Sunday, April 5, 2015

Any Opposed, Please Sit Down and Shut Up


Previously: Where'd Everybody Go?

Something really weird happened yesterday. During the general conference of the church, Elder Dieter Uchtdorf presented the names of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for a sustaining vote. When he asked for any opposed to manifest their votes, a handful of members responded by shouting, "Opposed."

But that wasn't the weird part. What was weird was the reaction of otherwise faithful latter-day Saints who felt those who voted in opposition were somehow out of line. Some described those who voted in opposition as "hecklers," which reveals their ignorance of the meaning of words as much as it does their understanding of church protocol.

Many member's objections to what occurred were typified by a statement Julie Ann Debenham expressed afterward to Fox News: “I think people have a right to oppose things. I just think there is a time and place to do it–and the time and place to do it is not inside the general assembly."

Well pardon me while I try to figure that one out.  The vote was taken in the general assembly; the general membership sitting in the general assembly were specifically requested at that time to manifest any votes in opposition. So...because some in the assembly followed church protocol by manifesting their votes at the proper place and time, others felt it would have been more appropriate had they done so some other place and some other time.

And we wonder why our critics accuse us Mormons of being dumbed down.

Just to be clear, these "dissenters" -a nasty sounding word I don't like using to describe people who are following the rules to the letter- were not in any way "heckling" Elder Uchtdorf. To heckle is to harass or badger a public speaker with impertinent questions or gibes. These people did nothing more than register their vote simply and quickly according to the rules laid down in scripture.  Then they sat down and said nothing more. They did not disrupt the meeting. The business of the meeting included asking for their opposing vote.  For his part, Uchtdorf responded appropriately by verbally acknowledging those opposing votes.

Majority carries. 'Nays' duly noted.

Done and done.

So why all the controversy breaking out on the internet?  I suppose it's controversial only because we are so unused to doing things the way the Lord instructs us to, that when we see it finally happen we panic. Didn't the Lord command  it be done in this very manner?
"And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference..." (D&C 124:144)
Not the time and place?  If Julie Ann Debenham were the only person who expressed that silly notion, we could smile and shrug it off.  But go online and have a look. Those very sentiments continue to be expressed by an army of smugly self-righteous, woefully ignorant latter-day Saints who are angry -visibly, vocally, furious- that anyone would have the gall to express a vote in conference contrary to their own.  Sometimes I tremble because of the pride of this people.
Matthew O. Richardson, Associate Dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University observes,
"Unfortunately, the law of common consent is viewed by many members as nothing more than an accompaniment to a business agenda. Perhaps because of the frequency of the event, application of the law of common consent may become an automated raising of a hand in mechanical approval." (Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants, pg 134)
The vote to oppose is no less valid or important than the vote to sustain:
"If members are opposed to the proposed action, they can also make it known in the same manner. This practice, formally known as the law of common consent, is not only a noticeable part of our meetings but also an essential principle in proper gospel government and personal progression." (Ibid.)
You want controversy? You should have been around in the earliest days of the church. Back then, before a vote was taken, the floor was opened for debate and discussion. If someone in the congregation had an issue with a candidate for office on the grounds of moral turpitude, the candidate's dirty laundry was liable to be aired right there in front of everybody.  At least the modern procedure is -or was 40 years ago- to refer the person with an objection to go and talk to a general authority, so his grievance could be heard in private and investigated if the matter warranted. This was the procedure N. Eldon Tanner followed in 1977 when a member of the congregation, Byron Marchant, registered his opposing vote:

President Tanner: It seems, President Kimball, that the voting has been unanimous in favor of these officers and General Authorities, and we would ask those new members of the First Quorum of the Seventy to take their seats with their brethren, please.
Voice from the gallery: President Tanner? President Tanner?
President Tanner: Yes?
Voice from the gallery: Did you note my negative vote?
President Tanner: No. Let me see it.
Voice from the gallery: Up here.
President Tanner: Oh, up there. I’m sorry, I couldn’t see up in that gallery. We’ll ask you to see Elder Hinckley immediately after this meeting. 

You'll notice Elder Tanner didn't balk at Brother Marchant for having the gall to voice his dissent right there in the middle of conference. Tanner responded to him with the respect you would expect from the Chair. After all, an opposing vote was asked for. Marchant's beef was his opposition to the Church's policy at that time of withholding the priesthood from black people.  I'm certain that when Elder Hinckley (an apostle at the time) met with Brother Marchant, he was not swayed by Marchant's arguments, but that's not the point. I also doubt Marchant held any illusion that his minority vote would change the policy. The reason dissenting votes are important is so that the record will reflect not all members are in lockstep, regardless of how many others may or may not share their views.  (Marchant was soon excommunicated for advocating a view that would become Church policy by the very next year. Go figure.)

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I have taken issue with Eldon Tanner in the past, but in my view he handled this situation perfectly; better, in fact, than Elder Uchtdorf did yesterday.  Uchtdorf  referred the dissenters to their respective stake presidents, where they had already hit the glass ceiling.  Their issues deserved to be brought directly to the attention of the Church's board of directors at Church headquarters.  Uchtdorf's failure to funnel their concerns to the proper authorities will only result in more problems in the future, as the hierarchy remains more and more isolated from the legitimate concerns of the rank and file.

There's one often overlooked reason for encouraging opposing votes when calling a person to an office in the Church: to save the Church from the kind of embarrassment it would prefer to avoid when a particular office-holder's past discrepancies come to light.  Joseph Fielding Smith (not that Joseph Fielding Smith -his nephew by the same name) was proposed as Church Patriarch in 1942. When the vote to sustain him was presented, there were no opposing voices heard, in spite of the fact that Smith had engaged in numerous sexual encounters with other boys during his days in the University of Utah theater department.  Years later, Connell O'Donavan interviewed one of Smith's classmates, Cynthia Blood:
Cynthia claimed that "everybody on campus knew" that Maud May Babcock and Joseph F. Smith, both from the university's Drama Department, "were queer", but it was pretty much "unspoken." Blood reported that "Professor Smith flitted amongst the boys and Maud flitted amongst us girls."
Connell Continues:
Joseph's ordination also dismayed several Mormons who knew that Smith was having sexual relations with other men. Ralph G. Smith reported that Joseph F. Smith "was known to be a homosexual. My brother, John [Gibbs Smith], was very, very upset because he was Captain of the anti-vice squad at the Salt Lake City Police Department. Why, he says, the man's got a record. He says, we've had many women call in and complain about him molesting their little boys [all over 18] at the school at the University of Utah". (Ralph G. Smith interview, as reported in Quinn, p. 387 n. 23) Winifred Haymond (or "Freda Hammond", 1907-1983, never married), a friend of Norval Service, reported that she was "stunned" at Smith's appointment as Patriarch. (From Connell O'Donovan with D.Michael Quinn, Chronology of Events on Patriarch Joseph Fielding Smith's Homosexuality, GaySaltLake.com  )
And yet with all these members of the church who were aware of the patriarch's proclivities, not one of them spoke up and opposed his nomination as Church Patriarch.

Now you may be one of those people who says, "who cares? Maybe what this church needs is more gay people in high office."

You're not getting the point. Whatever your views are on same sex issues and religion, it's irrelevant here. The question is, don't you think the leadership deserved a heads up from those outside their inner circle who knew a thing or two about Joseph Fielding Smith that they did not?  Because what finally ended up happening is that the father of a young LDS sailor whom Smith had been involved with, contacted president Heber J. Grant and told him what Smith had done to his son. Patriarch Smith had been serving for two years as patriarch of the church, giving important patriarchal blessings to important people, before quickly being released for reasons of "ill health."

But as often happens with these things, rumors eventually leaked out. The high calling of Church Patriarch couldn't help but be tainted by the scandal. Joseph Fielding Smith's cousin, Eldred G. Smith, was called to replace him in that office, and when Eldred died, members of the hierarchy quietly dissolved that office altogether. A once important position originally held by Joseph Smith's own father and brother doesn't even exist anymore in the church today.

Our Shared Responsibility
As members of the church of Jesus Christ we have a collective obligation to see to it that the church remains ours, not the private playground of a group of elites.  The very idea that the leaders could possibly act contrary to the will of God is anathema to some in the church today, yet our scriptures warn us to be ever vigilant when pride grips those in power.  They won't be able to see it, but we can, and the Lord entrusts us with the veto power in order to hold their pride in check.  We are reminded in D&C 121 that it is the disposition of almost all men, when they get a little authority, to begin to exercise unrighteous dominion over others.

It says Almost All men. That would include Mormon men. In particular, Mormon men given a little authority.

The Lord has given us the veto power, and we are expected to use it, even against the president of the church if we deem it necessary.  Here is Samantha Shelley writing at Whatsoever Is Good:
"In Joseph Smith’s days as President, he had a falling out with his First Counselor, Sidney Rigdon. Joseph was essentially done with him, and asked the congregation not to sustain him. The congregation sustained him anyway. Joseph accepted it and Sidney Rigdon continued to serve in the First Presidency. There have been other times throughout Church history when people haven’t received a majority vote, and as a result, someone else was called. It’s the way God instructed that His Church be organized, and we shouldn’t immediately judge anyone who doesn’t sustain someone to a calling as being “apostate”.
A brother by the name of Matthew, one of those who voted in opposition yesterday, did so for reasons I feel are well thought out and lacking in guile.  Here is what Matthew wrote on his blog:
"I opposed the vote to sustain the President, First Presidency, and 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the 185th General Conference yesterday. I wouldn't be making this public, except for the fact that I fear that the published reason that the group Any Opposed gave for their opposing votes will unduly influence the discussion about what happened from here on out, because it opened and ended with discussions of LGBT issues, therefore emphasizing them. While I don't claim that LGBT issues are unimportant (especially the suicides of LGBT individuals, which is truly tragic), I believe that these other issues are much more pressing, and hence needed more discussion and exposure.
"For me and hundreds of people I know, our issues with the Church have almost nothing to do with LGBT issues. We are not political or social crusaders trying to force a discussion on social issues or push the Church into changing doctrine or policies to align with a progressive philosophy. What we would like to see, what we believe is mandated in the scriptures that are given as "a law unto [the] Church" (D&C 42:49), is a return to the original doctrine as taught by Joseph Smith, and the more pure, Gospel-centered practices contained in the scriptures. Many of those who share my take on these issues have been excommunicated for their beliefs (you can read a partial list here), but undoubtedly they would have voted in opposition given the chance. My hope is that any faithful member coming across this will take time to read for understanding: even if you don't agree, try to understand where I and many, many others like me are coming from.
"I personally don't like contention; I eschew confrontation in my own life and, despite my failings and imperfections, want all members to come to a unity of the faith delivered to us by Christ, and restored through Joseph Smith. I am afraid that, if the Church doesn't correct its course soon, the Church will do things that will lead to a loss of that faith, and the fullness of the Gospel will be given to another people. [As the Savior warned in 3 Nephi 16 -Rock]
"I can't speak for anyone else, but I can list the reasons that I personally couldn't, in good conscience, either support or abstain from the sustaining vote of the leaders. I believe that every single one of those men are spiritual men. I believe they can be, and very often are, inspired. I believe many of them are honest. I believe many of them do the best, according to the traditions of their fathers and the Church, to be Christlike, and I believe that many of them succeed in becoming very Christlike. However, there is a difference between being spiritual, inspired, honest, and partially Christlike, and acting in full harmony with the requirements of your appointed station."
"I will not engage in the idolatrous notion that "they know more than me", and that therefore the problem lies with me, and that I should keep my thoughts to myself and get back in line. I don't claim to know more than the leaders; I claim that God knows more than us all, that His will is revealed in the scriptures, and that it is the duty devolving on every single member to know His will and use the light and truth that God gives us to judge whether our leaders are leading according to His will. If they're not, it is our duty to oppose the vote to sustain them, that the problems may be brought to light and fixed..."
Matthew goes on to provide a list of specific concerns, many of which I share. That entire essay is well worth your time. You can find the full post here.

It's Called Common 'Consent' For A Reason
The law of Common Consent exists because the Lord has decreed the people will be governed only by those whom the people themselves permit into office.  This system is so important to the Lord that policies of the church and even doctrines must be approved and voted on by the saints themselves before those doctrines become binding on the whole church.

