14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 2

Today we continue our series about Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” In his own words:

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine.


I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes—the course entitled “Teachings of the Living Prophets,” number 333. May I commend that class to you and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore whether you’re able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled “Living Prophets for a Living Church.”

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

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.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident which happened to him:

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.” [In Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78]

Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven’t yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, “A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS.” 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.

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General Conference Preparation Tip: I have collected a large number of resources, including general conference packets for all ages, activities, FHE lessons, etc. on my Pinterest board. ←You can access them by clicking on that link. Just click on any picture, it will appear larger, and then click on it again. It should take you to the original link where you can find printable documents and/or instructions. Jocelyn also has a fantastic collection here.

Tomorrow, I will reintroduce the General Conference Book Club, and invite you to join us.

14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 1

In preparation for General Conference, I wanted to do a series about the importance of heeding the words of our living prophet. It has pained me to see a lot of online and media discussion, both among non-members and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where people freely criticize some of the counsel and direction we have been given by our prophets and apostles. Some people claim that the Church is misguided on certain doctrinal principles that have social and political implications. Others suggest that the prophets are slow in bringing about change that they are sure the Church needs to make. I personally reject this kind of speculation. I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and I believe the prophets are acting and speaking with authority. I am convinced that when I heed their counsel, I am protected from dark forces that seem to be railing with greater and greater intensity. I really believe that there is safety in their counsel, and I really believe that our prophet is a spokesman for the Lord in as much of a sense as Moses, Noah, Isaiah, Joseph Smith, and other great prophets were in their time.

Anyway, in 1980, Ezra Taft Benson, then a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, gave a devotional at BYU called Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.  It’s a great talk; a classic, really, and it has been on my mind quite a bit. I wanted to share these points two or three at a time. I acknowledge that this is hardly cutting-edge blogging, but I don’t care. I know it won’t generate a lot of traffic or comments, but it felt important to me, so here it is.  In President Benson’s own words, starting with fundamental number one:

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First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet—the President—and says: “There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”

Then in section 21, verses 4–6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”—as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”

Second:The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.”

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.” [In Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19]

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At the bottom of each of these “Fourteen Fundamentals” posts, I will be sharing some kind of tip, testimony, or idea to get the most out of General Conference.  The first is a link full of invitations that you can share with friends and family, maybe via email or Facebook or your own blog, to invite them to join us in watching what the Lord is saying today through living prophets.  Here’s a quick glance at the video invitation you can share.

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