Sunday, January 4, 2015

Correct Me If I'm Wrong

Previously: When Tithing Settlement Goes Horribly Wrong

I had every intention of devoting this space to a discussion of some new tools available that would be of benefit to all of us in better understanding our religion, but I think I'll put that off for now in order to address a brewing controversy. 

In last month's comment section, a vigorous debate has ensued regarding what one reader considers my refusal to correct a factual error in my book  "What To Expect When You're Excommunicated." This controversy erupted into a vigorous debate between that reader, who goes by the username "Robin Hood," and another regular, whose online handle is "Log."

Circumstances forced me to be absent from monitoring my blog for a couple of days, and when I returned I was dismayed to see the conversation between these two bordering on the acidic. The primary reason for my dismay was because, outside the pages of this blog I consider both of these readers personal friends of mine.  I have engaged in discussions with both Log and Robin Hood on several occasions outside of this forum, and even met with one of them when he came through Sacramento for a visit. And though on occasion I have had disagreements with both these men, more often than not we have found common ground, and not allowed differences of opinion to color our friendships.  So I wasn't keen on seeing these two go after each other with what looked to be increasing acrimony. 

I was going to weigh in on this matter there in the comment section, but then realized this was a topic that warranted being addressed generally, because it concerns an issue I wish to bring to the forefront.  Not everyone reads the comment sections, after all, and since many of you have been wondering whatever happened to the threat of excommunication that has been hanging over me since last May, addressing this topic also provides an opportunity to catch everyone up to date on that situation.

The present controversy began because now and then someone will accuse me of teaching falsehoods on this forum, as was the case with a recent commenter named Matt, who appeared in the November comment section to declare, "I can't believe so many of you support the false doctrine that this blogger posts."

Matt proceeded to weigh in with additional comments, none of which zeroed in on what exactly I had written that he considered undoctrinal. Finally I wrote back and told Matt that if he would kindly point out the particular false doctrine he was concerned about, I would go back into the article and either delete or correct what I had written.  It has always been my policy to correct any errors I might have let slip, whether the error is doctrinal or historical, as I don't wish to use this blog to promote falsehoods.  Matt never responded to that request, and as of this writing, I'm still waiting for him to return and tell me exactly what the false doctrine was that got him so worked up. Because until he brings that actual mistake to my attention, I won't know how to make it right.

More recently this topic came up again when I told another reader it was my policy to immediately correct errors on this blog when errors are pointed out to me. That's when my friend Robin Hood weighed in to remind me that he had brought an error to my attention months ago in a personal correspondence with me which I had not yet corrected. The reason I did not fix the error, as I told him at the time, was I didn't feel it was an error.

And I wasn't being stubborn. In this correspondence, Robin Hood had taken issue with a statement in my book where I told how my bishop had informed me that a particular Area Seventy had made a complaint to my stake president about my blog, and insisted I either stop blogging or resign from the church. If I failed to comply with either of those instructions, my bishop informed me, I would face excommunication.  This ultimatum, I noted in my book, was a violation of both scripture and Church law, because general authorities are prohibited from intervening in such matters within the confines of a stake. (See this post, for documentation from the book Lost Apostles.)

Robin Hood wrote me privately to inform me that an Area Seventy is not a general authority.  General authorities, he said, are considered the First Presidency, The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First and Second Quorum of the Seventies headquartered in Salt Lake City. Other Quorums of the Seventy are not considered General Authorities of the Church, he insisted, but are "area authorities."

So I did a bit of research to learn about the function of these area seventies to see if my friend was correct.  At the time my bishop had informed me one of these guys had ratted me out, I hadn't even been aware of the office of Area Seventy. I was aware there were two quorums of the Seventy operating out of Salt Lake City, but I was frankly surprised when my bishop told me there were eight or nine quorums total (he was not certain which quorum our Area Seventy belonged to, but thought it might be the eighth).  According to my subsequent studies, the First Quorum of Seventy is located in Salt Lake City, and all other quorums (including the second), operate today as appendages to that quorum, and are spread out over North America and the globe.

I told Robin Hood that I had checked with Hans Mattson, who until recently had been an Area Seventy over much of Europe, and that Mattson had confirmed to me that "a Seventy is a Seventy," that they do not institute policy, but "operate under the direction of the Twelve."

This is another thing that didn't sit well with Robin Hood, who felt Hans Mattson was not a credible source because, according to Robin Hood, Hans Mattson is "a known apostate."

Now, I want to stress again that the man my readers know as "Robin Hood" is someone I consider a friend. I have great admiration for him, and there exists genuine affection between us. But I took offense at his characterization of Hans Mattson as "a known apostate." Here is how I responded to that allegation:
I disagree with you on your accusation that Hans Mattson is an apostate.  I don't see where he has apostatized.  As Area Seventy, the Stake Presidents under him constantly came to him with questions the members were having regarding certain truth claims of the Church that he could not answer.  Eventually a couple of reps from Salt Lake came out and met with Mattson and these leaders, ostensibly with the goal of answering their questions.

One of these men (I don't recall who the other was, but one of them was Church Historian Richard Turley) pointed to his briefcase and said something to the effect of "if you could see what we have in this briefcase, all your doubts would disappear."  But they never showed them what was in the briefcase, and the answers they gave to the member's concerns were evasive and non-responsive.

Mattson eventually resigned his position as Area Seventy because he did not feel he could fulfill the responsibilities given the doubts he now had.

My personal opinion is that the Church leadership failed to provide him sufficient backup.  But I don't see how that makes him an apostate.  He didn't turn his back on his basic beliefs as far as I remember.  He appears hurt and disappointed that he was left with no support.

He tells his full story here:
http://mormonstories.org/hans-mattsson/
I am seriously bothered by the cavalier manner in which accusations of apostasy are thrown about today toward anyone who has serious concerns about how this Church is currently being managed. Actual apostasy is a serious thing, and we should be very careful about using that label on people we have disagreements with. John C. Bennett was an apostate. His defamation of the prophet cost real people their lives, including ultimately those of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Hans Mattson was a sincere seeker of truth. That those in authority over him failed to provide him with answers to his questions does not make him an apostate.

The New Face of Apostasy
In his presentation at last summer's Sunstone Symposium, Joe Jensen lamented how the Church now seems to have two differing definitions of what apostasy means;  one public, the other secret:
"The LDS church website, under the tag line ‘Gospel Topics,’ contains this description of apostasy:
When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy.
"The idea here, as collaborated in the scriptures, is that apostasy is the mindful departure from the gospel. The Nehors and those who rejected the church in the time of Alma were cited for their dissent from the gospel.
"In contrast to the gospel as the barometer of adherence, the Church Handbook of Instruction (CHI), Handbook 1, page 57 contains the following definition of apostasy:
  • Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.
  • Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
  • Continue to follow the teachings of apostate sects (such as those that advocate plural marriage) after being corrected by their bishop or a higher authority.
  • Formally join another church and advocate its teaching
"As one can see from the CHI, the use of the boundaries of the gospel in the determination of dissent has been supplanted with adherence to and alignment with the church, church doctrine, and its leadership. There appears to be one definition of apostasy for public consumption and another private directive to church leadership. The use of the term Church doctrine and opposition to church leaders does not necessarily align with the gospel." (The Latter-Day Apostasy: A Scriptural Perspective)
Robin Hood's rejection of Brother Mattson's job description merely because Robin Hood considers Mattson an apostate is irrelevant. Compare Mattson's actions with those of William Binney, who until recently was the Technical Director of the NSA and America's top code breaker.  Binney did not resign from the NSA because he had suddenly turned his back on America. He resigned because his experience in that position of authority had convinced him that the federal government had gone rogue. We do not ignore William Binney now that he has resigned from government service; rather we recognize he has something important to say.

Likewise, Hans Mattson was unimpressed with what he saw as a lack of transparency at the top of the Church hierarchy.  He did not, as a result, turn his back on the gospel of Christ. Yet Robin Hood uses Mattson's resignation as proof that he is not qualified to tell us what his duties had been when he was an acting Area Seventy.  In  my opinion, that argument doesn't wash.

I maintain that if we are to glean an answer to our question, we must not wander off point and engage in name calling. Is an Area Seventy a general authority of the Church, or is he not?  That is the question.  Robin Hood says no, that an Area Authority is merely a regional authority. My research tells me differently. According to the section on "Quorums of the Seventy" in Priesthood and Church Organization edited by Daniel H. Ludlow, "...he is ordained a Seventy and set apart by the First Presidency of the Church, receiving the authorities and powers that pertain to his calling as a general authority." That section appears to be referring to all quorums of the Seventy.

In one of Log's arguments to Robin Hood, he provided this definition of "General Authorities" from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism:
"General Authorities are men called to serve at the highest levels of leadership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As general priesthood officers of the Church, they have Churchwide rather than local stewardship and may receive assignments anywhere in the world. In order of precedence, the General Authorities include the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Quorums of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism Volume 2, pg 538)
 To which Robin Hood responded with this trump card:
"Members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy are considered General Authorities, meaning they have authority to serve anywhere in the church. Members of the remaining quorums are called Area Seventies, and their authority is limited to the area where they serve." (Quorums of the Seventy, LDS.Org
Well now. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism was compiled and published under the supervision of the Church, and LDS.Org is considered the current authority on all things Mormon. Yet their definitions contradict each other. Log refers to the Church's "sliding definition of Seventy." I think that's an apt description.

But I don't wish to quibble, so I hereby declare both Log and Robin Hood to be the winners in this debate. Because after giving it my best effort to learn the facts, I have to admit I just don't know.

We shouldn't be surprised the institutional Church can't make up its mind about what a Seventy is or does.  I stayed up all night pulling books off my shelves and diligently reading in an attempt to get at the bottom of of the controversy. Here are the sources I consulted:
Mormon Doctrine
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power
Mormonism In Transition: 1890-1930
Power From on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood
This is My Doctrine: The Development of Mormon Theology
Joseph Smith and the Doctrinal Restoration
Want to know my conclusion? The entire history of the office of the Seventy is one indecipherable mess. I mean one confusing, convoluted, Gordian knot, holy hell of a mess!  From the pioneer days on, it seems the Church didn't know what to do with these guys. All I knew about Seventies before this was that while I was growing up in the church, most wards had a quorum of these guys who met during priesthood, just like the Elders and High Priests today. Then suddenly one day it was announced that the Seventies quorums within the wards would be disbanded, and that instead the Seventies would consist of a smaller group with limited authority operating within the hierarchy at Salt Lake.

Why that happened had been a mystery to me at the time. Today it continues to remain a mystery why the Seventies, once a powerful and completely autonomous apostolic group, have been weakened and folded into a sort of auxiliary organization answerable to the Twelve.  Here's an interesting excerpt from historian D. Michael Quinn:
"The First Council of Seventy experienced tensions with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve for more than a century. These struggles centered in two characteristics of the First Council of Seventy. First, until Brigham Young's death the office of Seventy was termed an apostolic calling, the 'seventy apostles.'

