Introduction: What Do Mormonism's General Authorities Really
Know About the Supposed Truthfulness of the LDS Church--and How Do They
Supposedly Know It?
A question often asked by those re-examining their Mormon faith is whether
the General Authorities of the LDS Church genuinely believe the Church is
They may believe it, but do they really know it?
And are they forthright with the Mormon membership about what they say claim
either believe or know?
Based on my personal contact with some of Mormonismís highest leaders,
obtained through conversation and correspondence, the answers to these
questions is simply "No."
President Ezra Taft Benson
My grandfather's testimony of Mormonism, as expressed to me repeatedly over
the years in personal discussions and correspondence, was rooted in two basic
The Book of Mormon
He fervently believed that the Book of Mormon was the revealed word of
God and an actual historical document. From what I was able to observe, he
never, for a moment, questioned its authenticity.
That said, however, I never personally heard or saw him analyze or critique
the Book of Mormon in any real depth on issues relating to its alleged
historicity, authenticity or reliability.
In private, his feelings about the Book of Mormon were not as
resounding or convincing as they were when he was behind the pulpit
My grandfather did admit to me, one-on-one, that even though he insisted the
LDS Church was not neutral on the question of organic evolution, one could
argue for or against it from the same Mormon scriptures.
In other words, for all his publicly-expressed confidence in the Book of
Mormon, in this particular instance he was not nearly as emphatic or
confident in private as he appeared in public about the surety of LDS
Nevertheless, his hesitancy on that question was not enough to shake his
unbending faith in the authenticity of the gold plates.
To my grandfather, they were without question the translated word of God,
serving as a pillar of unshakeable, personal, testimonial faith.
Ranking second only to revealed Mormon scripture in battling what he called
godless Communism, he told me, were the publications of the John Birch
Society--which he told me by letter every American should have access to.
The Ranking Leaders of the Mormon Church
My grandfather unquestioningly believed, and simply accepted, that the
highest leaders of the Church--most notably, the LDS President and the First
Presidency counselors, together with the Quorum of the Twelve--were inspired
by God in leading the affairs of the Mormon Church.
He insisted that all must follow the Brethren devoutly--and without
For example, when he called me one snowy, wintry day in Provo, Utah (at the
behest of my distraught mother) to tell me to break off my engagement to Mary
Ann, he introduced himself by saying, "Stephen, I'm not calling as your
grandfather, but as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve."
He did, however, privately acknowledge to me that these Church leaders were
human, that they made mistakes, that they did not always agree among
themselves on doctrinal matters (such as on the official Church position on
organic evolution) and that some matters about which they disagreed among
themselves (again, such as with organic evolution) were not necessary to
one's eternal salvation.
Still, he told me that obedience to the General Authorities--even if what
they claimed to be true was, in fact, wrong--constituted a fundamental
principle of the Gospel.
He assured me that God would bless those who followed the Brethren, even when
the Brethren were in error.
My grandfather also told me that he did not want me to publish anything that
would undermine faith or testimony in the leaders of the Mormon Church.
In short, he was more committed to the idea that obedience trumped truth than
the other way around.
My grandfather never claimed to me (or anyone else of whom I was aware) that
he had personally seen God, Jesus Christ or other divine beings.
He did, however, emotionally inform me that he had had an experience in the
Salt Lake temple (regarding the announcement by President Kimball on Blacks
and the priesthood) that was too sacred to talk about.
He told me that it was one of the most "spiritual" experiences of
his life but that he would not delve into it at all, even though I requested
that he do so.
He also informed the assembled Benson family at a Nauvoo, Illinois, reunion
that there were other matters which he was not at liberty to discuss, either.
What those were, he never did say.
