Updated: Jul 31, 2020
Before we get into this section, lets summarize the succession of modern LDS leadership.
Immediately reformed First Presidency without waiting, begins the policy of ordaining the oldest Apostle
Re-instituted tithing as the preeminent financing structure for the Church essential to maintain membership.
Printed the first Handbook of Instructions for the handling of tithes by local leaders, the first financial correlation.
Removed the charismatic requirement to “seek the face of the Lord” in newly called Apostles (too many were failing that requirement
For the first time, doctrinal changes and policies required no revelations or “thus saith the Lord” statements with no canonization of new doctrine or policies
Family member report he saw Christ in the Salt Lake Temple
No canonized revelations
Joseph F Smith
Testified in the Reed Smooth hearings that no one had any charismatic experiences since Joseph Smith.
Issued the Second Manifesto – This is the real doctrinal issuance that killed polygamy in the Church, to allow Reed Smoot’s seat in the Senate. This is when the purge of fundamentalist Church members begins, including two sitting apostles, who continue to seal people in polygamous relationships
Chartered the LDS Church with the newly minted Boy Scouts of America – to help mainstream the Church
Pushed family members into positions of authority
Some of the first temples outside of Utah built
Came out against the new idea of Darwinism, issuing a statement on the Origin of Man
Formed the Corporation Sole, setting of the LDS Church as a corporation.
Received a revelation on the Redemption of the Dead, and canonized in the Pearl of Great Price and later moved to D&C 138 in 1976
Heber J Grant
Continued excommunications and purges of polygamous communities, including the Short Creek community that would later become FLDS
Created the welfare program, to offer as an alternative to FDR’s New Deal, for church members.
First president to fight against socialism and communism.
Fought to end Prohibition—unsuccessfully. Utah was the last state needed to vote to repeal the Prohibition amendment
Reworked the Word of Wisdom and made it a requirement of church membership
Changed conferral of priesthood to ordaining to offices only, creating a gap in how Priesthood was passed in the church until his death.
None – Grant taught against having spiritual witnesses and thought they could lead people astray. He is the first to teach that these kinds of experiences should be secret. Having General Authorities gives charismatic testimony diminishes greatly after Grant
No canonized revelations
George Albert Smith
Known to have suffered from emotional depression and anxiety
Helped to reconcile apostates who had left the Church
First president to serve on the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America
Started the doctrinization of the Constitution to fight Communism
Oversaw the expansion and welfare operations in the Church after WWII.
Smith is claimed to have received a dream of the Last Days where Russia and America go to war and it ends with a Nuclear conflagration. A nuke hits north of Salt Lake City.
No canonized revelations
David O McKay
Considered the first “modern” president of the LDS Church (no beard). First travelling president.
His administration developed the idea of the “beloved or living” prophet of God. He expands on the veneration and idolatry of church leaders with parades, stadium visits, handkerchiefs, and papal-style ceremonies
Great expansion in the LDS Church in temples and stakes. Considered worldwide church for the first time
Begins softening of the Black ban on the Priesthood.
Draws even harder lines against communism. Gives green light to anti-communist activities under Ezra Taft Benson and the John Birch Socity
Correlation program begins, brings all auxiliaries under one head—the Apostles and First Presidency (curiously enough, he warns that it could put the Church into apostasy).
First prophet to push “every member a missionary.” Missionary program becomes sales-focused.
Starts Family Home evenings
Almost bankrupts the Church through the building purchase programs of Henry D Moyle. Ends the financial reports in General Conference on the disposition of tithes in 1961.
Was considered a visionary man, probably the most visionary since Joseph Smith. Prophesied about people carrying cell phones in the future.
No canonized revelations
Joseph Fielding Smith
Considered a doctrinal scholar
His age and health caused the Church to consider tenure limits for the first time. He spent most of his administration unable to supervise or lead the Church.
Correlation continued with Church magazines
Known to oppose black priesthood ordination
None. No canonized revelations
Harold B. Lee
The brainchild behind correlation, but later as president thinks it may have been a bad idea
Believed God would have to give a revelation for the Church to allow the priesthood to be given to blacks
Taught that the scriptures were essential to doctrine and they surpassed the teachings of the Brethren
Died under suspicious circumstances, perhaps poison. His death was investigated by the FBI.
