Church Public Affairs is really good at explaining why once they have said something it IS as good as the voice of Jehovah, and I’m concerned about the number of people that consider them that way.
Sure, when PA is used to state “here is the churches official position” then great. When they are making a point the brethren want made, all the more to them in that moment.
But PA statements tend to sound, well, like they were produced by public affiars, whereas the brethren tend to sound like the scriptures. There is a huge gap between what PA will come up with to say and how they will like to say it and what insight it will be said with, and what the brethren will come up with to say.
Go ahead, read PA statements for your scripture study for a week. The next week, read the scriptures, and maybe throw in a few talks by the prophet. You may feel the PA statements seem informative, but they will simply lack the spiritual life that is found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets. The prophets carry the Holy Ghost far more powerfully, and when they speak the Holy Ghost can direct the outcome far more clearly.
Now someone will want to get all perturbed because everything PA does is approved by the brethren. But “approved by the brethren” cannot give something the spiritual insight that “produced by the brethren” has. The church manuals are approved by the brethren, but not produced by the brethren, and you can sit down for 5 minutes and compare a sunday school manual with the the last talk by the prophet or the twelve and immediately tell the difference in spiritual depth and breadth. That is because there is (of necessity) a huge difference between what the brethren will approve, and what they can produce themselves.
We’ve gotten pretty ridiculous in our lack of sensitivity to spiritual depth. As another example I frequently hear people cite the fact that they found something on lds.org as if that means it is the mind of the lord, the will of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. In reality, a lot of the lds.org content isn’t even written by church authorities, and simply finding something on lds.org doesn’t even mean its true. According to its own footnotes the lds.org topics article on Joseph Smith’s polygamy gets information from Richard Bushman’s “Rough Stone Rolling” which, instead of relying on the testimony of Joseph Smith’s friends, goes constantly to his enemies for information. Since Joseph Smith’s faithful wives primarily kept sacred silence about polygamy as they ought to have, the sources we are then getting our information from is primarily the enemies of the church. The lds.org topics article on Brigham Young’s teachings on blood atonement contradicts a talk given by Brigham Young in which he stated that he may have been largely misunderstood took pains to clarify the topic. Our church is a church of authority and inspiration, and our doctrine is not a website.
Well, I’ve probably got someone yelling “apostacy!” now, which wasn’t my intention. I feel like it is important to understand and grade our sources of truth rightly – and in a big corporation world many people tend to lean on PA in a big corporation way. I have been running into people who will quote PA in preference to a relevant statement by a prophet. A statement the brethren approve doesn’t necessarily have the spiritual insight of a statement the brethren produce, or a statement found in the scriptures.