Wednesday, November 3, 2010

14 fundamentals of following who?

President J. Reuben Clark taught: "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed" (Quinn, The Church Years, p 24.) 

Many of the revelations that were given to Joseph Smith, and which we’ve preserved in the Doctrine and Covenants, were specific to him or to another person or group of people. We’ve taken a lot of liberty in applying many of those scriptures to those who lead the church today.

Examples of this can be found in a talk that was given in 1980 by Ezra Taft Benson (found here), and repeated again twice in General Conference in 2010. In that talk he used many scriptures to teach principles about the president of the Church that were revelations speaking specifically about Joseph Smith. Though it is possible the Lord had every successive generation and its leaders in mind when the revelations were given, that is not indicated by the scriptures themselves.

The 14 fundamentals are listed below. Christ's most basic teachings are to simply to "follow Him".  "Come, Follow Me".  Is his call to everyone.

When we redirect his teachings and turn that into following his servants, I don't think that improves his message and in many instances it distracts from it.  It's still Him we should follow.  I think it's ok to pay attention to what we are taught from the pulpit.  It's ok to wonder if what we are being taught is correct.  In fact we should.  No one is perfect.  We are to trust the Spirit only, not a pulpit, and a title.

I think the Lord's church has been seen up with the President of the Church being the only one who receives revelation for the entire church.  But that doesn't not mean he is the only one that is invited and can speak with God.  Everyone is invited to speak with God.  We are also called to sustain, support, and pray for our leaders.  What is not in the scriptures is for us to elevate the Lord's servants until they almost become celebrities, with the President being so elevated and infallible that he becomes almost an object of worship.

The following list is from the conference talks.  It's up to us to decide if these kinds of teachings point us towards the Lord, or to men.  His true servants point to Him, not to each other.  When we hear the Lord's voice in the voice of His servants we should follow.  However we are the ones who need to discern those moments from all other moments.

Read these and decide for yourself if we have been lead astray by the precepts of men.

First fundamental. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything” 

Second Fundamental. “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works”  

Third Fundamental. The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

Fourth Fundamental. The prophet will never lead the Church astray”

Fifth Fundamental. “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time” 

Sixth Fundamental. The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. …

Seventh Fundamental. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know

Eighth Fundamental. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. …

Ninth Fundamental. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual. …

Tenth Fundamental. The prophet may be involved in civic matters. …

Eleventh Fundamental. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. …

Twelfth fundamental. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. …

Thirteenth fundamental. The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church. …

Fourteenth Fundamental. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the first presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer” 

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