December 8th, 2006

Law of the Harvest

harvest

Related to my recent post on socialism is the following quote by President Howard W. Hunter:

There appears to me to be a trend to shift responsibility for life and its processes from the individual to the state. In this shift there is a basic violation of the law of the harvest, or the law of justice. The attitude of “something for nothing” is encouraged. The government is often looked to as the source of wealth. There is a feeling that the government should step in and take care of one’s needs, one’s emergencies, and one’s future. Just as my friend actually became a slave to his own ignorance and bad habits by refusing to accept the responsibility for his own education and moral growth, so, also, can an entire people be imperceptibly transferred from individuals, families, and communities to the federal government.

…what is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms.

If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through ‘a democratic process’ he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the ‘haves’ and give to the ‘have nots.’ Both have lost their freedom. Those who ‘have,’ lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who ‘have not,’ lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got ‘something for nothing,’ and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift.

Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost.

(Howard W. Hunter, “The Law of the Harvest.” BYU, 8 March 1966.)

I don’t see how it can get any clearer. I don’t understand how those who profess a belief in and understanding of the gospel can advocate that socialism is beneficial or praiseworthy, when numerous Prophets have spoken out against it and its “ism” counterparts. I suppose that these people, as Pres. Hunter states, are “blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost”.

30 Responses to “Law of the Harvest”

  1. John Anderson
    December 8, 2006 at 2:42 pm #

    Socialism is bad from a “you owe me” point of view, but isn’t the idea meant more for a “I owe the world” point of view?

    Taking my money to spread to others is socialistic, but stopping to help the man taken by thieves isn’t. Both get “something for nothing,” but I think its the perspective that is really important.

  2. Curtis
    December 8, 2006 at 3:49 pm #

    Pres. Hunter said:
    “what is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms. ”

    Here the bad mouthing isn’t about socialism… it’s about the sinfulness of the people, necessating a socialist state. Zion will not need socialism because of the righteousness of the people. Zion is the pure in heart. As we don’t have Zion now due to the wickedness of the people, socialism is the necessary result. Without it the poor would suffer far more than they do now.

    Sure I have lost my ability to spend my paycheck in the way that I want since much of it is taxed to benefit the poor (though more of it goes to our corporatocracy than anything else), but I’m not blind. I’d rather lose that part of my paycheck in this wicked world, to go to social security etc, than to have this nation fall into chaos.

    The ‘get something for nothing’ mentality is surely not good. However, it is the ‘take everything while the masses languish’ mentality that is most heavily condemned by the Lord.

    Socialism in my mind is only praiseworthy in the absence of Zion. Until Zion is here, our society is too wicked to take care of the poor. It is in our nation’s interest to take care of these people. You still haven’t shown me where in the scriptures it says socialism is bad. I see the prophet’s words, but I want some cannonized doctrine.

  3. Paul
    December 8, 2006 at 5:36 pm #

    I disagree, the people will loose their freedom as stated, but the poor are not helped out of a necessity as a result. In fact there are clear examples of just the opposite. In fact the help that the poor receive from the government isn’t from your hard earned paycheck and that is only another of the false perceptions. The money that is distributed is the hard work of the future generations sold into bondage. Sins don’t necessitate another fraud that was designed and does nothing better than to concentrate the wealth into the hands of a few at the expense of many. The fact is people were more charitable and neighborly before government stepped in. It was the first that created the latter as a result of sin. However a righteous people would likely have been influenced by the spirit of truth and never allowed that to happen.

  4. Curtis
    December 8, 2006 at 6:54 pm #

    Paul,
    I see what you’re saying but take issue with just a few points. The bondage of future generations is a product of our government’s spending habits on the whole, of which corporate welfare and military spending and health care spending take up way too much. In 2000 the GAO found that we would save a whole lot more money than we are spending now on health care if we had a socialistic system like the single payer system in Canada. The bondage of future generations is not primarily due to welfare spending.

    Also, socialism doesn’t concentrate money into the hands of a few. That’s what our protectionist capitalism does. Socialism, like what is had in Venezuela right now, benefits the masses if it is administered correctly.

  5. Connor
    December 8, 2006 at 8:45 pm #

    John,

    Socialism is bad from a “you owe me” point of view, but isn’t the idea meant more for a “I owe the world” point of view?

    Therein lies the fundamental distinction between socialism and consecration.

    Curtis,

    Here the bad mouthing isn’t about socialism… it’s about the sinfulness of the people, necessating a socialist state. Zion will not need socialism because of the righteousness of the people. Zion is the pure in heart. As we don’t have Zion now due to the wickedness of the people, socialism is the necessary result. Without it the poor would suffer far more than they do now.