He was never specific with me in revealing any particular personal
experiences of his that formed the basis for his testimony of the
truthfulness of Mormonism--other than to bear witness to knowing that truth
of LDS claims through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Apostle Bruce R. McConkie
In a lengthy face-to-face conversation I had with McConkie at his home while
doing a BYU research paper on the official Mormon Church position on the
subject of organic evolution, McConkie strongly emphasized what was an
obvious and fundamental basis for his belief in the truthfulness of the
That foundation was that the Standard Works of the Church served as
the ultimate authority in determining LDS doctrinal truth--even more so than
the words of the so-called "living prophets."
McConkie said that the canonized LDS scriptures superceded anything that
living Presidents of the Church had declared, or might declare.
He said that the Standard Works served as the final test--the
pre-eminent standard of measurement--in ascertaining the validity of any claim
made by Mormon Church leaders, including teachings of both living and dead
presidents of the Church.
Otherwise, McConkie told me, these scriptures would not be known as the "Standard"
In making this claim, McConkie specifically criticized in my presence two LDS
Church Presidents whom he said had made uninspired pronouncements while
serving as heads of the Church.
Their pronouncements were false, he argued, because what they said was
clearly contradicted by the LDS Standard Works:
--The first was President Brigham Young, for his teachings on the Adam-God
doctrine (specifically, that Adam, of Adam and Eve fame, was actually our
Heavenly Father and had sired Jesus Christ through sex with Mary).
On this subject, McConkie admitted to me that one could quote Young against
--The second Mormon Church head to utter false doctrine in that capacity was,
McConkie told me, President David O. McKay.
McConkie said that McKay delivered untruths to BYU students in a campus
oration, in which he advised them to study the theory of organic evolution
and the geologic history pointing to an ancient earth.
McKay told the students that organic evolution was a beautiful theory, as
long as God was not divorced from it, and that the Earth was, in fact, millions
of years old.
McConkie informed me that these claims of McKay had not been inspired by the
McConkie did not admit to having himself made any doctrinal errors himself.
In this area, his testimony seemed to rest on his own sense of doctrinal
In fact, McConkie told me that his emphatic claim(published in the first
edition of his book Mormon Doctrine but edited out of its second
edition) that the Roman Catholic Church was the Church of the Devil was true.
When I asked him to explain its deletion from the books later edition,
McConkie insisted that it was removed not because it was not true but because
it was too difficult for people to accept.
President Spencer W. Kimball
During the course of my BYU research paper on the official LDS stand
regarding organic evolution, I repeatedly corresponded with Kimball, who was
then Mormon Church President.
Throughout the course of our exchanges, I had a difficult and increasingly
frustrating time obtaining direct and clear answers from him on the subject,
even though I made specific and detailed inquiries.
For instance, on the question of previous First Presidency statements on the
physical origins of humankind, Kimball informed me in personal correspondence
that he was not familiar with the First Presidency statements I had cited in
my initial correspondence with him and requested that I mail them to him,
which I did.
Clearly, whatever confidence Kimball had in the truthfulness of Mormonism was
not always based on official Mormon positions enunciated by the Presidents of
the Church, some of which he admitted to me he knew nothing.
However, in contradicting Kimball for whom he worked, Secretary to the Office
of the First Presidency, Arthur C. Haycock, later told me in a phone conversation
that Kimball was incorrect in confessing to me ignorance about the First
Presidency statements he had asked me to send him.
In a discussion from his Church office in Salt Lake City, Haycock informed me
that Kimball was, in fact, aware of those official First Presidency
statements--but that he had forgotten he was aware of them.
When I asked Haycock for permission to reproduce Kimballís correspondence to
me in a BYU undergraduate research paper I was doing on the subject, Haycock
said I could--as long as I made it clear in my paper that the interpretations
reached about Kimball's correspondence with me were my own.
Haycock did not offer me Kimballís explanatons of his owncorrespondence with
me, assuming Kimball had any to give.
I continued to press Kimball for answers but received none from him.
Eventually, the First Presidency (consisting of Kimball and his two
counselors, N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney) signed and sent a letter to
my Arizona bishop, directing him to answer my questions in their behalf.
