by Sharon Lindbloom
4 December 2017
On November 19, 2017, LDS apostles Dallin H. Oaks and M. Russell Ballard answered the questions of young single adult Mormons from around the world. Over 4,000 questions were submitted for this “Face-to-Face” event, but the approximately hour-and-a-half long broadcast didn’t allow for more than a dozen or so to be addressed by the Mormon apostles. An interesting question regarding discernment was asked very near the start of the Q&A part of the event. A young woman from Peru asked,
“How can I differentiate between the Holy Ghost and my own thoughts and feelings?” [-1:24:30]
This is an especially important question for a Mormon because Mormons are taught to rely on feelings to determine ultimate truth. In his reply, Mr. Oaks acknowledged that, “This is a question we wrestle with all of our life.” He went on to provide his audience with a test, a way to determine whether something is from the Holy Ghost — or not. He said,
“If we get an impression contrary to the scriptures, to the commandments of God, to the teachings of His leaders, then we know it can’t be coming from the Holy Ghost. The gospel is consistent throughout.” [-1:21:40]
To illustrate his point, Mr. Oaks told a story about some church members whose LDS parents claimed to have received a revelation which stated that they no longer were required to tithe or attend church. When asked to comment, Mr. Oaks said, “Well, I don’t question your parents’ revelation, but they got it from the wrong source.” [-1:21:20]
Dallin Oaks and I don’t often agree on doctrine, but I agree with his assertion regarding the consistency of God’s truth. The Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit will not contradict what God has already revealed. If something “revealed” is contrary to what God has said in the Bible (via His prophets and apostles), it cannot be true.
Mr. Oaks got it right, but does he believe it? Does he live by this spiritual test himself?
In 1844, at a General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith revealed new doctrine that, he assured his congregation, was “inspired by the Holy Spirit” and “given to [him] by the revelations of Jesus Christ.” The Prophet Joseph wanted his people to “understand and be fully acquainted with the mind, purposes, and decrees of the great Eloheim” (i.e., God the Father), by understanding “the character and being of God, and how he came to be so.” Joseph taught,
“We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the vail, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some; but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did…
“Here then is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, — namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one…
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it. When we begin to learn in this way, we begin to learn the only true God and what kind of being we have got to worship.”
(Above quotes are from the King Follett Discourse and can be found in any of the following sources: History of the Church 6:320-317; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-362; Journal of Discourses 6:1-11; Millennial Star 23:245-280)
Applying LDS apostle Oaks’ test, we find that Joseph Smith’s teachings were contrary to scripture, the commandments, and (if biblical prophets and apostles are recognized as His leaders) the teachings of God’s leaders. Therefore, as Mr. Oaks said, “we know it can’t be coming from the Holy Ghost.”
Contrary to Joseph Smith, the Bible teaches that God was/is God from all eternity:
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth or the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2
God the Father was not once a mortal man who lived on another “earth.” He did not become a God. He is God “from everlasting to everlasting.”
Contrary to Joseph Smith, the Bible teaches that there is only one true God:
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel… ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no God.’” Isaiah 44:6
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” Deuteronomy 6:4
“For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.” Psalm 86:10
“Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8
God the Father is not one in a long line of men who learned “how to be Gods…as all Gods have done before.” He did not call together a council of other Gods (He knows of no other Gods!) in order to “concoct a plan to create the world.” As scripture emphatically declares of Him, “You alone are God.”
This is the kind of Being the scripture, the commandments, and the teaching of God’s leaders call us to worship. This is the kind of Being Joseph Smith sought to refute with contrary ideas about God. Therefore, “we know [Joseph Smith’s teachings] can’t be coming from the Holy Ghost.”
Even so, later in the Mormon Church’s Face-to-Face broadcast, LDS apostle Dallin Oaks insisted, “I don’t know the answer to [one difficult] question, but what I do know is that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who restored the fullness of the gospel in these latter-days.” [-0:51:30] Respectfully, I ask, does Mr. Oaks disbelieve his own counsel on discernment? Regarding the nature of God, Joseph Smith either pretended he received revelation from the Holy Ghost, or he was deceived and got his revelation from “the wrong source”; because, as Mr. Oaks taught, “the gospel is consistent throughout.” Why, then, does this LDS apostle regard Joseph as a true prophet of God? According to scripture, God’s command is this:
“If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying ‘Let us go after other gods’ — which you have not known – ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams…” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
This is pretty straightforward. When Joseph Smith taught his congregation, “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea…” he essentially said, “Let us go after another God which you have not known.” God’s people are not supposed to follow this prophet or pledge allegiance to him. We are to reject Joseph Smith and his words “because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your God” (verse 5).
With all of this considered, Mr. Oaks’ testimony that “Joseph Smith is a prophet of God” is contrary to the scriptures, to the commandments of God, and to the teachings of His biblical leaders; we know it can’t be coming from the Holy Ghost.