What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
(Cross-posted at Blogger of Jared)
In recent weeks I have been pondering about the role of the prophet. Some people in the “bloggernacle” seem to doubt the inspiration, direction, and words of the prophet. They seek to “critically analyze” what he says before choosing to obey, and often use secular knowledge and understanding to discredit, demean, or disbelieve what he has said.
This morning I cracked open The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, which I have owned for some time, but never read. I dove into a few pages dealing with this topic, and would like to cite them with my comments, to illustrate what I have come to learn.
The prophet will not necesarily be popular with the world or the worldly. As a prophet reveals the truth, it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. … As we come close to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them. (p. 133)
Such a division is occurring within the church right now. The First Presidency’s stance on the family and same-sex marriage have divided the church. Many feel that the prophet should not tell us how to vote, or what to think politically, or be involved in any way in this regard. This quote is especially insightful considering it comes from President Benson, who spoke out quite frequently regarding secret combinations and government corruption in our own nation. Many people disregarded what he said, ignored him, disbelieved him, or were annoyed by his frequent calls to action and understanding. Prophets rarely have been popular with the people, for theirs is the charge and responsibility to denounce the sin and abominations of the people. In doing so, President Hinckley stands with Samuel the Lamanite, who testified:
…if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil. (Helaman 13:26)
Referring to the prophetic office of President of the Church, President Benson has said:
The President can speak on any subject he feels is needful for the saints. As Brigham Young stated: “I defy any man on earth to point out the path a prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be.” Other officers in the kingdom have fallen, but never the Presidents. (p. 134)
True, some church leaders have fallen. Even some of the elect will be deceived, as we know. However, the prophet has never been led astray, nor will the Lord suffer him so to do. He would sooner be removed from office (by God playing the “death card“). As Presidents Benson and Young declare, the prophet can and will testify and command on any subject seen as needful for the saints. When he commands, we should obey, for what he says is the mind, will, and voice of the Lord. Commenting further on this, Benson said:
Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence. President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (p. 136)
The prophet will never lead this people astray. It won’t happen, no matter what some might say and speculate. As long as we follow and obey the current prophet (and not cling to the teachings of a previous one, whose teachings and commandments might have been superceded by successive prophetic direction), we will be fine.
The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (p. 134)
I come across many people who guide themselves by the “reasoning of men”, or the “arm of flesh”. Such a stance to take is a dangerous one, for the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword and we should all choose to adhere to the revelations of God, so that we may be found on the right hand of God. However, if you choose the reasonings of men, Alma says: “it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled” (Alma 5:58).
A revealing characteristic of a true prophet is that he declares a message from God. He makes no apology for the message, nor does he fear for any social repercussions which may lead to derision and persecution. (p. 135)
Has the First Presidency in our day watered down their proclamations? Have they tweaked the language so as to be “politically correct” and offend no one? Of course not. People are going to be offended by God’s word, as it always has been. Prophets do not seek popularity, nor do they fear the social repercussions which almost always are associated with their messages.
We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you. (p. 137)
If the reasonings of men say that same-sex marriage isn’t such a bad thing, it does not matter. There is currently a conflict between earthy knowledge and the words of our prophet. Who will you stand with? Will you accept, promote, and live the counsels taught in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World“? If you do, as the prophets have urged, then time will vindicate you.
The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. (p. 138)
This resonates perfectly with 2 Nephi 9:28:
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
We cannot compromise good with evil in an attempt to have peace and unity in the Church, any more than the Lord could have compromised with Satan in order to avoid the War in Heaven. Think of the impact for good we could have if we all united behind the prophet in preserving our Constitution. Yet witness the sorry spectacle of those presently of our number who have repudiated the inspired counsel of our prophet when he has opposed federal aid to education and asked support for the right-to-work laws. (pp. 141-2)
I would alter this to say “witness the sorry spectacle of those presently of our number who have repudiated the inspired counsel of our prophet when he has asked us to contact our senators and express ourselves regarding the Federal Marriage Amendment. Did you contact yours? Or did you repudiate the counsel given from our prophet?
I’m grateful to have a prophet today who knows the mind, will, and voice of the Lord. I will follow him, for “he knows the way”.
Now we have a prophet, in the latter-day,
He is here to guide us in so many ways.
If we choose to follow all that he may say,
We will have the Spirit with us every day.
—alternate ending verse for the primary song “Follow the Prophet”