Those who follow their priesthood leaders no matter what are not worthy to "claim a rank among intelligent beings".
"Because of...the apparent imperfections of men on whom God confers authority, the question is sometimes asked,—to what extent is obedience to those who hold the priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do any thing they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions.
"When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with, lest it should be discovered by their superiors, who would require an atonement at their hands." (Priesthood, Millennial Star v.14 no.38 (13 November 1852), 594–95)
People darkened for depending on the Prophet. The prophet will lead us astray according to our idols. (Ezekiel)
"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...." (Joseph Smith, TPJS, Section Five 1842-43, p.237)
The purpose of the revelations to Joseph
"And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh" (D&C 1:18-19)
"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." (2 Ne 28:31)
Speaking about members of the body of Christ:
"Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell. For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
"And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched.
"Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.
"Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive.
"And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out. It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
"For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.
"For if the salt have lost his saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? (the sacrifice) Therefore it must needs be that ye have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another." (Mark 9:40-50, Ins. Version)
"And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord? And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us. Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you." (1 Nephi 15;8-11)
"Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (2 Nephi 12:22, Isaiah 2:22)
"And [the scribes and the Pharisees] love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ." (Matthew 23:2-12)
"'But I will say, this you will be called the first elders of the church and your mission will be to the nations of the earth, you will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people and you will be faithful because you have been true and many of those who come in under your ministry, on account of their much learning will seek for high places and they will set up and raise themselves to eminence above you, but you will walk in low places unnoticed and you will know all that transpires in their minds and those that are your friends are my friends.
"'This I will promise you that when I come again to lead you forth, for I will go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you will be. I now dismiss you with my blessing to go home. Amen.'
"The last discourse that Joseph Smith delivered in Nauvoo on the top of a frame building close to the Nauvoo house on the twenty- fourth of June 1844." (Autobiography of William B. Pace)
New doctrine promulgated by Wilford Woodruff which contradicts the teachings of Joseph
"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." (Wilford Woodruff, General Conference, October 6, 1890)
"I heard Joseph say this: 'I have rolled this kingdom off of my shoulders onto the shoulders of the Twelve and they can carry out this work and build up His kingdom.' Said he, 'I am tired. I have been mobbed, I have suffered so much from outsiders and from my own family. Some of the brethren think they can carry out this work better than I can, far better. I have asked the Lord to take me away. I have to seal my testimony to this generation with my blood. I have to do it for this work will never progress until I am gone for the testimony is of no force until the testator is dead. People little know who I am when they talk about me, and they never will know until they see me weighed in the balance in the Kingdom of God. Then they will know who I am, and see me as I am. I dare not tell them and they do not know me.' These words were spoken with such power that they penetrated the heart of every soul that believed on him." (Mary Lightner, Address to Brigham Young University, 1905)
Ezra Taft Benson discourses on not trusting the arm of flesh
“Six of the original Twelve Apostles selected by Joseph Smith were excommunicated. The Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon left the Church. Three of Joseph Smith's counselors fell-one even helped plot his death. A natural question that might arise would be that if the Lord knew in advance that these men would fall, as He undoubtedly did, why did He have His prophet call them to such high office? The answer is: to fill the Lord's purposes. For even the Master followed the will of the Father by selecting Judas. (Title of Liberty, p. 217)
“The Lord strengthened the faith of the early Apostles by pointing out Judas as a traitor, even before this Apostle had completed his iniquitous work. (see Matthew 26:23-25; Luke 13:21-26) So also in our day the Lord has told us of the tares within the wheat that will eventually be hewn down when they are fully ripe. But until they are hewn down, they will be with us, amongst us. (See D&C 86:6-7) (CR April 1969, Improvement Era 72 [June 1969]: 42)”
“President George Q. Cannon states: 'Perhaps it is His own design that faults and weaknesses should appear in high places in order that His Saints may learn to trust in Him and not in any man or men.' (Millennial Star, 53:658-59)
“And this would parallel Nephi's warning: Put not your 'trust in the arm of flesh' (2 Nephi 4:34).”
