Ancient Priestcraft defined by Nephi
He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (2 Ne. 26: 29)
Modern Priestcraft demonstrated by an Imaginary Interview
Bob the Interviewer: Our guest today is a distinguished member of the Latter-day Saint community, Brother Harold P. Kraft. He is the author of seven top-selling books published by Deseret Books. He has served as president of the Lofty Heights Stake, 3 times bishop of the his home ward in Ammatoast, Colorado and is currently on the stake high council. In addition to these high and holy callings, he also has taught both Gospel Essentials, Gospel Doctrine and also the temple classes in his area over the past 15 years. He has multiple degrees from BYU, BYU-Hawaii and also from Ricks. He was often on the Especially for Youth circuit and is a frequent Fireside speaker. When not at home with his lovely blonde wife and four beautiful children (and I must say, from this picture I’m looking at, they have marvelous teeth), he travels around giving symposiums and lectures to mostly LDS audiences. He is a frequent contributor to Sunstone, Moonstone and Starstone, and has even been featured on Seerstone and the Jupiter Talisman Daily. By profession he is a lawyer. Well, I think that intro about says it all. Thank you, Brother Kraft, for taking the time to come on this program!
Brother Harold P. Kraft: It is my pleasure, Bob. I love your show.
Bob: Where do we start? There’s so much ground to cover.
Kraft: Well, we could pattern the interview after the Lord’s holy word and start, “In the beginning…”
Bob: Ha! Yes, and what a beginning it was. You must have been a special child.
Kraft: No, not really. I started out quite average, but then as time went on the Lord blessed me.
Bob: He certainly did! You really took to the gospel!
Kraft: I really took to the gospel. Yes, it became my life, my focus, my obsession. After being a stake president and bishop and teaching all those years, well, you begin to develop an understanding, you know.
Bob: Oh, certainly! And your understanding of the gospel is so profound!
Kraft: Yes, well, like I said, it didn’t start out that way. Over time, as you accumulate more and more gospel knowledge, you just sort of get this desire to share what you have obtained from the Lord with others. He inspires you to share. I just acted on an impulse.
Bob: Thank the Lord you did! Your first book, The Lord Has Saved Me: He Can Save You, Too, really hit home for me. It was a home run. It was just what I wanted to hear.
Kraft: A lot of people said the same thing to me. I received thousands of emails and letters on that one and many were saying that it was like a revelation to them. They wanted to be saved. They said that that book was what placed them on the path to salvation. I’m so glad to have written it. It has done so much good in this world.
Bob: The way you explained how you are saved, and how we all could be like you, saved, that is, it really was incredible.
Kraft: Yes, well, when I realized I was saved and that I had saving knowledge, meaning that I possessed knowledge that if others possessed it, they, also, could be saved, well, of course as a follower of the Savior I had to write that book. It was the only charitable thing I could do, sharing with others this saving knowledge. And it sold well.
Bob: It sold amazingly well! It stayed on the Deseret Books bestselling list until your second book came out. Absolutely incredible!
Kraft: Yes, I didn’t expect such a reception, but then I did price it to sell, only $29.97 a book, so it was almost like giving it away.
Bob: Now, I’m sure our listeners want to know, what made you write the second book?
Kraft: After the first book sold like hotcakes, I realized that perhaps I needed to lay down my professional career, which, as you said, is law, and take a different path, one that was more in line with the Savior’s teachings. I realized that what I really wanted to do was teach the people, explain to them what the Lord had shown me over the years, that perhaps my words might be of spiritual benefit to people, instead of just a legal benefit. So, I wanted to write a second book, but I needed the time to do it and the legal profession did not afford me that time. So I took a leave of absence to dedicate my time to writing.
Bob: This was a risky venture, was it not?
Kraft: It was. The first book sold so well that we ended up buying a much bigger house with more land upon which to raise up a family to our Lord, a larger SUV with which to transport the family to signing events, etc., so I had larger payments to deal with, but I was confident that my dedication to teaching the word would pay off.
Bob: And pay off it did!
Kraft: Yes, the word of God truly is marvelous to behold growing. That second book sold better than the first one. We were able to provide much more to our family than before, than with my legal job. But all of that is just the icing on the cake. The cake were the lives changed by that book!
