Debunking that Quote about Brigham Young’s Greatest Fear

Brigham_Young_by_Charles_William_Carter

The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.” – Brigham Young

This quote is probably familiar to many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have participated in online discussions about the church.

Faithful members have had it thrown in their faces by dissidents and detractors on numerous occasions. Dissenters see it as a powerful sound-bite in support of the notion that members of the church must be continually vigilant that the fallible leaders of the church do not lead the church astray.

And as a soundbite it is reasonably effective. But there is one problem: Brigham Young never said it. The quote is completely spurious.

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Beware the Leaven of the Dissidents

Disputation

In response to recent disciplinary actions by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of those being disciplined have complained that the charge of apostasy is inaccurate because, they assert, the individuals and the organizations created by them have not taught any false doctrines or acted in opposition to the prophet or the Church.

They insist that all they are doing is asking questions. So, what false doctrine can they possibly be teaching?

This is my attempt to answer that important question.

At the outset, let’s immediately dispense with the notion that “asking questions” is always unambiguously innocent and unassuming.

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LDS Church Doctrine Regarding Apostasy, Following the Prophets, and Submitting to Those with Priesthood Keys

Christ-Ordaining-The-Apostles

For those outside of the church or less active in the church who do not know, for more than a decade the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been publishing a series books called The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church. Each book in the series collects sermons and quotes on selected topics by one of the prophets of the church, prefaced by topical biographical information. Teachings from Joseph Smith through most of the 20th century prophets have been released. It is an ongoing project with more books to come.

Since the series introduction in 1998, the books have been used as the core curriculum for most adult members of the church nearly every Sunday during weekly Priesthood and Relief Society meetings. There was a brief break in the curriculum in 2010-2011, but for 14 of the last 16 years, active members of the church have had regular exposure to these teachings of previous prophets.

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An Invitation to Those LDS Members Who Are Wondering, “How Did I Get Here?”

The_Denial_of_Saint_Peter-Caravaggio_(1610)

I want to address those members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are among the groups of dissenters, critics, and agitators in the Church who suddenly find themselves in an uneasy association with people who increasingly are openly hostile to the Church, its leaders, and its teachings.

I know that some of you are uncomfortable with the direction in which your associates have gone. Uneasy with the comments and conversations on the websites you frequent. Some of you quietly feel misgivings and twinges of conscience about the blatant public denigration of the Church and the Apostles by the people with whom you identify and with whom you have built friendships. You were seeking answers to your questions and resolution for your doubts, but now all you see is increased doubt, questioning, and strife.

Some of you are asking yourselves “How did this happen? I’m a good member of the Church. Why do other members call me or the group with which I participate apostate? How did I get here?”

Let me reassure you that there is a place for you in the Church. We want you here. And yes, we want you with all your doubts, questions, and complaints.

The misgivings you feel about where you suddenly find yourself are valid. Don’t reject them. Listen to them.

It doesn’t matter how you got to where you are as much as it matters that there is a way back.

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The Parable of the Painful Patient

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There once was a man who developed severe abdominal pain. He tried the normal remedies but nothing seemed to help. So he got on the Internet and began to look up information about his symptoms. Based on his reading he decided that his pain was being caused by appendicitis.

He went to the doctor and told her that he had appendicitis and needed an immediate appendectomy. The doctor performed some standard tests. “Appendicitis can sometimes be very difficult to diagnose until it becomes severe,” she said. So the doctor had the man undergo an ultrasound. But the results were inconclusive. The doctor hypothesized that the pain might be caused by an intestinal virus and sent the man home with some pain medication.

But the pain didn’t stop.

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