Print Friendly, PDF & Email

L. Hannah Stoddard and James F. Stoddard III, Republished from Joseph Smith Foundation Papers.

Please read this first:

Dealing with real Church history and issues that arise isn’t always pleasant.  Overall, our Church history is filled with near-countless stories of faith, integrity and service.  For anyone struggling with doubts caused by individual circumstances with unworthy members or leaders, please hold on to the healing that can be found through the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives today and has the power to heal your situation just as He healed those anciently.  Also, please consider staying in the Church, or, if you have separated yourself, please come back as soon as you feel comfortable doing so.

Provo Missionary Training Center, Credit: Ricardo630

On March 19, 2018, MormonLeaks released an audio recording from 2017 of a man alleged to be “Joseph L. Bishop admitting to inappropriate interactions he had with female missionaries while he was President of the Provo Missionary Training Center.”

Three weeks later, on April 5, 2018, 55-year-old McKenna Denson held a press conference accusing former MTC President, Joseph L. Bishop, of rape and explained her role and purpose in creating the previously leaked audio recording. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred while she was serving as a sister missionary at the Provo Missionary Training Center in 1984.

 Read more: “Woman breaks her silence 30 years after she says she was raped in secret room by Mormon Church official

In the audio recording, released on March 19, 2018, the voice of a man believed to be Joseph L. Bishop admits to multiple inappropriate relations, ranging throughout his life from

  • “[w]hen I was a young missionary, in Argentina [inaudible 01:15:08], there was a lady.”
  • “I remember one when I was in the Bishopric”,
  • and “molest[ing]” at least one (and possibly two or more) sister missionaries at the MTC.
Joseph L. Bishop, former MTC President accused of sexual assault

The leaked conversation also includes confessions to struggling with “sexual addiction” when serving as president of the Argentina Buenos Aires North Mission (1978-1981), president of Weber State College (1972-1978), and likely executive director of the BYU–Public School Partnership and Area Welfare Agent in Central America.

There is also acknowledgment to being “still very much addicted” when president of the Provo Missionary Training Center from 1983-1986.  The voice of the man, believed to be Bishop, explains he worked with sister missionaries “who had been . . . traumatized.” and then laments,

“. . . I was not strong. The last person who should have been in that situation was me. I shouldn’t have been in that position.”1

Three days after the recording went public, a report released by Brigham Young University police revealed that Joseph L. Bishop has admitted to requesting the alleged victim to “. . . show him her breasts . . .” in his “. . . small MTC preparation room . . .” in Provo, Utah.

To learn more:

How did this happen? We have someone who appears to admit to being a sexual “predator” for many years while holding high-level positions in the Church. Positions over thousands of vulnerable young women.

The majority of commentators have latched on to the MTC President scandal as ammunition against the Restoration of the Gospel in these, the Latter-days. We seek to turn the conversation back to the case in point.  We do not condone sexual abuse of any kind and are adamant that any guilty party should be brought to justice, regardless of position. At the same time, LDS Answers is one of the foremost champions in defending the Restoration. Our mission is to instill faith in Jesus Christ and stand true to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his teachings.

The purpose of this article is to present a faithful perspective to the MTC President sex abuse scandal. We believe important lessons must be learned from the Joseph L. Bishop story.

1Lesson – We should not place blind faith in leaders.

Richard R. Lyman, member of the Quorum of the Twelve, excommunicated in 1943

If the allegations levied against Joseph L. Bishop are true, members must remember that this is not the first time a leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has committed serious sin.

There is evidence that a 20th-century member of the Quorum of the Twelve was caught in an adulterous 18-year affair, while serving in his high position.23

There is evidence that an Assistant President of the Church attempted and likely succeeded, seducing the wife of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.4

There is evidence that a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy sexually molested a 12-year-old neighbor girl. This leader dishonestly denied his actions until finally admitting his guilt a year later.567

There is evidence of a branch president excommunicating a member for opposing Hitler8 during WWII.

Mountain Meadows Massacre (Learn more)

There is evidence of Stake Presidents and Bishops pressuring faithful LDS men to deceitfully murder9 helpless women and children.

There is evidence that, in Nauvoo, a member of the First Presidency and other high-ranking leaders plotted and schemed to kill the Prophet Joseph Smith10, even threatening young teenage boys with their lives.

Over two millennia ago, there is evidence that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve betrayed the Son of God and delivered him over to be crucified and put to death.11

The list could go on and on and on.

What must we learn from our history?

Our trust must be solely in God and not in man. In JST Mark 9, the Son of God warned against appointed exemplars and teachers that can fall. Even leaders who are in a position to guide the people.

“And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.” JST Mark 9

The Prophet Joseph also consistently taught that we must never blindly follow any priesthood leader, even the President of the Church.

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves. . . .” 12

President Brigham Young echoed the same counsel. President Young taught that no man is capable of entering the Celestial Kingdom who blindly follows his leaders.13

Some say, “I don’t put blind faith in my leaders because I know they won’t do anything seriously wrong.” This statement alone proves they exercise blind faith in their Church leaders.

Blindly following should never be part of the program in the true Church of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon, in the words of Alma who learned wisdom through his experience with his wicked leader Noah, strongly counsels against leader worship.

“. . . trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14)

Alma learned wisdom through experience. “. . . trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14)

Note that we should only trust Church leaders who “[walk] in His ways and [keep] His commandments.”

Nephi, with perhaps even more power, counseled after seeing our day in vision:

“Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Nephi 28:31)

Nephi knew by personal experience with one of the priesthood leaders in Jerusalem, Laban, that we must never place our trust in any man.

Is faith being placed in leaders and not in God?

Some testimonies have been shaken or even lost by the accusations levied against this former MTC President, Joseph L. Bishop. This trauma reveals that our faith is being placed in leaders and not in God. Trusting in man destroys testimony.

