Prophetic Fallibility

Do prophets make mistakes?

Yes. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, "There have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes."[1] And many prophets and apostles have stated they are imperfect people who make mistakes.[2][3]

What do you mean by a 'mistake' here?

Ancient and modern prophets have made various mistakes including factual errors,[4] moral failings,[5] poor decisions,[6] and minor[7] and major sins.[8]

But do they make mistakes when speaking or acting as a prophet?

Yes, probably. For example, Brigham Young believed in and taught the Adam-God theory[9] which Spencer W. Kimball "denounced" and said was "false doctrine" in the October 1976 general conference.[10] Both prophets were acting as prophets when they taught this.[11]

Why would a prophet of God make a mistake when speaking or acting as a prophet?

Bruce R. McConkie taught, "With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general."[12][13]

Does this mean that a prophet could misinterpret the revelation that they receive?

Yes, possibly. Brigham Young taught that although revelations from God are perfect, humans are "poor, weak, low" and cannot fully receive them.[14]

If prophets make mistakes even when acting as prophets, what is the point of having a prophet?

Prophets are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ to be His representative on earth and are charged with leading and receiving revelation for the Church.[15]

How do practicing Latter-day Saints make sense of the idea that the current prophet may be in error?

Some Latter-day Saints "pick and choose" which teachings from prophets to support,[16] while others choose to support all the teachings, even if they believe some may be erroneous.[17] Others assume the current prophet is completely aligned with God's will and support all his teachings.[18]

Table of assumptions and possible explanations on prophetic fallibility

Assumption

Possible Conclusions

Prophets, even when acting as a prophet, are capable of error.

Because prophets are capable of making mistakes, even when acting as a prophet, they have little value and their guidance should be discounted or ignored.[19]

Because prophets can make mistakes, it is wise to carefully choose which guidance we follow and support.[20]

Even though prophets may make mistakes, we should support and sustain them.[21]

Prophets, when acting as a prophet, do not make errors.

All prophetic statements are true within their context, and any apparent mistake or contradiction is due to a misinterpretation.[22]

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What does God do when prophets make mistakes?

The response seems to vary and depends on the time, place, nature, and importance of the mistake.[23][24]

Why wouldn't He stop prophets from making mistakes in the first place?

God values agency[25] and seems to allow prophets to act for themselves,[26] even if it means allowing them to make mistakes.

Examples of Mistakes Made by Latter-day Prophets

TopicEvent

Commentary

Kinderhook Plates[27]

Joseph Smith reportedly made an initial attempt to translate one of the characters of the fraudulent Kinderhook Plates.[28]

Joseph reportedly made an initial attempt to translate the plates using secular means, not a prophetic method.[29] It was later reported that Joseph wanted the plates authenticated by scholars.[30]

The Kirtland Safety Society

On November 2, 1836, Joseph Smith and others officially organized the Kirtland Safety Society,[31] which eventually failed.[32]

The Kirtland Safety Society failed in 1837 due to several factors, including the nationwide financial panic in 1837[33] and some Latter-day Saints engaging in speculation.[34]

The Book of Lehi (116 pages)

Joseph loaned Martin Harris[BIO] the manuscript pages for the Book of Lehi which were then lost.[35]

God chastised Joseph and Martin for the loss of the Book of Lehi.[36]

The cause of malaria

Joseph believed that the climate caused malaria.[37]

According to modern science, Malaria is caused by a parasite that infects some types of mosquitos and is passed on to humans.[38] Joseph was reflecting the common beliefs of the time.[39]

Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, and the sun being inhabited

Early Latter-day Saints such as Hyrum Smith and Brigham Young believed that the sun was inhabited.[40]

The sun is inhospitable and cannot sustain life.[41] It was a common belief at the time that other parts of the solar system were inhabited.[42]

Racism among Latter-day Saint leaders

Joseph Smith,[43] Brigham Young,[44] and other Church leaders[45] held racist views concerning Black people.

Today, the Church condemns all racism, past and present.[46]

Joseph Fielding Smith and man traveling to the moon.

In 1958, Joseph Fielding Smith taught that man would not venture outside the earth.[47]

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed[48] Neil Armstrong[BIO] and Buzz Aldrin[BIO] on the moon. As president of the Church, Joseph Fielding Smith hosted members of Apollo 15[49] at a celebration in Salt Lake City in September 1971.[50]
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Joseph Fielding Smith, left, greets astronauts from the Apollo 15 moon landing. 13 years earlier, President Smith wrote that mankind was destined to stay on Earth.

But doesn't the Church teach that the prophet will "never lead the Church astray"?

Yes. This concept is taught in Church manuals,[51] talks from Church leaders[52][53], and Church music.[54]

It was first taught in the October 1890 General Conference where Wilford Woodruff said, "The Lord will never permit . . . the President of this Church, to lead you astray."[55][56]

Examples of Statements from Church Leaders on Prophetic Fallibility

Date

Church Leader

Statement

February 8, 1843

Joseph Smith[BIO]

Joseph recorded that he met some people from Michigan "who thought that 'a Prophet is always a Prophet.'" He told them, "A Prophet was a Prophet only, when he was acting as such."[57]

October 6, 1855

Brigham Young[BIO]

Brigham cautioned Church members from accepting anything he teaches "unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied."[58]

June 28, 1857

Brigham Young

Brigham warned that Latter-day Saints must have the Spirit witness to them or "leaders [may] lead you to destruction."[59]

December 13, 1875

Orson Pratt[BIO]

Orson Pratt, when discussing a teaching from Joseph Smith about the whereabouts of the ten tribes, stated that he wasn't sure if Joseph "founded his opinion upon revelation or whether it was a matter of mere speculation with him."[60]

August 12, 1883

George Q. Cannon[BIO]

George Q. Cannon taught Church members that Joseph Smith was "a mortal man," "a fallible man," and, on occasion, "God reproved him."[61]

October 1898

Lorenzo Snow[BIO]

During the October 1898 General Conference, Lorenzo Snow taught that "each member of the Church has a right to have that measure of the Spirit of God that they can judge" the actions of Church leaders.[62]

1902

Matthias F. Cowley[BIO]

In his 1902 book, Cowley's Talks on Doctrine, Matthias F. Cowley taught that being called a prophet "does not imply the infallibility of man."[63]

September 1912

Charles W. Penrose[BIO]

Serving as editor of the Improvement Era, Charles W. Penrose taught, "No President of the Church has claimed infallibility."[64]

1937

John A. Widtsoe[BIO]

In his 1937 book, Program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John A. Widtsoe told Church members to "expect perfection in no man."[65]

April 1941

Joseph F. Merrill[BIO]

During the April 1941 General Conference, Joseph F. Merrill taught that "the President is not infallible." He added, "He makes no claims to infallibility."[66]

December 7, 1945

George Albert Smith[BIO]

In a letter to a Unitarian minister, George Albert Smith wrote that Latter-day Saints should not blindly follow leaders; instead, "every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel."[67]

July 7, 1954

J. Reuben Clark[BIO]

J. Reuben Clark discusses when the writings or sermons of Church leaders can be considered "scripture," noting that Church leaders have sometimes speculated on doctrinal topics, and that "this matter of disagreements over doctrine, and the announcement by high authority of incorrect doctrines, is not new."[68]

1954 and 1956

Joseph Fielding Smith[BIO]

In both the first volume (1954)[69] and third volume (1956)[70] of Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith taught that "If I should say something which is contrary to that which is written and approved by the Church generally, no one is under obligation to accept it."

