Episode 89a: The 14 Fundamentals of Following a Prophet for Dummies Part 1

John, Glenn, George, Mike and Wes discuss the Ezra Taft Benson talk on following the prophet

14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet (lds.org)

14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet (lds-mormon.com)

Episode 89a

43 comments on “Episode 89a: The 14 Fundamentals of Following a Prophet for Dummies Part 1”

  1. Swearing Elder Reply

    Sing with me…”Follow the prophet, follow the prophet…he knows the way…”

    If an outsider had two, and only two points of exposure, to the church — the 14 Fundamentals and this primary song — they could come to one and only one conclusion: The Mormon Church is a cult.

    I’m with John — Even though I’m not a believer, I bristle against the “cult” label. However, a few weeks ago I went to church for the primary program to see my kids. One of the songs they performed (chanted?) was the “follow the prophet” song. That song is like the Junior Edition of the 14 Fundamentals talk.

    When you are older and hear this talk, it can’t come as a surprise. You’ve been singing it (chanting it?) ever since you were a child.

  2. Tearose26 Reply

    I was tracking down a different topic and found that the apologist answer about when a prophet is a prophet — according to FARMS a statement only has prophetic authority (today) if it is spoken and sustained by the president, the first presidency and the 12 apostles together — I NEVER heard that in church, but it takes a lot of danger out of whatever one of the Brethren might say outside of a very formal process.

    • Info Reply

      The reason you never hear about it is because they only trot excuses like that out when they need to ditch some old teaching. The rest of the time the Bros. want the membership to not question and follow the program. Questioning an idea really only availble for the living prophet to apply to his predecessors.

  3. Peggy Reply

    Omigosh…Keep Mike. Sorry, Mike. I don’t mean to offend, but I was having a hard week, but I haven’t laughed so hard in months. It almost made it worth the problems I had growing up Mormon and attending all those years of seminary and institute to have heard this podcast.

  4. Rich Rasmussen Reply

    It seems like you were a bit off in this one Mike, what gives? It seemed like you were swinging from far-reaching position to outlandish position several times…almost gasping for your breath. I sincerely worry about your testimony, be careful brotherman.

      • Rich Rasmussen Reply

        Maybe it was just me, but it did seem like your overall statements and participation seemed as if it were in a death rattle at times (agreeing to things, like God sanctioned adulterous murder, because the discussion bottle-necked around you). My world kinda did that as my testimony bit the dust and that was painful. Regardless of what I may think of your positions you seem happy on a personal level, and I would truly be sad for you to loose that. On the other hand, I’ve never been happier now that my transition out of Mormonism is underway.

  5. Anonymous Reply

    Gott say it: I really love Mike. But sometimes I just want to weep for him. It makes me so sad to hear some of the stuff he believes so sincerely.

    Mike, I imagine if I were in your Ward back in believing days I too would come up to you and praise you and thank you for your excellent Gospel Doctrine lessons. I imagine it’s because, as John says, there is so little of substance in the vast majority of lessons taught and talks given. Very, very little. People like to hear about historical tidbits and stories from the early years of the church. And they especially like to hear faith-promoting (as in “yes, the weird stuff you believe is true”) words. I remember, back in the day (in Las Vegas Green Valley Ward) I got so much grief from friends about my silly beliefs that I desperately needed to hear confirmation from others that I wasn’t totally crazy to believe such things. It’s only natural.

    Glenn, I was glad to hear you backing up Mike on some of the issues. He needed backup this time.

    And George: SO COOL TO HAVE YOU BACK!!! This episode needed you. Now if only Tom were there too. Oh well, gotta count your blessings, right? πŸ™‚

  6. Lina Reply

    John, I love your podcast and I have listened to most of your discussions at least twice, but today’s topic was the best I have ever heard. That being said…I am having a hard time at this moment and in need of taking some deep breathes. I have never been so outraged at Mike as I am today. Now, he has said some crazy things in the past that I have disagreed with, and I can understand where he is coming from because I essentially was him a few years ago. Today; however he crossed the limit of tolerance– his words stabbed me to the core. I wonder if he realizes the logical outcome of statements like “it’s okay to put a javelin through your wife’s chest if she commits adultery.”
    I have had personal experience with this reasoning by a member of The Church. A woman I dearly loved as close to me as a sister was murdered in cold blood by her ex-husband because she wanted to get remarried. Her ex-husband followed this tact of twisted reasoning and shot my best friend point blank several times in front of her father and then almost succeeded in murdering him as well because he tried to protect her. If all this wasn’t bad enough my dear friend’s children were just feet away from this horror. This man who took this woman’s life felt it was his right as a priesthood holder in the only true church to end her life. His reasoning: She couldn’t be allowed to remarry and have his sealing to her removed. This story is a hard one for me to even think about or talk about openly. Mike’s comment ripped me open and then when he laughed about it the only thing I could feel was pure rage. I wonder what he would think, if one day someone took the life of someone he loves and the murderer said that, “he felt the spirit telling him to do it”, would he be so calm and easily laugh it off?