2Lesson – Leaders should be held accountable.

McKenna Denson, one of the women claiming to have been abused by the MTC President, maintains she reported the abuse to her bishop, Ron Leavitt, in 1984. Leavitt’s response to the press, when asked if he remembered this conversation was “Oh heavens yes,”.

However, Leavitt claims he did not pass on McKenna’s complaints to LDS Church leadership or police. Why? Leavitt explained,

“I didn’t think it had much credence. I wasn’t going to risk sullying the reputation of someone based on that kind of a report.”14

Leavitt’s feelings are representative of a dangerous attitude expressed by many who insist, “Denson’s claims cannot possibly be true. An MTC President would never do such a thing!”

Others wonder whether the wisest course of action is to simply ignore the abuse, cover it up and move on.

Is it permissible to question a man or woman in authority?  At what level?

Should someone be condemned for “not sustaining their leaders” if they hold leaders accountable?

The Prophet Joseph Smith is, in our opinion, the greatest prototype of a righteous leader, excepting the Son of God. Throughout his life, the Prophet abhorred priestcraft and leader worship.

On April 6, 1843, a special conference was organized in commemoration of the anniversary of the organization of the Church. On this occasion, the Prophet declared:

“It is my object to ascertain the standing of the first presidency, (as I have been instructed) I present myself for trial, I shall next present my councillors for trial. . . .

“Are you satisfied with the first presidency, so far as I am concerned, or will you choose another? If I have done any thing to injure my character in the sight of men & angels — or men & women, come forward tell of it & if not ever after hold your peace.”15

“Joseph returned his thanks — to the assembly. & said he would serve them according to the best of his ability.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith was not afraid to acknowledge shortcomings or mistakes.  He announced before the assembly of Saints,

“If I have done any thing to injure my character in the sight of men & angels — or men & women, come forward tell of it.

Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration, the head of the dispensation, the President of Church and the greatest man ever to live, excepting the Son, had a better right than any man to frown on criticism. However, even he did not consider himself above the law.

After requesting the Latter-day Saints to present any complaints or concerns, Brigham Young “arose & nominated Joseph Smith to continue as the President of the Church.”  President Young’s loyalty to Joseph Smith was a theme that continued until his last breath.

Orson Hyde seconded President Young’s motion and then it was put to a vote.  For the first time in the history of the Church, the vote was unanimous!

“Such a show of hands was never seen before in the church.

“—Joseph returned his thanks — to the assembly. & said he would serve them according to the best of his ability.”16

Sidney Rigdon (First Counselor) was then presented “for trial” and sustained.

William Law (Second Counselor) was then presented “for trial” and sustained.

Patriarch Hyrum Smith was then presented and the congregation voted in favor of Hyrum retaining his office.

At the conclusion of this action, the Prophet Joseph Smith humbly proclaimed,

“I do not know any thing against the twelve, if I did I would present them for trial.”

The Prophet Joseph understood that he and his fellow leaders were not “above the law”.  To Joseph Smith, “defending the Church” did not mean defending his first counselor, his second counselor or even himself as President.

Defending the Church meant defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pointing the Latter-day Saints to the Father and the Son. Here, the Prophet begged his people to place their trust.

Defending the Church meant defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ and pointing the Latter-day Saints to the Father and the Son.

Joseph Smith built his foundation on God, not man.

If the members knew of anything he had done wrong, he asked them to “come forward tell of it” that he might rectify the issue. Joseph Smith understood that holding leaders accountable would not threaten the Church, for the foundation he built was founded on God, and not man.

3Lesson – There is a difference between power and authority.

Handbook 2: Administering the Church

Another important key is the difference between Priesthood power and authority.

For example, note the instruction given in the official handbook of the Church that brethren give ordinances and blessings “by the authority of the priesthood.” Notice that there is no mention of “by the power of the priesthood.”

A leader may hold a certain position, he may be given authority, but whether or not he executes that duty with power depends on one thing: personal righteousness. This is true for fathers, Bishops, Stake Presidents, Members of the Seventy, the Quorum of the Twelve and even the Presidents of the Church.  It is their duty to live worthy of their calling but the sad truth is that many do not.

The oft-repeated verses from section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants remind us:

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

“Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson —

“That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.” (D&C 121:34–36.)

Is the Son of God warning that many leaders are “called” to positions of leadership, but few live worthy of these callings?

As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught,

“The power, glory, and blessings of the priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued, for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice but not offering it in righteousness, therefore he was cursed.

“It signifies then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed, otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing.” 17

Cain was called to give sacrifice. He was given authority, but he did not live worthy of his calling.

“. . . Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice but not offering it in righteousness, therefore he was cursed.” (Joseph Smith)

This principle is reiterated in D&C 107. In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord taught:

“. . . the duty of a president over the office of a deacon is to preside over twelve deacons, to sit in council with them, and to teach them their duty, edifying one another, as it is given according to the covenants.”

Note the important wording here. The Lord did not say the deacon’s president always performs his duty to sit in council with deacons, to teach them their duty and edify one another. Only that it was his duty.

Is this also true for other callings such as MTC Presidents? Could it be possible that Joseph L. Bishop be called to serve as the President of the MTC and not fulfill his duty?

While we have no specific revelation on MTC Presidents, we do have revelations on positions of leadership such as the Quorum of the Twelve and the Presidents of the Church. For example, the Son of God clarified that when a man is called as a President of the Church, it is his duty to be (among other things) a prophet, seer and revelator.

“the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses—

“Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.” (D&C 107:91-92)

The Lord always declares the leader’s duty but never promises priesthood holders will live worthy.

