Category: John Taylor

What is Meant by Keys

There are many different ways in which the words “key” or “keys” are used in scripture. It is an interesting topic to research. President John Taylor was so interested in the word that he did a study he titled, “The Book of Keys” wherein he attempted to reconstruct the topic in whole. So far as I have been able to learn, that book no longer exists.

In Temple Recommend interviews you are asked to acknowledge the current church president “holds all the keys” and “is the only person authorized to exercise them” on the earth today. This is a question we all answer. But in discussions with bishops, stake presidents, religion professors, friends and mission presidents, I’ve never been able to determine, nor has anyone been able to explain what is included. Below is the answer given in The Encyclopedia of Mormonism, (entry written by Alan Perish):

The keys of the priesthood refer to the right to exercise power in the name of Jesus Christ or to preside over a priesthood function, quorum, or organizational division of the Church. Keys are necessary to maintain order and to see that the functions of the Church are performed in the proper time, place, and manner. They are given by the laying on of hands in an ordination or setting apart by a person who presides and who holds the appropriate keys at a higher level. Many keys were restored to men on earth by heavenly messengers to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
The keys of the kingdom of God on earth are held by the apostles. The president of the church, who is the senior apostle, holds all the keys presently on earth and presides over all the organizational and ordinance work of the Church (D&C 107:8-9, 91-92). He delegates authority by giving the keys of specific offices to others (D&C 124:123). Only presiding priesthood officers (including General Authorities, stake presidents, mission presidents, temple presidents, bishops, branch presidents, and quorum presidents) hold keys pertaining to their respective offices. Latter-day Saints distinguish between holding the priesthood and holding keys to direct the work of the priesthood: one does not receive additional priesthood when one is given keys (Joseph F. Smith, IE 4 [Jan. 1901]:230).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom” (TPJS, p. 21). “The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent”; they are revealed to man under the authority of Adam, for he was the first to be given them when he was given dominion over all things. They have come down through the dispensations of the gospel to prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah; to Peter, James, and John; and to Joseph Smith and the designated prophets of the latter days (HC 3:385-87). Keys to perform or preside over various priesthood functions were bestowed upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery by John the Baptist (see Aaronic Priesthood: Restoration), by Peter, James, and John (see Melchizedek Priesthood: Restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood), and by Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kirtland Temple (see Doctrine and Covenants: Sections 109-110).
Many types of keys are mentioned in the scriptures of the Church (see MD, pp. 409-13). Jesus Christ holds all the keys. Joseph Smith received the keys pertaining to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ (D&C 6:25-28;28:7;35:18), and through him the First Presidency holds the “keys of the kingdom,” including the sealing ordinances (D&C 81:1-2;90:1-6;110:16;128:20;132:19). Specific mention of certain keys and those who hold them include the following: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles exercises the keys “to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ” in all the world (D&C 107:35;112:16;124:128). Adam holds “the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One,” and “the keys of the universe” (D&C 78:16; TPJS, p. 157); Moses, “the keys of the gathering of Israel” (D&C 110:11); Elias, the keys to bring to pass “the restoration of all things” (D&C 27:6); and Elijah, “the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers” (D&C 27:9). Holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood are said to have “the keys of the Church,” “the key of knowledge,” and “the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church” (D&C 42:69;84:19;107:18), while belonging to the Aaronic Priesthood are “the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (D&C 13:1;84:26). All these stewardships will eventually be delivered back into the hands of Jesus Christ (TPJS, p. 157).

As far as it goes, I think this is a good attempt. But when church members are asked if the church president holds “all the keys” I cannot be certain the above definition is what is meant. Here is the clearest way I think it is illustrated:

From the smallest branch to the largest ward, through all the areas, missions, stakes, wards and branches of the church, there is not a single place in the church where President Thomas Monson would not be recognized as the presiding authority in any meeting he attended. He could go anywhere, in any location, in any meeting, and he alone would be the final authority. While a bishop presides and has the keys over his ward, and in that ward can call or release anyone to any position, President Monson would preside over that bishop if he were to attend the ward. No one would doubt or question whether President Monson could release and call a replacement bishop in that, or any, ward. The same is true of any stake president, or any mission president or any area authority, or any general authority. There is simply no one other than President Monson alone who holds the keys to put the church in order. Period.

