Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not Quite The Same

Previously: How To Become An Apostate In One Afternoon

We latter-day Saints can be as bad as some Baptists when it comes to quoting scripture out of context when it seems to support a position we favor.  Never mind if that position is questionable, or the scripture we're using doesn't mean anything near what we think it does. We'll still use it to settle an argument.  Take, for instance this one tiny phrase near the end of a revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants that reads "Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."

Those words are frequently batted about in the Church today to "prove" that anything that comes out of the mouth of a general authority is the same as if it came out of the mouth of God himself.  And that goes double if those words are spoken during general conference. Here is how Henry Eyring, First Councilor of the First Presidency of the Church put it during October conference of 2010:
"I know the servants of God who will speak to you during this conference. They are called of God to give messages to His children. The Lord has said of them: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
And here's Russell Ballard in October session just last month:
"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.’"
By and large, both these men's talks had much to recommend them. They bore sincere testimonies of Christ.  I share their belief in a loving God and the gospel of the restoration as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  But their use of a statement God made under circumstances different from where they intend to apply it promotes a common falsehood, one which we all deserve to re-examine.  This false teaching is one we are all intimately familiar with, even if only one out of a thousand has taken the trouble to read the rest of the revelation that contains this phrase.

Is context important to understanding God's revelations?  I would suggest it's very important.  "An awareness of the background of Joseph Smith's revelations allows us to better understand their significance...The form in which we find the revelations today is the product of a complex process of revelation, recording, editing, publication, and prophetic revision." (The Doctrine and Covenants Revelations In Context: the 37th Annual Sperry Symposium at BYU)

I might add that the form in which we find the revelations today is oftentimes misunderstood. But that's not God's fault, it's ours. If we're going to go around quoting God, we should be paying better attention to what it is He was actually saying.  So with context in mind, here's some background on the verse in question.

These Commandments Are of Me
"Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" is a phrase found in the next to last verse of section one in the Doctrine and Covenants. The first thing we get to understand about section one is that although it's first in the book, it was not the first revelation Joseph Smith received from God. By my count, Joseph received 74 revelations between 1828 and 1831 prior to that one.  Typically, after Joseph received a revelation, he would disseminate it to the church by publishing it in the Church newspaper, The Evening And Morning Star.

In 1831 the Lord commanded Joseph to publish a book containing 64 of these revelations, and on November 1st of that year the Lord provided one more revelation which he instructed Joseph to use as a preface to that book. This book, known as the Book of Commandments for the Government of the Church of Christ, was published in 1833, and the Lord's preface appeared as the first chapter. Two years later, another book was published and given the title Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected From the Revelations of God.  As the title suggests, the book was divided into two parts. Part One was "Theology On the Doctrine of the Church of the Latter Day Saints" which consisted of seven lectures, known collectively as the Lectures on Faith.  The second part of the book was titled Covenants and Commandments of the Lord, to His Servants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and was essentially a revision of the Book of Commandments.  The revelation from God that had served as the preface to the Book of Commandments was retained as Section One of this second part of the book. As before, that revelation served to introduce the reader to God's reasons and purposes for promulgating the revelations that followed.

In this preface, the Lord makes it known that the revelations are addressed not only to the fledgling church, but to all the inhabitants of the earth. When reading this preface, you'll note several things pertinent to our conversation here. First, He's telling us He's back. This is God's way of announcing to the world that the heavens are open once again. Second, He's not fooling around. He makes it clear in no uncertain terms that He means business, and that time for repenting is short. This book of commandments and revelations is to go forth to all mankind, that they must prepare against the day when judgment is meted out; that all will be recompensed according to the measure in which men treat their fellow man. The Lord reiterates that He is fully aware of the calamities which are to come upon the face of the earth, and that just because many prophecies have not yet been fulfilled, we should not be complacent and think they never will be. This, he says, is why he called his servant Joseph Smith and spake to him from heaven, and gave him these commandments: as a voice of warning.