Note that the wording for even a position considered high, such as President of the Church, is identical to the wording of what is considered to be a lower position, like the deacon’s president. In every case, the Lord declares the leader’s duty but the Lord never says that priesthood holders will live worthy of their duty. This is true for the deacon’s quorum president and it is also true for a position like President of the Church. Again, the Lord did not say the President of the Church was a prophet, seer or revelator. Only that it was his duty to be such.

As we illustrated earlier, Richard L. Lyman who was excommunicated in 1943, lived in an adulterous relationship while serving as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the previous 18 years. Was Elder Lyman living worthy of his calling to be a prophet, seer and revelator?

John C. Bennett, Assistant President of the Church

We know John C. Bennett “was seducing young women”18, the very same behavior Joseph L. Bishop is accused of, while serving as Assistant President of the Church and mayor of Nauvoo.

Do all leaders fulfill what is expected of them? A few verses later, the Lord clearly states that some succeed. Some fail.

99 Wherefore, now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.

100 He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.

The Lord has made it unmistakably clear in the revelations that any leader, high or low, can fail in his station. The Lord has even made provision to try leaders, including presidents of the Church.

82 And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;

83 And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.

84 Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness. (D&C 107:82-84)

Too often, many members imagine that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates by “magic”. Somehow, every leader is perfect. Every calling is inspired and every man fulfills his duty. No agency is exercised, no freedom of choice allowed. In contrast, the testimony of history testifies that many are called, but many do not live up to their calling.

Why did the Lord call Judas Iscariot as one of his Twelve Apostles?

Would the Lord truly call a man who, in the end, failed his calling?

Why did the Lord call Judas Iscariot as one of his Twelve Apostles? Was the Son of God deceived by Judas’ true character? Or was He instead reinforcing: “Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm . . .”? (2 Nephi 28:31) The Lord knew at the time of the calling that Judas was a devil, or would become so. (John 6:70)

Some of our leaders are placed there to lead us and others of our leaders are placed there to test us.

4Lesson – Victims must be protected.

Sexual abuse is a horrific ordeal for all victims. The First Presidency and Presidents of the Church have been extremely clear that sexual sin is next to murder, in seriousness.

Those whose purity is violated, against their will, should receive our deepest compassion and unflinching defense. Sexual abuse should not be ignored or covered up.

In 2015, a study was released claiming that “Americans have grown increasingly tolerant of people with views or lifestyles that differ from their own, even when those views are highly controversial . . .” However, in our quest for tolerance, have we made friends with sin while betraying the victims?

We would recommend listening to the leaked audio recording between McKenna Denson and the man believed to be Joseph L. Bishop. You will witness sin and its horrific consequences, through the lives of its victims.

According to the audio recording, the man believed to be Bishop confesses to struggling with “sexual addiction” and being “still very much addicted” when the president of the Missionary Training Center from 1983-1986.

Man: I have this sexual addiction, what can I say? . . . I kept fighting, and I kept trying to pray and this and that and everything else to get over it. . . . I think at that time I was still very much addicted. . . .

McKenna Denson: You were really struggling?

Man: Oh my. I have struggled. I have struggled my whole life on this very issue. . . .  I used to say to myself all the time, I’m a hypocrite.

Have you ever heard someone ask, “Why is God so angry and vengeful in the Old Testament? Why is God so harsh, so vindictive against sin in the Doctrine and Covenants? Where is the loving, unconditional god our culture advertises?”

Why is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob angry and vindictive against sin?

We would submit, God and His laws care for and protect the victims. Our culture has deserted them.

In the audio recording, the following exchange between Denson and the man believed to be Bishop reveals:

McKenna Denson: Did anybody from Salt Lake ever tell you that you were accused of sexual assault.

Man: No.

McKenna Denson: You were never disfellowshipped, had a counsel?

Man: I felt I’d repented. I’d confessed.

. . .

McKenna Denson: You confessed about me?

Man: I don’t know about I confessed all of my sins to Elder Wells when I was in the mission. But anyway, let me apologize.

If the allegations levied against Joseph L. Bishop are true—what would have happened if someone had put an abrupt end to Joseph L. Bishop’s leadership in the Church? Instead of covering up immorality, what if it had been dealt with?

What life could McKenna Denson have had?

What life could Denson’s daughter have had?

What about Joseph L. Bishop and his own life of regret, misery, and shame?

What kind of life could Bishop’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have to look forward to today, if sin had been taken seriously?

Whose testimonies would not be shattered and broken?

What would have happened if sin had been “cut off”, as the Son of God advised?19

Lessons learned

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana20)

Though this ordeal is heartbreaking, this is an important time for members of the Church to evaluate true principles and doctrine.

In a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith on September 11, 1831, the Lord appointed every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the duty to judge and purge iniquity from the Church.

“For it shall come to pass that the inhabitants of Zion shall judge all things pertaining to Zion.

“And liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.

“And even the bishop, who is a judge, and his counselors, if they are not faithful in their stewardships shall be condemned, and others shall be planted in their stead.” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:38-40)

It is easy to point fingers, to complain regarding the actions of this member or that leader. Each of us could re-evaluate what we are doing personally to help build the Kingdom of God, in the way the Lord desires.


  2. “Transgression in the Latter-day Saint Community: The Cases of Albert Carrington, Richard R. Lyman, and Joseph F. Smith. Part 2: Richard R. Lyman.” Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 37, no. 4, 2011,
  3. “Richard R. Lyman.” Wikipedia, 
  4. For more information on the adulterous affair between John C. Bennett and Sarah Pratt, see the documentary film, “Unlocking the Mystery of the Two Prophets.”
  5. Fletcher Stack, Peggy, and Kristen Moulton. “Former LDS Leader Dies – George P. Lee » Navajo Rose to Prominence before Being Ousted for ‘Heresy’ in 1989.” The Salt Lake Tribune, 29 July 2010,
  6. “George P. Lee.” Wikipedia,
  7. “Former LDS General Authority George P. Lee Passes Away.” GOOD4UTAH, 29 July 2010,
  11. Matthew 26:14-16, 24-25, 47-49; John 13:2; Mark 14:10-11; John 12:4, Luke 6:16
  12. History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Vol. 5, p. 19. Address of the Prophet to the Relief Society, reported by Eliza R. Snow Smith.
  13. “The Privileges and Blessings of the Gospel.” Journal of Discourses, by Brigham Young and George D. Watt, Vol. 1, p. 312.

