President Monson’s Views Don’t Represent the Mormon Church?

I’ve often said that while the Mormon church claims to be the only church on the face of the earth that has the authority to speak for God, no one within it seems to speak with any authority.

Monson Prophets VoiceI received a phone call from my friend Russ East who drew my attention to a book titled A Prophet’s Voice: Messages from Thomas S. Monson. This book was published in 2012 by Deseret Book, a company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Of course, Thomas S. Monson is the current prophet, seer, and revelator of the LDS Church. When his predecessor, Gordon B. Hinckley died, Monson was set apart as the church’s president on February 3, 2008.

Monson has spent much of his life as an employee of the LDS Church. His biography in the 2012 LDS Church Almanac says “for the 22 years prior to being set apart as 16th president of the Church on February 3, 2008, President Monson served as counselor to three presidents: second counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson, and President Howard W. Hunter and, for 13 years, first counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley.” Considering all the years that Monson has served in leadership positions, you would think that he should be familiar with the doctrines and history of the organization he currently leads. But apparently the church-owned Deseret Book does not want you to assume that. On the copyright page of A Prophet’s Voice is a standard disclaimer that reads, “The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church or Deseret Book.” You can read the disclaimer for yourself here.

The views expressed “do not necessarily represent the position of the Church”? I can expect such a disclaimer on something written by a Mormon missionary or, for that matter a BYU professor, but Thomas Monson? It might be argued that some of the material in the book was said when Monson was a mere apostle; in the course of my 40 years of talking with Mormons, I have heard some say that only the living prophets can be trusted with absolute certainty. But wait a minute, wasn’t Paul a mere apostle when he wrote Romans, Ephesians, or Galatians? If the LDS Church is, as it claims, a restoration of New Testament Christianity, why wouldn’t an LDS apostle’s words carry the same weight as a New Testament apostle?

Many of the talks included in Monson’s book were given in general conference. Regarding such messages, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Monson’s Second Counselor, said, “Listen to general conference with an ear willing to hear the voice of God through his latter-day prophets” (“Why do we need prophets?” Ensign, March 2012, p.5). If that was the case, there certainly seems to be no need for such a disclaimer for this section of the book.

Mormons insist that their leadership carries the same authority as prophets and apostles of the past. However, Amulek, a prophet mentioned in the Book of Mormon (Alma 11:22), said, “I shall say nothing which is contrary to the Spirit of the Lord.”

Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith stated, “When did I ever teach anything wrong from this stand? When was I ever confounded? I want to triumph in Israel before I depart hence and am no more seen. I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.368).

Four years before his death, Brigham Young declared, “If there is an elder here, or any member of 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” (August 31, 1873, Journal of Discourses 16:161).

I find it curious that no modern Mormon prophet makes such claims for himself. Instead, there always seems to be this odor of plausible deniability. It would have been helpful if the editors at Deseret Book supplied the portions of Monson’s comments that do not represent the position of the LDS church. But then, how could they unless the editors possess an authority higher than Monson’s? You see, in Mormonism there is no higher mortal authority than the church president (at least officially). No member in the LDS Church has the authority to correct the living prophet. Joseph Smith claimed, “I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.21).

So why the disclaimer? If God really desires a mortal prophet to guide the people, why undermine his authority with such a statement? If his words are to be taken with caution, Mormons should not be upset when we do.

Hear Eric Johnson and Bill McKeever discuss this topic on Viewpoint on Mormonism (2-part broadcast, aired September 22 and 23, 2014).

This article is reprinted from the September-October 2014 issue of Mormonism Researched.

This entry was posted in Authority and Doctrine, Mormon Leaders and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to President Monson’s Views Don’t Represent the Mormon Church?

  1. RikkiJ says:

    It’s interesting to see how time has changed the true church. First, we see that it was corrupted, and lost to a great apostasy.

    1. Jesus said, “I will build My church; and and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18b, KJV).

    According to LDS, the church was overpowered by the gates of Hades and this is what caused the Great Apostasy. “the kingdoms of this world made war against the kingdom of God, established eighteen centuries ago, and they prevailed against it, and the kingdom ceased to exist(Journal of Discourses, 13:124-125)

    2. Jesus said, “… Scripture cannot be broken“, (John 10:35b, ESV)

    The LDS Church believes that Scripture was broken. Joseph Smith said,”many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” (

    3. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB) – There is no mention of any church or denomination through which salvation can come.

    The LDS Church believes that salvation can only come through the church. “Therefore it was made clearly manifest that salvation is in the Church, and of the Church, and is obtained only through the Church.” (Mark E. Petersen, General Conference, 1973)

    4. Jesus said, “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matthew 5:37, NASB)

    The LDS Church thinks it necessary to coat the teachings of the most important mouthpiece for God, the holder of the keys with: “The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church or Deseret Book.” (Thomas S. Monson, A Prophet’s Voice, 2012)

    And finally, it ends up with this, the great disclaimer of all time. Should the prophet say yes and no if he alone speaks for God on the earth?

  2. Mike R says:

    RikkiJ, you’re right about the Mormonism’s famous lie of a great apostasy supposedly
    occurring shortly after the deaths of the last of Jesus’ apostles , a universal apostasy from the
    gospel of salvation they preached and of the church they were officers in . But then 1700 yrs
    later Joseph Smith appeared on the scene and claimed God told him to to restore it .
    But that’s Mormonism . It’s truly sad that decent people would accept that teaching but then
    clever sales techniques and an appeal to emotions can sell almost anything .