Now, I'm simplifying and summarizing here, so I'm leaving out a lot of important stuff. What you might want to do is read this entire section yourself, and read it the way it was intended to be read: as a preface and introduction to the revelations, prophecies, and commandments in the sections that follow in the original Book of Commandments. I'd suggest you get yourself a facsimile of the original, because reading it in it's original format is key to understanding what the Lord was getting at in verse 38. In this introduction God is telling his people that all the prophecies foretold in the chapters that follow will come to pass. Why? Because He had spoken it, "and I excuse not myself."  Those who doubt the veracity of his word and fail to repent and prepare will be caught up short. He speaks not only of those calamities foretold in the Book of Commandments, but all that was written by the prophets anciently shall also be fulfilled.

In what we have now as verse 37, the Lord gives specific counsel:
"Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled." 
Note the Lord is counseling us to search these commandments -the ones in the revelations in this book. No reference is made in this chapter to anything a Church father might one day say in the future. This is important in understanding the next verse:
"What I the Lord have spoken I have spoken, and I excuse not myself."  (He is God; he makes no apologies for the predictions he has made. We should note that God is speaking here in the past tense. What He has spoken He has spoken.  He is not saying anything about what some future leader of the Church might say in a conference talk in 2014.  He's referencing HIS words here, and his words only.)

"And though the heavens and the earth may pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled." (If God said it; you can count on it happening.)
 Now here comes that part where a lot of us get tripped up:
"Whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same."
This is where we should ask ourselves the question "what is the same?" What is it God is talking about here that is the same as His voice?

Well, it should be obvious to anyone reading the revelations as given. He is talking about His word as revealed in this book. His prophecies. His predictions. The calamities He assures us will certainly come to pass. And the servants he is referring to are those men to whom these particular revelations were given and recorded: Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, John, David, and Peter Whitmer, et al. How could anyone miss the clear reference in verse six to "my servants" being the ones instructed by Him to publish these words? These are the "voices of the servants" he speaks of again in the penultimate verse of that chapter: the men who wrote down these revelations, and whose "voices" in this book are to be considered as valid as God's own.

We get to ask ourselves, "is God referring here to anything even Joseph Smith might say or teach at some future time as being "the same" as if God said or taught it? How about Hyrum? Rigdon? Cowdery? David Whitmer? What about John Whitmer?  All these men are, after all,  the servants of God referred to in the revelations contained in the book. Does that mean their voices are to be thought of as the same as the voice of God whenever they open their mouths? Or is God here referring to just these particular revelations which he revealed through these servants at this time, and which are now being published in this book?

The answer should be obvious. God is making a specific claim regarding a specific set of revelations given at a specific time.  He is not giving carte blanc to any of these servants to speak for him any old time they feel like pontificating. Not even Joseph Smith presumed to have that privilege or ability. How could anyone possibly read this and assume it gives some kind of blanket authorization to random Church officeholders in the future?

If we think we can extrapolate out this idea that the voice of God is inherent in any official pronouncement of a future Church president, we need only consider some of the things Brigham Young taught from the pulpit before we're ready to run away from that notion.  Here is just one official pronouncement Brigham made that instantly comes to mind:
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind . . . Cain slew his brother.  Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.  This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).
Today we recoil from those words. We wholly reject them. The LDS Church, on its official website, has repudiated these beliefs as not having come from the mind of God.  Yet if we are to promote the prevalent teaching that "whether it be by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" we would be forced to concede that God himself must have said those words, and that Brigham Young was merely acting as God's vessel in repeating them.  After all, didn't Brigham also say that when his discourses "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 "?  (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264)

Yowza! Brigham Young claiming to know and convey the mind of God? We may have a problem here.

Well yes, you might say, but that was a long time ago. And was Brigham Young, after all, so he doesn't really count, right?  We've had to learn to put up with owning Brigham; the best we can do is keep him in his room when company comes over. We love Brother Brigham the way we love Gary Busey; he is what he is.