    Full statement from President Brigham Young:

    “Who has influence over any one of you, to cause you to miss salvation in the celestial kingdom of God? I will answer these questions for myself. If brother Brigham and I shall take a wrong track, and be shut out of the kingdom of heaven, no person will be to blame but brother Brigham and I. I am the only being in heaven, earth, or hell, that can be blamed.

    “This will equally apply to every Latter-day Saint. Salvation is an individual operation. I am the only person that can possibly save myself. When salvation is sent to me, I can reject or receive it. In receiving it, I yield implicit obedience and submission to its great Author throughout my life, and to those whom He shall appoint to instruct me; in rejecting it, I follow the dictates of my own will in preference to the will of my Creator. There are those among this people who are influenced, controlled, and biased in their thoughts, actions, and feelings by some other individual or family, on whom they place their dependence for spiritual and temporal instruction, and for salvation in the end. These persons do not depend upon themselves for salvation, but upon another of their poor, weak, fellow mortals. “I do not depend upon any inherent goodness of my own,” say they, “to introduce me into the kingdom of glory, but I depend upon you, brother Joseph, upon you, brother Brigham, upon you, brother Heber, or upon you, brother James; I believe your judgment is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me; your spirit is better than mine, therefore you can do good for me; I will submit myself wholly to you, and place in you all my confidence for life and salvation; where you go I will go, and where you tarry there I will stay; expecting that you will introduce me through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem.

    “I wish to notice this. We read in the Bible, that there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars. In the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, these glories are called telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, which is the highest. These are worlds, different departments, or mansions, in our Father’s house. Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold scepters of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer.

    “Do you know what is right and just, as well as I do?  In some things you do, and in some things you may not know as well; but I will explain what I mean, in the following words—I will do all the good I can, and all I know how to do, and I will shun every evil that I know to be an evil. You can all do that much. I will apply my heart to wisdom, and ask the Lord to impart it to me; and if I know but little, I will improve upon it, that tomorrow I may have more, and thus grow from day to day, in the knowledge of the truth, as Jesus Christ grew in stature and knowledge from a babe to manhood; and if I am not now capable of judging for myself, perhaps I shall be in another year. We are organized to progress in the scale of intelligence, and the least Saint by adhering strictly to the order of God, may attain to a full and complete salvation through the grace of God, by his own faithfulness.”

  14. Jones, Chris. “Woman Who Accused MTC President of Sexual Assault Has Been Telling Her Story for 3 Decades.” KUTV, 22 Mar. 2018,
  15. JS, “President Joseph Smith’s Journal,” Journal, 4 vols., Dec. 1842–June 1844, p. 50-51.
  16. Ibid., 52.
  17. Sermon 5 October 1840 Monday Morning, Original Manuscript, in the hand of Robert B. Thompson
  18. “one charge was seducing young women, and leading young men into difficulty—he admitted it—if he had let young men and women alone it would have been better for him.” “Municipal Court.” Times and Seasons, 15 May 1844, p. 539. Brigham Young testimony in Multiple.
  19. Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 9:40-48

    40) Therefore, if thy hand offend thee, cut it off; or if thy brother offend thee and confess not and forsake not, he shall be cut off. It is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell.

    41) For it is better for thee to enter into life without thy brother, than for thee and thy brother to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

    42) And again, if thy foot offend thee, cut it off; for he that is thy standard, by whom thou walkest, if he become a transgressor, he shall be cut off.

    43) It is better for thee, to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell; into the fire that never shall be quenched.

    44) Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.

    45) Seek unto my Father, and it shall be done in that very moment what ye shall ask, if ye ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive.

    46) And if thine eye which seeth for thee, him that is appointed to watch over thee to show thee light, become a transgressor and offend thee, pluck him out.

    47) It is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God, with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.

    48) For it is better that thyself should be saved, than to be cast into hell with thy brother, where their worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched.

  20. The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense. Scribner’s, 1905: 284.


  1. How important it is to remember that the keys of the kingdom are what we must cling tight to!

    Just as you and I are imperfect people striving to magnify our callings while often falling short, Bishops, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, etc, are people too. President Eyring gave a great talk in conference on that topic titled, ‘The Lord Leads His Church’.

    The following statement, accredited to the Prophet Joseph, is worth pondering especially when we consider that there have been apostles (starting with Judas Iscariot) that have betrayed their calling.

    “I will give you a key that will never rust — if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.”

    When you combine that statement with the words from Elder Ballard in the 2014 conference talk ‘Stay in the Boat and Hang On!’ you get a glimpse into an important assurance from the Lord.

    “Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. … We will not and … cannot lead [you] astray…
    I have discovered in my ministry that those who have become lost [and] confused are typically those who have most often … forgotten that when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time. The Lord reminds us, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ [D&C 1:38].”
    In other words, they leave the Old Ship Zion—they fall away; they apostatize. Tragically, they often experience short-term and eventually long-term unintended consequences, not only for themselves but also for their families.”

    The church is full of imperfect people but we are led by a perfect Savior. The apostles and First Presidency unite their voices to speak the will of the Lord. My study of the scriptures, of church history, what I have observed in my lifetime, and the witness of the spirit all combine to assure me that the ‘Old Ship Zion’ is on the way to the celestial kingdom.