“Put trust in no man. 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 be gone; but if we lean on God, He never will fail us. When men and women depend on God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth Chapter 22)
"I have a consciousness as I have thought through this responsibility [as prophet] and have been close enough to the Brethren over the years, that one in this position is under the constant surveillance of Him in whose service we are. Never would He permit one in this position to lead this church astray. You can be sure of that." (Harold B. Lee, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church, ch. 9)
"...a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such." (Joseph Smith, HC 5:14)
"I told them I was but a man, and [people] must not expect me to be perfect." (Joseph Smith, HC 5:10)
“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Heber J. Grant speaking to Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1960)
"...whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)
In the days of Christ, can anyone believe it would have been accurate to say "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of the Pharisees, it is the same?" Surely a statement such as this causes revulsion in the senses of anyone familiar with the New Testament. Jesus affirmed they sat in Moses seat, and were thus the authorized representatives of the church. So the question must naturally be asked, what qualifies as "my servant"?
The word of God is never as simple as one statement, otherwise we would all be guilty of murder, or of condoning it, as the commandment "thou shalt not kill" should not be taken in isolation of other scripture; and the twelfth article of faith would condemn many righteous and holy men.
If the common interpretation is correct, then this scripture would contradict Nephi's declaration when he said "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." (2 Ne 28:31) If all that church authorities say is the same as God's own voice, then there is no need for Nephi's teaching, for we can then suspend all judgement. We are to judge who is and who is not God's servant, and the Lord places the responsibility for this judgement squarely on the shoulders of each individual.
If a man speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, then he is God's servant, God the Testator being the willing witness to the words of that person. If he speaks by some other spirit, by his own learning, wisdom or wit, then no matter his position or church calling, his words cannot be recognized as the voice of God.
Catholic Papal infallibility doctrine:
The Pope cannot err 'when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church'" (First Vatican Council, "First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church", chapter 4, 9)
Mormon president infallibility doctrine after Joseph Smith:
"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." (Wilford Woodruff, General Conference, October 6, 1890)
It appears that the new Mormon infallibility doctrine is more comprehensive than Catholic infallibility, since Pope's are only infallible when defining doctrine or morals.
"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 that 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, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." (Brigham Young, JD 9:27, p 150)
"Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another's sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the, celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them, They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course." (Brigham Young, JD 1:44, p 312)
We are not to accept someone merely because of position
"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile." (D&C 121:34-42)
"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...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." (D&C 107:82, 84)
More and more we are hearing adulation for "the prophet" you normally only hear given to a being you worship.
"He knows my needs, he knows your needs. He knows each of us. I hope I can follow the prophet." (A bishop in testimony meeting.)
"As we follow President Monson and try to be more like him, we will inevitably succeed in being more faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Seventy William R. Walker, CES Devotional, Ensign, April 2014. Not only did this Seventy say it, but other members (editors) thought it appropriate enough to used it as a pull-quote. These kind of statements remain un-corrected.)
"And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world; For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas. These are they who say they are some of one and some of another--some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch; But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant." (D&C 76:98-101)
"All those named (Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ, John, Moses, Ellas, Esaias, Isaiah and Enoch) were true messengers or authorized prophets of God. In the list is the Son of God Himself. These claims are not being made by those who were following Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Zarathustra, Vishnu or Krishna. They are being made by Saints, who thought themselves justified because of their belief in authorized messengers sent from God." (Denver Snuffer)
Receiving the testimony of Jesus is more than believing in Jesus. "Eternal life", Jesus said was to "know God", and knowing God is more than knowing about him. Receiving the testimony of Joseph Smith, without going on do that which Joseph taught, that is having our own face-to-face visitation, which is a fulness of the Gospel, wherein we receive the actual Everlasting Covenant, and not just it's symbolic version which we receive in the temple.
"The coming change at the Lord's return is going to alter the Telestial condition of the world to a Terrestrial condition. To the extent any church tries to convert you to follow men, as I read you just a few moments ago, if you are of Paul, or of Peter, or of Spencer, or Ezra, or Howard, or Gordon, or Thomas; if you're of them, you will not survive the Lord's return. You will not survive the Lord's return, period. A revelation was given to Joseph Smith informing you of that. I am not, I never have been, and I never will be “of Thomas,” or of any of those who will follow him and sit in that same chair. I would recommend you hesitate also.
"I have to tell you though, and this is one of the ironies of the Second Coming. The Lord is big on irony. If you look at the description of those in the Terrestrial condition, from Doctrine and Covenants 76: 72, 'Behold, these are they who died without law; And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.'
