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Posted by: srichardbellrock ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 06:49AM

Also published here:
the blog version includes footnotes, references

When a General Authority of the LDS Church is discovered to have taught something that in retrospect turns out to be nonsense, one possible apologetic tactic is to suggest that he was “speaking as a man” and not as a prophet (apostle, etc.). In this post I suggest that this tactic ought to be deeply unsatisfactory to the LDS faithful, in that the “speaking as a man” defense means precisely the same thing as claiming the he was teaching “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture,” which is, in Mormonism, a central characteristic of apostate religions.

According to the canonized 1838 reconstruction of Joseph Smith’s First Vision , the very reason that the LDS Church even exists is that “all” other Churches are wrong, corrupt, and according to the Lord Himself, are abominations in His sight (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

As a sincere and dedicated believer of the LDS faith, I regularly attended the Temple and participated in the Endowment ceremony. Out of respect for family and friends who remain practicing members of the Church, I’ll not disrespect the ceremony, nor reveal its details. However, it is not telling tales out of school to say that there has been a series changes made to the delivery of the ordinance over the years, or that prior to the many significant revisions around 1990, the state of non-LDS Christianity was exemplified in the portrayal of a Protestant clergyman, college educated for the ministry, and in the employ of Lucifer. When asked about the religion that is taught by his Protestant Minister, Lucifer answers that “We teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.”
In this brief encounter, we learn a number of characteristics of these purportedly apostate religions: the ministers of them are (i) educated specifically for the ministry, (ii) paid for their labors, and (iii) profess the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. These three characteristics are by no means an exhaustive description of the apostate state of Christianity, but they are, according to the LDS Temple ceremony, characteristics of apostate religion.

LDS General Authorities (GA’s) tend to be drawn from a pool of lawyers and businessmen, not from those trained in divinity, theology, ethics, philosophy, or counselling, so there is no fear of LDS GA’s being accused of being trained for their ministries.

Since the leak of the fact the GA’s of the LDS Church are paid (and relatively well) for their services, it is clear that the Church shares at least one characteristic of those religions that are abominations in the sight of the Lord.
But in this post I am more interested in positing an equivalence between “speaking as a man” and the third above characteristic—“the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.”

According to the current Gospel Principles manual , “the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us…; When the Lord’s servants speak or write under the influence of the Holy Ghost, their words become scripture (see D&C 68:4).”
So the words of the prophets are scripture. But why are they scripture? Because, according to the Lord “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38), and so we are to accept the words of the prophets “as if from mine own mouth” (D&C 21:4).

This being the case, it is incumbent upon the believer to identify who exactly we ought to follow as prophets who speak scripture.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed to be led by living prophets—inspired men called to speak for the Lord… We sustain the President of the Church as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church. We also sustain the counselors in the First Presidency and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.

The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s prophet on earth today. Members of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.

According to uncontested reports by attendees of a 2015 meeting with Apostle David A. Bednar, a Sister Missionary, apparently unsatisfied with the Apostles answer to a question on women and the Priesthood, asked “Are there any scriptures that talk about this subject?” To which Elder Bednar retorted, “I am scripture.”

It is therefore clear that for the LDS faithful the words of the top 15 GA’s—the President and his counsellors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—are scripture. But do these leaders also speak the philosophies of men?

What are “the philosophies of men?” There is clearly not any sort prohibition against philosophy in LDS tradition. Church owned schools have departments of philosophy. LDS scriptures exhort us to “seek…out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study…(D&C 88:118), ” and tell that God doesn’t want to command us in all things (D&C 58:26-29), making it necessary to study things out in our own minds, and not to just ask Him (D&C 9:7,8). What is it to “study it out in your mind” if not philosophy? It ought to be quite odd for anybody who believes in a God to be opposed to philosophy because, as Galileo so eloquently put it: “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended for us to forego their use.”

Quentin L. Cook suggests that those who adopt the philosophies of men into Christianity do so out of embarrassment at the simplicity of the gospel, and they “refuse to accept simple gospel truths for what they are. [S]ome people reject the gospel of Jesus Christ because in their view it doesn’t have adequate intellectual sophistication."”

Hartman Rector Jr uses the phrase “philosophies of men” in the same breathe as “our own ideas or the mysteries of the kingdom.”

