Why Prophets, Principles And National Survival?
If my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.
But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest . . . .
This work, Prophets, Principles and National Survival, is intended to be a compilation of what some of the Prophets of this dispensation, and from earlier dispensations, whom the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have sustained as Prophets, Seers and Revelatorsparticularly the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostleshave spoken or written, while they were Prophets, concerning many of the issues pertinent to us today. All of the material has appeared in official Church publications, in published books or pamphlets, or in reprints of speeches or articles distributed with the permission of the individual quoted. No private correspondence of these Prophets has been used, except possibly in those cases where it was later made public.
The Prophets, including members of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency, have only been quoted after they were ordained to their prophetic office. For instance, J. Reuben Clarks work, Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine. written before he was ordained a prophet, has not been quoted except in footnotes. His devastating and prophetic cursory analysis of the United Nations, which he wrote the year the United Nations Charter was drafted and while he was serving as a member of the First Presidency of the Church, has not been quoted from except in footnotes, because as of this date it has not been published.
This policy of limiting the material used in this book to the published words of solely the prophets, particu larly the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, was suggested in the following words of the late J. Reuben Clark, a counselor to three Presidents: [p. xix]
Some of the General Authorities have had assigned to them a special calling; they possess a special gift; they are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, which gives them a special spiritual endowment in connection with their teaching of the people . . . . Others of the General Authorities are not given this special endowment and authority covering their teaching; they have a resulting limitation, and the resulting limitation upon their power and authority in teaching applies to every other officer and member of the Church. (CN-7/31/54)
Undoubtedly similar thinking prompted President Brigham Young to make the following statement:
If an Apostle magnifies his calling, he is the word of the Lord to this people all the time, or else he does not magnify his callingeither one or the other. If he magnifies his calling, his words are the words of eternal life and salvation to those who hearken to them, just as much as any written revelations contained in these three books. (JD-6:282)
At another time he expressed similar thoughts:
If you know what the calling of an Apostle is, and if there were ten thousand of them on the earth at the same time, you must know that the words of an Apostle who magnifies his calling are the words of the Almighty to the people all the time. He never need be called in question whether he revealed the mind of the Lord or not. (JD-6:319)
Just what did President Young have particular reference to when he used the expression magnifying his calling? This he explained on another occasion:
When I tell the truth, that is enough, and I care not whether those who hear it believe it or not, for that is their business . . . . If we do not speak to you by the Spirit of revelation and the power of God, we do not magnify our calling. I think that I tell you the words of the Lord Almighty every time I rise here to speak to you . . . . If I do not speak here by the power of God, if it is not revelation to you every time I speak to you here, I do not magnify my calling. (JD-9:140-1)
Now, those are strong words, it is true, but just remember, they are the words of a Prophetthe Lords mouthpiece on earthand are in harmony with the words of the Lord, who said, concerning the Apostles, that whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of [p. xx] God unto salvation. (D&C 68:4) Or, as explained by the Prophet Nephi, by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh. (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 22:2)
If we, because of strong prejudices or pre-conceived ideas, do not agree with the inspired words of those we sustain as Prophets, and so express our disagreement, arent we, in effect, implying that they have failed to magnify their calling, according to the words of President Brigham Young? Arent we, in effect, inferring that they are not speaking as moved upon by the Holy Ghost, according to the words of the Lord? Could it not be that the Prophet Nephi was referring to such instances as this when he declared that there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 33:2) We should remember that the Lord has declared that whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same, (D&C 1:38) and that we should live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. (D&C 84:44) Didnt the Lord also declare that the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of His servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people? (D&C 1:14)
Yes, that may be true, some will say, but that has reference only to the so-called spiritual or religious aspects of our lives. Is that true? J. Reuben Clark didnt think so. He expressed it this way:
There is no limitation as to the matters to be covered by that scripture of which the Lord speaks. [D&C 68:4] Having in mind that this Church of ours is a practical Church, that it deals with temporal as well as with spiritual affairs, I submit that whatever comes from the voices of those who hold that authority is scripture, no matter of what they speak. That conclusion to me is inevitable. Anything and everything that affects the well-being of us Latter-day Saints or that has to do with our religion, may become a part of that scripture . . . . Every man holding the Priesthood, who is obeying the commandments of the Lord and is living righteously, [p. xxi] he will know without doubt when Gods servants speak under inspiration. The spirit will bear true witness. (CR-4/44:112)
The question may be asked at this point, How can we tell when the Authorities are moved upon by the Holy Ghost? J. Reuben Clark has already answered that question in the above quotation. On another occasion he explained it this way:
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 . . . . The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest. (CN-7/31/54)
The words of J. Reuben Clark harmonize with the words of the Lord in a revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say. (D&C 100:5–18)
The Apostle Paul expressed himself in a similar manner:
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. (Bible, I Thessalonians 1:5–6)
The Prophet Moroni expressed the same thought in these words: And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:5) And, the Prophet Nephi explained that [p. xxii] when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 33:1)
President Brigham Young, on several occasions, pointed out our responsibility along this line. He said that we should live so that you can discern the things of Godso that you can at once discern between the things of God, the things of man, and the things of the Devil. (JD-7:281) He asked this question: If we do not live in the lively exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus, possessing His Spirit always, how can we know when He speaks to us through His servants whom He has placed to lead us? (JD-12:104) It was his feeling that the Church members should not have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him, but that . . . every man and woman [should] know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. (JD-9:150)
It should be understood at this point that the claim is not being made that every word spoken by our leaders is inspired or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they say or write. But, the Lord has said that when they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, their words are scripture. The way we can know or have the assurance they are speaking under inspiration is to be so receptive to the Spirit that we may receive a testimony when the words spoken are inspired.
