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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Doctrinal Absurdity of Prophetic Infallibility

I ended my June 6th post quoting D&C 112:10: "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers"

The implications of this scripture are staggering: What if a leader ISN'T humble? If that's the case, then he/she will have a tough time hearing the Lord over their own awesomeness, rendering the Lord incapable of leading them by the hand and answering their prayers.

The instant response by members is that regardless of what D&C 112:10 says, the Lord will NEVER allow the church president to lead us astray. It's a teaching even Pres. Nelson pointedly highlighted to a group of youngsters:

(This video is more my speed).

Members will also say that we always have Official Declaration 1, which was formally accepted as scripture and made binding upon the saints on October 6, 1890. AFTER Pres. Woodruff's announcement and President Snow's motion, we are given "Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto". There, we read,

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

Those statements were NOT included in the portion voted upon by the saints on October 6, 1890. [1]  It is NOT scripture. Like each section's headings, it's additional information providing context which the Church wants you to see.


(Added 7/15/21): If you look at the official publication of OD1, you'll see the following:

"I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as the President of this Church, to lead you astray. It Is not In the programme. It is not In the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray ffrom the oracles cf God and from their duty. God bless you. Amen." (Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, Vol. 23, No. 271, p. 2, column 6)

"I say to Israel" is a far cry from what we would expect from an Official Declaration ("Thus sayeth the Lord"). That's because these words are not the Lord's; they're Wilford Woodruff' his own admission.

In all actuality, you will never find a scripture stating leaders are infallible. You WILL, however, find multiple scriptures stating that you shouldn't put your trust in man...

Should you put your trust in a man?

"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." [2]

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." [3] 

True to form, many true believing members will offer an exemption to these scriptures, saying that when a prophet speaks, he is doing so not as a man, but as God's messenger. Here's what several of the church's founding fathers said about this teaching:

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel-said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church-that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls-applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall-that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves." [4] 

"What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." [5] 

"Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support will be gone; but if we lean on God, He will never fail us. When men and women depend upon God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside". [6] 

The scriptures contain a curse on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm. [7] In fact, those who do "follow the prophet" and not the Lord will eventually find themselves consigned to telestial, not celestial, glory. [8] Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord. [9]   

As one fellow blogger stated,

"The phrase "follow the prophet" does not appear anywhere in scripture. It does not appear there because it is an institutional invention designed to reduce resistance to centralized church decision-making. It was implemented deliberately during the administration of David O. McKay. It is an idea which is altogether alien to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, what appears in the scriptures is a curse pronounced on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm.  Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord." [10] 

"Mormon" - A case study in contradictory prophets

One example of the ridiculousness of this teaching can be found in the current doctrine regarding usage of the world's newest four-letter word, "Mormon." 

In the April 1990 General Conference, then-Elder Russell M Nelson gave an address titled "Thus Shall My Church Be Called." [11] In it, he condemned the "too frequent use of the term 'Mormon Church.'"

Six months later, in the October 1990 General Conference, then-Pres. Gordon B Hinckley gave a rebuttal talk, titled "Mormon Should Mean 'More Good'". [12] It was a rather lengthy essay into why Elder Nelson's talk was making a mountain out of a molehill…much ado about nothing.

In between 2011 and 2018 (when Pres. Nelson assumed the church presidency), the church aggressively promoted its worldwide "I'm A Mormon" campaign. [13]  The campaign emphasized facts about LDS Church membership through cultural and racial diversity of individuals (especially Mormon celebrities) and tens of thousands of members profiled. 

Fast forward 28 loooong years of Pres. Nelson privately fuming over the public humiliation that Pres. Hinckley inflicted on him. In the October 2018 General Conference, now-President Nelson said that "To remove the Lord's name from the Lord's Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior's name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us-even His Atonement." [14]  

That's a pretty extraordinary statement considering every one of Pres. Nelson's predecessors, lots of Mormon celebrities and church members not only proudly used the word "Mormon", but the church also spent millions and millions of dollars promoting it. Consequently, Pres. Nelson wasted no time in not only nullifying Pres. Hinckley's pro-Mormon enthusiasm, but also classifying its usage by all the aforementioned members as a "victory for Satan." 

Hence, the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir" became the ever-memorable "Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square," and 89 years of name identification evaporated, just like that. That 2014 documentary, "Meet the Mormons" and the abbreviation "LDS"? On the outs.

Here is another video of various prophets and apostles handing Satan a victory:

Now that Pres. Nelson has successfully thrown every one of his predecessors, several of his fellow Q15 members  and tens of thousands of lay church members under the bus (all believing they were doing the right thing), we are now told that those efforts were not only wrong, but were also a victory for Satan?

Why are we told this now?

This situation begs for dozens of questions. Here are a few just off the top of my head:
  • Who was right and who was wrong? Pres. Hinckley/Monson (and their predecessors), or Pres. Nelson?
  • If Pres. Hinckley/Monson (and their predecessors) were in the wrong, then:
    • Why did they encourage we members to score tons of victories for Satan?
    • Why didn't God tell these prior prophets that all of us were scoring victories for Satan?
  • If Pres. Nelson is wrong, then what are the implications of the church's continuing to preach that prophets can never lead us astray? 
  • If we have prophets contradicting each other, then how you can you trust what a prophet says is from God?
  • If one of these prophets was incorrect, then how could a true prophet be so wrong about so many important things?