1958

Bruce R. McConkie[BIO]

In his 1958 edition of Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie taught that "prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general."[71]

July 8, 1964

Harold B. Lee[BIO]

In an address to Seminary and Institute faculty, Harold B. Lee taught that not everything a leader says is inspired and that leaders are not always "moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they read and write."[72]

May 1975

Ezra Taft Benson[BIO]

In the May 1975 issue of the New Era, Ezra Taft Benson cautioned Church members from placing their trust in "the arm of flesh" instead of Jesus, while acknowledging that "the Church will never again be taken from the earth because of apostasy."[73]

February 19, 1981

Bruce R. McConkie

McConkie, in a letter to Eugene England,[BIO] wrote that Brigham Young did teach that "Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him" but that these teachings are "not true" and Brigham "expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel."[74]

1984

Bruce R. McConkie

In a speech delivered in 1984, McConkie stated that the footnotes, chapter headings, and Joseph Smith translations in the Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible are not perfect, do not determine doctrine, and "they have been and undoubtedly now are mistakes in them."[75]

October 1989

James E. Faust[BIO]

During the October 1989 General Conference, James E. Faust taught that he and other Church leaders "make no claim of infallibility or perfection."[76]

1990

Boyd K. Packer

In an essay from 1990, Elder Boyd K. Packer added a disclaimer that stated that the essay was based on his personal revelation. He added, "Only the Standard Works and statements written under assignment of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles are considered official declarations by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."[77]

April 1994

Robert D. Hales[BIO]

During the April 1994 General Conference, Robert D. Hales taught that "infallibility does not come with the call" to be an apostle.[78]

May 2007

Church Newsroom

In May 2007, the Church Newsroom released an article titled "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," stating, "Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine."[79]

October 5, 2013

Dieter F. Uchtdorf[BIO]

In the October 2013 general conference, Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated, "Leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes."[80]

March 2020

Dallin H. Oaks[BIO]

In the March 2020 issue of the Ensign, Dallin H. Oaks taught that, to become a doctrine of the Church, "individual teachings of apostles and even prophets need to be affirmed through the process of approval by other apostles and prophets."[81]

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Does the Church teach that "when the Prophet speaks, the thinking has been done?"

No, not really. This first appeared in an anonymous Improvement Era article in 1945,[82] but President George Albert Smith immediately condemned it.[83][84]

Elaine Cannon[BIO] made a similar statement in the 1970s by stating, "When the Prophet speaks, the debate is over,"[85] but many prophets and apostles before and since have taught that Church members need to think for themselves and determine the truth of the Gospel and that they are not infallible.[86][87]

The Facts

  • Joseph Smith taught that a "prophet is only a prophet when acting as such."

  • Various Church leaders have taught that prophets are fallible and make mistakes.

  • There are some disagreements and contradictions between Church leaders on some gospel teachings.

  • There are examples of ancient and modern prophets making mistakes.

Our Take

The idea that prophets, individuals entrusted with leading and guiding the Church while receiving divine revelation, are capable of making errors can be unsettling. It can lead to questions about the reliability of doctrine or Church decisions or cause doubts about divine callings. After all, aren't we promised that we will never be led astray? If prophets are just like the rest of us, what is the purpose of having them?

Throughout history, God has called upon and worked through prophets to convey revelation and provide guidance for His people. This is essential as the Church continues to navigate forward and seek answers to questions relevant to today. But, it is important to acknowledge that prophets are mortal beings who make mistakes and perceive things through their own experiences. It is nice that many prophets, apostles, and Church leaders have spoken on this over the years.

Despite these human limitations, we are asked to support and sustain the inspired leaders that God has appointed. Importantly, we also need to turn to the Lord and seek personal revelation to help us navigate our individual journeys. As we do so, we can be blessed and see God's hand through continuous revelation.

What's Your Take?

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These takes are curated for a general audience and may contain minor edits when posted.
  • Bryce
    Prophets reveal the mind and will of the Lord. Since God has only ever had One perfect Being to work with, sometimes mistakes are made. We should be thankful that prophets are able to guide and inspire us to become more like Christ.
  • Mark
    I have sympathy for Prophets knowing they receive inspiration in the same ways we do. Usually, I'm left to try my best. Often I feel nudges in the right direction. Sometimes I am given a close approximation. And occasionally clear direction. See "Patterns of Light" - Elder Bednar
  • Payton B.
    I see a lot of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to perspectives about prophetic infallibility; either he’s perfectly inspired, or he’s untrustworthy. I think that there’s a lot of room for alternative conclusions that better reflect the real world.
  • Broderik C.
    It's important to remember that prophets almost always work under the same circumstances as we do. They pray, they seek revelation, and they do their best to follow spiritual promptings. Although visions and angels certainly occur, they are the exception, not the rule.
  • Spencer
    The fallibility of prophets reassures me that since I, myself, am fallible and prone to mistakes, I can still serve God and help Him with His work. I’m only human, so if prophets are also only human, I’m in good company!
  • Josh C.
    This. I see so many people on social media arguing and making claims that tie back to assumed prophetic perfection. They are not perfect, and they've said so many times. They should stop assuming that they are, and start using personal thinking and revelation in their studies too.
Footnotes
  • BIOMartin Harris

    Martin Harris (1783–1875) was an early Latter-day Saint leader. He married his first cousin Lucy Harris, on March 27, 1808, in Palmyra. Harris served in War of 1812 in the New York Militia. His contributions to Church history include serving Joseph Smith as a scribe from April to June 1828. He was one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and was baptized on April 6, 1830. He was excommunicated in December 1837 and subsequently became a member of the high council of James J. Strang's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Harris later joined William C. McLellin's movement in 1847. He migrated to Salt Lake Valley in 1870, where he was rebaptized.

  • BIONeil Armstrong

    Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930-August 25, 1912) was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University. Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962. He made his first spaceflight as command pilot of Gemini 8 in March 1966. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, became the first people to land on the Moon. After he resigned from NASA in 1971, Armstrong taught in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati until 1979. He served on the Apollo 13 accident investigation and the Rogers Commission, which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

  • BIOBuzz Aldrin

    Buzz Aldrin (January 20, 1930-present) was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point wit ha degree in mechanical engineering. He served as a jet fighter during the Korean War. After being hired by NASA, Aldrin would made his first space flight in 1966 on Gemini 12. On July 21, 1969, alongside Buzz Aldrin, set foot on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. He would later receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom that year. After leaving NASA in 1971, he became Commandment of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and retired from the Air Force in 1972. He wrote two autobiographies, Return to Earth (1973) and Magnificent Desolation (2009).

  • BIOJoseph Smith, Jr.

    Joseph Smith (1805–1844) organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born in Sharon, Vermont, he began to experience visions of deity and angels at a young age. One vision featured the Angel Moroni, who revealed the location of gold plates with an account of ancient Americans. He translated this record and published it as The Book of Mormon. He continued to receive revelations throughout his life which serve as the foundation for the Church's doctrine today. He led the Latter-day Saints across the country from New York to Illinois. In 1844, he was martyred while awaiting trial in Carthage, Illinois.

  • BIOBrigham Young

    Brigham Young (1801–1877) was an early Latter-day Saint leader. He was born in Whitingham, Vermont. and joined the faith in his twenties after two years of deliberation. He became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles following the fractionalization of the Church in Kirtland, Ohio. After Joseph Smith's martyrdom in 1844, Young assumed the presidency and led the Latter-day Saints to settle in the Great Basin region. He was married to fifty-five women and fathered fifty-nine children from sixteen of his wives. He also served as the Territorial Governor for Utah Territory until 1857 and as the prophet until his death.

  • BIOOrson Pratt

    Orson Pratt (1811–1881) was born in Hartford, New York, and was an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was called on many missions. He was excommunicated from the Church in August 1842, after allegations of Joseph Smith's impropriety. Pratt was rebaptized in January 1843 and served as a leading pamphleteer for the Church and defender of the faith.

