There is a passage often quoted from the D&C to support the idea that the president of the LDS church is entitled to have his teachings regarded as if they were God’s word. The language is as follows:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from my own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.” (D&C 21: 4-6.)
This revelation is referring to Joseph Smith. Period. Not to anyone who later happens to be elected by the vote of a group to become his successor. Doesn’t apply and didn’t apply to Brigham Young, John Taylor, Warren Jeffs, Ervil LeBaron, Rulon Allred or any number of other pretenders. It applied solely to Joseph Smith.
The revelation uses the personal pronouns “he” and “his” to refer to Joseph Smith throughout. If you want to put someone else into the passage above, then “he” must likewise heed all the requirements of D&C 21.
“Wherefore it behooveth me that he [Joseph Smith] should be ordained by you, Oliver Cowdery mine apostle; This being an ordinance unto you, that you are an elder under his [Joseph Smith’s] hand, he [Joseph Smith] being the first unto you, that you might be an elder unto this church of Christ, bearing my name.” (D&C 21: 10-11.) So “he” will then need to ordain Oliver if “he” is to be mentioned by the revelation.
It was Joseph Smith who “wept for Zion” (D&C 21: 8). It was Joseph Smith who was “inspired to move the cause of Zion” forward (D&C 21: 7). It was Joseph Smith whose “diligence I [God] know, and his prayers I have heard” (D&C 21: 7).
Therefore it was Joseph Smith whose words we are required to “give heed unto” and it is the “commandments which he [Joseph Smith] gave unto us” we are now required to obey. When we do not do this, then the “gates of hell shall prevail” against us, as they most certainly have.
From the beginning, all the various off-shoots uniformly disobey this commandment. Not only do they all refuse to “give heed” to what God revealed and commanded through Joseph Smith, but they have compounded their error by allowing others to interpose their commandments “as if they were from God.” The landscape today is exactly as it was when the Lord appeared to Joseph. We see churches who deny the power of God, and who teach for commandments the doctrines of men, having only a form of godliness, which heaven does not respect. The pretenders’ lack of power is for our protection. If it were otherwise, we would be damning one another.