When "Follow the Prophet" was actually a test of a lying prophet

This "Nelson vs all the other church presidents" feud isn't the only one in recorded history.

Ever heard of Hananiah? Keep reading (this is good). 

Lehi abandoned the doomed city of Jerusalem in the first year of Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign.  At that time, to an unrepentant people, divine prophets appeared to be harbingers of doom, while false prophets were perceived as emissaries of peace and mercy. Jeremiah, for example, wrote to the captives in Babylonia telling them to build homes, plant gardens, and marry off their children so that they would grow during the long years of captivity. The prophet Hananiah, on the other hand, promised in the name of the Lord that within two years, God would bring them all back to their homes in Palestine. [15] While Jeremiah cried war (sword, spear, and fire), other prophets (like Hananiah) pacified the sinful people with “Peace, peace!” [16]

This catalyzed a show-down between Hananiah and Jeremiah, with one prophet telling the truth, and the other making "this people to trust in a lie":

"Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord,
Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.
Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie."  [17]

Did you see that? Hananiah -- a "prophet" -- was making the people "trust in a lie."

Proof positive that prophets can indeed "lead you astray." It CAN BE in the programme. It CAN BE in the mind of God. And if a prophet attempts that, the Lord MAY NOT remove him out of his place. 

Pick your favorite contradictory doctrine (as endorsed by differing prophets)

Hananiah isn't the only one who went astray. Aaron was a prophet. Go read about how he endorsed the golden calf. His mentor and brother, Moses, disobeyed God and split the rock. Both led Israel astray. Yet neither were removed from their places. 

Brigham Young denied blacks the priesthood. Spencer W. Kimball authored Official Declaration 2. Both said their contradictory actions were approved by God. Neither was immediately removed for their beliefs and teachings. Who was right? (And don't tell me God changed His mind or succumbed to societal pressure). 

The fact is, there are dozens of teachings/doctrines where Prophet A and Prophet B disagreed with each other. And some of those doctrines (like polygamy, interracial marriage, Adam-God doctrine, divorce and more) affected both the temporal AND eternal lives of many people.

What happens when a church president transgresses? Let's consult the D&C.

We also have D&C 107:82-84:

"And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;
And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.
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." 

Why would the Lord include that in the scriptures unless it was necessary? As a matter of fact, the Common Council of the Church was convened in 1844 when members excommunicated Sidney Rigdon in absentia.

So the scriptures contain instances when prophets led people astray. They also contain provisions for when a Church President is out of line. And history shows that prophets can contradict each other on significant doctrines affecting many lives.

It's logical to assume that prophetic infallibility is not the Lord's way. Members of the church get very uncomfortable with this view because it makes them feel vulnerable. Like….you know…you need to be personally accountable for your salvation.

It's very comforting to feel that everything a church authority teaches is straight from the mouth of God.

It makes a person feel relief that they don't have to discern the words - and this is precisely why this teaching is so readily embraced.

Once a person understands that they have to discern the words of their leaders, it puts them in a position of having to answer for themselves for their salvation.

And THAT is the Lord's way.


1.  Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2/
2.  Psalm 118:8
3.  2 Nephi 28:31
4.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 237-38
5.  Brigham Young, JD 9:150
6.  George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Deseret Weekly, 43:322, Mar 7, 1891
7.  2 Nephi 4: 34; 2 Nephi 28: 31; D&C 1: 19
8.  D&C 76: 98-101
9.  2 Nephi 28: 31-32
15.  Jeremiah 28:1–4; 29:1, 4–7
16.  Jeremiah 6:13–14, 22–29
17.  Jeremiah 28: 5-9, 15. Emphasis mine.



Dave P. said...

I'd like to add the statement from (IIRC) Samuel the Lamanite on how false prophets who preach all is well are the ones who are welcomed and puffed up by the people while prophets who preach the truth and tell people they have to repent are the ones shunned by the wicked.

Latter-Day Truths said...

Here's Dallin H Oaks clearly telling us to trust in the arm of flesh:

“They [the apostles] teach and counsel as directed by the Holy Ghost, with no desire other than to speak what is true. Their voices can be trusted. Their voices are: clear, unpolluted, unbiased. You can always count on them. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.” -- Pres. Dallin H Oaks, “The Lord Leads His Church through Prophets and Apostles”, Ensign, 03/2020

Rhone said...

This controversy was one of the first of many red-pills that opened my eyes to how evil the church has become. Why would the church directly contradict the Book of Mormon (the alleged most correct book on Earth)?

It's interesting to note that in the original printing of OD1 that two very important words are ommited from Wilford's quotation. You have this statement:

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray."

The original printing in the Deseret News begins with the words "I say" continuing on with "the lord will never permit me... etc etc. He's plainly stating where his declaration comes from: himself. It's not "thus sayeth the Lord" and hence can be discarded as the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.