None. No canonized revelations
Spencer W. Kimball
Opposed the Equal Rights Amendment
The culture of prophet-worship expands under Kimball, to his embarrassment
The Miracle of Forgiveness published, a controversial book that continues to challenge some people.
Expanded missionary work. Every young eligible man at age 19. Builds the MTC in Provo, Utah
Revelation that every worthy male can have the priesthood in 1978
Censured Ezra Taft Benson for his anti-communist speeches and 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet
Official Declaration 2 on the Priesthood first canonized revelation since 1890.
Ezra Taft Benson
First president to have served in a presidential cabinet
Fiercely opposed to communism. Fought other General Authorities who were soft on communism. Supported the John Birch Society. Although he softened during his administration, he continued to opposed communism as a secret combination.
Wrote the oft-maligned 14 fundamentals of following the prophet
Wanted to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon
Taught the Church was still under condemnation from 1832. Warned the Church against pride as discussed in the Book of Mormon.
Had health problems that sidelined him as his counselors ran the Church for almost 5 years. Some believed he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“Follow the Prophet” song is written for Primary children.
Budget correlation church wide, no more local control
Temple endowment radically changes (no penalties)
Many changes made after his being indisposed due to dementia
None, no canonized revelations
Howard W Hunter
Pushed increase temple attendance.
Began the drafting of “A Proclamation on the Family”
Pushed living as a disciple of Christ
None, no canonized revelations
Gordon B Hinckley
Like George Q Cannon, had led the church for over a decade and a half as counselor prior to becoming president.
Built temples until he had 100
Issued the Proclamation on the Family
Media-savvy and loved the camera, he was interviewed by Larry King and Mike Wallace
Began the Perpetual Education Fund
Was party to the deceptions by Mark Hoffman during the forgeries he presented to the Church.
Preached and reinforced the Mormon binary
Rolled out the Church’s red carpet for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City
Temple initiatory and endowment adjusted
None. Admitted to PBS in 2004 that he had had no revelations, but operated off simple inspiration from the Holy Ghost
Thomas S Monson
With Gordon B Hinckley helped to lead the Church since the mid-1980’s
Bishop to 40 widows in his ward in the 1940’s. He spent much of time reliving past glories.
Oversaw the push of Proposition 8 in California. Updated the Handbook to say children of homosexual parents couldn’t be baptized.
Longest-serving executive board member of the National Boy Scouts of America
Made paying tithing prior to baptism a requirement
Age of female missionaries lowered to 19 and male missionaries to 18.
Ended the Patriarchal Presidency of the Church when Eldridge G Smith dies
Many of his later decision happen under a cloud of his incapacity
None. No canonized revelations
Russell M Nelson
Turns Home and Visiting Teaching into “Ministering”
Sort of reverses homosexual policy in Handbook
Consolidates High Priest and Elders’ Quorums
Ends the BSA-LDS Relationship, beginning new Church wolrdwide youth program
Big on administrative policies and changes and billing them as revelations
Revealed that the LDS Church is sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in assets
None. No canonized revelation.
The Nature of Modern Revelation in the Church Hierarchy
The overarching theme of this summary is the lack of revelation in the vein of Joseph Smith and earlier prophets of God. The Church over the last century has built itself up and transformed from an isolated political empire to a global financial one. They have done this using councils, creeds, and policies, in order to acquire, position, and sustain the Church to continue growing at a steady pace. That pace has been nothing short of miraculous at times. In many ways, the sunshine of heaven seems to have shined down upon the LDS since the abandonment of polygamy. Yet, one is aware of the lack of Godly intervention at least on record with the Church since Joseph Smith. For a church that teaches itself about the importance and preeminence of continuing revelation, one must ask . . . where is the revelation? From Hinckley:
Now we don’t need a lot of continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should take and we proceed accordingly.