"So if you're in the world and blinded by the preaching of false ministers, but you live honorably according to that - but you don't follow them, you don't worship them, you simply do the best you can - you will survive the Lord's coming. If you are instead worshipping a man as your leader, to whom you look for your salvation, who holds 'keys' to take you away from death and hell and put you on a throne somewhere in heaven - that group of people have gotten too close to the truth to be excused for their error. They are idolaters, blinded by the craftiness of men. Without idolatry, they are simply confused about the nature of God, which is different from approaching nigh unto it, and then following and idolizing a man. I don't know if you can create idolatry outside of a religion claiming 'keys.' That limits it to the Catholics and the Mormons. And various off-shoots of Mormonism." (Denver Snuffer, 40 Years in Mormonism, Zion)
Joseph said stop this "Follow the Prophet" nonsense, it will lead to your destruction. What do we do? We make it the single most defining characteristic of our religion.
Can you spot the difference in Christ's discourse on "those in Moses' seat"?
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (Matthew 23:1-4)
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, they will make you observe and do; for they are ministers of the law, and they make themselves your judges. But do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and lay on men's shoulders, and they are grievous to be borne; but they will not move them with one of their fingers. (Matthew 23:1-4)
In the first, its as if the Lord is giving us a command to observe all these leader's whims. In the inspired version, he does not.
Nephi's vision of the Bible:
"Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them." (1 Nephi 13:28-29)
Why does the Inspired Version continue not to be used as the official translation of the bible in the LDS Church? This is one of the most significant contributions Joseph made in his calling from heaven, but we only use excerpts, hidden away in with the index, and topical guide.
Mistaking false for true prophets
"But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him." (Helaman 13:27-28)
Joseph falls, is lead astray by peer pressure, runs risk of being delivered up. Prophets today are, of course, much better than he.
Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them. And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall. But remember, God is merciful; therefore, repent of that which thou hast done which is contrary to the commandment which I gave you, and thou art still chosen, and art again called to the work; Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men, and have no more gift.
And when thou deliveredst up that which God had given thee sight and power to translate, thou deliveredst up that which was sacred into the hands of a wicked man, Who has set at naught the counsels of God, and has broken the most sacred promises which were made before God, and has depended upon his own judgment and boasted in his own wisdom. And this is the reason that thou hast lost thy privileges for a season—For thou hast suffered the counsel of thy director to be trampled upon from the beginning." (D&C 3)
President Howard W. Hunter:
“The world is FULL of people who are willing to tell us, "Do as I say." Surely we have no lack of advice givers on about every subject. But we have so few who are prepared to say, "Do as I do." And, of course, ONLY ONE IN HUMAN HISTORY COULD RIGHTFULLY AND PROPERLY MAKE THAT DECLARATION. Even the best of MORTALS are flawed in some way or another. NONE could serve as a perfect model nor as an INFALLIBLE PATTERN TO FOLLOW, however well-intentioned they might be. ONLY CHRIST CAN BE OUR IDEAL. ONLY HE CAN SAY WITHOUT ANY RESERVATION, "FOLLOW ME, LEARN OF ME. I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. I AM THE LAW AND THE LIGHT. LOOK UNTO ME AND YE SHALL LIVE." LET US FOLLOW THE SON OF GOD IN ALL WAYS. LET US MAKE HIM OUR GUIDE. We must KNOW Christ better than we know him; then will we drink water springing up unto ETERNAL LIFE.” (First Message as President of Church, Ensign - Sept 1994, pg. 4-5)
Adrian & Tausha Larsen. Adrian discusses what apostasy really means on the one hand, and what it is you're excommunicated for on the other.
Adrian's wife was excommunicated for thought crimes in a 2 for 1 hearing as she had no blog and did not speak openly about these matters.
Brent Larsen talks to a Seventy and argues that this is Christ's church and not The Church of Thomas S. Monson or The Church of [Next/Previous President]. We should not be judged unworthy of blessings because, though we support him, pray for him, we do not believe he actually is, yet, a prophet, seer, revelator or translator. We are all supposed to be looking to Christ. When we find fault with a man we are not steadying the ark. The ark contained the covenants of God, it wasn't for toting David around.
The Seventy is patient and actually listens to Brent and they are both respectful. I find his trust in the arm of flesh disturbing, in that he says like many others, "if the prophet tells us to do something wrong, we ought to do it and the Lord will bless us for it" is both unsound, unscriptural and contradicts what Joseph told us. As well as "we don't need to be informed on so many things, that's what we have a prophet for."
