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MiserereNobis

Fallible and Infallible Prophets

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There are some discussions and threads right now about the name change away from Mormon. I'd like to broaden that out and talk about the over-arching idea of this issue of whether or when an LDS prophet speaks fallibly, because I see that as the heart of those posts.

I think the crux of the issue could be summed up with this: has a prophet ever spoken at general conference and been wrong?

If the answer is never, then you almost assuredly believe in the infallibility of prophets, despite what you say to the contrary. If you believe in the fallibility of prophets, then show an example of it.

If the answer is yes, then please give an example where the prophet has been contradicted by other prophets. In other words, show where the institutional church has declared that prophet wrong, not when your own ideas have.

In Catholicism, we have a history of popes being not so good (i.e. terrible) people, and have rejected declarations of popes because popes are not infallible. I just say this so that this thread isn't distracted by discussing bad popes instead of discussing fallible vs. infallible LDS prophets.

 

Edited by MiserereNobis
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In one of the versions of the King Follett (sp?) Discourse, it was recorded that Joseph Smith said children who die young will receive exaltation (assuming that is what he meant for them being on thrones) and never grow up.

If recorded correctly (granted that is a big if), I think he was wrong, for a variety of reasons, but easily pointed to is the current teaching that exaltation requires a couple, man and woman in marriage.

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/discourse-7-april-1844-as-reported-by-wilford-woodruff/7

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A question will Mothers have their Children in Eternity<?> yes, yes, you will have the Children, <But> as it falls so it will rise, It will never grow, It will be in its precise form as it fell in its mothers arms Eternity is full of thrones upon which dwell thousands of Children reigning on thrones of glory not one cubit added to their stature [p. [139]]

There is a good chance it was recorded incorrectly and Joseph just said that children would rise at the same age as death and then progress, their mothers having the chance to raise them to adulthood...which is what is often taught, but I am unsure if it qualifies as doctrine.

So this is probably just a partial answer to your question since .I can't really demonstrate he actually taught that for sure, but it was the only one I can currently think of outside .Adam God (are you familiar with that?).

Edited by Calm
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I once had a conversation with a member who brought of this very question at the dinner table. My companion wasn't so excited at the prospect of any prophet being wrong (even though he was very fond of the phrase "the church is perfect, the people aren't"). However the member talked about how the concept of infallibility really begin to stem during the 1970-80s and was only pushed further with the talk "Fourteen Fundamentals for Following the Prophet." If you've ever heard the phrase "if the Lords Prophet tells you to do something wrong and you do it, you'll still be blessed" this is the talk that this stems from. The member I discussed this with was concerned because while we should look to the Prophet, Joseph was very much against just believing him out right and relying on only his words. For whatever reason Church Authorities from this point in time seemed to make it an emphasis in listening to the prophets and, while not being incredibly direct, only enhanced this underlying idea of an infallible prophet. 

 

Though at the end of this conversation we agreed that if the saints had literally done everything the prophets have ever asked of us, we MIGHT be in a much better place as a church..or not haha!

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53 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

There are some discussions and threads right now about the name change away from Mormon. I'd like to broaden that out and talk about the over-arching idea of this issue of whether or when an LDS prophet speaks fallibly, because I see that as the heart of those posts.

I think the crux of the issue could be summed up with this: has a prophet ever spoken at general conference and been wrong?

If the answer is never, then you almost assuredly believe in the infallibility of prophets, despite what you say to the contrary. If you believe in the fallibility of prophets, then show an example of it.

If the answer is yes, then please give an example where the prophet has been contradicted by other prophets. In other words, show where the institutional church has declared that prophet wrong, not when your own ideas have.

We often discuss this issue on this board, and it has always been clear (despite delusions of the hoi polli) that LDS prophets are just as fallible as biblical prophets.  A prime example is Brigham Young touting his Adam-God notions, and senior Apostle Orson Pratt disagreeing with him.  Same applied to Brigham's claim that Black men could not have the priesthood (a violation of Joseph Smith's understanding).  Again, Orson Pratt heartily disagreed.  Today, on both counts, it is Pratt's view which has prevailed.  As Pres Uchtdorf has said: 

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         Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past.  We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church History, along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events, there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question.  Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience.  When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.
        Sometimes there’s a difference of opinion as to what the facts really mean.  A question that creates doubt in some, can, after careful investigation, build faith in others.
        And to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes.  There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.
        I suppose the Church would only be perfect, if it were run by perfect beings.  God is perfect and his doctrine is pure.  But he works through us, his imperfect children.  And imperfect people make mistakes.