  • BIOGeorge Q. Cannon

    George Q. Cannon (1827–1901) was born in Liverpool, England, to George Cannon and Ann Quayle. His family was baptized into the Church in 1840. In 1842, he and his family immigrated to Nauvoo and later moved west with the Saints in 1847. In 1849, he served as a mining missionary to California. During this time, he was asked to travel to the Kingdom of Hawaii, where he served for four years. During this time, with the assistance of Jonatana Napela, Cannon translated the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. After the Utah War, he served as the president of the Eastern States Mission. He was ordained as an apostle in August 1860 and served as a counselor in the First Presidency (under four presidents) from 1873-1887 and 1889-1901.

  • BIOLorenzo Snow

    Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901) was born in Mantua, Portage County, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. Snow served multiple missions throughout the U.S. and abroad in locations including England, Italy, the Hawaiian Islands, and Palestine. He also served a mission to campaign for Joseph Smith's candidacy for U.S. president in 1844. Snow was ordained as an apostle in 1849. He served as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1898 until his death in 1901.

  • BIOMathias F. Cowley

    Mathias F. Cowley (August 25, 1858-June 16, 1940) was born in Salt Lake City. He was ordained an apostle of the Church on October 7, 1897 by Wilford Woodruff, replacing Moses Thatcher. Cowley submitted his resignation from the Quorum of the Twelve on October 28, 1905, at the request of Joseph F. Smith, due to having performed plural marriages after the 1890 Manifesto. On May 11, 1911, due to reports of his continuing involvement in new plural marriages led to his priesthood being suspended by the Church. Cowley would later have his priesthood standing in the Church restored on April 3, 1936. Cowley is well known for having written books on Church doctrine, such as Cowley's Talks on Doctrine (1904).

  • BIOCharles W. Penrose

    Charles W. Penrose (1832-1925) was an early Latter-day Saint leader. He was born in London, England, and joined the faith in 1850 as a teenager. In 1861, he immigrated to Utah and became a farmer, retailer, politician, and newspaper editor, publishing widely on subjects like polygamy and the Word of Wisdom. He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1904 to 1911 and a member of the First Presidency from 1911 until 1925.

  • BIOJohn A. Widtsoe

    John Andreas Widtsoe (January 31, 1872–November 29, 1952) was an early Latter-day Saint leader. He was born on Frøya, a Norwegian island. He lost his father when he was six. His family was introduced to the Church a few years later. Widtsoe moved to Utah with his family in 1883 and was baptized in 1884. Widtsoe graduated from Harvard with a degree in chemistry in 1894 and married Leah Eudora Dunford in 1898. Widtsoe was called on a mission to get his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He graduated in 1899. Widtsoe was president of Utah State Agricultural College from 1907–1916. He was then president of the University of Utah until 1921. Widtsoe was called as an apostle in 1921 and served until his death in 1952.

  • BIOJoseph F. Merrill

    Joseph F. Merrill (August 24, 1868-February 3, 1952) was born in Richmond, Utah Territory, the son of Church apostle Marriner W. Merrill. He was among the first Latter-day Saints from Utah to travel to the eastern United States to seek higher education, studying at the University of Michigan and John Hopkins University. He was the first native Utahn to receive a PhD. He started teaching physics and chemistry at the University of Utah in 1983. In 1895, he became the first principal of the School of Mines (now the University of Utah College of Engineering). In 1928, he served as the head of the LDS Church school system. In 1933, he served as president of the European Mission. Merrill was called as an apostle in 1931 and served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve until his death in 1952.

  • BIOGeorge Albert Smith

    George Albert Smith (1870-1951) was the eighth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Born in Salt Lake City, he worked for Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution and later served a mission in the Southern States. In 1903, he became an apostle for the Church, and by 1945, had become the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • BIOJ. Reuben Clark

    Joshua Reuben Clark Jr. (September 1, 1871 – October 6, 1961) was an American attorney and an apostle for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Clark was born and raised in Grantsville, Utah, and received his education around the Utah Valley. Despite financial difficulties, Clark was intelligent and excelled in his schoolwork, graduating as valedictorian form his University of Utah class in 1898.Later, Clark attended Columbia University Law School, graduating in 1906. Clark worked as an attorney in the Department of State, and as Undersecretary of State for the U.S. President Calvin Coolidge. Clark also served as the United States Ambassador to Mexico in 1930. Following his ambassadorship, Clark was ordained an apostle in 1934.

  • BIOJoseph Fielding Smith

    Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972) was the tenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He became an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve in 1910 and served in this capacity until he became a member of the First Presidency in 1965. He was the Church Historian and Recorder from 1921 until 1970. He became president of the Church following the death of David O. McKay in 1970.

  • BIOBruce R. McConkie

    Bruce Redd McConkie (1915-1985) was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His family moved back to Utah when he was an infant. McConkie served as a missionary in the Eastern States Mission and was involved in the first Hill Cumorah Pageant. McConkie married Amelia Smith, the daughter of Joseph Fielding Smith, in 1937. He graduated with a degree in law from the University of Utah in 1939. McConkie served as an officer in Army Intelligence during WWII. He was called as a Seventy in 1946. McConkie edited and published many sermons and teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith. He published the controversial compendium Mormon Doctrine in 1958. He then served as president of the Southern Australian Mission in 1961. McConkie was called as an apostle and served on the Quorum of the Twelve from 1972 until his death in 1985.

  • BIOHarold B. Lee

    Harold Bingham Lee (March 28, 1899 – December 26, 1973) in Clifton, Idaho. He developed careers in education, business, and government, and was called to the Quorum of the twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 10, 1941. He became President of the Church on July 7, 1972 and served for only 18 months until his death.

  • BIOEzra Taft Benson

    Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) was born in Whitney, Idaho. He served as the Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961. He was ordained an Apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1943. Benson later served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1973 to 1985, when he was called as President of the Church.

  • BIOEugene England

    George Eugene England, Jr. (22 July 1933 – 17 August 2001) was an LDS scholar, writer, teacher, and founder of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. England was born and raised in Logan, Utah, and served a mission with his wife in Samoa. England received a PhD in 1974 from Stanford University, and taught at St. Olaf’s College, and the University of Utah Institute before taking a professorship at Brigham Young University. England remained at BYU publishing actively until 1998, he then took a position at the Utah Valley University and passed away from brain cancer in 2001.

  • BIOJames E. Faust

    James E. Faust (July 31, 1920–August 10, 2007) was ordained an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 30, 1978 and Second Counselor in the First Presidency on March 12, 1995. He served as a counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley from 1995 until his death on August 10, 2007. Before his ordination as an apostle, Faust worked as a lawyer.

  • BIORobert D. Hales

    Robert Dean Hales (August 24, 1932-October 1, 2017) was born in New York. He graduated with a master of business administration degree from Harvard. He married his wife, Mary Crandell, on June 10, 1953, in the Salt Lake Temple. Hales was called as a General Authority on April 4, 1975 where he would serve as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later, as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church from April 1985 until he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 2, 1994, and ordained an apostle on April 7, 1994. In 2002, he served as chair of the Church's Olympic Coordinating Council.

  • BIODieter F. Uchtdorf

    Dieter F. Uchtdorf (1940–) was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia, to Karl and Hildegard Uchtdorf. He and his family joined the Church in 1947 in Zwickau, Germany. The Uchtdorf family fled to Frankfurt in 1952, and in 1959, Dieter joined the German Air Force. Dieter married Harriet Reich in 1962, and they had two children. Elder Uchtdorf was called as a General Authority in April 1994 and was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles in October 2004. From 2008 to 2018, he served as the second counselor in the First Presidency under Thomas S. Monson. Elder Uchtdorf continues in his call as an apostle.

