Prophetic fallibility and faith

I ran across the following quote from President Ezra Taft Benson this morning:

It would be difficult to underestimate the impact the Bible has had on the history of the world.“(Ensign, Nov 1987, 78)

I am relatively certain that this is the exact opposite of what he meant to say. An Ensign editor failed to catch it and now this error is here for you to enjoy.

The story goes that Simonds Rider left the church because Joseph Smith misspelled his name. I believe that Pres. Benson’s above error is just as inconsequential (at least for me, as I have no desire to leave the church over it). But, to be frank, I revel in these sorts of errors anyway.

Moroni, in a fit of self-consciousness, wrote the following in Ether 12:23-25:

23 And I said unto him: Lord, the Gentiles will mock at these things, because of our weakness in writing; for Lord thou hast made us mighty in word by faith, but thou hast not made us mighty in writing; for thou hast made all this people that they could speak much, because of the Holy Ghost which thou hast given them;

24 And thou hast made us that we could write but little, because of the awkwardness of our hands. Behold, thou hast not made us mighty in writing like unto the brother of Jared, for thou madest him that the things which he wrote were mighty even as thou art, unto the overpowering of man to read them.

25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.

I don’t believe that I really understand his distinction between the spoken word and print as I am equally awkward in both. However, print lasts longer than any individual speech, so people have much more time to pick nits regarding what you have written. If you screw up in print, your mistake is with you for a very long time.

I like that Moroni is worried about this sort of thing; it humanizes him for me. It helps me remember two fairly important things: Only God is perfect; and, for some reason, He has chosen to implement His perfect plan through imperfect people. The relationship we share with God is equally voluntary on both ends, He chooses us as much as we choose Him (if not more so). He probably could do whatever it is that He is doing much better without us, but He thinks it is important that we play a role in His plan. This makes me happy. Even if I can never get the 12-year-olds to shut up long enough to feel the Spirit, I know that God chose clumsy, accident-prone, absent-minded, little-ol’ me to play this part in the plan. I can live with that.

7 Replies to “Prophetic fallibility and faith”

  1. For the same reason, I enjoy catching Apostles misquote scriptures from memory in minor ways in General Conference. It’s never consequential. But, for example, in the last conference one of them replaced the archaic “what” in 2 Nephi 32:3’s “all things what  ye should do” with “all things which ye should do.” It was corrected for the Ensign. Posted by Ben S.

  2. What’s wrong with with President Benson’s statement. It’s late, I guess I can’t figure it out. Posted by zack

  3. For his sake, I can only hope that the next edition of the scriptures will finally spell his name the right way: Symonds Ryder (cf. D&C 52:37).  Posted by Justin

  4. Justin, You win the official “Hey, you’re pretty smart prize of the week” for noticing that I deliberately misspelled the brother’s name. The prize consists in knowing that you won an unannounced prize of dubious distinction. Congrats to you! Posted by John C.

  5. Thank you. I’ll make a note of it on my blog. But the struggle continues: James E. Faust’s October 1999 Conference talk, as printed in the November 1999 Ensign, misspelled Ryder’s name.  Posted by Justin

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