Our last Sunday School lesson was on the importance of following the prophet. We read quotes given in General Conference. Here are a few of them:
"If we listen to the voices of the world, we will be misled. But if we listen to the voice of the Lord through His living prophet and follow his counsel, we will never go astray....There aren’t many guarantees in this life. There isn’t a car made with a warranty that covers everything. No bank on earth can absolutely guarantee that your money is completely safe. Even the Good Housekeeping seal of approval has a disclaimer written right on it! Nothing man-made or man-controlled can ever be truly guaranteed! But here’s the miracle. The Lord has given some marvelous guarantees without any disclaimers. And this is one of them: He will choose the prophet, and He will never let that man lead us astray. Imagine for a moment the impact of that promise. There is at least one place we can turn for pure, unpolluted guidance." Virginia U Jensen, First Counselor in the RS General Presidency.
The quote that he will never let that man lead us astray comes from Brigham Young. There is an "IF" clause in the orginal quote that we don't include these days. I find it very important.
"The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and He will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth (JD 9:289)
so there is the qualifying statement "if you are found doing your duty."
The “if” clause Brigham uses... makes the blessing of the President never leading the Saints astray happen ONLY if they are worthy of the blessing As a people we haven't really been "doing our duty" since we failed in Jackson County - at least since 1832 when the Lord condemned the whole church for failing to receive or enter the New Covenant, even the Book of Mormon. We read - We are ALL gone astray and have and are all, save a 'few'.
"If He should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be lead astray... it would be because they deserved it."
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298.
"I told the people that if they would not believe the revelations that God had given, He would suffer the devil to give revelation that they - Priest & people - would follow after. Have I seen this fulfilled? I have. I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth, they would have error sent unto them & they would believe it."
Brigham Young, Deseret News, June 8, 1873.
"We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the Prophets, Seers & Revelators."
Elder James E. Faust, CR Oct. 1989.
"I make no claim of infallibility."
Spencer W. Kimball, Improvement Era, June 1970, p.93.
"Even the President of the Church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost."
Elder J. R. Clark, quoted in 'Faithful History, Essays on Writing Mormon History', p.82.
"Pres. Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom & experience, & we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God & when 'Thus saith the Lord' comes from him, the Saints investigate it, they do not shut their eyes & take it down like a pill."
Elder Charles W. Penrose
Here are two different charts to compare the difference:
Here is a different approach that I find based more of what I read in the scriptures:
"A righteous priesthood leader always strives to lead people to Christ and never to look to himself as a source of truth. Be ware of anyone who might block the way to Christ, by teaching that the people need to go through himself or other leaders to get to Christ. We need to establish that direct link to Christ by direct communication with Him through personal revelation, the rock upon which our own personal salvation is built."
Elder Richard G Scott,. May 17, 1992 Layton Northridge Stake Priesthood Meeting
Brigham Young taught:
There is nothing that would so soon weaken my hope and discourage me as to see this people in full fellowship with the world, and receive no more persecution from them because they are one with them. In such an event, we might bid farewell to the Holy Priesthood with all its blessings, privileges and aids to exaltations, principalities and powers in the eternities of the Gods. (JD 10:32)
Young also stated,"The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness, each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray." (JD 6:100)
George Q. Cannon taught:
Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a Bishop, an apostle or a president; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support will be gone; but if we lean on God, He will NEVER fail us. When men and women depend upon GOD ALONE and trust in HIM ALONE, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside. (DW 43:322 [Mar 7, 1891]).