Bruce R. McConkie speaks of philosophies that “are not in harmony with the mind and will and purpose of the Lord[,]” and “out of harmony with the Standard Works…” even though they appear to be “seemingly rational and logical explanations.” In his influential “Mormon Doctrine,” Elder McConkie (quite incorrectly) suggests that “philosophy is in effect a religion, ruling out revelation, attempts to decide eternal realities by reason alone.” (bad grammar in the original).
"The wisdom of the world results from the uninspired reflections, research, and discoveries of men. It is composed of partial and fragmentary truths mixed with error. Theorizing and hypothecating commonly accompany it. This type of wisdom includes the philosophies and learning of men which are destructive of faith."

Frankly, there doesn’t seem to be any authoritative source that actually spells out what is meant by the phrase “the philosophies of men.” The above insights from Cook, Rector, and McConkie are suggestive, but do not offer any kind of definition. The lack of authoritative definition seems to indicate that a definition is not necessary, per se, that either the meaning of the phrase is somehow self-evident, or at least accessible to common sense.

It seems to me that when we hear “the philosophies of men” we are to interpret it as something along the lines of the apparently rational and logical views and opinions individuals, derived from reflections, research, and discoveries rather than revelation and the standard works, focused not on the simple gospel message, but on the mysteries of the kingdom, adding in unnecessary intellectual sophistication.

Or in sum, the “philosophies of men” are, as Elder Rector puts it “teaching our own ideas.”

However, when I hear Temple Lucifer state that the religion he and his ministers teach is “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture,” what jumps out to me as the poisonous component is not “the philosophies of men.” No, the insidious part of that description for me is “mingled.” When the minister fails to distinguish personal views from scripture, the listener will accept the personal philosophies of the speaker on the same authority as the scripture.

Speculating, theorizing, or opining cannot in and of themselves be problematic because, as per D&C 9, we are to study things out in our own minds. The problem arises when the listener is unable to disentangle the personal views of the minister from the scripture.

With all of the above in mind, when we consider that Joseph Smith clarified that "a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such” it leaves room for the defender of the faith to respond to repudiated teachings of previous GA’s by asserting that there are times when the Prophet is not speaking as a Prophet, but is speaking as a man.

But what could speaking as a man actually mean? If the implication is that the speaker is making errors and not revealing the mind and will of the Lord, then speaking as a man can only mean “teaching your own ideas.” Such ideas might seem sophisticated, rational and logical, might even address the mysteries of the kingdom, but are derived from reflections, research, and discoveries, rather than revelation. The ideas put forth while “speaking as a man” are nothing less than “the philosophies of men.”

I would suggest that speculating, theorizing, and opining are not problematic in and of themselves. However, there is, in LDS scriptures, a specific prohibition against it: “And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” (D&C 42:14. Italics added).

When prophets and apostles speak under the influence of the Holy Ghost, they speak scripture, but there are also times that they are speaking “as a man”/“philosophies of men.” The more significant issue arises when these modes of discourse are “mingled.” If the listener is unable or unwilling, or is instructed by Church leaders, to not disentangle these modes of discourse, then the prophets and apostles are teaching “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture.”

To be fair, there have been a few occasions where members have been encouraged to figure out for themselves whether a GA is speaking scripture or philosophies of men.
Brigham Young, for example, said: “Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” And “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied.”

And President J. Rueben Clark said:
How shall we know when the things they have spoken were said as they were ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost?
I have given some thought to this question, and the answer thereto so far as I can determine, is: We can tell when the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we, ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak. (italics added).

However, there is a much more dominant theme that emerges from Church leadership.

Ezra Taft Benson: “We can always trust the living prophets. Their teachings reflect the will of the Lord…; Our greatest safety lies in strictly following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church.” (italics added).

“[T]he greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and His children obey, they will always be right.”

Brigham Young said: "I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.

"[I]f the President makes a statement it is not our prerogative to dispute it.”

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy"

Russell M. Nelson quotes Gordon B. Hinckley as saying “It is important … that there be no doubts or concerns about the governance of the Church and the exercise of the prophetic gifts…;” then assures us that “[c]ounterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray.” (italics added).

“According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.”—Carol F. McConkie. (italics added).

“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.”—Wilford Woodruff

Marion G. Romney reports that President Heber J. Grant echoed President Woodruff’s sentiment:
"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.’"

President N. Eldon Tanner warns members specifically not try to decide which prophetic counsel to keep, and which to dismiss:
"The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are …
A man said to me after that, “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, 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 follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep."