    Since we should be actively working towards Zion, would you then agree that we must be preaching true economic principles, as well as (and more importantly) the gospel of Jesus Christ, to help people realize the higher law they should be living? This, I think, is the only way to eradicate the “need” for socialism today. The system is very broken, and needs fixing. But more importantly, we must fix people to break their dependence on such a system, so that it will no longer have a reason to exist.

    I’d rather lose that part of my paycheck in this wicked world, to go to social security etc, than to have this nation fall into chaos.

    You said repeatedly on the other thread that chaos would ensue if socialist laws were renounced. I don’t buy it, though. I’m not advocating an immediate cessation of all such policies and laws, but I do believe that corrective action is an immediate must.

    The ‘get something for nothing’ mentality is surely not good. However, it is the ‘take everything while the masses languish’ mentality that is most heavily condemned by the Lord.

    Shouldn’t you and I, then, waste and wear out our lives in helping people learn self-sufficiency and charity? I think it is incumbent upon all of us to do so.

    Socialism in my mind is only praiseworthy in the absence of Zion. Until Zion is here, our society is too wicked to take care of the poor.

    Were there poor people among the American colonists? Did they have socialist programs? If so, which? If not, how in the world did their kindred survive? With very few exceptions, societies have come and gone in this world without Zionist economic principles nor socialist programs, and something tells me that there was no “chaos” in each such occurrence…

    You still haven’t shown me where in the scriptures it says socialism is bad. I see the prophet’s words, but I want some cannonized doctrine.

    I am sorry that the words of our modern Prophets aren’t convincing enough for you. For me, they suffice. :)

  6. Curtis
    December 9, 2006 at 1:36 am #

    Connor,
    I’ve presented to you most of my points and I should probably stop wasting your comment space with anymore. I believe that the Gospel of Christ is the answer to all problems in the world, as you do.

    You’ve questioned how I can be a true believer and still accept socialism. I know what Benson and others have said on the subject, I’ve just never really agreed with them. When they come out with a “thus saith the Lord” statement then I’ll swallow my pride and fall into line. Until then, I’ll continue to stand for that which my heart tells me is good. The way our system of Capitalism works here is the root of the great secret combinations of the latter-days. Have you ever heard of the book, “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins? He spoke recently in Seattle and elablorately explained exactly how our secret combinations work in this era and the speech is fascinating. You can find it here:

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15830.htm

    God bless you brother

  7. Jeff
    December 9, 2006 at 1:57 am #

    I am sorry that the words of our modern Prophets aren’t convincing enough for you. For me, they suffice.

    Might I make an observation. The two prophets you love to quote on this issue are President Benson and President Hunter. The quotes seem to all come from the Cold War era in the US, where Communism was the great evil of the day. Could you possibly quote a prophet since the end of the Cold War who has been so adamantly opposed to all forms Socialism like you suggest?

    I’m asking because prophets, like all of us, are products of their generation. If you grow up scared of Communism, you will see it as evil like Presidents Hunter and Benson did. Furthermore, do President Benson’s words on politics that he wrote before he was prophet carry the same weight as his more rational approach after he was ordained prophet?

  8. Naiah Earhart
    December 9, 2006 at 9:30 am #

    Curtis: “the sinfulness of the people, necessating a socialist state. Zion will not need socialism because of the righteousness of the people. Zion is the pure in heart. As we don’t have Zion now due to the wickedness of the people, socialism is the necessary result. Without it the poor would suffer far more than they do now.”

    I agree. A gospel-centered state, living higher laws (consecration) would amend a great many social wrongs, but, as we as a society are not there yet, and likely not to be so in our lifetimes, the question remains: what do we do in the meantime?

    Curtis: “Socialism in my mind is only praiseworthy in the absence of Zion. Until Zion is here, our society is too wicked to take care of the poor. It is in our nation’s interest to take care of these people. “

    Again, until Zion is here, what else can we do but administer relief through the state? In our capitalist society, more people kneel before the shrine of the almighty dollar before that of the Lord. Secular government authority is the only check on their behaviors. Therefore, good purposes must, at this point in time, channel through such secular authorities.