Dieter Uchtdorf, October 5, 2013, LDS General Conference, Ensign, 43/11 (Nov 2013):22.

53 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

In Catholicism, we have a history of popes being not so good (i.e. terrible) people, and have rejected declarations of popes because popes are not infallible. I just say this so that this thread isn't distracted by discussing bad popes instead of discussing fallible vs. infallible LDS prophets.

Why then did Vatican I declare the pope infallible?  Knowledgeable Roman Catholics themselves point out repeatedly that, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul was very critical of Peter (Cephas), and rightly so.  No human is ever infallible.  Only Jesus is infallible.

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15 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Why then did Vatican I declare the pope infallible?  Knowledgeable Roman Catholics themselves point out repeatedly that, in his letter to the Galatians, Paul was very critical of Peter (Cephas), and rightly so.

I bold what you said because you quite misunderstand "knowledgeable Roman Catholics" if this is how you apply their ideas. Of course we acknowledge that Paul was critical of Peter, and rightly so as you say. It is yet another piece of evidence that we do not believe in papal infallibility. But my point was not to talk about papal infallibility, but LDS prophet infallibility.

Vatican I did no such thing as declare the Pope ipso facto infallible. It declared that under very certain and quite rare circumstances the Pope's declarations are infallible. Those circumstances are, to repeat, quite rare. The last one was November 1, 1950 (which is almost 30 years earlier than the LDS church's last canonized dogma, OD2).

I figured this misunderstanding of the pope would come up in this thread (it's a good red herring). It is one of the reasons I mentioned it in my OP. If you'd like to start a thread about papal infallibility and Vatican I, please do so. But please also make sure you read up on what papal infallibility is according to the Roman Catholic Church, what Vatican I declared about it, and how it has been applied.

Edited by MiserereNobis
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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

There are some discussions and threads right now about the name change away from Mormon. I'd like to broaden that out and talk about the over-arching idea of this issue of whether or when an LDS prophet speaks fallibly, because I see that as the heart of those posts.

I think the crux of the issue could be summed up with this: has a prophet ever spoken at general conference and been wrong?

 

 

Without speaking to your larger point, I would point out that President Nelson's talk about the Church's name was a strategic move on his part.  He knows that much of what a Prophet says and does gets forgotten over time, and there is a lot of inertia against dropping the use of "Mormon" or "LDS." 

He's already made his feelings known, and committed to the change, but if he passed away last Friday, I doubt much would have changed (unless this was a bee in President Oaks' bonnet as well). 

But now he has chiseled his will in stone.  Almost no member honestly believes that President Hinckley and President Monson (or any other Prophet) was constantly offending God with their use of "Mormon" or "LDS" in the names of official Church publications and branding.  It might have grated on President Nelson's ears for the past few decades, but if he had died before Conference (or never become Prophet), we would have gone on our merry way, using those terms and being none the wiser about the joy we were bringing to Satan in the process.

But the talk was given.  The Prophet spoke in Conference.  And now the Church members are faced with a long journey of constantly correcting ourselves and others, no doubt many gritting our teeth as we do so.

Well played, President Nelson.  Well played.

 

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There is no tenable way to believe that prophets never say anything wrong at General Conference. Take President Nelson's talk. He essentially declared every time a previous prophet used the word "Mormon" in General Conference to have been in error. So either Pres. Nelson is in error or these other prophets were in error, either way you would have to conclude that prophets can say erroneous statements in conference. This is the same situation as when church leaders denounced the Adam-God doctrine.

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1 hour ago, MiserereNobis said:

I bold what you said because you quite misunderstand "knowledgeable Roman Catholics" if this is how you apply their ideas. Of course we acknowledge that Paul was critical of Peter, and rightly so as you say. It is yet another piece of evidence that we do not believe in papal infallibility. But my point was not to talk about papal infallibility, but LDS prophet infallibility.