Bob: Now, the second book, and for our listeners, that book was called, The Secret Knowledge that No One Knows Except Me and Jesus, But I’ll Tell You Anyway!, that book I couldn’t put it down.
Kraft: No one could. I had people jokingly tell me I ought to run for prophet. They kept saying to me, “It’s like the Savior is back! You’ve brought the Savior back!” Of course, that’s just silly. I am just a lowly mortal. I did nothing. The Lord did everything through me and my nothingness.
Bob: What’s amazing is that the second book cost more than the first, yet sold better. How do you explain that?
Kraft: I realized that the people hungered for more than what they were getting at church and I realized that they wanted what I could offer them. So I offered them more, more pages, more words. The book was almost twice the size of the first one, at 789 pages, so I had to make the price commensurate. I think it sold for $39.97 or something like that, so although the book was double in size, it’s price was not. I was giving them a better deal, something really for nothing. People recognized the generosity, I think. They saw it for what it was, a Christlike attitude in trying to get the word out. As a result, they bought many copies to send to their sons and daughters, etc.
Bob: It was that second book that pretty much made you an overnight sensation with the Latter-day Saints.
Kraft: Yes, although we don’t have celebrity status in the church, the General Authorities are as close as you can come to that, after that book I was essentially held in regard as a “G.A.. without the office.” My book even sold more copies than all the G.A.-authored books on the stand! It was hard not having any privacy and always being asked so many gospel questions, as if I had the answer to all the questions, but I did my best. Still there were too many to answer.
Bob: Is that when you got the three book deal?
Kraft: Yes. Deseret approached me and I told them I had a lot of unanswered emails and questions and that I could write three more books with it. They loved the idea.
Bob: And so we got, Answers to Your Gospel Questions, More Answers to Your Gospel Questions and Even More Answers to Your Gospel Questions. The titles were catchy. I mean, who doesn’t want answers to their gospel questions?
Kraft: Exactly. I felt, the Lord had freely given to me answers, I ought to share them with others.
Bob: You went into topics that no one dared enter. I mean, there are people saying that your Answers trilogy is comparable to the effect that Mormon Doctrine had on the church.
Kraft: Time will tell, but so far it looks that way.
Bob: Your latest book is a change of topics, of sort. You still talk of the gospel, but you narrow it down to missionary work. In fact, you speak directly to the prospective missionary and current missionary, and also the member who wants to preach the gospel, giving him or her what they need to succeed and this most important aspect of the church missions. Why the change?
Kraft: My books are directed to a Latter-day Saint audience. The non-Latter-day Saint has no interest in what I say, which is sad, as they could really benefit from what I’ve written. There are only so many LDS in this church. If everyone one of them buys my books, great for them, but what about all the other people on the planet? Shouldn’t they have access to this information, too? But, although they can buy the book, they won’t because they aren’t LDS. So, we must convert these people to bring them to a knowledge of the wonderful gospel. Then they will be ready to learn the things I’ve written.
Bob: It is fascinating how your mind works! Bring them to the simple gospel of Christ and then you teach them the profound doctrines in the marvelous manner you have performed with your books.
Kraft: Of course. But I don’t want to wait for that to happen. I want to do my part to make it happen, as quickly as it can, for the more hands I can get these inspired books into, the more people’s lives will be changed. So, I wrote a book on how to be more effective missionaries.
Bob: The title of the book is, Missionaries on Steriods: How Knowing Answers to Gospel Questions will Convert the World. In this book, you refer extensively to the Answers trilogy and how to use that trilogy in conjunction with the Standard Works to win converts.
Kraft: Obviously, I couldn’t quote the entire trilogy. The missionary will have to get himself his own copies, but I give enough examples to show that the Answers trilogy is sufficient to make every missionary confident that they are the teachers, that they are to teach and not be taught, that they have the answers and no one else does. This confidence is necessary and the answers, also, in order to instill confidence in the investigator that they are being taught by knowledgeable people. They need to know that you know what you are talking about. With the Answers trilogy, you now know what you are talking about and can answer any question.
