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Mormon Authorities on Prophets

The Bible, Numbers 11: 26-29

But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’s people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

The Bible, Revelation 19: 10

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 119

'Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?' Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 160

Salvation cannot come without revelation; it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony.

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 237-238

President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel -- said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church -- that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls -- applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall -- that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves . . .

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 278

This morning I read German and visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that 'a prophet is always a prophet;' but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9: 149

What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 4: 368

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.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3: 45

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.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1: 312

Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another's sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold sceptres of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer.

George Q Cannon, Millennial Star 53: 658-59

Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone . . .

Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 13: 165

He is a prophet, I am a prophet, you are, and anybody is a prophet who has the testimony of Jesus Christ, for that is the spirit of prophecy.

Lorenzo Snow, Conference Report 1-2, 6 April 1900

Seventy years ago this Church was organized with six members. We commenced, so to speak, as an infant. We had our prejudices to combat. Our ignorance troubled us in regard to what the Lord intended to do and what He wanted us to do We advanced to boyhood, and still we undoubtedly made some mistakes, which generally arise from a lack of experience. We understand very well, when we reflect back upon our own lives, that we did many foolish things when we were boys. Yet as we advanced, the experience of the past materially assisted us to avoid such mistakes as we had made in our boyhood. It has been so with the Church. Our errors have generally arisen from a lack of comprehending what the Lord required of us to do. But now we are pretty well along to manhood. When we examine ourselves, however, we discover that we are still not doing exactly as we ought to do, notwithstanding all our experience. We discern that there are things which we fail to do that the Lord expects us to perform, some of which He requires us to do in our boyhood. While we congratulate ourselves in this direction, we certainly ought to feel that we have not yet arrived at perfection. There are many things for us to do yet.

Joseph F Smith, Journal of Discourses 16: 248

We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never.

Samuel Richards, Millennial Star 14: 593-595

And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God... would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.

Charles W Penrose, Millennial Star 54: 191

President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when 'Thus saith the Lord', comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.

Heber J Grant, letter to Mrs. Claud Peery, April 13, 1926, typescript in Lester Bush paper, University of Utah Archives.

Dear Sister:

Answering your letter of the 12th.

I know of no instance where the Lord has appeared to an individual since His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Sincerely your brother,

[signed] Heber J. Grant

Hugh B. Brown, An Abundant Life: The Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown, ed. Edwin B. Firmage [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1999], 124-125

Official statements of the First Presidency that have not been submitted to the membership of the church for its approval are matters of temporary policy only. Under present conditions, for example, the First Presidency may say, ‘We recommend this or that.’ But conditions may subsequently change, and when they do the First Presidency may wish to make a statement which may not be in complete harmony with a former statement. We have to keep our theology up to date by submitting everything that is intended to become a permanent part of the gospel to those whose right and privilege it is to so interpret and then by having it sustained by the people as a definite rule of the church so that all things may be done by common consent.

Gordon B Hinckley, Compass Interview, 9 November 1997

David Ransom: As the world leader of the the Church, how are you in touch with God? Can you explain that for me?

Gordon B. Hinckley: I pray. I pray to Him. Night and morning. I speak with Him. I think He hears my prayers. As He hears the prayers of others. I think He answers them.

David Ransom: But more than that, because you’re leader of the Church. Do you have a special connection?

Gordon B. Hinckley: I have a special relationship in terms of the Church as an institution. Yes.

David Ransom: And you receive . . .

Gordon B. Hinckley: For the entire Church.

David Ransom: You receive?

Gordon B. 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.

David Ransom: And this is a Revelation?

Gordon B. Hinckley: This is a Revelation.

David Ransom: How often have you received such revelations?

Gordon B. Hinckley: Oh, I don’t know. I feel satisfied that in some circumstances we’ve had such revelation. It’s a very sacred thing that we don’t like to talk about a lot. A very sacred thing.

David Ransom: But it’s a special experience?

Gordon B. Hinckley: I think it’s a real thing. It’s a very real thing. And a special experience.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:188 (June 19, 1853)

I will now say, not only to our delegate to Congress, but to the Elders who leave the body of the Church, that he thought that all the cats and kittens were let out of the bag when brother Pratt went back last fall, and published the Revelation concerning the plurality of wives: it was thought there was no other cat to let out. But allow me to tell you, Elders of Israel, and delegates to Congress, you may expect an eternity of cats, that have not yet escaped from the bag.

See also http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/publications/when-the-prophet-speaks-is-the-thinking-done