Church Leaders and their Highest Priorities
Do church leaders
think they have a duty to tell the truth, or to protect church
authority at all costs?
Apostle Dallin Oaks:
"My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to
protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely
the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration
of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything
may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those
essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information
that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then
it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of
- Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of
Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction
Apostle Boyd K. Packer:
“You seminary teachers and some of you institute and BYU men
will be teaching the history of the Church this school year.
This is an unparalleled opportunity in the lives of your students
to increase their faith and testimony of the divinity of this
work. Your objective should be that they will see the hand
of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church from
its beginning till now.”
“Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as
to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not
properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.”
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church
history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or
faith promoting or not.”
“Some things that are true are not very useful.”
“That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the
weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys
faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the
Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically
to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy.
He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents,
he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. ... Do
not spread disease germs!"
- Apostle Boyd K. Packer, "The
Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect", 1981,
BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271
Apostle Russel M. Nelson:
"Indeed, in some instances, the merciful companion to truth
is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid."
"Any who are tempted to rake through the annals of history,
to use truth unrighteously, or to dig up facts with the intent
to defame or destroy, should hearken to this warning of
“The righteousness of God [is] revealed from faith to faith:
as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath
of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
I repeat: “The wrath of God is … against all … who hold the
truth in unrighteousness.”
To anyone who, because of truth, may be tempted to become
a dissenter against the Lord and his anointed, weigh carefully
your action in light of this sacred scripture:
“These dissenters, having the same instruction and the same
information … yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge
of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long
after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent,
and … wicked, … entirely forgetting the Lord their
God.” (Alma 47:36.)
"We must realize that we are at war. The war began before
the world was and will continue. The forces of the adversary
are extant upon the earth. All of our virtuous motives,
if transmitted only by inertia and timidity, are no match
for the resolute wickedness of those who oppose us."
- Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “Truth—and More,” Ensign,
Jan. 1986, page 69
Never Criticize Past or Present Church Leaders - Even if
it is the Truth
"It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate
power or even government power. It is quite another thing
to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of
an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does
not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George
F. Richards, President of the Council of the Twelve, said
in a conference address in April 1947, 'when we say anything
bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false,
we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and
are thus working against the Lord and his cause.' ...
The Holy Ghost will not guide or confirm criticism of the
Lord's anointed, or of Church leaders, local or general.
This reality should be part of the spiritual evaluation that
LDS readers and viewers apply to those things written about
our history and those who made it."
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, "Reading Church History," CES
Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University,
16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries
Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune,
Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks published a similar talk for the February
1987 Ensign Magazine. Again, Apostle Oaks declared that there
is no place in the church for public criticism of church leaders,
even if the criticism is true. He also said:
"Truth surely exists as an absolute, but our use of truth
should be disciplined by other values. ... When truth is constrained
by other virtues, the outcome is not falsehood but silence
for a season. As the scriptures say, there is “a time
to keep silence, and a time to speak.”
"Does the commandment to avoid faultfinding and evil speaking
apply to Church members’ destructive personal criticism of
Church leaders? Of course it does. It applies to criticism
of all Church leaders—local or general, male or female. In
our relations with all of our Church leaders, we should follow
the Apostle Paul’s direction: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat
him as a father.” (1 Tim. 5:1.)"
"Government or corporate officials, who are elected directly
or indirectly or appointed by majority vote, must expect that
their performance will be subject to critical and public evaluations
by their constituents. That is part of the process of informing
those who have the right and power of selection or removal.
The same is true of popularly elected officers in professional,
community, and other private organizations. I suppose that
the same is true even of church leaders [in other churches]
who are selected by popular vote of members or their representative
bodies. Consistent with gospel standards, these evaluations—though
critical and public—should be constructive."
"A different principle applies in our Church, where the
selection of leaders is based on revelation, subject to
the sustaining vote of the membership. In our system of
Church government, evil speaking and criticism of leaders
by members is always negative. Whether the criticism is true
or not, as Elder George F. Richards explained, it tends
to impair the leaders’ influence and usefulness, thus working
against the Lord and his cause."
"Public debate—the means of resolving differences in a democratic
government—is not appropriate in our Church government. We
are all subject to the authority of the called and sustained
servants of the Lord. They and we are all governed by the
direction of the Spirit of the Lord, and that Spirit only
functions in an atmosphere of unity. That is why personal
differences about Church doctrine or procedure need to be
worked out privately."
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987,
“You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church.
It may contradict your political views. It may contradict
your social views. It may interfere with some of your social
life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the
mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the
promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against
you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness
from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good,
and his name’s glory.’ (DC 21:6)”
- Prophet Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1970,
Family Love Only Short-Term Objective Compared With Obedience
and Church Loyalty
"All Latter-day Saints understand that having an eternal family
is an eternal goal. Exaltation is a family matter, not possible
outside the everlasting covenant of marriage, which makes
possible the perpetuation of glorious family relationships.
But this does not mean that everything related to mortal families
is an eternal goal. There are many short-term objectives
associated with families—such as family togetherness or family
solidarity or love—that are methods, not the eternal goals
we pursue in priority above all others."
"The purpose of mortal families is to bring children into
the world, to teach them what is right, and to prepare all
family members for exaltation in eternal family relationships.
The gospel plan contemplates the kind of family government,
discipline, solidarity, and love that serve those ultimate
goals. But even the love of family members is subject to
the overriding first commandment, which is love of God, and
the Savior’s directive, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”.
As Jesus taught, “He that loveth father or mother more than
me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter
more than me is not worthy of me”.
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, “Weightier Matters,” Ensign,
Jan. 2001, 13
In a recent General Conference President Hinckley and Apostle
Holland again put "uncompromising loyalty" to church leaders
above all else:
So can we trust these mortal men to always tell us the truth?
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