Some members tend to forget that spiritual gifts, such as those of prophet, seer, and revelator, are separate from the administrative responsibilities leaders hold to govern church procedures and policies.  Those who confuse the two tend to wonder why we should even vote for Church leaders, since they presume God has already made the decision to put them in whatever office they are nominated for. But Brigham Young had some interesting things to say about that:
"Perhaps it may make some of you stumble, were I to ask you a question—Does a man’s being a Prophet in this Church prove that he shall be the President of it? I answer, no! A man may be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and it may have nothing to do with his being the president of the Church. Suffice it to say, that Joseph was the president of the Church, as long as he lived: the people chose to have it so. He always filled that responsible station by the voice of the people. Can you find any revelation appointing him the President of the Church? The keys of the Priesthood were committed to Joseph, to build up the Kingdom of God on the earth, and were not to be taken from him in time or in eternity; but when he was called to preside over the Church, it was by the voice of the people; though he held the keys of the Priesthood, independent of their voice.” (Journal of Discourses 1:133)
Apostle J. Reuben Clark reminds us that our vote to sustain is also a vote to elect. Though we do not choose the nominees, whether a nominee gets through the vetting process is supposed be up to us. It's a shame we have that much responsibility, yet are reluctant to recognize or use it:
“In the Church the nominating power rests in a group, the General Authorities, but the sustaining or electing power rests in the body of the Church, which under no circumstances nominates officers, the function of the Church body being solely to sustain or to elect. . . .” (General Conference Report April 1940)
Remember, it is not only our right and duty to oppose certain leaders who may be proposed to us if we don't feel right about them, but also to oppose policies and procedures that we suspect may not have been revealed to the Brethren from Heaven. I'll give Brigham Young the last word here:
"I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied…. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the Kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, 'If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are.'
"This is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord." (Journal of Discourses, 3:45)

UPDATE April 6th, 2014: As there continues to be considerable misjudgment concerning the motives of those who expressed votes in opposition last Saturday, I think my friend Regina Samuelson quite nicely summarized the problems that compelled these people to vote as they did. Here is what she had to say:

"Thoughts on the LDS Conference "opposed" folks:

"A) They are active, faithful members who feel that the church is being taken in the wrong direction.

"B) Worse, many have sought a forum for expressing their concerns and been dismissed on the local level.

"C) Even worse, many have sought a similar forum amongst the general leadership and been wholly ignored.

"D) According the Doctrine and Covenants, the reason the congregation is asked if the membership is in favor or opposed was to give those opposed a forum to express those concerns. A few members took advantage of that opportunity and have been hung out to dry as a result.

"E) Accepting the teachings and decisions of leaders without actually THINKING - albeit the membership is taught that if they abide by the will of the general leadership, even doing something wicked (as commanded) is forgivable in the eyes of God and will not be held against them - means not that the follower has faith; what they have is a Sheep Complex. Ostensibly, we have been given free will so that we can USE IT.

"FINALLY: All is not well in Zion...but the opposing votes are not at fault. They are a symptom of that which the leadership refuses to face, as per Uchtdorf NOT EVEN LOOKING UP: They have NOT been honest with the membership, and their focus is on things other than Jesus. Time to pay the piper."

                                                                      *****
Rules For Commenting: I again remind those who wish to comment that posting only as "Anonymous" has not been working for us and is therefore not 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 have to be strict about this because too many people posting as "anonymous" has resulted in chaos in the past.

238 comments:

1 – 200 of 238   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steve Foutz said...

I think there is a better mechanism to take up differences with the 15 than in General Conference. I don't think anyone really wants to hear the terms of the "opposed" votes, anymore than anyone wants to hear the reason for an "in favor" vote. Opinion was voiced, move on with the reason 3 million people signed on or showed up to listen. BTW, isn't there a more generic sign in certification than having one pick out examples of wine? Howbout selecting which breasts are silicone and which are not? I jest, but you get it, I'm sure

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick said...

I was just going to ask the same thing. Didn't the fellow in 1977 vote in the negative to protest the Priesthood ban, not to protest the ban being lifted? The ban was lifted in 1978.

Veracity said...

To anyone who cares to hear an opinion.

I wonder if those opposed will be excommunicated for apostasy. If so, there vote will not count in the next assembly of the saints. This may be an effective way to ensure a movement does not develop amongst the saints.

If people are threatened with repercussions when they vote at the appropreate time, then we will never know if the saints are honestly consenting to be lead by these leaders. It will be interesting to see what happens to these people. If a vote is only taken under some sort of durress, it renders the vote meaningless.

It will be interesting to see what happens to these people. I hope they are treated with respect and their opposing votes are listen to and understood by the leaders.

I am not endorsing the opposing votes. I am endorsing an honest system that respects votes from the memebers whether for or against the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Correct as usual, Uncle Friday.
-Amy

Alan Rock Waterman said...

You are correct, Patrick. Thanks for that clarification. I'm going to have to stop relying on my 40 year memory.

It seems someone or some group with fundamentalist leanings was heavily protesting the Church for adopting the new policy. I got my heretics mixed up.

I have re-edited the piece to reflect reality. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Eldred G. Smith was released as Patriarch to the Church in 1979 but he did not die until 2013, at the age of 106. No replacement was ever appointed after Eldred G. Smiths release, effectively putting an end to the office.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if those who are upset by such a manifestation of opposition would also be against bringing back an annual report of the Church's finances, such as we had until 1959.

Anonymous said...

D&C 124:144 - And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference;

Simple.

-Stephen

Log said...

So, let us perform a Golden Rule analysis.

Do I want to be punished for my beliefs or for expressing my beliefs?

"No."

Then I had not ought punish others for their beliefs or for expressing their beliefs.

This analysis, of course, only guides my own behavior since the Golden Rule precludes imposing the Golden Rule on others. But inasmuch as we style ourselves disciples of Christ, if it is truly our goal to follow our Lord, then is it not meet to do what he has asked?

But it might go farther, too. Do I want my beliefs and the expression thereof to be tolerated?

"Yes."

Then I had ought to tolerate the beliefs and the expression thereof of others.

Again, that's just my values. What are yours?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think none of us actually read the scriptures. Because common consent is laid out fairly clearly, yet no one knows about it. Section 121 very clearly states the conditions for an amen to priesthood, yet we have so many priesthood holders practicing unrighteous dominion over others that we have unrighteous excommunication happening just for dissenting, and even a whole movement of women who want priesthood for themselves because they can't trust many men who get a little power, as 121 goes. If we can't even follow the scriptures, what is the point of this multi billion dollar outfit? It will be little more than a corporation where everyone is scared of being fired.

Furthermore, we need to get over the fact that the people dared to utter a syllable out loud in conference. Big deal. Last I checked people were claiming the prophet is no more important than the primary teacher. So who cares if they verbally said "opposed" to make sure they would be counted in the great and spacious building with bright lighting, and Uchtdorf never lifted his eyes anyway. What else were they supposed to do. This fake reverence is a sacred cow we need to slaughter.
-Rebecca C.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. You would just find another issue.
Rebecca C.

Anonymous said...

What was disappointing was that Pres. Uchtdorf told those who opposed to see their stake presidents! Like that will do any good.

I was amazed and thought how true that the higher up leaders do not want to deal with members the way it was set up AND is still in the D and C. Just because the church is huge is no excuse for dissenting members to be ignored.

Those members have every right to oppose and they have a right to meet with an Apostle or someone in Salt Lake. If people who oppose are going to get ignored then the "voting" needs to be done away with. At all levels.

I opossed a stake president, many years ago. I was ignored. And brought trouble to my family for a very long time. The stake president was an arrogant, dishonest jerk. Still is, though no longer stake president. I was not about to support him. I know I have to repent because of my feelings about him, but just talking about him makes my blood boil. They probably did not know what to do. So ever since then I do not raise my hand in support of anyone.

JRSG

Annalea said...

A silent vote would not have been noted. Uchtdorf was staring at the podium, cameras trained on his face during the "any opposed".

Any method of voting can be used: raising a hand, vocal, standing, etc. He only asked for manifestation of the votes. He did not specify the manifestation.

BK said...

Great comment Rebecca!

That is definitely one reason why it's so important that the Church leaders repent & start to honor & respect women's divine equal authority, power & position in the Church, so they can help curb the seemingly nearly universal unrighteous dominion from male leaders from top to bottom.

As far as the 'opposed votes', I think it's wonderful those people spoke up for what is right. And hopefully next Conference there will be many more who will do the same.

Can you imagine what an wonderful impact it could have if hundreds opposed? I believe we will see that day soon.

And while numerous 'nays' may not change the minds of leaders, they can help fellow Saints to think twice before having such blind faith in those leaders.

Anonymous said...

Do we know why these individuals opposed? Do we know who they were? I heard that the bretheren were expecting this so clearly, it was planned and word got around. I am very curious. If you touched on this in the post, Rock, I'm sorry. I didn't have time to read the entire essay.

-Ashley

RR said...

D&C 107:82-84 specifically gives the procedure for removing the president of the church from office. Shouldn't that be sufficient to disprove the "never lead us astray" fallacy that is notably absent from all scriptures?
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/107.82-84#81

And if it's permitted to remove him from office in accordance with scripture, why would anyone frown upon simply voting against him in accordance with scripture?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous who commented that Eldred G. Smith was released.

I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong, but it was my understanding that he was wasn't actually released but placed on 'emeritus' status which basically entitled him to that office while he lived but in which he didn't function.

Can anyone add any enlightenment?

KiwiAussie

Ahuizotl said...

I know that one of the reasons that he noted for his opposition was because of a fear that the fullness might be taken from the Church and Rock added 3 Ne 16 as a reference.

However, the fullness has already been lost to us as a people.

D&C 124:28

"For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood."

The Saints defiled the temple in Kirtland and the Lord revealed to Joseph that "something new must be done for the salvation of His Church" (HC 2:489).

So we can see that the current church isn't operating from the fullness but from a lessor form.

Many of us are becoming aware and awake to current direction of the church and think that we can prevent the fullness from being lost, when in reality it was lost a long, long time ago.

The best we can do is live the way that God would have us and wait for another restoration to happen.

DarylinMesa said...

“We invite those who oppose any of the proposals to contact their Stake Presidents." President Uchtdorf, April 2015 General Conference Vote

This is actually my story.

--December 2014 - Attended ward conference, sat in the very back, quietly raised my hand in dissent on the first three choices for vote. (Top 3 Prophets, Seers, & Revelators (PSRs), Top 15 PSRs & All gen authorities)
--January 2015 - Stake president called me in to ask why I voted in dissent. I expressed my concerns, questions and dissatisfaction with current leadership.
--March 2015 - Sat before a disciplinary council for three hours where we discussed my "testimony" or lack thereof of the PSRs. Excommunicated that night.
--March 2015 - Two weeks later received a letter from the stake president officially notifying me of the council's decision to excommunicate me for apostasy. The final sentence in the letter invited me to re-gain a testimony of the PSRs, then I might be re-admitted into the church.

So when I hear people apposing, agreeing with my vote which led to being exed, I get electrified that my brothers and sisters are stepping up. I no longer have the right to express my vote in LDS conferences. But many of you do. I hope you vote wisely.

DARYL BROWN - MESA, ARIZONA

John Coltharp said...

I was excommunicated for raising my hand in opposition to the First Presidency and Twelve during Stake Conference, about a year ago. There were other factors that contributed, but my public opposition by raising my hand, and my refusal to recant my opposition, was the official and primary reason for my excommunication.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Just Another LDS Robot said...



@Daryl
Wow, how very Christ like to cast you out of the flock and apart from your family for eternity for expressing your concerns and opinion.

So much for leaving the 99 and going after the 1.

When we are persecuted for standing up and honestly expressing our opinion and concerns, having integrity, despite the consequences, we are doing it for the truths sake and I believe that is his cause.


John 16:1-4

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues [churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them."

Annalea said...

To anonymous, who said: "darylinmesa,
my guess is that you were excommunicated for the reasons you opposed which were not in harmony with the gospel ....not because of the mere act of opposing. If you had opposed for the reason opposition is meant for, which is the knowledge of unworthiness of the person in question, your opposition would have been useful. do you know of a reason president Monson is not worthy to be prophet? if not, then opposing his position is not appropriate."

Concerns about leadership and their decisions ARE worthiness issues. Misuse of tithing, failing to care of the poor, obfuscating history for the sake of propping up public image, refusing to only disburse funds by common consent . . . these are basic Ten Commandment issues, and are JUST as important to worthiness as whatever your definition of worthiness might be.

Thoughts/differences in belief should NEVER be ground for excommunication . . . even the Book of Mormon recognizes that. (There was no law against a man's belief, only what he did.)

BK said...

Anonymous,

'My guess' is that Daryl opposed because 'the leaders' were not in harmony with the gospel, not that he wasn't him. It appears that Daryl is standing up for Christ far more then the Church leaders ever have.

I'm sorry if you don't see what Daryl can see, for it is not hard to see their 'unworthiness' if we truly believe in Christ and his teachings.

I believe there are many ways that Pres. Monson and all other leaders of the Church are 'not' keeping Christ's commandments or following his Gospel & thus are completely 'unworthy' to hold leadership positions in a christian church, let alone be considered 'true prophets' or disciples of Christ.

I would be not be following Christ if I supported or voted for them. For Christ commanded us not to follow or support men who do the things they do.

Anonymous said...

Rock, I have never commented before, but I have read and enjoyed your blog very much for several months now.