The debate in Roman Catholicism just now is the criticism by Cardinal Vigano of Pope Francis, and it is taking place at the doctoral level.  Cardinal Ouellet has even now joined the discussion with a harsh critique of Vigano.  This issue is not over, and it is bound to get more involved.  The LDS and RC churches make similar exclusive claims, as do their top leaders -- pope and prophet, both of whom claim to possess the keys of Peter.

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Vatican I did no such thing as declare the Pope ipso facto infallible. It declared that under very certain and quite rare circumstances the Pope's declarations are infallible. Those circumstances are, to repeat, quite rare. The last one was November 1, 1950 (which is almost 30 years earlier than the LDS church's last canonized dogma, OD2).

Correct, but there is a claim of papal infallibility nonetheless.  So too, within the LDS faith, Joseph Smith said that "a prophet is only a prophet when acting as such."  Even in the absence of infallibility, the LDS faith discriminates actual divine revelation from mere human opinion and advice -- something St Paul also mentioned in his letters.

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I figured this misunderstanding of the pope would come up in this thread (it's a good red herring). It is one of the reasons I mentioned it in my OP. If you'd like to start a thread about papal infallibility and Vatican I, please do so. But please also make sure you read up on what papal infallibility is according to the Roman Catholic Church, what Vatican I declared about it, and how it has been applied.

Nothing of what I said constitutes a misunderstanding or red herring, but is in fact very relevant to our discussion.  The fundamental difference, as I see it, between RC and LDS theology is the supernaturalism of the former and the naturalism of the latter.  Both are logically internally consistent in their own spheres.  Of course, the LDS faith has no systematic theology akin to Thomism, nor is their any LDS canon law.  We have not been extant long enough to develop either feature.

Edited by Robert F. Smith

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1 hour ago, cinepro said:

Without speaking to your larger point, I would point out that President Nelson's talk about the Church's name was a strategic move on his part.  He knows that much of what a Prophet says and does gets forgotten over time, and there is a lot of inertia against dropping the use of "Mormon" or "LDS." 

He's already made his feelings known, and committed to the change, but if he passed away last Friday, I doubt much would have changed (unless this was a bee in President Oaks' bonnet as well). 

But now he has chiseled his will in stone.  Almost no member honestly believes that President Hinckley and President Monson (or any other Prophet) was constantly offending God with their use of "Mormon" or "LDS" in the names of official Church publications and branding.  It might have grated on President Nelson's ears for the past few decades, but if he had died before Conference (or never become Prophet), we would have gone on our merry way, using those terms and being none the wiser about the joy we were bringing to Satan in the process.

But the talk was given.  The Prophet spoke in Conference.  And now the Church members are faced with a long journey of constantly correcting ourselves and others, no doubt many gritting our teeth as we do so.

Well played, President Nelson.  Well played.

Absolutely on point, cinepro.

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12 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

There are some discussions and threads right now about the name change away from Mormon. I'd like to broaden that out and talk about the over-arching idea of this issue of whether or when an LDS prophet speaks fallibly, because I see that as the heart of those posts.

I think the crux of the issue could be summed up with this: has a prophet ever spoken at general conference and been wrong?

If the answer is never, then you almost assuredly believe in the infallibility of prophets, despite what you say to the contrary. If you believe in the fallibility of prophets, then show an example of it.

If the answer is yes, then please give an example where the prophet has been contradicted by other prophets. In other words, show where the institutional church has declared that prophet wrong, not when your own ideas have.

In Catholicism, we have a history of popes being not so good (i.e. terrible) people, and have rejected declarations of popes because popes are not infallible. I just say this so that this thread isn't distracted by discussing bad popes instead of discussing fallible vs. infallible LDS prophets.

 

Ok here's the deal- at least as I see it.

The PRIME DIRECTIVE of Mormonism comes from Joseph's experience reading James 1:5- that says if you lack wisdom YOU CAN ASK GOD and he will give it to you.  THAT scripture was the start of the restoration

THAT is actually the entire basis of Mormonism, period.  Personal revelation.  It is found in Moroni 10: 4-5- it is found in James, it is found in Alma 32 and officially interpreted to be the "rock" of revelation when Jesus said "Upon this rock I shall build my church".  I believe it is found in section 93 where it talks about spheres of truth

We talk about testimony constantly

The way you find the church is through "testimony".  Talk after talk about personal testimony.

Catholics might call it "following your conscience" which is essentially the same thing.  Check out this article from a Catholic source

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7827 and you will see that you could substitute "testimony" for "conscience" over and over.  The small voice within you.  

