Friday, January 2, 2015

And always let the prophet be your guide

I regularly read the First Presidency Messages from the Church.  The one for Jan 2015 was saddening and a little shocking to me.  President Monson said things I never thought I'd hear him say.  Read for yourself before I say much else.  

I think this article may have been written for him, by someone else using his name as a ghost writer. This message does not agree with things he has said in general conference, even last October.  Until now, he has never said to follow the prophet, he generally points instead to Christ even if other members of the 12 insist on telling members to follow the prophet (current church leader). 

The below front page LDS.org advertisement for this message sort of reminded me of the Disney movie Pinocchio.  One of the songs in the movie has a catchy little phrase that says "And always let your conscience be your guide".
  

The motto of the Church and First Presidency seem to now be implying the top leaders of the church are your guide. (see caption of the photo).  Which isn't all that bad when you think of teachings like getting out of debt, having food storage, giving service, and living true principles like forgiveness.  That stuff is great.  Of course we should do that stuff.  But what the Gospel is intended to offer is not just good advice or some true principles.  It offers redemption from the fall, and a return to God's presence.  Christmas was not even 1 full week ago and already Christ is absent from the First Presidency Message.  Darkness is increasing.    

President Monson in the article said he prayed about a military decision he had to make then went to talk with a member of the quorum of the 12.  He did not record ever receiving an answer, or getting any confirmation, or inspiration from God.  Nor did the member of the 12.  He followed Elder Lee's counsel, but did so for reasons which the article seemed to suggest were solely based on him being a church authority.  It didn't mention God or the Spirit or the Holy Ghost.  When Pres Monson gives talk in person he frequently tells of his experiences of following the Spirit, and states such very clearly.  Which is another reason I think he didn't write this.  This article, if by him, would be a noticeable departure from previous talks and a change of focus away from Christ and towards men.   

The article said he would not be in the position in the Church he is, had he not followed the prophet. Almost as though church position of President was a reward, or something to be aspired to.  Like CEO of a company.  One issue this raises is that being a church leader and being a prophet are two different things. The article conflates them without exception.  Being a prophet does not come automatically because of church office or title, or common consent (more detailed discussion here, and here).  Spiritual gifts are not obtained that way.  First we need to determine who real prophets are (Matthew 7:15-18).  Then follow the divine voice found therein.  Not just obey the mouthpiece due to their status in the Church. But finding the voice of the Master, and recognizing it when it speaks. 

The last paragraph of the article dropped all pretense.   

If you want to see the light of heaven, if you want to feel the inspiration of Almighty God, if you want to have that feeling within your bosom that your Heavenly Father is guiding you, then follow the prophets of God. When you follow the prophets, you will be in safe territory.

This article speaks of trusting in men, of following men, and pointed me to other men in order to find safety and a guide. The danger is of course priestcraft (2 Nephi 26:29).  Which is that men set themselves up as a light to be followed to get gain and praise.  There was no mention of Christ, nor any scriptures or scriptural backing for this questionable message.  The one scripture referenced was used as proof text, out of context, and wasn't even quoted correctly.

It will be easy to read this and think I'm being critical. Or finding fault.  Truth be known, it's neither.  I care a great deal about those who lead the Church, and those within the Church.  And no, I've not failed to understand, nor am I overlooking all the reasons why people advocate following the current Church President.  I've heard it all my life and advocated the same thing for a good portion of it.

If we want to see the light of heaven shouldn't we look to Christ?  Not become fixated on a representative?

Last conference (Oct 2014) this was taught from the pulpit:

Don’t take lightly the feeling you get of love for the prophet of God. Wherever I go in the Church, whoever the prophet is at the time, members will ask, “When you get back to Church headquarters, will you please tell the prophet how much we love him?”

That is far more than hero worship or the feelings we sometimes have of admiring heroic figures. It is a gift from God. With it you will receive more easily the gift of confirming revelation when he speaks in his office as the Lord’s prophet. The love you feel is the love the Lord has for whoever is His spokesman.
That is not easy to feel continually because the Lord often asks His prophets to give counsel that is hard for people to accept. The enemy of our souls will try to lead us to take offense and to doubt the prophet’s calling from God.  

Far. More. Than. Hero. Worship.  This seems worth your time to consider.  Contrast the above with the below.

“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.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 237-38).

Depending too much on the prophet darknes the mind.  It can lead to idolatry and worship of men.

“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”. (George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Deseret Weekly, 43:322, Mar 7, 1891).

Faith in Christ is real.  I have faith in Him, and want others to find faith in Him as well.  That's the point of this post.  You can't have two masters. "Come follow me" is what Christ said.  Other people may say to follow other men, but that's not what Jesus himself taught.  His true messengers bring His message, not their own (2 Nephi 31: 12- 21).  That message is to follow Christ.

Follow the men or mouthpiece and well.... I guess you'll be "safe" according to the men.  Whatever that means.    





4 comments:

  1. Perhaps there is truth in the message of "follow the prophet", depending on how you vet who is a "prophet". If you use 2 Nephi 28:31 and Moroni 10:5 to determine if someone is a prophet, or what they are saying is truly prophesying from God, then it may be wise to consider or follow their counsel. If you use any other method of vetting a prophet or his prophesying, i.e. church position, sounds right to you, someone else says it is right or he is a prophet, etc, without having it confirmed by the Holy Ghost; well, you are going to be in trouble, either by following the philosophies of man, or for not learning yourself how to be in tune with the Holy Ghost.

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    1. MarkinPNW

      Oh, absolutely. I didn't say that in the post as directly as you did. Thank you for filling in that piece. I couldn't agree more.

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  2. I will give the article one benefit that he said he prayed about the decision, whether before or after doesn't matter to me: "...had I not followed the counsel of a prophet, had I not prayed about that decision, had I not come to an appreciation of an important truth: the wisdom of God ofttimes appears as foolishness to men."

    Otherwise I agree with your comments as a whole about the darkness upon us.

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    1. Ya. You make a valid point. I just wish it would have said something like: "I felt the confirming voice of the Spirit when Elder Lee spoke".

      That changes everything. Without that, the message is quite different.

      But I don't think Pres Monson wrote that article. So all doubts are settled in his favor.

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