  • BIODallin H. Oaks

    Dallin H. Oaks (1932–present) was born in Provo, Utah, and became an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1984. After the death of his first wife, June Dixon Oaks, in 1998, he married Kristen M. McMain in 2000. He graduated from Brigham Young University (1954) and the University of Chicago Law School (1957). After practicing and teaching law in Chicago, he became the president of Brigham Young University from 1971 to 1980. He was then a justice of the Utah Supreme Court (1980–1984) before resigning to become an apostle. He was made the first counselor in the First Presidency and president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2018.

  • BIOElaine Anderson Cannon

    Elaine Anderson Cannon (April 9, 1922-May 19, 2003) was born in Salt Lake City. As a teenager, she wrote a daily column for the Deseret News. She graduated with a degree in sociology in 1943 from the University of Utah. On March 25, 1943, she married D. James Cannon. In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball appointed her as eighth president of the Young Women Organization. During her presidency, the young women of the church held a yearly meeting in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. She was released in 1984. Cannon died on May 19, 2003, in Salt Lake City.

  • During his October 2013 General Conference address, Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:

    To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.
  • When speaking to the Nauvoo Relief Society, Joseph Smith taught, "Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing—the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature like other men. No man lives without fault."

    In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord chastised Joseph several times for sinning.

    During his October 2013 General Conference address, Apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:

    To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.

    Apostle Bruce R. McConkie also stated, "With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances."

  • During his April 1994 General Conference speech, Robert D. Hales noted that being an Apostle is "a process—a process of repentance and humility, to look inward as we’ve been instructed and ask for forgiveness and strength to be what I should be."

    Hales added, "Unfortunately, I am not a perfect man, and infallibility does not come with the call."

  • For example, Joseph believed that the climate caused malaria, but modern science informs us that it is caused by a parasite that infects some types of mosquitos and is passed on to humans.

  • In the Old Testament, King David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and ensured the death of her husband, Uriah, in battle. In 2 Samuel 12:9-10, the prophet Nathan told David:

    9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.

    Jacob 2 condemns King David and his son Solomon for having "many wives & concubines which thing was abominable before me saith the Lord."

    That King David was considered a prophet in the same sense as other prophets can be seen in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter that David predicted Judas's apostleship having to be replaced in Acts 1:16 and again, in Acts 2:29-31, where Peter calls him a "prophet" without any qualifications:

    29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    In Sotah 48.b, a text that is part of the Jewish Talmud (c. AD 450-550), David is considered to be among the early prophets:

    Who are the early prophets? Rav Huna says: This is referring to David, and Samuel, and Solomon, and after their death the Urim VeTummim was no longer used

  • For example, Joseph Smith loaned Martin Harris the manuscript pages for the Book of Lehi which were then lost and never recovered. This resulted in Joseph receiving revelation that chastised him for this poor decision, such as D&C 3:5-8:

    5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them. 6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. 7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words-- 8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
  • For example, Peter showed hypocrisy when he chose not to dine with Gentile members of the Church.

    In Galatians 2, Paul reports how he met James, Cephas (Peter), and John. Paul was the one who charged Peter with hypocrisy:

    11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
  • For example, in 1 Kings 13, a prophet of Bethel deceived another prophet into breaking his oath to abstain from food and drink. Because he broke the oath, the man was killed by a lion.

    1 Kings 13:23-24 reads:

    23 And it came to pass, after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcase.
  • Brigham's first public sermon identifying God with Adam was delivered April 9, 1854:

    When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is MICHAEL, the Archangel, the ANCIENT OF DAYS! about whom holy men have written and spoken—HE is our FATHER and our GOD, and the only God with whom WE have to do.
  • When Brigham Young was president of the Church he taught the Adam-God theory (See Adam-God Theory).

    During his October 1976 General Conference talk, Spencer W. Kimball "denounced" this theory and said it was "false doctrine." He warned Church members "against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations."

    He added, "Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine."

  • Brigham Young was sustained as President of the Church on December 27, 1847. Spencer W. Kimball was ordained President of the Church on December 30, 1973.

  • In the book Mormon Doctrine, McConkie wrote:

    With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances.
  • During his April 1994 General Conference speech, Robert D. Hales noted that being an Apostle is "a process—a process of repentance and humility, to look inward as we’ve been instructed and ask for forgiveness and strength to be what I should be."

    Hales added, "Unfortunately, I am not a perfect man, and infallibility does not come with the call."

    While serving as editor of the Improvement Era, Charles W. Penrose, in response to the question, "Do you believe that the President of the Church, when speaking to the Church in his official capacity is infallible?," responded as follows:

    Answer: We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility.
  • On July 8, 1855, Brigham taught that there is no singular revelation that is perfect:

    I do not believe that there is a single revelation, among the many God has given to the Church; that is perfect in its fulness. The revelations of God contain correct doctrine and principle, as far as they go, but it is impossible for the poor, weak, low, grovelling, sinful inhabitants of the earth to receive a revelation from the Almighty in all its perfections. He has to speak to us in a manner to meet the extent of our capacities.

    He also taught that if prophets and apostles from previous dispensations were asked about their understanding of God "there would be found a great variety in their views and feelings upon this subject, without direct revelation from the Lord."

  • In the Church's Gospel Principles manual, in the chapter "Prophets of God," it states:

    A prophet is a man called by God to be His representative on earth. When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking (see D&C 1:38). A prophet is also a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. A prophet teaches truth and interprets the word of God. He calls the unrighteous to repentance. He receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit. He may see into the future and foretell coming events so that the world may be warned.
  • In an article published by The Salt Lake Tribune on April 6, 2023, Latter-day Saint Jana Riess wrote:

    I’m not the first to point out that there have been times in Latter-day Saint history when the counsel of our prophet was not loving and did not contribute to healing. . . . So the question for church members is not “How high should I jump when the prophet tells me to?” but “Is what the prophet is asking me to do or believe the right thing?” That should be followed by a litany of other questions: Who would be blessed or harmed if I followed this piece of prophetic counsel? How does it line up with the scriptures? With the teachings of past leaders? And most of all, does this teaching convey the love of Jesus Christ for all God’s children? . . .there have been times when I’ve sat in conference and known in my bones that something a church leader was saying was wrong for me to obey.

    Riess, also noted that she has been blessed, at times, "when I’ve followed a directive from the governing First Presidency and felt that my life or spiritual outlook was improved by it."

  • In his journal for January 8, 1847, William Clayton recorded Heber C. Kimball teaching that

    If you do according to counsel and [Church leaders] are wrong, the consequences will fall on the heads of those who counseled you, so don't be troubled.

    On August 13, 1853, Kimball, in a sermon, taught that

    When brother Joseph Smith lived, he was our Prophet, our Seer, and Revelator; he was our dictator in the things of God, and it was for us to listen to him, and do just as he told us. Now that appears very absurd in the eyes of the world; but they all say, if they had lived in the days of Peter, Moses, or Jesus, they would not have done as the people in those days did to them; but at the same time they would take their lives if they could, and do just like them.

    On November 8, 1857, Kimball taught that

    . . . if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong, You will get water, if you dig away. That is rather presumptuous doctrine with some people; but with me it is not.
  • For example, in an article from July 2009, Latter-day Saint apologist Michael R. Ash wrote that prophets will guide us in a way that "creates our own relationship with the divine":

    How do we come unto Christ? The Book of Mormon gives us the six-point pattern: belief in Christ, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Spirit, enduring to the end and being found guiltless at the final judgment. This list entails personal commitments, attitudes, and relationships with Heavenly Father and Christ. Prophets help guide us to the waters of truth, but they cannot drink for us. We must make personal commitments and interactions with the Lord. So in principle, the prophet will not lead us away (or "astray") from those six gospel principles that allow us to create our own relationships with the divine. Does this mean that they cannot make mistakes about the specifics of doctrinal issues or historical events? Certainly not.
  • For example, in the article "Prophets after Joseph Smith," a MormonThink, a Church critical website asked:

    If prophesies can be false, and doctrines given by one prophet can be invalidated by another, what good is a prophet? If the prophet is only speaking as a prophet sometimes, and as a man at other times (over the pulpit in General Conference), how is a member of the church to tell the difference?

