Was Jospeh Smith the “buck stops here guy”, or does the current Prophet supercede him? Did Joseph Smith have the fullness of truth in his teachings?
Thanks for your questions!
The LDS 9th Article of Faith states:
“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
“In the words of Wilford Woodruff: “And thus addressing the Twelve, [Joseph] exclaimed, ‘upon your shoulders the kingdom rests, and you must round up your shoulders, and bear it; for I have had to do it until now. But now the responsibility rests upon you’ ” (Times and Seasons, 5:698).
Revelation and guidance from heaven did not end with the death of Joseph Smith. “Many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God” have been revealed through those who succeeded him as President of the Church. In the words of President Spencer W. Kimball:
“Since that momentous day in 1820, additional scripture has continued to come, including the numerous and vital revelations flowing in a never-ending stream from God to his prophets on the earth.”… Merrill C. Oaks, “The Living Prophet: Our Source of Pure Doctrine,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 82
“A very encouraging portion of the ninth article of faith we have been considering is its conclusion, “We believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Elder Boyd K. Packer, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated: “Revelation is a continuous principle in the Church. In one sense the Church is still being organized. As light and knowledge are given, as prophecies are fulfilled and more intelligence is received, another step forward can be taken” (The Holy Temple, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1980, page 137).
This Church constantly needs the guidance of its head, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…
When does this promised revelation come? Only God knows. It comes as needed. To whom does it come? To obtain the answer to this, we must go back to the words of Amos: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7)…
The doctrine of this Church was stated by Elder Stephen L. Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “They [the First Presidency] are the supreme court here on earth in the interpretation of God’s law.
“In the exercise of their functions and delegated powers they are controlled by a constitution, a part of which is written and a part of which is not. The written part consists in authenticated scripture, ancient and modern, and in the recorded utterances of our latter-day prophets. The unwritten part is the spirit of revelation and divine inspiration which are appertinent to their calling…
The responsibility for determining the divine validity of that which one of the oracles of God may state does not rest solely upon him. President J. Reuben Clark, formerly a member of the First Presidency, stated, “We can tell when the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we, ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ ”…
This is in harmony with the counsel of President Brigham Young:
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not” James E. Faust, “Continuing Revelation,” Ensign, Aug. 1996, 2
As the policies and procedures of the Church are refined by continuing revelation and inspiration, there are those who become disturbed by any changes. Some literally hunt for situations where earlier Church leaders or members made statements which are not in complete harmony with our understanding and practices today. The mind-set of some is that anything coming from an earlier time must be more correct.
I would offer the following thoughts on such matters: (1) Some of the procedures of the Church were not completely developed early in this dispensation and have been amplified and clarified by subsequent prophets. (2) Our protection from erroneous doctrine lies in an overriding belief in continuing revelation to the current prophet.” Merrill C. Oaks, “The Living Prophet: Our Source of Pure Doctrine,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 82