I finally caught up on the talk given by Dallin H. Oaks at the most recent Conference, “Two Lines of Communication.” I’d been told that the talk references the Protestant “priesthood of all believers,” and a blog post elsewhere argued that the talk was meant as a response to recent LDS feminist rumblings, so I thought I’d check it out.
The talk rates a “meh” from me. In spite of mentioning the existence of the Protestant doctrine of priesthood, Elder Oaks does little to address it or explain why belief in linear authority is superior, and I know this is an old song from me, but I think that his statement that the gift of the Holy Spirit “does not come merely by desire or belief” arguably clashes with what the Bible teaches on the subject (John 7:38-39). In any case, it wasn’t really a good or a bad talk for me. It was mostly just assertion of LDS beliefs on these matters, which (for the most part) I have little interest in arguing with.
What I did find confusing about the talk though: he seems to argue that communications received through the “personal line” are not allowed to disagree with communications received through the “priesthood line.” He even hints that personal revelations that disagree with the teachings of the church come from Satan:
Similarly, we cannot communicate reliably through the direct, personal line if we are disobedient to or out of harmony with the priesthood line. The Lord has declared that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness” (D&C 121:36). Unfortunately, it is common for persons who are violating God’s commandments or disobedient to the counsel of their priesthood leaders to declare that God has revealed to them that they are excused from obeying some commandment or from following some counsel. Such persons may be receiving revelation or inspiration, but it is not from the source they suppose. The devil is the father of lies, and he is ever anxious to frustrate the work of God by his clever imitations.
Some members or former members of our church fail to recognize the importance of the priesthood line. They underestimate the importance of the Church and its leaders and its programs. Relying entirely on the personal line, they go their own way, purporting to define doctrine and to direct competing organizations contrary to the teachings of prophet-leaders.
If the “personal line” is never allowed to correct or disagree with the “priesthood line,” does this not mean that the “priesthood line” is infallible?