    Former Latter-day Saint, Richard Packham, in his article, "To Those Who are Investigating Mormonism," questioned the utility of modern prophets, writing:

    Although Mormons claim that God is guiding the LDS church through its president (who has the title "prophet, seer and revelator"), the successive "prophets" have repeatedly either led the church into undertakings that were dismal failures or failed to see approaching disaster.
  • In an article published by The Salt Lake Tribune on April 6, 2023, Latter-day Saint Jana Riess wrote:

    I’m not the first to point out that there have been times in Latter-day Saint history when the counsel of our prophet was not loving and did not contribute to healing. . . . So the question for church members is not “How high should I jump when the prophet tells me to?” but “Is what the prophet is asking me to do or believe the right thing?” That should be followed by a litany of other questions: Who would be blessed or harmed if I followed this piece of prophetic counsel? How does it line up with the scriptures? With the teachings of past leaders? And most of all, does this teaching convey the love of Jesus Christ for all God’s children? . . .there have been times when I’ve sat in conference and known in my bones that something a church leader was saying was wrong for me to obey.

    Riess, also noted that she has been blessed, at times, "when I’ve followed a directive from the governing First Presidency and felt that my life or spiritual outlook was improved by it."

  • In an article published in the June 2016 issue of the Ensign, "What We Believe: We Believe in Following the Prophet," it reads:

    Because the President of the Church speaks for the Lord (see D&C 1:38), it is not wise to pick and choose just the parts of his counsel that we want to follow. Rather, we treat his counsel and invitations as if we had received them directly from Jesus Christ, “in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:5).
  • In an anonymous article entitled "Ward Teachers," published in the June 1945 issue of the Improvement Era, the author wrote:

    When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan–it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.
  • For example, Joshua made a mistake when he was fooled by the false reports from the Gibeonites, but there is no record of a reprimand or correction from God.

    Joshua 9:3-6 reads:

    3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. 6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.

    Later, in verse 15, states:

    Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.
  • One example from more modern times where a prophet receives inspired caution and, upon making a mistake, receives reprimand, is that of the Book of Lehi.

    The loss of the 116 pages is another, more modern, example of a prophet making a mistake. Joseph loaned Martin Harris the manuscript pages for the Book of Lehi, despite the Lord's warning. The manuscript was lost and never recovered.

    In this case, the Lord reprimanded Joseph, stating "You have delivered them up, yea, that which was sacred, unto wickedness." He also took the plates away from Joseph for a time.

  • In D&C 37:4, received December 1830, the Lord told Joseph that he allows "every man [to] choose for himself until I come."

    In D&C 98:8, received on August 6, 1833, Joseph was taught that "I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed."

  • For example, in 2 Nephi 2:27, the prophet Lehi teaches that:

    Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

    And in Joshua 24:15, Joshua instructs the people to use their free will to choose to follow the Lord:

    And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
  • The Church History Topics essay for the Kinderhook Plates states:

    Joseph evidently did not attempt a revelatory translation as he had done with the Book of Mormon plates, but rather appears to have compared the symbols on the Kinderhook plates with other ancient artifacts in his possession. One symbol on the plates closely matches a glyph on the Egyptian papyri Joseph translated in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph’s previous translation of this glyph mentions a descendant of Ham through the lineage of the pharaohs.

    The article concludes:

    Whether Joseph suspected the forgery, thought of attempting a revelatory translation but experienced a “stupor of thought,” or merely took a scholarly interest in the purported ancient writings (like other amateur linguists of the time) remains unconfirmed by historical accounts. Whatever he thought of the plates, he quickly lost interest in them.
  • Wilburn Fugate, the perpetrator of the hoax, understood that Joseph would not work on the plates beyond his initial assessment until they could be authenticated. In a letter to James Cobb, Fugate wrote:

    We understand Jo Smith said they would make a book of 1200 pages but he would not agree to translate them until they were sent to the Antiquarian society at Philadelphia France, and England.

    Another late, unsourced anti-Mormon article also indicated that Joseph first wanted the plates authenticated before he attempted to translate them.

  • Joseph Smith reported the denial of a charter on November 2, 1836:

    On the 2d of November the Brethren at Kirtland drew up certain articles of Agreement, preparatory to the organization of a Banking Institution, to be called the Kirtland Safety society.

    The Joseph Smith Papers website states:

    Stock in the bank was available for subscription beginning in October 1836. In winter 1836–1837, Orson Hyde traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to seek a bank charter from the Ohio state legislature. Before such legislation could be introduced, the Kirtland Safety Society was reorganized as an unincorporated banking company on 2 January 1837 with Sidney Rigdon as secretary and JS as treasurer. The banking office opened for business in early January 1837.
  • One of the main reasons for the failure was lack of funding. Latter-day Saint historian Stanley B. Kimball wrote:

    The grand totals eloquently reveal the inherent weakness of the project—200 persons subscribed to 79,420 shares worth at face value approximately $3,854,000 at $50 par value per share which was paid for with only $20,725 in specie.

    Latter-day Saint historians for the Joseph Smith Papers noted:

    TThe society was significantly underfunded, in large part because of the small amount that stockholders were required to pay for their stock. . . . The Kirtland Safety Society officers showed leniency to those who would not pay their full initial payment at $262.50, but many with subscriptions of a thousand or more shares of stock only ever paid a few dollars. The combination of relatively low share prices, some of which was never paid, meant that the society was low on funds from the outset.
  • In an essay on the Kirtland Safety Society on the Church's website, it states:

    Multiple factors contributed to the Kirtland Safety Society’s struggles. Many Church members looked to shortcomings within their community, blaming Church leaders for failing to anticipate problems, individuals for engaging in land speculation and overspending, or Church membership in general for not adequately supporting the society. Not all the possible contributing factors, however, were in the Saints’ control. Outside opposition, often fueled by prejudice against the Mormon community, also played a role in undermining the society.

    Latter-day Saint historian Elizabeth Kuehn noted:

    Ultimately, the bank failed because of the economic upheaval created by the nationwide financial panic – called the Panic of 1837 – that resulted in banks across the nation failing, land values falling, and debts being called in. The Panic of 1837 caused an economic decline that would lead to years of economic depression in the United States. This panic and resulting depression were catastrophic and are analogous to the Great Depression of the twentieth century. It was this financial panic that devastated the Kirtland economy, and not the failure of the bank.
  • Joseph Smith believed that some Church members were engaged in speculation and that it was one factor in the institution's failure. This was also one reason Joseph offered for his resignation from his office in the bank in July 1837:

    Some time previous to this I resigned my office in the “Kirtland Safety Society” disposed of my interest therein, and withdrew from the institution: being fully aware, after so long an experiment, that no institution of the kind, established upon just and righteous principles, for a blessing not only to the church, but the whole nation, would be suffered to continue its operations in such an age of darkness, speculation, and Wickedness.