"Second, according to Joseph Smith's revelations, seven presidents were to preside over a large group of sixty-three other men, the First Quorum of Seventy, which was equal in authority to the Quorum of the Twelve, which was equal in authority to the First Presidency. [D&C 107:24-26]  Thus the Seventies felt that their authority was greater than the offices of bishop, elder, and high priest. In turn, the Quorum of the Twelve wondered if the power of the Quorum of the Seventy described in the 1835 revelation could threaten the Twelve's position." (The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg 140)
Well, there's your first clue. It's a tale as old as time: men with supposed authority jealous to protect their status. Today we can argue about whether one brand of Seventy counts as being an official bigwig or not, but the larger question that should concern us is this: whatever happened to the division of power within the Church?

I realize I often beat this topic to death, but the Lord never intended His church to be structured from the top down.  The First Presidency, Apostles, and Seventies were to operate independently of one another, with no group having seniority over the other.  This system of checks and balances was not copied from the men who founded our constitution. On the contrary, America's founders got their idea of separation of powers from observing the law of Moses.

Sadly, today we take it for granted that the the president of the Church is the Big Kahuna over us all, with the Twelve Apostles operating under him as a kind of board of directors for the corporation.  The Seventies have been reduced to little more than lackeys who exist to take orders from the Twelve. If you don't believe me, dip into Malcolm Jeppsen's disturbing memoir of his years acting as willing lapdog to apostle Boyd K. Packer.

The important thing to be concerned about here is not the relative ranking of Seventies within the Church, but whether any Seventy is authorized to reach into the internal affairs within a stake and order stake presidents to discipline individual members.  As I documented in a prior post, they decidedly do not. And as it happens in my case, there's a possibility no such overreach actually took place.

The Plot Thickens
As I wrote on both this blog and in my book, my bishop was very clear when informing me that an Area Seventy, whom he named, had given instructions that I be disciplined if I failed to obey the ultimatum I was given. Since this bishop and I are friends, he told me he had not wanted to be the one to deliver this ultimatum to me, but told the stake president that since I'm a Melchizedek priesthood holder, I was under jurisdiction of the stake president, so the stake president should be the one to call me in.  The stake president responded that I was in the bishop's ward, so the bishop got the short straw and that's how I was informed that an Area Seventy had read parts of my blog and given orders that I had to either comply or go.  This is the information as I understood it, as it was related to me by my bishop last May.

Since I neither resigned nor ceased to blog, I finally got a chance to meet with the stake president the following September.  It was a cordial visit, but lasted two hours and our conversation was too lengthy and involved to go into here. Suffice it to say by the end of the meeting, he understood me, even if he didn't "get" me. He understood that my testimony of the Book of Mormon, of Christ, and of the gospel as restored through Joseph Smith was unassailable.  What he didn't get was why anyone would want to retain membership in this church if he didn't express fealty to Church leadership.

This way of viewing the Church seems to be a disease of our time. The aforementioned Matt, who commented several times on my blog in November, wondered the same thing, and posed this question to me regarding the current prophets and apostles:
"if you don't believe that they are who they say they are, where will you go? Do you have another church or restoration you are looking for?"
That's a strange question. But like I say, it's symptomatic of the disease now rampant within the church that assumes the leadership of the Church somehow is the church.

I spent almost ten years working for the Walt Disney Company after the death of its founder.  I and many others eventually grew dissatisfied with the current management, which we felt was operating contrary to the designs of the founder. It was eventually suggested that if we didn't like the way the current management was running things, we could leave and go somewhere else.

And you know what? They were right.  We were mere employees of the corporation. We had no say in how it was to be run.  Walt Disney's own adult daughters could not dictate company policy, because Walt Disney himself had never been the owner of the company; he only ran it while he was living. Disneyland was not a family business. And now, when I remained there in the late 1970's, there was new management in town, and they were absolutely in their rights to run the company to their liking. Even if they ran the company into the ground (and for awhile it appeared they might do just that), it was none of the business of us salaried employees, no matter how much we loved what it had stood for previously. The company belonged to the current stockholders and their managers, not to us peons.

But a church is not a business. The church of Jesus Christ does not belong to its managers. This is not the church of Thomas Monson, or Brigham Young, or even Joseph Smith. It is not the Church of the First Presidency or the Twelve Apostles. This is not some brand that can be marketed, owned, and controlled by those at the top.

There is a reason there are two possessives in the name of this church: it is the church of Jesus Christ and it's the church of the latter-day saints. This is our church.  It doesn't matter who is currently making administrative decisions; the managers are not in charge of the members. We are not in their employ.

As much as this point of view puzzled my stake president, a younger man raised his entire life in a closely correlated religion, I believe he was convinced that I am no apostate.  But he did tell me something that contradicted the information I had received from my bishop. He told me the ultimatum had not come down through an Area Seventy, but that he, the stake president, had been alerted to my blog by a member of my ward, and the stake president then consulted with the Area Seventy as to how to handle things.

If this is true, then that's good news, as only members of a congregation are permitted to initiate disciplinary action against another member.  I told him I was happy to hear this, and that he only needs to find one more witness against me before he can move forward.

But then he went too far. He told me he was absolutely assured by Church authorities that Denver Snuffer's excommunication had not been orchestrated out of Church headquarters.

We know from Denver's own testimony that apostle Russell Nelson personally directed Denver's stake president to expel Denver from the Church, and that the stake president, knowing Denver's character, resisted Nelson's instructions for a year and a half.  The intensity with which my stake president tried to get me to believe that members of the hierarchy would never overreach their authority has caused me to wonder if he was on the up-and-up with me regarding my own situation. 

I don't believe he was fibbing to me about Denver Snuffer's situation. I think he was simply repeating what he had been told.

As far as my situation, his story did contradict the version told me by my bishop.  A great deal of time had passed since the bishop gave me his report, and in that time I had documented both on my blog and in a book how utterly inappropriate it would be for the authorities in Salt Lake to instruct local leaders to take action against me. My story, and that of others, had been covered by several media outlets, and the possibility that the Church had violated its own scriptures (as it had numerous times in the past) was getting more difficult for the Church's PR department to defend.  It would not be unreasonable to expect that some in the hierarchy might see the need to back off and institute damage control.

Combine that with this: it is highly unlikely that anyone in my ward was disturbed enough by my writings to report me to the stake president, for the simple fact that almost no one in my current ward has any idea who I am.  When Connie and I first moved to this ward in July of 2005, we attended only briefly before Connie's health took a turn for the worse.  She could no longer attend her meetings, and I was required at her side to look after her needs.  We had not had much opportunity to make any friends in our new ward before we dropped out of sight completely. That was nine years ago.

The ward we had moved into was populated mostly by an elderly demographic, and attendance was sparse, to put it kindly. Members were literally dying off by the week.  This ward desperately needed new blood, and while we were absent, it got a powerful infusion. A neighboring ward full of young families was moved into our chapel and combined with our anemic one.  By the time I was able to get away from caring for Connie and resume attending, which was five months after disappearing, I found I recognized very few faces.  The one friend I thought I had in the ward was actually surprised to see me. "I thought you moved away," he said.  It would be accurate to say we had not been missed.

Upon my return to what was for all intents and purposes a new ward,  I showed up at a ward spaghetti dinner and felt like a complete stranger.  In the following years I would slip into Sacrament meeting once or twice a month, then slip out and return home to take care of my ailing wife.  I recognized only a handful of faces, and no one recognized mine. Even the bishop had been imported from the other ward, and he was among the few who ever acknowledged my presence. The other person was a home teacher who had been assigned to me.  (He has since been reassigned.)

So I'm a bit skeptical to hear that a member of my ward knew me as the proprietor of the Pure Mormonism blog and was upset enough about it to complain. Even the member of the bishopric who called to tell me the bishop would like to meet with me did not know about my blog or who I was.  I have no way of knowing for certain, but knowing as I do how often the Church hierarchy has interfered in stake business in this manner, I think it's more likely that the report I initially got from my bishop was the more accurate one.

On the other hand, the stake president told me in that meeting that he has no immediate desire to expel me.  I believe he was sincere.  But it may not be up to him, and my writings are being monitored, so we'll see what happens down the road.

As for correcting that "mistake" in my book, I'm still not convinced it's in error, seeing as how even the Church's publications can't decide what the office of Seventy means.  Still, there are four or five typos I've been meaning to correct (mostly minor misspellings in the tiny footnotes), and if I ever stop being lazy and get around to correcting them, I'll also delete the phrase "general authority" where it appears in connection to Area Seventy.

You're welcome, Robin Hood. Now you and Log go kiss and make up.

                                                               *****

A Note About Commenting: I again remind those who wish to comment that posting only as "Anonymous" is no longer permitted. You do not have to use your real name, but if you insist on choosing "Anonymous" from the drop-down menu, you must invent a username and place that either at the top or bottom of your comment so that readers can tell you apart from the many others who for some reason keep choosing to post under the anonymous option.   If you have a Google registration, use that one, otherwise it's best if you check the box that says "Name/URL", place your preferred username in in the "name" box, and ignore the box that asks for a URL. That way you can still remain anonymous if you so wish, but then other readers have a handle to address you with when responding. Comments missing any kind of identifying moniker are at risk of being deleted. I'm very strict about this because too many people posting as "anonymous" has resulted in chaos in the past.

100 comments:

Shawz said...

Area authorities can be assigned outside their area to preside over a stake conference, but I'd tend to agree that they are not sustained as presiding general authorities.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for talking about the term apostate. Mormons dont use swear words, but some of them use the A word (apostate) all day long about other people like its nothing.
Glad to see you are reprieved for now anyway, from further proceedings. Maybe a PR problem will be what finally stops all these ex'ings in their tracks. The church really responds to PR issues. :0(
-Rebecca C.

Galen said...

My dad and I were members of the lost tribe of the seventy. I remember no defining mission statement or lessons in quorum meetings that differentiated us from being high priests when the office was re-defined to include only General Authorities.

It's a testament to both Log and Robin Hood that they could parse the meaning of this most nebulous of offices from official but not congruent definitions. I'd agree that Matt appears to have simply missed the mark of a reasoned conversation.

Thanks for this post, Rock. You'd hope the public exposure brought by yours and John's and Kate's and Will's and Adrian's and Denver's experiences of church discipline would persuade church managers to temper their inclination to force members in good standing out of the 'big tent' of Mormonism against the guidelines established in scripture. The alternative is not pretty. The alternative is the drunkards of Ephraim foreseen by Isaiah driving the train of the Restoration off a cliff with an address in Babylon. To a new year free from Babylon!

Ahuizotl said...

Rock, Rock, Rock...

There might be some truth to your SP being informed by an upset member.

You see...

I used to sit in council with him when he was our bishop and this was before my spiritual awakening to things as they really are and not as they seem to be.

I had stumbled across your blog, the anarchist's blog and one who is watching's blog all within about about a week of each other and I was confused that someone who was a member of the neighboring ward was still considered a member after writing such heresy.

This was a couple of years ago as you know since your SP has been in office for almost 3 years.

So the likelihood of him still remembering or even holding on to a one time passing comment seems to be a bit of a stretch. Since I was soon released after that.

Either way, if that caused it I'm sorry. I didn't know then what I know now. Please forgive me and keep on keeping the faith.

Galen said...

That is so tender and genuine of you, Ahuizotl. Thank you for sharing.

Ahuizotl said...

I should add that it was right after I had read your "The 181st Semiannual Bowl of Pap" post.

Something that I was so turned off by at the time. Now I would have to say that I'm in complete agreement.

Galen said...

Your experience, Ahuizotl, reminds me of Rock's repeated intention of meeting his accusers with mildness and friendship. While it is an aberration in corporate culture it is exactly the way of the Master.

