Who Should We Follow?
The Lord will never allow the President of the Church to lead us astray.
"And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth."
So I suppose the Adam-God theory, blood atonement, and pretty much the entire King Follet sermon given by Joseph Smith is false. A man can, I suppose, claim just about any doctrine is backed up with at least one scripture, misinterpreted or not.
And then there's "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray." official declaration 1, at end of the D&C.
Maybe this is why Joseph Smith died not even 3 months after he gave the King Follet discourse? Hmm..
I could quote endless authorities who've made "seemingly" contradictory statements...not the least of which, of course, is Bruce R...
It can be argued, "well, sure, prophets have their opinions, but only when speaking with the spirit (or in general conference, whichever) are they to be taken seriously.
So here's my question: How can we know when a church authority is speaking with the spirit, for and in behalf of God, and not just babbling his own opinions? And if they have such controversial "opinions", why don't they keep them to themselves?
One such example is an opinion (HOPEFULLY) given by Brigham Young, "Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands." Journal of Discourses vol. 3 pg. 247
I realize that "Mormon Doctrine", the "Journal of Discourses", etc. aren't official church doctrine, but it would have been extremely hard for me to support a leader with that opinion.
This is precicely why you cannot prove the church, or any church, is true. It is, and always will be, a matter of faith. There are plenty of faults in this church, and I find myself not trusting any church leader for spiritual guidance; rather, the Holy Ghost, as my only source of truth and of testifying of truths.
You have brought up a lot of ideas. Some of which I have already answered in this site. I have posted on the Adam-God theory being a misinterpretation of Brigham's statements. So if you read further on you will find it - Feb 26 2007.
The versions of the King Follett sermon are differring. This destroys confidence in reading it as fact. Yet there are things in there that come out as fact considering that they do match the Scriptures in intent in my opinion.
The book titled "Mormon Doctrine" has had too many revisions for me to see it as even being Bruce's opinion necessarily.
In regard the blood bit I would have to really talk that out with Brigham to know what he meant by that. I say that having read his comments that appear to present that he did believe that Adam was God and yet his other statements clearly demonstrate that he didn't believe that. So I reserve judgement.
Yet I would pose that you can know the church is true. I was brought up a Protestant and have proven the church as it was the only church in which I felt the same spirit that I did as I read the Bible. NONE of the multitude of churches that I went to had it at all.
There are many other things that demonstrate that the church is true. The Book of Mormon also has the spirit in it and I can feel the people in their writing. They are definitely different people. The Book of Mormon has been proven in a court of law to be an authentic history of the ancient Americas. This is demonstrated by the statement in the front which says that it was "translated" by Joseph Smith, rather than "written" by him (as it used to have to say). This can only be written at the front of a book that is proven to be a translation. You can't claim such otherwise.
Though for me there is also the fact that the unique doctrines that Joseph Smith claimed to have received from God are true. This I have found from life experiences. We are made up of 3 sections to our being. Truth does expand our intelligence. God is a being that looks like us. Etc.
Before becoming a member of the church I came to realise that the church followed the Bible better than any other religion. It wasn't a reason to join. But it was evident. What Joseph Smith presented was amazing.
In answer to you question about when to know a prophet etc is speaking the words of the Lord rather than his own ideas, this can only be realised by the Holy Ghost - as you have presented. Yet I would add that it is imperative to your obtaining eternal life to build a relationship where you come to walk and talk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he will tell you to move on to develop a relationship where you are walking and talking with Heavenly Father.
In the meantime I would advise you to continue to listen to the ideas that GAs present and use the Spirit (most definitely). Read the Scriptures and do the same. Don't be too weighed down by the occassional failures of men. The Scriptures show that we should expect these problems. God is always right. You can trust in that.