    Connor: “Since we should be actively working towards Zion, would you then agree that we must be preaching true economic principles, as well as (and more importantly) the gospel of Jesus Christ, to help people realize the higher law they should be living? “

    I had never thought as much, but you are right. We preach the gospel (including charity, full and true love for one’s fellow man) for many reasons. To ‘warn our neightbors,’ as a result of commandment, for the building up of the kingdom, to save all men, and on. I had never shuffled into that stack of reasons, ‘for the sake of alleviating the social ills that plague us.’ For some reason, that gives new impetus to many missionary efforts in my mind. There is such a strong social separation of the spiritual and the secular relationships in our lives, and the unwritten rules of society (such as ‘political correctness,’ etc) prevent us from offering up spiritual answers when it seems that secular ones are what is called for, and yet the spiritual answers the secular!

    Somehow this realization will free my tongue in more than one situation in my life.

    Connor: ” I’m not advocating an immediate cessation of all such policies and laws, but I do believe that corrective action is an immediate must.”

    Ok, this was an important clarification of your stance for me. i had read into your words in this post and the last one that youadvocated an abolishment of all welfare, period. I was quite taken aback, by such an idea, and the lack of compassion inherent within it. It’s good to know that you, too, see that aid must be continued ‘in the meantime.’

    Connor: “Shouldn’t you and I, then, waste and wear out our lives in helping people learn self-sufficiency and charity?”

    Yes! These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things!! Like I said, having put the aid of the gospel into what is usually a secular humanitarian light gives me (in my mind and observance of social ‘rules’) new license to speak freely gospel answers to human problems.

    Curtis: “I believe that the Gospel of Christ is the answer to all problems in the world, as you do.”

    That’s the important commonality here.

    Curtis: “The way our system of Capitalism works here is the root of the great secret combinations of the latter-days.”

    No doubt, and too often we confuse freedom and unbridled capitalism.

    Curtis: “He spoke recently in Seattle and elablorately explained exactly how our secret combinations work in this era and the speech is fascinating. You can find it here:”

    I’ll add the book to my amazon (another fine Seattle company) wish list. Curtis, since you’re local, drop me a line. We’re going to do a lds bloggers’ fondue at some point in the not-too-distant future; I would love to have you come! (anyone else regardless of where you live, would be welcome, too) naiah at synthian d’ org.

  9. Russell Page
    December 9, 2006 at 11:59 am #

    incredible quote.

  10. Curtis
    December 9, 2006 at 2:15 pm #

    Thanks for the invite Naiah, but I’m no longer local if you’re talking about Seattle. I grew up there, but am currently doing a stint in San Diego, Connor’s old stomping grounds. I’ll hopefully get back up to Seattle in a few years as my whole family is up there. The book is a must read and there’s actually an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy now that explains the main gist of the book here:

    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/09/1526251

    Thanks for your comments.

  11. Connor
    December 10, 2006 at 1:14 am #

    Curtis,

    I know what Benson and others have said on the subject, I’ve just never really agreed with them.

    Many people dislike when a Prophet delves into political and temporal affairs. A few quotes on the subject come to mind. The first is from Brigham Young:

    Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs… .

    In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, “Ye Elders of Israel…. will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?” Not one of them could do it….

    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. (Journal of Discourses, 10:363-364)

    The next is from everybody’s favorite, Pres. Benson:

    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. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out.

    As we come closer 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. (Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, February 26, 1980)

    Then there’s Harold B. Lee:

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow… Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

    My concern is that as things get harder (and they most certainly will!), it’s not going to become easier to obey and follow the Prophet. He will most assuredly ask certain things of us that will be inconvenient and difficult. Many will disagree (politicall, socially, economically) to what he asks. But as Pres. Lee suggested, our safety depends on following the living Prophet. I believe we must shed our pride and do as the Prophet suggests.

    Jeff,

    The two prophets you love to quote on this issue are President Benson and President Hunter. The quotes seem to all come from the Cold War era in the US, where Communism was the great evil of the day. Could you possibly quote a prophet since the end of the Cold War who has been so adamantly opposed to all forms Socialism like you suggest?

    Unless there has been any successive revelations or statements reversing the ones I’ve quoted by these “Cold War era” Church leaders, I believe that they still stand. Do we not observe pervasive socialism in our government today? Are the words of these Prophets null and void, simply because the Iron Curtain fell? Is there not still communism today?

    I realize that it’s easy to “humanize” some things our Prophets have said, attributing them to the “times they lived in”, rather than believing that such statements still have applicability in our day. But unless contradictory revelation has been received, or a successive leader has come out to reverse the previous statement, then it still stands.

    Whether or not the context of Pres. Hunter’s quote has anything to do with him being a “product of his generation”, I find direct application to the present state of our government in his wise words. Joseph Smith was equally a “product of his generation” – do his statements, revelations, and teachings lose pertinence with time?