I think this is the best definition of “all the keys.” 

Early Church Priorities

In 1836, Parley Pratt went to Toronto, Canada to continue his missionary work. He took a letter of introduction for John Taylor, who had been active in a religious reform movement. On May 9, 1836 Parley Pratt baptized John Taylor. That conversion was instrumental in bringing a number of others into the church who had respected John Taylor as a religious figure before his conversion.

By November, Parley Pratt was back in Kirtland and wrote a letter to his friend and recent convert. John Taylor was a new member when the letter was written, having been baptized only 6 months earlier. The content of the letter shows what was considered appropriate for even the newest of Latter-day Saints in 1836. Parley wrote:

For my part I never can rest until my eyes have seen my Redeemer. Until I have gazed like Nephi upon the glories of the Celestial world. Until I can come into full communion and familiar converse with the angels of glory and the spirits of just men made perfect through the blood of Christ. And I testify to all, both small and great, both male and female, that if they stop short of the full enjoyment of these things they stop short of the blessings freely offered to every creature in the Gospel. 

(Parley Pratt letter to John Taylor, November 27, 1836; spellings and punctuation corrected.)

This was once fundamental, even basic teaching offered even to new converts. It did no damage to John Taylor.

Sorting Things Out, Part 4

The part of the account where President Taylor puts those who were present under covenant to obey the principle of plural marriage seems authentic. That was why he was in hiding, after all. He left public view and presided over the church in exile, risking arrest if found.

He sacrificed a great deal to retain the principle of plural marriage. I think that did happen, or could have happened because it is entirely consistent with the events underway at the time.

His denunciation of the “manifesto” also seems authentic to me. His motto was “the kingdom of God or nothing” and he proved himself willing to suffer for a cause he believed to be true. He refused to compromise with the Federal Government, and his refusal was known, public and held to his core. So putting people under a covenant to recommit them to resist, as he was doing by example, seems authentic. It requires no embellishment.

But there is a part of the story I left out of the account. I will mention it only in general terms, as I consider the specifics sacrilege. Those who are Fundamentalist are familiar with it. It involves President Taylor, while denouncing the manifesto, rising from the floor, levitating in the air about a foot off the ground, making certain gestures, and reciting an oath very similar in content to the first Temple covenant penalty in place in 1886.

This addition is designed to add terrible significance to the denounciation. It is to inspire awe and terror in the mind of the listener/reader, but it is entirely out of place. The idea that you needed to add a Temple sign and penalty component to the denounciation of the manifesto is too strange to attribute to President Taylor. It doesn’t fit. It seems to me altogether as an embellishment put into the account in order to make the event seem more holy, more sacred and therefore more trustworthy. It does the opposite. Details like these do not belong in the account. They detract. They suggest someone is afraid they won’t be believed if they tell the story the way it was. It falls apart to my mind because it takes far too much upon itself.

This leads in turn to another addition to supplement the account which also lacks scriptural support: The appearance of Joseph Smith as the slain, hand-shaking, disembodied Prophet. This detail is added, I assume, because there was concern that unless the event was tied directly to Joseph Smith some people would resist acknowledging the authority.

However, disembodied spirits do not “shake hands.” (D&C 129: 6-7.) Joseph’s presence and hand-shaking, like the other added embellishments, are necessary to put the whole thrust of the story over. The purpose is to put into the hands of five men the ability to freelance in sealing plural marriages.

Here, then, is the nub of the whole story: “John Taylor set five apart and gave them authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also to set others apart to do the same thing as long as they remained on the earth[.]” This is critical for what the Fundamentalists want to justify. They must have this in order to be able to claim post-John Taylor and post-Manifesto marriage sealings were authorized and authoritative.

First, to be clear: I think John Taylor did give authority to these five men to seal other plural marriages. In the time and setting, it makes absolute sense. They were sealing outside of the Temples, and this was being done by the highest church authorities. There is every reason to believe the difficulties of avoiding Federal prosecution tipped in favor of giving authority for others to move plural marriage sealings forward. Just like today there are others who seal marriages in addition to the church President.

