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In the past, church leaders have made some significant mistakes. How much should I rely on pronouncements and teachings of our leaders today?

Faith Matters

It’s difficult to think of another religious organization that holds its leaders in higher esteem and trust.  For millions of church members, the witness and ministry of prophets and apostles are living waters. They are experienced as  a source of frequent inspiration in good times and a light of hope to the soul in dark times.

But when a generation that has grown up singing “Follow the Prophet” encounters church history and comes face to face with real mistakes past prophets and apostles have made, issues of trust can arise.

To address this question, we invited historian and author Patrick Mason, author of a number of exceptional books, including  Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt, and Restoration: God’s Call to the 21st Century World.  Patrick is the Leonard J. Arrington  Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University.

First, Patrick offers a short, deeply insightful essay titled Searching for Infallible Prophets? It’s a must-read, and it ends by challenging us to face some very probing questions.

Then, Patrick sits down with a couple of very bright millennials for a very candid conversation on the topic. You can watch that conversation here.

We also recorded a great conversation on this topic between Patrick and his good friend Spencer Fluhman, Executive Director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at BYU.

Finally, Tim Chaves from Faith Matters offers his really insightful perspective in this post on the subject.

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Additional Resources

Searching for Infallible Prophets?

Can I trust and sustain fallible leaders?

Is it ok to try to fix the Church?

Prophetic Reliability – A Conversation with Spencer Fluhman and Patrick Mason

More Questions

How do we reconcile Book of Mormon “problems” with the claim that it is the “most correct” scriptural text? And is it essential that we see the Book of Mormon as truly historical—i.e. written by ancient writers about an ancient people? Could it be some other form of writing—inspired or otherwise?
How can I make sense of our history of denying priesthood and temple blessings to our Black brothers and sisters?
In what way is our church “the true church?”
Our history with plural marriage is really hard to accept. Shouldn’t we just renounce it in past, present and future and move on?
Are there big problems with the Book of Abraham?
Is there conflict between Latter-day Saint theology and evolution?