All it took was trying to log onto your site this morning for me to realize that you (or is it this particular post?) must be nearing 'Public Enemy No. 1' status with LDS Inc. Let me elaborate:

Before I could even finish typing your blog address, I was instantly redirected to a 'puremormonism.COM' website; a site I've NEVER visited before and which, at first glance, appears to be a church-sponsored, apologist site. This phenomenon happened over the course of multiple attempts, on different screens, and in spite of all cookies and browsing histories being deleted several times (indulge me here. I found the whole exercise quite entertaining!).

Hhm-m-m-m, has the corporation unleashed its tech-minions in order to direct unwitting visitors to your site AWAY from what you have to say? If so, congratulations, Rock. Your collective observations have managed to hit a particularly raw nerve!!

Personally, I find it a little pathetic that the corporation has decided folks need to be 'saved' from visiting your site at all costs. The automatic 'redirection' is a small inconvenience that only makes them look that much more desperate.

I'd love to know if others have had this same experience today. If so,then the increased efforts by the LDS Inc to keep impressionable Saints from your observations is a testament to the quality and prescience of your content!

Keep up the good work, Rock. I'm finding my own voice because of blogs like yours.

VoteHasBeenNoted said...

I posted this over at totheremnant, but figured it would be perhaps more appropriate here, given your affinity for Disney---

I'm pretty sure saying "go see your SP" is against the rules... Not that those matter all that much anymore. But even the handbook requires that the person presiding at the meeting confer personally, or perhaps designate someone to confer with them afterward to hear and address the objection. Assuming that practice is appropriate (rather dubious, but a topic for another day...) I'm pretty sure we're all supposed to be on equal ground. Therefore the more appropriate thing to do would be to designate someone who's there, in the meeting, to hear the objections. In 1980 Elder Hinckley met with those casting dissenting votes. "Go see your SP [for a hasty excommunication by a totally unbiased and completely fair disciplinary council]" strikes me as reinforcing their bureaucratic control, and expressing that the central command isn't at all interested in what you little people have to say, beyond "noting" it in some file that will go in a drawer somewhere. We've got some middle managers a few levels down from us you can talk to, who will see to it you are stripped of any membership privileges. Can you imagine if some corporation did that at their annual shareholders meeting? I recently listened to Disney's annual meeting, and found that any shareholder, great or small, had an opportunity to ask questions of the guys at the top. Bob Iger would have been run out of town if he had said "any of you who don't like everything I'm doing, go see your local Disney Store Manager and tell him about it, so he can revoke your shares and void your annual pass" Rather sad that the Church of Jesus Christ isn't even measuring up to the same standard as the Walt Disney Company.

Homeschool Mom said...

Rock, on your previous blog post I left a comment asking for anyone's opinion on the dissenting votes from saturday's conference. When I got on your blog today, I was surprised to see a post addressing the issue! Really, you didn't have to write a whole post just to answer my question!! I am joking! You probably didn't even see my comment, but it still made me laugh when I saw your new post.
I wasn't watching conference so I wasn't aware of what had happened until my facebook news feed blew up with "I sustain the prophet" comments. I had to go check what in the heck was going on.
I would like to know if there is some kind of screen on that podium with feed from the lds PR department?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Just a reminder that those posting as "Anonymous" without any additional identifier are at risk of having their comments deleted, particularly if we suspect the author is the notorious troll who seems to have an obsession about me. Please refer to the note at the bottom of the original post for alternative methods of posting comments.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

UPDATE:
In my hurry to get this blog entry posted before the sun went down yesterday, I had somehow neglected to include what I felt was the most important point I had intended to get across: the Lord's specific commandment regarding the vote in congress over the leaders.

Seeing as how the debate continues to rage online with many members insisting those who made their views manifest were out of line, I have gone back and inserted the Lord's words as revealed in 1841. You can find them now safely ensconsed in the body of my piece. Here is that commandment:

"And a commandment I give unto you, that you should fill all these offices and approve of those names which I have mentioned, or else disapprove of them at my general conference..." (D&C 124:144)

scottstover said...

The amazing thing to me is that people don't seem to be able to see the hypocrisy involved here. We extol agency, free will, the honest search for truth, but only as long as our exercise of that agency doesn't go outside the box that is so deftly defined by "the philosophies of men mingled with scripture".

The church will pull recommends, disfellowship and excommunicate because of an individual's opinion of a man or men. Whether it be one who believes the word of an ex-communicated former member, or one who rejects the "prophet, seer and revelator" tag placed on all apostles as soon as they are appointed - this judgment of a man is a primary determinant of one's worthiness to participate in the church, regardless that man's relationship with the Savior. One must ask, then, "whos church is it - the Savior's, or a man's church".

Just Another LDS Robot said...

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire

Now get back in line and send in that tithe check, we have more real estate investments to make!!!

Log said...

I've been thinking about that quote a lot recently, Robot.

I guess God doesn't rule over us.

Robots! said...

No, not the way man does. He does not try to control us, he respects our free agency.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Member with all the bad ideas said...

I have an idea. Let's save up opposing votes for a while because they can only be used once. We could organize more than 11,000 people to go to conference to vote out the prophets, seers, and revealators who never prophesy, see, or reveal anything.

But wait a minute. That will never work. Five people could not do that without having the church know about it in advance. What are the chances that the church will let in more than half of the congregation who will not sustain the leaders.

You know what we really need is the restoration of Gods church on the earth today. We could have people who prophesy and speak in tongs and show all sorts of gifts of the spirit.

Just think how blessed we would be if we could clearly communicate with our maker. Even if we had to rely on one man who truly communicated with God and delivered his words to us so we could know what to do to be happy and thrive. We could be ahead of the social changes instead of 30 years behind. We could be ahead of the field of psychology and psychiatry instead of leading the world in the use and abuse of prescription medications for mental disorders. We could lead the the world in having the lowest suicide rate.

We could do so much better if we had the leadership of an all knowing and all seeing being. There are so many pitfalls in life and even though we intellectually know what many of them are, we don't know how to get ourselves to make the lasting changes needed to live the best way we can. I am sure an all knowing being would know how to help those of us who want to make good decisions in our lives. He could teach all of us true and honest seekers how to be emotionally stable.

God loves us, right? He would help us if we are truly sincere about doing what is best for us and our families, right? Would he make us go through a group of men for help when they don't offer any specific help? Platitudes is all I hear. What about my specific problems?

However, if I get the specific help I need directly from God in answer to my specific prayers, then why do I need the platitude makers? Why do I need to send money to them? Oh ya. I need to get some ordinances from them so I can have a chance at living with God again after I die. Even if I am happily following what God tells me to do with my life now. I cannot live with him later unless I send money to men now. I have to agree that they are the only ones who are called of God to tell me what to do. They set up a bunch of common men who can judge me. These common guys can decide if I am can enjoy all the blessings God has for his true followers. Wait a minute. If I am a true follower of Christ, I would be pretty special. Why would a common judge be deciding if a special person like me can have all my blessings?

BK said...

Member with all the bad ideas,

I think you've got it. A true follower of Christ 'doesn't' need a middle man communicating with God for him, he can do it himself just as well if not far better.

A true follower of Christ can discern truth from evil himself and get answers on any question & make all righteous decisions for his life, himself.

God never wanted us to trust men to communicate to God for us, for men will always lead us astray with their errors, no matter how well meaning they may be.

And the full Gospel of Jesus Christ does not need to be 'restored' for it was never lost, it has been here on earth in all it's glory for 2000 years, right in the New Testament, for all who care to study Christ's words & gain the blessings.

It has been 'false men' not Christ, who have told us we need special 'authority', special 'ordinances', special leaders, special callings, special buildings of worship, special visitations, special tithing to pay men to preach to us in fine sanctuaries, in order to gain Eternal Life.

When all Christ said was to 'follow his few simple teachings' & the proof whether we do or not, is just in how well we take care of the 'needy & afflicted' around us & live the Golden Rule with love. That's basically it.

So easy, so clear, so simple, even most children understand it, but few adults do.

It's false prophets who always add numerous things to complicate & confuse the pure & simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Scott said...

The problem with Ms. Samuelson's assertions are that they start with a complete error.
I don't know who all five of the 'opposing voters' were, but I know one of them personally. One of the organizers of the display. He is a former member that now considers himself to be an atheist. That's about as far from active, faithful member as you can get.
So my question is whether she was misinformed, guessing, or lying?

But I AM a damn robot! said...

"God never wanted us to trust men to communicate to God for us, for men will always lead us astray with their errors, no matter how well meaning they may be."

The purpose of a prophet is to lead us to a personal relationship with God. Not to just give us a list of rules and a message from him once a year.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Very interesting. I am wondering how he was able to get his hands on a ticket to Conference? I assume a member friend obtained one for him? It doesn't seem right that an ex-Mormon atheist's vote could count. Perhaps the church knew this and this is why it appears that they did not do much about it? Maybe if the member who actually received the ticket from the church opposed himself/herself, matters would have been handled differently? Who knows?

BK/Lily,

I appreciate that you care so much about your personal religion to try to spread what you believe all over the Bloggernacle. I do not mean to be rude, but much of what you say is very hurtful. You speak of what Jesus would do/say in so many situations, yet you insist, time and time again, that remarried people are adulterers. You talk about personal revelation and how we do not need a middle man to communicate with our creator. Well, let me say this. I was abused in my first marriage. I was lucky to get out and now I am very happily married to someone else and we have started a family. My personal revelation tells me that what you read in the Bible about Jesus calling me an adulterer is wrong - I believe this is something that evil men inserted on their own when translating the scriptures. I feel at peace with my Savior and very much believe that He is happy with me and my choices. I feel the Spirit every day. Please be more considerate when trying to perpetuate your beliefs. I guess I am saying this now because I am so tired of coming across your long-winded comments that say hurtful things to others.

-Ashley

BK said...

Ashley,

I rarely comment about Christ's teachings against divorce & remarriage because I agree that they do seem 'hurtful'. You must be remembering comments from long ago.

But I understand what you have gone through and I know how awful it is & I don't like what Christ said anymore then you do.

But I do believe his words are true after watching & studying the consequences of divorce & remarriage on people & society for milleniums, coupled with the positives of having true unconditional love, and because the Spirit teaches to me that those words of Christ are true & why it's best to live them despite how difficult & undesirable it may be.

Thus I believe it is possible to live Christ's teachings & that they will bring us the most 'eventual & eternal' happiness for doing so.

But again, I realize how hard & even hurtful Christ's teachings are & sound & how they can cause us even further suffering in this life. No one liked Christ's words in his day either, often not even his own Apostles, who also expressed rejection, doubt & wonder at his teachings.

Most Christian Churches, including the LDS, preach Christ's words but do not really expect anyone to live them, because they are too hard & hurtful & thus they would have few if any members, for I don't know anyone who 'likes' all of Christ's teachings.

But we must not overlook how divorce & remarriage is equally or even more 'hurtful & destructive' for just as many if not more people, as Christ's teachings are.

And while I realize that following the world's enticing ideas of divorce & remarriage can 'sometimes' bring us much more happiness & ease 'in this life', we must realize that we just have never seen a world or society, or hardly even a person, that truly lives Christ's teachings, so it is hard to imagine how much better life or society could be if we all did things His way. I believe He knew something we don't.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Scott,
Was this organizer one of the people who actually attended and voted at conference? If so, his vote holds no weight. Only those who believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ are entitled to either sustain or oppose nominations in the church of Jesus Christ.

If, in fact, a non-believer was present and voted, his vote does not negate the votes or concerns of the others who did.

Other than the issues Matthew Bennet brought forth in his blog which I linked to in my piece; I am not aware of the concerns the others have; the important thing is that, as with Byron Marchant in 1977, their concerns are heard at the governing level. It's too bad President Uchtforf later blew them off and told them to express themselves to their stake presidents. Apparently they had already done that to no avail.

As long those who voted were believers in Jesus Christ, they acted properly by casting a vote in the church of Jesus Christ.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's very interesting, as a commenter above noted, that when some type "PureMormonism" into their URL they are automatically redirected to something called "PureMormonism.com."

It takes money to have people redirected like that. Someone is paying search engines money
to keep people from landing here.

Just a reminder that this address id Puremormonism.blogspot.com

oops! said...

you should have taken that domain name. Oops!

mark moe said...

So, back in the day...

Orson Pratt, an apostle, refuted Brigham's Adam God doctrine... Got in a lot of hot water. The doctrine is now dead... Why did he do this? IMO to stop the path(s) to apostasy.

Today, we need a lot of reformation since the path to apostasy is well paved. Let's start with a few things like open the books, give 100% honest church essays w/o tons of lies by omission and quit wedging man made philosophies in between God and us. Easy and monumental at the same time.

If the church can stand the test of a refining fire like this, the result will be outstanding for the long-term outlook. Or, we need to redirect our faith.

A confirmation of our creator and Jesus is not exclusive to ANY Christian church.