To assist the bishop in that effort, Kimball, Tanner and Romney included a
1909 statement from the First Presidency of Joseph F. Smith on the subject of
organic evolution--a statement that Kimball had told me in his earlier
correspondence with me that he was not familiar with and which had I ended up
sending to him, at his request.
Although they included the 1909 statement for use by my bishop in explaining
to me the official Church position on organic evolution to me, the Kimball First
Presidency did not tell my bishop what that statement meant.
Despite Kimball's, Tanner's and Romney's directive to my bishop to answer my
questions on the official Church stance on organic evolution, the bishop felt
unqualified to do so.
Therefore, the bishop advised me to write Kimball one more time, requesting
further clarification on the subject.
I did so but Kimball never answered back.
On the subject of organic evolution and faith, the only direction Kimball
gave me was to ask if I had Henry Eyring's book, Faith of a Scientist,
in which Eyring asserted that science and religion both served as tools in
the search for truth: the former in helping people avoid myth; and the latter
in directing people toward God.
When I told Kimball that I had read Eyring's book and asked him to provide me
with his own views on it, Kimball remained silent.
Apostle Mark E. Petersen
In conducting my research on the question of the official Mormon Church
position on organic evolution, I also corresponded with Petersen.
Petersen evidenced in personal correspondence with me a lack of firm belief
in the seemingly official pronouncements of even unsigned editorials in the
official LDS publication, the Church News.
In pressing him, Petersen admitted to me the following:
--The unsigned Church News editorials written on the subject of
organic evolution had actually been authored by him.
--These editorials represented his personal opinion only.
--Official statements on Church doctrine came soley from signed First Presidency
Petersen then refused to tell me, even though I specifically asked him to so,
what the official Mormon Church position was on the topic of organic
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks
In a conversation that my wife Mary Ann and I had with Oaks shortly before
leaving the Mormon Church, he told me that the basis for his personal
testimony about the truthfulness of Mormonism took the form of a warm
spiritual witness which he felt in his heart.
From what Oaks told me, this witness had particular meaning for him with
regard to the truthfulness of official Mormon scripture.
Oaks admitted, for instance, that critics of the Book of Abraham
seemed to presently have hold the upper hand in arguments against its
Oaks told me, however, that the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham
ultimately came through a personal, spiritual witness.
Oaks further said that the Book of Mormon could neither be proven or
disproven by evidentiary examination, but in the end, also had to be accepted
In admitting that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon could not be
empirically proven, Oaks acknowledged that portions of the Book of Mormon
(albeit insignificant, in his opinion) might have potential problems with
Specifically, he admitted that he, too, had wondered while composing his own
sermons how the words of the Apostle Paul from his epistles to the
Corinthians could end up, almost word for word, in the Book of Mormon,
even though Bible prophets preceded their counterparts in the Book
of Mormon by generations.
Oaks concluded that God must have inspired Bible and Book of Mormon
prophets to speak using the same, exact language.
Oaks then attempted to minimize obvious Book of Mormon plagiarisms by
drawing a comparison between the Book of Mormon and oneís marriage.
He said that one should not abandon oneís marriage because it is not perfect;
likewise, Oaks argued that merely because 5% of the Book of Mormon (an
estimation he came up with himself based upon a quick perusal of a paperback
copy of the book which wife Mary Ann had highlighted with examples of
plagiarisms), one should not abandon it, either.
Regardless, Oaks informed me that he had received a spiritual witness that
served as the basis for his personal testimony that the Book of Mormon
Oaks's testimony regarding Mormonism's apostles and prophets was both
He admitted to me not being impressed with the antics of certain fellow
members of the Quorum of the Twelve, notably his senior, Boyd K. Packer.
After it became public knowledge that Packer had improperly involved himself
in the excommunication of Mormon dissident, Paul Toscano, Oaks, in referring
to Packer, told me, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear."
Oaks then lied on the record to the press about what he actually knew of
Packer's inappropriate behavior and was forced to retract when caught.