Same thing exactly!!   Same problems we have with testimonies - you have with "following your conscience":  can it be wrong etc-

So for an LDS convert- how do you know the church is true?

Testimony.  The whole basis of "knowing the church is true" is testimony- for you it is probably "following your conscience"

ONE OF THE TENETS of the church is that one should follow the prophet/ pope.

How do you know that?  Testimony or conscience!!  

So the prime directive is not following the pope/prophet- it is following the conscience.

THEREFORE from a personal point of view- logically prophets/popes CANNOT be infallible because you would not believe them to have authority if YOU did not have a testimony/ feeling in your conscience/heart

So testimony/conscience in both churches comes to the same conclusion.  Prophets/popes are NOT infallible at least from our perspective which means we must follow our testimonies/conscience regardless of what the leaders may say.

Yes they get to define doctrine.

And because they DEFINE then of course they can be "infallible" because they DEFINE anything they want anyway they feel moved to do so.  So of course if you DEFINE "A" within your context- your faith- as meaning "B" then A suddenly MEANS B in that context because the leader of the context- the person who defines doctrine/context has said so!

The controller of the language defines what is a priori true.

You may not accept the language or the interpretation or the doctrine- but it is still "true by definition" BECAUSE of the definition!

So essentially the only way anyone can be infallible is to define the terms in such a way that within their context- it is true by definition!

Look at the idea of the Godhead/Trinity- in both churches it is the way the 3 in one idea is defined that makes the difference.  Yet one accepts what one accepts according to your conscience/testimony- or as Alma would say- what is "sweet" to you- OR because you were raised in the context and cannot see it any other way.

The Three are the same in "substance" or the same in "purpose"?  Pick your definition and that defines which faith you follow.

Yet both terms are horribly ambiguous and hence 2000 years of definitions battled back and forth among academics who also define things for a living.

But YOU get to decide if you accept the definition or not.

And that is why- for me- the pope/prophet cannot be "infallible" in any way except kind of a trivial one- because he has defined the terms in a way which I see as irregular or strange.

Accepting the context is the key to everything.  But it is "I" who ultimately pick the context for me- knowingly or by simply not questioning or thinking it through.

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13 hours ago, Calm said:

In one of the versions of the King Follett (sp?) Discourse, it was recorded that Joseph Smith said children who die young will receive exaltation (assuming that is what he meant for them being on thrones) and never grow up.

If recorded correctly (granted that is a big if), I think he was wrong, for a variety of reasons, but easily pointed to is the current teaching that exaltation requires a couple, man and woman in marriage.

http://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/discourse-7-april-1844-as-reported-by-wilford-woodruff/7

There is a good chance it was recorded incorrectly and Joseph just said that children would rise at the same age as death and then progress, their mothers having the chance to raise them to adulthood...which is what is often taught, but I am unsure if it qualifies as doctrine.

So this is probably just a partial answer to your question since .I can't really demonstrate he actually taught that for sure, but it was the only one I can currently think of outside .Adam God (are you familiar with that?).

Joseph Smith clarified this statement when he later taught that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: “You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.” (Gospel Doctrine, 455-56)
Joseph F. Smith said:
"The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth nor development in the grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man" (Joseph F. Smith, IE 7 [June 1904]:623-24).

So it's possible that original statement was originally recorded incorrectly or incompletely by Woodruff

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14 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

There are some discussions and threads right now about the name change away from Mormon. I'd like to broaden that out and talk about the over-arching idea of this issue of whether or when an LDS prophet speaks fallibly, because I see that as the heart of those posts.

I think the crux of the issue could be summed up with this: has a prophet ever spoken at general conference and been wrong?

If the answer is never, then you almost assuredly believe in the infallibility of prophets, despite what you say to the contrary. If you believe in the fallibility of prophets, then show an example of it.

If the answer is yes, then please give an example where the prophet has been contradicted by other prophets. In other words, show where the institutional church has declared that prophet wrong, not when your own ideas have.

In Catholicism, we have a history of popes being not so good (i.e. terrible) people, and have rejected declarations of popes because popes are not infallible. I just say this so that this thread isn't distracted by discussing bad popes instead of discussing fallible vs. infallible LDS prophets.