We have also been given a guide or yardstick to help us in such matters. In the words of the late Albert E. Bowen, of the Council of Twelve Apostles,
There is only one safety; there is only one cure; and that is to take the pure and unadulterated word of God and set that up as our standard of measurement, and measure every creed and doctrine and dogma by that yardstick. That which will not square with the declarations of Almighty God we can lay aside as unsuited for the need of man. . . . (CR-4/52:66)
This standard of measurement has been clearly explained by Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Council of Twelve Apostles, as follows: [p. xxiii]
The Standard Works of the Church [Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price] are the measuring rods the Lord has given us by which we are to measure every doctrine, every theory and teaching, and if there is anything that does not conform to that which is given to us in the revelations, we do not have to accept it. Whether I say it or anyone else says it, whether it comes through the philosophy of men, or whenever a statement is made, that is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, you should know what course to take. So far as I am concerned, I will just put it aside. And I dont care how many men may believe it. I dont care how much backing it has in the world of so- called science or philosophy. If it does not harmonize with what the Lord has revealed, to me it is not worth anything. ( The Signs of the Times, P. 21-22) (See also Bible, Isaiah 8:20; Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 3:12 and D&C 42:12)
At another time Joseph Fielding Smith explained that each member of the Church should be so well versed that he, or she, would be able to discern whether or not any doctrine taught conforms to the revealed word of the Lord. He then mentioned that many members of the Church have not taken advantage of their blessings and obligations, and therefore are unable to distinguish between truth and error. Then, he said this:
The lay members of the Church are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless they can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given. There are times when the leading brethren have expressed their own opinions on various subjects . . . . This they have a perfect right to do, but when the Lord has spoken through His servant who holds the keys, there should be unity among the members of the Church. (Answers to Gospel Questions 2:112-3)
The late James E. Talmage, of the Council of Twelve Apostles, when discussing The Standard Works of the Church, wrote as follows:
We believe that God is as willing today as He ever has been to reveal His mind and will to man, and that He does so through His appointed servantsprophets, seers and revelatorsinvested through ordination with the authority of the Holy Priesthood. We rely therefore on the teachings of the living oracles of God as of equal validity with the doctrines of the written word. (The Articles of Faith, P. 7)
We should remember that whether speaking by inspiration [p. xxiv] or expressing personal viewpoints the Prophets are often learned and experienced men of sound judgment who carefully choose their words, especially if speaking to a public gathering. Although there is no substitute for the prophetic mantle, a mans experience can add stature to his words. For instance, two of the most widely quoted men in this book are the late J. Reuben Clark, who served as a counselor to Presidents Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith and David O. McKay; and Ezra Taft Benson, presently a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
J. Reuben Clark served his country in such capacities as Solicitor for the Department of State, Under Secretary of State and Ambassador to Mexico. Marion G. Romney of the Council of Twelve Apostles has written concerning him as follows:
Referring to President Clarks work under him in the Department of State, Secretary Philander Chase Knox said, I am doing him but justice in saying that for natural ability, integrity, loyalty and industry I have not in a long professional and public experience met his superior and rarely his equal . . . . It would be difficult to secure the combination of sound judgment (and) natural aptitude he possesses. . . . In my judgment he is perhaps the soundest international lawyer in this country. . . . Were I President, he said, I would make (him) Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, adding that no one could have gone there better equipped at the start. In saying this he did not exclude Marshall.
During his presidential campaign, Governor Landon said that, if elected, he would make President Clark Secretary of State . . . .