    You and I, along with every other person in the church regardless of position, have the choice to keep covenants and stay with the ship–or jump off and sink.

    • But how do we get the actually true accounts of the current 12? History shows that the apostles of the past have been of many different opinions. In fact, if you look into BH Roberts – he tells of the apostolic charge to follow the majority. That is the appeal to leadership fallacy. How then can we really trust a unanimous decision? We now have access to the journals of the early leadership through the ’70’s-ish. In that, we can see those disagreements. There were lots of disagreements with regards to the priesthood ban in the 60’s. Couple that with Woodruff’s statement that the Lord will never let the prophet lead the church astray. How can that be accurate in the light of the priesthood ban being disavowed? That was very harmful and many were many casualties of ostracizing, disfellowshipping and excommunication. So, were any of them re-instated after ’78?

      • The priesthood ban was not disavowed; it’s the previously proffered THEORIES as to why the priesthood ban existed that were disavowed, not the priesthood ban itself. It’s very important to read with great care and to be extra cautious about not succumbing to the temptation to insert something into the meaning of a text that isn’t actually there.

  2. Great article thank you for writing this and defending the viewpoint of the restoration! In our culture today, we tend to be very causal with repentance or even understanding the magnitude of it. We can learn from the prophet Joseph Smith’s family who were known for solemn and deep reverence for God. They were not causal with prayer, scripture study or repenting before God. God’s presence was not something they approached with a casual spirit. The family did not approach sacred subjects or their own salvation with the thoughtless attitude, of ” I slipped up again, oh well, I’ll just repent and try again tomorrow. No big deal.” According to Joseph Smith, God does not approve. “Repentance is not a thing that can be trifled with everyday. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God.”

    This quote from Asael Smith (grandfather of the Prophet Joseph Smith) teaches us even more….

    “And now my dear children, let me pour out my heart to you and speak first to you of immortality in your souls. Trifle not in this point: the soul is immortal. You have to deal with an infinite majesty; you go upon life and death. Therefore, in this point be serious. Do all to God in a serious manner. When you think of him, speak of him, pray to him, or in any way make your addresses to his great majesty, be in good earnest. Trifle not with his name nor with his attributes, nor call him to witness to anything but is absolute truth; nor then, but when sound reason on serious consideration requires it.” (Asael Smith)

  3. I really appreciate the emphasis on duty. We are told in the revelations that “Many are called but few are chosen”. I fear that our minds have become darkened to that understanding. I hear people say all the time if the Lord really wanted me to do “x, y, or z”, we would hear it over the pulpit. How misguided! What blessings are we losing when we fail in our individual duty to seek righteousness for ourselves and our families and instead wait on a man in a priesthood position that may or may not be fulfilling his duty?

    Hopefully, by carefully studying the revelations we can inderstand the importance of both sustaining priesthood keys and remaiming in the church without putting our trust in the arm of Flesh.

    This was a well written article. I appreciate the faithful approach to these difficult and trying topics.

  4. After linking to the study the article says, “However, in our quest for tolerance, have we made friends with sin while betraying the victims?” But that question does not follow from the study. The study looked at changes over a 40 year span to the tolerance of five specific views; it does not ask about sexual assault. That’s not to say that the question isn’t one worth asking (I’d answer no, at least in the case of sexual assault, as evidenced by the #metoo movement as Elder Cook commended in the most recent conference, among other things), but the study adds nothing to that discussion. It’s position at the beginning of the discussion makes it seem as though Americans have grown more tolerant of sexual assault, when it seems quite clear that the opposite has happened. I think the easiest thing to do is to simply remove the article, since it adds nothing to the article.

    All that being said, this was a good article. We need *constant* reminders not to trust in the arm of the flesh.

  5. I absolutely applaud and ADORE this article. It comforts me immensely to know that somebody else “gets it”. I know of few others trying more earnestly to be faithful and true to God than the Stoddard family. And we are seeing and saying the same faithful thing about the dangers of priestcraft and leader worship within the Church (Proverbs 27:6). Why do I raise my voice, as they do? I have suffered excruciatingly because of wicked men who were not cut off from Zion and/or allowed reinstatement and full fellowship unworthily and prematurely. My posterity have suffered. My siblings and their posterity have suffered. Four other innocent LDS women and their children have suffered, as I did, in a marriage to a false priest. But God overrules all and I have learned of my own power, through Christ, to save myself instead of waiting for a righteous Priesthood holder to do it. If you really care to know more, and can stomach it – here ya go.…/the-sword-of-justice/…/he-shall-be-destroyed/

  6. I think your points are well taken that we, as a church, place too much emphasis on following men and not enough on following the savior. As you point out, Joseph Smith, and even Brigham Young, both taught that this was a concern of theirs; that the saints rely too much on the prophet.

    However, that being said, the church has, in recent years, taught strongly that we are to ‘follow the prophet’. This anti-doctrine is taught repeatedly and emphasized every General Conference. We should be excused if we somehow come away with the mistaken idea that we should be following the brethren, because that is what they plainly and vehemently teach. Moreover, there is the widespread belief among members of the church that if the leaders of the church say something different today, than they once taught, it is because they have received further revelation on the subject, which renders the earlier teaching moot; even if they offer no actual revelation for us to consider. Nothing could be further from the truth! Grand reversals in doctrine do not represent new revelation, but the absence of revelation, either in the first part, or the second. Our God is a god who does not change, but is the same god yesterday, today and forever. Although Jesus came to present new doctrine, never at any time did that doctrine conflict with a correct understanding of the gospel as taught in the Old Testament. They can’t! Because they are the same gospel.