Veracity said...

Rock,

I noticed one mistake in your current blog entry. You normally have a link to your previous blog entry at the top.

I wish I could write as well as you write.

Thanks

jeffrey09 said...

Joseph F McConkie once said about his father: "A man who could serve as a general authority for forty years and not improve his views on a few doctrines as a result of that experience was not to be trusted"

I like that. I wish everyone could have that mindset.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ahuizotl,

Are you telling me you could very well be the local fink?

Man, we've got to get together. Email me and let's go out for pizza. All is forgiven!

RockWaterman@gmail.com

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Veracity,
Thanks for catching that first mistake of the new year! I had indeed been so happy to wrap it up that I forgot to put on that important finishing touch.

The correction has been made!

Anonymous said...

Aren't area authorities sustained in General Conference? That makes them general in my book.
-VJ

gentileman said...

The reason that the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and the current Church publications at LDS.org do not agree is that the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published prior to the Church having any quorums of the 70 beyond the 1st and 2nd quorums--both of which are "general authority" quorums. 70 quorums numbered 3+ came later and were designated as Area Authority only. However, technically a 70 has NO authority other than that designated for a specific assignment. For example, a 70 could not simply go to a stake and reorganize it unless he received specific designated authority from the 12. This authority actually comes in the form of a letter that the 70 caries with him as he performs whatever action he is designated to perform. I'm not saying that it is right or that I agree with how it is done but this is, in fact, how it is done today...

Anonymous said...

I didn't think I'd live to see the day rock waterman would accept a correction, but here it is: The link on william binney is broken.

Log said...

It appears there was a Third Quorum of Seventy, to which Elijah Abel was added in 1836, in, well, 1836, and possibly earlier.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published in 1992.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Gentileman,
Without going back into the stacks, I'm pretty sure the Encyclopedia of Mormonism speaks of several quorums of the Seventy, not just the first two. As Log just mentioned, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism was published in 1992, and if memory serves, the local Seventies Quorums were disbanded around 1974. That may not mean the additional quorums were formed at that time, but I think it might.

I could be wrong though, so I'll check again later to make sure.
I'm SO tired of making mistakes. But I'm even more tired of staying up late doing research, and it's almost midnight here, so for now I'll risk the damage to my pristine reputation.

And I have now corrected that link to the piece on William Binney, so thanks for that tip, whoever you are.

Samuel the Lamanite said...

Good post. I give it One Arm up.

Veracity said...

If the church excommunicated people for apostasy from the gospel, there could be a greater debate about what the gospel means. They excommunicate people for teaching things that are contrary to the church doctrine or opposing church leaders. The leaders are in a better position to define church doctrine. Of course, in reality, a Bishop or Stake President might excommunicate you for teaching something contrary to his opinion about church doctrine. We have church publications which are full of opinions that help shape members opinions about church doctrines.
I like Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk “The Doctrine of Christ” where he states doctrines comes from the scriptures and from the Prophets. They can have opinions and even deliver these opinions over the pulpit in General Conference. However, when they are speaking for the Lord, you can receive and recognize those words by the spirit. I suggest you read this talk for the rest of his talk for a more accurate and complete explanation: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-doctrine-of-christ?lang=eng
I suggest that when you are faced with an accusation you are teaching something contrary to church doctrine. You might prevail if you can show the doctrine you are teaching is the same as an official statement from the First Presidency or from the canonized scriptures. You might have to convince them that not everything published by the church is scripture.

Robin Hood said...

Hi Rock,
I'm still carefully reading through your article, but I would just like to point something out.
My description of Han Mattson as an apostate was mostly based upon my sons report following his return from serving a mission in Sweden (if you recall my email). My son served as AP for some considerable time and came across difficulties created by Mattson while there. It appears Mattson has no regard for the church, for it's founding principles and doctrines, or for it's current members and missionaries.

Some may declare that this is merely hearsay, and they would likely be correct. However, "if you could see what we have in this briefcase" is also hearsay, so carries about the same weight.

But, actually, this was never about the status of Mattson, but was simply about your claim that an area seventy was a general authority. I confess to now being a little more puzzled by your position on this given your admission that you had never heard of area seventies prior to this time.

Anyway, I'll read the rest of the article now.

Rodney said...

Rock,

It occurred to me this morning after reading your post last night, that the purpose for disciplinary action being the sole responsibility of the bishop and or stake president is because they are supposed to know the individual being disciplined, if they are serving in their callings as they are supposed to, they would have some knowledge of where that individuals heart is.

It does not matter rather an area seventy is titled a general authority or an area authority, they would not have the personal knowledge of the individual that is being scrutinised.

It would also be why you need two or three witnesses to make and support the accusation. Here again the members of the ward should know their fellow brother or sister and be able to have some knowledge of where the said individual's heart is before making accusations.

Just my thoughts and understanding of the purpose of the guidelines in the D&C.

Niklas said...

Robin Hood is right.
This is what president Hincley said when the calling of Area Seventy was created in 1997:
"Though all Seventies have equal scriptural authority, members of the First and Second Quorums are designated General Authorities, while members of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth are designated Area Authorities."
(https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1997/04/may-we-be-faithful-and-true?lang=eng ).
As pointed out be other commenters, most of your sources are older than the calling of Area Seventy. Area Seventies are seventies too (same priesthood office), but they have different calling.

see also:
The Saga of Revelation: The Unfolding Role of the Seventy
https://www.lds.org/liahona/2009/09/the-saga-of-revelation-the-unfolding-role-of-the-seventy?lang=eng
and
A History of the Latter-day Seventy
https://www.lds.org/ensign/2000/08/a-history-of-the-latter-day-seventy?lang=eng

Niklas said...

One more article about seventies:
Area Authority Seventies: “To Bear Record of My Name in All the World”
https://www.lds.org/liahona/2002/10/area-authority-seventies-to-bear-record-of-my-name-in-all-the-world?lang=eng

Shawz said...

The above referenced articles are a good summary, some info I pulled in addition to the above.

From the announcement and change from Regional Representatives to Area Authorities:
“Now we announce the call of a new local officer to be known as an area authority. These will be high priests chosen from among past and present experienced Church leaders. They will continue with their current employment, reside in their own homes, and serve on a Church-service basis."

From the announcement and change from Area Authorities to Area Authority Seventy:
"Though all Seventies have equal scriptural authority, members of the First and Second Quorums are designated General Authorities, while members of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth are designated Area Authorities."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Niklas,
Thanks for those additional sources on the Seventy.

Robin Hood,
I'd have to go back for a re-listen to the Mattson interview, but it's my recollection that Mattson was not alone in the room when the claim about the briefcase was made, so if it's hearsay it would have been heard by several people. The authorities from Salt Lake had come to Sweden to speak before a group of local leaders and ostensibly provide answers those leaders could take back that would put their congregations at ease about the issues that had been percolating with the local churches. The upshot, if memory serves, was that nothing was provided these leaders that was of any real help.

As for where I first got the impression that an Area Seventy was a general authority even though I had not been familiar with the office previously: That was the overall impression I got from my conversation with my bishop, that the man was an outsider sent from Salt Lake City. That is not to say that my bishop specifically identified the man as such; I don't recall. It may have been simply the impression I took, as the gist of the conversation was that the action was initiated by an outsider, and I may have projected my own assumptions, seeing as I had been previously informed by sources at the COB that certain elements there had expressed concern over my blog.

I have also been shown a letter addressed to the First Presidency from someone not even living in my state who wrote to "report" on me for the supposed damage he felt I was inflicting on the Church. So I was aware that I was on Salt Lake City's radar, and very likely a target of the Strengthening Church Members Committee. So that was how I my mind was attuned during the conversation.

I was aware that regional representatives are based in Utah and it's likely I held the mistaken view that this Area Seventy calling was similar to a regional rep.

My understanding is that this particular Area Seventy was not local in the sense of hailing from anywhere near Sacramento. I still don't know what his "area" consists of. It could take in Washington and Oregon as well as Northern California for all I know. At any rate, I was probably colored by the fact that proper protocol was not being followed since the man hailed from outside my own congregation.

In that regard, Rodney is correct about the scriptural requirement for an accusation to come from within the congregation, and that of course remains my primary concern about the recent rash of excommunications that have originated from bishops and stake presidents who believe it their prerogative to act as accuser and judge. No leader of any stripe is permitted to initiate these actions, but only a fellow member of the congregation. The SP's job is to conduct the hearing only after a valid accuser has come forward.

As Rodney ascertains, the accusers must come from the congregation, and the bishop's role is merely to confirm that the ACCUSERS are members of his congregation in good standing. This prevents any old person with a grudge, or even non-members, from bringing an action against a member. The accuser has to have some credibility before the process can go forward. Interestingly, the only role of the bishop in a stake high council action is to identify the accusers as members of his congregation in good standing. After that he is excused.

That's the way things are supposed to be handled, according to scripture. They are not always done by the book.

Or, I should say, they are often done by the book, but it's usually the wrong book. In almost every case the book consulted is the CHI, when it should be the book of scripture.

Robin Hood said...

OK Rock,
Just so as I understand your position, are you now acknowledging that an area seventy is not a general authority?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Shawz,
Thanks for providing even more info. I did not know the Regional Reps had been replaced with Regional Authorities.

One of the things I find a little troubling is all these new administrative offices that were never created through divine revelation: Area Presidents, Area Seventies, Regional Representatives, and what-not. The average member assumes these men have some sort of actual priesthood authority as in days of old, and when graced by their presence often react as though they have been permitted to shake hands with God's royal emissary. In actuality what these guys represent is just another layer of the bureaucracy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Robin Hood,
What I am acknowledging is that I'm confused by all of it, and that ultimately I consider these titles, definitions, and differentiations to be largely meaningless.

So yes, I'm willing to concede an Area Seventy MAY NOT BE considered a general authority.

But at the same time, the corporate Church muddies the waters by giving these guys pretty much the same authority and responsibility as members of the First and Second Quorums. (More confusing still is that at least one source states that only the First Quorum is the actual quorum of Seventy; even the second quorum ranks lower, like unto the 3rd through 8th.

It would seem, however, that the only functional difference between the First Quorum of the Seventy and the Eighth Quorum of the Seventy is that members of the Eighth quorum live somewhere within the geographical boundaries of the area they serve, and that they serve for a shorter period of time.

So whether an Area Seventy is officially designated a general authority (sources do not agree), that part of the question is moot, but I give the point to you. What I remain convinced of is Brother Mattson's assessment that "a Seventy is a Seventy" in that function and authority of Area Seventies appears no different from that of "general authority Seventies." Rightly or wrongly, ALL quorums of the Seventy appear to operate under the direction of the Twelve, as Mattson claims.

So yes, Robin Hood, I concede you are correct. But I concede Hans Mattson is also correct.

Everybody wins!

Anonymous said...

Rock, here is some more information about Area Seventies.

Lengthy response, but maybe I can shed some light. In my job in the Boy Scouts in Utah, I was literally tasked with interacting with dozens of stake presidencies at one time. It was our job, in essence, to "sell" the BSA to the LDS Church. It may surprise some, but some stakes allow the BSA reluctantly, and things like program delivery and fundraising are dependent upon how "sold" stakes are on Scouting. In order to put pressure on them, we would try to involve Area Seventies. Area Seventies have a regional group of about 5-15 stakes (aka, the coordinating council). I have been to a few of these.