Now the Church has a simple answer to this. It is given in the whispering of the still, small, voice. Hinckley admitted as much, that the flourish of “thus saith the Lord” revelations in the beginning of the Church set it up to be run ostensibly through the Power of the Holy Ghost. This is revelation by inspiration. Decisions made are done through unanimous consent of church governing quorums to check against any outlier revelations. This is the orthodox answer. This is no need to have open visions all the time, and that if they do happen, they are to be kept secret and sacred, as to “not cast pearls before swine.” On the other hand, cultural myths and gossip about the Twelve seeing Jesus perpetuate the secrecy and mysteriousness of these governing quorums, hopefully, to increase the power of their statements as coming from God. That’s why when a decision is made in a council or church committee, and ratified by the Brethren, the result is seen as the mind and will of the Lord. It is the same as scripture. It’s also why Ensign articles are also taught as scripture.
In many aspects, the Church has slowly discouraged robust scriptural learning and encouraged the studying of the statements of the Brethren first, then uses the scriptures to proof-text those statements. The idea that scriptures can be prone to error, and that historical context makes understanding earlier statements more difficult is the start of this argument. Thus, the preeminence of a modern prophet trumps anything that came earlier, the reasoning being that God can reveal His mind and will today in a modern tongue with modern contexts to communicate the issue better, and maybe with more truth, if the people are willing. While that is all well and good, and represents a good case as to why a modern servant is not only helpful but necessary, it still begs the question about how to know if someone is a servant of God? Why God seems to operate differently now than in the past, using a priestly council structure to make decisions, when that was anathema in the very Catholic past? It also ignores the problem with contradictions, not simply the modern context to a revelation, or levels of truth (what is right under one circumstance may be wrong under another) but extreme contradictions that often occur such as in polygamy and baptismal tests. Why would these things be okay under one circumstance and not under another, especially when it relates to salvatory doctrine or tests of baptism for a God who is a respecter of no person or when Christ was very specific about not adding to or taking away from His doctrine? Why the differences? Is it possible that the concept of the modern prophet trumping the older one can be abused?
While it’s true that revelation should be given by the Power of Holy Ghost in all circumstances, a simple good and peaceful feeling can be deceiving. We’ve all experienced thinking something was true through “feelings of the Spirit” when we found out later that it was not true. Every missionary who got Dear John’d by a waiting woman they prayed to know was their true wife can attest to this. If that’s what the Brethren rely upon, is it possible they can be misled? The nature of some of the decisions in the Church’s past attest to this where revelations were made by Taylor and Wilford in the hopes that the Lord would rescue the Church and allow it to keep polygamy, when that obviously didn’t happen, or those like Mark Peterson and Bruce McConkie teaching that blacks would never have the priesthood when a revelation in 1978 proved otherwise? How can anyone put trust in current teachings when past teachings have been wrong? The answer is you cannot, no matter which keys and priesthood are bandied about as a protection against error. The answer is always personal revelation.
Sometimes the Church overcomes this problem with the idea of councils. The Church is big on councils, the idea is that decisions must be unanimous for it to be efficacious. This is original to the charge Oliver Cowdery gave the Twelve when they were first called and it encompasses the 1835 revelation. Unanimity is a great concept and can help overcome differences and bring people to a unity of the faith, but it’s not without its challenges. In the history of the church, the journals attest to the difficulty in attaining that unanimity. The current practice in the Church is for the most senior member (the church president) to make his decision and then to pass the baton down to the most junior member. David McKay remarked once that is was better to be in agreement with the quorum than to be in agreement with your own conscience. The pressure to acquiesce could easily undermine the process of developing unanimity. In fact, the result has often been that the opinions of the most senior members are respected by the most junior ones. On the other hand, sometimes bitter disputes have taken place that have taken decades to resolve, often by the death of a quorum member, or by making the decision when one of the members was away on other duties. The debates over anti-communism in the 1960’s between Ezra Taft Benson on one hand, and the more liberal Hugh B. Brown are legendary and they are a perfect example of the tension that once existed. Another example is the revelation over the removal of the black priesthood ban; it was held up for two decades by intransigents like Bruce R. McConkie, Mark E. Peterson, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Harold B. Lee. Some objected to it because they felt a new revelation was needed even though the original ban was not given by revelation. Eventually, apostle Peterson had to be absent from the final vote in 1978 in order for it to pass the unanimous muster.