Should we not hold out leaders at least to the standard of the temple recommend questions? For me, a man/woman of position should exceed those standards. Evidence, the lovable but too politician like president Hinckley, when asked about curch financials, polygamy etc on clear records (and video)... He lied. Breaks my heart.

Miguel Aveiro said...

BK

I sincerely do not believe Christ taught that men could not divorce or re-marry under any circumstances. Why would He wish someone to remain in an abusive relationship? The Lord uses a marriage relationship to portray His relationship to the Church and He said that He divorced it when it got corrupt.

One has to look at context. He was talking about people who divorce so they can marry someone else. E.g. if I was married to Jeniffer and I developed a crush on Rebecca so I divorced Jeniffer to marry Rebecca. Both I and Rebecca would be committing adultery. While I don't have proof that's what the context was, it makes much more sense than "no second chances for anyone, even though God allows repentance and second chances for virtually everything else."

Miguel Aveiro said...

Okay, something just occurred to me. Why are we required to sustain everybody, or else not pass our temple recommend questions? If I righteously don't sustain somebody, I don't think I would be barred from going (at least if it's an obvious big sin that I uncovered someone having done.) At least I shouldn't be!

The church materials say that "sustain" means "support". Well that case, yes I support my leaders. I would want people to support me. But I shouldn't support their wickedness, or allow them to serve if they are not worthy.

I don't see why someone should be excommunicated for not sustaining, in any case. Maybe they should not have their temple recommends, but excommunication should be just for serious sins. Why are people being excommunicated for expressing opinions?

Sorry, I have to go before the thought police find me.

BK said...

Miguel,

I don't believe that Christ wanted anyone to stay in an abusive relationship. I believe he believed in separating for safety reasons, but was just against dating or remarrying.

But though we may not believe the words of Christ and we may come up with our own beliefs, many, if not most, major Christian religions (Catholics, Baptists, LDS) admit that Christ did not allow divorce at all, though they do not really follow his teachings in practice anymore, for hardly no one believes in it anymore.

But there was no such thing as divorce for thousands of years (that's probably why men resorted to polygamy) until Moses came along and thought divorce would be a lesser evil to help curb worse things that were happening in his society.

But we know that John the Baptist agreed with Christ on his teachings on divorce.

David Fife said...

I voted with a raised hand of disapproval in front of my TV at BYU 26 years ago after an intensive year of reading LDS history. I voted with my warm body, time and my wallet to not support the brethren. We don't pay tithing; and none of my 5 children want to go on a mission. In full disclosure, my wife still attends and forces the little ones to go.
The church wants a unanimous vote in general conference, similar to what happens in North Korea every five years. It’s amazing, but Thomas S Monson and Kim Jong Un, both got 100% of the vote! East Germany, North Korea and the LDS church are built on a similar model. Controlling the knowledge (promoting ignorance) of your people is how you stay in power. The LDS church is in a period I call Glasnost. A period of reluctant openness. The last time I checked, I think that worked out great for the Soviet Union.
Rome is burning. The LDS church reminds me of GM in the 1970’s when the first Japanese cars starting showing up. “GM is so big and Toyota/Honda is so small! How could they possibly be a threat the American car industry?”
All would be forgiven on my part if the prophet would act like a prophet! Bro. Monson, don’t tell people to go shopping or bless banks or Law offices. Act like the leader of our heavenly father on the earth! General conference sounds like the wise advice of an elderly uncle or aunt, not anything prophetic or divine. I have difficulty seeing Jesus Christ blessing the Money changers, Pharisees and the scribes (lawyers).

Damn robots said...

I don't think our Heavenly Father intended for us to have spiritual "leaders", but spiritual teachers. Never the less, if we won't receive what he desires for us, he will give us what we think we need.

Anonymous said...

Precisely
-Rebecca C.

Anonymous said...

Ashley,

If God, Joseph and Mary were ok with life, I think you are good to go.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chris! :-)

-Ashley

Miguel Aveiro said...

Sorry, it's me again. I found this interesting article on the topic on LDS Living :http://ldsliving.com/story/78523-dissenting-votes-at-conference-everything-you-need-to-know

It explains what a dissenting vote is and the history of people giving dissenting votes. Please be advised, that what the article says about the group who opposed may not be factual (it's hard to find factual info on people who oppose the LDS church, for some reason...).

Also, here's a First Presidency Statement issued in April 1907, titled "Address To The World":

"Nominations to Church office may be made by revelation; and the right of nomination is usually exercised by those holding high authority, but it is a law that no person is to be ordained to any office in the Church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of its members. This law is operative as to all the officers of the Church, from the president down to the deacon. The ecclesiastical government itself exists by the will of the people; elections are frequent, and the members are at liberty to vote as they choose. True, the elective principle here operates by popular acceptance, rather than through popular selection, but it is none the less real. Where the foregoing facts exist as to any system, it is not and cannot be arbitrary.

The Church officers, in the exercise of their functions, are answerable to the Church. No officer, however exalted his position, is exempt from this law. All decisions, rulings and conduct of officials are subject to investigation, correction, revision and final rejection by the general assembly of the priesthood of the Church, its final court of appeal. Even the President, its highest officer, is subject to these laws, and special provision is made for his trial, and, if necessary, his deposition. Where these facts exist in any administration of government, it cannot be justly classed as a tyranny, nor considered a menace to free institutions."

The LDS Living article states that no leader in the church has ever called himself or herself and neither has any prophet been elected. With that wording, that is true. However, those leaders who are called may not be elected, due to some immoral behavior and while a prophet may not be elected (because it's not a church leadership position) his election as President of The Church, depends on the vote (or will) of the people. Not sustaining him as President is not necessarily going against God, as he may not be living correctly and may not be what the people desire.

Well, that's the way it should work.

MrHFMetz said...

You may try to portray yourself as not being hostile to the Church, but your gossip about Joseph Fielding Smith is across the line in my opinion. Do you need that kind of arguments to make your point? Weak.
Finally some people who stand up during sustaining, saying nay. What a comedy that even the newsmedia take note of it. But of course it is again one of the signs that the keys are turning.

MrHFMetz said...

One more thing; about Joseph Fielding Smith. I like him and he is one of my favourite presidents, because he had the courage to stand up against socalled "scientists" to defend the creation story against the idea of evolution. I read his Doctrines of Salvation and I could'nt get enough of it, and I enjoyed his strict interpretation of the scriptures. You don't see such people very much anymore. Maybe I am getting old.

Michael said...

@MrHFMetz -

You may want to re-read the post. The Joseph Field Smith being reference here is not the late apostle & president of the church. It is, instead, the one-time Church Patriarch who was, infact, a homosexual.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Fielding_Smith_(presiding_patriarch)

Anonymous said...

Michael said...

@MrHFMetz -

You may want to re-read the post. The Joseph Field Smith being reference here is not the late apostle & president of the church. It is, instead, the one-time Church Patriarch who was, infact, a homosexual.

So. Rock has a homosexual son, and GayBob Spongebath is also homosexual. I guess we should shout that from the rooftops.

Patrick

LDS, The new Scientology said...

I think Michael entirely missed the point Rock was trying to make. Too busy searching for evidence to support his own suspicions about Rock's true intentions are. Some people only hear what they want to hear. Sorry, though you're welcome to try again!

Gaybob Spongebath said...

I've told you before, Patrick, I'm not a homosexual. But you can go ahead and shout it from the housetops that I am if you want to. I really don't care.

Anonymous said...

the reason why that's one of the requirements for temple worthiness is because, as time has moved along, what the church's definition of temple worthiness is has more to do with being obedient to the organization than being converted to the lord. back in the day all you had to do was be willing to give your heart to christ; now, it's all about tithing, sustaining, etc.

- johnny alibi

Robin Hood said...

Just one thing Rock, though admittedly off-topic.
Did you notice that the 53 releases and 53 callings of area seventy's was not done in general conference? That's Toscano's previous argument (and yours) clearly shown to be in error.
I rest my case.

Michael said...

@LDS, The New Scientology:

I was simply pointing out that The JFS being referenced to in the post was, in fact, a homosexual. I was replying to MRHFMetz, who implied that the JFS being referenced was the late president of the church.

I get Rock's point and don't care about a person's sexual orientation.

Kenji said...

** Disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are my own, and in no way represent an official statement by the church. That said, they at least make sense to me, and so I share them here, in the hopes that perhaps it will help others make sense of things as well (I know most of us probably understand an implied disclaimer, but I figured I should be explicit, just in case ... :P) **

I spent some time reading/ skimming through the different comments on this and other pages discussing the “No” vote, and I can’t help but wonder what those who expressed it (and the others online who apparently share their views) are hoping to accomplish. I believe all who struggle with issues of doctrine, policy, organization in the church, and even with keeping the commandments, are eventually forced to answer this one question: is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints God’s church, or not? Meaning, do the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold the priesthood of God, with all priesthood keys given to man, and the rights to exercise them, or not?

From what I’ve read, apparently there are at least a few people who would say “No” to that question. In that case, no amount of voting, organizing, and advocating –- trying to mobilize a movement –- is going to do any good, for then we are left in the same predicament as the early (primitive) church, after all the apostles were killed/ otherwise removed. Yes, you can try to reform church practices, procedures, and even replace leadership, but no amount of *reformation* will bring the authority of God back. Only a *restoration* will do. This is exactly why we needed Joseph Smith and the First Vision, with all that followed. And so, if you say “No”, you’ll have to take it up with God Himself to try to get that investiture of authority back, or go find a church that claims it never left.

Now if you *do* think the Church is God’s church, then I see no way to claim that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are anything but prophets, seers, and revelators. The full bestowal of priesthood keys, as only granted to these two bodies, include the keys to formally represent God –- NO ONE ELSE has that right, except as granted by those who hold these priesthood keys. And so, no amount of mobilizing the masses to bring about change within the church, advocating whatever agenda you might have, can hope to gain that right -– you must gain the unified support of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, and you have to believe that, as a unified body, they *do in fact* represent God.

So, why even take a vote? I can’t claim to be smart enough to give all (or perhaps even the most compelling) reasons, but it is my understanding that a sustaining vote is *not* meant to change church policy, doctrine, or even organization (except in as much as a means to inform those with priesthood keys of issues of which they may not be aware -– once they are informed, decisions are left to them, and God). No, a sustaining vote is meant to be a personal, revelatory experience. It is the opportunity for you, within yourself, to ask if you really believe the bestowal of a calling to an individual is by God, and to receive a confirming witness that it is so, with the implication that you will then go forward with that knowledge in supporting that individual in their calling to the best of your ability. It is an opportunity for you to re-confirm or re-validate the testimony you have, and re-commit to living it. And if you do not feel that way when you ask such a question, it is an opportunity for you to re-connect with God.

I understand that this may sound harsh to some, but you have to ask yourself, is God with this church, or not? If so, then don’t worry – His mercy, longsuffering, and loving-kindness will cover all the weaknesses, imperfections, and mistakes church leaders (or anyone else) might make, and so you can confidently support even “bad” decisions they make, because Christ will cover it in the end. Let God be the judge.

Anonymous said...

Mr Hood,
Don't rest to quickly. This was a first page hit on an internet search. It seems to me that saying 106 names might not make for good television or be convenient for programming.
Back to the pasture for me.

Chris

http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/callings-general-conference-2013

NEWS RELEASE
Releases and Callings Announced at October 2013 General Conference
SALT LAKE CITY — 5 OCTOBER 2013

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced various leadership changes at the Saturday afternoon session of the Church’s 183rd Semiannual General Conference being held this weekend.

First Quorum of the Seventy

Elder John B. Dickson, Elder Paul E. Koelliker and Elder F. Michael Watson of the First Quorum of the Seventy were released and granted emeritus status.

Second Quorum of the Seventy

Elder Kent D. Watson of the Second Quorum of the Seventy was released.

Area Seventies

Julio A. Angulo, 45, Bogota, Colombia; Peter F. Evans, 54, Salt Lake City, Utah and Gennady N. Podvodov, 47, Donetsk, Ukraine, were sustained as Area Seventies.

César H. Hooker and Craig T. Wright were released as Area Seventies.

Area Seventies give part-time voluntary Church service within their assigned geographic areas and support area presidencies in international areas.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Kenji,
I appreciate your well presented arguments. I have seen similarly presented positions put forth by others much more stridently; more in the form of angry demands than as gentle questions. So it is nice to see someone present them in a way not meant to cause further schisms. Your concerns actually require a fuller blog post to respond to, and one day I will address the topic more completely. But I'll attempt to reply as briefly as I can for now.

I would suggest that are assuming facts not in evidence. I saw that vote take place, and nowhere did I notice President Uchtdorf call for a vote to reform church practices or procedures, to change doctrines or policies, or even replace church leadership, as you suggest those who voted in the negative were attempting to do.

No, Uchtdorf called for that vote because he was commanded to by the Lord, who instructed in the penultimate verse of D&C 124, "you should fill all these offices and approve of these names which I have mentioned, OR ELSE DISAPPROVE OF THEM at MY general conference.