    In the August 1837 issue of the Messenger and Advocate, Joseph warned Church members about speculators "palming upon them" now-worthless Kirtland bills:

    To the brethren and friends of the church of Latter Day Saints, I am disposed to say a word relative to the bills of the Kirtland Safety Society Bank. I hereby warn them to beware of speculators, renegadoes and gamblers, who are duping the unsuspecting and the unwary, by palming upon them, those bills, which are of no worth, here. I discountenance and disapprove of any and all such practices. I know them to be detrimental to the best interests of society, as well as to the principles of religion.
  • In his 1832 history, Joseph recounted:

    After we had translated 116 pages that he desired to carry them to read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth therefore I inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he must not take them and I spake unto him (Martin) the word of the Lord and he said inquire again and I inquired again and also the third time and the Lord said unto me let him go with them only he shall covenant with me that he will not shew them to only but four persons and he covenented withe Lord that he would do according to the word of the Lord therefore he took them and took his journey unto his friends to Palmire [Palmyra] Wayne County & State of N York

    Elsewhere, Joseph noted:

    Notwithstanding however the great restrictions which he had been laid under, and the solemnity of the covenant which he had made with me, he did shew them to others and by stratagem they got them away from him, and they never have been recovered nor obtained back again untill this day.
  • In section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants (from July 1828), the Lord told Joseph:

    5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them. 6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men. 7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words-- 8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble. 9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou art not aware thou wilt fall.

    In D&C 10:9, the Lord chastised both Martin and Joseph, informing the latter, "You have delivered them up, yea, that which was sacred, unto wickedness."

  • In his journal for April 13, 1843, Joseph taught that "Miasma" (malaria) was caused by the climate:

    The river Missisippi is healthy. unless they drink, it. & it is more healthy then the spring water— dig wells from 15 to 30 feet. and it will be healthy. There are many sloughs on th[e] Islands. f[r]om <​whence​> Miasma arises in the summer, and is blown over the upper part of the city.— but it does not extend over the lower part of the city
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Malaria is "a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans."

    It also notes:

    People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Four kinds of malaria parasites infect humans: Plasmodium falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. In addition, P. knowlesi, a type of malaria that naturally infects macaques in Southeast Asia, also infects humans, causing malaria that is transmitted from animal to human (“zoonotic” malaria).
  • Latter-day Saints Douglas C. Heiner, Evan L. Ivie, and Teresa Lovell Whitehead, while noting that Malaria was a "disease thought to be due to bad air in the mid-nineteenth century," notes:

    It actually was caused by the bite of an anopheles mosquito transmitting plasmodium parasites which entered the victim’s red blood cells and destroyed many of them.

    They also note that when some Latter-day Saints died at both Nauvoo and Winter Quarters:

    Deaths attributed to ague were largely due to malaria in Nauvoo and Winter Quarters.
  • In an 1843 sermon recorded by George Laub, Hyrum taught that "every star that we see is a world and is inhabited the same as this world is peopled. The Sun & Moon is inhabited & the Stars."

    In 1870 Brigham Young preached a sermon in which he said:

    Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized.
  • In the article, "Our Sun: Facts," NASA noted:

    The Sun could not harbor life as we know it because of its extreme temperatures and radiation. Yet life on Earth is only possible because of the Sun’s light and energy.
  • For example, many nineteenth-century books claimed that the moon was likely to be inhabited, including The Wonders of the Heavens (1837), The Young Astronomer (1847), and Scientific Dialogues for the Instruction and Entertainment of Young People (1855).

    The 1847 educational text The Young Astronomer; Or, The Facts Developed by Modern Astronomy Collected for the Use of Schools and the General Reader stated that:

    Professor Gruithausen, of Munich, declares that he has discovered, by his large telescope, cities, fortifications, roads and other artificial works, erected by the inhabitants of the Moon.
  • In the August 1838 issue of the Elders' Journal, Joseph and Sidney Rigdon used "Negro" in a derogatory manner:

    We have often heard it remarked by slave holders, that you should not make a negro equal with you, or he would try to walk over you. We have found the saying verified in this pious Doctor, for truly this niggardly spirit manifested itself in all its meanness; even in his writings . . . One thing we have learned, that there are negroes who were white skins, as well as those who wear black ones."

    Richards also recorded Joseph making a joke about Black people on July 14, 1843:

    I will not say as the poor Negro who prayed behind the stone wall if what he said was not true. he hoped the stone wall would fall on him. <​when​> some one pushed a stone on his head. & poor negro cried out I did not mean what I said—so with sectarians. about Rev[elations] & healings.
  • In 1859, Brigham Young said of Afro-descended people:

    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.

    On July 4, 1874, Brigham said that it was "the lot" of Black people to be servants:

    Contending that the negro was created to be 'the servant of servants," and it is useless to attempt to give him any other lot. He ranked the negro far below the Indian in the scale of humanity, crediting the latter with high capabilities.
  • During a sermon delivered on August 9, 1857, John Taylor spoke disparagingly of abolitionists and the Underground Railroad:

    This Greeley is one of their popular characters in the East, and one that supports the stealing of niggers and the underground railroad. I do not know that the editor of the Herald is any more honest; but, as a journalist, he tells more truth. He publishes many things as they are, because it is creditable to do so. But Greeley will not; he will tell what suits his clandestine plans, and leave the rest untold.

    Taylor repeated these sentiments on August 23, 1857.

    In his journal entry for February 1, 1881, George Q. Cannon spoke of "intermarriage with inferior races, particularly the negro."

    During the April 1905 General Conference, President Joseph F. Smith shared an anecdote that included a derogatory statement about a Black man:

    A courteous gentlemanly man who is unfortunate enough to be colored with a black skin.
  • During his April 2006 General Conference address, President Gordon B. Hinckley denounced racism:

    Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. . . . Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children. Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.

    In the Church's Gospel Topics essay, "Race and the Priesthood," it reads:

    Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. . . The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him.
  • Under the heading "Man is Limited to His Own World" in Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

    When man was placed on this earth it became his probationary or mortal home. Here he is destined to stay until his earth-life is completed, subject to all the mortal conditions outlined in the beginning. There is no prophecy or edict ever given that mortals should seek dominions beyond this earth while they dwell in mortality. Here we are, and here we should be content to stay. All this talk about space travel and the visiting of other worlds brings to mind vividly an attempt long ago made by foolish men who tried to build to heaven. The earth is our destined earth home. With this in mind, wise men will be content and will wait until the time comes when this earth is cleansed and purified from all sin for heavenly visits, and in that day they will come.
  • The article, "Apollo 11 Mission Overview" on the NASA Website notes that, on July 20, 1969:

    Partially piloted manually by Armstrong, the Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility in Site 2 at 0 degrees, 41 minutes, 15 seconds north latitude and 23 degrees, 26 minutes east longitude. This was about four miles downrange from the predicted touchdown point and occurred almost one-and-a-half minutes earlier than scheduled. It included a powered descent that ran a mere nominal 40 seconds longer than preflight planning due to translation maneuvers to avoid a crater during the final phase of landing. Attached to the descent stage was a commemorative plaque signed by President Richard M. Nixon and the three astronauts.
  • In the article, "Apollo 15: Mission Details" on the NASA website, it reads:

    David Scott and James Irwin flew their LM to a perfect landing at 6:16 p.m. EDT July 30, at Hadley Rille about 1,500 feet north and east of the targeted landing point near a crater named Salyut. Landing approach over the Apennine Range—one of the highest on the moon—was at an angle of 26 degrees, the steepest approach yet used in Apollo missions. During three periods of extravehicular activity, or EVA, on July 31, and Aug. 1 and 2, Scott and Irwin completed a record 18 hours, 37 minutes of exploration, traveled 17.5 miles in the first car that humans have ever driven on the moon, collected more than 170 pounds of lunar samples, set up the ALSEP array, obtained a core sample from about 10 feet beneath the lunar surface, and provided extensive oral descriptions and photographic documentation of geologic features in the vicinity of the landing site during the three days (66 hours, 55 minutes) on the lunar surface.
  • During a one-day visit to Utah, Col. David Scott, Col. James B. Irwin and Lt. Col. Alfred Worden met with 20 general authorities of the Church. During this visit, Col. David Scott "handed President Joseph Fielding Smith a large piece of white cardboard upon which was mounted the inignia Apollo 15, a color photograph taken on the moon and a small flag of Utah."