HOWEVER, –and this is the problem in the account which nagged the telling of this tale and required its embellishment– this kind of delegation won’t work to perpetuate the practice indefinately. Even if President Taylor wanted to extend his reach and allow other men to be sealers during his underground days, it won’t work once President Taylor died. Their commission is entirely dependent upon the delegation by President Taylor, and cannot run independent from him. When he died, their commission needed to be renewed by President Woodruff. When it wasn’t, then their commission ended.

This is because of the very revelation upon which Fundamentalist doctrine is grounded: Section 132. In Section 132 the power to seal is consolidated in but one man at a time, “and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred” according to the revelation establishing the very doctrine they defend. (D&C 132: 7.) If this was John Taylor when the sealing authority was given, then the one man who could authorize it was John Taylor. When he died, the one man would have been Wilford Woodruff. You can’t, in any event, have “five set apart and given authority” who would later rival Wilford Woodruff’s claim to the position. That alone is contrary to the order in Section 132. This has been discussed in Beloved Enos. The claims are unscriptural and indefensible.

This scriptural impediment to the claim is the very reason we see added the light under the door, the three voices, the levitating and sacreligious oath pronouncing President Taylor, and the disembodied Joseph Smith shaking hands and presiding over the affair. They are added, though they could not possibly have happened in that way, precisely to overcome the scriptural impediment to the authority claimed by Fundamentalists to be able to continue to seal plural marriages.

I disbelieve the account, though I do not question whether President Taylor gave the ability to seal to other men in order to overcome Federal harrassment at the time he was president. But that delegation ended with his death.

To now have various pretenders all claiming they can track back to John Taylor and one of these five men their “line of authority” to seal plural marriages is a deception. There is only one man at a time who can do this. Even the church now disclaims they can perform such rites.

Sorting Things Out

We should be more interested in the truth than in just inspiring one another with stories that flatter us, or make us feel we are better than others. We cannot afford the luxury of thinking ourselves right when we believe an error. Promoting “faith” in errors is what the Book of Mormon calls “unbelief.” When we prize our errors and hold them as true when they are not, we dwindle in unbelief. This is a frequent occurance throughout the Book of Mormon, and results in the inability to understand God’s word. (Mosiah 26: 1-3.)

We cannot afford to be popular. The price is too high. We cannot turn away from truth even when it causes us painful and difficult repentance. We must not shrink away from what is required to remove the scales from our eyes.

I thought I had said all I needed on the topic of plural marriage, but a friend has loaned me a copy of the multi-volume work of Arnold Boss on the history of plural marriage. It is apparent more needs to be said to make the matter clear. Therefore, I am going to return to the subject and history to clarify some things.

As far as I can determine, Arnold Boss is an honest man. I do not question his ability to record and report what he has recorded in his account. I accept his account of the interview in 1929 of Lorin C. Woolley, meaning that I trust the interview took place and that Arnold Boss accurately reported the contents of that interview. The defect does not lie with Arnold Boss, but in the account told by Lorin C. Woolley.

Assuming they are interested in the truth, I will lay this matter out in a series of posts that I think will be helpful to the Fundamentalist community. I have been acquainted with this event for over twenty years. 


Here is the account given by Woolley in the interview recorded by Arnold Boss on September 22, 1929. I leave the punctuation and spellings as in the original. The “guard” speaking in the narrative is Lorin C. Woolley. He is relating to Arnold Boss the events that took place on the night of September 26-27, 1886 involving church president John Taylor. This is what purportedly occurred during the night of September 26-27, 1886:

That evening I was called to act as guard during the first part of the night, notwithstanding the fact that I was greatly fatigued on account of the three days trip I had just completed.
The brethren retired to bed soon after nine o’clock. The sleeping rooms were inspected by the guard as was the custom. President Taylor’s room had no outside door. The windows were heavily screened.
Sometime after the brethren retired and while I was reading the Doctrine and Covenants, I was suddenly attracted to a light appearing under the door leading to President Taylor’s room, and was at once startled to hear the voices of men talking there. There were three distince voices. I was bewildered because it was my duty to keep people out of that room and evidently some one had entered without my knowing it. I made a hasty examination and found the door leading to the room bolted as usual. I then examined the outside of the house and found all the window screens were intact. While examining the last window, and feeling greatly agitated, a voice spoke to me, saying, “Can’t you feel the spirit? Why should you worry?”
At this I returned to my post and continued to hear the voices in the room. They were so audible that although I did not see the parties I could place their positions in the room from the sound of the voices. The three voices continued until about midnight, when one of them left, and the other two continued. One of them I recognized as President Taylor’s voice. I called Charles Birrell and we both sat up until eight o’clock the next morning.
When President Taylor came out of his room about eight o’clock of the morning of September 27, 1886, we could scarcely look at him on account of the brightness of his appearance.
He stated, “brethren, I have had a very pleasant conversation all night with brother Joseph.” (Joseph Smith) I said, “Boss, who is the man that was there until midnight?” He asked, “what do you know about it Lorin?” I told him all about my experience. He said, Brother Lorin, that was your Lord.”
We had no breakfast, but assembled ourselves in a meeting. I forgot who opened the meeting. I was called to offer benediction. I think, my father John W. Woolley, offered the opening prayer. There were present at this meeting, In addition to President Taylor, George Q. Cannon, L. John Nuttal, John W. Wooley, Samuel Bateman, Charles H. Wilkins, Charles Birrell, Daniel R. Bateman, bishop Samual Sedden, George Earl, My mother Julia E. Woolley, my sister, Amy Woolley, and myself. The meeting was held from about nine o’clock in the morning until five in the afternoon without intermission, being about eight hours in all.
President Taylor called the meeting to order. He had the manifesto, that had been prepared under direction of George Q. Cannon, read again. Then he put each person under covenant that he or she would defend the principle of Celestial or Plural marriage, and that they would consecrate their lives, liberty and property to this end, and that they personally would sustain and uphold that principle.

[I skip several pages to get to the part most important to the Fundamentalist movement:]

John Taylor set five apart and gave them authority to perform marriage ceremonies, and also to set others apart to do the same thing as long as they remeined on earth; and while doing so the prophet Joseph Smith stoood by directing the proceedings. Two of us had not met the prophet Joseph Smith in theis mortal life, and we, Charles H. Wilkins and myself, were introduce to him and shook hands with him.

Because of what I know and what the scriptures relate, this account, though I believe faithfully recorded by Arnold Boss, is riddled with errors. Lorin C. Woolley has embellished the account, and his additions reveal the fraud. We will go through some of the many errors in a series of posts to show why it is false.

There is a principle important and binding on all of us: The things given us by the Lord should never be overstated. They should be given without embellishment, additions, or interpolations. They are not ours, but the Lord’s. When He entrusts us with something (or anything), then it is our duty to faithfully perform and to keep everything within the bounds the Lord set. Our additions detract from the Lord’s work. Joseph constantly understated his experiences. This is one of the signs he is telling us truth.
It is in the embellishment that Lorin C. Woolley reveals this is a dishonest account. And this event is critical for those who want to claim they can still practice plural marriage, because the authority has remained in the Fundamentalist groups.

History, Lies, Good Faith and Myths

The topic of Mormonism’s past practice/teaching of taking plural wives puts you squarely in the middle of problems in church history. Deliberate deception and public statements which contradict private behavior is a fact of Mormon history. This fact complicates the difficulty of knowing what is true and right, false and wrong, and whether something is a bona fide required part of “real” Mormonism.

The authenticity of the revelation (Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants) is debated. This debate is possible because of these problems with Mormon history.

To understand Mormonism requires a level of tolerance for deceit which some modern Mormons refuse to acknowledge. It is a natural reaction to want to put men on a pedestal. We resist any notion that would reduce them to anything less than completely truthful, honest in their dealings, and trustworthy in every statement they made. Therefore, when you encounter deliberate dis-information campaigns designed to mislead others, it is natural to react with disbelief.

The truth matters more than our reaction to it. Whether we find it troubling or not, the truth is valuable enough to warrant study even if it causes discomfort. The practice of taking plural wives is one of those topics requiring discomfort to wade through it and reach a conclusion.