Those voting in opposition were following the commandment of God to vote their consciences. Note the Lord tells us it is HIS conference. From the outcry we've heard from others, you would think these members had illegally crashed the event and disrupted THEIR little affair.

Note also that these few did nothing more than cast their vote of disapproval, per the Lord's instructions. They did not start haranguing the speaker about the need for any reforms, nor did they start yelling about changes they wished to see in practices, policies, or procedures of the church; nor did they happen to mention any particular candidates they would prefer see replace the leaders.

All they did was vote. They did so properly, and according to God' explicit command.

Did they wish to influence policy? If so, they won't get their chance, because Uchtdorf blew his obligation to arrange for them to have a private audience with someone in the hierarchy to share their grievances. He just blew them off and told them to go home. Uchtdorf was in the wrong on that point.

The right of mere members to change practices, policies, and procedures, by the way, is permitted in this church, although only God can provide the doctrines. That's what he gave us revelations for once upon a time. Policies and practices can be introduced by anyone.

If rank and file members had not taken the initiative in the past, we would have no Sunday School, no primary, no Young Adult programs, no church education system, no scouting, and no sacrament meetings today. All these programs were initiated by grass roots members of the church from the bottom up.

But again, I saw no attempt to introduce one single change in the church during that Saturday vote. All I saw was a vote, and a proper one at that.

(continued below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Kenji, (continued)

You ask, "is God with this church, or not?" I would definitely answer in the affirmative. God himself defines his church as all who repent and come unto him, and I can testify I have seen his hand operating in many individual members of His church throughout my life.

Perhaps a better question would be "Is God with the structural institution of this church?" That question is a little harder to answer on the fly, because we are simply given no evidence that this is so.

Were I asked to vote my opinion whether Thomas Monson and the other 13 top members of the hierarchy are actual "prophets, seers, and revelators," I'd have to vote "I don't know", because I have not seen those gifts in evidence among these men.

Subsequent to an informed vote, I would first want to know the time and date when each of these men were ordained of God. We certainly have no record of God ever ordaining Brigham Young, so our presumption that these gifts have been passed down from him is problematic.

Brigham Young was ELECTED president of the church. He was never ordained "prophet, seer, and revelator." So I wouldn't be so hasty to assume something I can't find any evidence for.

Which brings us back to the vote in last Saturday's conference. We as members of the church are entitled to elect anyone president of the church. He does not have to be a prophet, which is a good thing, because Brigham Young was not. On several occasions Brigham denied he was a prophet "as Joseph or Daniel were." He even acknowledged that others had claimed him to be Joseph's legal succesor, but "you never heard ME say so. "

You framed at least one question properly, Kenji : "Do the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold the priesthood of God, with all priesthood keys given to man, and the rights to exercise them, or not?"

That's a question all members deserve to study out and then take to the Lord prayerfully to get HIS answer. For most of my life I believed them to have that authority. Why? Because that was what I was taught. Happily, today we are able to search the historical records, so there is no excuse for anyone to not attempt to "study it out in their minds," as the Lord requires of us. Thousands of devout latter-day Saints who fervently embrace the Restoration are coming to the realization that to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God does not require them to accept everyone else who is presented to us as a "leader" possesses the same gifts and authority Joseph did. The Lord told Joseph it wouldn't work that way.

That is why the Lord REQUIRES us to express ourselves in the presence of the whole congregation, either to approve of disapprove. He expects that before we vote to place any man in authority over us, we have done some research, some praying, and some soul searching.

We are not expected to ASSUME these men were ordained at the hand of God, especially when we can't even mark the date on a calendar when such ordinations took place. To sustain automatically without having a sure knowledge is a failure of our duty.

As Brigham Young reminded the saints in his day, to do so "is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord."

Mike H said...

On the re-directing web-page subject I also noticed something new awhile back.

I get to rocks blog by googling it. You would think I would have it book-marked, but I have too many bookmarks to wade through all that. So in my google search bar I type in the letter "p" and it brings up the list of most searched items starting with "p", this blog at the top. I key down and hit enter getting to googles search page of pure mormonism. This works well because when I click the link it's always the most recent blog post.

Anyway, when I used to do this search for "pure mormonism" this blog would be the first listed on the google search page. But for awhile there has been a paid ad at the top for ...drumroll... The corporate institution.

It's gone now, but was there for awhile. It could be nothing but coincidence that the church was paying for google advertising for anything mormon, or it could be that they were intentionally targeting those searching for this blog, giving current members a guilt trip no doubt to pass by the official site to get to here.
:)

Tammy said...

Rock, I was reading in Joseph Smith papers volume 2 page 184, chapterLXXI appendix 1: proposed sixth gathering of the book of commandments, verses 29-31. It states:

29- And again the duty of the president of the office of the high priesthood, is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses.
30- Behold here is wisdom:
31- Yea, to be a seet, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God, which he bestoweth upon the head of the church:

Now, I have heard and pondered and believed the things that have been said about prophets and fruits and Thomas Monson bearing none, now I wonder what this passage is really saying. Could you or anyone in the know about this help me understand?

Tammy said...

Seer. I'm on my phone. :/

BK said...

Why would I vote or sustain 'anyone' to be 'in authority over me', especially if they weren't perfect? And even if there were perfect, why would I? Can't I discern direct my own life well enough? Let alone sustain, vote for or follow men who don't even follow Christ.

Why would anyone need someone to communicate to God for them, about anything? If we are not able to get our own answers from God, we surely wouldn't be able to tell if someone else got the right answer or not.

There is nothing that even a true & perfect prophet can do, that we can't & should do for ourselves.

And 'authority' is an interesting idea. If authority or even the ordinance of 'baptism' was so important to have in this life, then what about most all of the human race who lived without having access to either, or who just had access to Christ's words but not anyone worthy to baptize them? If they could be righteous without 'authority & baptism', why all this talk about a necessary 'restoration'?

Christ surely knew that very few people throughout history would ever live his laws, in his day or today or anciently. So it would be impossible to maintain a true church even if Christ started one in his day or restored one today. For as history has proved, it would become corrupted in just a few years if not immediately, even if he could find someone perfect enough to lead it.

I think the necessity of 'authority' is very overrated and if anything God bestows it naturally & individually to a person based on their obedience to his commandments.

Authority couldn't come from imperfect & often unrighteous men like all the prophets in the past, who claimed to have such authority but who clearly only made guesses, most all of which were wrong, as to who was righteous enough to pass it on to.

According to Christ we should & must all be prophets in this life, if we are going to attain Eternal life. And if we become a prophet in our own right, why couldn't God himself give us any authority we might need? I believe he would.

Why do we worship the idea of prophets so much? Even over Christ? When did Christ ever say to follow a prophet? In the past, present or future?

Why do people want & need 'prophets' so much that they even overlook the vilest of evils that they may do and still they call them true prophets?

Anonymous said...

@Kenji,

Along with Rock, I think your comment is definitely one of the better ones out there in terms of tone. You do not come off offensive or full of anger like so many other overzealous mormons do. you do not really attack the people for voting the way they did, just disagree with their actions. that's commendable.

however, i ultimately disagree with your entire argument, primarily because of the foundations it's based on. your entire argument rests on your introductory statement:

"I believe all who struggle with issues of doctrine, policy, organization in the church, and even with keeping the commandments, are eventually forced to answer this one question: is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints God’s church, or not? Meaning, do the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold the priesthood of God, with all priesthood keys given to man, and the rights to exercise them, or not?"

Essentially, you assume that because the LDS Church is of God, then so are its current leaders. you see them as one item, when they are in fact two separate items. the church can be of god and it's leaders not. To some people, the church (or the body of christ) is the people who believe in Christ, for one. I'll assume that you see the church as most orthodox mormons do: the institutional Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

this institutional church could definitely be of God. However, those who lead it on earth are imperfect men. and at any point they could lead it away in apostasy; the church being true, the leaders not. Orthodox mormons believe the prophet will never lead the church astray. I won't get into how God never claimed that to be true, as Rock has an excellent essay about it.

But the matter of fact is that because men are imperfect, it means they can make mistakes, either big enough to lead the church astray or at least big enough to not let them serve as presidents or leaders of the institutional lds church.

you may not believe that to be true, but it doesn't mean those who voted to not sustain see it that way. they believe (apart from just one person) that the church is of god, but its leaders have not been following god's will properly. so while you may believe that the church being true and the leaders being of god is one truth, one not able to exist without the other, they are actually separate.

P.S.: I'm sure many of those who lived in the time of the great apostasy, or during other apostasies, believed that their leaders were infallible and unable to lead them astray. one of the main reasons apostasies happen in gospel history is because men and women relied more in the leaders they saw ("the arm of flesh") then in God, who they couldn't see.

- johnny alibi

Jonathan Horton said...

I think most men in the church feel neutered. That is why they are losing so many. Men need a way to discuss things openly without consequences or they become resentful. More rule with iron fist = More outburst in conference. For every one willing to be go against the social norm of shutting up. There are thousands that would love to give the brethren an earful.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tammy,
No one can blame you for the confusion those verses seem to engender. Most of us read that section from our day, from the uncritical assumption that the presidents of the Church from Brigham on down automatically exercised those gifts of "a seer, a revelator, a translator and a prophet." The all important question is this: Did they?

Note the specific words of the Lord, and remember that at this time there still had been only one president of the high priesthood, Joseph Smith. First God spells out the duty of the man holding that office. The president of the high priesthood has the duty to preside over the whole church, like Moses did. Jesus prefaces his next statement with the words "Behold, this is wisdom" to mark what he is about to say next.

Why does he do that? Isn't every thing the Lord says "wisdom"?

I think he's asking us to pay careful attention here because the president of the church has specific duties he is supposed to diligently strive for. Like unto Moses. So what was Moses like? The Lord tells us: "Yea, a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet..."

Let's set aside for a moment whether President Monson has fulfilled any of those criteria of president like unto Moses. Monson is still with us and may very well produce a revelation or a prophecy yet. Let's instead take a look at Gordon B. Hinckley's body of work.

Hinckley was alive during most of our lifetimes, so his example will serve. Certainly we should be able to look back on his role as president of the church and determine whether he demonstrated facility with the gifts God gave to Moses and to Joseph Smith.

So let's consider: Do you remember seeing President Hinckley ever translate any ancient records? How about did he produce a revelation -did he reveal anything new in the voice of the Lord as Joseph Smith did? Maybe he prophesied. Maybe. I don't know, because I don't remember seeing him deliver any prophesies OR any revelations.

Maybe Hinckley just didn't bother to learn his duty. The next thing the Lord says in that chapter after he tells us what the duties of the president include is that "every man should LEARN his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, IN ALL DILIGENCE."

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Tammy, (Continued)

Gordon B. Hinckley was an amazingly effective manager and administrator. He was a whiz at public relations; the best PR representative this church has ever seen. No one could deflect a reporter's question the way he could. (Never mind whether the prophet's role is to deflect quesations, or provide answers to them.)

And Hinckley was ambitious. Directing those who controlled the Church's assets to divert billions of dollars into the City Creek project was his idea. If running and managing the church like a successful business was in Hinckley's job description, he was very good at it.

What he wasn't very good at were his duties as prophet, seer, translator, and revelator. In fact, he wasn't a very good theologian at all. He made stuff up that God never directed him to say, and he passed it off to the church as the gospel truth. Gordon B. Hinckley left a legacy in the form of a massive shopping center, but his fruits as prophet, seer, and revelator are decidedly lacking.

In that regard he is not much different from those who came before him going back to Brigham Young. President Heber Grant admitted privately that he knew of no one who had seen the Lord in person since Joseph Smith did.

Maybe it isn't the fault of any president since Joseph Smith that those fruits have not been manifest. Let's remember, this revelation under discussion was given in 1831. Two years later the Lord told Joseph Smith in a revelation that the whole church was under God's condemnation. I would suppose that condemnation would include none of the gifts of prophets, seers, and revelations would be forthcoming after Joseph Smith was gone.

Combine that with the fact that in D&C 104, the Lord told the saints at Nauvoo that he was pretty much finished with them because they had failed him in their duty. They had been given plenty of time to finish the temple but failed to do so. (They had managed to build finished homes, a hotel, post office, and other impressive buildings including a Masonic Lodge in Nauvoo, but for some reason they took their time on that temple.)

By their own works (or lack of works), he told them, the Saints were bringing curses, wraths, and judgments on their heads. He even fortold they would be driven from their homes and into the desert.

I don't know how God expects the president to fulfill his duties if God is the one who chooses not to speak to him as he did with Moses and Joseph Smith. That seems to me a dilemma with no easy answer.

All I do know is that in the final verse of that revelation (which can be found as part of our modern Doctrine & Covenants section 107), the Lord says, in reference to the president of the high priesthood, as well as all others holding office in the church, "he that learneth not his duty, AND SHOWETH HIMSELF NOT APPROVED, shall not be counted worthy to stand."

