When does a prophet speak as a prophet?

"A prophet is only a prophet when acting as such." If troubled members would remember this short dictum offered by Joseph Smith, a lot of heartburn could be avoided. Prophets are not always prophets. And when they are prophets, it’s also important to remember that they are not infallible (or incapable of making mistakes).

The confusion may be exasperated by the more popular LDS couplet: "The prophet will not lead the people of the church astray." What exactly does this mean? Too many members have inferred that this means that prophets are incapable of making mistakes. Some of the same church leaders who have said that the prophet will not lead us astray have also said that all church leaders are capable of error.

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