I've said this before, but here it is once again,
I appreciate the thoughts Kish, you are always provoking in your commentary, but really, that argument (That it is either all true or all false) was what the original Church was founded upon. Joseph Smith taught that, "I never told you I was perfect, but there are NO ERRORS in the revelations that I have taught."
Sorry, Grindael, but this is a complete non-argument.
Suppose I say, "I never told you I was perfect, but there are no errors in the message board posts that I have made." Now, explain to me how this statement obligates anyone to accept my message board posts in their totality or reject them in their totality, rather than accepting what I've written selectively.
Ready. Set. Go...!
There's nothing there. It really doesn't matter who sets up the false dichotomy: it's still false. You could stack up quotes by the pope from here to the ceiling saying, "When I speak officially as pope, I am always right, and if I'm wrong, this shows I'm not the true pope," and this still wouldn't create a genuine dichotomy for the hearer unless the hearer happens to hold a prior belief in that same premise--that a true pope is necessarily always right.
I'm a little tired, so I may not get this out just right, but here's an analogy. People in the church often use the argument that the prophet can't ever lead the church astray because the prophets have said they can't ever lead us astray. As an argument for why the prophet can't lead us astray, that's pretty much the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It's like believing a book because the book says in it, "This book is true." Unless one already
believes that, by definition, the prophet can't possibly be wrong, then the prophet's guarantee that he can never lead you astray is, itself, potentially wrong.
By parallel, even if the quote had Joseph Smith saying by revelation
"My revelations are always right" (which it doesn't
), it still wouldn't follow that a demonstrable error in his revelations would prove them all entirely wrong, unless one already holds an independent theological belief that a true prophet can never say anything wrong by revelation
--a belief that any informed adherent to the Bible would have to reject, since the Bible is rife with such errors, and a belief that I and many others simply reject as a misunderstanding of what it means to be a prophet.
Don, your analogy is flawed. You didn't complete the quote. Here it is in its entirety and this makes all the difference in the world:
The keys of the kingdom were given to Joseph Smith. They were placed on the heads of other men to make use of on earth for a short time; and when we get through we shall all have our reward. Let us make up our minds to serve and honor God. Do not have any fears concerning the kingdom; the Lord will lead that aright; and if Brother Woodruff or any of the Presidency of this Church should take any course to lead you astray, the Lord will remove us out of the way. We are in the hands of the Lord, and those keys will be held and taken care of by the God of Israel until He comes whose right it is to reign. (Wilford Woodruff, Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 1, p. 294).
It is not silly (to them) IN ITS CONTEXT, that they can't lead the Church astray, because God would "remove us out of the way." The same is true with Joseph and his "revelations". He claimed that they had no errors. Brigham Young got upset once at being asked about making mistakes and claimed that THE LORD
might make him make mistakes...
Many may say, “br. Brigham, perhaps you are mistaken; you are liable to err, and if the mob should not come, after all, and we should burn up our houses and learn that the Government had actually countermanded their orders and that no armies are coming to Utah, it would be a needless destruction. We have all the time felt that there was no need of leaving our houses. How easy it is for men to be mistaken, and we think a Prophet may be mistaken once in a while.” I am just as willing as the Lord, if he is disposed to make me make mistakes, and it is none of the business of any other person. If a people do the best they know, they have the power to ask and receive, and no power can prevent it.
And if the Lord wants me to make a mistake, I would as soon be mistaken as anything else, if that will save the lives of the people and give us the victory. If you get such feelings in your hearts, think of what my conclusion on the subject is, and do not come to my office to ask me whether I am mistaken, for I want to tell you now perhaps I am.
