Between internet-related transmission, the missionary grapevine, and books sold by commercial publishers, it seems there is no shortage of sensational stories, rumors, and false revelations that may appear authentic. Church authorities seem particularly intent on holding back such misinformation. An unfortunate fad today is the same-sex attracted people and gay activists and their supporters who claim to be receiving answers/personal revelations contrary to that given by the Lord to His prophets and apostles. In such cases the simple question to answer for ourselves is whether those involved in sin or supporting sinners are better positioned to receive the mind and will of God, or, if His prophets are. Where might such “revelation” come from that contradicts that received by the Prophet of the Lord?
From Determining Doctrine:
Mark E. Petersen:
I have had members of apostate cults come to me and bear their testimonies. They say that they have read and studied the revelations of self-styled prophets and have prayed about them and have received testimonies from the Holy Spirit that these so-called revelations were true. They have told me that they have even felt a burning in their bosoms as a sign of the truth of these things.
Yet the men who reportedly get these revelations were out of harmony with the Church, out of harmony with the Spirit of God, and their “revelations” were not of God.
But how could people get these alleged testimonies of the truth of these obviously erroneous revelations? They got them from Lucifer, who can appear as an angel of light, who can give false and lying revelations, and who can so mislead people that they are duped into believing that these alleged revelations and testimonies are true; so they turn their backs upon the actual truth to accept these falsehoods. (“Revelation,” Address to religious educators,
24 August 1954. Cited in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd
ed. [ Salt Lake City:
Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
Harold B. Lee:
It never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are in broadcasting sensational stories, or dreams, or visions, or purported patriarchal blessings, or quotations, or supposedly from some person’s private diary.
For instance, there is one vicious story to the effect that one of our General Authorities is allegedly being urged to present himself to lead the Church contrary to the Lord’s revelations and to make people think there is some division among the authorities of the Church. Investigations have indicated that the named writer of these forged letters is fictitious and does not exist—can’t be found in the records of the Church or anywhere. Addresses given are spurious, and yet the amazing thing is that we find that these spurious writings and some of these purported revelations, which were found upon investigation are absolutely false, are finding their way into our Relief Society meetings, into priesthood quorums, firesides, institutes, and seminaries.
Brethren of the priesthood, you defenders of the faith, we would wish that you would plead with our Saints to cease promoting the works of the devil. Spend your time promoting the works of the Lord, and don’t allow these things to be found among those under your charge, for they are the works of Satan, and we are playing his game whenever we permit such things to be heralded about and repeated and passed about on every side.
One of our brethren is supposed to have had a patriarchal blessing saying that he would preside over the Church when the Savior came. This is, of course, false. Another one among us has been said to have declared that there are some living today who will see the Savior when he comes. This again is fictitious. Well, the Master said that the time of his coming would be as a thief in the night, that of the time of his coming not even the angels of heaven would know. If we would stop to think of it, nobody with any authority would ever say that such a declaration could be authentic.
So we could go on and on. One of our brethren was reported to have said that the people of
California should move
up to the tops of the Rocky Mountains, that
only there would be safety. Contrary to that, we are constantly saying to our
people that safety is where the pure in heart are, and that there is just as
much safety wherever you are, if you are living and keeping the commandments of
Brethren, I repeat, don’t allow the works of the devil to be paraded in our midst and become the subject of discourses or lesson materials. Speak of the words of righteousness, and the power of the devil will begin to cease among you. (“To the Defenders of the Faith,” Improvement Era, June 1970, 64.)
People are free to do as they jolly well please. Every man has the prerogative of making an ass of himself, and that lofty sentiment has been used time and again as justification for quoting me as approving of and abiding, abetting, supporting and sponsoring everything from the Urantia volume to the Hollow Earth gospel. How well did Pres. Lee say at the last conference that he never ceases to marvel at the gullibility of some Latter-day Saints! (Hugh Nibley Correspondence, 1973.)
Joseph Fielding Smith:
It has only been a few weeks since I was approached at a stake conference by a good brother who said there was a gentleman there who had a very important message that he wished to present to me, and would I please give him an interview. So the interview was arranged. This man stated that he had been visited by one of the three Nephite disciples, and he told me a very fantastic story. After listening to it patiently until he had finished, I said to him, "If you have had a vision or manifestation, it is your duty to keep it to yourself; it is not for the Church, and I advise you not to repeat it." I hardly think that was the counsel he was seeking.
In the past few months I have received a number of communications from various parts of the Church, from good, honest-thinking people who have made inquiry regarding some purported visions and dreams which are being circulated in all parts of the Church. These inquirers wish to know what my judgment is concerning these purported visions. We have also had certain individuals traveling among our people, prevailing on some of the bishops to let them hold meetings where they could relate to the people their remarkable experiences which they claim to have had. They have on their own responsibility held cottage meetings and invited the people, and some have been foolish enough to go and listen to these stories as they have been told.