    Naiah,

    Like I said, having put the aid of the gospel into what is usually a secular humanitarian light gives me (in my mind and observance of social ‘rules’) new license to speak freely gospel answers to human problems.

    I love doing exactly this. In my conversations w/ people, the gospel is so interwoven into anything else to the point where it becomes nearly inseparable. Granted, I cut back when I’m talking to somebody who flat out disagrees, or doesn’t understand the gospel (or isn’t a member of the Church), since meat before milk is detrimental and downright confusing. But when talking with like-minded individuals, friends, and family members, gospel-centric conversation is the name of the game!

  12. Curtis
    December 10, 2006 at 3:05 am #

    Connor,
    A prophet of God is only a prophet when acting like one. I’ve heard of no revelations or official declarations on the subject of socialism vs. capitalism and therefore I continue to exercise my freedom of conscience. If you took every word that ever came over the pulpit from a general authority as revelation from God, you’d have to leave the Church if you had any integrity since so much changes over time. Joseph Smith told us that prophets are fallible men and subject to passions etc. You’ve got to base your testimony on Christ, not men. You will go wrong when you cease to follow Christ. Following the prophet is good when he is standing in Christ’s place. When he is standing in his own place and speaking his own opinion like Pres. Hinckley at the start of the Iraq war for example, take it with a grain of salt.

  13. Connor
    December 10, 2006 at 11:23 am #

    A prophet of God is only a prophet when acting like one.

    When he’s speaking over the pulpit, and his words published in the official Church publication, rest assured that he’s acting like one. Point six of Pres. Benson’s “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet” addresses this issue:

    The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.

    Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel, but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” (D&C 21:4).

    And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed”.

    Said Brigham Young, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot], 13:95).

    If you took every word that ever came over the pulpit from a general authority as revelation from God, you’d have to leave the Church if you had any integrity since so much changes over time.

    I disagree. So long as you follow current teachings and counsel, as well as those that have no been revoked or changed, you will not go astray. W. John Walsh addresses this issue in this article:

    If you truly come to the conclusion that one Church leader disagreed with another on behavior, always follow the teachings of the present prophet. The Lord has people obey different laws at different times. For example, Moses commanded the people to practice animal sacrifice. Today, we don’t follow this practice. However, you should also ask yourself whether there is a true disagreement. The commandments of the Lord are in place until revoked by God. If a commandment has not been explicitly changed, then it is still in force. At general conference, you will repeatedly hear Church leaders stress this fact. A teaching does not go away by default. If a commandment is to be changed or revoked, it will happen explicitly.

    You’ve got to base your testimony on Christ, not men. You will go wrong when you cease to follow Christ.

    Very true. And we learn of Christ’s will for us through his prophets.

  14. Curtis
    December 10, 2006 at 5:41 pm #

    Connor,
    You stick to following every word which proceeds forth from the prophets mouth. As for me, I’ll stick to following every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God. You have yet to understand that prophets are fallible men, while God is not fallible.

  15. Connor
    December 10, 2006 at 5:57 pm #

    You stick to following every word which proceeds forth from the prophets mouth. As for me, I’ll stick to following every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God. You have yet to understand that prophets are fallible men, while God is not fallible.

    A few related quotes for the interested reader:

    There will be times when we follow the prophets even as they are in the very act of obedience themselves; they will not, in fact, always be able to explain to us why they are doing what they are doing— much as Adam offered sacrifices without a full understanding of what underlay that special ritual. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Follow the Brethren”)

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow… Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

    The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of this church to lead you astray. (Wilford Woodruff, Official Declaration 1)

    I have never been very particular to determine when [Church leaders] were speaking as prophets of God and when they were speaking as men. It has never occurred to me that I had the ability to determine that. It has been the rule of my life to find out if I could, by listening closely to what they said and by asking the Lord to help me interpret it, what they had in mind for the Latter-day Saints to do and then do it. I am happy to say, not boastfully but gratefully, that I have never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life. (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report April 1941 p. 123)

    The only safety and security there is in this Church is in listening to the words that come from the prophets of the Lord, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself. And they have spoken; they have told us to prepare, and it is not for us to argue whether we should or whether we should not. We have the prophets today telling is what our responsibility is here and now. God help us not to turn deaf ears, but go out while the harvest is yet possible and build on a foundation such that when the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat on the house, our house will have stone walls. (Matthew Cowley, “Matthew Cowley Speaks”, 1954)

    I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home….Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.” Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray. (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1, p. 78)

    …thou shalt give heed unto all [the Prophet's] words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; (D&C 21:4)

    I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 13:95)

    A man said to me… “You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.” He said, “Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.”

