The following questions and statements were shared on our facebook page. Since John doesn't have a short answer, he decided to reply to Larry's post on our blog. Here is a copy of Larry's facebook post:
“In a conversation I had with John he made the statement that I understood to mean the church was not true, that the leadership had no authority, that all leaders of the LDS church since Joseph Smith Jr. were false leaders. With that in mind how would you interpret his standing with that Organization? All have the right to believe in who, what they would like. I have seen the the verse D and C 124: 28 quoted as the proof that the higher priesthood was taken away. If you will read the verses before that you will see that the membership of the church were being called to build a temple for the reason stated in verse 28. I was ask where in the scriptures that these things were restored. Perhaps D and C 127: verse 8 Might shed a little light on the subject. You may believe what You would like. I testify that the priesthood was restored and has remained on the earth since Joesph Smith Jr. received it. If you would like to discuss this more you know how to reach me. Come and visit if you would like Your friend Larry ( PS If I have missed understood any thing then I apologize. )”
Here is John's response:
Larry, thank you for your thoughtful comments, statements, and testimony. I appreciate your understanding of the scriptures, your devout desire to serve God, and your friendship to me. I really appreciate your willingness to talk with me and openly discuss more about the gospel. There is no apology necessary – it is pleasant to visit with you.
I respect the LDS Church, the leadership, fellow members, and the much good that has been promoted. By way of the LDS Church, I have been blessed to receive truth, ordinances, the Book of Mormon, scriptures, prophecies, and the Word of God. I am everlastingly grateful for my membership and standing in the LDS church, my process of learning and understanding the Word of God, and for everything I have experienced thereof.
The Church truly does exist and plays an important role in the latter days. However, the LDS Church is NOT completely true because the institution and men within it teach and advance both truth and error. I value the truth promoted, but choose to reject the false and vain and foolish doctrines and traditions of men. Even current Church statements found on LDS.org and the official LDS Church position on Polygamy and Race & Priesthood (among many other things) is shifting like sand under our feet. The LDS Church increasingly appears to be just another mainstream religion. With greater frequency the LDS hierarchy, professors, and general membership are all wrong; their creeds are an abomination in His sight; professors are corrupt; and “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” JSH 1:19
God is a God of truth and knows what He is doing. D&C 93:26 Men are not of truth and do not know what they are doing, unless they are connected with God and commune with Jehovah, as did Joseph Smith and all true and living prophets of God. Because the preservation of truth restored through Joseph Smith is decreasing, and the errors of men are increasing in the LDS Church, I believe the LDS Church is becoming less true. It is becoming increasingly false because it progressively embraces incorrect notions and false tenets.
The words “Having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” is very revealing when a person is identifying true or false religions. An actual prophet of God, or the members of the true church of God will most certainly possess power from God Himself.
Here is what Elder Boyd K. Packer said, at least in part, about the LDS Church during the April 2010 General Conference? Elder Packer talked about the church's lack of ability to disseminate power among the saints. Why is the church unable to disseminate power? Why was the church able to spread and distribute authority under common consent but not the power of God?” The words recorded in D&C 121:36 can be enlightening and answer these questions. "That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness." If a man is not connected with the powers of heaven, is it possible for him to possess the rights of the priesthood or power from on high?
Does this scripture provide us with a solution to the dilemma that Elder Packer described? Is there a distinction between authority and power? Is Elder Packer trying to tell us something? Is he giving us notice of something very essential and fundamental that is missing in the current state of the LDS Church? If the fullness of the priesthood has been lost or forfeited, can the remaining lesser priesthood bind or seal? Is it possible that many in the church teach one perspective of priesthood power, but the scriptures and the Word of God teach quite another? Is it necessary for God to personally bestow the priesthood with His own voice? Or is it sufficient for men to confer priesthood upon others by the laying on of hands from one generation to another? Is the priesthood or the association with men different than the priesthood or association with God? Why or why not? Does it matter? Alma 13:1 JST Genesis 14:25-40
The angel , who spoke to Nephi, taught key truths concerning the true church of God in contrast to the many false and abominable churches in the world. Nephi wrote, “And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” 1 Nephi 14:10
Taking the words of the angel as the Word of God, wouldn't it seem wise to belong to the church of the Lamb of God (the true church) and discard all others? Is the LDS Church considered to be the church of the Lamb of God? If so, why is there a lack of power within the church as Elder Packer described? If not, does that make the LDS Church another great and abominable church of the devil? Does the LDS population possess power from God or mere authority by common consent of the people? Is there a difference? Does it matter?