There are some major themes in the argument advanced by those who claim it is essential to salvation. These include the sometimes inconsistent  arguments that:

-It is required for exaltation.
-Those who live it are living a “higher law” and those who do not are living a lower law.
-Those living a “higher law” cannot submit to authority by those who live a lower law.
-President Taylor foresaw the discontinuance of the practice, and he gave “keys” to allow it to continue, outside the church.
-The Manifesto was merely a public relations document and did not reflect a serious abandonment of the practice.
-Plural marriages were performed by the church, including the president of the church after the 1890 Manifesto.
-The church’s final abandonment occurred because of the Smoot Senate Hearings, and the pressure brought through interrogating President Joseph F. Smith.
-The “second manifesto” written in 1904 was the real basis for discontinuing the practice.
-Apostles Cowley and Taylor were forced to resign because of the “second manifesto” and the church never sustained it as binding; therefore it is not binding.
-The “fundamentalists” were allowed to use church Temples, including the Salt Lake Temple, to conduct plural marriages through the administration of David O. McKay.
-Several unpublished revelations, including to John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, show the Lord’s insistence on continuing the practice.

Those who utterly reject the practice claim the sometimes inconsistent arguments that:

-Joseph Smith’s public declarations are more reliable than a secret revelation.
-Joseph Smith is not responsible for Section 132.
-Brigham Young fabricated the revelation, and pawned if off as an authentic revelation from Joseph Smith, but it was never made public in Joseph’s lifetime.
-The church’s declaration on marriage was sustained by the church membership and precludes multiple wives.
-The Book of Mormon condemns the practice.
-Taking multiple wives is an “abomination” which the Lord condemns.
-The First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 have “keys’ and they will never be lost.
-The affidavits from putative plural wives were given long after the fact, and in a time when the practice was being challenged by the RLDS movement.
-Emma Smith denies it was practiced.
-Joseph “repented” and changed his mind; claiming he had been deceived in practicing plural wives.
-There are no children proven to have been Joseph’s other than those born through Emma Smith.

This is not exhaustive of the positions, but a reasonable starting point. All of the foregoing arguments have some historical basis to support them. People who make these and other arguments are not ignoring history. They are choosing sources; sometimes between what a single source said in one place and in another.

It is not possible to accept what everyone said in every instance and come out with a single version of the events. Hence the problem of history, lies, good faith and myths which cloud this topic.

I’m going to try this week to explain why the practice is, in my view, not a necessary (or advisable) part of Mormonism. Those who care intensely about this topic can find material to both support and oppose the explanation I give.

President Packer’s Testimony

I have enormous respect for President Boyd K. Packer.  To me he is one of the great lights in the church.  I know he had a role in the excommunication of seven “intellectuals” years ago, and that controversy remains today.  One of those affected was a fellow who attended law school at the same time as I did.  I feel for both him and President Packer.  I do not feel inclined to criticize him, nor have I.  I do wish the breach between my friend and the church were healed.