1) True, area seventies have no authority. They have no keys. Only apostles, stake presidents, and bishops have keys. That is understood by stakes. They used to call Area Seventies, Area Authorities but they changed it because they had no authority sometime in the late 1990's. We tried many times to pressure stakes through a willing area authority, and they will listen to them, but its understood that ultimately, the stake president is the only one who has keys to make these kinds of decisions. The only thing that would pressure them otherwise is if the screw-thumbs came from the office of the Presidency of the Seventy, operating under direction of the 12, or from the 12 themselves. We saw this when trying to push a state-wide Friends of Scouting drive. We got nowhere with area seventies. We only got traction when we got a letter from Elder Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy who had gotten thumbs up from the Twelve.

2). That being said, I had a close relationship with an ex area seventy--released, who verified all I have told you, he got irritated when people called them area authorities "because we had no authority" he would say. They cannot and will not tell their coordinating council anything "to do" because they do not have keys. On the other hand, there is no way knowing about this particular area seventy. Some can and do take license like in all other areas of the lower church. In a one on one situation, they may be a bit more direct, I have no inside knowledge about how area seventies deal with discipline, except that when I've met with the coordinating councils, they typically focus on teaching doctrine to the stake leaders, some instruction from the Brethren, but that's about it.

I hope that helps shed some light. It's a Byzantine system, like herding cats at the stake level, unless one of the big boys gets involved, then they snap to.

But I think Rock has it right. Generally speaking, Area Seventies can tell a Stake President to do nothing--they are very protective of the keys of that office--they can make recommendations, and the stake leader may follow up based on that recommendation. In outlying cases, you may have a strong-arm Area Seventy out there who is a bit rogue, but all that I have men (area seventies) about 5 or 6, you DO NOT get that level my breaking the rules. You follow the book, and the book (CHI) says that the stake has the keys to administer, not the Seventy.

Paul Toscano said...

Let me get my two cents worth into the discussion: The reason members of all quorums of seventy are general authorities is that they are called out of the whole church by the first presidency and council of 12 and sustained in general conference by the constituent body of the whole church rather than being called out of a stake or ward and sustained only by the membership of the stake or ward.

Areas have not been designated as subdivisions of the church with members who sustain their own leaders by common consent; an area has no congregation of members from which its leaders are chosen as happens in a stake or ward. Areas are supervised by general authorities who can be called from outside the specific area in which the are called to serve, and the serve without the sustaining vote of the members in the stakes or missions in that area. Seventy are general authorities with a narrowed area assignment. They should not interfere in the stake presidents or bishops duties as a "judge in Israel."

Robin Hood said...

Thank you Rock.

This wasn't your finest hour mate, but we all have those. It's called being human and it's a real bugger sometimes!

I'm sorry if I have caused any upset to you or anyone else (I really am), but you did kinda set yourself up with this one. So remember, it's always a good idea to thoroughly check out all the obvious sources or references (not just the one that fits your argument) before committing a claim to print!
On the whole though, you're a pretty decent bloke; so onward and upward.

Robin Hood said...

Paul Toscano,
Are we allowed to do that? You know, make up our own interpretations of what constitutes a GA, or any other doctrine, practice or principle for that matter, irrespective of the official and authoritative pronouncement of the church?

theBruceGuy said...

I agree with Paul. There is no Area meeting where these brethren receive their sustaining vote. It is done in General Conference, by the General Church membership and they then have the authority of the General Church. Their assignment may be restricted to a given area, but that assignment can be changed without reference back for sustaining as they have been generally sustained.
That their assignment is not classed with a General Authority status, as a previous Church employee, I can tell you they are treated as such by the administration.
I certainly do not think it is as cut and dried as Robin Hood thinks it is.

Carolus Rex said...

As an active member, with a lifelong friendship to Hans Mattsson, being sealed to my parents in the temple in his presence, taught by him for many many years while he was serving as a Stake President and several other stake positions, I take no little offence by "Robin Hoods" comments which, from my perspective as a Swede and member of his stake during a majority of my life, is so magnificently removed from any foundation of reality I cannot do much else but to shake my head in disbelief.

Hans, and his family, has given his WHOLE life, every breath, every second of every day to the gospel and the Church. He is driven by one thing, and one thing only - to know the truth. To live by the truth. To live as Christ would have him live.

The only thing one could accuse this man of is his indeviating thirst for truth. And that may not always be an easy match for those who wish to stifle it.

I would be very careful to throw your judgement around like you have done on this comment section, especially when talking about subjects in which you clearly, clearly, have no knowledge nor understanding; particularly when the subject at hand is regarding a living breathing brother in Christ.

This wasn't your finest hour Robin Hood, but we all have those. It's called being human and it's a real bugger sometimes!

Log said...

Are we allowed to do that? You know, make up our own interpretations of what constitutes a GA, or any other doctrine, practice or principle for that matter, irrespective of the official and authoritative pronouncement of the church?

You know, it's funny you ask this question. Why is it "area" "seventies" "are considered" "local" leaders?

That is curious phraseology, isn't it?

"Are considered."

Why is it not simply "are"? Doesn't the fudge factor "considered" seem interesting?

And what constitutes "the official and authoritative pronouncement of the church"?

Is "the official and authoritative pronouncement of the church" not solely that which is canonized - what which the membership united, by common consent, in General Conference, has agreed is "the official and authoritative pronouncement of the church"?

Tammy said...

Robin, WE ARE the Church! Think man! Your brain has been given to you as a gift from God! Use it! :/

Diana said...

Speaking of fudge...Doesn't the fudge factor of Hinckley's reply when asked by the media about his being a prophet seem interesting? A lotta leeway there, if you ask me. Words have meanings.

Mike Wallace: "Are you a prophet?"

Hinckley: "Well, um, the people sustain me as such."

That is akin to me responding like this when asked my name:

Q: Are you Chris Harrison?

A: Well, um, that's what the people call me.

Fudge, indeed.

Robin Hood said...

Carolus Rex,
I'm quite sure Judas had his advocates too.

Gary Hunt said...

Everyone,

Robin Hood's last comment to Carolus Rex is really rude. It also demonstrates his disrespect for logic by the continued use of logical fallacies. Specifically the ad hominem attack and bad analogy.

The question "is an Area Seventy a general authority?" fits into the category of the logical fallacy called a "meaningless question". Robin Hood has succeeded in wasting everyone's time by stirring up this "tempest in a teapot". If you have been around since his first comments many articles ago, you will see that this is his tendency. The logical fallacy called "red herring" comes to mind.

Blair said...

I was a Robin Hood fan when I was a child. No longer. Once again, a childhood hero is revealed to be unworthy of my attention.

Gaybob Spongebath said...

Really, Robin Hood? Comparing Hans Mattson to Judas?

I'd like to know your line of reasoning. Other than your baseless labeling of Hans as an apostate when he clearly is anything but, what evidence can you present?

I'd say this goes beyond the pale. You owe Hans Mattson, Carolus Rex, and every one here an apology. Gary is right. That was rude.

Veracity said...

Gary Hunt,

I took a logic class in college and loved it. I would like to study logic again to refresh and learn more. In the mean time, I appreciate you bringing logic to this blog.

Thanks

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Veracity, you're in luck! Duke University is offering a really good course online for free and it just started so there's time to get in:

https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain

Even if you fall behind, the lessons will stay up until April, so it doesn't matter if you arrive late to class.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hint, Robin Hood. Hint.

https://www.coursera.org/course/thinkagain

Veracity said...

Rock,

Thanks for the tip. I will check it out.

Robin Hood said...

I agree. The Judas comment was rather rude and totally out of order. I apologise.

I often come across posts here where it says "post deleted by the author". I have no idea how to do that, but would have done it within 10 seconds of posting the comment if I knew how. So I am sincerely sorry for the comment and apologise unreservedly.


____________________________



Moving on, I would like to set the record straight and get some perspective here, because I feel I've been somewhat ambushed to a certain extent.

This all started months ago when Rock made a statement regarding the status of an area seventy in the church. This had happened because of a conversation he had with his SP. I posted at the time that an area seventy (AS) was not considered a general authority (GA). That was it.
Then Rock published his book and very generously emailed me a copy. It was a good book for the most part but I was concerned that he had repeated the claim that an AS was a GA in the book, even pointing out to his readers that one of the posters on his blog (that would be me, though I wasn't named) had claimed that an AS wasn't a GA but that he had checked this out with Hans Mattsson and can confirm that it was.
I then emailed Rock and pointed out that, though I was honoured to get a mention of sorts in his book, he was still mistaken on the issue. I then presented him with more evidence, which was pretty conclusive to be honest, and left it at that.
So note, it was Rock who brought Hans Mattsson's name into this.

Anyway I left it at that and forgot about it. I'm a busy chap and life is short. I never intended to mentioned it again.

Fast forward to December. Rock made a statement in response to someone who was having a go at him for not referencing claims properly and not admitting fault etc, in which he (Rock) said that he "correct(s) any mistakes as soon as they are pointed out to (him)". Well, that certainly wasn't my experience, so I called him on it.
As far as I was concerned I had provided him with adequate evidence that his statement about AS's was wrong; evidence with a much weightier provenance than the opinion of Hans Mattsson.
All I wanted Rock to do was to step up to the plate and own his statement.
Instead, we got a lot of head scratching and wriggling about; and an admission from Rock that until this time he had never even heard of area seventies!(I nearly fell off my chair when I read that!!!)
And as part of this, please note that it was Rock, again, who brought up the Hans Mattsson issue, and not me.
He pointed out that I had stated in my personal email to him that in my view Mattsson was not a credible source and was an apostate. It occurred to me then as it does now, that it was rather ironic that Rock, who continually reminds us that the brethren are just human etc and we shouldn't put too much faith in what they say, was doing exactly that with Mattsson. He was putting all of his faith in what he had said, without any further research.

Now let it be understood, I do regard Mattsson as an apostate. This is because of the information my Swedish missionary son has given me. But that is hearsay so I won't repeat it here.

But this was never about Mattsson. As I have already pointed out, it was Rock that kept bringing Mattsson up. All I wanted was for Rock to "correct his mistake as soon as it was pointed out to him".

Now, I'm happy to see that Rock has finally acknowledged that an AS is not a GA and that that assumption in his book was incorrect. For this I am grateful, but also saddened that he didn't do this at the outset as he should have done. And, though I find no comfort in this at all, it appears the poster that sparked this whole thing off by accusing Rock of shoddy research, in this instance at least, had a point.

BK said...

Robinhood,

Just because Mattsson, or anyone, may 'create difficulties for the Church and have no regard for the Church or it's founding principles & doctrines or for it's current members or missionarires', as you claim, doesn't mean someone is an 'apostate' from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He may be an apostate from the LDS Church, but that could be a good thing. For I consider the Church and it's leaders, past & present, and most members to be apostate from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For the Church preaches and practices so many things contrary to the Gospel.

All that matters is the Gospel, not the Church, so how exactly is Mattsson an apostate from the Gospel and you are not?

David said...

My understanding is members of the 1st and 2nd QofS are defined as General Authorities due to the fact that they give up their employment and work full-time for the church, (and can receive a stipend accordingly) and have assignments across the globe. Members of the 3rd thru 8th QofS maintain their employment, though they can/are reimbursed for church travel costs and serve in a specific geographical area, and hence are referred to as Area Authority Sevevties.