    I believe religion itself is filled with logical fallacies that is just the nature of it. I have no grievance with religion as long as the participants in it can be allowed to be aware of these fallacies and then with their own judgment continue in their faith. I do believe any religion becomes dangerous to its followers when at the very foundation of that religion is the premise of blind belief, when logic and reason are made out to be “of the devil” and obedience to a leader is valued above all else. This is especially dangerous to children who grow up in a dogmatic belief system, they have very little chance of coming to their own decisions about its value to them because they have been raised to lack the tools to do so. As far as the idea that Mormonism is a cult, I too have felt with John in the past that it is too harsh a word; however, the more I have studied LDS church history recently the more it shows signs of being one. I want to thank you John for your courage to bring this topic to light and for your frank discussion and comments; I found myself cheering you on. As for Mike, his way of thinking is exactly what I try to be the opposite of.
    I’m a recovering Mormon woman trying to find my voice after it has been systematically “shushed” for so many years. I am a happy Skeptic glad to be out of the hive. Great work! An excellent discussion and thanks to all involved.

    • Glenn Reply


      All I can say is WOW! I am so sorry to hear about your friend’s devastating tragedy and especially sorry that you had to re-live that pain listening to the podcast. So wrong in so many ways. My best friend growing up was in a wheelchair and committed suicide several years ago. The church played a small roll in his depression (ie “if you had more faith you would be healed,” or “wait for the resurection” yada yada), and every once in a while I hear things that make me re-live that. It certainly changed the way I look at life and the church. Thank you for sharing.

      • Lina Reply

        Thanks Glenn, your kind words mean a lot. It’s not easy for me to make myself vulnerable and to share my feelings even in this anonymous way. I’m sorry to hear that your friend suffered so much. People can be so cruel and they don’t realize it most of the time. It would be a good thing if more of us were sensitive enough about others to really be kind instead of offering lip service. Thanks again.

        • Swearing Elder Reply

          That is an awful story. When I read “Under the Banner of Heaven” my heart just ached for the victims (and their surviving loved ones) who were murdered by those who were “moved by the Spirit” to carry out these heinous acts.

          • Lina

            So many awful things have happened because people’s minds have been infected with religious views that have led them down miserable and sometimes horrific roads. I think Voltaire said it best:

            β€œThose who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

        • Swearing Elder Reply

          That is an awful story. When I read “Under the Banner of Heaven” my heart just ached for the victims (and their surviving loved ones) who were murdered by those who were “moved by the Spirit” to carry out these heinous acts.

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      My comment was based on catching your wife and her lover in adultery. What you described was a woman divorcing a lunatic.

      I am sorry you had to experience a horror like that. That is truly awful.

      • Iago Reply


        Does your wife know that you intend to inflict the death penalty on her should she ever stray? Please tell me that you are not serious about this. You don’t really believe in blood atonement do you?

      • ambark Reply

        Mike! And you’re totally fine with murdering someone on that basis? Isn’t there always 2 sides of every story? If that’s really true, why didn’t Christ murder the woman who had been caught in adultery and brought before him? Why did he ask about those who were without sin? Why would he respond by saying, “neither do I condemn thee, go thy way and sin no more.” (He didn’t even follow up on her to make sure she didn’t sin again and then kill her if she did). I would rather follow Christ than follow Brigham Young. And the church today is a following of BY’s religion.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Mike may believe in the “woman caught in adultery” Jesus story but I hope you realize that it is completely made up and added to the New Testament very late in the process – not part of the original manuscripts. It’s a nice story but not a part of a historical Jesus.

      • Carla Reply

        If you truly believe that Jesus thinks it’s okay to kill your wife for cheating on you, you have no idea who Jesus is. How dare you attempt to “correct” this woman for being offended by your disgusting comments??

    • Joseph Reply

      Lina’s story is the reason people like Christopher Hitchens hate religion. I have to admit, the thought of a man killing his adulterous wife makes me feel really sick. If that is religion, it is surely bad religion. (Instead of turning the other cheek, we kill the sinner? If this is Christian, then I am not. If this is Mormon, then I am not. Whatever this is, I am not.)

    • Carla Reply

      That’s absolutely horrifying, and the fact is that Mormonism’s foundational doctrines completely approve of this kind of honor killing. It makes me sick. Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven, shows a prime example. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • N. Reply

      Okay, so that’s a horrible, horrible story, but the church has nothing to do with someone’s insanity. If it were not for some church doctrine being scapegoat for his murderous rage, there would be some other scapegoat. What about all the other divorces that don’t end in murder, like my own divorce? So, when we handle things in a Christlike way, and are still friends and trust each other, the doctrine of the church is a coincidence, but when some psycho can’t cope with the consequences of his divorce and possible broken sealing, when he casts aside all the other messages that the church has about hope and the atonement making all things right, it’s the church’s fault? I can’t believe anyone is taking such an assertion seriously. Where’s John now to point out logical fallacies? He did so well in the podcast….