To stand where? In the office he has been appointed to. (Note: there is a world of difference between being apointed and being "anointed."

Who is the president required to show himself approved by? Why the members, of course. It is only the members, you'll recall, who are under COMMANDMENT to either approve or disapprove the job performance of the president of the high priesthood. It is the members who are charged with determining whether the president has fulfilled the duties God insists he should fulfill when in that office.

If a sufficient number of the members determine he has not performed the duties required of that office, the duties God says devolve upon that office, then out he goes. By a vote of the people themselves.

My personal opinion is that those few who voted "opposed" because they questioned President Monson's ability to fulfill his duties were much more aware of their responsibilities as members than many of the thousands who raised their right hands without even thinking about what they were raising them about.

JB said...

@ Rock:

"I don't know how God expects the president to fulfill his duties if God is the one who chooses not to speak to him as he did with Moses and Joseph Smith. That seems to me a dilemma with no easy answer. "

This is a very good point, indeed has no easy answer. I certainly agree that today's church leaders do little in the way of prophecy, seership, etc.

However, it does raise an interesting point why - could it be simply because at certain times God withholds further revelation (including the very direct revelations/visitations that Joseph had) due to the overall unbelief of the Church as a whole? So in fact whatever further revelation is given through the prophet is actually a reflection of the overall faith/readiness of the church members to hear? Many times in the scriptures prophets were forbidden to write/state what they had seen, and the reason given is the unbelief of the children of men.

I guess what I'm proposing is that perhaps the lack of further revelation/seership/etc through the modern prophets/apostles possibly has less to do with their capability to receive these things, and more to do with the overall lack of faith/readiness of the general membership to receive further light (having not lived fully to the light already given). And so in such a state, individual members may indeed receive more direct revelation themselves, but not the church as a whole, unless the general body of membership is indeed prepared for it.

Does this makes sense? Any thoughts?

Robin Hood said...

To be honest we need to see the contrary votes in GC for what they really were... stunts.
It had the desired effect in that the tongues of the chattering classes were set wagging, but that is about it. How many of them will make an appointment with their stake president as Pres. Uchtdorf advised? I'd wager not many.
It was just a stunt. It's been done before (I remember a similar incident in the 1970's) and it'll be done again.
In the meantime the vast majority of the Saints will continue to serve the Lord in their individual stations, read their scriptures, do their home teaching, bear their testimonies, serve their neighbours, deal with life's problems and issues, learn more of the Saviour, keep the commandments as best they can, raise their families and love the Lord.
So, someone raised their hand in opposition.... big deal.

Anonymous said...

Rock,

You said: " He made stuff up that God never directed him to say, and he passed it off to the church as the gospel truth."

I am with you on so many things - your work has helped me realize that I am not a terrible person because I have unique circumstances that make it literally impossible to be the cookie-cutter Mormon girl. I read your blog because it makes me feel like my Heavenly Father loves me anyway because he knows my heart.

However, I have a hard time feeling comfortable with the statement you made above. How do you know that GBH "made up stuff that God never intended him to say?" What if Christ himself appeared to GBH and conversed with him? Were you there? Did you hear what Christ said? I think that this claim goes a step too far.

I for one loved GBH. I miss him dearly. I used to have a client who worked with the First Presidency. She told me how fantastic it was to be in the presence of GBH and how she loathed the day he would pass away because "Thomas S. Monson was so gruff." I think TSM has become softer in his old age but my point is that Hinkley was so special to so many of us. So many of his words were comforting and I felt deep in my heart that he was a loving, inspired man.

I wish, Rock, that you weren't so hard on our leaders. I agree they fall short (tithing spending issues, etc). I have had some personal experiences in which local leaders have caused me some serious grief but I've also had experiences where they have helped me heal emotionally and have been dear blessings in my life. I realize that you need to follow your own conscience but I wish that you could see the FP and Q12 with a bit more understanding and charity. I sometimes feel angry with them but then I watch Conference and feel that they are the best the Lord has right now and we'd do well to at least listen to them and apply their messages to our lives.

Love and peace.

-Ashley, Hyrum Smith's grrrreat granddaughter

Robin Hood said...

Ashley,
Very well said.

Anonymous said...

"So, someone raised their hand in opposition.... big deal."

History is chock full of these no big deal opposition "stunts". I would publicly like to thank my 18 century NBDOSters for my American experience. "God save the King".

Chris

Generation of vipers and hypocrites said...

Wow, this is getting to be a full time job huh, Rock? lol

Miguel Aveiro said...

People on the net are saying that God appointed these men and therefore, if you raise your hand to oppose them, you're opposing God. It's just like the divine right of kings. You can't oppose a king, even if he's wicked, because God appointed him.

Hang on a minute. In church, they teach that Saul and David were kings appointed by God. I don't know if all (or any of) the European kings and queens were called of God, but the Bible says Saul and David were called. Both of these were very righteous at the start, but both lost their way. David was basically chosen to be Israel's next leader while Saul was still king and he fought against him, although learned that he couldn't kill him because God anointed him.

So here we have God appointing people who go astray and we're allowed to believe they did. But we can't believe that a prophet or apostle could lead us astray, even though many of the apostles in Joseph's day were excommunicated (I don't know much about them though, to be honest.)

By the way, I no longer believe that David was forever cast out of the celestial kingdom for his mistakes, which he sincerely repented of. The source of this idea comes from section 132 of D&C, where polygamy is explained (and contradicts the Book of Mormon). The Bible said God forgave him, although he still had to suffer the consequences of his actions. But then the LDS church teaches he's forgiven but can not enter God's presence. Imagine a loving father saying, "son, I forgive you but you're no longer welcome in my home." Sorry, that went off topic, but I've never voiced this before and I'm glad I can believe what sounds/feels true now.

BK said...

Most people & churches throughout history think/thought that 'God appointed, approved or instigated' their leader, king, prophet, preacher, bishop, revelation, visitation, inspiration, etc.

When in reality such things are probably usually are own minds making us just 'think' things & people are approved of God.

I do not believe God appointed David, Saul, etc, to be king. Not only because God wouldn't set the people up to be ruled by a wicked King he knew would fall, but I don't believe God even believes in Kings at all & men ruling over other men.

The Golden Rule forbids such things as kings & rulers. Everyone is equal & with equal power & authority. And God cannot go against his own commandments & remain God.

Besides, the Bible seems to be riddled with errors, ideas, stories, doctrine, revelation & prophets that are totally contrary to God & Christ.

So it's no big surprise to hear that someone back then imagined that 'God' appointed them to be a king, prophet or rulers. Probably most all kings & rulers have thought that. From what I have read it appears even Hitler thought God was behind him.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
They are all robots. said...

@ "anonymous" aka FT,
If we would actually live by our christian values and care for our Brothers and Sisters who are in need of help, there wouldn't have been a need for those programs. It is only through our total failure as a society that the government was able to step in and institute It's wasteful, counterfeit version of Charity.

By neglecting our responsibility for our neighbor, We "Christians" created the opportunity for the growth of big government and all it's failing programs. Perhaps the LDS "church" ought to give a few of it's billions to help those in need instead of parking it in market funds and real estate investments.

But, instead they encourage their followers to avoid those who don't swear an oath to them and bow their knee to their "authority", even if they are desperately sick and disabled they are shunned. And these individuals claim to be followers of Christ and God's "chosen" people, Disgusting.

Anonymous said...

ashley,

as far as gordon b hinckley (and any other president of the church) goes, the way we know if they have seen or talked with god or received a revelation from him is if they declare such unto the membership of the church.

when joseph smith received a revelation from to god to the church, he not only would state it came from god, but he would actually say the words of god (ex: thus saith the lord..., i the lord god say unto you..., etc. followed by the actual words of god). not only that, but since it was revelation from god to the church, it has been accepted as scripture and added to our cannon. at no time has hinckley or any recent president of the church delivered a revelation from god, and if they claim they have received revelation (such as the blacks and the priesthood), it has never been accepted as scripture. why?

revelations must be prefaced by stating that the following are the words of the lord, so that members know when a prophet is speaking as such or when he is merely speaking as a man. the revelationshould then be in the words of the lord, not paraphrased by the prophet.

also, no president (at least not recent presidents) has claimed they have seen the lord. and if they did, and didnt tell the congregation, itd be pretty selfish and messed up, not to mention unbecoming of their calling, as they are called to be witnesses of christ.

in fact, they usually go the opposite way. dallin h. oaks has declared that not only has he not seen god, but hes never even felt a burning in the bossom. he would make a pretty unreliable witness in court if he was to testify of christ.

point is, that's how we know hinckley and others never really spoke the words of god to us. the farthest we can go is say they were inspired to talk about something. but anyone can be inspired. it is the duty of the prophet to receive revelation from god to the church. and it hasnt happened, either because the church is under condemnation and the heavens are closed, the prophet is not living up to his duties, we as members are not living up to our duties, or a combination of all three.

but you can still be guided in your life to go and do what the lord wants for you through the holy ghost. you dont need a church president to tell you what to do - you have a member of the godhead guiding you! and if god the holy ghost tells me to do something and prophet the man tells me to do the opposite, believe you me im following the perfect one .

- johnny alibi

I'm not a robot said...

"also, no president (at least not recent presidents) has claimed they have seen the lord. and if they did, and didnt tell the congregation, itd be pretty selfish and messed up, not to mention unbecoming of their calling, as they are called to be witnesses of Christ."

Can you imagine a Prophet of God ashamed to tell the world he has seen the face of God?..

JB said...

@ I'm not a robot:

"also, no president (at least not recent presidents) has claimed they have seen the lord. and if they did, and didnt tell the congregation, itd be pretty selfish and messed up, not to mention unbecoming of their calling, as they are called to be witnesses of Christ.

Can you imagine a Prophet of God ashamed to tell the world he has seen the face of God?.."

While it is true the modern prophets/apostles have not explicitly stated they have seen Christ/God/etc, this does not necessarily mean it has not occurred. For example, after the brother of Jared saw Christ, Christ commanded him to "not suffer these things which ye have seen and heard to go forth unto the world, until the time cometh that I shall glorify my name in the flesh; wherefore, ye shall treasure up the things which ye have seen and heard, and show it to no man."

So even when the brother of Jared saw Christ, the Savior commanded him to tell it to know man; in fact, it was never made known until hundreds of years later when the Book Of Mormon was translated/made available to the public.

So, while I'm not saying the current prophets/apostles have or haven't seen Christ/God, and that they have not explicitly said they have, this does not necessarily mean they have not. The fact is that at times God manifests Himself to men, but it comes with a command to "tell it to no man".

JB said...

This just a random thought/muse, but, it could be that if the current LDS prophets/apostles came out and said they had seen Christ/etc, the Church as a whole would get a "bad wrap", in that modern secular society really doesn't believe in these kind of manifestations, and as such, coming right out and saying one has seen/spoke with Christ might have a more negative effect on the spread of the gospel throughout the world.

I know it sounds ironic, but the fact is the secular world at large can and does react very negatively to people saying they have seen Christ (just think of Joseph Smith). Just a random thought, but it could be in God's wisdom that at this time such manifestations are not publicly made known, because of the negative ramifications from the secular world it would incur. Just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

JB: So you're saying the leaders of the same church that practiced polygamy and justified the exclusion of black people from the temple well into the '70s and now condemns same-sex marriage as it becomes widely accepted is afraid to be mocked for claiming proof of divine leadership? If so, that's a mighty weird set of priorities.
Not So Much a Robot as a Cyborg

Lame appologists said...

Perhaps the Lord did command the church leaders to develop a multibillion dollar shopping mall instead of helping the needy, it was just meant to be kept a secret right?..

Log said...

Unfortunately, arguments from ignorance do not permit sound conclusions other than one is ignorant.

Log said...

Ajax, is that you?

Seriously, though, Rock, without stringent controls on identity in the comment section - getting rid of "anonymous" and "name/url" options, the same problem will keep arising.

I recognize that some might be inconvenienced by having to register with an authentication service and thus become bannable, but that's kinda the whole point.

Anonymous said...

Whenever Ajax posts here, which is very rarely, he uses his real name at the end: Stephen

Sorry to disappoint you log. It wasn't me.

-Stephen

Im depressed, make me feel smart! said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Johnny Alibi,

You said, "At no time has hinckley or any recent president of the church delivered a revelation from god,"

I guess my point is that Rock stated that Hinckley HAD claimed that he had received revelation from God and had passed it onto the church and Rock does not believe whatever it was that Hinckley said.

I was born in the early 80s, so when Hinckley was the president of the church, I was in Young Women. At that time, I guess I wasn't really waiting for him to bestow new revelations upon us... I just looked up to him and respected him. He was the first president to ever specifically address the youth - and I was in the Conference center listening to him. It was such a powerful experience to hear him pray for us.