Well then, how about a statement from a modern apostle? Here's Mark E. Petersen, who served the Church with distinction during half my lifetime. Elder Petersen presents a kinder, more gentle view than what we often heard from Brother Brigham:
"Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest kind of education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves." (Mark E. Petersen, “Race Problems as They Affect the Church,” Speech at BYU August 27, 1954).
Show of hands: how many of you reading this would be willing to attest that what Peterson said there "is the same" as though God himself had spoken it?

If we in the church continue to teach that whether something is spoken in God's voice, or the voice of His servants, it is the same, we are going to paint ourselves into a corner we won't be able to get out of.  Such a ridiculously transparent falsehood would cause God's word to be subservient to the words of a man or group of men not yet born.  Have we forgotten that even Joseph Smith (an actual prophet) warned the church to be aware that "a prophet is only a prophet when he is speaking as a prophet"?

Well then, what does a prophet sound like when he's speaking as a prophet?  Good question. When the people of Moses wondered how they would recognize a true prophet once Moses was gone, God gave them the answer through Moses:
"I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him."
That was Moses' voice, but those were God's words. That's the important distinction. Moses was speaking, but God put those words in his mouth.  It was God speaking through Moses, saying some very precise and specific words as though God himself had spoken them.  This is one of those cases when "whether it be by mine own voice, or the voice of my servant, it is the same" actually applies.

They Have To Be God's Words
When we read something as precise as "whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same," we should be able to tell God is talking about something quite separate from simple inspiration.

When I'm reading the first part of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, the Lectures on Faith, I'm reading  inspired words,  just as most of the excerpts of his speeches and writings that have since been collected in the book Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith are inspired. These teachings may have been inspired of God, but they come to us in the "voice" of Joseph Smith.

On the other hand, when I'm reading the second part of the book, the "Covenants and Commandments of the Lord to His Servants," I'm reading revealed words.  The inspired words are things Joseph spoke or wrote down under inspiration from the spirit.  These revealed words may have been written down by Joseph Smith (and others), but they are in the voice of Jesus Christ, speaking in the First Person. In the first instance, it is Joseph speaking. In the second instance, it's the Lord. Only when speaking in the Lord's "voice" is it the same as the Lord himself having spoken it. Notice how he phrases it. He says "by (as in "through the medium of") the voice of my servants," not in the voice of my servants.

The Lord's hand is present in both sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, but only in the second part can we say we are actually hearing the voice of the Lord.  I have little doubt that much of what we hear in general conference comes by way of inspiration.  But almost none of it comes through revelation. How do I know that? Because if, say, Thomas Monson was delivering a revelation from the pulpit, he would make it clear to us all that, although it is his voice we are hearing, the words are coming from God. The rules of revelation require he identify the Savior as the author of any true revelation.

Am I saying that nothing the general authorities of the Church present to us in conference is of any  benefit to us? Do I make the claim that the general authorities in our day are incapable of delivering a message in God's voice?

Of course not.

What I'm saying is that those revelations God introduced in the Book of Commandments provide us a template for recognizing when someone's voice is to be considered the same as God's, and when it is not. Since "the word of God" consists of the words that God speaks, the person claiming to speak for God should inform us in no uncertain terms whose words it is we are hearing. Whenever the Lord has spoken to us through a latter-day revelation, he has made himself known. He introduces himself by using some variation of  "Thus saith the Lord."  Our Doctrine and Covenants is riddled with examples:

"Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God" (Section 51); "Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word" (Section 13);  "Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your redeemer, the Great I AM" (section 29); "Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, Even Alpha and Omega" (section 35), and so on.

Do you want to see an example of a "revelation" that did not come from the voice of God? Crack open your scriptures to D&C section 20. The introductory paragraph states that it is a "revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet," but those italicized introductions were written by a committee that compiled that edition of the scriptures in 1981. The committee was mistaken. Nowhere in there does Jesus Christ identify these words as coming from him.