Seemingly ashamed over some of the political fights in the 1960’s the Church has taken steps to more thoroughly vet its new brethren. Often in the past, men were called to the Quorum of the Twelve because of some perceived outside value. While this has not changed per say, now they only call men who have spent decades in church service proving their loyalty to their line leaders, serving in several administrative callings, so that by the time they are called into the Quorum of the Twelve, there is little doubt to where they stand on things. They even do extensive background checks to make sure there are no Alma the Youngers in the crowd. They want men who are clean as a whistle who have shown almost no inclination to rebel at any level, and have no checkered past to damage a corporate reputation. While this has created an impressive cadre of leaders who know how to lead and take charge, it has created a very myopic situation, in that there is very little diversity of thought in the modern church hierarchy. Despite the statement by Holland that they are no “wilting flowers,” each of them tend to be politically conservative, have proven their loyalty to the Church institutions, and show very little ability to go against the grain. Thus, it is easier to come to a consensus than it has been in the past, so that when Russel M. Nelson discussed the decision-making process of the Brethren in his October 2013 Conference address as a badge of honor and an ultimate check on making a wrong decision, the fact that these men have spent decades on the church payroll doing church business and spending time isolated from the public, it doesn’t take much to be concerned about possible blind spots that may arise.
On the other side of the revelation equation, while modern Mormons are told that revelation in the Church is simply the still, small, voice, they are also told that there are sacred experiences that can’t be shared, giving the listener the ability to wildly speculate about what occurs. Some believe that Jesus Himself is meeting with the Brethren every week, that He is truly at the head, leading the church from an actual seat at the table. Recent statements conflict with this. Both Gordon B Hinckley and Dallin H Oaks have made statements that indicate that only revelation by inspiration is going on, that the leadership of Christ is felt more than it is realized by a heavenly manifestation. Others talk about sacred experiences not to be discussed. David B Haight was the last apostle to give a witness of visually seeing the Lord. This gives the general member all sorts of theories to speculate, and they speculate to varying degrees. The best speculation is that very few are having these kinds of experiences, but even if they were, they couldn’t be discussed, as per church culture and policy that walks back to Heber J. Grant. It creates an air of mystery and authority that builds up myths and unhealthy idol-like veneration that culminates in a papal-like fame. It’s also not consistent with the scriptures nor with Joseph Smith’s example. When a prophet had a message to give in scripture, he told the people it was from the Lord. They would make this crystal clear, and there were often warnings of judgments that would come if the messages were not heeded. Today, many of the messages are simple encouraging platitudes and praise for the people in the Church as in “all is well in Zion, as in the leadership of Zion,” or “stay in the boat.” Or revelation is touted as much lauded policy changes. Such platitudes themselves indicated that all is NOT well in Zion since those kinds of statements are warned against by Book of Mormon prophets.
The titles that are used for the Brethren—prophet, seer, and revelator—are misnomers to say the least. From an office perspective, they may be invitations to acquire these spiritual gifts. But if that’s the case, the success rate has been absent. Indeed, it seems to have been a dropped requirement for the office at the turn of the 20th Century. A few have prophesied, most of which have not come true (in the case of John Taylor and Willford Woodruff) and a couple that have (David O. McKay). None save Joseph have been seers because they haven’t translated anything ancient. The only ones that have revealed anything scripturally new save Joseph Smith were his grand-nephew Joseph F. Smith, and possibly Spencer W. Kimball as per the requirements in scripture for something to become scripture. Some will argue that we have no idea what has been revealed, that there may be archives of revelations not published or prohibited by the Lord for the members to see. That’s quite possible. However, it also breaches earlier protocol of prophets in scripture. We cannot be held accountable for anything we do not know. One cannot follow what has not been revealed. It if it has not been revealed, one cannot set up a trust relationship with someone to heed them on other matters. Otherwise, what is seen are simply inspired council decisions and policies that are afterwards called revelation. These types of revelations can be colored by desires and beliefs. Latter-day Saints know this because they all can receive inspiration in their own decisions and they know how foolproof they aren’t. A prophet or group of prophets should reach above mere inspiration. He/they should produce something more tangible as oracles of the Lord. This should be open and transparent. If not, they can still be leaders, and loyalty may still be observed and demanded for a church of order, but it’s a loyalty that’s self-evident as per the nature of a leader or CEO and not derived from a false inference of being the Lord's messenger. The gift should be manifest if it is to be claimed.