Please, do not assume that I am so naieve to believe that leadership positions are not sometimes appointed by humans rather than God. The fact that people are able to climb the ladder and family members are called to high positions because their fathers/grandfathers are Q12 is evidence to me that these positions are not always divinely inspired. I actually had a bishop who told me he knew that people were ladder-climbers within the church.

When I expressed concern to the same bishop, he asked me to consider respecting the position of the leader rather than the actual person who might be bothering me. It makes sense. If leaders indeed lead us astray or do terrible things, I think that the Lord will make everything right in the end. We are all dealing with an imperfect world with imperfect people. Crap's going to happen.

Please do not think that I do not believe in personal revelation, because I do. Like you said, I will always follow my own personal beliefs before I'll blindly follow a leader of the church.

I dunno. Maybe I've gone off on a tangent at this point...

-Ashley

Log said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JB said...

"JB: So you're saying the leaders of the same church that practiced polygamy and justified the exclusion of black people from the temple well into the '70s and now condemns same-sex marriage as it becomes widely accepted is afraid to be mocked for claiming proof of divine leadership? If so, that's a mighty weird set of priorities."

No, not necessarily, the point I was making is that we have evidence in the Book of Mormon of people receiving divine visitations/revelations (brother of Jared example), and being asked by the Lord to not share them with others.

I am not saying this is the case with the modern day prophets/apostles (meaning some of them have had visions/visitations of Christ, and the Savior instructed them to not tell the specifics of the experience to anyone), but I can certainly conceive this is a possibility. The fact of the matter is that when one receives a revelation or visitation, they must follow the direction/will of God in regards to sharing or not sharing it. In cases like Joseph Smith he was instructed to share his experiences. In other cases, like brother of Jared, he was instructed to not share the experiences. It has everything to do with following God's will and what command or restriction comes with the revelation.

JB said...

The issues of polygamy/african americans/same-sex marriage, while valid issues, are not the ones I was commenting on. Rather, I was commenting on how individuals/leaders may in fact receive divine revelation/communication with God, yet also in certain cases be commanded to not reveal the specifics of it.

JB said...

One additional thought - while I think many church leaders have made mistakes (the whole idea of african americans not having the priesthood for years possibly was one of these mistakes, akin to Peter not wanting to teach to Gentiles in the Bible). Polygamy being taught after Joseph's death as a church-wide doctrine may have been another mistake as well (Denver Snuffer outlines this well in one of his essays).

That being said, in all honesty when I watch general conference I still feel the Spirit and it does indeed confirm to me this is God's organized church. For several of the prophets/apostles, like Eyring and Uchtdorf, I can very clearly see that they have strong testimonies of the Savior.

So, I'm no stranger to the fact that there are indeed errors in the Church at times, even possibly serious errors at times (as mentioned above). However, ultimately the Spirit must be one's guide, if we have the faith and humility to rely on it and be "as little children", recognizing our ignorance, God can guide us to know truth. The rational mind/logic can only take one so far, but part of becoming as a child as Christ taught is to rely on the Spirit and not our own minds, which takes real faith.

Anonymous said...

Amen, JB

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me, Ashley!

Linda said...

JB said "...the Church as a whole would get a "bad wrap", in that modern secular society really doesn't believe in these kind of manifestations, and as such, coming right out and saying one has seen/spoke with Christ might have a more negative effect on the spread of the gospel throughout the world."

The LDS Prophet is supposed to be THE prophet for the whole world. That is his stewardship. God takes stewardship VERY seriously.

If he is the prophet for the whole world, then how is it that he is not telling us the very important stuff that God needs us to hear right now? It's not like right now everywhere in the world there is peace and plenty, so surely there is something which God would like us to consider, "bad wrap" and all.

Do you think Noah was popular with the people in his day? No, but it was HIS job to preach to the people the word from God, things they didn't want to hear.

Ask yourself why it should be any different today.

Has God stopped talking to 'His prophets'? If so, the next question out of your mouth should be why has God stopped talking to His prophets?

anti- apologist said...

I don't think God is too afraid of what the rest of the world thinks. He loves ALL his children and wants them ALL to be turned to him. He has commanded all of his Prophets to declare boldly declare their testimonies and the words of the Lord. He's not worried about damaging the churches "Image", It is the ego of men that fear the opinions of the secular world. Nice try though, maybe I could hire you to make excuses for me, maybe you could help me explain to my wife the reason I spend so much time in the "man cave", you could help persuade her that I am only helping to strengthen her emotional independence?.. or something along those lines you could come up with something I'm sure.

...Let me know.

BK said...

JB,

Actually, Christ said to 'rely on our 'minds' & our 'reason', not 'the Spirit'. For Christ warned that 'the Spirit' may not be of God. So he said to 'test all spirits'.

Same with those who claim to be prophets. Christ said to test & prove them by facts not feelings.

We may 'feel' all warm & fuzzy listening to them because most of what they usually say all the right things & look so good. But Christ said to not let that deceive us. He said watch what they 'do', not what they 'say'.

He said trust our reason not our feelings.

And when we do that, we can see that their actions are opposite their words & Christ's teachings. And they are the false prophets Christ warned us about falling for.

HE is seeking to be AsTonisHed said...

BK, interested in some of your ideas off comment board. Where can i email you?

Mike H said...

Manifestation of the spirit can come from many different sources. I feel it watching a movie or listening to a song, I feel it listening to a sermon in another church and sometimes it just comes upon me during a thought.

I believe that it's more a reflection of the person experiencing it than who is presenting it. Truth is truth, if your open to it, it is manifest.

To connect the manifestation of it to an organization is (I am coming to believe) a bridge too far because it then gives them ownership. Then the institution decides important questions via faith-teaching, leading to some crazy religions in the world.

Was the church made for man, or man made for the church? Was scripture made for man or man made for scripture? They're just tools for the spirit.

Personally, I think the issues around church and truth in this day are driving people to become more spiritually self-directed. Despite the wrong teaching of the institution, good can come from it if we broaden our perception and interpretation of what the scriptures mean and teach, and the definition of what church is.


Anonymous said...

JB, I was where you are at until I read the following scriptures:
D&C 43:1-7

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

D&C 84:54-58

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

D&C 124:28-32

28 For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.

31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.

D&C 124:45-48
45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

47 And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.

48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.

D&C 124:50-52

50 And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God.

52 And I will answer judgment, wrath, and indignation, wailing, and anguish, and gnashing of teeth upon their heads, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord your God.

D&C 124: 91-96

91 ...that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;

94 And from this time forth I appoint unto him that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;

95 That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery;

These scriptures and others show us that the LDS church is in condemnation,the fulness was taken, and when Joseph and Hyrum died the Priesthood was taken with them. B. Young and all the rest did not have any "keys" to lead the church.
Our best bet at this time, is to go to G-d and Christ ourselves and seek repentance and salvation thru Him.

Lena Hansen




JB said...

@ BK:

"Christ said to test & prove them by facts not feelings.

We may 'feel' all warm & fuzzy listening to them because most of what they usually say all the right things & look so good. But Christ said to not let that deceive us. He said watch what they 'do', not what they 'say'.

He said trust our reason not our feelings."

In my case, in particular with a testimony of the Savior, this has not been the case. I gained a testimony of the Savior when I was sixteen, read the Book of Mormon, felt the truth of it overwhelming through the Spirit, knew I had to repent of my sins, did so, and felt through the Holy Ghost a remission of my sins that was akin to the baptism of fire. It was very much a spiritual experience, indeed one of the most powerful in my life so far, and it was through the medium of the Holy Ghost. It was the feeling of being purified by the Spirit, it was not based in reason or logic.

This is how I've gained a testimony of the Savior. I've had other spiritual experiences that are very powerful, and likewise the truth was manifest through the Holy Ghost (which can reveal unto men through the burning fire of the spirit, through peace, also through visions/dreams of eternity).

So while I respect your view that reason/facts are the way to know truth and Christ, in my experience that has not been the case. The overwhelming testimony I have of the Savior is indeed through the Holy Ghost. For me this is a much greater barometer for truth than facts/reason, which are aspects of man's mind, which is very limited.

On a side-note, Buddhist/Eastern teachings (which I enjoy a lot and have helped me) teach that one of the barriers to enlightenment is the mind - people are so buried/wrapped up in their minds/beliefs, that they don't have the simple insight of truth like a child does. Buddhism calls this simple/uncluttered mind "child mind", it is akin to what Jesus teaches about becoming "like a child".

So while I respect difference in opinion, in my case the Holy Ghost has been a much more clear indicator of truth than reason/mind/facts/etc. In my experience relying overly on one's beliefs/opinions/reason/conjectures etc, in the spiritual realm, can actually be a great hindrance.

JB said...

@ Lena Hanson:

"These scriptures and others show us that the LDS church is in condemnation,the fulness was taken, and when Joseph and Hyrum died the Priesthood was taken with them. B. Young and all the rest did not have any "keys" to lead the church.
Our best bet at this time, is to go to G-d and Christ ourselves and seek repentance and salvation thru Him."

You make a good point, this is something I've thought about, whether this is the case or not (there was a "falling out" after Joseph died, and thus Brigham/etc introduced many things that were not of God, did not have the prophetic gifts/etc Joseph did) I'm not sure at this time. I can say that the evidence certainly proves this may be the case, but the Spirit has not made it known unto me whether this is in fact the case or not, so I withhold conclusion/judgement on the matter.

I do know that when I watch conference I continue to feel the Spirit, likewise when I go to church each Sunday. So while there are many unanswered questions (and always will be), I tend to stick with that which the Spirit makes known, and not delve too far off into "left field".

JB said...

@ Lena Hanson:

I agree also that going to God ourselves for repentance/etc is certainly the way. Christ said He is the way - to me, the prophets/apostles/scriptures can teach about Christ, but they are just the "finger pointing at the moon", not the "moon" itself. So yes, an over-reliance upon an organization/etc can certainly be a barrier to knowing God personally. I think this over-reliance upon an organization is certainly a stumbling block for many - but this is due to the simple fact that is requires less faith to follow the Spirit than to be "told in all things", and as such, people tend to "desire a king" (both temporally and spiritually)

JB said...

@ Linda:

"Do you think Noah was popular with the people in his day? No, but it was HIS job to preach to the people the word from God, things they didn't want to hear.

Ask yourself why it should be any different today.

Has God stopped talking to 'His prophets'? If so, the next question out of your mouth should be why has God stopped talking to His prophets?"

I do not known with certainty the answer to this, so all I offer is thoughts on the matter.

In order for the gospel via missionary work to extend throughout the whole earth in the latter days, it is necessary the Church be on good terms with the public/nations/etc at large. Otherwise they would be rejected/etc like they were in Joseph's time.

If it is vital that the gospel in this age go unto all nations, it may thus be needed that the approach of the prophets/apostles is softer, less radical, and more "palatable" for the masses. Surely if the current church leaders were calling people to repentance left and right, they would be highly unfavored by the public, and thus the missionary efforts would be greatly hinder.

As I said, I don't know the reason why it is different today, I just offer this for thought.

As to God not talking to the current prophets, again, I can not say this is or is not the case. As I mentioned, individuals my see/know Christ, but it can come with a command to "make it known to no man". Unless we can see into the heart of a person, I refrain from judging them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Log,
That wasn't Ajax. We all know who that was: The same guy we can always expect to respond with insults, vulgarity and bad taste instead of civil, rational argument.

Both his recent comments have been deleted.

And Yes, I am seriously contemplating removing all "Anonymous" options completely. Lately I haven't had time to do much more than read the comments and delete those left by the nasty troll, but as soon as I catch up, he and the incessant spammers will trouble us no more.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Correction, Log,
THREE of the troll's comments have been deleted, not two. The person who signed on as "I'm Depressed, make me feel smart" only to use this forum to throw insults at you -that was him, too.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

...As if we couldn't tell.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Log said...

You know, I actually wouldn't mind keeping Friar Tuck around.

May he be allowed to comment so long as he maybe will affirm he won't sling personal insults?

Log said...

FT, would you agree to not sling personal insults, neither explicit nor implicit?

This is Rock's blog, of course, so I don't have any power or influence. I'm just curious to know if it's a worthwhile cause.

Log said...

I ask because FT has responded appropriately and on topic to me, even where we disagree.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hi, Ashley,
I hope you didn't get the impression I believe everything Gordon Hinckley said was of no value. I liked Hinckley a lot myself. Certainly he taught many things that were true and valuable. As others have pointed out above, there is lots of truth spoken at general conference; if that wasn't so, the spirit would not be felt there.

What I wrote was in the context of whether or not President Hinckley exhibited the gifts of a prophet; whether he conveyed the words of God as received through revelation.

The record shows he did not. And although he taught many things gleaned from scripture and reiterated knowledge gained from the revelations received through Joseph Smith, and frequently spoke wise words of his own, he also "made stuff up that God never directed him to say, and he passed it off to the church as the gospel truth."