Nate said...

This whole conversation is about as important as talking about whether dragons scales are weak enough to be penetrated by a regular arrow.
"Area authorities" and "general authorities" are made up titles that are meaningless. Let's just say they are all knuckleheads who have brown nosed their way up the ladder to the position they serve in (collectively).
This is what the church has brought to people I hear it at my inlaws week after week. Discussing things in handbooks and technicalities about the meaning of keys and stewardships when none of it matters and is mostly just equivalent to how many knots one can tie on the sabbath. Pointless

Sara S. said...

Hi Nate!
Thank for pointing this out. You are right. What do the GAs and ASs (haha) have to do with our individual exaltation? Really, nothing.
But I do think it matters, by way of this discussion, when these men step in and order the local authorities order and tell them when and where to drive members out of the flock.

I agree with you whole heartedly. I couldn't care less. But I suppose I would when and if they decide to stick their noses in where they don't belong.

The end. Thanks!

Log said...

This conversation only matters if the leadership is bound to observe the precepts of the scriptures.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

So we seem to have a controversy that will not die, yet most of us agree -Robin Hood included- that the controversy is trivial and of no real effect. So I might as well weigh in again with some clarifications, if only to set the record straight from my end.

I also consider this debate regarding the status of Area Seventies as completely moot, for reasons I'll give in a moment. It matters to me only because of the larger issue, which is this: Is Rock Waterman really willing to correct errors he writes on his blog, or is he just blowing smoke?

I maintain the answer is still yes, IF and When I can be convinced I am in error. Believe it or not, I am often easily convinced. All you have to do is show me the scripture that contradicts what I've written, and I'll fold.

But for now, some minor controversy remains, and so I'm compelled to argue that here in this comment section, Robin Hood has misread me on two fronts.

First, in his comment at 6:16 today he says he almost fell off his chair when he saw "an admission from Rock that until this time he had never even heard of area seventies!"

I wouldn't blame him for being surprised at that, seeing as months ago he and I had been having a lengthy conversation about Area Seventies. But I didn't say I had never heard of Area Seventies before THIS time. What I wrote in the original post was that the existence of Area Seventies were unknown to me prior to my meeting with my bishop who informed me of the particular Area Seventy's involvement, and that to my surprise I learned there were more than two quorums of Seventy. I had never heard of these additional quorums up until THAT time. Not in recent weeks.

I had been aware there was an office above the stake level known as Regional Representative, but prior to May 2014 I had no idea there were more than two quorums of the Seventy. My surprise at learning there were eight or nine quorums total was something the bishop and I spent a few minutes discussing.

I STILL don't know what an Area President is or does. I guess I could look it up, but I don't want to.

Anyway, to clarify this point: I did not claim ignorance of the office of Area Seventy until just now. I was talking about prior to last May. Robin Hood, you may now pick yourself up off the floor.

Because I want you to pay attention to this second correction, my friend, because this is the other thing I wrote that you seem to have misunderstood. I did not admit to having been in error, as you presumed in your comment of Jan 5th at 3:23 pm.

I am not averse to admitting errors, but in this case, (as I felt I had made clear), the facts regarding this relatively new administrative office called "Area Seventy" were not readily obtainable.

So I made a concession. I did not plead Mea Culpa ("I'm guilty"), I pled Nolo Contendre ("I do not wish to contend.")

I conceded the point to you; I did not surrender my sword.

Now, that was before Paul Toscano weighed in and settled the matter to my utter satisfaction, and the reason I maintain Paul is correct is because doctrine trumps policy. Paul showed that the procedure for installing ALL Seventies is still followed by the institutional Church when calling and installing Area Seventies.

Hans Mattson's description that "a Seventy is a Seventy" is correct because it is based on the word of the Lord given in D&C 107. Even if Brother Mattson actually had turned his back on Christ and His gospel (which I emphatically state he has not), his claim that the priesthood office of Seventy knows no divisions of rank still holds.

That the office and function of a Seventy has been changed and diluted in the last hundred years doesn't change the calling from a doctrinal point of view. Or to put it another way, changing the administrative duties of particular members of the Seventy does create a caste of Seventy inferior to others holding that office.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Continued)
Policies created in the 20th century resulted in some of these Seventies being given "local" assignments and new titles ("Area Seventies"), but new assignments and duties and titles don't count for much in my book unless revealed through revelation. I know of no revelation from the Lord creating the designation "Area Seventies," which left me shrugging my shoulders as to whether this new and not really legitimate (to me) office could be considered a general authority.

Until Paul Toscano's concise and common sense analysis made it crystal clear.

There can be no doubt that the office of Seventy is a general authority equal in authority to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. We know so because the Lord made that clear in D&C 107: 24-26. Giving some Seventies local assignments doesn't change the office they hold.

As Paul explains, they are general authorities because these Area Seventies, just as with every other Seventy, are sustained by the GENERAL membership of the church at GENERAL conference. If they were local authorities, they would be sustained only by the local congregations, much as bishops, bishoprics, stake presidents, and High councilmen are sustained only at the local level, and not by the membership of the whole church.

Further, Area Seventies are not selected from among us, but are assigned to us, thrust upon us, by other general authorities at Church headquarters. They may live among us, but they are not OF us. They operate in a supervisory capacity, directed (again improperly) by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Now, having said all that, I would correct something I just wrote above. I referred to Regional Representatives as being above the level of stake presidents.

That is not doctrinally true, although it is functionally factual these days. Area "authorities," be they currently designated Regional Representatives, Area Presidents, or Area Seventies, function today in general supervisory capacities over stake presidents; advising, counseling, training, and influencing stake high councilors. This is improper, but it is done, and confirmed by the reader above whose Boy Scout assignment had him rubbing shoulders with both stake high council members and Area Seventies.

Joseph Smith, as President of the Church, did not believe his calling put him in a position superior to William Marks, the president of the Nauvoo Stake. Neither did anyone consider the Twelve authorized to train, counsel, advise, or supervise members of the Nauvoo High Council.

And that's why we have such confusion today. These offices that are considered to be above the local stake leaders are illegitimate as concerns the operation of the church of Christ, and thus we engage in these fruitless debates. We can only argue whether or not an office is operating as the Lord has instructed. That is the only question we should be asking: Is is scriptural?

Niklas provides a statement from President Hinckley saying that one rank of Seventy is "designated" general authorities, while another rank is "designated" Area Authorities. But this means nothing to us as members of Christ's Church, because when making that statement Hinckley was not speaking as the prophet, but as president of the Corporation of the President. He was describing some new administrative hibrid of Seventy that does not exist in scripture. Had he been speaking as the prophet, his words would have been quoting a revelation from God.

As log reminds us, "this conversation only matters if the leadership is bound to observe the precepts of the scriptures."

This Church operates more on policy decisions today than on scripture or revelation. The Lord has given one definition of what a Seventy is and does, the Church fathers have made unauthorized changes resulting in their giving us another. That's why this debate is moot. If the leaders are not speaking words the Lord has put into their mouths, their words don't matter.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Robin Hood,
To answer your earlier question regarding deleting your own comments:

Just after the date and time at the end of your posted comment, you should see the icon of a garbage can. Readers have the ability to delete their own comments shortly after posting them by clicking on that garbage can.

Or, as I believe it's called in your neck of the woods, "a rubbish container."

Miguel Aveiro said...

Hey there Rock

Some info for you. Here is a map showing where the different Quorums of the Seventy serve:

http://www.ldschurchnewsarchive.com/articles/47265/Two-more-quorums-are-created-now-eight.html

There was also a map of the different areas and the names and pictures of the Area Seventies who served in them in an Ensign a while back but I can't find it right now. Wikipedia has a list of all the areas here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_(LDS_Church)

As for authority and keys. Elder Kopishke (an Area Seventy in Europe at the time) explained in a meeting in my mission (the first of three I served in during my mission) that there are different ways priesthood keys are given and that President Monson wants the members to understand keys better. I think I remember all of them.

1. By ordination, as is the case with the apostles.

2. By calling, as a Bishop, Stake President or President of a Quorum receives them for the duration of their calling.

3. By delegation, which is how the Seventies receive them. They are delegated by the apostles.

4. By assignment and he used the example of a Seventy forming a new stake. A member of my mission presidency (the second of the three missions) explained that a key can be given by a Bishop etc. for someone to do an assignment. So that's another way.

I've never heard this taught at church before or since. But then again, there are quite a few things like this that the membership at large are unaware of.

Robin Hood said...

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still" (Shakespeare).
I think we all know what "conceding the point" means Rock. You're playing with words mate, and I think you know it.

I also think you have misunderstood nearly everything I have said. At least it appears that way. I'm not as good a wordsmith as you so that is probably my fault.

You seem rather preoccupied with the office of Seventy. I have never made any comment about this office, other than with regards to what the church has officially stated concerning general authority status or otherwise.
But using your logic, why on earth would you ever assume a Seventy was a GA in the first place?
Seventies were never considered GA's in the early church (with the exception of the 7 Pres. of 70 - which is still the case in the RLDS/CofC by the way); not in the 19th century and not for most of the 20th century either.
There used to be a Seventy's quorum in every stake. Until the office was "re-invented" we had the Twelve (which are, I think we can all agree, GA's) and we had the Assistants to the Twelve (also designated GA's). Generally (apart from the aforementioned 7 presidents), no seventies at all at this level.
So, we had the 7 Presidents of Seventy who were considered GA's, but the rest of the Seventies in the world, scattered throughout the Stakes and irrespective of assignment, were not (though there was some cross-over as things began to change). So there has always been a "some are, some aren't" situation.

You also seem to intimate that you had accepted the view that an AS is not a GA until Paul Toscano commented as he did.
So Mattson says something and you believe that, then RH says something and you finally, after substantive evidence is produced and a lot of wriggling and shifting of feet, accept that or should I say "concede the point", and then Toscano weighs in with his ideas and you change your mind again. Why does "tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine" come so forcefully to mind?

But Toscano's logic is flawed, unless we are also going to describe the general Sunday school presidency, the general primary presidency, the general young mens presidency, the general Relief Society presidency, and the general young womens presidency as GA's. These are all called and sustained in General Conference, so according to his logic they have to be GA's!

Maybe it's the office itself that throws you. A seventy is a seventy is a seventy. How can one seventy be a GA and another not? (even though that has been the practice of the church since the Seventy's were established at the time of JS). But we don't question the fact that each ward has a Bishop (which is an Aaronic Priesthood office) who is also a High Priest but is not a GA, while one bishop in the church holding the same office and the same priesthood is considered a GA!
It swings both ways Rock.
It's an established principle and relates to assignment rather than to office.

Now Rock, it's clear to see you have got yourself into a bit of a muddle over this. It does seem complicated when investigated. And that is my very point.
You made a statement in your book, which you presented as fact, but was not. Ample evidence has been presented to demonstrate this beyond reasonable doubt, and all you had to do was say so. All you had to do was live up to your statement about correcting a mistake as soon as it is pointed out to you.
I honestly wish you had done that. The shenanigans resulting from your reluctance has left a very bad taste in the mouth.

So, to quote Tony Blair as he left the political stage.... "That is that. The End".

Log said...

