Mark E. Petersen teaches that General Authorities are not always speaking authoritatively and like everyone else, have their own free will.

Speech / Court Transcript
Mark E. Petersen

Mark E. Petersen, "Revelation," address to religious educators, August 24, 1954, in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982), 136-37

Church Educational System
Mark E. Petersen
Reading Public

Now I would like to come to the matter of guidance through the General Authorities. That is a much disputed subject among some of the Latter-day Saints, and I am going to talk to you very frankly about it.

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote, “This morning, I . . . visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet;’ but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (Teachings, p. 278).

And then I have selected this from section 68: “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto Salvation” (v. 5).

I would like you to know that the General Authorities are entitled to the exercise of free agency, just as much as anybody else. I would like you to know that they are entitled to the guidance of the light of Christ just like anybody else, and that they are entitled to the whisperings of the Spirit as a result of their having received the gift of the Holy Ghost, just like other members of the Church. And I would like you to know that because the General Authorities have their agency, if anyone of them so desired they could exercise that agency to violate all the rules of the Church. Some of them have in the past, especially in early days. . . .

But as I say, we all have our free agency. God doesn’t rob anyone of that. And sometimes even a General Authority has used his agency in a wrong direction. Some of them turned traitor and some allied themselves with those who helped to kill the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Now a General Authority might speculate, I suppose. We have had speculation, for instance, on the part of some with respect to Book of Mormon geography, and it is plain, unadulterated speculation and not doctrine. And if a General Authority has speculated on Book of Mormon geography he did not represent the view of the Church while doing so.

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