Concerning LDS leadership authority, here is my perspective: Both past and current leadership of the LDS Church were voted in by the people by common consent, therefore, they have the right and authority to lead the LDS Church organization.
Here is a quote from Brigham Young:
"Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question - Does a man's being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it ? I answer, no ! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the President of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the President of the Church, as long as he lived; the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth, and were not be taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice." Journal of Discourses 1:133.
I am fully content that the LDS hierarchy runs the Church under common consent of the membership according to the dictates of their own conscience. However, if and whenever I am able to identify priestcraft or error in the LDS Church, leadership, or hierarchy, which runs contrary to past prophets, scriptures, and the Word of God, I feel no obligation or sensible reason to follow the promoted falsehood or error. I see no wisdom in following a man or teaching a “herd of people” to follow a blind man off a cliff to destruction. My belief and practice is to embrace the truth of God and reject the errors of men.
My friend, Larry, referred to a key scripture that certainly offers additional light and understanding to each of us. D&C 127:8 reads as follows: “For I am about to restore many things to the earth, pertaining to the priesthood, saith the Lord of Hosts.” At this specific point in time, the Lord offered much to the saints, including the restoration of the fullness of the priesthood, Zion, and more. “For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.” D&C124:41 The revelation found in D&C 127, which Larry referred to, was dated September 1, 1842. This falls right in the middle of a “key time-frame” and offer from the Lord. This revelation is dated nearly twenty months after the D&C 124 revelation and almost twenty-two months before the death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, on June 27, 1844.
From the time God instructed and offered the saints another chance to receive the fullness of the priesthood D&C 124:25-48 to the time Joseph, Hyrum, and the Holy Priesthood were taken out of their midst, nearly forty-two months had passed away.
The saints had about 3 ½ years to receive God's offer by fulfilling His command. “But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me.” D&C 124:31 Having a sufficient time, were they successful?
History reveals that around midnight on 8–9 October 1848, the Nauvoo Temple was set on fire. On 27 May 1850, the temple was struck by a tornado. In February 1865 Nauvoo's City Council ordered the final demolition of the last standing portion of the temple. Soon afterwords, all evidence of the temple disappeared. It was utterly destroyed. What message does this convey to you? Does that sound like a spot that was made holy?
Did the hand of God protect the saints? Did they receive the offered restoration or did they get moved out of their place and driven from Nauvoo? Why? D&C 124:45 Did they witness blessings and protection from God or did they experience cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments? D&C 124:48 Did they find peace, glory, and power from heaven, or were they driven into the wilderness like the children of Israel?
Was Joseph taken from their midst like Moses was taken from the children of Israel? Were they left only with the lesser priesthood? D&C 84:25-26 Did they succeed in finding Zion or did they obtain less? Did they receive conversations with heaven, revelations, glory, honor, and endowments from the Lord? Did they find the Nauvoo temple to be the place where God came to them, talked to them, and ministered to them? Did He reveal His ordinances unto them and things that had been kept hid from before the foundation of the world pertaining to dispensation of the fullness of times? D&C 124:39-41 Did the Lord perform the oath and fulfill the promises that they expected at his hands? D&C 124:47
Did God restore that which was offered? Why or why not? Did the saints receive Zion? Was the fullness of the Priesthood restored after it was lost as recorded in D&C 124:28 dated January 19, 1841? If it has since been restored, when did it happen? Where did it occur? By whom was it restored? Upon whom was it conferred? Are there any scriptures, revelations, or records whatsoever containing the Word of God testifying that the Holy Priesthood was restored after 1841 and remains today with the latter day saints? I would be appreciative to know of any such evidence? Where does the LDS Church stand today regarding truth, redemption, priesthood, and power from God? Is it important to you to find out the truth concerning this subject? Does it matter?