    It seems here that there is a subtle and probably unintended message in this article which seeks to place the blame on the victim. ‘She should have known that sometimes, men in high position are really snakes, and that it was her responsibility to figure that out and act accordingly. Its too bad she didn’t figure it out before he raped her.’ While true as far as it goes, and I’m certain that she/they know that now, I don’t think the matter ends there.

    What about the responsibility to repent? Spencer W. Kimball taught that we need to do everything in our power to correct the wrongs and trespasses that we have caused. Yet, when today’s Apostles and Prophets learned of this injustice, they did not seek to earnestly apologize and beg forgiveness, instead they hired ‘outside’ counsel to dig up dirt on the plaintiff. Then, when their hired counsel leaked the mud in the press, they pretended, like Pilate, that they had nothing to do with it. This is not the way men of God act, hell, it’s not the way ordinary Christians are supposed to act. But, this is, in fact, how they DID act.

    Then the brethren hid behind a curtain of hired spokesmen so that they could distance themselves from anything he said which served to inflame members or, more importantly, the media. This is not the scriptural injunction given to Apostles and Prophets either, who are told to “Think not beforehand what ye will say…”.

    So, what are we to make of leaders who teach that we should follow the prophet and that ‘even if he is wrong, we will be blessed for our obedience’? I think that to answer that question, you will need to consult the scriptures and the Lord on your knees. Consider the lesson the Lord was trying to teach in the Old Testament when 400 prophets told the king what he wanted to hear, and only one troublemaker, who happened to be a true prophet of God, told the king what the Lord wanted him to hear: the lesson wasn’t follow the prophet, he can’t lead you astray. The lesson was listen to God, He won’t lead you astray.

    The Jews in Jerusalem faced a similar dilemma 2000 years ago. Should they follow their conscience and their heart and follow the rough looking Jesus, or the even rougher John the Baptist, or should they follow the ordained, authorized, smooth and urbane leaders of the church who claimed to be pious men of God and were surrounded by hacks proclaiming their virtue? It was a tough choice, but most stayed with those who held the physical symbols of righteous power and rejected the true Messiah.

    In many places in the scriptures we have been warned that the last days would be characterized by false prophets. That should be our default position. Anyone proclaiming themselves a prophet, should be tested very, very carefully. According to the scriptures, if they prophesy something and it doesn’t come to pass, you can ignore them. If they preach something contrary to the revealed word of God, you can ignore them. The question is, what is the true doctrine about following the prophet? That which Joseph taught or that which is taught today?

  7. Excellent article. So excellent we used it for scripture study last night.

    I wrote this as a response to Brad’s comment, but it was so thorough I don’t have the heart to bury it there. Hopefully Brad will see it.

