From Hero to Pretender in 20 Minutes
I have always considered Ezra Taft Benson a valiant and true Servant of the Lord in defending Liberty and the Constitution. It seems that I have referred to his quotes more often than almost any other Latter Day Prophet, aside from Joseph Smith. In studying the Constitution and the Saints destiny to uphold those Godly principles enshrined in that Sacred document, the preponderance of evidence I’ve gathered comes from President Ezra Taft Benson.
This week, my family sat down to watch a talk from Elder Benson in the April 1971 General Conference. It was titled “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints.” I was excited to share his counsel with my children.
Part way through his address, he said, “Now the third great civic standard for the Saints is the inspired word of the prophets—particularly the living president, God’s mouthpiece on the earth today. Keep your eye on the captain and judge the words of all lesser authority by his inspired counsel.”
I was surprised and extremely disappointed in his statement, because the Prophet’s role is to point to Christ, yet here was an appointed Apostle pointing to the Prophet. According to the words of Christ, as contained in the Scriptures, we are to use those sacred records as a judge and guide. God preserved them for us, in our time, at great cost. Prophets such as Isaiah and Joseph Smith laid down their lives to lay before us these words of God.
Elder Benson later contradicted his 3rd great civic standard when he said, “We live in an age of deceit. “O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.” (2 Ne. 13:12.) Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood.”
Joseph Smith warned the Saints to use the Scriptures as a guide by which to judge truth:
Nephi also explained the scriptures were prepared by the Lord to guide His people:
1 Nephi 19:3, 18, 23
3 And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.
18 And I, Nephi, have written these things unto my people, that perhaps I might persuade them that they would remember the Lord their Redeemer.
23 And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer. Wherefore, I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. JST
Perhaps the most important lessons we have about God’s preparation of the Scriptures, and the true value He places on them, is found within two Book of Mormon stories. The first is the fact that the Father commanded Lehi to send his sons back to get the plate of Brass. They needed those records so that the people would not be led astray in the wilderness. We come to understand the eternal significance of what God had prepared, when we see that Nephi was commanded to take Laban’s life so they might obtain those sacred records.
We clearly see the stark differences in outcomes of not having the Scriptures to guide the people, verses having them, when after much time, the people of Nephi find the Mulekites. The people of Muleki came out of Jerusalem shortly after the Nephites. Unlike the Nephites, they carried no records. As a sad result, their language had been corrupted. But even worse than that, they did not know God. They did not know His commandments, or how the children of Men had been guided by Him, or even the very origins of people.
If we consider the revealed scriptures to be our anchor, we begin to understand the dangers of cutting that rope that ties our boat to that anchor. Then, we on the boat would be tossed on a sea, far from the anchor from which we have power.
Teaching the people, as Elder Benson did, that we should judge all things by the Captain, is separating the Church from the anchor in a stunning way. When we consider the additional counsel given from that pulpit, multiple times, that a living Prophet is more important than a dead Prophet, an honest soul should feel a sense of alarm at the ties to those words of the Lord are cut. That good ship Zion is floating free of that anchor, and it is a tragic thing.
God’s words must be preserved and adhered to in these Latter Days. They are the Iron Rod that Lehi saw in his dream. I pray we hearken unto God, and hold to the rod He has prepared with all our might.