    I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not to follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep. (Conference Report, October 1966, p. 98)

    So yes, Curtis, I do and will continue to stick to following every word which proceeds forth from the Prophet’s mouth. In such a course of action I will find security, blessings, and spiritual growth. Sure, men are fallible, but when the Prophet of God stands over the pulpit to act in the authority of his office, what he says is the word of God.

  16. Naiah Earhart
    December 11, 2006 at 9:58 am #

    “You stick to following every word which proceeds forth from the prophets mouth. As for me, I’ll stick to following every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God.”

    Redundant.

    Well, hmm, not exactly redundant; certainly inherent, as the former is a subset of the latter.

  17. Curtis
    December 11, 2006 at 12:50 pm #

    OK, perhaps my prophet vs. word of God statements don’t show the loyalty I actually have toward our president. I agree that it is wise to follow a prophet’s counsel in most situations. I think that the intelligent member of the Church has to realize though that often our positions change with the times… showing a lack of inspiration in some areas. The intelligent member should acknowledge that the President stands in authority, holding the keys of the kingdom of God on the earth, but at the same time, not just accepting everything that the President or other GA’s say, but studying and searching out what they say and confirming their words with God for themselves. That is what I meant by saying that we should live according to every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God, rather than living according to every word which proceeds forth from the mouth of a prophet. Too often, in fact way too often, the people in the Church use their belief in the Prophet to blindly follow all that he says… and forfeit their own relationship with the Lord. We are supposed to live by the spirit of revelation and prophecy and yet we largely are like the foolish virgins in the parable of the late night bridegroom. They were foolish because they didn’t have oil for their lamps. What does the oil represent? D&C 45:57 gives us the answer: 57 For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.

    Joseph Smith taught us that we need to seek after the Spirit (meaning the Spirit of Christ that we covenant to receive during the Sacrament each week) above all other things and it will lead us aright. Yet, I see in Church way too many foolish virgins. People who are good at heart, which is why they are compared to virgins in the parable, but foolish because they will not take the Holy Spirit for their guide, which Holy Spirit will get them into the Celestial Kingdom if it is followed as it is the law by which all things are governed.

    Blindly following after prophets is not a good thing, even if a prophet is correct all of the time. I would be surprised though if there was such a president of this Church that was right all of the time.

    Brigham Young said:

    “No matter what the king does, we as his subjects must say that the king does right and cannot do wrong. That you know very well to be the feelings and teachings of the nations of the earth. The king cannot do wrong, and of course he is not to be rebuked. And when he sends his princes, his ministers, his messengers, to perform duties for him, they say to the people to whom they go-”The king can do no wrong; his agents can do no wrong.” . . . These are the feelings and these the teachings and belief, and not only the belief, but the practice. It is not so in this kingdom; it must not be so; it cannot be so; it has not been so;”

    -Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:364-65

    Jonah fled from the Lord. Lehi complained against the Lord when there was no food. Peter and Paul argued with each other (weren’t they supposed to be inspired by the same Spirit?). Joseph Smith called every Indian he saw a Lamanite though we now know that to be untrue.

    The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, authorized by the First Presidency says, “There are many subjects about which the scriptures are not clear and about which the Church has made no official pronouncements. In such matters one can find differences of opinion among Church members and leaders. Until the truth of these matters is made known by revelation, there is room for different levels of understanding and interpretation of unsettled issues.”

    I think that socialism is one of these unsettled issues. You have one opinion of it and I have another. There is no official declaration by the Church on the issue as far as I know. Just because something is said of it in General Conference or stated by a General Authority does not mean it is God’s own truth. Harold B. Lee said:

    “It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write.”

    Joseph F. McKonkie said that to claim that anything taught in General Conference is official doctrine, “makes the place something is said, rather than what is said the standard of truth. Nor is something doctrine simply because it was said by someone who holds a particular office or position. Truth is not an office or position to which one is ordained.”

    Harold B. Lee expressed similar thoughts when he taught that any doctrine, advanced by anyone—regardless of position—that was not supported by the standard works, then “you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion.” He recognized that the Prophet could bring forth new doctrine, but “when he does, [he] will declare it as revelation from God,” after which it will be sustained by the body of Church.

    Statements by those in authority in our Church on Birth Control for example, are instrumental in showing how our leaders are influenced by their upbringing and culture and don’t always speak absolute truth, even at the pulpit. Was it revelation that said birth control is an abomination in the earlier days of the Church and now says that it is perfectly fine and is up to the parents?

