Mormons like to beat themselves up for not giving enough value to the man they call prophet. And there may be something to that, for a variety of reasons. However, the practice goes off the rails when we start throwing in historical prophets as a comparison.
“We would all sit up a little straighter if it was Moses right?” And on and on about the complacency of modern life and the ease in which we receive the Word. Its true, many of us do live a more comfortable life than our forebears. And for many in history, scripture (or information of any kind) was terribly hard to acquire. But those are not the reasons that we value some prophets more than others.
I’m aware that a main theme of the Mormon narrative is the sameness of God’s prophets throughout time and place. And although I think this is a historically dubious claim (at least the way we commonly teach it), I understand its utility in the way we try to view the living prophet.
The problem is that we’ve already decided – theologically/institutionally – that some prophets really do weigh differently. We like to say that the latest Conference addresses are the same as scripture for at least the 6 months following. But that’s really not the same as placing it in the canon for time and all eternity. It’s not. Thank heaven it’s not, right?! Sure, we like to revive the words of modern prophets and find the wisdom that God revealed through them. But we all know that this is heavily cherry picked to align with our contemporary sensibilities (or revelations). And even then – manuals do not equal canon.
Of course, this should all be non controversial. And that’s the point. Its right in front of our nose and we talk as if its not. Its right in the fabric of official Church teaching.
So, Thomas S. Monson does not weigh the same as Joseph Smith or Jeremiah or Paul and that’s OK. It has been for quite a long time.