This is the attitude I have found to be true among the members and leadership to which I've spoken. I first heard this adulation in the MTC twenty years ago and wondered then if it was correct.
I also found the assumptions he made interesting (he didn't know Denver's name, he called him "Duster" lol) he, almost without paraphrasing, said "he must be a real bad guy or he would not have been excommunicated and you should not listen to him. Don't you see, he's dangerous!" The Seventy let his cartoonish prejudices color / blind his vision and it is reminiscent of the wearying battle between Conservatives and Liberals. Nothing one side says to the other is true, it can't be, and it should never even be read. Everything in the Huffington Post for example is tainted and conspiratorially misleading. Truth is never even given an audience because we automatically dismiss it because of our traditions which Joseph said were the very fetters and chains of hell.
Joseph, a few months before his death said it was impossible getting anything through the heads of his generation and that even the saints were slow to understand, even after everything they had sacrificed for the Gospel's sake. He knew he was about to be taken. He spent his remaining time setting up Temple ordinances to point those with eyes to see, what he had been trying to communicate to them all along. Just as Moses wanted the children of Israel to rise but they refused. So they were cursed, and Moses setup a Temple that pointed them to the Savior. Those that had eyes to see (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, etc) did see and they received priesthood under the hand of God himself.
William T. Carter
"If any man in that position [referring to the Church President], should become unfaithful, God would remove him out of his place. I testify in the name of Israel's God, that he will not suffer the head of the Church, whom he has chosen to stand at the head, to transgress His laws and apostatize. The moment he should take a course that would in time lead to it, God would take him away." (Joseph F. Smith Gospel Doctrine, p. 44)
New, Improved Mormonism
Lots of excitement arises from the statement by the church denouncing past practices and teachings in its editorial on its website titled “Race and the Priesthood.” Lots of buzz on the Internet and in news outlets. The thesis of the editorial is that the church, which today is headquartered in a nation with a black president, has overcome racism, which was a sin, and now can denounce it (and past president's of the church) with passion, like others in modern society.
The LDS position is that the church leaders can never lead its members astray, except in the past - and then it can correct it - in the here and now. When corrected, the LDS church can then consign its past leaders to condemnation for their sins. Sort of ex post facto “we’re still not going to lead you astray” as long as you are living when we fix it... or something like that. It’s really hard to keep up with the “we’re not going to lead you astray” component of modern Mormonism with all the dramatic changes and strong denouncements of past errors and sins and mistakes by racist, sexist, polygamous church presidents. But, trust them, they’re somehow not going to lead you astray.
The minions in the faceless editorial composition unit (I envision them as little yellow chaps who are constantly engaged in slapstick shenanigans) need to move forward now to continue their fix of the LDS position. I’d like to point out for their revisionism some more editing now needed:
The new editorial explained: “According to one view, which had been promulgated in the United States from at least the 1730s, blacks descended from the same lineage as the biblical Cain, who slew his brother Abel. Those who accepted this view believed that God’s ‘curse’ on Cain was the mark of a dark skin.” This view was based on a verse in Genesis. But they can leave Genesis 4: 15 alone, because the “mark” put upon Cain is not defined there. It is only in LDS scripture the mark is clarified. It was blackness: “And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.” (Moses 7: 22.) This uniquely LDS scripture clarifies what Genesis does not make clear. For the Christians “in the United States from at least 1730's” this idea of blacks descending from Cain was merely a theory. But for Latter-day Saints it was a matter of actual canonized scripture. So the purging of the LDS sins is only partial. They need to condemn Enoch as yet another past, false leader who subscribed to a now discredited view.
The editorial continues, describing “Black servitude was sometimes viewed as a second curse placed upon Noah’s grandson Canaan as a result of Ham’s indiscretion toward his father.” This is derived from the account in Genesis 9 where Noah curses Canaan with these words: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” (Moses 7: 22.) These Biblical words have been used to justify slavery. This raises two issues: first, slavery, and second, a cursed lineage. These are two altogether different topics.