Bob: I hear some missionaries are now relying almost exclusively on the Answers trilogy and setting aside their scriptures.
Kraft: Yes, I have heard that, too. Although I don’t recommend that people do that, it may make for a better Topical Guide or Index or Guide to the Scriptures. I cannot in good faith recommend that anyone use the scriptures alone. They ought to have on hand the Answers trilogy at all times.
Bob: And for the missionaries? Should they also have the Missionary Steriod book?
Kraft: No. But they should have at least bought and read it, so as to know how to use the Answers trilogy.
Bob: It is marvelous how you have brought these wonderful tools into existence so that we members can further the work of the Lord! Okay, now I see there are some callers, so I’m going to take a call and Brother Kraft can answer the caller. Ready?
Kraft: Fire away!
Caller #1: Hi, I just want to say what a wonderful, God-blessed man you have on your program. He is inspired from God. A teacher sent from heaven. A gift to us all. I am almost in tears thinking that I can ask him a personal question.
Bob: Go ahead caller, with your question.
Caller #1: Brother Kraft, I wanted to know what you think about the current events we are seeing today, whether you think these are signs of the times and that we are approaching a time of tribulation. In particular, I’m wondering what your opinion of President Obama is? Thank you.
Kraft: First, thanks for your question. That question really has quite a lengthy response. I’m not sure if I’ll have the time on this short program to answer that, but I did write an extensive chapter on current events and signs in Answers volume 3 and also in Secret Knowledge. Although I don’t go into politics, the principles found therein apply to any presidency.
Bob: Yes, it’s probably not a good thing to go into politics. Okay, let’s take one more caller before we wrap this up. Go ahead caller.
Caller #2: Hi, Brother Kraft. I just want to say you are a light to us all! I was wondering how we could get you as a speaker in our neck of the woods. People really need to listen to your massive understanding of the gospel. I wish you were our Sunday School teacher, I really do! Well, I’ll hang up now and listen to your answer over the radio. Thanks.
Kraft: You’re welcome, caller. If you would like to have me as a speaker, I am available for speaking engagements and firesides and also gospel workshops. Email me at email@example.com and I’ll tell you the ticket prices and scheduling. If you cannot have me come personally to your stake, anyone can obtain my books through Amazon.com or via Deseret books. The Answers trilogy now is available in a soft cover missionary edition, too, if you need that. Missionaries get a special discount when they order the Answers trilogy and Missionary Steroids through Deseret. So, I’m trying to make it easier to get the word out.
Bob: You truly are a God-send. My guest tonight has been Brother Harold P. Kraft and it has been an immense and utterly enlightening experience. What, Brother Kraft, can we expect out of you in the future?
Kraft: Well, we are going to take a sabbatical from all the press and questions coming from all the members. My family needs a little break and some privacy, so we are going on a two month vacation to Costa Rica. I think a little relaxing will calm me down enough to where I can collect my thoughts for another book on our Lord’s wonderful gospel.
Bob: Sounds like a divine plan.
Four keys of detecting modern priestcraft
1) People are praising the individual and not Christ. The individual is not attempting to stop the praise and divert attention back to Christ.
2) The individual is teaching people, meaning they are presenting themselves as a teacher. By this I mean that he or she is not humbly sharing information which is presented as possibly right, possibly wrong, but is, instead, attempting to bring people up to his or her level of gospel understanding, as if his or her level of gospel understanding is higher than other people’s level. (This is not to be confused with arguing with people, saying, “I am right and you are wrong.” People have many different opinions and will argue over everything, but this does not mean they are practicing priestcraft.)
3) The individual is presenting himself or herself as an expert. He or she may present credentials to booster the perception of expertise. In the case of latter-day saints practicing priestcraft, the credentials will be priesthood offices and callings held and also teaching positions and church school studies and degrees obtained.
4) Almost invariably, the individual will be selling a book or books and will often tell people that the answer that they seek is found in one of those books that are for sale.
Why this post
From my vantage point, priestcraft appears to be a rapidly growing profession in the church. This disturbs me to no end because of where it will ultimately lead.
But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. (Alma 1: 12, bold emphasis mine.)