 

There are no infallible prophets, but by the time they become prophets they have progressed to a point both intellectually and spiritually that makes them more reliable as a source of God's will compared to most other church members.
So when they tell us they have been inspired by God to tell us something, we can be fairly certain they are going to be right about it most of the time. I am certain that my eternal life has not been put in jeopardy by anything a past prophet has been wrong about.
God would not hold me responsible for something a Church President said in error and I followed it.  

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13 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

I bold what you said because you quite misunderstand "knowledgeable Roman Catholics" if this is how you apply their ideas. Of course we acknowledge that Paul was critical of Peter, and rightly so as you say. It is yet another piece of evidence that we do not believe in papal infallibility. But my point was not to talk about papal infallibility, but LDS prophet infallibility.

Vatican I did no such thing as declare the Pope ipso facto infallible. It declared that under very certain and quite rare circumstances the Pope's declarations are infallible. Those circumstances are, to repeat, quite rare. The last one was November 1, 1950 (which is almost 30 years earlier than the LDS church's last canonized dogma, OD2).

I figured this misunderstanding of the pope would come up in this thread (it's a good red herring). It is one of the reasons I mentioned it in my OP. If you'd like to start a thread about papal infallibility and Vatican I, please do so. But please also make sure you read up on what papal infallibility is according to the Roman Catholic Church, what Vatican I declared about it, and how it has been applied.

2

I wish the Church had a more advanced concept of infallibility similar to the Catholic Church. It would help members to understand more clearly what is and what is not a member's responsibility toward the statements of the prophet. Until then, we will still have some members strive overzealously to follow the prophet and those, much too lackadaisical, refuse to listen to him regardless of what he says. 

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17 minutes ago, Storm Rider said:

 we will still have some members strive overzealously to follow the prophet and those, much too lackadaisical, refuse to listen to him regardless of what he says. 

I see this dynamic at play within my extended family. I don’t see a resolution, since church members are encouraged to both follow the prophet and seek spiritual confirmation of what a prophet says. Neither source is viewed as infallible; there’s nowhere where the buck stops. Two prophets contradict each other? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory spiritual witnesses?  See the prophet. The prophet is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory witnesses about what the successor says? See the prophet. The successor is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. It’s a vicious circle. Where does it stop?

Edited by Spammer
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11 minutes ago, Spammer said:

I see this dynamic at play within my extended family. I don’t see a resolution, since church members are encouraged to both follow the prophet and seek spiritual confirmation of what a prophet says. Neither source is viewed as infallible; there’s nowhere where the buck stops. Two prophets contradict each other? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory spiritual witnesses?  See the prophet. The prophet is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory witnesses about what the successor says? See the prophet. The successor is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. It’s a vicious circle. Where does it stop?

God is a customized tutor.  Some people learn by hearing, seeing etc and we need a customized plan.

The main thing we need to learn is how to communicate with God or we are lost.

So if we get a "testimony" of a different church/religion/ view that is what we must follow.

I knew of a guy who was LDS and felt called to the Presbyterian faith.  He followed that and became some kind of deacon or some kind of lower level minister in the faith.  He was an academic and through his work he ended up putting together a dialogue between Mormons and Presbyterians.  It was quite successful in establishing a better understanding between the churches in the local area

A year or so later, he felt the call to return to the Church of JCLDS. and did so.  

He became a bishop.

IF you are a drunk or addict on skid row, and Christ is able to communicate with you to join the denomination of the Salvation Army because no one else will pay attention to you- do you think that could be "inspired"??   Of course He would!

I would never have remained LDS had I been born to it

First I had to be a Catholic to develop an understanding of Christianity and then lose it to understand secularism, and became a communist student radical philosophy student, but that was not enough.  So being an "intellectual"  I became a  Buddhist where I learned about meditation and the purpose of religion

I studied Pragmatism as defined by atheists all of whom understood the function of religion- hence my Rorty quotes below and saw the validity of "personal revelation" between an understanding of the philosophy AND Buddhism.

But it wasn't enough.

I discovered the Church of JCLDS and found exactly what God was leading toward my whole life with "true testimonies" all of which would be seen as conflicting by some, possibly you.

In life on a road to a destination for some time we have to go north and then due east to get to the northeast.

Roads never lead exactly where we want to go in a straight line.