    That Joseph Smith quote about the key that never rusts is almost certainly fake. It appears nowhere in history of the church or anywhere in the enormous Joseph Smith papers project. Check for yourself. Also, after David Patten died, leaving only 11 apostles, six of the remaining twelve apostatized, some of them helping put Joseph Smith in jail. That also shows that your quote is fake. It just doesn’t make sense that Joseph Smith would say you could always trust the majority of the twelve. It contradicts the principles he laid out, his own personal experience, as well as the scriptures, in which the church was completely apostate when Christ came among them and also apostate at other times. There are numerous times in the Book of Mormon where the “center of the church” is a spiritually disastrous place to be, starting right off with Lehi and Nephi who are living in Jerusalem.
    You wrote “The keys of the kingdom are what we must cling tight to”.
    Hmmm, I agree that I have heard that language a lot. But while we have great scriptures and quotations on keys by Joseph Smith, they used the word “key” to mean something quite obviously very different from the way we use the word “key” now. In the early church they used the word “key” in a very intuitive way to mean “something that unlocks”. Which should be obvious. That is what a key is. A key is not a key unless it is something that unlocks something else.
    In the early church the word keys was used to mean anything that unlocked revelation and truth. However, some keys for unlocking revelation and truth were particularly important and were referred to more often than others. One of these was the Urim and Thummim. It was a key to the mysteries of the kingdom, for when they had any question about any mystery Joseph could go to the Urim and Thummim and inquire of the Lord and obtain an answer. Thus it unlocked the mysteries of the kingdom for them. It was a key to the mysteries, and was referred to in the revelations as such.
    There were other important keys that they spoke about a lot in the early church.
    An example might help. Take this record of Joseph Smith’s words to the Relief Society.
    “He spoke of delivering the keys of the Priesthood to the Church, and said that the faithful members of the Relief Society should receive them with their husbands, that the Saints whose integrity has been tried and proved faithful, might know how to ask the Lord and receive an answer; for according to his prayers, God had appointed him elsewhere.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 226)
    There you see that Joseph Smith said that he was going to deliver the keys of the priesthood to the church so that the faithful members of the relief society should receive them WITH THEIR HUSBANDS. Right there, you can see that when Joseph spoke of “the keys of the priesthood” he did not mean the right to lead the church. In the early church when they spoke of a key, they meant “something that unlocks”. Joseph says the keys of the priesthood would be given to those members (male and female) for a purpose. He says it was so that “those who have been tried and been proven faithful might know HOW to ask the Lord and receive an answer”. So the keys of the priesthood Joseph wanted to deliver in the temple would give both men and women a means to ask the Lord so as to recieve an answer.
    Joseph isn’t saying that he will give men and women the right to lead the church. What Joseph Smith called “the keys of the priesthood” there is what these days we call the signs and tokens of the priesthood. They are given in the temple to the saints.
    So sure, the first presidency and the twelve have a right to make decisions for the church. Absolutely. D&C 107 says so. But that isn’t what keys are. At least, that is not the way the word “keys” is used in the scriptures and in old quotations.
    One of the main quotes we like to use to support our modern ideas about keys is the statement Brigham Young made during his famous sermon addressing the saints after the death of Joseph Smith. Except we clip his quote so that it fits our modern ideas, which the original quote does not.
    Here is the way we quote Brigham Young: “If the people want President Rigdon to lead them they may have him; but I say unto you that the Quorum of the Twelve have the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world.”
    We quote that and conclude that the keys of the priesthood are the right to lead the church and only the twelve have that right. Sure, the first presidency and the twelve have the right to decide what the church will do, what actions it will take, and how it will run itself. But that is not what keys are. Keys are a different thing altogether than the right to lead. Here is a longer version of Brigham Young’s statement about keys.
    “If the people want President Rigdon to lead them they may have him; but I say unto you that the Quorum of the Twelve have the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world. The Twelve are appointed by the finger of God. Here is Brigham, have his knees ever faltered? Have his lips ever quivered? Here is Heber and the rest of the Twelve, an independent body who have the keys of the priesthood — the keys of the kingdom of God to deliver to all the world: this is true, so help me God.”
    So Brigham Young said the twelve had the keys of the priesthood, the keys of the kingdom of God, TO DELIVER TO ALL THE WORLD. He even added “this is true, so help me God”. The twelve have the right to lead the church. But the twelve are not supposed to deliver the right to lead the church to all the world. That is not what keys are. Keys are not a badge of leadership. Keys are not the right to lead. Keys are things that unlock.
    The twelve had been endowed, and had received the keys of the priesthood. These days we call those keys the signs and tokens of the priesthood. Sidney Rigdon never was endowed, and never recieved those keys.
    The keys of the priesthood that Joseph Smith wanted delivered to the faithful sisters with their husbands, are the same keys Brigham Young is talking about. They are what we have come to refer to as the signs and tokens of the priesthood. They are keys that are meant to unlock. They are keys that are meant to allow those saints whose faith has been tried and proven faithful to ask and recieve an answer. We sometimes refer to this outside of the temple as the prayer circle. Thus Brigham Young said in the same discourse “I have the keys and the means of obtaining the mind of God on the subject.” He had keys by which he could ask and obtain an answer. He received those keys in the temple no different than you or I, and he knew how they could be used to ask and obtain an answer from God.
    Keys were definitely not just a calling, or a right to lead, because those do not unlock anything. Your ability to obtain revelation is not based on a calling – rather your personal righteousness and spiritual intelligence obtained through the scriptures are what you bring to a calling. Brigham Young had the keys that are given out in the endowment, and knew how to use them, whereas Sidney Rigdon did not. Brigham Young said the twelve were commissioned to deliver the keys to all the world, and that if the saints chose Sidney Rigdon, then the saints would not have the keys for the twelve would go find another people to lead instead.
    The Lord himself also used the word “keys” to mean “something that unlocks”, rather than using it to mean “the right to lead the church”. Take these verses from D&C 124.
    Speaking of the temple the Lord says in verse 34, “For therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory.” Again, the “keys of the Holy Priesthood”, as God calls them, are given out in the temple just as this revelation says. He gives them to us for a purpose. It is so that we may obtain honor and glory. We will have to live up to the privilege of doing so.
    Speaking of Hyrum Smith, D&C 124:95 states “That he [Hyrum] may act in concert with my servant Joseph; and that he [Hyrum] shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall SHOW UNTO HIM THE KEYS whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessings, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery”.
    Whether the keys Joseph was to SHOW to Hyrum included the key word needed to use the Urim and Thummim I don’t know. But the keys were not just a badge of authority or a right to lead. The keys were something Joseph would have to SHOW to Hyrum. And once Hyrum was shown them, then Hyrum would have the means by which he could ask and receive, according to the revelation. Hyrum would also have the means to obtain the same blessings, glory, honor, as well as the same priesthood, and the same gifts of the priesthood that were formerly put upon Oliver Cowder. But only if Joseph obeyed and SHOWED Hyrum the keys. And Hyrum would have to use those keys that Joseph had shown to him in order to obtain those blessings.
    I don’t really know how we decided keys were a badge of authority or a right to lead. Sure, the twelve have the right to make decisions for the church. And there is a verse that says Israel is to be led by the keys. But keys are things that unlock. Israel is supposed to be led by those who have the means to unlock revelation, otherwise Israel is not being led by God. It has nothing to do with a right to lead or a certain calling. If the Saints had chosen Sidney Rigdon, or even Anne Lee to lead them instead of Brigham Young, they could not make Sidney Rigdon or Anne Lee be a prophet. You cannot make a prophet with a calling, or even with keys to unlock things unless the person you called is living so that God will respect their keys and answer.