The eminent jurist and authority on international law, John Bassett Moore, wrote Ambassador Morrow, Clark is an able man. He works hard, thinks straight, and has the capacity of getting at the bottom of things. He is one of the few men to whom, after listening to their statement of a case, I feel justified in giving an opinion without reading all the documents myself. On another occasion Mr. Moore as he went over the files in the Department of State said, I was amazed at the amount of creative work he has done.
Mr. Morrow himself said that next to Mr. Moore he considered President Clark the most eminent authority on international law in the United States. (Relief Society Magazine, 1959, P. 494)
Marion G. Romney, in an address in the Salt Lake [p. xxv] Tabernacle after the death of J. Reuben Clark, referred to him in these Words:
His love of country was proverbial. In the field of government he was a seer. His discernment of trends was keen and accurate. As early as 1920 he publicly raised his clarion voice in warning against the communist menace . . . . From then until now he has anticipated and warned against every step we have taken in our tragic descent into the abyss of the welfare state. No one saw clearer than did President Clark the dwindling of our national sovereignty and the shrinking of our individual liberties. I feel certain that the verdict of history will sustain our appraisal that he was a great Prophet-Statesman. (CN-10/14/61)
Ezra Taft Benson served as United States Secretary of Agriculture for eight years, 1953-1960, and was a member of the four man Agriculture Advisory Committee to the President of the United States during World War II. President Herbert Hoover stated: Ezra Taft Benson is today the great contribution of this community [Utah] to American statesmanship and a leader of the Christian faith. Another prominent American statesman said To my mind, the one American, above all others, who personifies our traditional spirit of initiative and personal incentive is Ezra Taft Benson, our Secretary of Agriculture . . . . if there ever was a man who unfailingly put principle above partisan advantage or personal popularity, that man is Ezra Taft Benson. Harold B. Lee of the Council of Twelve wrote of him:
In a world where radical and seditious voices have proposed schemes and panaceas . . . which, in many instances, contradict the fundamentals upon which the American Nation has been founded, his has been an honest, forthright, and statesmanlike declaration of policies, although not always politically popular . . . . His voice in public service and in his Church calling is as the voice of the trumpet giving always the certain sound to prepare all who would listen for the battle of life. (So Shall Ye Reap, p. vii-viii)
In the quotation of J. Reuben Clark, quoted at the beginning, wherein he discussed the special spiritual en dowment of the Prophets, he also informed us that the President of the Church has a further and a special spiritual endowment in instructing the people. In fact, the Lord emphasized this same point in a revelation given on the day the Church was organized. Speaking of the [p. xxvi] President of the Church, the Lord said:
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For so doing these things 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 names glory. (D&C 21:4)
President Brigham Young endeavored to get these points fixed firmly in the minds of the members of the Church, and he spoke very plainly. At one time he said:
I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. (JD-13:95)
Some of the members of the Church apparently objected to those strong words. Therefore, on a later occasion he emphasized again that when they are copied and approved by me, they are as good scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God. (JD-13:264)
Therefore, the President of the Church occupies a unique position. He alone, among the Prophets, holds the keys to act as the sole representative of the Lord on the earth. He is the only one authorized to speak on matters of policy for the entire Church. Among mortal voices, his carries the greatest authority. Only one man on the earth at any given time has this power.
Since the Church was first organized in 1830, there have been nine Presidents of the Church. I have quoted most extensively from the present President of the Church, David O. McKay, because the words of the living President are of more immediate importance to the world.
From the beginning there have been those in and out of the Church who have strongly felt that the Church [p. xxvii] leaders should confine their counsel and teachings to the spiritual things and not get into the realm of the so-called temporal things. President Brigham Young explained how that question was agitated in the Prophet Joseph Smiths day:
In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, Ye Elders of israel, . . . will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it? Not one of them could do it . . . . I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. (JD-10:363-4)
President John Taylor and the other leaders since that time have emphasized the same point. But, despite their efforts to help the Church members to understand, our leaders are still sometimes accused of talking politics whenever they speak on the so-called temporal aspect of our lives.
President John Taylor declared that the Elders of Israel should begin to understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious, and to seek to know and comprehend the social and political interests of man, and to learn and to be able to teach that which would be best calculated to promote the interests of the world. (JD-9:340) In view of this, why shouldnt the Prophets speak out and help teach us correct political principles as well as to teach us anything else? Should we really believe that the Lord is limited as to which subjects he may inspire His servants to discuss?