  • The Church's 2016 manual, Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual has a section entitled "The Lord Will Never Permit the Living Prophet to Lead the Church Astray." This section quotes Church leaders affirming this teaching, such as Harold B. Lee, who said:

    “You keep your eye upon him whom the Lord called, and I say to you now, knowing that I stand in this position, you don’t need to worry about the President of the Church ever leading people astray, because the Lord would remove him out of his place before He would ever allow that to happen” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1996], 533).

    The manual also quotes Gordon B. Hinckley:

    “The Church is true. Those who lead it have only one desire, and that is to do the will of the Lord. They seek his direction in all things. There is not a decision of significance affecting the Church and its people that is made without prayerful consideration, going to the fount of all wisdom for direction. Follow the leadership of the Church. God will not let his work be led astray” (“Be Not Deceived,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 46; emphasis added).
  • In his talk delivered at BYU, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," Ezra Taft Benson taught that "the prophet will never lead the Church astray."

    He then quoted other Church leaders teaching this, including Wilford Woodruff:

    President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)
  • During the October 1960 General Conference, Marion G. Romney recalled an incident involving President Heber J. Grant:

    I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting, I drove him home. At that time there was a great deal of criticism against the President of the Church because of a front-page editorial some of you may remember. We talked about it. When we got to his home I got out of the car and went up on the porch with him. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: "My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it." Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, "But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray."

    Romney added:

    I have thought much about that. I remember that counselors in the Presidency have been deceived. I remember that members of the Twelve have been deceived and left the Church, and men in every other Council in the Church have been deceived. But there has never been a President of the Church, and according to President Grant, and I believe him, there never will be a President of this Church who will lead the people astray.

    During the October 2014 General Conference, Russell M. Nelson taught that

    Counterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray. Senior leaders are constantly being tutored such that one day they are ready to sit in the highest councils. They learn how to hear the voice of the Lord through the whisperings of the Spirit.
  • In the Children's Songbook, the chorus to "Follow the Prophet" reads:

    Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet; don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, Follow the prophet; he knows the way.

    In the Church's 1985 hymnal, "We Thank Thee O God, for a Prophet," begins with:

    We thank thee, O God, for a prophet To guide us in these latter days. We thank thee for sending the gospel To lighten our minds with its rays.

    In the final stanza, it teaches that

    . . . they who reject this glad message Shall never such happiness know.
  • Wilford Woodruff began his sermon by saying:

    I want to say to all Israel that the step which I have taken in issuing this manifesto has not been done without earnest prayer before the Lord.

    Portions of this sermon would later be canonized as Official Declaration 1 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

  • Concepts similar to what Wilford Woodruff taught in 1890 can be found in earlier teachings. For instance, on November 8, 1857, Heber C. Kimball taught the Saints that "if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong."

    On April 5, 1860, Orson Hyde, in a doctrinal dispute with Orson Pratt, was recorded as teaching that

    Will [God] suffer his mouthpiece to go into error? No. He would remove him, and place another there. bro. Brigham may err in the price of a horse, or a House and lot, but in the revelations from God, where is the man that has given thus saith the Lord when it was not so? I cannot find one instance.
  • On February 8, 1843, Joseph recorded how he "visited with a brother and sister from Michigan who thought that 'a Prophet is always a Prophet', but I told them that a Prophet was a Prophet only, when he was acting as such."

  • In a sermon delivered on October 6, 1855, Brigham Young instructed Church members not "to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied."

    He added:

    Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders from the people, saying, 'if the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,' that is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
  • In a sermon delivered June 28, 1857, Brigham taught:

    We must have that living witness within us. We need the light of the Holy Spirit continually, day by day, as you have been told hundreds of times, how easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction unless you actually know the mind and will of the Spirit yourselves.
  • In his December 13, 1875 letter to John Hall, Orson Pratt wrote:

    The Prophet Joseph once in my hearing advanced his opinion that the ten tribes were separated from the earth; or a portion of the earth was by a miracle broken off, and that the ten tribes were to him away with it, and that in the latter days it would be restored to the earth or be let down in the Polar regions. Whether the Prophet founded his opinion upon revelation or whether it was a matter of mere speculation with him, I am unable to say.
  • In a sermon dated August 12, 1883, George Q. Cannon taught:

    Now, was not Joseph Smith a mortal man? Yes. A fallible man? Yes. Had he not weaknesses? Yes, he acknowledged them himself, and did not fail to put the revelations on record in this book [the Book of Doctrine and Covenants] wherein God reproved him. His weaknesses were not concealed from the people. He was willing that people should know that he was mortal, and had failings. And so with Brigham Young. Was not he a mortal man, a man who had weaknesses? He was not a God. He was not an immortal being. He was not infallible. No, he was fallible.
  • During this October 1898 General Conference talk, President Lorenzo Snow taught:

    There may be some things that the First Presidency do; that the Apostles do, that cannot for the moment be explained; yet the spirit, the motives that inspire the action can be understood, because each member of the Church has a right to have that measure of the Spirit of God that they can judge as to those who are acting in their interests or otherwise.
  • Matthias F. Cowley, when commenting on when God calls a man as a prophet, noted that it "does not imply the infallibility of man, but it does imply the promise that no man or council of men who stand at the head of the church shall have power to lead the Saints astray."

    He added:

    With this assurance, then, the people of God in every dispensation have been justified in rendering absolute yet intelligent obedience in the direction of the holy prophets. It is an undeniable fact in the history of the Saints that obedience to whatever has come, either by written document or verbally, from the presidency of the church, has been attended with good results; on the other hand, whosoever has opposed such council, without repentance, has been followed with evidence of condemnation.
  • In response to a question submitted to the Improvement Era, "Do you believe that the President of the Church, when speaking to the Church in his official capacity is infallible?," Charles W. Penrose responded:

    Answer: We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility.
  • John A. Widtsoe wrote that the Saints should "expect perfection in no man."

    He added:

    The Gospel is perfect; the members of the Church can only strive toward that perfection. If a person earnestly seeks to make himself fully fit before the Lord, the correction of his weaknesses, faults if you choose, will consume all his time and strength, and by comparison, his neighbor will stand high in the scale of moral achievement. Honest self-examination silences faultfinding.
  • During his April 1941 General Conference address, Joseph F. Merrill offered the following advice to Latter-day Saints:

    Do the people of the Church want a safe guide to what is well for them to do? It is this: Keep in harmony with the Presidency of this Church. Accept and follow the teachings and advice of the President. At every Conference we raise our hands to sustain the President as prophet, seer and revelator. Is it consistent to do this and then go contrary to his advice? Is anyone so simple as to believe he is serving the Lord when he opposes the President? Of course, the President is not infallible. He makes no claims to infallibility. But when in his official capacity he teaches and advises the members of the Church relative to their duties, let no man who wants to please the Lord say aught against the counsels of the President.
  • In a letter dated December 7, 1945, President George Albert Smith wrote:

    I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.