We now know, thanks largely to the Joseph Smith Papers project, that section 20 is a hodgepodge thrown together by up to a half-dozen early Church leaders in a hurry to get it ready for publication. Joseph Smith the Prophet may have been among them, but the original document also shows "voices" in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whtimer, Sidney Rigdon, and possibly others. All of these men would have been considered the same "servants" God referred to in his preface to the Book of Commandments, but in this particular case the voices were the voices of God's servants only, and not "the same" voice as God's.

Does this mean that section 20 is invalid? Not necessarily. That section contains many of the patterns and theories for governing the operations of the church. But it's important we be clear that these were the patterns created by men (parts of it suggest a decided Campbellite influence), and not necessarily the pattern for government of a church laid out by God Himself. [1]

There are some in the church who feel it is not necessary for our modern Church leaders to preface their comments with "thus saith the Lord" in order for it to be taken as scripture.  To those people I would respond that if it's good enough for a heavenly being to follow that pattern, it should be good enough for men.
[1] In his series, "A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon," Daymon Smith demonstrates that not everything we assume to be distinctly "Mormon" was obtained through revelation from God. Quite a bit of our belief system was actually brought into the church by the earliest converts, who came from the early frontier Campbellite tradition. This is one reason it's important to distinguish between bona fide revelations and those we merely assume to be such.

Pulled Over By An Angel
Section 27 is a revelation I find quite intriquing.  Here is a revelation given in the voice of one of God's servants, and that servant is not the prophet Joseph Smith. It seems that one day Joseph had hitched his wagon and set out to buy some wine for the sacrament. On the way he was stopped by an angel, who warned him he was about to purchase the wine from his enemies, and that he might want to think twice about doing that.  What is interesting about this angel is that he didn't warn Joseph in his own words. Instead, he started right out by saying "Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Lord, your God, and your redeemer, whose word is quick and powerful."

From there the angel dove right into the message he had been sent to deliver. He recited it word for word just as if it had come from the mouth of God Himself, and then he departed. That is what it means in D&C 1:38 when God said "Whether it be by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants it is the same."  The angel, one of God's servants, recited the precise message God had sent him to deliver, and in the exact words God would have used had He been there in person.

But there's more to this story. The angel's recitation wraps up pretty quickly. He delivers the message and gets out, closing out with (and again, these are the words of the Lord) "for the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you, on the earth, and with all those whom my Father hath given me out of the world."

That's the version we get in the Book of Commandments.  Short and sweet.  The entire revelation took up less than one small page in the Book of Commandments, and the Book of Commandments is so small it can fit in your pocket.

Now pull out your modern set of scriptures and see for yourself what happened to that revelation by the time it got reprinted in your D&C.  In the middle of verse 5, that angel seems to suddenly shift gears and say, "I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni..."

Wait...What?! How did Moroni get in there?  There was no mention of Moroni when the angel spoke those words the first time! Two years previous, the revelation was winding down to a close at that point, but when it's published later in the D&C, the angel appears to have gotten a second wind, blithely changes the lyrics, and proceeds to ramble on for another 13 lengthy paragraphs about things that have nothing to do with what he had been talking about originally. In this second version, more ancients show up to the wine tasting, including Elias, John the son of Zacharias, Elijah, Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham; Michael/Adam; also Peter, James, and John. This was originally framed as God offering to raise a glass with his friend, but it's become a crowded Bacchanal. And the text shows effusive commentary on every one of these crashers to the party.

What in the world is going on here?

Oliver Cowdery. That's what's going on here. Oliver Cowdery got hold of the revelation prior to its second publication and is suddenly beset with uncontrollable logorrhea. Effusive embellishment was Oliver Cowdery's Modus Operandi; he just couldn't help himself. And so he free-styled it until he finally ran out of words, or out of paper, or the quill wore down.  (Daymon Smith describes Cowdery's proclivity for purple prose as "full of circumlocution and biblical cliche.")

Now, it should be pointed out that Oliver Cowdery had every right to dictate scripture -surely more right than anyone in the Church hierarchy today. As the Second Elder in the early church, he was next in rank to Joseph Smith himself, and yes, he did often receive bona fide revelations from God just the same as Joseph did. So if he felt inspired to throw in with his two cents, well, who's to say he shouldn't?  Nothing he wrote was doctrinally incorrect. Just curiously out of place.

