6. Since the current LDS prophets sometimes contradict the former ones, how do you decide which one is correct?
Most "contradictions" are actually misunderstandings or misrepresentations of LDS doctrine and teachings by critics. The LDS standard for doctrine is the scriptures, and united statements of the First Presidency and the Twelve.
The Saints believe they must be led by revelation, adapted to the circumstances in which they now find themselves. Noah was told to build an ark, but not all people required that message. Moses told them to put the Passover lamb’s blood on their door; that was changed with the coming of Christ, etc.
No member is expected to follow prophetic advice "just because the prophet said so." Each member is to receive his or her own revelatory witness from the Holy Ghost. We cannot be led astray in matters of importance if we always appeal to God for His direction.
Not so fast there, my friend.
- "When prophets, who are inspired by the Holy Ghost, speak, their words take precedence over other statements" (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 18).
- "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done" (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354).
- "The Latter-day Saints hold as a principle of their faith, that … the President of the Church is recognized as the only person through whom divine communication will come as law and doctrine to the religious body; that such revelation may come at any time, upon any subject, spiritual or temporal, as God wills; and, finally, that, in the mind of every faithful Latter-day Saint, such revelation, in whatsoever it counsels, advises or demands, is paramount" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 221).
- "It would be absolutely inconsistent, unreasonable and absurd to suppose that after God had called one man and appointed him to this work, that He should pass him by and go to somebody else to accomplish the same purpose. No sensible person would accept for one moment such a proposition. To seriously contemplate any such idea would be charging the Almighty with inconsistency, and with being the author of confusion, discord and schism. The Kingdom of God never could be established on earth in any such way" (ibid).
- Also the 1986 edition of Gospel Principles says, "The Lord will never allow the President to teach us false doctrine." However, the newest edition, available at their website, says, "The Lord will never allow the President to lead the Church astray." Now, what's the big difference? With the first statement, they are saying that whatever doctrine the President teaches will always be correct. With the second, they give him a bit of wiggle room, so that if he does say something wrong or contradictory (which is usually about once every time the sun rises), that somebody will catch it and correct it, so that the church is "not led astray."
And saints are to believe the word of the prophet no matter what they think about it, unless it contradicts the Standard Works, which are subservient to the words of the current prophet, unless what the current prophet says....or is it....um....
I think you get the picture. Just listen to what the prophet says, don't think about it just do it, and you won't have anything to worry about.