    He closed his letter by quoting a well-known Latter-day Saint hymn stressing one's free will in making decisions:

    In the advocacy of this principle leaders of the Church not only join congregations in singing but quote frequently the following: “Know this, that every soul is free To choose his life and what he’ll be, For this eternal truth is given That God will force no man to heaven.”
  • Among other things, he said:

    This matter of disagreements over doctrine, and the announcement by high authority of incorrect doctrines, is not new. It will be recalled that disagreements among brethren in high places about doctrines made clear appeared in the early days of the Apostolic Church. . .There were disputes over doctrine. You will recall that Paul and Barnabas had differences (not over doctrine, however), and, says the record, "the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other." (Acts 15:36 95.)
  • In volume one (1954) of Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

    If I should say something which is contrary to that which is written and approved by the Church generally, no one is under obligation to accept it. Everything that I say and everything that any other person says must square itself with that which the Lord has revealed, or it should be rejected.

    He also qualified such statements by adding:

    It is not to be supposed from this that all that has been written outside of the standard works of the Church is discarded and rejected, for these things are profitable as helps in the government of the Church, and to promote faith in the members. The point is this, if in these books mistakes are found, "they are the mistakes of men," and the Church as an organization is not to be held accountable for them, but for that which is received from time to time by vote of the Church, as it comes through the President of the High Priesthood.
  • In the third (1956) volume of Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

    It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teaching of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man's doctrine.

    Speaking of his own works, he wrote:

    If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.
  • Under the entry for "Prophets," McConkie wrote:

    With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances.
  • In his July 8, 1964 speech to Seminary and Institute faculty, Harold B. Lee taught:

    It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they read and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, ‘Well, that is his own idea.’ And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard church works (I think that is why we call them ‘standard’—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it.
  • In the article, "Jesus Christ— Gifts and Expectations," Benson wrote:

    God has assured us that the Church will never again be taken from the earth because of apostasy. He has said that he is pleased with the Church, speaking collectively and not individually. (See D&C 1:30.) This means that certain individuals within the Church may go astray and even fall away. This may happen even to a person in the Church who is in a position of some influence and authority. It has happened in the past. It will happen in the future. If our faith is in Jesus Christ and not in the arm of flesh, then we will know that we are members of the church of Jesus Christ and not the church of men.

    Benson also noted, "God has to work through mortals of varying degrees of spiritual progress."

  • Elsewhere in the letter, McConkie wrote that God "permits false doctrine to be taught in and out of the Church and that such teaching is part of the sifting process of mortality." He also wrote:

    Brigham Young erred in some of his statements on the nature and kind of being that God is and as to the position of Adam in the plan of salvation, but Brigham Young also taught the truth in these fields on other occasions. And I repeat, that in his instance, he was a great prophet and has gone on to eternal reward. What he did is not a pattern for any of us. If we choose to believe and teach the false portions of his doctrines, we are making an election that will damn us.
  • In his 1984 speech, "The Bible: A Sealed Book," McConkie, speaking of "the Joseph Smith Translation items, the chapter headings, Topical Guide, Bible Dictionary, footnotes, the Gazeteer, and the maps" in the Latter-day Saint edition of the KJV, taught:

    None of these are perfect; they do not of themselves determine doctrine; they have been and undoubtedly now are mistakes in them. Cross-references, for instance, do not establish and never were intended to prove that parallel passages so much as pertain to the same subject. They are aids and helps only.
  • During his October 1989 General Conference speech, James E. Faust taught:

    We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators. Yet I humbly state that I have sat in the company of these men, and I believe their greatest desire is to know and do the will of our Heavenly Father.
  • Several years later, Boyd K. Packer illustrated an example of prophetic fallibility when addressing a Church coordinating council in May 1993 where he admitted that he was wrong in an interpretation of Scriptural passage and accepted correction:

    Only last Friday while putting together some things for a presentation, I read part of it to some brethren from BYU. I noticed they looked at one another at one place in my reading, and I stopped and asked if there was a problem. Finally one of them suggested that I not use a certain scripture that I had included even though it said exactly what I wanted to convey. How dare they suppose that a member of the Twelve didn't know his scriptures! I simply said, "What do you suggest?" He said, "Better find another scripture," and he pointed out that if I put that verse back in context, it was really talking about another subject. Others had used it as I proposed to use it, but it was not really correct. I was very glad to make a change.
  • During his April 1994 General Conference speech, Robert D. Hales noted that being an Apostle is "a process—a process of repentance and humility, to look inward as we’ve been instructed and ask for forgiveness and strength to be what I should be."

    Hales also added, "Unfortunately, I am not a perfect man, and infallibility does not come with the call."

  • In the May 2007 article, "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," the Church noted:

    Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church.
  • In his talk, Elder Uchtdorf said:

    To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.
  • In his March 2020 article in the Ensign, Dallin H. Oaks taught:

    To become the official doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ, the individual teachings of apostles and even prophets need to be affirmed through the process of approval by other apostles and prophets. . . . In the restored Church, doctrine is not canonized until the body of the Church has received it by the law of common consent (see Doctrine and Covenants 26:2, 28:13). That principle was revealed in 1830 and has been applied since that time. This practice, which had not been followed by churches existing during the period we call the Apostasy, protects gospel truths from being altered or influenced by private ideas or individual opinions.
  • The article taught that Satan "wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to 'do their own thinking.'"

    It added:

    He specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in the eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.
  • In a letter dated December 7, 1945, President George Albert Smith wrote:

    I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.
  • In January 1862, Brigham Young also cautioned Church members against this:

    What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.
  • Elaine Cannon, during the October 1978 General Conference, taught the members of the Relief Society:

    Personal opinions may vary. Eternal principles never do. When the prophet speaks, sisters, the debate is over. So I urge us all to provide powerful unity as women for those things we can agree upon—family, chastity, accountability to the Lord, responsibility in the community, sharing the gospel.

    Commenting on Elaine Cannon's October 1978 General Conference talk and N. Eldon's "The Debate is Over" article from the August 1979 Ensign, Edward L. Kimball, son and biography of Spencer W. Kimball, noted:

    The statements were made in the context of ratification of the ERA, among "many issues under debate." Elaine Cannon indicates that President Kimball agreed with the sentiment, although he would not have been so blunt. Elaine Cannon, interview by author, January 19, 1998.
  • In a sermon from March 21, 1858, Brigham Young taught the importance of one receiving their own revelation and not relying upon Church leaders:

    Why do you not open the windows of heaven and get revelations 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.

    On March 1, 1891, Charles W. Penrose stated:

    The Latter-day Saints are not blindly led by leaders or blindly directed by priests; but every man can receive the divine testimony in his own heart and be a priest in his own house.
  • During the April 1904 General Conference, J. Golden Kimball taught:

    No man or woman can remain in this Church on borrowed light. I am a strong believer in the following statement made by my father in the House of the Lord in 1856 "We think we are secure in the chambers of the everlasting hills, but the time will come when we will be so mixed up that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brethren, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a test, a test, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand?"

    During the October 1989 General Conference, James E. Faust warned against viewing Church leaders as infallible:

    We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators. Yet I humbly state that I have sat in the company of these men, and I believe their greatest desire is to know and do the will of our Heavenly Father. Those who sit in the highest councils of this church and have participated as inspiration has come and decisions have been reached know that this light and truth is beyond human intelligence and reasoning. These deep, divine impressions have come as the dews from heaven and settled upon them individually and collectively. So inspired, we can go forward in complete unity and accord.

    Neal A. Maxwell repeated this idea in his 1994 book:

    The members' faith in the Brethren as living Apostles and prophets not only provides the needed direction but also clearly sustains those leaders in their arduous chores. There is more to it than this, however. Sustaining them also means that we realize those select men are conscious of their own imperfections; each is even grateful that the other Brethren have strengths and talents he may not have. The gratitude of the Brethren for being so sustained thus includes appreciation for members' willingness to overlook the imperfections of the overseers. The faithful realize the Apostles are working out their salvation, too, including the further development of the Christlike virtues. Serious discipleship requires us all to be "on the way to perfection" rather than thinking we are already in the arrival lounge.