That's like finding a purpose in life- which is what religion is- finding a purpose that you felt directed toward by the voice inside.

It's about Becoming- not about objective truths like finding the boiling point of water.  It's evoluion through stages, all of which are necessary to get to the end we desire.

And how did YOU get to orthodoxy if not by God leading you there?

What was that thing about stones and glass houses??  ;)

 

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If you look at McConkie's 7 Deadly Heresies talk, you'll find examples of variable teachings amongst prophets and apostles.

Quote

Heresy one: There are those who say that God is progressing in knowledge and is learning new truths.

Heresy two concerns itself with the relationship between organic evolution and revealed religion and asks the question whether they can be harmonized.

Heresy three: There are those who say that temple marriage assures us of an eventual exaltation. Some have supposed that couples married in the temple who commit all manner of sin, and who then pay the penalty, will gain their exaltation eventually.

Heresy four: There are those who believe that the doctrine of salvation for the dead offers men a second chance for salvation.

Heresy five: There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were.

Heresy six: There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies, and that he is the one we worship.

Heresy seven: There are those who believe we must be perfect to gain salvation.

https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-r-mcconkie_seven-deadly-heresies/

I don't recall ever hearing #7 taught, but I've heard or read the other 6 heresies taught by leaders over the years.

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1 hour ago, Spammer said:

I see this dynamic at play within my extended family. I don’t see a resolution, since church members are encouraged to both follow the prophet and seek spiritual confirmation of what a prophet says. Neither source is viewed as infallible; there’s nowhere where the buck stops. Two prophets contradict each other? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory spiritual witnesses?  See the prophet. The prophet is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory witnesses about what the successor says? See the prophet. The successor is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. It’s a vicious circle. Where does it stop?

When Jesus returns.

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

There are no infallible prophets, but by the time they become prophets they have progressed to a point both intellectually and spiritually that makes them more reliable as a source of God's will compared to most other church members.

This is how I think of bishops and popes.

1 hour ago, JAHS said:

God would not hold me responsible for something a Church President said in error and I followed it. 

The practical application of this is to do whatever the President said no matter what because you will never be responsible for your actions. In other words, in practice you treat the President as infallible.

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13 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The debate in Roman Catholicism just now is the criticism by Cardinal Vigano of Pope Francis, and it is taking place at the doctoral level.  Cardinal Ouellet has even now joined the discussion with a harsh critique of Vigano.  This issue is not over, and it is bound to get more involved.  The LDS and RC churches make similar exclusive claims, as do their top leaders -- pope and prophet, both of whom claim to possess the keys of Peter.

This is very true but it is not related to papal infallibility. The issue between the two sides has nothing to do with papal infallibility -- neither side is attacking or defending it.

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There is also the issue that even if a prophet/apostle is wrong, we shouldn't criticize them. So even though we don't view them as infallible, we shouldn't ever point out their fallibility because that will cause people to lose faith.

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Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947,

“‘When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.’ (In Conference Report, Apr. 1947, p. 24.)” (Address to Church Educational System teachers, Aug. 16, 1985.)

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng

So even if a prophet is recognized as fallible, we can't actually acknowledge that fallibility

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12 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

There is also the issue that even if a prophet/apostle is wrong, we shouldn't criticize them. So even though we don't view them as infallible, we shouldn't ever point out their fallibility because that will cause people to lose faith.

So even if a prophet is recognized as fallible, we can't actually acknowledge that fallibility

at least until they die

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38 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

The practical application of this is to do whatever the President said no matter what because you will never be responsible for your actions. In other words, in practice you treat the President as infallible.

No. Not infallible, but I am willing to take my chances with what he says. I also have the agency to apply what he says to my own unique circumstances and live accordingly, based on what the spirit reveals to me about a particular topic, which might be different from what another might do. I will always be responsible for a lot of my own actions when I live contrary to gospel principles. That will get me in enough trouble with God, never mind the very few things a prophet tells me to do that might be wrong. 

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3 hours ago, Spammer said:

I see this dynamic at play within my extended family. I don’t see a resolution, since church members are encouraged to both follow the prophet and seek spiritual confirmation of what a prophet says. Neither source is viewed as infallible; there’s nowhere where the buck stops. Two prophets contradict each other? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory spiritual witnesses?  See the prophet. The prophet is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Two members receive contradictory witnesses about what the successor says? See the prophet. The successor is contradicted by his successor? See what the Spirit has to say. Rinse and repeat, ad infinitum. It’s a vicious circle. Where does it stop?