But let's be honest. Nothing Oliver Cowdery added in section 27 could, by any stretch of the imagination, obtain the status of "by my voice or the voice of my servant."  That angel who appeared to Joseph Smith spoke in the voice of God. Oliver Cowdery did not.

This brings us back to those modern general authorities who insist they should be held in deference because the words they speak are equal to the words of God. Remember what Henry Eyring said of his brethren in the hierarchy?  "The Lord has said of them 'What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

But is Eyring correct? Is that what the Lord has said of them? Or did the Lord actually say those words about a different group of men, in a different time, regarding a specific set of revelations received directly through Him, and echoing His voice?  These men, the ones Henry Eyring is referring to, hadn't even been born when the Lord made that statement a hundred and eighty-odd years ago. Neither had their fathers, and neither had their grandfathers and most likely their great-great grandfathers. So I don't think that in the verse Eyring is quoting, God was talking about them. Maybe the Lord has, since then, said something similar regarding the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, but I have never seen a revelation saying so, have you? The Lord's words in D&C 1:38 can't be shoehorned into fitting the modern scenario Eyring intends.

What about Russell Ballard's claim? "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."

I don't know how quick God is to take offense when people try to put words in his mouth he never said, but if it was me I'd be annoyed with that one.  In ancient times "taking the Lord's name in vain" meant representing God as saying something or taking a position on something which He never intended. Does Ballard even realize how arrogantly offensive his declaration is?  Vox Populi, Vox Dei is the exact opposite of how God operates. The word of God must actually come from God, not from a committee of men.

As author Rob Smith recently wrote,
"In order for words to have the power of God, they must proceed from the throne down, not from earth up.  Therefore, taken in conjunction with what God said elsewhere in the scriptures, the Lord can only be saying in D&C 1:38 "if someone speaks the word of God, it doesn't matter whether that someone is me or someone else; I will own those words because they came from me."

"Note that this is not the same as saying, "whatever a church officeholder says, I will consider that as if I had said it even though the words did not come from me."
"He explicitly says 'what I have spoken.'
"In fact, he says it twice. The 'whether by mine own voice' is not variable in the source of the word, but only variable in terms of which messenger (the Lord himself, an angel, or a man) delivered it. The word "servant" here does not indicate an office, but simply a role that can as easily be filled by a child,[2] a patriarch, or a heathen, as a saint. The only qualification for a true messenger is that the word they carry, as brief as it may be, originates from God. It is supremely important to heed God's word no matter who the messenger may be.
"The origination from God is critically important. Even Joseph, whose words God commanded us to receive as his own (an endorsement I am not aware of any man having received in this dispensation) had a limitation placed on his endorsement.  God explicitly limits his commission as a messenger to his word: 
'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.'  (D&C 21:4) Thus we call these people messengers, and not, say, authors. No man can dictate God's word independent of God giving it to him."  (Robert Smith, Commanded In All Things: Understanding the Power of the Word of God, 2014)
Did you get that? We are not commanded to heed Joseph Smith's words and commandments; we are to heed the words as Joseph received them from God.
That's right. A servant can also mean a child. "And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned." (Alma 32:23)

Darkened In Our Minds
Carol McConkie, another speaker at last October's conference, also engaged in unwarranted fawning over the Brethren when she singled out President Monson, his counselors, and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and said "in their words we hear the voice of the Lord and we feel the Savior’s love...The Lord Himself has spoken: 'Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.' "

Sister McConkie is confused. We're not supposed to "hear the voice of the Lord" in their words. If these men are receiving revelations, we should be hearing them delivering a message in the Lord's words. 

So why don't we? Why don't we hear revelations from the pulpit anymore? I believe in continuing revelation; we are a church founded on continuing revelation; the men in top positions in the church are continuously hinting that they are privy to revelation. So where are the revelations?

