Monday, April 23, 2012

A prophet only when acting as such, part 4: Infallibility

It isn't about fallibility, it's about authority: Christ's authority. As Church members, we follow the apostles because Christ, not we ourselves, called them to serve. They are Christ’s representatives, not ours. They will be judged for the way they use their authority, but they will not be judged by us. Christ gives the authority to judge and condemn His apostles only to the First Presidency, not to the members of His Church. And so we follow them, with a conviction born of the Holy Ghost that they are indeed Christ's apostles, but without regard to their fallibility or infallibility.


Anonymous Matt W. said...

Gary: This is interesting. I think it is safe to say that we completely agree on this point, but my mind can not help but wonder at where the bounds of their authority lie. For example, Boyd K. Packer reported once that a couple came to him to ask what colors to paint the walls in their house (I am paraphrasing.) and he responded "Has it ever occurred to you that the Lord doesn't care?". It would seem then, that somethings are irrelevant to drawing us unto Christ. We need to follow the prophets in their choice of attire or hair groom methods, for example. Do you see the line between where we need to follow the apostles' authority and not follow the apostles' authority as crisp and well defined? I confess that personally it is sometimes fuzzy to me where exactly the line is.

4/23/2012 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Matt W.: I agree with you that somewhere between general conference and home decor advice, it gets fuzzy.

4/23/2012 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger DavidH said...

I agree as well Gary. Given that they are not infallible, though, I believe I am accountable if I follow a directive that I believe is wrong.

4/24/2012 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about fuzzy. I had a Bishop tell me that the First Presidency directive to "avoid" Sunday meetings other than the three-hour block (back in 1999) was wrong. He explained that it would be more disruptive of family life to hold various other church meetings during the week rather than on Sundays. He said family time during the week was more important that family time on Sundays. He said the Lords work on Sunday was a priority over family time on Sundays.

I've been very fuzzy ever since trying to figure out who to follow, the General Authorities or my Bishop when their "directives" are different. Which one is more infallible?

4/25/2012 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Not fuzzy at all, in my opinion.

Gospel Principles: "It is contrary to the order of heaven for a person to receive revelation for someone over whom he or she does not preside."

Dallin H. Oaks: "When one person purports to receive revelation for another person outside his or her own area of responsibility—such as a Church member who claims to have revelation to guide the entire Church or a person who claims to have a revelation to guide another person over whom he or she has no presiding authority according to the order of the Church—you can be sure that such revelations are not from the Lord." (New Era, Sep. 2004.)

Gospel Fundamentals: "Each of us can receive revelation for our own good. But revelations for the whole Church are given only to the prophet. We cannot receive revelation for a person who is a leader for us in the Church."

If you're still fuzzy about it, read these six paragraphs at LDS.org.

4/25/2012 09:51:00 PM  
Anonymous log said...

The priesthood has authority to dictate in all areas of life; yes, even down to the home decor.

4/25/2012 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

log: according to Howard W. Hunter, "God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation. He acts by gentle solicitation and by sweet enticement. He always acts with unfailing respect for the freedom and independence that we possess. He wants to help us and pleads for the chance to assist us, but he will not do so in violation of our agency."

Boyd K. Packer illustrates: "Suppose, if you will, that a couple had money available to build a house. Suppose they had prayed endlessly over whether they should build an Early American style, a ranch style, modern-style architecture, or perhaps a Mediterranean style. Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps the Lord just plain doesn’t care?"

I've been married since 1969 and, in my experience, the priesthood probably shouldn't "dictate" too much, especially not about home decor.

4/26/2012 02:49:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Anonymous: Please forgive me for not publishing your comment about bishops and stake presidents you've had who allegedly received revelations contrary to the First Presidency and Twelve. When we say the Church is true, we mean collectively not individually. All of us, save Jesus only, are fallible. All of us, save Jesus only, have made mistakes. I see no point in bringing up examples to prove that point because it is not even in question. On the other hand, my comment policies prohibit "looking for flaws in the Church or its leaders."

4/26/2012 07:37:00 AM  

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