You are here

Authority Claims of LDS Leaders

Printer-friendly version

Authority Claims of LDS Leaders

Early Mormon leaders made clear claims about their own spiritual authority as church leaders. They claimed to speak for God and expected their words to be accepted as Scripture. They invited outsiders to test and challenge their beliefs. LDS prophets and apostles also made it clear they considered all other churches false and satanically inspired.

"If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak."  — LDS Apostle, George A. Smith

Few of these claims are made as openly or as vigorously today. That is understandable given the Mormon Church's attempts to mainstream itself and become accepted as another "Christian" Church. However, the fact remains that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers itself the only true church on the earth today and the only one with the right and authority to speak and act for God.

Click on links below to see scans of the actual documents.

Authority Claims of the LDS Church

  • Joseph Smith - "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture ..." Doctrine and Covenants 68: 3-5 (November 1831)
  • Joseph Smith - "Wednesday, 8 —This morning, I read German, and 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 ...'" History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 265 (1843)
  • Wilford Woodruff - "There are a few thoughts that I wish to present to the congregation touching one principle that has been alluded to by the brethren,-- namely, in regard to following the instructions and counsels of those who lead us.

         "... if the Prophet of God should tell me that a certain principle or theory which I might have learned was not true , I do not care what my ideas might have been, I should consider it my duty, as the suggestion of my file leader, to abandon that principle or theory." Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 83 (1857)
  • Orson Pratt - The authority held by the Mormon church is "the true and only standard here upon the face of our earth; and to this standard all people, nations, and tongues must come, or be eventually taken from the earth" Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 372 (1860)
  • Brigham Young - "Every intelligent person under the heavens that does NOT, when informed, acknowledge that Joseph Smith, jun. is a Prophet of God, is in darkness, and is opposed to us and to Jesus and his kingdom on the earth." Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 223 (1860)
  • Brigham Young - "The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth." Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 289 (1862)
  • Brigham Young - "This generation, however, is not left without a test. I have taught for thirty years, and still teach, that he that believeth in his heart and confesseth with his mouth that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is his Prophet to this generation, is of God; and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fulness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is antichrist." Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 312 (1862)
  • Brigham Young - Mormonism is the "only system of religion known in heaven or on earth that can exalt a man to the Godhead" Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 251 (1863)
  • Brigham Young - "What man or woman on earth, what spirit in the spirit-world can say truthfully that I ever gave a wrong word of counsel, or a word of advice that could not be sanctioned by the heavens?" Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 127 (1867)
  • Brigham Young - "I will take up the text again -- I am responsible for the doctrine I teach. ... If they will hear it, well; if they will not, I am clear of their blood." Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 4 (1869)
  • Brigham Young - "I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of nations -- that Brigham Young has said 'when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.' I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God." Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264 (1870)
  • Brigham Young - "I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom ... I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men , that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually." Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95 (1870)
  • Wilford Woodruff - "... In my public teaching I never permit my mind to follow in any channel except that which the Spirit dictates to me, and this is the position we all occupy when we meet with the Saints ... " Journal of Discourses, vol. 15, p. 275 (1873)
  • Charles W. Penrose "Our organization is a very glorious one. It is a perfect organization -- perfect -- because it is divine. It was not made by man. It was not originated by Joseph Smith, or by any of his associates. It came down from above, direct from eternal worlds. It was not taken out of the Bible. It was not taken out of the Book of Mormon, or any other book" Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, p. 304 (1883)
  • "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." Ward Teachers Message, Desert News, Church Section, p. 5 (May 26, 1945)
  • Joseph Fielding Smith - "What is Scripture? When one of the brethren stands before a congregation of the people today, and the inspiration of the Lord is upon him, he speaks that which the Lord would have him speak. It is just as much scripture as anything you will find written in any of these records, and yet we call these the standard works of the Church." Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 186 (1954)
  • Joseph Fielding Smith - "Mormonism as it is called must stand or falls on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground." Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 188 (1954)
  • "It was the Lord Himself who installed prophets in this modern Church. ... This, too, has He done for the successors to the Prophet Joseph, even down to our present wonderful and humble leader. He, too, is inspired of God. He, too, is a revelator. He, too, is the voice of the Almighty to the saints of this day." Editorial, Church News, September 26, p. 12 (1981)
  • "Words of Our Living Prophets — In addition to these four books of scripture, the inspired words of our living prophets become scripture to us. Their words come to us through conferences, Church publications, and instructions to local priesthood leaders. 'We believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God' (Articles of Faith 1:9)." Gospel Principles, p. 55 (1992)

Condemnation of Other Churches

  • Joseph Smith - Joseph claims God told him all churches of his day were wrong, all creeds an abomination in his sight and all professors were corrupt. Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith - History 1:18-19 (1842)
  • Orson Pratt - Roman Catholic church never had authority, it was founded by the Devil. Protestant reformers did not restore the church, their authority came from the Catholics who only had authority from the Devil. The Seer, p. 205 (1854)
  • Orson Pratt - "Baptism is just as essential to salvation, as Faith and Repentance. — Without being immersed in water no man can enter into the fulness of Celestial glory. ... But who in this generation have authority to baptize?" Only the Latter-day Saints. "Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon'" The Seer, p. 255 (1854)
  • John Taylor - "We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense. ... It is a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; it is as corrupt as hell; and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century." Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 167 (1858)
  • Bruce R. McConkie - "It is also to the Book of Mormon to which we turn for the plainest description of the Catholic Church as the great and abominable church. Nephi saw this 'church which is the most abominable above all other churches' in vision. He 'saw the devil that he was the foundation of it' and also the murders, wealth, harlotry, persecutions, and evil desires that historically have been a part of this satanic organization. (1 Nephi 13:1-10)" Mormon Doctrine, p. 130 (1958)
  • Bruce R. McConkie - "Harlots. See Church of the Devil, Sex Immorality. Literally an harlot is a prostitute; figuratively it is any apostate church. Nephi, speaking of harlots in the literal sense and while giving a prophetic description of the Catholic Church, recorded that he 'saw the devil that he was the foundation of it.' ... Then speaking of harlots in the figurative sense, he designated the Catholic Church as 'the mother of harlots' (1 Nephi 13:34; 14:15-17), a title which means that the protestant churches, the harlot daughters which broke off from the great and abominable church, would themselves be apostate churches." Mormon Doctrine, pp. 314-315 (1958)

Leaders Invite Challenges to Mormonism

  • Joseph Smith - "Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private" Doctrine and Covenants 71:7 (1831)
  • Orson Pratt - "convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information" The Seer, p. 15 (1854)
  • George A. Smith - "If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak." Journal of Discourses, vol. 14, p. 216 (1871)
  • Brigham Young - "I have had many revelations; I have seen and heard for myself, and know these things are true, and nobody on earth can disprove them. ... I say to the whole world, receive the truth, no matter who presents it to you. Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test." Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 46 (1873)
  • Brigham Young - "I am here to give this people, called Latter-day Saints, counsel to direct them in the path of life. ... If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason." Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161 (1873)
  • Wilford Woodruff - "I am willing to exchange all the errors and false notions I have for one truth, and should consider that I had made a good bargain. We are not afraid of light and truth. Our religion embraces every truth in heaven, earth or hell; it embraces all truth" Journal of Discourses, vol. 18, p. 117 (1875)