Oaks told me that he would steadfastly stand by the President of the Church,
with one notable exception:
Oaks would not defer, he said, to the President of the Church if the
President were to come out and declare that the Book of Mormon was not
If that should happen, Oaks said he would look to the Quorum of the Twelve
for a vote as to whether what the Church President had said about the Book
of Mormon deserved support.
Oaks also did not seem all that certain with regard to the reliability of
prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets.
He told me that Church members should not be keeping track of which
prophecies had been borne out and, further, that prophecies made by Mormon
prophets were for private, rather than public, application.
Oaks downplayed the prophetic role of Mormon Church prophets by asserting
that prophesying was only a minor responsibility of prophets. Their major
role, he declared, was to testify of Jesus Christ.
Oaks argued that the role of Mormon prophets had evolved over time.
He told me, for instance, that the basic doctrines of Mormonism were revealed
by Joseph Smith early on in the history of the Church.
Oaks noted that the more modern approach of Church governance has been, since
the time of President Joseph F. Smith, to "beseech his counselors in the
First Presidency to help him, to watch over him, so that they could together
make the right decisions that God wanted them to make."
When I asked Oaks to share with me his personal testimony that served as a
basis for his apostolic calling as a special witness for Christ, Oaks
recounted his days as a college student at the University of Chicago, where he
said he had questions about the Mormon Church.
Oaks did not detail the nature of those questions but said a local LDS
Institute teacher helped him find answers.
Apostle Neal A. Maxwell
Maxwell was together with, and participated in, the same conversations I had
Maxwell seemed equally unsure as to the evidentiary proof for the Book of
He told me, for instance, that God would not provide proof of the Book of
Mormon until the end--thereby indicating that such proof did not presently
Maxwell also told me that one of the purposes of FARMS was to prevent the
General Authorities from being outflanked by the Church's critics.
As to how he personally regarded the pronouncements of president of the
Church, Maxwell said it was his duty to be loyal to the Church president.
Maxwell added, however, that he not agree with everything President Ezra Taft
Benson had to say on political matters.
This was a particularly interesting admission, given that Benson had earlier
(albeit as an apostle) publicly declared that God's prophets could speak
authoritatively on all matters, including those of a political nature.
Maxwell, like Oaks, warned me against keeping "box scores" when it
came to tallying which prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets turned out to be
turned--and which ones turned out to be false.
He further reminded me that Mormon prophets spoke as prophets only when they
were acting as prophets--but that, for instance, the teachings about people
living on the moon attributed to Joseph Smith were probably misreported.
Maxwell also instructed me as to how revelation for the Mormon Church was
He said that Joseph Smith's role as unilaterally revealing doctrine in behalf
of the LDS Church was a practice not continued by subsequent Mormon prophets.
Maxwell claimed there are four levels of fundamental Church doctrine:
(1) Doctrines revealed by the prophet speaking alone
(2) Doctrines revealed by the prophet in conjunction with his First
(3) Doctrines revealed in First Presidency statements, with the words of the
First Presidency assuming "a special status"
(4) Doctrines revealed by official declaration
Maxwell and Oaks, together, asserted that what the President of the Mormon
Church said must be in compliance with the Standard Works of the
Church in order to be accepted as acripture.
They also said that that when Brigham Young taught what Oaks called the
"false" doctrine of Adam-God, it was because he was a young prophet
who was in need of the help of some good counselor.
When I asked Maxwell to share with me his personal testimony as to his
apostolic calling as a Special Witness of Christ, he told me about the time
when, as a young boy, he witnessed his father give his sibling a healing priesthood
Conclusion: Pulling Back the Curtain and Revealing the Charade
The above statements by Mormonism's supposed prophets, seers and revelators
speak for themselves.
Based upon their own admissions, these men do not have persuasive, convincing
or complete knowledge concerning the truthfulness of Mormon doctrine or
Nor do they have unswerving confidence in the ability of Mormon prophets,
including the President of the Church, to speak the truth.
The Mormon Church is a consumate fraud, based upon myths perpetrated by its
leaders in public and confessed by them in private.