The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a top down structure, much like the Roman Catholic Church.

Official statements about teachings and doctrinal matters come from the top to the rest of the organization.  These two faiths are unique among religious denominations in this practice.

Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and all of the major Protestant Faiths voice their opinions and will have differing doctrinal interpretations based on consensus, understanding, and voting.  There is no human vessel that is the recognized final voice on doctrinal disputes.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints follows a Prophet who is the final word on doctrinal matters.

The  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also vigorously encourages people to seek and receive their own personal revelation.

How do these things fit together?  If the people can receive revelation, then why have a Prophet?

The solution is quite simple, elegant, and makes perfect sense.

The missing elements in the revelation vs. prophet debate is stewardship and harmony.

First: Stewardship.

Each person on this earth is given a stewardship they are responsible for.

According to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you can only receive revelation in relation to your stewardship.

As an individual, I am responsible for receiving revelation in how to live my life, as a method of determining truth and error, and otherwise enriching my life.

My personal revelations could be about who to date, marry, what career to pursue, whether a particular decision is a good one, etc…

As a father, I am also responsible for receiving revelation about how to lead my family.

In my church calling, I can receive revelation about how to better serve in my calling and fulfill my stewardship.

So, a Bishop can receive revelation for a ward or specifically how to counsel an individual member who may be having problems.

This principle applies to any church callings.

Second: Harmony.

For this revelation to be considered valid, it must also be harmonious with Church Doctrine.

For example, I could not receive a revelation telling me to become a killer for hire.

It would not be recognized as coming from God if the question was put to a priesthood authority.

The most likely explanation is that I was deceived by Satan into thinking I had received that revelation no matter how I felt about the matter.

Personal Revelation needs to be Put To The Test:

If you have decided the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church, then it follows that President Monson is the current mouthpiece for God today.

If you receive a revelation and wonder if it came from God, it is subject to some scrutiny.

Does the revelation harmonize with current Church doctrine and teachings?  If not, it is most likely not from God.

Does the revelation directly relate to your stewardship?  If not, it is most likely not from God.

See, if you are not the Prophet, you are not the person authorized to receive and teach new doctrines or ideas.

Some people fall into the trap of thinking they are somehow ahead of the revelatory curve and that the Church will one day catch up.

I used to worry about this myself.  I would look at prior revelations about polygamy, the priesthood, and other matters and wonder what else might be changing in the future?

I have also heard stories about people who said they knew a major change was coming when the revelation about the priesthood was announced in 1978 which did not help with this concern.

So what happens if one day I think I have been clued in about a potential future change in Church doctrine or policy?  What should I do?

The mature and correct answer is that I should shut up about it.  I should remain silent about it because it is not my place to say anything.

Perhaps I may be correct about the idea, but I am not to advocate or teach those ideas to anyone else because I am supposed to teach Church Doctrine and policy as it is presently constituted.

The changes need to be announced from the top-down.  No matter how sure I may feel about this idea or revelation, it is possible I have been deceived.  The only way to be certain I have not been duped is for the revelation to be confirmed through a proclamation from the President of the Church.

I wouldn’t want to be personally responsible for leading people astray and teaching potentially damaging false doctrine if I was mistaken about the idea.

The Solution:

Follow the Prophet, receive the revelation that you are entitled to in harmony with Church Doctrine, and be quiet about the rest.

You’ll be just fine.

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