With all this talk about how fortunate we are to have a living prophet on the earth to tell us God's will, wouldn't you expect the prophet's conference talks to be totally awesome? We're constantly assured that listening to his voice is the same as listening to the voice of God, so witnessing an experience like that should be unforgettable, shouldn't it?

Can you even recall what President Monson talked about in conference just three years ago?

Well, I can. But only because I wrote a blog post about it at the time. Otherwise, it would have slipped into the memory hole just as so many of his other talks have. I remember this one because in the piece I wrote I imagined what it might be like if suddenly the whole world took us at our word and tuned in to conference to see and hear the word of God as revealed to his prophet on the earth.

After watching that session, I'm fairly certain that, had the the rest of the world tuned in that day to listen to our prophet, they would not have been persuaded they were listening to a message from God.  I could be wrong. Decide for yourself.

Thirty years ago the president of the Church at that time hinted at the reason God is no longer communicating to His church through its leaders. President Benson told us the whole church was under condemnation, and would remain under condemnation until we repented as a people. But nobody really wanted to hear that, and once Benson was dead, the subject never came up in conference again. President Benson's prophetic warning has been replaced by a penumbra of thought that feels vaguely like "all is well in Zion -or it will be once we all learn to follow the Brethren."
Prior to his death, Joseph Smith warned the people on two occasions that they were depending too much on him, and hence were becoming "darkened in their minds."  Now mind you, this is the one guy we Mormons believe had regular conversations with God, and even he was telling the people to back off because the more they looked to him for guidance, the stupider they got.

Have you ever wondered what it means to be darkened in your mind? I've observed it first hand. It means your priorities are so confused that you can't see truth when it's staring you in the face.  I had an online discussion with a woman not long ago who typified this phenomenon.  It was a rather lengthy chat, so I'll distill it here to its essence:

Her: It is absolutely vital that we follow the counsel of our prophet and apostles.
Me: Why?
Her: Because they can teach us God's will for us.
Me: The scriptures also teach God's will for us. What are the leaders teaching lately that is more valuable than what I can find in the scriptures?
Her: They teach us that it is vital that we follow the living prophet.

That was pretty much the gist of the conversation, though we kept going round and round, and I never could get her to give me an example of something the leaders are teaching that is so profound and revealing that I can't find it anywhere else. Her entire argument could be summarized as "we need to follow the prophets and apostles because they teach us the importance of following the prophets and apostles."

And you know, I had a hard time arguing with her, because whenever I tune in to a conference session that is exactly what the speakers seem to be saying.

Do you want to ruin your family's thanksgiving this Thursday? Try this with a relative and see if you don't get the same result.

Truth Number 17
I sincerely wish the men at the top of the Church hierarchy were still receiving revelation for the church. When God again deigns to pour out his word through them, I'll be first in line to give heed.

Meanwhile, we do ourselves a disservice if we allow our wishful thinking to inform reality. This does not mean we should abandon the church. It also doesn't mean God has ceased to operate in our individual lives. It only means we should recognize our need to repent so that God will once again accept us as His people.

In his remarkable book, 77 Truths, author Bret Corbridge has this to say:
"Several decades have passed since doctrinal revelation was received by leadership and
disseminated as scripture to the church. The reality that the Church is not providing additional prophecy and scripture is self evident. Contrary to popular belief, reviewing teachings offered by previous prophets in general conference is not "new revelation." ...During this time of "silence" members are required to turn to the Lord and His Holy Spirit for additional revelation.

"Those who love the gospel hope the day will come when God will again provide additional revelation through the leaders of His church. Until that time, the wheat of the church are to seek learning, "even by study and also by faith." (D&C 9:7-8)
Here's an idea. What if someone compiled a book of recent conference talks which would include all the examples they believe represent the best in the category of "whether it be by mine own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same"? Then we could compare that book with the examples we know God endorsed in the Book of Commandments and see how well those modern talks compare to the ones from 1833.

I wouldn't attempt to guess whether a book like that could fill very many pages. But I can suggest a preface to it, and it's one the Lord has already written and has ready to go:
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." -Amos 8:11

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