As to the first, slavery was practiced throughout the Old and New Testaments. Further, if you look at the specific curse of Noah’s, it did not relate to Ham. Nor to all of Ham’s descendants. Ham married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. However, the curse of servitude Noah pronounced did not target Ham, nor Ham’s sons Cush, Mizraim, or Phut. (Gen. 10: 6.) The curse of servitude was only on his grandson Canaan, the youngest son of Ham. Examples of servitude in scripture are too numerous to list, but the Law of Moses adopted rules governing how to treat slaves because slavery was permitted. Even Christ presumed slavery, using slaves in His parables. Most telling of all, however, is the unique future LDS heaven which envisions servitude for the unworthy. (See, e.g., D&C 132: 16-17.) So there’s some work left to do for the editorialists in conforming LDS scripture to the newly enlightened position. We will need for them to condemn past leaders like Moses, Christ, Joseph Smith and the God of the future LDS heaven for their errant positions if they expect to make full recompense for LDS past errors.
On the second idea of a cursed lineage, there’s more work to be done with LDS scriptures as well. In Abraham we read of the “Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.” (Abr. 1: 27.) This makes it plain enough there was a “cursed lineage”– an idea which survives in LDS scripture despite the editorial.
The editorial continues: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse,” Stopping just there, we need to have the following language taken from the Book of Mormon: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” (2 Ne. 5: 21. There’s also mention in 2 Ne. 26: 33 and 3 Ne. 2: 15) This was designed by God to prevent intermarriage (“that they might not be enticing unto my people”). In the LDS scriptures the word “enticing” is footnoted to the Topical Guide subject “Marriage, Temporal.”
Then there is the editorial remark denouncing “that mixed-race marriages are a sin.” This brushes up against the verse in 2 Ne. 5: 21 as well as Abraham’s commandment concerning his chosen son, Isaac. For that son and the chosen lineage Abraham commanded: “I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell.” (Gen. 24: 3.) Strong, even racist language from father Abraham. He refused intermarriage for his son. The editorialists announce that “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” The word “unequivocally” means without any hesitation or limit. So we now have the editorialists speaking for the “Church leaders today” denouncing Abraham. It was a racist demand imposed by Abraham, while swearing by the God of heaven and earth, that his son must not marry a Canaanite.
I’m impressed with the LDS leader’s bold, historic, revolutionary break with their past, their scriptures and their future heaven as well. This is courage and drama on a scale seldom seen in religion. We are witnessing revolutionaries in the very act of overthrowing their past beliefs.
There’s a lot of the LDS past now denounced, unequivocally, by the “Church leaders today.” They’ve judged and dismissed God, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Joseph Smith, along with past church presidents Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Councilor J. Reuben Clark, and even President Spencer W. Kimball who made the change in 1978 (because he denounced interracial marriage).
I was excommunicated after being accused of among other things "denigrating every church president since Joseph Smith." I don't think the accusation was true. In fact, I merely quoted them or their diaries. But even if you accept the accusation against me, I managed to stop short of denigrating Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Christ and Joseph Smith along with "every church president since Joseph Smith." The "Church leaders today" have raised their game to a whole new level. I know when I've been outdone. I'm an underachiever by comparison. These "Church leaders today" will even take on God in their denigration of past leaders!
The trouble I see the LDS church editorial writers now making for the church is conflating racism (which everyone should recognize as bad) with priesthood. They ought to have stopped short of this overreaching effort to fix their public reputation. One (racism) is decidedly bad. The other (priesthood) is not at all related to racism. Racism which results in afflictions visited by one group upon another merely based upon their racial status is invidious. That should be something all mankind can overcome at some point.
But priesthood is something quite different. It is so narrowly distributed that even the lesser priesthood was limited to one tribe (Levi) and even then could not be given to a man with a withered limb, or some other physical defect. Higher priesthood was yet more restrictive, almost never given to anyone, in any age. It is extraordinarily limited in numbers. God controls that Himself, directly.
For mankind to complain about God's control over His own power is beyond arrogant. The LDS church asserts it has some control over God's priesthood (a position that is increasingly dubious with each act of rebellion against God, and usurping power and control over the conscience of its members). On the assumption the LDS' claim is true, then they are merely stewards. They have no right to tinker with something God alone controls.
Fortunately, the highest form of priesthood requires a visit from God, who alone confers it. Therefore, no policy change, or enlightened new political position, will ever have an effect on who receives such an ordination. When (if) it reappears on the earth, it will have only one purpose: To bring about Zion and enable God's promises to be fulfilled. It won't be for empowering priestcraft and enabling multi-billion dollar purchases of land and buildings by an elite group who fare sumptuously while the poor are left begging
This is a great moment - and another example of the LDS church’s “continuing revelation,” because it surely is revealing.