But Toscano's logic is flawed, unless we are also going to describe the general Sunday school presidency, the general primary presidency, the general young mens presidency, the general Relief Society presidency, and the general young womens presidency as GA's. These are all called and sustained in General Conference, so according to his logic they have to be GA's!

Why not?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh my, are we not done yet?

I think it was very clear in my original post that I was "conceding the point," meaning I was not going to continue to INSIST that an Area Seventy was a GA, for the simple reason that at that stage it appeared impossible to figure out how those at Church headquarters defined the office. It was not an admission that you were right, as you seem to have presumed. My research confirmed to me only that it was impossible for me to tell whether you were right OR wrong.

Read again our exchange above. You asked, "Just so as I understand your position, are you now acknowledging that an area seventy is not a general authority?"

I responded saying "all I am acknowledging is that I'm confused," so I was willing to concede that an Area Seventy "MAY NOT BE" a general authority. You know, as in "there is a possibility that may be the case." It was not a definite change in my position, because, as I thought I made clear, I could not honestly come to a position, seeing as how even Church sources appeared to contradict each other on this question.

In other words, I had moved from a position of believing Area Seventies counted as general authorities, to being on the fence about it, pending further information.

I hate to appear to nitpick about this, Robin Hood, but you seem to have read your own meaning into my words.

I remained on the fence about this until Paul Toscano clarified to my satisfaction that Area Seventies are sustained in the same manner any general authority is sustained, which confirmed my previous suspicion that the basics of the office could not have changed from the day it was first instituted in 1835, unless the Lord changed it through revelation.

At that time, the scriptures are clear that the Seventy was equal to the First Presidency, which is equal to the Twelve. All three offices were understood at that time to be general authorities of the Church.

Where things got muddied is that since pioneer days, as you point out, Seventies began appearing all over the place. In the beginning there were only 70 in number. Hence the name. They were collectively known as "The Seventy Apostles," you will recall.

In our own day, all those thousands of 70's who had sprung up were NOT general authorities, but members of individual ward Seventies Quorums. More recently those ward Seventies were disbanded, bringing the number back down to 70. Except immediately the Church created several more quorums with 70 persons to a quorum, and placed those quorums under the jurisdiction of Salt Lake.

There is no reason to quibble about the legitimacy of those quorums, but it's clear that if they are to function as the original Seventy did, they are indeed general authorities.

Members of the Sunday School boards and Primary Boards, etc. would not be general authorities because God never established them through revelation as equal in authority to the First Presidency as he had with the original Quorum of the Seventy.

You misinterpret Paul Toscano's argument if you understand him to be saying merely that being sustained in conference makes someone a general authority.

I make no apology for changing my mind pending the arrival of further evidence. You seem to think that is a flaw in my character. I consider it a mark of maturity.

Veracity said...

Robin Hood,

I would like to point out that there is no emergency here. We are all just improving our understanding. I appreciate the information and reasoning you provided and the comments by other people too. It would be, or will, be nice when we have a definitive answer from an authoritative source about how the office of a Seventy and GA is defined by the church today. We can then make better comparisons between a Seventies and GAs today and the past definitions.

General Comment: (GC)

BTW, my great, great grandfather was one of the original "Seventy Apostles."

My father was one of the Seventies who operated at the ward level. I remember that Sunday when ward Seventies were disbanded. My father came home from priesthood meeting in the break we used to have between the meetings on Sunday. He told us about the change they were making in the priesthood offices at the ward level. I was young and I don't remember exactly what he said but I got the impression he was disappointed and felt a little unsettled about it. I think he felt the missionary work the Seventies were tasked with gave him a sense of purpose. He did not expect to have the same satisfaction as a High Priest. In a short time he accepted the change and moved forward.

Because of my family history relating to Seventies, the subject is interesting to me. I am not sure how important it is for us to understand these definitions. It seems to me that it is more important to understand charity, faith, and the truth as much as it is possible to know truth.

My experience is that most of us don't understand the true love of Christ. As I wake up and transcend my poor understanding of what Christ taught, I realize we don't know what we are doing, literally. This gives me a good reason to be patient with my brothers, sisters, and myself.

Wow, I am full of gratitude. All is right in the world. Things are as I have chosen them to be. Things are not perfect in a sense but they are perfectly beneficial. I have come so far and learned so much. I would like to thank all my teachers including the contributors of this blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I think Veracity crystallized my thinking perfectly when she said, "I would like to point out that there is no emergency here. We are all just improving our understanding."

Robin Hood, in my opinion, there simply is no urgency for either of us to settle this question to each other's satisfaction. We may as well be debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I do want you to know, however, that if I was convinced your interpretation was correct I would have no problem admitting it. This isn't an ego thing with me. It just happens that my opinion differs from yours, that's all.

By the way, thanks to all who provided more links to articles on the history of the Seventy. You have given me MUCH MORE than I ever wanted to know about this topic.

My Christmas present this year was a book on the History of the Silver Age DC Comics. So I think I'll finally set all this Churchy stuff aside and delve into the sort of questions that truly matter, such as: Who is faster, Superman or The Flash?

Gaybob Spongebath said...

Talk about opening a can of worms!
It would be easier to untangle the history of the Seventy than to settle the debate over whether Superman is faster than the Flash.

They participated in something like 4 or 5 races over the years, the first one ending in a tie, but others involving aliens and robots and even Bizarro Superman, making things so confusing that today we still don't know which of them can run the fastest.

Stick to what is easier, Rock. You are closer to understanding the Quorum of Seventies than you are the history of DC comics of the Sixties.

Galen said...

With a special stake conference scheduled for our stake in a couple of weeks under the direction of an Area Seventy, this discussion has taken on an added dimension for me. I confess to having never given a moment's thought to the question under discussion. I appreciate the discussion. The topic and the attendant confusion smells of the inherent confusion of a corporation attempting to function as a church.

Matthew said...

I guess I want to return to the original question - is it appropriate or permissible for an area seventy to mandate or require that a stake president take disciplinary action against a member (or else if you don't youll be in trouble)?

I ask because in this point after all these comments it would not seem to matter whether the area seventy is a GA or not (a seventy is a seventy). In other words if some seventy's are GA's (1st, 2nd) and others are not (the rest) then that distinction must be meaningless for purposes of church discipline.

It would be odd indeed if area seventy's in SLC or utah could not instigate disciplinary proceedings against a member by arm twisting a stake president but in other parts of the world an area seventy could legitimately behave that way simply because they don't have the title GA.

John Dehlin claims an area seventy spoke in logan before he got his letter and similarly with Kate Kelly. Does th church claim this is a legitimate use of their power? If not, why do we keep hearing reports that they are doing it.

Personally I think the truth may be in a grey area. Seventy's are allowed to communicate. They are not muzzled. They way they communicate (tone) may indicate grave concern about something (a blog) that a stake president is unaware of so based on the harsh demeanor of th seventy they feel they must do something.

Therefore the real question to me is whether any of these disciplinary proceedings would have occurred without any communication at all between a seventy and a stake president or bishop and frankly I think some of them never would have happened.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I believe you're right, Matthew. Most of the actions taken against members were initiated by the Seventy informing the stake President that he had "a problem."

So that seems to be the way it works, although it is not permitted in scripture. I suppose if the seventy were a member of my ward, he could legitimately act as accuser, but even then, given his rank as an authority representing the corporate Church, I would raise an objection.

But to answer your question, just because a Seventy is considered "Local" doesn't give him the right to accuse. He has to be a member of the same congregation as the accused.

Apostasy -real apostasy- is a serious thing, and should be dealt with. I can see no legitimate reason, for example, to allow a John C. Bennett to remain a member while actively working to destroy the community from within. But to lay that upon a believing member, simply because the authorities have secrets they prefer left secret? That is a serious thing in itself, and I would hate to be in the shoes of any Church authority who tried to use excommunication as a club to punish the seeker of truth.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Judging by the way some people interpret opinions of those high up as if they are commandments from God that must be followed (or commandments from leaders that must be followed), I wouldn't put it past people that they thought something an Area Seventy said about how a blogger is going against church teachings, constituted a direction to call them in for a worthiness interview.

I don't understand how it can be fair if someone finds out something a member did that was wrong, but can't bring it up with their bishop because they live outside their ward boundaries? Do they have to be part of their ward? Can't a seventy bring it up just as a concerned member and not as a general authority giving direction to a stake president.

Also, I'd love to learn more about this (relatively) non-hierarchal church that was around during Joseph Smith's day. How exactly would it work? Was each church unit basically independent of leaders high up? I believe leaders, like general authorities, can teach stake presidents and bishops how to do things. Isn't that how it is now, anyway?

Galen said...

My interest in this topic just ratcheted up a notch. What I thought was a one-off stake conference coming to my stake in a couple of weeks turns out to be a 'special meeting' under the direction of a member of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy. Another stake in our area has been invited on the same Sunday to a 'special meeting' under the direction of Elder Nelson. Hmm. I'll be sure to share anything of interest.

Irven Hill said...

"But Toscano's logic is flawed, unless we are also going to describe the general Sunday school presidency, the general primary presidency, the general young mens presidency, the general Relief Society presidency, and the general young womens presidency as GA's. These are all called and sustained in General Conference, so according to his logic they have to be GA's!"-Robin Hood

It really doesn't matter, but I have to say something, though it will do absolutely no good.

We've all heard of them being called "area authority seventies". They would be "general authorities" since they are accepted by the general membership. Robin's reasoning that Toscano's "logic" is flawed is not true. The general Sunday school presidency, the general primary presidency, the general young men's presidency, the general Relief Society presidency, and the general young women's presidency are not in any quarom of the seventy.

Gary explains Robin Hood precisely when he says, "red herring".

Does anyone believe that Robin would be happy if Rock would have said, you're right, it was an area authority, not a GA?

I highly doubt it. Bottom line, what difference does it make anyway?

mitcher said...

Thank you for continuing to post.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Migueil Aviero asks,

"I don't understand how it can be fair if someone finds out something a member did that was wrong, but can't bring it up with their bishop because they live outside their ward boundaries? Do they have to be part of their ward? Can't a seventy bring it up just as a concerned member and not as a general authority giving direction to a stake president."

I certainly see nothing wrong with any Church authority expressing concern -or even mere curiousity- about a member's beliefs and motivations. I would not have been concerned in the least had my bishop called me in to tell me he'd heard things and wanted to ask me in person what's going on.

I would have been happy to clarify my motivation, and in fact I did. My bishop, who admitted to not being very familiar with my blog, would have the chance to hear my side and my testimony.

But recall this: the reason I was called in was not to be questioned, but to be given ultimatums. The decision had already been made that I was to either quit blogging or quit the church. If this did come down from an Area Authority, he acted outside his authority; if it was from a member of the congregation, the bishop should have asked me what the heck is going on, and he would have gotten answers. I am fully convinced by our conversation that none of this was his doing, and that he was not happy to have been given those orders.

I would have been fine with a member of the First Presidency wanting more information about me and from me. What was improper was the rush to judgment prior to hearing from me, and that seems to have been decided beforehand.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Galen,
Please do keep us informed about that meeting.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

To respond further to Miquel's concerns:

Ahuizotl, who commented above, was not a member of my ward, but just someone who noticed I lived nearby. He complained to his bishop, who is now my stake president, wondering why someone who did not bend the knee to Church leadership would be a member of the church.

(Ahuizotl and I have since communicated privately, and sadly he no longer lives in this area, because we would have loved to meet together. Readers will recall he now considers his previous concerns to have been misplaced.)