    Our favorite old quotes and scriptures on keys are not about a right to lead. They are frequently talking about the keys that members could be endowed with in the temple. In some cases, the revelations refer to the Urim and Thummim as a key to the mysteries of the kingdom, for it was a key that would unlock any mystery they inquired about.
    But, you may be thinking, “I have been endowed and I don’t have keys to unlock and receive an answer from the Lord”. Well, yes and no. The first key was plainly demonstrated to you when you were endowed and is related to the “three grand keys” in D&C 129. I will not explain it. You should know already. The “three grand keys” in D&C 129 are for the purpose of discerning whether any angelic ministration is from God or not. That is no small matter, for the devil, who was once an angel in power and authority before God can appear as an angel of light. We take it for granted that we can discern an angel as being from God or not, but no other people on earth has such knowledge or such keys. When you went to the temple, the use of your keys for discerning a ministering angel was plainly demonstrated to you. So you DO know something about how to use your keys. You can unlock knowlege about ministering angels with those keys you recieved.
    As Joseph plainly said, another key is used to ask so as to receive an answer. Brigham Young taught that if there was a disagreement on doctrine then some of the high priests should go to an upper room, wearing the robes of the Holy Priesthood, and then ask in the manner described in the temple. Asking in that way is a key that can be used to ask so as to obtain an answer.
    “When Bishop Miller finds that the Seventies in his Ward are teaching doctrine that he does not believe in, he has nothing to do with the matter while acting in the capacity of a Bishop. … Though brother Miller, as a Bishop, should say nothing on controverted points of doctrine, yet he can meet with his brethren of the High Priesthood who may be in his neighborhood. Three High Priests form a Quorum; five form a Quorum; seven form a Quorum; twelve form a Quorum. Let a Quorum of High Priests go into an upper room, and there appear before the Lord in the garments of the holy Priesthood, and offer up before the Father, in the name of Jesus, the signs of the holy Priesthood, and then ask God to give a revelation concerning that doctrine, and they have a right to receive it.” (Brigham Young JD 9:91)
    I will not describe these keys or how they are used, or give any details about them at all. The purpose of these keys was described by Joseph and Brigham Young and also in the revelations to a degree as I have quoted. I have stuck to the public descriptions and to words used in public discourses.
    But it should be plainly understood that if the first key seems irrelevant to us, the one that is used for detecting whether ministering angels are angels of God or not, then all the other keys are irrelevant to us as well. The keys of the priesthood are irrelevant to a people who live far beneath their privileges. We may have obtained them, but we may never obtain the use of them unless we live up to them.
    The keys of the priesthood are relevant to members in days when those signs that follow them that believe clearly follow the everyday members. They are relevant to members who are living up to their privileges. Joseph Smith stated to the Relief Society “If you live up to your privileges, the angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. Females, if they are pure and innocent, can come in the presence of God; for what is more pleasing to God than innocence; you must be innocent, or you cannot come up before God: if we would come before God, we must keep ourselves pure, as He is pure.”
    If a key that allows us to discern whether or not ministering angels are from God seems irrelevant to us, then so are all the other keys of the priesthood that we obtained in the temple. Indeed, in this day, they are largely irrelevant to us for we have been told many times that we live far beneath our privileges. And the keys of the priesthood are for a people who have been tried, and proven faithful, and are anxiously obtaining the full privileges of the Saints in every age.
    When the members were behaving better, it is plain from what Brigham Young said that these keys of the preisthood and their use were familiar to the members and used by them for their intended purposes. Those were days when the members had proven themselves in every trial, and lived far closer to their privileges as Saints. Brigham Young stated how much he enjoyed hearing saints tell him about their experiences with angels. But once the members stopped behaving so well, then having keys by which the everyday members are to inquire of the Lord to obtain an answer just creates an enormous mess, because 50 men can each go to the Lord and obtain 50 different answers in that situation, because the Lord is not who they get their answer from — they are not living righteously enough for him to respect their keys. Consequently eventually the members would be told not to use the keys to inquire (which is the case now), for they were just creating an enormous mess for themselves with them. The keys were only ever really suited to be given out to those whose faith had been tried, and had proven faithful. And when we gave them out more generously, we eventually lost the use of them as a people. That is because when they are given out too generously, different people using them would obtain contradictory answers, creating a mess. But when the keys were restricted to those who had proven their faith to the Lord, who were worthy to be able to ask so as to receive an answer, then the Lord would not withhold from them. Then 10 different faithful men could ask and obtain 10 answers all as beautifully in agreement as 10 different prophets from the scriptures.
    The president of the church or even 10 different men with no calling at all could, in that faithful setting, all obtain the same answer from the Lord using those keys by which men can ask so as to obtain an answer and the president of the church and those 10 men with no calling at all would obtain revelations in perfect harmony with one another. That is a necessary state we must reach before we can build Zion, for Zion cannot be built except by a city of men who are each prophets over their own homes and dominions. The Lord himself came and dwelt in ancient Zion. Any man who can endure that must be a prophet over his own home, for he must be able to dwell in the presence of God in his mortality. That is the meaning of the 144,000 men who are sealed with the seal of their God in their foreheads in the book of revelation. It is enough men who are each prophets over their own home to build a city that God himself can come and dwell in. That is the only right and proper preparation for Christ’s return – a city of people that he can dwell with their God while in their mortality just as he now dwells in heaven as God among the angels.
    Thus, yes, Israel is to be led by the keys. They are to be led by those keys by which men can ask and obtain an answer, by those keys by which men can discern whether a ministering angel is from God or not, as well as by the Urim and Thummim, which is a key to the mysteries of the kingdom. We must live worthy of such privileges as a people once again or we cannot build Zion. Zion cannot be built by a people unworthy to be led by the keys of the priesthood.
    We have kind of lost track of that, which we once knew. But we have kind of lost track of a lot of things. These days, we have a whole website dedicated to mormons and gays, but the Lord’s own revelation concerning homosexuality in Leviticus 18 can nowhere be found on that website, nor can Paul’s words on lesbians and homosexuals, even though Paul saw the third heavens in the flesh. We have lost track of many old good things, for we live far beneath our privileges. I suppose one day, one way or another, we will have our Josiah moment and go back to the scriptures and weep when we read them and compare what is written there to our current ways and our current blessings just as Josiah did. Then we may live up to our privileges in all these things once again. But our misbehavior will sting like anything before then and many, many, many will be lost before that day because of our follies. The five foolish virgins will depart together, dividing the church in half just as the Savior foretold.
    Regardless, just as in King Josiah’s day, this still remains the only true and living church upon the face of the earth, and today it is led by God’s chosen leaders – his first presidency and the twelve. These are those men he has set at the head and they have a right from God to make decisions for the church precisely as D&C 107 lays out. Nothing I have written here is in any way meant as a criticism of God’s twelve or first presidency. Would that all our members were men like Russell M Nelson, a servant and prophet of God.