Is the mission of the Church limited to preaching the Gospel? President John Taylor didnt think it was. As President of the Church he instructed the members that beside the preaching of the Gospel, we have another mission, namely, the perpetuation of the free agency of man and the maintenance of liberty, freedom and the rights of man. (JD-23:63) Or, as President David O. McKay expressed it at the October 1962 Church conference, In these days of uncertainty and unrest, liberty-loving [p. xxviii] peoples greatest responsibility and paramount duty is to preserve and proclaim the freedom of the individual, his relationship to Deity, and the necessity of obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christonly thus will mankind find peace and happiness. (CR-10/62:8)
With such a responsibility resting upon us in these days of uncertainty and unrest, it would seem that we need a standard, a guide, a yardstick, as it were, to help us determine correct political principles. Should we object if the Apostles and Prophets attempt to help us understand that standard and to properly apply it to all the problems of the day, to all the national issues, to all phases of our life? Cannot that standard be determined by studying the Standard Works of the Church, by studying the words of the Prophets and living oracles, by relying on the Holy Ghost, and by studying the true principles of government as advocated by the inspired Founding Fathers, whom the Lord referred to as wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose. (D&C 101:80)
Wouldnt the application of such a standard help to bring greater understanding and unity amongst the mem bers of the Church? Does the Lord really intend for it to be otherwise? J. Reuben Clark one time told us that if we saw eye to eye on matters of civil government . . . there is nothing we might not accomplish there [within the area of civil government] within the places and jurisdictions where we live. (CR-10/50:172)
It would seem that currently many Latter-day Saints are advocating principles and concepts that are not in harmony with the aforementioned standard that should be our guide. It has been prophesied that the Saints have a destiny to some day rise up and save the Constitution from threatened destruction; yet, at the present time, a number in the Church are advocating the very principles and concepts that are weakening and destroying the Constitution. It would seem that a great apostasy has taken place from the law and the testimony of American democracy, or the Constitution of the United States. Just as there has been an apostasy from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, there has been an apostasy from those divinely given principles of Government which have been [p. xxix] transmitted to us by the inspired men who founded this great nation. (Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin, CR-10/41:70; his entire address was endorsed by President Heber J. Grant with all my heart, Page 143)
Why have many Latter-day Saints apostatized from true principles of government? There are many reasons. Some have been deceived by the philosophies of men and false educational ideas. The Prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon stated,
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28, 29)
The Savior said, speaking of our day, that false Christs, and false prophets . . . shall deceive the very elect. (Bible, Matthew 24:24) The Prophet Nephi, also speaking concerning our day, said that Satan shall rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is welland thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 28:20–1) Are we amongst those who cry all is well in Zion, that there is really no great internal threat in this country, etc? Are we amongst those who are permitting Satan to lead us carefully down to the hell of communism, socialism and the welfare state?
It should be obvious to the reader, before he finishes the following chapters of this book, that the principles of the so-called socialist, collectivist, welfare state are not in harmony with the Gospel standard and should not have our support.
The words of the Prophets represent the truth. As President McKay has said, When I have said what I know to be true, I do not worry about the consequences. (CR-10/58:59) The words of the Prophets need to be studied. This compilation of their words concerning national [p. xxx] issues should make it easier for the members of the Church to know what the message of their leaders has been. It should help serve as a standard to apply to the so- called political, social and economic problems and issues of today. Those who study the words in this book will appreciate more fully that the Lord has indeed inspired our leaders to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good. (D&C 21:7)
The Latter-day Saints of all people should wake up to the fact that, as J. Edgar Hoover has many times warned, We are at war with the communists and the sooner every red-blooded American realizes this the safer we will be . . . . We are living in an age of uncertaintyan age of awesome national perilan age when the struggle between freedom and totalitarian enslavement is drawing toward a climax. (Address, Dec. 7, 1961) Mr. Hoover has also declared that It is indeed appalling that some members of our society continue to deplore and criticize those who stress the communist danger . . . . Public indifference to this threat is tantamount to national suicide. Lethargy leads only to disaster. (FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, March, 1960) Again, he said that It is not enough to be against communism. We must shed our complacency and aggressively meet this challenge. (Address, Feb. 22, 1962) The Churchs Ward Teaching Message for July, 1961, reminded us that It is the duty of freedom loving people to oppose and resist this evil with all the strength God has given us. If we do not, we stand to lose all we and our forefathers have gained through the centuries.
We should give careful thought and consideration to these words of J. Reuben Clark uttered more than four teen years ago: We have largely lost the conflict so far waged. But there is time to win the final victory if we sense our danger and fight. (CN-9/14/49) Remember, the hour is later, the danger is greater, and more strength is now needed to preserve our liberties than when those words were spoken. But, there is still time to win the final victory. Whether we win or lose will be our decision to make.
J.L.N. [p. 1]