Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/Church leaders will always know deception

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Church leaders will always know deception?

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes

Author's Claims


One Nation under Gods, page 424 (hardback and paperback)

  • LDS leaders' "apparent lack of discernment with regard to Hofmann's legitimacy refuted in a most visible way the LDS belief that church leaders are divinely enabled by God to know deception when they see it."

Author's Sources


Endnote 78, page 612 (hardback); page 610 (paperback)

  • Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 197.
  • DC 46:27

Detailed Analysis

Doctrine and Covenants

The book's citation reads:

27 And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.{DC 46:27

This scripture says that bishops of the Church have a right to know whether those pretending to spiritual gifts are genuine or not. This is clear both from the verse itself, and the extensive discussion on spiritual gifts which preceded it (DC 46:11-26). The presentation of a purported historical document is not a spiritual gift, either in the D&C, or in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

ONUG also ignores other verses in the Doctrine and Covenants, which make it very clear that prophets will not always know deception in other matters when they see it. For it to be otherwise would be to threaten moral agency:

as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter (DC 10:37).

Bruce R. McConkie

In defense of the above claim, ONUG cites page 197 of Elder Bruce R. McConkie's book Mormon Doctrine:

See EVIL, FALSE SPIRITS, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, GOOD, LIGHT OF CHRIST. To all men in some degree and to the faithful saints in particular is given the spirit, gift, and power of discernment. This ability is conferred upon people generally by the operations of the light of Christ (Moro. 7:12-18), but in addition the faithful saints receive discerning power through revelation from the Holy Ghost. (D. & C. 63:41.)
In its most important aspect, discernment is used to distinguish between good and evil (Moro. 7:12-18), between the righteous and the wicked (D. & C. 101:95; Mal. 3:18; 3 Ne. 24:18), between the false or evil spirits and those spirits who truly manifest the things of God. (D. & C. 46:23; 1 Cor. 12:10.) In its fullest manifestation the gift of the discerning of spirits is poured out upon presiding officials in God's kingdom; they have it given to them to discern all gifts and all spirits, lest any come among the saints and practice deception. (D. & C. 46:27.)

Here again, the gift of discernment has nothing to do with promising to reveal all deception of any sort—though God may, of course, choose to reveal what He will. Rather, the gift of discernment applies to "all gifts and all spirits"—it is about spiritual matters and purported gifts of the Spirit.