    I took offense at Connor’s questioning of my loyalty to the Church and I shouldn’t have. I apologize if I gave offense as well.

    I hope you can see where I am coming from and why I still think my loyalty to the Gospel is not affected by my support for socialism. Until I receive revelation opposing my view, or the Prophet declares official doctrine as given by the Lord opposing my view, I remain defiant.

    One little question for you Connor, so I can see how opposed to socialism you are. Is it wrong for the government to offer assistance to foreign nations experiencing disaster from natural calamities such as the Tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands? The government is taking your tax money and forcing you to do good with it.

  18. Curtis
    December 11, 2006 at 4:45 pm #

    Here are a few further goodies for the interested reader, on what we call official doctrine in our Church.

    From BH Roberts:

    “The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”

    And from Bruce R McKonkie:

    “The books, writings, explanations, expositions, views, and theories of even the wisest and greatest men, either in or out of the Church, do not rank with the standard works. Even the writings, teachings, and opinions of the prophets of God are acceptable only to the extent they are in harmony with what God has revealed and what is recorded in the standard works.”

    Brigham Young said:

    “It is not sufficient to quote sayings purported to come from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young upon matters of doctrine. Our own people also need instruction and correction in respect of this. It is common to hear some of our older brethren say, ‘But I heard Brother Joseph myself say so,’ or ‘Brother Brigham preached it; I heard him.’ But that is not the question. The question is has God said it? Was the prophet speaking officially? . . . As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren, the same principle holds. They do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is—What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine.”

    Bruce R. McKonkie said:

    “With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances. Joseph Smith recorded that he “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.”

    We are all influenced by our environment, our experience. As Pres. Hinckley said of Pres. Benson, “I am confident that it was out of what he saw of the bitter fruit of dictatorship that he developed his strong feelings, almost hatred, for communism and socialism. That distaste grew through the years as he witnessed the heavy-handed oppression and suffering of the peoples of eastern Europe under what he repeatedly described as godless communism.”

    How would Pres. Benson’s views have been had he lived in Venezuela the last 6 years as socialism has done marvels for the people down there, or how would he be affected by the constant drive for profits in US Corporations which lead to the overthrow of democracies around the world and end up in the shedding of blood of millions of people as leftist and socialist leaders are overthrown by our government in favor of someone like the lovely Pinochet? Perhaps then he would have grown up speaking against the evils of the secret combinations sprouting from our own nation instead.

  19. RoAnn
    December 11, 2006 at 9:29 pm #

    Very interesting discussion. Having lived in 11 different countries, I have observed that our Church is able to function quite well under many different systems of government, including many of those which have a form of socialism.

    Although I personally see many of the problems with socialism that Connor has pointed out, I was reading Curtis’ comments with some sympathy until I came to the last paragraph of comment #18. I’m afraid that to me it seems like he is blaming the U.S. for all the things that have gone wrong in other countries (including the deaths of millions) , while praising a demagogue who aspires to become the Castro of South America.

    As the years have gone by, I have tended to care less about what form of government a country has, and more about how free its citizens are to listen to our missionaries, and live the principles of the Restored Gospel.

    Regarding following the prophets, I’m with those who think it is crucial to follow the counsel of the living prophets.

    At various times in my life I have abandoned strongly-held views as soon as a living prophet has spoken against them. At times I didn’t understand exactly why a particular stand on an issue was the best one. But I had a testimony that the prophet really was a prophet.

    The key for me has always been the statement by Harold B. Lee which Connor quoted in comment #11: “You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow… Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. (Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153).”

  20. Connor
    December 11, 2006 at 10:25 pm #

    I agree that it is wise to follow a prophet’s counsel in most situations.

    Then how do you discern when not to follow the Prophet’s counsel? And why would you do such a thing? When the Prophet of God, in authority of his office, issues any commandment, counsel, or statement, isn’t that the mind and will of God? And if you don’t believe so, how do you discern when it is and when it isn’t?

    I think that the intelligent member of the Church has to realize though that often our positions change with the times… showing a lack of inspiration in some areas.

    What’s wrong w/ the position changing? Didn’t God say in D&C 1 that this was the only true and living church? As we become more righteous (or not) and are able to receive more revelation, added blessings (or the opposite), wouldn’t that necessitate a change? I don’t think any bit of the change we’ve seen shows a lack of inspiration, and I think that if you’re saying our Prophet lacks inspiration in how he directs the church, you’re on shaky ground…

    Too often, in fact way too often, the people in the Church use their belief in the Prophet to blindly follow all that he says… and forfeit their own relationship with the Lord.

