As members we find ourselves in an interesting conundrum. We all know the basic story – other churches taught that the days of revelation where past, and that God does not work miracles today. Then Joseph Smith, searching for salvation, read the scripture
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
He obeyed the scripture and sought knowledge from God and the years of darkness were thrust aside as glorious light burst upon the earth.
But here is our conundrum. We haven’t fully accepted the story.
We have changed the story into one in which certain men, selected by God’s arbitrary decisions, can receive revelation. We won’t use the word “arbitrary”, and substitute something like “inscrutable” or some other word that throws a veil of mystery about the decision process. But that is no real difference.
We fail to recognize what Joseph Smith learned. What Joseph Smith learned was not that certain men, choosen by God, could receive revelation. It was that any man can receive revelation.
Joseph Smith taught “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.”
And THAT is effectively what he learned from James 1:5, and we have not.
Joseph Smith didn’t learn that prophets, chosen by God, could receive revelation. That wouldn’t have inspired him to go our into the sacred grove and petition God. Joseph Smith learned that he, himself, a complete nobody at the time, could go out into the sacred grove and petition God and receive revelation.
And THAT is the right lesson to learn from James 1:5.