This is a continuation of an analysis of a controversial talk by Brother Ezra Taft Benson (then president of the quorum of the twelve). In it he presented 14 fundamentals to following a president of the church. Not all 14 have drawn criticism, but I'll cover all anyway. This is for the purpose of seeing his intent and making facts clearer.
Ninth Claim: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.
To explain and support this claim he presented the following _
"Said Brigham Young:
'Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs …
'In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, ‘Ye Elders of Israel, … will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?’ Not one of them could do it …
'I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be.' (Journal of Discourses, 10:363–64.)"
As with Brigham people have often presented to me that the prophet is correct in all things spiritual, but doesn't have to be in temporal things. To which I have never been able to find anyone capable of proving to me where one finishes and the other starts. Even something as seemingly temporal as going to the toilet has spiritual significance in looking after the body we have been given.
Some would point out that claim isn't unique to the president of the church, but counts for all. This is true. There is only one of these 14 claims that I find totally unique to the president of the church. Yet it has to continually be remembered that he didn't claim them to be unique to the president.
Tenth Claim: The prophet may well advise on civic matters.
"When a people are righteous, they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord himself said, 'Great are the words of Isaiah.' (3 Ne. 23:1.)"
This seems a restructuring of the last claim to some degree. And it seems a bit of a simplistic statement, as anyone can advise on civic matters. I think he is suggesting that the president could be inspired with answers on civic matters. Again this could be the case with anyone able to receive revelation. But it is worth noting, and seems indisputable.
Eleventh Claim: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
To justify this concept he presents the following _
"The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them, otherwise the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.
In the Book of Mormon we read:
'O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
'But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
'And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.' (2 Ne. 9:28–29, 42)"
While fully supporting the part of the claim that says that those that consider themselves wise and rich are hard of spiritual hearing; I would have to add a third member to the group to make it complete.
When Satan came to Christ and Eve he made an attack upon each of our 3 parts - intelligence, spirit body and physical body. These were intelligence - "desired to make one wise" "if you are the Son of God cast yourself down" (this is the "pride of life" [learned]). Spirit body - "pleasant to the eyes" "all these things will I give thee" (this is the "lust of the eyes" [rich]) And the Physical body - "good for food" "turn this stone into bread" (this is the "lust of the flesh"). (Gen 3:6, Matt 4:2-9, 1 Jn 2:16)
So to me he has only represented two groups of the three. While pride and greed are serious problems, so is lust of the flesh. I don't see this group as being inferior problems to the other two. With the inclusion of this group I'm quite in agreement with him.