    I’m wondering if the Mormon people see the disclaimer in books written by their top leaders
    as something fishy . If the contents of these books are teaching about ” the gospel ” , then a
    prophet should feed his flock quality spiritual food , accurate counsel . If the book contains
    some sports information etc. etc then that could be the reason for the disclaimer. I would
    think that the title says enough concerning the contents of the book : ” A prophet’s voice …”

    Concerning Mormonism : for spiritual safety the Mormon people need to exchange their
    prophets for the true ones which are in the Bible . From 1830 on what Mormon leaders have
    taught in their ” gospel preaching ” is a good example of what Paul warned would happen in
    the latter days — Tim 4: 3, 4 .

  3. falcon says:

    Great word “disclaimer” isn’t it? Why don’t the Mormon people get it? What I mean is that they are all full of themselves that they have this supposed prophet who hears directly from the Mormon god. Then they add all of these clauses and subclauses to the contract that basically leaves the hot stuff pretty cold.
    I know I can’t leave this alone but think about the implications of this disclaimer prophet on someone like Ralph who has told us he’d kill or steal if told to do so directly by the prophet. Really?
    A smart prophet would do such a thing when no one was around so he’d have plausible denial-ability. The prophet could pull out the disclaimer to avoid any culpability.
    Think of the level of brain washing that allows a faithful LDS sect Mormon to hold to such a level of cognitive dissonance. The prophet is the big brag for these folks and yet the organization stamps his utterances with a disclaimer.
    The Mormon people do indeed deserve better.

  4. falcon says:

    So the LDS folks live in a mental parallel universe.
    On the one hand they venerate their prophet who they contend has a direct communications line open to the Mormon god of this planetary system. But then they disavow all sorts of things their prophets have taught, said and predicted. This is part of the “counts-doesn’t count” scenario of the LDS system.
    I’m guessing that any prophecy that didn’t pan out goes into the “doesn’t count” bin or is stamped with a “past due date” sticker. Most of what Brigham Young taught or did gets the disclaimer. I suppose the whole Journal of Discourses is “doesn’t count”, “opinion” and “disclaimer” stamped.
    So what good are these prophets? We have been told that what they bring forth in GC only counts if the people sustain it by acclamation/vote. Think about it. That’s a fairly small percentage of the total prophetic utterances by these guys. The rest, then, is just blue sky speculation and rah rah motivational speeches.

    As a practicing Catholic, I was taught that the pope was infallible under certain circumstances and conditions.
    “According to Catholic theology, there are several concepts important to the understanding of infallible, divine revelation: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Sacred Magisterium. The infallible teachings of the Pope are part of the Sacred Magisterium, which also consists of ecumenical councils and the “…ordinary and universal magisterium.” In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is one of the channels of the infallibility of the Church. The infallible teachings of the Pope must be based on, or at least not contradict, Sacred Tradition or Sacred Scripture.”

    I find the last line quite interesting; “…….must be based on, or at least not contradict, Sacred Tradition or Sacred Scripture.”
    LDS sect Mormonism has no such condition. It’s basically every prophet for himself. That’s why the practice of “continuous revelation” has made such a mess out of LDS doctrine. Everything is subject to change at any given moment. That even includes the doctrines of the nature of God and of salvation.
    While totally confusing to someone who doesn’t think Mormon, it’s all great fun for the LDS believer.

  5. RikkiJ says:


    Although I respect your faith in Christ, I wonder if you can explain when Catholic theology parallels LDS theology and contradicts Christ.

    Extra ecclesiam nulla salus which means there is no salvation outside of the church. After the 2nd Vatican Council, Pope John Paul II danced around the topic and finally towed the line: salvation outside the Catholic Church is not possible.

    Cardinal Ratzinger said, “Thus the Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Answers to Objections against Dominus Iesus, 2000)

    Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB) – There is no mention of any church or denomination through which salvation can come.

    Churches are to be a community in which one can practice Christ’s teachings (Heb. 10:25, NASB). They are not meant to be means of salvation. Only Christ is.

  6. RikkiJ says:


    So, if you’re a practising Catholic, it means you practise what the Catholic belief is, that is no salvation outside the Church. Or you believe that only Christ can save. You cannot believe both.

  7. Mike R says:

    RikkiJ , I think you misconstrued what Falcon said , concerning being a Catholic .

  8. falcon says:

    Thanks for defending me but I guess after five years of posting here, I have to come out of the closet and say to RikkiJ and everyone else that yes, if you’re not Catholic you’re going to hell!
    I know it seems harsh, but sometimes you just have to be blunt and call a spade a spade.
    In the beginning, Christ gave the keys to thee Church to St. Peter. He was the first pope. There is a lineage of popes, therefore, that go back to Peter. Therefore the Catholic Church is the One True Church. There was a great apostasy called the Reformation led by Martin Luther where those who followed him warred against thee Church.
    So to be saved someone must be baptized Catholic, go to confession and communion at least once a year during Easter, attend Church every Sunday, and of course keep all of the Ten Commandments as given to Moses and the Six Commandments of the Catholic Church. I don’t want to go into everything someone has to believe when Catholic but the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven is one of them.

    That KERPLUNK you hear is Sharon’s head hitting her desk! I will bring you chocolate Sharon when we get together at Caribou Coffee in the Southdale Mall.

  9. RikkiJ says:


    Hm? I guess that was sarcasm? You’ll have to update me with your sense of humor.

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