But even with providing a tangible oracle, there is no guarantee that a revelation, prophecy, vision, what have you, comes from the Lord. Joseph himself had several false revelations. The onus therefore lies upon each of us individually to determine truth from a messenger ourselves, even with individuals like Joseph Smith who purported open visions and revelation, he admits to having false ones. Priesthood keys, if such exist, are inadequate.
While there is no failproof recipe, there are some tips that can help one determine spiritual truth.
Does one feel a “burning in the bosom?” There is a difference between the piercing hot feelings of the Spirit of truth burning you to the core and a warm, peaceful feeling, which may or not be adequate. Many good feelings can be a positive effect of truth, but sometimes the truth will be uncertain, unnerving, frightening, and challenging to the person. Many peaceful feelings are simply feelings of comfort and security, which we are warned against. Sometimes good feelings are just that, and they can be manufactured by good movies and good storytelling, comforting cadences in a conference talk, or familiarity. The Holy Ghost should cut to the core.
Does it make you want to be like Christ? – Does the truth make a person want to love others, to serve them, aid their fellow man, place themselves at the mercy of others, turn the other cheek, sacrifice their own comforts for the benefit of others. Such motivations are a great indication what you are feeling is true.
Does it pass the “inherently good rule?” – There are rules that run through every culture, every religion that are the same. It's call it a golden thread. It is the rule of “doing unto others as if they have done it unto you.”
Does it contradict past truths? – This one can be complicated. Some truths are hierarchical and are true on one level and not on another. But ideas that blatantly contradict can give one pause about their possible error.
Does it make sense? – Does reason and your intellect understand these truths? Are they delicious to you? Can you make sense of them? Is it scientific or at least plausibly scientific? Have the ideas been downloaded into your brain in a way that seems inspirational?
Do you have to be certain? No. If Alma 32 is any help, finding truth is a process, one in which seeds are planted, nourished, and allowed to grow. At some point, one should expect an experience that gives them perfect knowledge of the truth. That may be a vision, a visitation, with some sort of witness that it is real and not your imagination. Even then, it is still not truth that is objective, thus, it must be your truth and your truth only. Others must seek their own experience if they want verification.
Joseph Smith spent two decades trying to teach some of these principles to help people have experiences for themselves. Despite any errors, one must admire him for his teachings on spiritual self-sufficiency, something that had been sorely lacking in Christianity up to that point. Yet while he was teaching such things, the church he built was busy setting itself up as the thing to be relied upon instead. Indeed, most Mormons would now say that the entire point of the Restoration (First Vision and the Book of Mormon) was a Priesthood structure, the promise of an organization that could be latched onto to help one obtain personal salvation. Are we sure that’s what the Mormon founding father intended?
When the idea of a New Testament church was considered, and adopted by Alexander Campbell, one should look and see whether such an organization existed in the first place, or if ancient Christianity was more like ancient Judaism, which had a council structure, but was much more loosely organized—as is modern Judaism today. Were the ancient churches part of a larger hierarchy, or were they looser organizations that were exposed to the teachings of one kind of apostle and tended after that apostle? This has puzzled the historians for centuries. Even scriptures like Ephesians 4:11, which are used to justify hierarchical organization, one can also see these things as spiritual gifts, thus the gifts, not the offices, are how the church is organized, which makes it almost impossible to be corporatized by any men. Furthermore, if Apostolic keys could simply be given through ordination and keys, why didn’t the original apostles get replaced? A simple ordinance would have sufficed because of keys. Yet we have no example of any of these apostles getting replaced. The best answer is that this was a heavenly calling, and no one had received such an endowment from on high after the first instance. Christianity only organized almost 300 years later when the Roman church acquired, absorbed, and overwhelmed other competing congregations with the support of the state by the time Constantine ascended the Roman throne. So much for restoring an ancient church. Perhaps Mormons have fallen into the same trap of the Christian forefathers in attempting to Catholicize Mormonism. It’s quite possible great apostasies are culminated through great organizing and correlating efforts.