      • Anonymous Reply

        N., I agree the man was clearly insane and the church is not to blame for his insanity. But I think you should re-read Lina’s post if you think she was trying to blame the church for his actions.

        Lina was complaining that Mike’s words were hurtful to her and “crossed the limit of tolerance”. I saw nowhere in her post blaming the church for the murder of her friend.

        Which logical fallacies are you hoping John point out? I see none.

  7. Carson N Reply

    A quote from a dead prophet:

    Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 203. ISBN 0884940411
    β€œIt makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.”

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      Thanks for that quote Carson. One of the great things about the gospel is how it supports itself through the years.

  8. Mike Tannehill Reply

    John seemed to place me in check at one point by stating that a gentile can convert to judaism.
    This is in regards to my statementy that the whole “Blacks and the priesthood” issue is relatable to Christ not teaching or baptising gentiles during his ministry. It was not until Peter received the commandment to take the gospel to the world that Gentiles were baptised.
    In truth the priesthood was still not given to everyone before that time because the only ones allowed to officiate were the Levites.

    If I am wrong in this please correct me.

    • Sionpiensa Reply

      i always understood this issue as the Lord showing Peter he shouldn’t be racist, not that the gospel was to be preached to gentiles at last. Jews were like many other nations, proud and protectivem specially under roman dominion.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I really don’t want Mike to stop talking. For one thing, I like him. He’s actually a nice guy (when he’s not talking about killing people and stuff). But more importantly for this podcast and these discussions, he’s the “conservative Mormon” voice…the only one so far…who has been willing to come on and interact with us apostates. His perspective reminds us of how the majority of The Church thinks and reasons. And thus reminds us of why we can no longer be in that place.

      My favorite part of this episode was when John asked Mike what he would do if his bishop asked him to kill his child. Mike hesitated. Would a person with true morality hesitate when asked such a question? That is why it can well be argued that Athiests can be just as moral as (and in cases like this, more moral than) religious people. If religious people are willing to do whatever God (A.K.A their leaders) tells them to do, then THAT becomes their ultimate morality. Adultery, Bigotry, and even Murder become not only justified, but actually MORAL “whenever the leaders move their lips” and say it is so.

      • Wes Cauthers Reply

        I fully agree on all points Zilpha. Even thought I completely disagree with just about everything Mike says, I must give him credit for coming on the podcast, sharing his perspective, and even being willing to have the conversation at all, which many devout Mormons refuse to do. While I don’t know him personally, I’m sure just like most Mormons in the world that he is polite and cordial with people he interacts with.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Well, but the actual ultimate moral test for righteousness in the Bible is the willingness to sacrifice one’s son if ordered by God to do so (cf. Abraham and Isaac). lol

    • Mike Tannehill Reply

      The reaction Ive got to this reminds me of what Elder Kimball said to Bruce R McConkie . Some truths just dont need to be voiced.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Which “truths” would that be Mike? Do you mean the truth about what you think should be done to women if they are caught in adultery? That isn’t “truth” it’s just your thoughts. If you mean “some thoughts don’t need to be voiced” I think we could all agree with that.

        But, I want you to know from the bottom of my heart that I totally love everything about your participation in these podcasts. The crazy weird stuff you sometimes say just makes it better. So please don’t stop talking and never be afraid to voice your opinion. It makes the podcast more interesting and certainly makes for a lively discussion here. πŸ™‚

  9. Lordagryn Reply

    one brigham younge taught the Ada/God doctrine and you find that in jorual of discourse (sorry my spelling) vol 1 page 50 -51

  10. Carla Reply

    Mike officially scares the shit out of me. Unless he was being sarcastic when he said it was okay to kill your wife for cheating on you. But I couldn’t tell. But he still sincerely believes that those old white guys in SLC can’t say anything wrong … so he still scares the crap out of me. This episode REALLY freaked me out.

  11. Pingback: Anti-? | Mormon Expression Blogs

  12. brumner Reply

    John, I enjoyed the podcast. I just have a little nitpick with respect to you introduction. You said something about an argument’s being true or false and you mentioned some things about fallacies. Technically speaking, an argument isn’t the sort of thing that’s true or false (i.e. arguments don’t have truth values). Propositions (or, if you like statements, or declarative sentences) are truth-apt. They can have a truth-value. Arguments are valid or invalid, sound or not sound. If an argument is valid, then if the premises are true, then the conclusion would follow. If an argument is invalid, then even in the case that the premises are true, the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. A sound argument is an argument that is (1) valid, and (2) the conclusion of the argument follows from true premises.

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