Ezra Taft Benson informs us that the words of the living prophets take precedence over the words of past prophets. Perhaps more surprisingly, President Benson asserts that the words of the living prophets even take precedence over the scriptures, then refers to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to support his claim:
"Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to go to the podium 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; 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.’” (Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19.)

I hope that the reader is recognizing a pattern start to emerge from the above sentiments. There is a longstanding tradition in the Church that we are to accept everything said by the living prophets, (even if it’s wrong).

Revealingly, President Benson explicitly states that the prophets are under no obligation to indicate when they are speaking scripture and when they are speaking the philosophies of men:
Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.
Sometimes there are those who argue about words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obliged to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you.” (D&C 21:4.) (italics in the original).

President Benson is clarifying that the prophet will offer no indication as to whether he is speaking as the Lord’s mouthpiece, or of his own accord, essentially conceding that the listener is to expect the prophets to mingle the philosophies of men with scripture.

There are even warnings against failure to follow the Prophet. D&C 1:14 warns that “Those who will not give heed to the words of prophets shall be cut off [,]” and President Harold B. Lee offers the following cautionary tale:
The story is told in the early days of the Church—particularly, I think, at Kirtland, Ohio—where some of the leading brethren in the presiding councils of the Church met secretly and tried to scheme as to how they could get rid of the Prophet Joseph’s leadership. They made the mistake of inviting Brigham Young to one of these secret meetings. He rebuked them, after he had heard the purpose of their meeting. This is part of what he said: “You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.”

Considering this well established tradition of not questioning what the prophets have to say, I think that it is fair to say that there is clear guidance from LDS Church leaders to not follow the counsel (of Presidents Young and Clark) to distinguish between discourse inspired by the Holy Ghost, and times that the prophet is speaking as a man. This being the case, if we not to differentiate between the two, then the prophets and apostles are guilty of mingling the philosophies of men with scripture.

So, apologist brethren, if in your defense of the faith you are required to defend a prophet or apostle for teaching something that has since been repudiated, please do not succumb to the temptation of asserting that they were speaking as a man. To do so is to accuse them of teaching “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture,” the very form of religion that Satan inspired his apostate ministers to preach.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 10:47AM

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 10:47AM

It means their prophets, who guide them in these latter days, are erratic and therefore nearly useless. They're like GPS that sends you in the right direction only part of the time. And when any members, by virtue of their ordinary, non-prophetic senses say, "Um, I'm pretty sure this is the wrong direction," they're told to shut up and follow. Then, when the malfunctioning prophets make a U-turn and backtrack, the followers are told the previous direction had been correct for the time, but to forget they were ever led down that dead end.

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Posted by: gettinreal ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 10:49AM

Good argument! I thought it was well written. Obviously you took a great deal of time to put it together.
Just one catch... The entire MORMON scheme is BS. So no need to exhort your "apologist brethren" unless for your own peace of mind.

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Posted by: mel ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 01:17PM

gettinreal Wrote:
> Just one catch... The entire MORMON scheme is BS.


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Posted by: mel ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 01:19PM

It always seemed illogical that somebody could be a man for 90 years and then all of a sudden at 93 be a prophet.

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Posted by: Shinehah ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 10:55AM

Thank you. A long but very worthwhile read.

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Posted by: valkyriequeen ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 10:58AM

I think Judge Judy said it well: "Every time a teenager opens their mouth, it's a lie!" Thus, every time the "brethren" speak, they speaketh as a teenager. So sayeth Valkyriequeen, not as a man.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 12:54PM

"To do so is to accuse them of teaching “the philosophies of men mingled with scripture,” the very form of religion that Satan inspired his apostate ministers to preach."

Not if it is because of their "natural man" speaking. There could be made a valid argument that Satan is the mingler and counterfeiter while "The Prophets" are giving into their own natures instead of "harkening" to "The Lord" when they have to make a pronouncement - no philosophizing required.

