5 years ago I was a Mormon missionary in Salta, Argentina. One day I stumbled upon the following quote from the missionary manual Preach My Gospel:
“As a missionary, you are expected to keep the commandments willingly, to obey mission rules, and to follow the counsel of your leaders. Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. Strive to be obedient to the Lord, the living prophet, and your mission president.” (Preach My Gospel, p.128)
This statement, “Obedience is the first law of heaven,” seemed to come out of nowhere. As far as I knew, it wasn’t supported by scripture. Indeed, this statement comes not from the Bible, but from Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie in his book, Mormon Doctrine:
“Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest. It consists in compliance with divine law, in conformity to the mind and will of Deity, in complete subjection to God and his commands” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 539).
How do we know “the mind and will of Deity?” Who gives us the word of God? In Mormon theology, there are three sources for divine instruction. The words of past prophets as found in the scriptures, the words of current prophets, and to a lesser extent the words of local leaders of the church.
But wait, you might say. Don’t Mormons also believe in receiving personal revelation from the Holy Ghost? Yes. But the Holy Ghost is only to be employed to confirm the truth of what God’s servants have told us. After all, the leaders of the church have been called by God, and God will not allow them to lead us astray… as we have been told by church leaders.
The logic is circular and the Holy Ghost says it’s true. God’s course is one eternal round.
If you’re not convinced yet of the importance within Mormonism of obeying church leaders, the following scripture will straighten you out.
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be…