thomas S Monson, the 16th President of the Church, died. He was 90.  [11]
  • January 3, 2018: The Church announces that a public viewing would be held on January 11, in the church's Conference Center. Funeral services are scheduled the following day, also in the Conference Center.
  • January 9, 2018: President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, signs 1,150 letters destined for newly called full-time missionaries. The letters were printed on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles letterhead. [12]
  • January 11, 2018: Public viewing is held. [13]
  • January 12, 2018: Funeral services are held, and Monson's body is buried.
  • January 14, 2018: The quorum of the Twelve Apostles meets in the Salt Lake Temple's Upper Room. They vote unanimously to [A] reconstitute the First Presidency (which, by tradition, had dissolved automatically upon Monson's death) and [B] nominate Nelson to serve as Church President. He is ordained and set apart as such that day. [14]  (N. Eldon Tanner described the inside process of nominating, sustaining and ordaining Pres. Spencer W Kimball here). [15]
  • January 16, 2018: Nelson is introduced to church members and the media, along with Dallin H. Oaks as his First Counselor and Henry B. Eyring as Second Counselor. [16] 
  • March 31, 2018: Church members sustain Nelson as President, and Oaks and Eyring as counselors, as the Church's new First Presidency. [17]


  1. 88 days elapsed between when Pres. Monson passed away and church members sustained Pres. Nelson as church president. [18] 
  2. Yet Pres. Nelson assumed the office of president 12 days after Pres. Monson passed away.

Those nominated or chosen by the Quorum of the Twelve to be President ought to be presented to the body of the Church before he may be ordained to, and serve in, his capacity as President. This ensures adherence to the scriptural requirements of D&C 20:65 and gives the general membership an opportunity to either sustain or deny the nomination, as they feel so inclined to do.

Of all the people in the church, our leaders should be the ones spearheading and championing adherence to the scriptures. Yet in this case, and many others, they have flagrantly opposed God's revealed directive.

We members are supposed to be an integral part, a crucial component, in the approval process of our leaders. As Elder Romney elaborated, in this church, you can't preside over any organized division of the Church without the consent of its members. Makes sense to me.

Not only are sustainings and ordinations, but everything else - "all things" [19] -- in the church require members' votes: "Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints." 5

So which one is legitimate - the scriptures, Joseph Smith and the church's own D&C student manual (which say a person must be sustained by the members over whom they preside prior to assuming office), or today's Brethren (who ignore that procedure, without scriptural justification)?

"Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God,
that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him,
according to truth and righteousness." [20] 


Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:

  • Do you believe the scriptures to be the words of God (as far as they are translated correctly)?
  • Do you seek to obey the words of God?
  • Should our church leaders be expected to obey the words of God?
  • Should our church leaders be expected to champion the words of God?
  • Why aren't the Law of Common Consent and D&C 20:65 obeyed and championed?
  • Do you think the Lord intended the Law of Common Consent to be a superficial formality?
  • What difficulty would there be in proclaiming someone as an "Acting President" until the members could formally sustain the nomination in the next General Conference, or at a Special Conference (as was held for Sidney Rigdon)?


 2.   April 1974 General Conference
 3.   October 1947 General Conference
 4.   Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, 3:123
 6.   D&C 20:65
 8.   History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 49
 9.   April 1879 General Conference
10.   Documentary History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 60-61
19.   D&C 26:2
20.   D&C 107:84


Greg said...

"I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. You may carry him, but I will not."

This bit appears to have been added later. It doesn't exist in the original record.

Anonymous said...
The president has already been decided because the "ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
of the CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS" contain instructions for determining who the next President of this organization is (see ARTICLE FOURTH)