I would think any member of the Church anywhere is entitled to complain about a member he disagrees with, but the first step in resolving these disagreements is to confront the source. In Ahuizotl's case, the source would be me, and further investigation into my blog and others similar to mine satisfied him that I am not in apostasy.

If I am an apostate, it would have been a simple thing to find several members in my own congregation who could see that for themselves, and Ahuizotl would not be the only one noticing. All it takes is two accusers coming forward. After that, the case would have to be proven. i.e. "apostasy" properly defined, and evidence of the accused's apostasy presented before the stake high council.

In the short time since I published my book, I've heard from several other bloggers who have faced high councils and been tried for apostasy, but no evidence of apostasy was presented at those hearings. They were essentially kangaroo courts where the stake president desired a certain outcome, and the high councilmen, who tend to see themselves as subservient to the stake president, rubber stamped the verdict.

So things are definitely off-kilter in some stakes of the church today; there does not seem to be much question of that.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I am persuaded by Irven Hill and Log's suggestions that the general Sunday school presidency, the general primary presidency, the general young men's presidency, the general Relief Society presidency, and the general young women's presidency may be classed as with the general authorities. It would seem that since the Correlation problem took hold, these departments administrate and dictate to the local bodies from Church headquarters. Each of these heads are given their marching orders from the Twelve, and they in turn tell the local's what's what.

General Authority? Who knows? But the outcome is the same. The Church today is run from the top down, instead of by the spirit as the scriptures direct.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I failed to respond to another of Miquel's questions, regarding the autonomous operations of the various branches of the church that did not follow Brigham Young west.

There were an estimated 26,000 Saints at the time of Joseph's death, approximately half of them went to the Rockies. The rest remained behind, not just in Nauvoo, but in Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, etc. In The Temple Lot Case circa 1898 or so, Joseph Smith III explained that these various branches continued to operate without central leadership. About 13 years later, I think it was, many of them came under the umbrella of the newly reorganized Church, which had, like Brigham's Church, recently incorporated.

My personal opinion (shared by many)is that was a mistake. (Joseph Smith III himself took some persuading to join the RLDS).


It would seem that many Saints were like Emma. Central leadership was not needed. Having a new prophet among the various branches wouldn't have hurt, but a prophet and a president have not quite proven to be the same thing, and that seems to be as true with the Josephites (RLDS)as with the Brighamites.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of tithing settlement...

Is it just my stake or are all stakes revoking recommends if one reports being anything less than a full tithe payer for the year? Because in my stake, even partial tithe payers get their cards taken away.

I've been in many, many wards and this has never been the case. The bishop would usually ask the member to commit to paying in full from that point forward and send them on their way.

This just doesn't sit right with me.

-Ashley

Nate said...

"I also consider this debate regarding the status of Area Seventies as completely moot, for reasons I'll give in a moment. It matters to me only because of the larger issue, which is this: Is Rock Waterman really willing to correct errors he writes on his blog, or is he just blowing smoke?"

I agree with your assessment of which of these two things is more important :)

To all those who think this is important because we care if LDS leaders are willing to follow the scriptures....

Uhh they haven't been following section 107 since the death of joseph smith. They have not been performing the sacrament according to the Book of Mormon or doctrine and covenants since who knows when. They have been excluding men from callings because of past transgressions for who knows how long, which completely conflicts with the Book of Mormon. They haven't been following many things in the scriptures since brigham young if not earlier.
The last time I was in a meeting with a seventy he quoted some pharisaic technicality from a handbook and then said "that is doctrine, it is in the handbook!" I am pretty sure I leaned over and puked on the guy next to me.
Guys this is the church, it has been that way for a very long time. If you want to change the church either preach the truth openly without fear of repercussion, or brown nose and fake it until you get a position as a seventy or higher then start undermining the other brown nosers and start a good old fashion coup d'état. Hell if you get up there and need help come and get me I will be ready to pitch in.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Thank you Rock for answering my questions. Nate suggested a coup d'etat in solution to our problems, but I'm not gonna go that far! Some people may not like that I say this, but I think the Lord would fix things by the proper channels, unless those channels get corrupted. The Lord has stated that this is only His church as long as it is founded on His rock. If the cup got filled and the church was no longer founded on the rock, I would (hopefully) side with the Lord, rather than the church. The Lord hasn't directed me as such, so I'm alright for now. I wouldn't suggest anyone should leave the church either, but should pray and ask God what He would have them do.

If the church constituted different autonomous stakes, then if one of them went sour, I would go to another one (whether I was excommunicated or not). The fact that we have a church with central leadership over hundreds of stakes, means that the central leadership could fix issues in a particular stake, but if they don't, then what are you left with, if you were excommunicated by one local leader? We should be able to appeal to the Apostles when we are unfairly judged. I hope they are fixing things, as directed by the Lord. I don't understand how people who teach us how to be close to the Lord through prayer, scripture study and service could be going so wrong as the Lord would separate himself from the church they are overseeing. Sure, they won't be perfect, and will sometimes let their personal opinions get in the way, but what we're talking about would be apostasy (or perhaps, incompetence), neither of which I am accusing them of.

Miguel Aveiro said...

The Lord has stated that His church needs to be united, or it is not His church. In the scriptures, the church, when everyone is united, is all in one body, not several autonomous ones. I think what the Lord means when He says the Seventy have the same authority as the Apostles and First Presidency, is that they all have the same priesthood authority. But then don't all Melchizedec Priesthood holders have the same authority? The way these men are different is simply how many and which people they oversee and minister to. Really though, I dunno.

I thought I was going somewhere with the stuff I read on this blog (which is the best one of this sort I have seen, btw) but I'm confused as to what this all leads to. People are pointing out problems, but what's going to happen? I believe the Lord is working with the church and has fixed things, like polygamy and the priesthood going to black people and the way that missionaries and members work together, to name a few.

I heard there was a former Catholic monk in my mission who noticed the discrepancies between what the Bible taught and what his church is doing and has done. He came to realise that things had gone wrong, but the Lord would sort it all out when He comes again. But then he met the missionaries and listening to them, he found that they taught what he had believed in and he joined the LDS church. So should we just be patient and wait for the Lord to sort things out, little by little, or in His Second Coming; or will He restore the restored church?

BK said...

Awesome last comment Nate.

Though no 'cope d'etat' can make the LDS Church 'Christ's real Church', it can surely turn it into a Church that really follows Christ and thus get his blessings.

For it's easy to become a Zion if people/leaders really wanted to, they just need to follow Christ's commandments and then I believe most members would follow those Christlike leaders.

Today we just have chaos in the Church and all churches because no one is following Christ, not the leaders or the members.



Miguel,

No one needs to 'pray about it' to see what they should do, for God already told us. Last I checked the Lord commanded all of us (in the NT) to stand for the right and speak out about false prophets and their falsehoods and evils and yes, to even leave false churches and not be deceived to support them.

If we can't detect them it's because we aren't following or studying Christ's teachings, but the teachings of men (prophets) instead.

'Praying about things' is the fastest way to be deceived, especially if we don't know what Christ said, for the Adversary is just waiting to answer our prayers by giving us the feeling or answer we want to hear, which we will then think came from God.

That's why Christ taught us to 'prove all things' by using facts and fruit, things we can see for sure, by comparing them to what He taught.

It's false prophets who tell us to 'pray about things' to test if they are true or not, for they know we will most likely think any good feeling is confirmation about their false teachings and then we will go along with them.

Christ was smarter then the average false Prophet. Prove things don't pray about them. Christ gave us all the answers already.

And yes, the channels of the LDS Church are completely corrupted and have been since Joseph Smith founded the Church (for he was corrupted) for the leaders are all apostates, as are all churches corrupted, for none seem to really follow Christ.

It seems your Catholic Monk just fell for the Missionary lines, which I once taught to Catholics in Italy too, but the problem is, the Church sounds good up front but doesn't really practice what they preach or promise.

And sorry but I strongly believe polygamy is coming back to the Church, very soon, as soon as it's legal nationally, which is soon. For the Church never really gave up polygamy, it supports and encourages 'serial polygamy' more today then ever, (despite how Christ condemned it) and still promotes and promises eternal polygamy.

The Lord can't 'sort out' churches or people who want to believe in or practice polygamy in any form, or any other evils, like the many that the LDS accepts.

Put Christ before Prophets and you will start to see these things.

Miguel Aveiro said...

BK,

Thanks for your reply. I don't agree that praying will lead us to being deceived. Jesus commanded us to pray so that we won't be tempted by the devil and I believe He means we won't be deceived. We know to our answers from God. How did people know Jesus was the Christ unless they received their answer from God? When Jesus asked His disciples "who say ye that I am?", Peter responded that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jeus tells him that flesh and blood didn't make this known to him but "my Father which is in Heaven."

You're right that we need to prove all things. I imagine Peter pondered the question and studied it the best he could and then asked Heavenly Father and the Spirit conveyed the answer to him.
How are people of different religions going to accept the message of Christ, simply by following Christ's words to prove him? They could be of a religion that doesn't believe in Christ, so why would they simply trust His words as found in books that they don't currently consider to be true scriptures?

The problem isn't people are praying for truth, the problem isn't we think that because we receive answers from the Spirit that certain teachings are true, everything else we hear at church must be true too. But we haven't investigated those things to find out for ourselves if they are.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Sorry, I didn't realise I made all these errors. The last paragraph was meant to read like this:

"The problem isn't that people are praying for truth, the problem is we think that because we receive answers from the Spirit that certain teachings are true, everything else we hear at church must be true too. But we haven't investigated those things to find out for ourselves if they are."

BK said...

Miguel,

I agree that Heavenly Father did reveal to Peter that Jesus was the Christ, for the Holy Spirit is a teacher of truth, but it's not how Jesus said to prove things. He asked us to pray for blessings, protection and in order to thank God, etc. but he told us to prove whether people or precepts are true by watching them to see if they in harmony with Christ's teachings, which is very easy to see if one is truly following Christ.

I'm sure Peter watched Christ also and the things he did and tested his teachings out by reason, common sense, the Golden Rule and especially by love, to know if what Christ taught made sense and seemed right or not. That is how anyone can know if the teachings of Christ are true. And yes, if they are righteous God will also teach them truth through the Spirit, which must also be proved before believed.

But the problem is no one is righteous enough (even the best prophets throughout history) to always tell the difference between revelation from God vs. revelation from the Adversary or thoughts from our own mind.

Just look in any religion and you will find countless people who say they have received a witness from the Spirit that their church, leader or teaching is true, or the only true one, just as sincere as any LDS believes that about his/her leader or church is true.

It is pride to think they are all wrong and deceived while the LDS are getting the only correct revelation.

Do you not see how so many other Christian religions follow Christ so much better then the LDS do? And who's leaders are so much more humble, righteous and Christlike then any LDS prophet from Joseph Smith to today? Have you compared the teachings of Christ to what the LDS leaders preach and practice? Can you see how they are so often opposite?

We do need the Holy Spirit to add a 2nd witness to what we prove to be true by watching and testing people & precepts, but we can't stand on personal revelation alone, for that much also be tested and proven before we should believe it, or even the best among us can be easily deceived.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Miquel,
When I speak of autonomous churches, I mean wards, stakes, or branches that don't look to the leadership for permission for every petty little thing, as if they were mere appendages of the corporation.

