I’ve noticed a troubling parallel among some progressive members of the church: Rejecting living prophets in favor of what they anticipate future prophets will do.
It works like this: They believe that the living prophets are wrong regarding some policy or doctrine, such as same-sex marriage or women holding priesthood. They are convinced that these teachings are not of God but merely expressions of false cultural traditions. They look at past changes that the church has made, like discontinuing the policy of withholding priesthood from black members, and they extrapolate that the future prophets and apostles will change these other positions as well.
But just like fundamentalists who reject the living prophets by following dead prophets, progressives reject the living prophets by following anticipated future prophets.
In reality the future prophet that they are following is just a projection of their own views in the present. In other words they are setting themselves up as an alternative authority to the current prophet by attributing their contrary positions to a future prophet who does not yet exist. Whether by reason or supposed personal revelation, they are claiming to know which direction the church should take better than the current prophets do.
I lived through the LDS Church’s fiasco with the black priesthood ban. As it turned out, my future projections were correct. I also lived through the period when LDS Church authorities discouraged family planning and birth control. I lived through the crazy politics of President Ezra Taft Benson, and the attempted rapprochement with conservative Christianity directed by President Joseph Fielding Smith and his son-in-law Elder Bruce R. McConkie. I lived through the “baseball baptisms” of President Henry D. Moyle and the testify-at-the-door schemes of Elder Alvin R. Dyer. According to Dyer:
you can teach . . . everything that a person needs to know to be baptized in this Church in less than 3 minutes.
I served a LDS mission in Europe in the 60s and saw first hand the damage that Moyle and Dyer did. I hated their cheap promotional activities and easy solutions. And the Church is still trying to recover from the J.F. Smith and McConkie era. I understood they were wrong to trash science. And I could go on.
I’m not a prophet, but I have a brain. And so far, my gut (call it personal revelation) has been fairly accurate.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to live long enough to see my current discomforts with the Church rectified by future prophets. But my bet is: They will be. So, I’m a strong believer in personal revelation and future prophets.
In all fairness, my religion is my personal business. I don’t feel the need to blindly obey anyone. And I don’t feel the need to convert anyone. It’s just me.