Since the beginning of time, the adversary has stirred up the hearts of those in Christ’s church against the prophets and apostles in veiled (or unveiled) criticism about their fallibility, age, or human frailties as a way of chipping away at their authority and weakening faith. Yet it’s comforting to know that despite this, Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church. He calls specific men to these sacred positions because He is the One with the authority to make these divinely inspired callings. He is in charge. We are not. We also know that, “No one knows how to work a crowd better than the adversary.”[ii] So, it shouldn’t surprise us to find that there will be a concerted effort to undermine and lessen the authority of the prophets, seers and revelators—and it will be done in very smooth and unique ways.
With the intent to clarify some misconceptions or false teachings that members of the church might encounter on this topic, here are a few things we could consider:
1. Go to the Source.
If we truly understand and have faith in the role and significance of prophets, seers and revelators, then we’ll understand why the adversary is so keen to undermine them. President Henry B. Eyring said:
Satan will always work on the Saints of God to undermine their faith in priesthood keys. One way he does it is to point out the humanity of those who hold them. He can in that way weaken our testimony and so cut us loose from the line of keys by which the Lord ties us to Him.
… The warning for us is plain. If we look for human frailty in humans, we will always find it. When we focus on finding the frailties of those who hold priesthood keys, we run risks for ourselves. When we speak or write to others of such frailties, we put them at risk. [iii]
If I were to take an educated guess about the specifics of how Satan would go about getting members of the church to start questioning prophet or apostles and priesthood authority, I would start by saying that he begins by whispering doubts in the ears of the saints, as described in 2 Nephi 28:22:
“And behold, others he flattereth away … and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.”
With this negative “whispering campaign”, the adversary sets out to gradually—but purposefully—sow seeds of doubt or criticism about individual members of The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He might:
Offer convincing, subtle alternatives such as groups, symposiums or blogs so that members’ attention is diverted to them instead of the words of living prophets;
Encourage members of the church to begin to view prophets and apostles as fairly regular, kind, older gentlemen whose words are nice-—but not always up to speed with social trends. Get them to pick and choose what to follow from their words.
Point the potential for fallibility. Suggest an “old-age release” or the possibility that newer or younger Church leaders might bring in more liberal ideologies. Hope that as a result, LDS doctrine will evolve to be more in sync with current social trends;
Suggest that there are power struggles, discord, and unity issues among the Brethren;
Finally, weaken the messenger so that the message becomes weak (or at least taken with a grain of salt) and thus lessen the authority and divinity of the calling of the holy apostleship.
Why would this occur in a church that is supposed to be Zion and of one heart and one mind? Why do some choose to complain against and chip away at authority? Why is it sometimes difficult to sustain or follow the words of prophets and apostles—even when we know they are called of God? Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander gives some insight into this:
But I ask myself, if this is so clear, why is it so difficult? There may be many answers to this, but I think, in reality, there is only one. Most of the difficulty can be traced to our desire to be more acceptable to the world than to God. The teachings of a living prophet are often contrary to the trends of the world. We, as Latter-day Saints, must understand that there is an expanding gulf between the standards of the world and those of the gospel and kingdom of God, and that living prophets will always teach the standards of God. As much as we may want the gospel to accommodate to the world, it can’t, it won’t, it never has, and it never will. … to have living prophets, seers, and revelators among us and not listen to them is no better than not having them at all.[iv]
To read the rest of the post at Mormon Women Stand, click here.