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Posted by: felix ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 01:26PM

This topic is similar to "lying for the lord". In light of the scripture you quoted; D&C 1:38. "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same". There are many scriptures that assert that God cannot lie. I would conclude that if gods leading servants intentionally lie to the members and those who trust them to be truthful it is tantamount to god lying.
How then was it OK for the leaders of the church to adopt a policy of lying to the world and those early converts overseas who trusted them to tell the truth. Here is a clip and paste from an article I found on another web site:

As late as 1850 John Taylor, who became the third president of the church, denied that the church believed in the practice of plural marriage, when he himself at the time had six living wives. In a public discussion in Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France, he stated:

We are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief: ... I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us, containing some of the articles of our Faith. "Doctrine and Covenants," page 330 ... Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again (A tract published by John Taylor in 1850, p. 8; found in Orson Pratt's Works, 1851 edition).

Finally, in 1852, after years of deception, the Mormons publicly admitted that they were practicing polygamy. NOTE: They didn't apologize for lying either.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/11/2019 04:13PM by felix.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 01:59PM

Basically, my point. Their leaders can lie, cheat, steal, coerce, lobby at their discretion and they are acting as men.

The problem isn't their use of philosophy. The problem is they can be weak when it is a good excuse. Satan can even be blamed if they want to go that far. Many a preacher has hit a homer and gone well beyond first base only to repent and blame Lucifer.

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Posted by: S. Richard Bellrock ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 02:20PM

I hope it is clear from the original post that the phrase “the philosophies of men” is not intended to refer to philosophy, per se, but the teaching of personal views.
I’m pretty sure that you are on the same page.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 13, 2019 10:53AM

S. Richard Bellrock Wrote:
> I hope it is clear from the original post that the
> phrase “the philosophies of men” is not
> intended to refer to philosophy, per se, but the
> teaching of personal views.

It wasn't clear to me. I was taught that "philosophy" corrupted "the truth" and it needed restoration.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/13/2019 10:54AM by Elder Berry.

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Posted by: Organized Chaos4F ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 05:21PM

I think it's quite clear what you meant. And thank you for that excellent reasoning using a summation of the church's entire history of the upper echelon apologetics on this point.
You over thought it though. Because what it amounts to is

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Posted by: Organized Chaos ( )
Date: March 11, 2019 05:32PM

Sorry, I didn't get a chance to edit it before it got posted. What it amounts to is an excuse:Any error in a General Authority's teaching is excusable because of who they are, no matter what.
And to think I bought that tripe for 30 years...

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 12:43AM

to have their cake and eat it too.

That Bednar quote is precious: "I AM SCRIPTURE!"

With all the ego trips that guy has been going on, I'm pretty sure that Ego Airlines is going to award him with their "Ultra-Premium VIP Flyer Card."

Of course they are all men, so logically there is never a time that they are not "speaking as men."

The whole idea that a distinction can be discerned based on the gaseous notion that an invisible being called the "Holy Ghost" occasionally does a ventriloquist act using these men as mouthpieces leads to nowhere other than a hopeless quagmire of second-guessing, hindsight and appeals to unreliable "feelings".

How many people felt moved by the Holy Ghost when Paul H. Dunn lied his arse off?

Brigham Young preached that Adam (Michael) is our God, the god to whom we pray and the guy who impregnated Mary with Jesus. He preached it in General Conference. He preached it as revealed truth. But, despite all that, modern Mormons feel free to print out the "speaking as a man" label, slap that label on Brigham Young's teachings and then sweep it all under the rug.

Then they say that God will not allow the Prophet to lead the church astray. That's about the stupidest formulation imaginable because the first question that comes to mind is: "What if the prophet was leading the church astray by telling the church that the prophet would never be allowed to lead the church astray?" The statement carries it's own self-defeating logic within it.

Plus the fact that the modern LDS church claims to be a restoration of the perfect church organization established by Jesus immediately puts the lie to the whole notion that a "prophet can never lead the church astray." If there was a great falling away and apostasy and if the church had originally been led by prophets and apostles, someone had to be leading someone astray. Otherwise, there never would have been a great apostasy and falling away.

Everything makes perfect sense if you view it from the perspective of understanding that the COJCOLDS is now and always has been a fraudulent organization based on fraudulent claims made by a religious fraud.

Nothing makes sense or holds together in any comprehensible, coherent way if you try to maintain a belief that the COJCOLDS is the one and only true church on earth, established by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God through a divinely inspired Prophet named Joseph Smith and that the COJCOLDS continues to be led by divinely inspired men who can never lead the church astray. That way madness lies.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 01:05AM

“please do not succumb to the temptation of asserting that they were speaking as a man.”

Okeydoke. How about speaking as a lying POS? Or is monogamy bad and summary execution of interracial couples good?