You say that there's nowhere where the buck stops, but I disagree.  The buck stops with me.  I am the one who is ultimately accountable before God for what I do with the light that I have been given.  I cannot place that responsibility or accountability on the shoulders of any other man (prophet or not).  Prophets are indispensable resources, but we CANNOT trust blindly. 

If I was to re-write your line of thinking, it would look like this:

Two prophets contradict each other?  See what the Spirit has to say.  Two members receive contradictory spiritual witnesses?  See the prophet - THEN see what the Spirit has to say to/for YOU.  The prophet is contradicted by his successor?  See what the Spirit has to say.  Two members receive contradictory witnesses about what the successor says?  See the prophet - THEN see what the Spirit has to say to/for YOU.  The successor is contradicted by his successor?  See what the Spirit has to say...

"See what the Spirit says" is the ultimate and final test.  "The voice that we must learn to heed is the voice of the spirit."  Period.  We turn to the Lord in EVERYTHING.  THAT is what we will be ultimately accountable for.  Blind faith will not save us. "We will not be able to travel through life on borrowed light."  Of course, we too are not infallible.  But that is part of the program.  We learn line upon line, precept upon precept...  We will be wrong many times (just like the prophets), but when we do our best to follow the light within, with all integrity, humility, and diligence - God will correct our path over time and polish our rough spots.  We are all rough stones rolling.  That is the program.  That is the work.  It is messy.  And it will continue for countless ages beyond death.  It can be unsettling for those unaccustomed to living in uncertainty aka. "faith".  But once you learn to feel and live by the voice of the spirit, there is an overwhelming peace and assurance that one finds - it is like stepping into a different world altogether.  Imperfection becomes a tool for learning, rather than something to be ashamed of.  I trust in God's mercy and grace to make up for my shortcomings.  All I need is the still small voice whispering comfort and direction to my soul.  That is happiness. That is peace.  That is calm assurance.  The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green patures.  He leadeth me beside still waters.  He restoreth my soul.  He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his names sake.  Psalms 23.  

The trick is to let it be so. To let go and let God. 

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And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left (Isaiah 30:21).

My favorite "Mormon message" (I wonder how they will change that one!) of all time:

 

Edited by pogi
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2 hours ago, MiserereNobis said:

This is how I think of bishops and popes.

The practical application of this is to do whatever the President said no matter what because you will never be responsible for your actions. In other words, in practice you treat the President as infallible.

Yeahbut (one word ;) ) then we have admonitions to have our own testimonies of every principle

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We each have the privilege and duty of gaining a testimony of Jesus Christ, of Joseph Smith, and of our living prophet. We can gain a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, of the principle of tithing, of the Word of Wisdom, and of every other principle of the gospel.

https://www.lds.org/manual/the-latter-day-saint-woman-basic-manual-for-women-part-a/gospel-principles-and-doctrine/lesson-5-testimony?lang=eng

And then there is section 58

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26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

 

So slavish obedience is is not praiseworthy or meritorious either.

My take is you should have a testimony and follow it, regardless of what the prophet says since one should 1- have his own testimony of every principle and 2- not need to be commanded in all things.

If you are really getting your own revelation, you ARE a prophet.

https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-10-2260-testimony-of-jesus-is-the-spirit-of-prophecy?lang=eng

And there's this:

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Numbers 11:29 New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Then Moses said to him, “Are you [a]zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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2 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

There is also the issue that even if a prophet/apostle is wrong, we shouldn't criticize them. So even though we don't view them as infallible, we shouldn't ever point out their fallibility because that will cause people to lose faith.

So even if a prophet is recognized as fallible, we can't actually acknowledge that fallibility

I think this is the crux of the matter.  If fallibility is recognized not only in theory, but in practice as well, faith diminishes. 

Members crave infallibility in their leaders.  Life is simpler that way.  It is like a child trusting in a parent.  Likewise, prophets and apostles foster the idea of infallibility.   Management becomes easier.

If specific mistakes by prophets and apostles are openly acknowledged,  it all falls apart.   

Were I in the shoes of upper church leadership, I would probably operate the same way.  I don't see anything to be gained by becoming democratic.

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