President Packer has given many important talks in his career.  Perhaps one of the most significant was given in the October, 1977 General Conference.  In it he made the following explanation of his testimony and of the testimonies of General Authorities.  He is speaking of the time when he was first interviewed to be called as a General Authority by President :
President McKay explained that one of the responsibilities of an Assistant to the Twelve was to stand with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as a special witness and to bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ. What he said next overwhelmed me: “Before we proceed to set you apart, I ask you to bear your testimony to us. We want to know if you have that witness.” 
I did the best I could. I bore my testimony the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward. To my surprise, the Brethren of the Presidency seemed pleased and proceeded to confer the office upon me. 
That puzzled me greatly, for I had supposed that someone called to such an office would have an unusual, different, and greatly enlarged testimony and spiritual power. 
It puzzled me for a long time until finally I could see that I already had what was required: an abiding testimony in my heart of the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith, that we have a Heavenly Father, and that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. I may not have known all about it, but I did have a testimony, and I was willing to learn. 
I was perhaps no different from those spoken of in the Book of Mormon: “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not” (3 Nephi 9:20; emphasis added). 
Over the years, I have come to see how powerfully important that simple testimony is. I have come to understand that our Heavenly Father is the Father of our spirits (see Numbers 16:22; Hebrews 12:9; D&C 93:29). He is a father with all the tender love of a father. Jesus said, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (John 16:27). 
Some years ago, I was with President Marion G. Romney, meeting with mission presidents and their wives in Geneva, Switzerland. He told them that 50 years before, as a missionary boy in Australia, late one afternoon he had gone to a library to study. When he walked out, it was night. He looked up into the starry sky, and it happened. The Spirit touched him, and a certain witness was born in his soul. 
He told those mission presidents that he did not know any more surely then as a member of the First Presidency that God the Father lives; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; and that the fulness of the gospel had been restored than he did as a missionary boy 50 years before in Australia. He said that his testimony had changed in that it was much easier to get an answer from the Lord. The Lord’s presence was nearer, and he knew the Lord much better than he had 50 years before. 
There is the natural tendency to look at those who are sustained to presiding positions, to consider them to be higher and of more value in the Church or to their families than an ordinary member. Somehow we feel they are worth more to the Lord than are we. It just does not work that way!
It would be very disappointing to my wife and to me if we supposed any one of our children would think that we think we are of more worth to the family or to the Church than they are, or to think that one calling in the Church was esteemed over another or that any calling would be thought to be less important. 
Recently, one of our sons was sustained as ward mission leader. His wife told us how thrilled he was with the call. It fits the very heavy demands of his work. He has the missionary spirit and will find good use for his Spanish, which he has kept polished from his missionary days. We also were very, very pleased at his call. 
What my son and his wife are doing with their little children transcends anything they could do in the Church or out. No service could be more important to the Lord than the devotion they give to one another and to their little children. And so it is with all our other children. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church centers in the home and the family. 
As General Authorities of the Church, we are just the same as you are, and you are just the same as we are. You have the same access to the powers of revelation for your families and for your work and for your callings as we do. 
It is also true that there is an order to things in the Church. When you are called to an office, you then receive revelation that belongs to that office that would not be given to others. 
No member of the Church is esteemed by the Lord as more or less than any other. It just does not work that way! Remember, He is a father—our Father. The Lord is “no respecter of persons.”
We are not worth more to the onrolling of the Lord’s work than were Brother and Sister Toutai Paletu‘a in Nuku‘alofa, Tonga; or Brother and Sister Carlos Cifuentes in Santiago, Chile; or Brother and Sister Peter Dalebout in the Netherlands; or Brother and Sister Tatsui Sato of Japan; or hundreds of others I have met while traveling about the world. It just does not work that way.
And so the Church moves on. It is carried upon the shoulders of worthy members living ordinary lives among ordinary families, guided by the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ, which is in them. 
 
I bear witness that the gospel is true and that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God—every soul—and that we are blessed to be members of the Church. I have the witness that would qualify me for the calling I have. I’ve had it since I met the First Presidency those many years ago. I bear it to you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” 

I believe President Packer means it when he says his testimony was “the same as I might have in a fast and testimony meeting in my ward.”  When someone in a position of Church leadership has an audience with Christ, we hear about it.  Joseph Smith told us.  Oliver Cowdrey told us.  Sidney Rigdon told us.  So did President John Taylor, President Joseph F. Smith and David B. Haight.  Their calling is to bear a witness of Him.  When they have an actual audience, I believe they tell us.

The calling of the Twelve is to “bear witness” of Christ.  (D&C 107: 23.)  Because of that calling, they must proclaim they have a “witness” even if it could be more correctly described as a testimony born of the Spirit.  I accept their “witness” of Christ and believe it is authoritative.  However, I do not read into their testimony what they do not put there themselves.  

I accept the “witness” of the living Apostles, although it is a rare exception when one has an audience with Christ.  In recent talks Elder Scott has gone to some length to testify and describe his own spiritual experiences.  I trust in them.  I trust him.  I believe him to be an Apostle.  It is not necessary for an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to have a personal audience with Christ.

Years ago Elder Mark Peterson said he did not think it possible for a gentile to receive an audience with Christ.  He thought that was confined to pure-blooded Israelites.  Since he was a gentile apostle to a gentile church, he did not believe it possible for him to receive such an audience.  As I understand it, that is the general view among the brethren.  The charge given by Elder Oliver Cowdrey to the Twelve (telling them they must receive an audience with Christ for their ordination to be complete) was discontinued in 1911 by President Smith.  It was discontinued because so few had received that audience.  But that does not make these men any less apostles.

I trust President Packer.  I accept his testimony.  I believe it is enough to qualify him for the work, just as President McKay told him.  I am impressed with his humility in explaining his testimony in General Conference.  It increases my trust in him as a servant of the Lord.