The truth is that the Q15 is an uninspired echo chamber mired in groupthink because they’re surrounded by yes men. They can’t lead the church effectively from within that bubble, so I would be a fool to follow them. When the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a ditch.

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Posted by: mel ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 03:26PM

babyloncansuckit Wrote:

> Okeydoke. How about speaking as a lying POS?

Hahahaha! Good one, Babs!

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 01:57AM

(1) The leaders are always right and must be obeyed.

(2) Sometimes current leaders will point out things that past leaders said that were incorrect and anything that was incorrect was obviously not inspired by God and the Holy Ghost.

(3) In any conflict between the statements of current leaders and past leaders, the current leaders take priority because they obviously get the last word. Leaders can be incorrect in the past. They are not incorrect in the present. To doubt the correctness of current leaders is to give oneself over to the adversary and a rebellious nature.

(4) If you ever followed advice or teachings of past leaders that turned out to be uninspired and incorrect, IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT BECAUSE YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY UNWORTHY TO BENEFIT FROM THE INSPIRATION AND DISCERNMENT THAT IS PROVIDED BY THE HOLY GHOST.

Example: "When the Apostle confirmed as correct Bishop Lecherman's personal revelation that you were to become Bishop Lecherman's fourth wife in the new and everlasting covenant of plural marriage, sanctified in the holy temple, you would have known that they were only speaking as men if you had been worthy to receive the promptings of the Holy Ghost. If you had been worthy, the Holy Ghost would have prompted you not to be hasty because the Holy Ghost would have known that the Prophet Wilford Woodruff would issue the manifesto banning polygamy just one week after you got married in the temple and consummated your marriage by having carnal relations with Bishop Lecherman. Now you're literally screwed because you were not in tune with the Holy Ghost. Your only path to any kind of peace of mind and redemption now is to faithfully follow the commands and counsel of the Lord as given to you through his faithful Prophet and Apostles."

Gaslighting at its finest. Taken to an art form. Can you smell the gas?

The only way to avoid the gas-lighting is to avoid the gas-lighters. Apologists who try to take it all seriously, end up turning their minds into twisted gobs of pretzel dough that are useless to themselves and useless to the world.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 01:59AM

(not to detract, but)

I don't believe I've ever heard or read the 'Speaking As A Man' in sanctioned words,

Even tho many of us have heard acquaintances mumble it in their defensive mode,I don't believe a GA has ever used that defense.

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Posted by: Wally Prince ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 03:59AM

officially sanctioned lecture/scripture in which the exact phrase "speaking as a man" is used in this context.

There is the disparaging use of the phrase in the official "Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson (2014)" lesson manual.

"The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—SPEAKING AS A MAN. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet."

This was in the context of essentially teaching the members that there really is no excuse for not following the LIVING PROPHET. (The implication is that the dead prophets are irrelevant, except to the extent that their words are canonized into official scripture. This notion of course messes with the heads of people who have an IQ north of 70 and who can therefore conceptualize that past prophets were once LIVING PROPHETS and then can take the cognitively remarkable next step of realizing that there should therefore be consistency between the eternal truths revealed by past prophets and current living prophets (Exhibit 1 being Brigham Young's teachings about Adam being our god). Of course, the leaders are counting on the members either having IQs below 70 or voluntarily engaging in virtual self-lobotomization in order to maintain good standing.)

On the other hand, the concept of qualifying the validity of statements of past prophets by essentially using a "speaking as a man" subcategory has been expressed in different, but equivalent words.

For example, this is how Bruce R. McDonkie deals with the Adam-God doctrine:

"Nonetheless, as Joseph Smith so pointedly taught, a prophet is not always a prophet, only when he is acting as such. Prophets are men and they make mistakes. Sometimes they err in doctrine. This is one of the reasons the Lord has given us the Standard Works. They become the standards and rules that govern where doctrine and philosophy are concerned. If this were not so, we would believe one thing when one man was president of the Church and another thing in the days of his successors. Truth is eternal and does not vary. Sometimes even wise and good men fall short in the accurate presentation of what is truth. Sometimes a prophet gives personal views which are not endorsed and approved by the Lord." [This may actually be where the "speaking as a man" expression came from--i.e. as a shorthand way of referring to the big fudge operation that Bruce R. McDonkie attempted here.]

