First, as to gifts:
I believe there are “gifts” given (or acquired) by people which are based on real sensitivities or talents. I believe they exist as part of the talents brought into this life. Some people have talent to sing, compose music, or create art. There are those who have developed spiritual gifts. There are many kinds of gifts, but they all come from God. (Moroni 10: 8.)
Possession of a gift, however, does not mean a person will use that gift in conformity with God’s will or plan. If a person does not seek to follow the Lord’s will, they can be misled and use gifts for improper ends. People who fail to remain obedient, who begin to use their gifts to gratify their pride or to achieve their ambitions can drift away from the light and take others with them. Just because a person possesses a gift does not mean they live their lives in conformity to truth. Nor does it mean they will not mislead you. Proper use of a gift should show gratitude to and promote faith in God. (D&C 20: 27.)
Second, as to modalities:
I do think that there are aids to faith that can help someone who is weak to still act in faith. Modalities that focus thought, bolster confidence and assist in believing the Lord can heal can aid in the process. In the end it is the authority of God and faith in Him that allows good things to follow. It comes from Him. If an act helps focus thought and confidence in Him, then the act is worthwhile.
The problems creep in when the modality is regarded as an independent authority apart from God. As soon as a person begins to view God as uninvolved, or that they can control the outcome independent of God’s will, there is an opening for evil or deception. Gifts were not intended to produce a monetary profit and should not be practiced for money. (Acts 8: 20.)
Gifts belong to the body of believers and should be used to promote faith in God. (D&C 46: 10, 26.)
When the church builds a temple and calls a temple president the one called to preside over the temple is the only one who can organize and run the temple. He has the keys and should be respected. Anyone who has an assignment or keys conferred upon them, by the church or by the Lord, has an assignment that should be respected.
All in all we owe a debt to those who have given us freedom that we cannot repay to them. Sometimes when I contrast the devotion of those who sacrificed, to the profligate use of the freedom we have inherited, it worries me that we are squandering what took so great a price to confer. We owe more to those who died to give us freedom. We have an obligation to preserve it and hand it down to others as payment to those who sacrificed their lives. Instead we are more interested in government becoming a tool to create financial benefits. Freedom is being purchased away from us using both taxes and debt. When it is gone, you have neither the freedom sold nor financial benefits promised in the sale; as the recently failed Soviet Block has proven for all history.
The first and most common reason I have discovered is that you are already in possession of the answer. It was given to you by God and you have it, but you don’t recognize it. It would be better to stop asking for an answer and instead ask to be able to see what you have already been given.
The second reason is that you need to struggle and make your own decision first, then to petition to know if the decision is right. It is not always appropriate to defer all decisions to the Lord. You must develop the capacity to make sound decisions on your own. The Lord will, of course, ratify the correct decision and warn you about the wrong one. But you need to develop the ability to decide first. (D&C 9: 7-9.)
On the 13th of November, 1835, Joseph was instructing, and made the following comment (which has been often repeated:
“[I]f God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves.” (JS Papers; Journals Vol. 1, p. 98.)
This statement has been quoted as a basis to support the position that any person’s revelation should NEVER be shared with another person; other than of course a revelation given to the church president. The statement needs to be understood, however, in light of later statements recorded by Joseph in the same volume of the JS Papers.
On page 170 Joseph recorded that “angels ministered unto them, as well as myself.” A little further down on the same page: “My scribe …saw in a vision the armies of heaven protecting the Saints in their return to Zion.” Still on the same page: “The vision of heaven was opened to these also, some of them saw the face of the Savior; and others were ministered unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophesy and revelation was poured out in mighty power.”
On page 171 Joseph recorded that those who were present “spent the time in rehearsing to each other the glorious scenes that transpired on the preceding evening, while attending to the ordinance of the holy anointing.”
On page 174 Joseph recorded that his brother, William, “saw the heavens opened and the Lord’s host protecting the Lord’s anointed.”
On page 182 Joseph recorded that Zebedee Coltrin “saw a vision of the Lord’s House– and others were filled with the spirit and spake in tongues and prophesied.” Later on that same page, in footnote 361, this is included: “Oliver Cowdery also recorded that ‘many saw visions, many prophesied, and many spake in tongues.'” citing to Oliver’s Diary for 6 Feb. 1836.
It is apparent that Joseph’s comment did not result in these early Saints not speaking of the manifestations they received. Nor did Joseph exhibit any disapproval or concern about hearing of others speaking of their spiritual manifestations. His comment, therefore, needs to be understood in the context of the overall manner in which spiritual experiences were experienced and shared among the early church, even within a couple of months of the statement used to justify criticism of any person saying anything about any manifestation they received.
Oddly, I do not think anyone should share anything with anyone else unless the Lord, who gives manifestations, directs. When He does, then I think objections are made at the peril of disrespecting the Lord’s command. (See e.g., Alma 8: 25; 3 Ne. 23: 9–where the Lord required some of what Samuel had said to be added to their scriptures which the Nephites had neglected to record.)
When the church commissions an opinion poll and then, as a result of that poll, concludes that some program or position is popular, or would be accepted by the Saints without complaint – and then adopt that position in a public statement – has a “revelation” been received? I do not think so. I think an opinion has been obtained, and a policy or statement has been adopted. Therefore, I do not think there is one thing wrong with disagreeing with the policy or statement.
An example is the plural marriage notion. I’ve spent pages and given both history and scripture to explain what my explanation is for the position I take in the book Beloved Enos. There are persons who are obsessed with the whole plural marriage subject, and very well may be practicing plural marriage. My comments and views probably threaten them, because I do not believe it appropriate to practice plural marriage now that it has been banned by both the law of Utah, law of the United States, confirmed by the United States to be prohibited, and abandoned by the church as a practice.