Now, I think it is wrong for any bishop or anyone else to invite these people who profess to have had a dream or a vision, or some kind of manifestation, into a meetinghouse, or even into the homes and gather the people in to listen to these presentations. In my judgment it is contrary to the teachings of the Church. When John said, "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits," he did not mean that we should spend our time accepting or encouraging every wind of doctrine, but that we should prove every doctrine by the revelations of the Lord; by those principles of eternal truth which have been revealed for our guidance. We have certain standards which have been accepted and by which we are to be governed. (Conference Report, October 1943, 96.)
M. Russell Ballard:
I must point out that individual spiritual experiences of Church members do not determine Church doctrine. (Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1993], 35-36.)
Joseph Fielding Smith:
The Prophet Joseph Smith has said that every member of the Church should be a prophet, meaning, of course, that he should have that testimony of Jesus and keep himself in perfect accord with the Spirit of the Lord so that he could recognize truth and the Lord could reveal the truth to him, so that he might comprehend it. Every man in the Church has the right to receive revelation for his own guidance, but not for the guidance of the Church. Back in the very beginning, when the Church was only a few months old in this dispensation, certain individuals arose claiming to have had manifestations and visions for the Church, and they led some of the members astray. There was a woman by the name of Hubble who claimed to have revelations, and some of the members of the Church listened to her. One of the eight witnesses of the Book of Mormon, Hiram Page, began to have manifestations, and he was able to have influence over others. He persuaded some of the Whitmers and even Oliver Cowdery, to accept the things that he proclaimed. The result was that the Lord had to give a revelation correcting all of this sort of thing, but before it was corrected the Prophet had a difficult time to get some of his brethren to understand that what had been given by Hiram Page, and Mrs. Hubble, and others, was not of the Lord. (Conference Report, October 1943, 97.)
Joseph F. Smith:
And I know this, that God has organized his Church in the earth, and I know that when he designs or purposes to make any change in the matter of governing or controlling or presiding over the affairs of his Church, that he will make the change, and he will make it in such a way that the whole people of the Church, who are doing right, will understand and accept it. I know that the Lord will not raise up "Tom, Dick, or Harry," here, there and everywhere, claiming to be Christ, or "one mighty and strong," claiming to be inspired and called to do some wonderful thing. The Lord will not deal with men in that way; that while the organization of the Church exists, while quorums and councils of the Priesthood are intact in the Church, the Lord will reveal his purposes through them, and not through "Tom, Dick, or Harry." Put that in your little note books now, and remember it; it is true.—Apr. C. R., 1912, p. 10. (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, comp. John A. Widtsoe [
Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939], 36.)
George Albert Smith:
Setting one's self up as a receiver of dreams and visions to guide the human family is not on the Lord's side of the line; and when men, as they have sometimes done in order to win their success along some line or another, have come to an individual or individuals and said, "I have had this dream and this is what the Lord wants us to do," you may know that they are not on the Lord's side of the line. The dreams and visions and revelations of God to the children of men have always come through his regularly appointed servant. You may have dreams and manifestations for your own comfort and for your own satisfaction, but you will not have them for the Church unless God appoints you to take the place that he gave to his prophets of old and in our day, and unless you have been divinely commissioned to do the thing he wants you to do. (Conference Report, October 1945, 118-19.)
The First Presidency (1970):
Presidents of Stakes, Bishops of Wards and Presidents of Missions in the
We have had called to our attention by several people, a purported revelation, or dream, or vision, which President John Taylor, the third president of the Church, allegedly had received and communicated to a housewife in her kitchen while at the home where he had been resting between conference sessions while attending meetings in Cedar City, Utah.
This purported statement, if ever given under such unheard of circumstances, was never presented to any of his associates or in any council of the Church and no record whatsoever is to be found in the Historians office.
We have the following memorandum from the Church Historians office in Salt Lake City under date of February 11, 1970 which reads as follows: “To Whom It May Concern:
“The so-called ‘Horse Shoe Prophecy’ of President John Taylor has a questionable background and history.
1. The ‘Prophecy’ was first written down in 1951 by Edward Lunt which is between 64 and 74 years after it was supposed to have been given.
2. His mother ran the hotel from 1877 to 1888 during which time the ‘prophecy’ was supposed to have been given. President Taylor died
July 25, 1887.
3. George A. Smith was supposed to have been there with President Taylor but he died in 1875, which was two years prior to the time Brother Lunt’s mother was in the hotel.
4. He states that his mother did not tell him until 1903 or 1904, which was about 25 years after it was supposed to have been given.
5. We have five different copies and no two of them are identical in wording.
6. One contains a statement about the Negro that purportedly is not in any of the others and particularly the one ‘version’ which was signed by Edward Lunt.
7. In checking the Deseret News we can find no record of President Taylor being in
after 1883. Nor is anything in the Parowan Stake Conference minutes. Cedar City
8. There is no record by any of the General Authorities about it nor is there anything in the diaries of which we have copies.”
This is just another evidence of the cleverly designed motives of individuals who seize upon the emotionalism of our present day to get publicity, and to further agitate the feelings of Church members on matters which must be left to the wisdom of the Lord and His guidance, which are under His divine control.
We would urge you to caution our people against accepting these purported statements of the presiding brethren, past or present, without verification. You may be sure if there is anything that has substance in regard to the safety and welfare of our people, we will see that the leaders of the Church are immediately advised so that we might act wisely and unitedly in order to not over react to present situations.