(See McDonkie's Letter to Eugene England, BYU Professor, February 19, 1981) as quoted @

Of course in all official, sanctioned, public preaching and lecturing, the emphasis of the leaders is almost always in favor of supporting unquestioning obedience and deference to their pronouncements, so it is not too surprising that the fudgy-smudgy, "speaking as a man" type qualifiers and excuses are typically eschewed and instead kept on the down-low and on a "just between you and me" basis in more informal communications. But we all know that it's a common meme in Mormonism.

Another example is that famous story told by David Whitmer about the time that the attempt to sell the BoM copyright in Canada failed, despite a "revelation" having been squeezed out of the peepstone that had promised success. When they asked Joe how it could be that the revelation had failed to come true, he reportedly told them that some revelations are from god, some are from the minds of men and some are from the devil. The second category is basically the "speaking as a man" idea just expressed in different words.

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Posted by: babyloncansuckit ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 11:11AM

When they guess right, they are inspired. When they guess wrong, they are speaking as a man. Heads I win, tails you lose.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 11:26AM

+1 <snort>

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Posted by: S. Richard Bellrock ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 09:14AM

You are of course correct.
The phrase is used only occasionally, most commonly in alluding to President Benson, as referenced in the op and by Wally Prince.
It is more commonly used in less formal discussions than anything else.
That being said, the essay wasn’t really about the phrase “speaking as a man.” That was just a way to frame the real issue—that the alleged prophets do not allow for a distinction between prophetic and non- prophetic discourse, and that is, in Mormon tradition, a characteristic of apostate religion. Hypocrisy.

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Posted by: matt ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 05:03AM

Speaking as a man is an excellent defence if the man is -for example- the owner of a sports team and is speaking, in general terms, about the sport that his club plays, or sports in general.

However, it is an extremely poor defence if it is a person who is the head of a church.

The difference is a head of a church is always a head of a church, he can never have any "off" time.

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Posted by: kentish ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 11:22AM

They are speaking as a man but as a man who claims to have the ear of God. The idea that he could advocate one thing officially and another unofficially is the ultimate get out of jail free card.

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Posted by: 3X ( )
Date: March 12, 2019 11:30AM

"The idea that he could advocate one thing officially and another unofficially is the ultimate get out of jail free card."

The slickest example: "I don't think we teach that."

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Posted by: anon2828 ( )
Date: March 13, 2019 01:13AM

Compartmentalization. An unhealthy defense mechanism used for avoiding full responsibility. It fits.

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Posted by: snowball ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 10:12AM

My personal problem with this excuse is that the role of the prophet in the LDS scheme requires you to lay aside your own judgement for that of the prophet--even when the prophet is clearly wrong. That means we have to put our reputations on the line, swallow our "pride" and just do what we're told--even when these guys have a long track record of being wrong about some big things--even by their own explicit (blacks & priesthood) or implicit (polygamy) admission!

What's the point? We were told Joseph Smith restored eternal and unchanging truths. As the original poster has so articulately laid out, moving to and fro like a ship in a storm is the sign of the apostate faiths, according to Mormons. Now that there is an accumulation of history behind Mormonism, it is beginning to look less like the church of the restoration and more like the church of the last thing the current guy in charge says.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 12:12PM

"What's the point? We were told Joseph Smith restored eternal and unchanging truths."

The point is to worship the memory of Joseph Smith by following a progression of men who took his power in succession. The problem is not one of them used that power the way Joe did and so continuing revelation became a joke. They have to defend a joke be it "philosophies of men", personal hunches, making decisions not endorsed by God...

Smith made many mistakes and so following a LDS prophet is pretty much following a succession of mistaken "prophets" who don't even do as he did in translating and revelating. There is no good defense for doing this or what "prophets" do or did.

Unless a "mandate from heaven" is more apparent in their schemes of the prophets defending them is going to be basic. Belief (mostly blind) is their only defense.

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Posted by: Free Man ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 03:49PM

Yeah, every day we’re hit by someone selling a scam.

To promote, they use evidence that supports, and ignore or exceed anything contrary.

In science, that is considered fraudulent, but in religion, praised as faith promoting.

Not sure why we have an education system when we’re encouraged to ignore reality and believe what feels good.

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Posted by: Free man ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 03:50PM

Excuse not exceed

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: March 15, 2019 06:52PM

how long was it before BY's 'Michael is God' thing was disowned-repudiated?

What about all the people that went to their graves believing that?

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