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A questioning culture

Several months ago, I found myself in a situation where someone chastised me for something I had written on this blog. Never mind the fact that what I had written had been misinterpreted, but I was hurt that someone doubted my commitment to the church because I asked questions.

I knew I had seen quotes from past leaders embracing questioning from members, so I spent several days combing resources for such quotes and compiled them into one document.

Here is what I came up with:

  • “If [the prophet] writes something . . . out of harmony with [scripture, we are] duty bound to reject it. If [it’s] in perfect harmony with [scripture], [we] accept [it].” —Joseph Fielding Smith
  • “If [the prophet] says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works . . . it is false” —Harold B. Lee
  • “When ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ comes from [the prophet], the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” —Charles W. Penrose
  • “There is no place in the church for blind adherence.” —John A. Widstoe
  • “I am fearful [members trust] their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence” —Brigham Young
  • “Let every[one] know, by the whispering of the Spirit . . . whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates.” —Brigham Young
  • “Every church member is expected to understand the doctrine of the church intelligently.” —John A. Widstoe
  • “God has not established His Church to make of its members irresponsible automatons” —James E. Talmage
  • “[We] . . . are obedient because [we] know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of . . . individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.” —Boyd K. Packer
  • “Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel. —Boyd K. Packer
  • “Each member . . . has a right to . . . judge . . . those who . . . act in their interests” —Lorenzo Snow
  • “We can tell when . . . speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we . . . are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ . . . the responsibility [is for] us to determine when they so speak.” —J. Reuben Clark

You can read the quotes in context here.

Do you know of any others? Share them in the comments below.

6 thoughts on “A questioning culture”

  1. Seems like I have also I heard that we are blessed when we do what our leaders ask, even if they are wrong. Not that I can find that one anywhere. Maybe it is something I have heard people in SS say they have heard a leader say??

  2. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

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

    There are those among this people who are influenced, controlled, and biased in their thoughts, actions, and feelings by some other individual or family, on whom they place their dependence for spiritual and temporal instruction, and for salvation in the end. These persons do not depend upon themselves for salvation, but upon another of their poor, weak, fellow mortals. “I do not depend upon any inherent goodness of my own,” say they, “to introduce me into the kingdom of glory, but I depend upon you, brother Joseph, upon you, brother Brigham, upon you, brother Heber, or upon you, brother James; I believe your judgment is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me; your spirit is better than mine, therefore you can do good for me; I will submit myself wholly to you, and place in you all my confidence for life and salvation; where you go I will go, and where you tarry there I will stay; expecting that you will introduce me through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem.”

    I wish to notice this. We read in the Bible, that there is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars. In the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, these glories are called telestial, terrestrial, and celestial, which is the highest. These are worlds, different departments, or mansions, in our Father’s house. Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold scepters of glory, majesty, and power in the celestial kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, though all mankind besides should take the opposite course. – (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:312)

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