But we are Promised NO MORE Apostasy
At some point in this discussion, if you are Mormon, one must grapple with the inevitable idea of church infallibility. Even pointing some of the problems out in this post, some people will inherently go to that backup option, feeling that no matter what is learned, the Church is and will always be true and that it will last into the Millennium. That’s what Mormons have been taught and you can take it to the bank. It’s almost always a conversation stopper. They teach that about the Great Apostasy and other past apostasies, comforting each other that today is different, and that ours is a promise never to lapse. It is a very reassuring teaching. But how correct is it?
Here it is as a statement on LDS.org under the topic of Church organization (although the Lord is unsourced here):
The Church Will Never Be Destroyed
Thousands of years ago, the Lord said He would “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, . . . and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that kingdom. Although there have been periods of worldwide apostasy in the past, the Lord has promised that His Church will remain until Jesus Christ returns to reign personally on the earth. As members of the Church, it is our privilege to enjoy many blessings, to share those blessings with others, and to prepare for the Savior’s coming.
The evolution of LDS Church infallibility can be traced back to Joseph Smith, but not necessarily by him, but statements he left that would give one hope that such an accomplishment was inevitable. Joseph’s promise was that the work he would do would eventually restore Zion. It was to be the “rock cut out of the mountain without hands” as interpreted from Daniel and oft-quoted by Hinckley. Its derivative statement is one of Joseph’s most famous statements given in 1834 as recorded by Wilford Woodruff:
Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it.’ I was rather surprised. He said, ‘It is only a little handful of Priesthood you see here tonight, but this Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world.
Of course, it should be pointed out that this quote was retold by Woodruff in 1898. There is no way of knowing how much journal and oral history became corrupted decades later. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop newer leaders from quoting it as proof that the Church will stand and exist till the Millennium. Further statements in the Doctrine and Covenants also echo similar sentiments, as if the statements given were meant to be perpetual.
D&C 1:30 states:
“And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually—“
Yet we have several statements both in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, by Joseph Smith, and ironically, by Brigham Young and Heber C Kimball that promise no such thing. Is it okay to takes such statements at face value, or should they absorbed by the greater understanding of scripture on this topic? Let's consider the following:
In Isaiah, the Lord is usually not pleased with the shepherds of Israel, or the head. He calls them false, and He and His servants will be raised up to do a marvelous work and a wonder in the Last Days. We tend to look at this through the lens of wider Gentile Christianity or through the Jews, which is also true, but when the Lord condemns Zion, prophetically it represents those that call the Lord’s people, His church, claiming His Priesthood. Often when you see the word Zion in Isaiah, you can almost always equate it with those that call themselves the Lord’s people.
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
Ask yourself, who is the head if it’s not Church leaders?
Nephi son of Lehi
Nephi’s Church of the Lamb of God – Nephi is plain about how things progress. In 1 Nephi 13, he talks about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the seer that shall bring it forth, and that he shall restore MUCH of the gospel. It isn’t until the Book of Mormon goes to the House of Israel in great power as explained later that the fullness of the gospel is realized. He discusses how at that point there are two churches of God, the Church of the Lamb of God, and the church of the devil. Who does not belong to the first, shall belong to the second. This should mean that whatever church or organization that claims to have the truth will be called by THAT church, and not by another name. Starting in 1 Nephi 13, we get the discussion about how the full gospel isn’t necessarily restored right at the first.
1 Nephi 13:34 - And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, MUCH of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.
1 Nephi 14 is the FIRST PROPHECY OF A LATTER_DAY APOSTASY
1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks (WHOA, WHAT ARE THE STUMBLING BLOCKS?) What comes to pass?
10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.
IF THE CHURCH OF THE LAMB OF GOD IS NOT THE LDS CHURCH, what church is it?