The real danger lies in our people becoming confused and frustrated and looking elsewhere than to their Church leaders or to civil authorities in matters pertaining to their welfare.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Harold B. Lee
N. Eldon Tanner
The First Presidency
(Church News, 4 April 1970.)
The First Presidency (1913):
A WARNING VOICE
To the Officers and Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
From the days of Hiram Page (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 28), at different periods there have been manifestations from delusive spirits to members of the Church. Sometimes these have come to men and women who because of transgression became easy prey to the Arch-Deceiver. At other times people who pride themselves on their strict observance of the rules and ordinances and ceremonies of the Church are led astray by false spirits, who exercise an influence so imitative of that which proceeds from a Divine source that even these persons, who think they are "the very elect," find it difficult to discern the essential difference. Satan himself has transformed himself to be apparently "an angel of light."
When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift or inspiration conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how plausible it may appear. Also they should understand that directions for the guidance of the Church will come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for themselves, their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained to preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not to be received as authoritative or reliable. In secular as well as spiritual affairs, Saints may receive Divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants, doctrine or discipline, or to known facts, demonstrated truths, or good common sense. No person has the right to induce his fellow members of the Church to engage in speculations or take stock in ventures of any kind on the specious claim of Divine revelation or vision or dream, especially when it is in opposition to the voice of recognized authority, local or general. The Lord's Church "is a house of order." It is not governed by individual gifts or manifestations, but by the order and power of the Holy Priesthood as sustained by the voice and vote of the Church in its appointed conferences.
The history of the Church records many pretended revelations claimed by impostors or zealots who believed in the manifestations they sought to lead other persons to accept, and in every instance, disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom. Financial loss and sometimes utter ruin have followed. We feel it our duty to warn the Latter-day Saints against fake mining schemes which have no warrant for success beyond the professed spiritual manifestations of their projectors and the influence gained over the excited minds of their victims. We caution the Saints against investing money or property in shares of stock which bring no profit to anyone but those who issue and trade in them. Fanciful schemes to make money for the alleged purpose of "redeeming Zion" or providing means for "the salvation of the dead" or other seemingly worthy objects, should not deceive anyone acquainted with the order of the Church, and will result only in waste of time and labor, which might be devoted now to doing something tangible and worthy and of record on earth and in heaven.
Be not led by any spirit or influence that discredits established authority, contradicts true scientific principles and discoveries, or leads away from the direct revelations of God for the government of the Church. The Holy Ghost does not contradict its own revealings. Truth is always harmonious with itself. Piety is often the cloak of error. The counsels of the Lord through the channel he has appointed will be followed with safety. Therefore, O! ye Latter-day Saints, profit by these words of warning.
JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTHON H. LUND, CHARLES W. PENROSE, First Presidency.
(James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75], 4:285-86.)
Joseph F. Smith (1918):
SPURIOUS REVELATIONS AND VISIONS
Again I feel that it is an opportunity for me to say a few words. This wonderful, mysterious revelation that I have been said to have received a great many years ago, was given in French and I never knew but two or three words in French in my life; consequently, I could not have been the originator of that revelation. I want you to understand that. I have denied it, I suppose, a hundred times, when I have been inquired of about it. It was gotten up by some mysterious person who undertook to create a sensation and lay the responsibility upon me. I am not guilty. When the Lord reveals something to me, I will consider the matter with my brethren, and when it becomes proper, I will let it be known to the people, and not otherwise.
The ridiculous story about the "red horse," and "the black horse," and "the white horse," and a lot of trash that has been circulated about and printed and sent around as a great revelation given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is a matter that was gotten up, I understand, some ten years after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by two of our brethren who put together some broken sentences from the Prophet that they may have heard from time to time, and formulated this so-called revelation out of it, and it was never spoken by the prophet in the manner in which they have put it forth. It is simply false; that is all there is to it.
In 1858, I had the privilege of traveling through
with Charles Wesley Wandell, a former member of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, and at that time also a member of the Church. He told me
himself, in the presence of witnesses, that he wrote the document himself on
which the organization of J. J. Strang was founded, and he was never so surprised
as when he found that J. J. Strang accepted his vagaries for a revelation from
God, and he had only laughed at it and repented of it ever since.
Now, these stories of revelations that are being circulated around are of no consequence except for rumor and silly talk by persons that have no authority. The fact of the matter is simply here and this. No man can enter into God's rest unless he will absorb the truth in so far that all error, all falsehood, all misunderstandings and mis-statements he will be able to sift thoroughly and dissolve, and know that it is error and not truth. When you know God's truth, when you enter into God's rest, you will not be hunting after revelations from Tom, Dick and Harry all over the world. You will not be following the will-of-the-wisps of the vagaries of men and women who advance nonsense and their own ideas. When you know the truth you will abide in the truth, and the truth will make you free, and it is only the truth that will free you from the errors of men, and from the falsehood and misrepresentations of the evil one who lies in wait to deceive and to mislead the people of God from the paths of righteousness and truth. (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75], 5:107-08.)