Do I want to save you? Ask that question. But John, what are you doing? Are you not an Elder in Israel? “Yes, I am a High Priest.” What is the office of an High Priest? John replies, “I do not know, without it is to whip my wife, knock down my children and make everybody obey me; and I believe a High Priest presides over an Elder.” You will find some Elders just about that ignorant. Let me tell you what the office of a High Priest and an Elder is. It holds the keys of the revelation of Jesus Christ; it unlocks the gates of heaven. It opens the broad windows of revelation from eternity. John, what are you about, imagining that I may be mistaken? or that br. Heber may be mistaken? Why do you not open the windows of heaven and get revelation for yourself? and not go whining around and saying, “do you not think that you may be mistaken? Can a Prophet or an Apostle be mistaken?” Do not ask me any such question, for I will acknowledge that all the time, but I do not acknowledge that I designedly lead this people astray one hair’s breadth from the truth, and I do not knowingly do a wrong, though I may commit many wrongs, and so may you. But I overlook your weaknesses, and I know by experience that the Saints lift their hearts to God that I may be led right. If I am thus borne off by your prayers and faith, with my own, and suffered to lead you wrong, it proves that your faith is vain. Do not worry. (Brigham Young, sermon given on 21 March 1858, Salt Lake Tabernacle, transcribed by George D. Watt, Van Wagoner, Vol. 3, pp. 1417-1418)
Then in the Afternoon Sermon given on the same day,
I have told you what causes apostacy. It arises from neglect of prayers and duties, and the Spirit of the Lord leaves those who are thus negligent and they begin to think that the authorities of the church are wrong. In the days of Joseph the first thing manifested in the case of apostacy was the idea that Joseph was liable to be mistaken, and when a man admits that in his feelings and sets it down as a fact, it is a step towards apostacy, and he only needs to make one step more and he is cut off from the church. That is the case in any man. When several of the Twelve were cut off, the first step was that Joseph was a prophet, but he had fallen from his office and the Lord would suffer him to lead the people wrong. When persons get that idea in their minds, they are taking the first step to apostacy. If the Lord has designed that I should lead you wrong, then let us all go to hell together and, as Joseph used to say, we will take hell by force, turn the devils out and make a heaven of it. (ibid. pg. 1420)
He was being facetious that "the Lord" would design that Young would lead them wrong, and made the same joke about it that Smith did of making Hell a Heaven. (In other words, it just wasn't going to happen). Here is Joseph's full quote,
When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there are NO ERRORS in the revelations which I have taught." (addressing his doctrinal infallibility). Must I, then, be thrown away as a thing of naught? I enjoin for your consideration—add to your faith virtue, love, &c. I say, in the name of the Lord, if these things are in you, you shall be [p.367] fruitful. I testify that no man has power to reveal it but myself—things in heaven, in earth and hell; and all shut your mouths for the future. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p.367).
Young's point here, is that Joseph WAS NOT liable to be mistaken, and if they were, it was because GOD designed them to be. It was Brigham Young who coined the saying about not being able to lead the Church astray:
It is my duty to know the mind of the Lord concerning myself and also concerning this people; and I think I know it just as well as I know the road home. I do not know the path from that door to my own home any better than I know how to dictate this people, if they will only hearken to me. This is a great blessing and a great privilege, and if I were to reject it and take a course to deprive myself of the spirit of revelation, according to what the Lord has given to me, and to magnify the Priesthood that I received through his servant Joseph, I would be taken forthwith from this world, I would not remain here at all to darken the minds of, or to lead astray, ANY of the members of the kingdom of God. According to the revelations that I and others of my brethren and sisters have received, through the Prophet Joseph and others who have lived upon the earth, if I observe my duty, I shall have the privilege of living and enjoying the society of my brethren and sisters, and of instructing them; but let me neglect this and I shall be removed out of my place forthwith. (Journal of Discourses Vol. 18, p.71)
There are many of the men and women now before me who have looked for a pure people, and have supposed that that was a proof of the truth of our doctrines, but they will never find such a people until Satan is bound, and Jesus comes to reign with his Saints. The doctrine we preach is the doctrine of salvation, and it is that which the Elders of this Church take to the world, and not the people of Utah.
Some of the Elders seem to be tripped up in a moment, if the wicked can find any fault with the members of this Church; but bless your souls, I would not yet have this people faultless, for the day of separation has not yet arrived. I have many a time, in this stand, dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention.
We can pick out Elders in Israel right here who can beat the world at gambling, who can handle the cards, cut and shuffle them with the smartest rogue on the face of God's foot-stool. I can produce Elders here who can shave their smartest shavers, and take their money from them. We can beat the world at any game.
We can beat them, because we have men here that live in the light of the Lord, that have the Holy Priesthood, and hold the keys of the kingdom of God. But you may go through all the sectarian world, and you cannot find a man capable of opening the door of the kingdom of God to admit others in. We can do that. We can pray the best, preach the best, and sing the best. We are the best looking and finest set of people on the face of the earth, and they may begin any game they please, and we are on hand, and can beat them at anything they have a mind to begin. They may make sharp their two-edged swords, and I will turn out the Elders of Israel with greased feathers, and whip them to death. We are not to be beat. We expect to be a stumbling block to the whole world, and a rock of offence to them.
I never preached to the world but what the cry was, "That damned old Joe Smith has done thus and so." I would tell the people that they did not know him, and I did, and that I knew him to be a good man; and that when they spoke against him, they spoke against as good a man as ever lived.