    Indeed, we should all fortify our own relationship in the world, but I think it’s a preposterous notion that suggests that any member would suffer spiritually (or otherwise) by explicitly following the prophet, blindly or not. You can’t go wrong in such a course of action.

    Blindly following after prophets is not a good thing, even if a prophet is correct all of the time.

    I disagree. Blindly following the prophet is a good thing, whereas following the Prophet after receiving your own witness to the course’s truthfulness is a better thing. Let’s make sure we all understand that it is good for everybody to follow the Prophet! Even those doing so blindly will be blessed, though added blessings and strength come from doing so with your eyes open wide. Perhaps it’s just an issue of semantics, but you can not go wrong by following the Prophet.

    Regarding your quotes, I think the majority are horribly misapplied. First, please cite sources when possible for all quotes you’re using to add legitimacy to their origin. But most of the quotes you mentioned, which specify the need to not believe everything a Prophet or GA says, have more to do with everything they say rather than what they say when in the “line of duty”.

    Joseph Smith ran into this issue quite frequently, when people would have a certain notion in their mind of what a Prophet should be like, say, do, etc. When he was at home washing laundry, he was just another guy. But when he stood up at the pulpit in the office of a Prophet, rest assured you can take whatever he said to the bank.

    Your quotes deal more with areas outside official statements, doctrine, and church talks. The quotes I cited were from official church publications and conferences. Therefore, they are not to be casually disregarded as you seem to wish to do. These men made such statements in the office and with the authority of their calling, and their words stands as a witness to either be believed and obeyed, or not.

  21. Curtis
    December 11, 2006 at 11:19 pm #

    Ah RoAnn,
    You must be referring to Chavez. I’m sorry you have such a dark view of his politics. He tends to get the demonization treatment in the US press, but a careful look at what he’s doing shows that he has many good points and has done a lot of good for his people. Literacy rates, poverty, education, health care are all areas that have improved under his watch. And, it has all been thru a much more participatory democracy than we’ve ever seen in our country. He’s not perfect and I see some problems with his approach. He’s very divisive, but very popular in his country where he must be doing something right judging by his approval rating.

    As far as blaming much of the world’s problems on the US, I speak specifically of the problems we have directly caused such as the overthrowing of democratically elected governments like that of Guatemala in the 1950′s which led to the military dictatorship which killed about 200,000 people over the next couple of decades while our multinational corporations went in and made bank on the backs of the poor and oppressed there. I’m not blaming anything on the US it doesn’t deserve. Check the history books.

  22. Curtis
    December 12, 2006 at 12:15 am #

    Connor,
    I can see where blindly following can be good as usually there is no true blindness in the way we follow the Lord. Nephi was led not knowing beforehand where he was to be led to, and yet he followed. Still, this is not 100% blind. He had a guide that he trusted and knew by the Holy Ghost that it was the right thing to do.
    Though a head of the Church is important in God’s government, ultimately, how well we followed the Spirit is what we will be judged by. That is why I quoted the parable of the 10 virgins above. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit for your guide, it doesn’t matter how you followed the prophet, you will not make the cut. There are so many commandments and counsels we are encouraged to follow. Where the Spirit comes in handy, is that it will tell you that tonight is the night you do your hometeaching, whereas tomorrow night you do your temple work. If you tell the Spirit “no, tonight I will go to the Temple,” you will not be blessed for your efforts as the you have defied the Spirit of Christ, even though you are following one of the prophet’s counsels to attend the temple. Therefore, we all need that connection with the Lord or we will not enter the Celestial Kingdom.

    “Your quotes deal more with areas outside official statements, doctrine, and church talks. The quotes I cited were from official church publications and conferences.”

    Ah, so your quotes are better than my quotes? Maybe so, but can you wiggle your ears?

    None of the quotes you provided were from the President of the Church while he was the President of the Church. Pres. Benson never addressed socialism/communism specifically in any of his speeches as the President of the Church as far as I can tell. You provided no quotes from official declarations or first presidency statements or more importantly, from our cannonized scripture that forms the foundation of binding doctrine in our Church, that tells me that I cannot with a clear conscience support socialist policies. What you have provided was a lot of statements from our leaders who were stating their views on politics, outside of the established doctrine of the Church.

    we need to let our minds do some thinking outside of the box sometimes. As Hugh B. Brown said somewhere, it is better for us to have heterodoxic thoughts than to have no thoughts at all.

    Sorry for not providing sources. All of those quotes are googleable. Sorry for the “horrible” missapplications of my quotes. I’ll try to engage only in decent missapplication from here on.