Nephi warns of even the righteous being led to err by the precepts of men. The way to understand this scripture is to realize that righteous people do not err because they are following WICKED teachings, they err because they are doing what they told is the RIGHT thing by men who set themselves up to be their teachers
2 Nephi 28:14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
2 Nephi 28:20 “For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.”
The entire idea of a church being disallowed to fall into apostasy is precisely this teaching above
We see the same pattern in Ezekiel 34 (Virtually all of Ezekiel) but in 34 the Lord says this:
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.”
Does this not condemn those that feed themselves through Priestcraft and their own church business endeavors from those that are poor and give all in their tithes?
Jacob son of Lehi
Jacob’s Olive Tree Allegory – In this allegory, the history of the world and the House
of Israel is told through the harvest of the olive trees. Right toward the end, the Lord finds that all sorts of fruit cumber his garden, and he goes to burn it. However, his servants prevail upon Him and they go down to labor one last time, grafting the wild branches (Gentiles) into the mother tree (House of Israel). Two other factors helped: 1) The Lord personally goes down himself this time. This is significant because it fits with how the Lord personally gathers His flock in Ezekiel 14 and many parts of Isaiah, and how the Lord also gathers those out who he calls the Church of the Lamb of God in Nephi. 2) They keep the top branches from growing so that they don’t root unto themselves. What this signifies is that there is little or no hierarchy in this final situation. The fruit must draw most of its strength directly from the root, or Christ.
70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few. And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come. And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.
Nephi, the Apostle of Jesus quoting Jesus
Church is Broken up in 3 Nephi 6 – We can liken parallels to our day in the Book of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 6: 14 we read:
And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord. –
Are the Lamanites to be like unto those that have their Baptism of Fire and the Holy Ghost and will not deny the faith. – Are we seeking the blessings the Lamanites sought from the heavens or are we heaping iniquities upon our brethren? How does this forecast our day?
The Gospel goes from Gentile to the House of Israel – Nephi hints at this in 1 Nephi, but the Savior expounds on this in 3 Nephi 16, 20,21.
10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. –
You can read virtually the same story in 3 Nephi 20 and 21. The Savior repeats this THREE TIMES. Maybe we should be paying attention.
The time will come when this people will be led onto the very brink of hell by their leaders, then the one mighty and strong will come to set the house of God in order.” -(Mosiah Hancock journal, pg. 19
What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” - Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 9, p. 150
How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.” - Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 3, p. 45
"God will preserve a portion of the meek and humble of this people to bear off the Kingdom to the inhabitants of the earth." President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:184
I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied.... Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the Kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” - Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 3, p. 45
“When the spirit of persecution, the spirit of hatred, of wrath, and malice ceases in the world against this people, it will be the time that this people have apostatized and joined hands with the wicked, and never until then.” (In Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, reported by G. D. Watt, edited by S. W. Richards [Liverpool: Published by S. W. Richards, 1857], p. 327; also “Remarks,” reported by G. D. Watt, The Deseret News, vol. 7, no. 14, edited by Albert Carrington [Great Salt Lake City: 10 June 1857], p. 107.)
“Suppose that the leaders of this people had forsaken the Lord and should introduce, through selfishness, that which would militate against the kingdom of God on the earth, that which would in the issue actually destroy this people, how are you going to detect the wrong and know it from the right? You cannot do it unless you have the spirit of the Lord...Some may say, ‘Brethren, you who lead the church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if Brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am.’ I do not wish any LatterDay Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is in them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.” President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 3:4445
“The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray.” President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:100
God is not pleased with the LAST church in the Book of Revelation chapter 3 – John sees a vision of the seven churches. If the churches are seen typologically as Gentile dispensations (among other interpretations), they follow a chronology. With the two final churches being (Philadelphia and Laodicea), the Lord is pleased with the first, represented by Priesthood, a white stone. The last church, after this church, is neither hot nor cold, so the Lord spews it from His mouth. If seen with such eyes, is the Lord happy with the final state of the Gentile church?
Revelation 3 “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyes with salve, that thou mayest see.”
Doctrine and Covenants
D&C and the Church under condemnation
“53 And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written— That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
As late as the 1980’s, Ezra Taft Benson said we were still under condemnation. What is condemnation but a state of apostasy?