I recollect a conversation I had with [p.78] a priest who was an old friend of ours, before I was personally acquainted with the Prophet Joseph. I clipped every argument he advanced, until at last he came out and began to rail against "Joe Smith," saying, "that he was a mean man, a liar, money-digger, gambler, and a whore-master;" and he charged him with everything bad, that he could find language to utter. I said, hold on, brother Gillmore, here is the doctrine, here is the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the revelations that have come through Joseph Smith the Prophet. I have never seen him, and do not know his private character. The doctrine he teaches is all I know about the matter, bring anything against that if you can. As to anything else I donor care. If he acts like a devil, he has brought forth a doctrine that will save us, if we will abide it. He may get drunk every day of his life, sleep with his neighbor's wife every night, run horses and gamble, I do not care anything about that, for I never embrace any man in my faith. But the doctrine he has produced will save you and me, and the whole world; and if you can find fault with that, find it. He said, "I have done." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p.77)
George Q. Cannon,
In like manner if before us stands the consequences of speaking evil of the Lord's anointed, it will have the effect to restrain us. Do you think I could give way to a spirit of that kind, however pleasant it might be to me for the time being, at such a risk—the risk of grieving the Spirit of God and causing it to be withdrawn from me? No, I could not; and neither ought any of us. The consequences should be before our eyes. I would like you all, young and old, more especially the young men and women, who have not had the experience of the older ones, to be impressed with the feeling that from this time forth as long as you live upon the earth you will never be guilty of doing anything of this kind. Leave those who do wrong to the Lord. He will see that His servants are not permitted, as President Woodruff said yesterday, to lead this people astray. (Brain Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 4, p.313).
I also find this argument silly and dumb. But that is what Mormon PROPHETS TAUGHT. That is my point. It is NOT a non argument. I have literally hundreds more quotes I can give you to show that they claimed doctrinal infallibility with a caveat, that if they were to even think about leading the church astray, or teach wrong doctrine (If the Lord did not MAKE THEM DO SO), he would take them. Your analogy is lame, because you are not claiming to be inspired in your discussions by God, who would snatch you up if you were to attempt to make a doctrinal error or lead the church astray.
This in reality is the case, for many of us have been born again according to the traditions of our fathers; but those that keep the celestial law and obey the principles of the Gospel of Christ, you never find them taking different roads. There is but one right road, and it is a straightforward one; and the principles and rules that govern you in that path are simple and easy to be understood. This is the path for us to walk in, and I consider that we are greatly blessed in having learned the true way and in being delivered from that yoke of bondage that has chained [p.140] us down with error, false doctrine; and false teachers. (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.140)
What have we been doing here? You can see for yourselves that we have been laboring with our hands, We have had no time to find fault with our neighbors or to do them injury, or to do anything else only to make ourselves comfortable, and to prepare as fast as possible for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. See the settlements that have been built up by the penniless, those who bad not clothing to last them three months when they came, and some of whom did not bring a month's provision with them, and did not know that they could raise a thing, only by faith. Yet we came and we have lived and prospered, and here we are. What fault should be found with us? "Oh, you have done so many evil things!" What evils have we done? I am at the defiance of earth and hell to put a finger on the place or time that a false doctrine was taught to any one, a wrong taught to any one, or when evil was justified in any one, all the liars and all the lies on earth and in hell to the contrary notwithstanding. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 13, p.217)
How are you going to know about the will and commands of heaven?" By the Spirit of revelation; that is the only way you can know. How do I know but what I am doing wrong? How do I know but what we will take a course for our utter ruin? I sometimes say to my brethren, "I have been your dictator for twenty-seven years—over a quarter of a century I have dictated this people; that ought to be some evidence that my course is onward and upward. But how do you know that I may not yet do wrong? How do you know but I will bring in false doctrine and teach the people lies that they may be damned? Sisters can you tell the difference? I can say this for the Latter-day Saints, and I will say it to their praise and my satisfaction, if I were to preach false doctrine here, it would not be an hour after the people got out, before it would begin to fly from one to another, and they would remark, "I do not quite like that! It does not look exactly right! What did Brother Brigham mean? That did not sound quite right, it was not exactly the thing!" All these observations would be made by the people, yes, even by the sisters. It would not sit well on the stomach, that is, on the spiritual stomach, if you think you have one. It would not sit well on the mind, for you are seeking after the things of God; you have started out for life and salvation, and with all their ignorance, wickedness and failings, the majority of this people are doing just as well as they know how; and I will defy any man, to preach false doctrine without being detected; and we need not go to the Elders. of Israel, the children who have been born in these mountains possess enough of the Spirit to detect it. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses Vol. 14, p.205).
This last quote was from 1871 and Young was still proclaiming that he never once taught false doctrine, that he could not, because he would be detected, and the Lord would take him before he led the church astray. All this stuff about "through a glass darkly" is simply special pleading. We have the actual words of Mormon "prophets" and "apostles" that prove they claim doctrinal infallibility and they have the "keys" to the "mysteries" that they can use ANYTIME they feel like it. Why don't they? Why, it's obvious. They were making it up as they went along and still are.