For instance, once correlation completely took hold, ward Relief Society rummage sales were no longer allowed, and ward events tightly controlled by policy found in the CHI. Why? Why can't wards decide on their own fundraisers,? Why not put on shows that have not been vetted and approved through Salt Lake? What happened to Roadshows? What happened to Ward Bazaars?

What we have today is the result of the loss of community on the local level, while everyone looks to the Church for guidance. It's not just the spirituality that has been drained from our communities; the fun and camaraderie has been taken, too.

Branches that are governed according to the scriptures have meetings that are conducted according to the spirit. That leads to a sense of community that comes from associating with like-minded people. Church should not be a drag, an obligation that most can't wait to get through with so they can go home.

That there should be cooperation between the various stakes goes without question. Some wards and branches will not have the means to care for their own, while others will have enough and to share. But things should have a communitarian feel, not be tightly controlled by a top-down corporate management style.

What I object to is the petty rules that govern the most mundane things about ward operations. We obtain unity by all following the guidance provided by our shared scriptures. The danger in seeking unity by all following the leaders is that the adversary has only to lead a few astray at the top, then everyone else follows them into the pit. The unity that would lead to our collective failure is not the kind of unity I think we are seeking for.

Log said...

People are pointing out problems, but what's going to happen?

This.

There will be no coup d'etat. There will be no cleansing. There will be no reformation.

D&C 112
24 Behold, vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth, a day of wrath, a day of burning, a day of desolation, of weeping, of mourning, and of lamentation; and as a whirlwind it shall come upon all the face of the earth, saith the Lord.

25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;

26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

Nate said...

It sounds like the Jehovah's witnesses are gonna get it first. Aren't they the ones who really profess to know his name?
No seriously though think about that scripture and then compare it with these verses

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, THAT NO MAN KNEW, BUT HE HIMSELF
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God (New Testament, Revelation, Revelation 19)

Are any of you readers professing to know the name of Christ? Are you sure you have it right? You see people of all religions think they just have God pinned down and they think they have the Word of God all figured out. It will be people stuck in orthodoxical systems who are immovable in their philosophies of men mingled with scripture who will be the first to be wiped out despite their zealousness and even many revelations. Too much trust in their idols whether the idol is joseph smith or Ron l Hubbard of Muhammed it doesn't matter. Bye bye

Log said...

"The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs," eh, Nate?

MrHFMetz said...

The office of “Area Seventy” does not exist in the D&C and is an invention of the modern LDS church, just as the office of “Assistant to the Twelve” was during the presidency of David O. McKay; the mere terminology in both instances, as well as the restriction of the authority of a Seventy to a specific area, are in fact illegitimate.
You are right to say that the institutional Church can't make up its mind about what a Seventy is or does. The church no longer understands the office of the Seventy since Brigham Young passed away. You write you stayed up all night pulling books off your shelves to get at the bottom of the controversy. Among the sources you consulted you fail to mention the Discourses of Brigham Young, compiled by John Widtsoe. Maybe because – as I have noticed – you are not charmed with BY, like most LDS. That proves unfortunate in this regard, because BY is specific about the office of the Seventy. Read BY and his contemporaries on the matter, I advise, especially JD 9: 87 . . . the Seventies hold the keys etc. of the Kingdom of God . . . the High Priests are a local body – they tarry at home, but the Seventies travel and preach. Also I found an interesting quote from Parley Pratt: “The High Priests possess the High Priesthood, but the Seventies possess the High Priesthood and the Apostleship, which is the highest power on earth or in the Church. (Nauvoo Record Book B. p.226). Not to forget B.H. Roberts, who was a president of the Seventy and who tried to defend the status of the Seventy as a General Church Authority, in a period when Heber J. Grant c.s. wanted to change it into a local priesthood (which they eventually did; just imagine what was going on at that time).
The Seventy, in the ideology as laid down in D&C 107, hold the keys, because from their midst new members of the Twelve should be chosen (see vers 38; like Matthias – a Seventy – was chosen to fill the vacancy in the Twelve after the death of Judas Iskariot), plus they are an independent body of Priesthood: they choose their own quorum membership (vers 95). As stated in the blog this is to prevent dictatorial rule in the church and to prevent men with a high worldly standing to infiltrate church leadership (which is going on today as you all know), and to guarantee a system of checks and balances within the church, and is an inspired system that is part of most modern civil government. D&C 107 should be read carefully, because it is the constitution of the Priesthood given by the Lord to the church.
It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith intentionally tried to prevent the Seventy and the High Priests to intermingle their affairs, and even went so far to dismiss High Priests who tried take part in a Seventy's meeting, advising them to join their own meeting.
The prophet considered it an insult to the Priesthood to ordain a man a High Priest after he had been ordained to the Apostleship. Today the Seventy, the Twelve and the First Presidency are all ordained High Priests, which is contrary to the holy order of God, and gives me the impression that the priesthood organisation in this church as a whole has become out of order.
Finally I recommend Ogden Kraut's book “The Seventies”, which gives good insight in the authority of this essential priesthood office and of its history in the church. He may not be on your bookshelf, being a convinced polygamist while you are not; well I am not either, but nevertheless I love his books. Goodbye then.

Dale B said...

I'm thinking we could clear this all up with a name change. It's pretty clear that the Church doesn't have the foggiest notion about what a 70 is or does or what their authority is or was. I propose that we combine all of these various quorums of 70, regional reps, area presidents, etc into a single group and give them a name that has the same scriptural authority; namely the College of Cardinals. I'm sure it will be pretty easy to defend the reorg when the Savior comes again as he doesn't seem to mind it when we make other changes to his Church without asking.

Nate said...

Log,

Yes! Ha ha that could be a discussion in itself. I have to hope that if each of us is truly living sincerely according to what we truly believe God wants us to do that he will refine us as we go along.
It is those who preach and then act without integrity to their convictions that have me a little baffled. The lukewarm will be spewed out. Sauls zealousness in his own convictions (which I assume he thought were according to God's will) were admirable before he became Paul even if his convictions were opposed to reality (the real reality) That is why I respect people who are forthright and stand up for their convictions even when we disagree. I figuratively bow to them in respect like a samurai :)

Irven Hill said...

MrHFMetz,

Your points are interesting to consider. But, I still maintain my point of: what does it matter if they are a "general authority" or an "area seventy" as some would argue? It's all semantics.

If Rock apologized and said, "fine it was an "area authority", not a GA, Robin Hood would be happy, but the fact still remains that the proper steps for discipline aren't even being attempted by many in the churchTM.

MarkinPNW said...

Speaking of Seventies, during almost of my growing up years in the '50's and '60's (I'm approximately Rock's age) my father was a member of the local stake Seventies quorum, at times serving as one of the seven Presidents of the local quorum.

My understanding was that he was ordained a Seventy when he was called to serve his full time mission in the late '40's (after his wartime military service, and before meeting and marrying my mother), and that ordaining missionaries as Seventies was the normal practice due to the calling of a Seventy being to go preach the Gospel to the world, but that the practice was later discontinued when there were not sufficient Elders to fill up the Elders quorums, due to all the male RM's being Seventies.

Robin Hood said...

MrHFMetz,
You are absolutely right. If Rock had simply acknowledged that he was mistaken about who the Church(TM) currently considers to be a general authority, I would certainly have been happy. But he just couldn't bring himself to do that.

You're also right about the convoluted past history of the Seventy, and you're certainly right about their relationship with the apostolic office. I remember reading once (I think it was Nibley) where it was pointed out that the original new testament Seventy were referred to as the 70 apostles. It has even been suggested that Paul was actually one of these 70 apostles, rather than a member of the Twelve.

I find your point about High Priests interesting and worthy of further investigation.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Log,
As you know, I agree with your assessment above that "There will be no coup d'etat. There will be no cleansing. There will be no reformation."

I don't think we can expect to fix this thing from within. The best we can do is recognize that the current crop of Church leaders are irrelevant to our spiritual well-being, then go about living the gospel the best we can according to the scriptures and revelations the Lord has already given us.

The more we look to "leaders" for instruction, the further we seem to be moving from God's will. Is it any wonder there is so much controversy revolving around these questions of rank, status, and duties of the Seventies? Very little of it appears to have been provided through the mouth of God. Instead, we see a history of patchwork administrative "fixes" one on top of the other, until today I'd wager not one modern Seventy has a clue his role was never intended to be one subservient to the Twelve.

Log said...

Rock,

You might find this post, and resulting comments, interesting.

Language warning.

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/01/xkcd-fixed-free-speech.html#comment-form

Log said...

Right now, almost all western and middle eastern societies are engaged in a fight against heterodoxy, both political and religious.

"Thou shalt not harbor nor express sentiments which disagree with ours or we will censure / silence / ostracize / kill you."

Can you imagine being in a society, forever and ever, worlds without end, where you were not free to think and speak without being penalized for it, and being happy there? Where others' penchant for taking offense circumscribed your liberties?

Boy, wouldn't that suck?

Log said...

Hmm. Maybe the real issue is "Team Loyalty" vs. "Liberty."

Maybe that's what the original fight was in the beginning, too.

Nate said...

Just to clarify since I brought up the coup de tat. I don't believe there will be a reformation or coup de tat from The Lord either. If there is it will just be a movement of men.
I guess there will be a cleansing of many things but new wine cannot be put into an old bottle.

Log said...
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Albert said...

What a tedious and nit-picking endless re-re-rehash - talk about rearranging deck-chairs on the Titanic ! The bottom-line point is that the Institutional Corporate Church is Out Of Order, the priesthood offices have become corrupted, the Seventy were Apostles of equal authority to the Twelve AND the Presidency, and unrighteous dominion is now the order of the day...

Rock, your original article here got me to digging thru a lot of my old books I haven't read in near 30 years, only to find that someone beat me to the punch in the comments. I'll have to be satisfied to second the recommendation to read Ogden Kraut's "The Seventies", rather than be the first. It won't answer your modern jurisdictional question; at best, by comparison, it will point out how far out of whack the administrative hierarchy has gotten.

The greater value of reading it is to obtain an inspiring depth of knowledge and understanding about who and what the Seventy were intended to be. The sad downside is how it brings to light what we have lost, what has been torn from the frame of the Old Ship Zion and tossed overboard... If you're interested, I'll loan you my copy next time I'm able to get down your way (I'm semi-local to you) - or I could just type up the Conclusion chapter for you and send that along as a teaser if you've a mind.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for the offer, Albert, but I already own most of Ogden Kraut's works. What an amazing scholar he was! And this in the days long before the internet made things so much easier. Although Ogden Kraut was a fundamentalist, when he latched onto a topic, he gave it the thorough treatment. The man knew everything about everything.

But you are right about that volume on the Seventy; which is currently out of reach somewhere in my boxes of books in the back room: knowing what the Seventy used to be and what the office meant certainly is a stark reminder of what we have lost and let go.

Please do come up this way when you have the chance anyway, Albert. I'd love to visit with you.

Albert said...

You got it boss ! (you know me under another name from FES convention days - I am recovering from a long illness and hope to be mobile someday in the near future...) I'm looking forward to it. GP

You're so right - Ogden Kraut deserves a lot of credit and thanks for an incredible body of work that pulled up the rug where so much had been swept... and for remaining so positive, almost inspiring, in the face of so much dismaying information.

Dawna james said...
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