Joseph Smith's Last Vision
I was back in Kirtland, Ohio, and thought I would take a walk out by myself, and view my old farm, which I found grown up with weeds and brambles, and altogether bearing evidence of neglect and want of culture. I went into the barn, which I found without floor or doors, with the weather - boarding off, and was altogether in keeping with the farm. While I viewed the desolation around me, and was contemplating how it might be recovered from the curse upon it, there came rushing into the barn a company of furious men, who commenced to pick a quarrel with me. The leader of the party ordered me to leave the barn and farm, stating it was none of mine, and that I must give up all hope of ever possessing it. I told him the farm was given me by the Church, and although I had not had any use of it for some time back, still I had not sold it, and according to righteous principles it belonged to me or the Church. He then grew furious and began to rail upon me, and threaten me, and said it never did belong to me nor to the Church. I then told him that I did not think it worth contending about, that I had no desire to live upon it in its present state, and if he thought he had a better right I would not quarrel with him about it but leave; but my assurance that I would not trouble him at present did not seem to satisfy him, as he seemed determined to quarrel with me, and threatened me with destruction of my body. While he was thus engaged, pouring out his bitter words upon me, a rabble rushed in and nearly filled the barn, drew out their knives, and began to quarrel among themselves for the premises, and for a moment forgot me, at which time I took the opportunity to walk out of the barn about up to my ankles in mud. When I was a little distance from the barn, I heard them screeching and screaming in a very distressed manner, as it appeared they had engaged in a general fight with their knives. While they were thus engaged, the dream or vision ended." Documentary History of the Church 6: 609-610
You will live to see men arise in power in the Church who will seek to put down your friends and the friends of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Many will be hoisted because of their money and worldly learning which they seem to be in possession of; and many who are the true followers of our Lord and Savior will be cast down because of their poverty." -History of the Church, 4:445-446, Mosiah Hancock Journal, pg. 28 (note: not contemporary)
“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 Latterday 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, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 2378
“...If Zion will not purify herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight he will seek another people for his work will go on until Israel is gathered and they who will not hear his voice must expect to feel his wrath. Let me say to you, seek to purify yourselves, and also all the inhabitants of Zion lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness, repent, repent, is the voice of God, to Zion...Hear the warning voice of God lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in his wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into my rest…” Joseph Smith, Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 January 1833, p. 19
Heber C. Kimball
After a while the gentiles will gather in Salt Lake City by the thousands, and this will be among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the results will be financial bondage." An army of elders will be sent to the four quarters of the earth, to search out the righteous and, warn the wicked of coming events. All kinds of religions will be started, and miracles performed that will deceive the very elect, if such a thing were possible. Persecution comes next, and all Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit. "Many will apostatize, and others will stand still, not knowing what to do. ... The judgements of God will be poured out upon the wicked, to the extent that our elders from far and near will be called home; or in other words, the Gospel will be taken from the gentiles, and later on will be carried to the Jews. The western boundaries of the State of Missouri will be swept so clean of its inhabitant that as President Young tells us, 'when we return to that place there will not be as much as a yellow dog to wag his tail.' Before that day comes, however, the Saints will be put to the test that will try the very best of them. The pressure will become so great that the righteous among us will cry unto the Lord day and night until deliverance comes." "Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills, where we can close the doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, that the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God. Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great shifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming." This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with glory. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess a personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got this testimony, you must live right and call upon the Lord, and cease not until you obtain it. Remember these sayings: The time will come when no man or woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within themselves. If you do not have the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, how can you stand?" Heber C. Kimball, Conference Report, Oct. 1930, p. 58-59
"We receive the Priesthood and power and authority. If we make a bad use of that Priesthood, do you not see that the day will come when God will reckon with us, and he will take it from us and give it to those who will make better use of it?" President Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 6:125
"I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God. Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming." President Heber C. Kimball, 1856, quoted by Elder J. Golden Kimball, 1930 Semiannual General Conference, pp. 5960
"But the day will come when the Lord will choose a people out of this people, upon whom he will bestow His choicest blessings.” President Heber C. Kimball, The Deseret News, Vol. 15, No. 5, Nov. 9, 1865, p.
 Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, volume 1, pp 145-146
 Mormon Doctrine, p527