  23. Naiah Earhart
    December 12, 2006 at 8:46 am #

    For me, as I believe for many, there is no ‘blindly’ following the prophet. It’s like many/any other aspect of the gospel, really. You build a testimony of it. When a GA speaks, you can taste the sweetness of the words (excuse my synesthesia; you know what I mean), you can feel the reverberations as they make your soul sing. The words come from the prophet, but their confirmation comes from the Lord—taking the time to notice/feel such confirmation os what Curtis was advocating, I believe.

    As to it never being bad to follow the prophet, I would say that in any single instance, no, of course it isn’t. I do not believe that Curtis is saying that following the prophet’s words will bring harm to anyone, but that if they follow blindly, for all of their days, never forging a realtionship themselves with the Spirit, never seeking that sacred confirmation, then , yes, I can see how that would be suboptimal, if not even detrimental to the individual’s eternal progress.

    There is, though, a confirmation that comes from the doing itself. As these hypothetical people who blindly follow perform the actions instructed by the prophet, they can not help but feel the confirmation of their actions, if only by the lack of the Spirit whispering “No.”

    So, if it were possible to abdicate all sensation of the guidance of/confirmation by the Spirit, and follow blindly for all of one’s days, then I would very much agree that that is not good for the individual, but I have faith that the Spirit is stronger than that, and that it provides the assurance needed, in whatever small way that individual may require, to support their decision to follow the prophet. We all receive our guidance and confirmation in the way that we need to, and to some, others’ faith may seem so small is to be indetectible, but we are unique creatures, varied along many spectrums, and my guess is that their own connection to the Lord, to the degree that they need it, is there. Simple faith is just as enduring eternally than that which has been well-probed and deeply examined.

  24. Curtis
    December 12, 2006 at 12:26 pm #

    Very nicely put Naiah. You demonstrate a good handle on this topic. I agree with everything you said, I’m just not too skillful at saying it.

  25. bob
    March 1, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    If we cling to every word the latter day Prophets have said, we would go inactive. The terse words that have been used over time to denegrade the negro. And other statements we would surely not follow such a person.

    Polygamy is another convenient one that we are embarrased by and a mere, disowning of it today , by saying memebers who pracitce it are ex communicated. doesnt really wash As Joseph Smith Brigham young had many wives .

  26. Connor
    March 2, 2008 at 9:03 am #

    If we cling to every word the latter day Prophets have said, we would go inactive.

    Um, really? What of continuing revelation, where new commandments may be given that trump the old? When Nephi was commanded to slay Laban, despite the “thou shalt not kill” mandate, did he go inactive?

    Polygamy is another convenient one that we are embarrased by and a mere, disowning of it today…

    I don’t know that we, collectively, are embarrassed by polygamy. If God commanded it, so be it. As Joseph Smith said, whatever God commands is right. There’s no reason to be embarrassed for polygamy, nor for God commanding entire cities to be destroyed. He obviously has His reasons.

  27. Connor
    December 8, 2009 at 12:25 pm #

    A couple months ago I did some research to find the full transcript of this devotional. The Church History Library finally found a copy (BYU’s library didn’t have it, nor did gospelink.com) which has now been transcribed and posted here at latterdayconservative.com.

  28. a concerned mommy
    November 15, 2010 at 2:09 am #

    It’s very interesting to me that one has to in some way denounce the prophets in order to believe that Satan’s evil counterfeit for consecration is a good thing.

  29. Denny
    February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    @Curtis D&C 1:38 “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth shall pass away, my word shall pass away, but shall all be fulfilled whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

  30. terrymac
    February 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Adam Smith’s book, the Wealth of Nations, never uses the word “capitalism”; instead, it refers to “a system of natural liberty.”

    The harms attributed to capitalism are normally a consequence of combinations between wealthy elites and the government which (in socialist theory) is to “aid the unfortunate.” Blame is laid solely upon the fact that the elites are wealthy, rather than their chosen method of acquiring wealth.

    To give an example, Abe Lincoln was a notorious corporate elitist; the Republican Party’s main platform was the Transcontinental Railroad, a massive boondoggle which used government grants and loans to benefit certain political entrepreneurs. The chosen route went right by Abe Lincoln’s property. This attracted people who were not good businessmen, but good politicians.

    As the same time, James Hill built another transcontinental railroad with his own money. His railroad line was built efficiently and was able to make a profit without subsidies. The government boondoggle was built badly and lost money; many of the subsidized businesses went bankrupt.

    Socialist “thinkers” are incapable of discerning the difference between the two sorts of entrepreneurs, and condemn all alike.

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