At the end of the LDS Church General Conference on April 1, 2012 a Houston area church leader John D. Oldroyd commented on a talk presented by D. Todd Christofferson one of the apostles and leaders of the worldwide LDS Church.
In his address Elder Christofferson stated “…establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority.”
Christofferson then added this further detail. “How does the Savior reveal his will and doctrine to prophets, seers and revelators? He may act by messenger or in his own person. He may speak by his own voice or by the voice of the Holy Spirit. A communication of spirit to spirit that may be expressed in words or in feelings that convey understanding beyond words. He may direct himself to his servants individually or acting in council.”
“Not every statement made by a church leader past or present necessarily constitutes doctrine.”
Commenting on this statement, Oldroyd said “A lot of times church leaders or people in authority who are in a position to speak authoritatively for the church still have their own opinions and those opinions may not be what the Lord means all the time.”
Christofferson then recounted a story from LDS Church history about “…the coming of Johnston’s army, Brigham Young preached to the people in a morning meeting, a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back.”
“In the afternoon he arose and said that Brigham Young had been speaking in the morning and that the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address the tempo of which was opposite from the morning talk.”
“It is commonly understood in the church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal yet well considered opinion not meant to be official or binding for the whole church.”
When asked how a person can tell the difference Oldroyd answered “…everybody has not only the opportunity but the responsibility to receive their own witness that that is coming from the Lord”.
Oldroyd further explained that a person need not be a baptized member of the LDS church to receive such a witness. “Anybody who sincerely prays with real intent will be able to know it’s coming from the Lord, if they are living the way they should, if they’re worthy of the Lord responding to them. Everyone can have their prayers answered and get that confirmation.”