When I made that statement, I had in mind some particular things he said at the priesthood session of general conference 2003, where he encouraged the members to display "uncompromising" and "absolute" "loyalty to the Church."

I can find no place in scripture where God commands such loyalty to the institution as President Hinckley was calling for. Nor is there anything in the teachings of Joseph Smith that would hint of it. So in this instance, Hinckley was teaching his own personal gospel. The problem arises when the majority of members, having been told he acts as the mouthpiece of God, believe without question that those words must have come from the mind of God, and not from the mind of Gordon Hinckley.

This falsehood is constantly encouraged, as I wrote recently in my blog post "Not Quite The Same." Time and again the leaders of this church affirm -wrongly- that whenever one of them speaks, it is the same as if the Lord himself is speaking.

http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2014/11/it-isnt-same.html


(Continued below)_

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Continued)

Here is another quote from Hinckley's same talk that I could find no scriptural support for:

"Each of us has to face the matter—either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God, or it is nothing."

I wish president Hinckley had said "either the gospel of Christ is true, or it is a fraud" but he didn't. He believes "the Church" is the thing that is true, and based on this and other statements he made during his time on earth, he did not seem able to tell there was any difference between the two.

In that declaration he also confuses the Church with the Kingdom of God, asserting they are one and the same, when they are entirely different. If anything, the church is PREPARATORY to the Kingdom of God; it is not the Kingdom of God on earth. Brigham Young pointed out that when the Kingdom of God is finally established, some may hold leadership positions in the kingdom without ever having been members of the LDS Church.

I was a HUGE fan of Gordon B. Hinckley until later in life when my faith in him began to waver. It began when he was dismissive of one of Joseph Smith's most important teachings: that God's ultimate goal is to assist his children in becoming equal to Him.

“I don’t know that we teach it," he told a reporter for time magazine, "I don’t know that we emphasize it … I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it."

Well, the Church certainty taught it all the time while I was growing up. Joseph Smith declared it emphatically. I understood it perfectly, as did all my Sunday School teachers, seminary teachers, and pretty much everyone else in the church I grew up with. It was preached openly and repeatedly in conference. It was one of the primary tenets of the faith as long as I can remember.

Yet here is the putative "prophet of God," the man ostensibly charged with boldly declaring truth throughout all the world, making the bold choice to hem and haw and prevaricate the moment he is given an audience through a major news outlet. If HE didn't know much about that doctrine, he should not have been sustained a prophet, seer, and revelator.

That isn't the way I expect the mouthpiece of the Lord to behave, especially when he has a major media outlet ready and willing to disseminate his words to the waiting world.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JB,
It may be true that ancient prophets were told many things by God that they were not permitted to repeat. Joseph Smith himself relates that during the first vision he was taught many more things he could not share.

But he managed to relay many other things that he WAS permitted -nay, commanded- to share. That is how we have evidence that he was a prophet: he conveyed the things God said to him, and did so in the voice of God. As was pointed out by others above, when God was conveying a message from the Lord, he always repeated the words the Lord spoke to him, and opened with an identifying statement so the people knew those were the LORD;S words, and not Joseph Smith's.

The Brother of Jared may have been told not to repeat what he had seen and heard, but then he didn't return to the people and pretend the words he spoke to them were the words of God, either.

Today we are encouraged to believe that the words spoken by the leaders in conference are the same as if they came from the mouth of God, even when those men NEVER openly quote God.

As I noted above, not everything spoken in conference is false; much of it is true, worthy, valuable, and of good report.

That doesn't equate with being the same as the Word of God. We would all do well to make the effort to tell the difference between a good conference talk, and a declaration from the Almighty Himself.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Log,
Here's the thing about Friar Tuck:

Long before I banished him from commenting here, others got frustrated and scolded him for his contentious insults. After receiving many, many pleas from other readers to ban him, I reluctantly told him he was no longer welcome here, and advised him to start his own blog where he could vent to his heart's content.

I say "reluctantly" because it was always my intent to have this be a free-wheeling forum where all points of view were welcome. I found I had to delete quite a few comments that were quite vulgar on older posts that receive little or no traffic, and of course I still get spam that has to be manually deleted despite the best efforts of the system to weed them out.

After telling Friar Tuck the others had asked him not to post here, he responded with a short, heartfelt apology to all. I immediately relented and told him he was welcome back.

He remained civil for a short while, but then insulted a dying woman, who had always been sweet and civil, telling her to
"F___ Off!" because he did not like her defense of me. (His hot button seems to be those who hold views similar to my own. He believes I have brainwashed them and it makes him furious.)

This completely unwarranted outburst occurred while Connie and I were returning from Utah. Our car broke down in the desert outside Winnemucca, which meant that expletive remained on my blog for almost three days before I was able to return home and delete it. I don't mind telling you that upset me, as did what he wrote next.

When Celia chided him for his language, he responded by asking, "Aren't you dead yet, old lady?"

That was enough for me. If you have caught any of his recent comments before I have deleted them, you've noticed his entire obsession is with baiting me with insults. It appears to be his mission in life, and if he desired to debate me privately through email, I'd be fine with that. But with him there is no civil discourse, no advancing of the dialogue. Ultimately I bowed to the wishes of the majority on this forum, and that one anonymous reader holds the distinction of being the only person every banned from this site.

(Continued below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Log, (Continued)

The commenter who has variously adopted the names "Little Rock," "Friar Tuck" and others not only sows contention for no reason other than the joy he gets from provoking others, but when he does attempt an argument, it's nonsensical. Unfortunately, the more nonsensical the argument, the more apt others are to attempt to correct his misunderstandings, and that really sets him off.

An example was his first response to this post. He had always told me in the past, he wrote, that if Rock had a beef with the leaders, Rock should go to the leaders in Salt Lake and take it up with them. My response in the past, and the response of others, was that the leaders refuse to have an audience with the rank and file. No one ever gets the opportunity to sit down with them and talk. They remain isolated from the people they are supposed to serve.

They don't want to hear any grievances, and when they get letters, they refer them back to the member's stake president. This is what others have reminded Friar Tuck of again and again. Dialogue with the hierarchy just isn't allowed.

Somehow, Friar Tuck saw my post asserting that those voting "opposed" acted appropriately, which in his mind made me a hypocrite. In his view, by voting "opposed," those voters had been given what he viewed as an opportunity to share their grievances with the leadership; and since I did not travel from my home in Sacramento to obtain that audience with them I was a hypocrite. You see, by his way of thinking, I didn't believe confronting the leaders would do any good; these people confronted the leaders by voting "opposed," proving that they DID make a difference.

How do you argue with such foolish notions? How do you gently explain to him that the voters did not get an audience with a general authority, but only cast a vote, and even then were referred back to their stake presidents? And how many times did I have to explain to Friar Tuck that I had no desire to "reform" the Church or its leaders, but to only point out when they were acting contrary to scripture? Really, how many times was it necessary to correct his faulty notions?

Well, the problem with Friar Tuck is that other readers, attempting to gently set him straight on the facts that he so cavalierly distorts, tend to respond en mass to his foolish baiting, and before long he is back hurling angry insults at dozens of others. You may have noticed he never allows anyone to get the final word. So the quarreling never ends.

And that is how the forum gets hijacked from one where individuals of varying opinions share their views in a civil manner, to long unedifying threads of contentious quarrelling, nearly always initiated by this one quarrelsome individual.

As proprietor of this blog, I ALWAYS read every single comment ever posted here. And frankly, I got tired of having to wade throug crap that only served to feed one person's delighted ego over his ability to anger and frustrate every other person who makes a comment here.

I don't mind the conversations on this forum going off-topic. I encourage readers to talk about anything that comes to mind. But Friar Tuck is deliberately disruptive, not interested in anything other than his own views, dismissive of the opinions of others, and most of all vulgar and insulting to every other reader. In short, he lacks manners.

He has been banished by the voice of the people. My only fault is that I was slow to follow through.

I will definitely disable anonymous comments from this blog before we leave for the Remnant Reunion next month. Until then, Friar Tuck's anonymous comments will continue to be deleted as fast as I come across them, and any comments that so much as SMELL like they came from him will be credited to his account.

JB said...

Rock,

"The Brother of Jared may have been told not to repeat what he had seen and heard, but then he didn't return to the people and pretend the words he spoke to them were the words of God, either.

Today we are encouraged to believe that the words spoken by the leaders in conference are the same as if they came from the mouth of God, even when those men NEVER openly quote God.

As I noted above, not everything spoken in conference is false; much of it is true, worthy, valuable, and of good report.

That doesn't equate with being the same as the Word of God. We would all do well to make the effort to tell the difference between a good conference talk, and a declaration from the Almighty Himself."

I very much agree, good points made (it is true that very often the Church leaders do equate everything they say being the mind/will of God, which is very different than how Joseph and other ancient prophets relayed God's message, saying how they were commanded i.e. vision/visitation/etc).

Also in agreement about how Hinckley would "dodge" the difficult/unorthdox religious issues when speaking to the press.

I guess for myself it is just the difficult reconciliation of the fact that I really do agree with much of what you've written on your blog, also with some ideas by Denver Snuffer and others, but at the same time I still feel the Spirit at Church, when I watch conference, etc. It's a weird duality that I guess I haven't completely worked through.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JB said...

Rock,

I'm curious your opinion (I don't know either way so I ask in honesty):

Do you think that possibly a reason for the very orthodox/careful/non-radical approach of today's Church leaders (meaning they don't relate extraordinary experiences like speaking with God/Christ, they are very careful with the PR image/etc) could be because this is the only way the Church could spread throughout the earth/grow, as it was fortold in scripture? Basically that if instead the Church leaders were openly saying how they've seen Christ/talked with God/etc, that the public at large would shun them (like they did Joseph Smith), and as such the Church would not be able to grow/expand near as much via missionary efforts?

I'm not saying this is or isn't the case, I'm just curious your thoughts on if there's any possibility this is in fact the stance God would direct for the church (a softer/more palatable gospel, that is easier to spread worldwide and be accepted)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

JB,

I personally think you could be onto something. There was another commenter who disagreed but it makes sense to me. It really irritated me when the church spent so much tithing dollars making 'Meet the Mormons.' It still bugs me but I started thinking that maybe there is a reason that the institution is cautious of its image. As this world becomes less tolerant of religion, we may come to a point where we are persecuted (more than now). Maybe image IS important for those reasons. If we walk around claiming to be people who see God, let's face it, people are going to think we're loons. Sometimes, on psych tests, those kinds of questions are asked. If a person answers in the affirmative, that is considered bad. Perhaps inviting the public to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and feel the spirit is the best thing for now. It makes sense to consider this as a possibility.

-Ashley

Anonymous said...

Rock,

You said:

"When I made that statement, I had in mind some particular things he said at the priesthood session of general conference 2003, where he encouraged the members to display "uncompromising" and "absolute" "loyalty to the Church."

I can find no place in scripture where God commands such loyalty to the institution as President Hinckley was calling for. Nor is there anything in the teachings of Joseph Smith that would hint of it. So in this instance, Hinckley was teaching his own personal gospel. The problem arises when the majority of members, having been told he acts as the mouthpiece of God, believe without question that those words must have come from the mind of God, and not from the mind of Gordon Hinckley."

I appreciate your thoughtful reply. Here's a thought though... I have no way of knowing if this statement from Hinckley came from God, but let's say that it did...

You indicate that you would like to receive revelation from our current prophets, but when they say something that is not found in the scriptures or from the mouth of Joseph Smith, you do not believe it (not that I don't feel the same way sometimes).

So, I wonder, if new revelation truly DID come from, say, President Monson, and it couldn't be found in the ancient scriptures and didn't come from Joseph Smith (if it was new, it wouldn't be found in the past, right?)... would you believe it?

I know, mind blowing! Haha!

So by what gauge do you determine if what a current prophet is saying is new revelation or if it is just his own thoughts (I have heard that the prophet can speak of revelation without saying, "Thus saith the Lord").

-Ashley

Anonymous said...

Rock,

I'm a psychologist. I was interested in reading your story about FT, but I recommend ignoring him entirely. Let him throw temper tantrums, but do not acknowledge them no matter how terrible they become. If you must, delete the awful comments but do not respond at all. Handle him as you would a child. Responding to him/acknowledging him in any way just fuels the fire. He thrives very much on contention (this is actually an attribute of Borderline Personality Disorder - though this is in no way an attempt to make a diagnosis). Let him find another place to vent his anger. After some time, he'll get bored and leave you alone. If he doesn't, you may need a restraining order because normal people eventually go away when you ignore them. :-/

-Ashley

Randy and Julie said...

Rock,

I have reading some research this past week on those antagonistic towards Joseph Smith. One that comes to mind is William McLellin. He had such a contentious relationship with Joseph that he once requested of the jailor in Richmond, Missouri that he be allowed to flog Joseph. According to the Times and Seasons, Joseph agreed but only if he could be unshackled. Upon hearing this condition, McLellin would only do this if he was given a club. Supposedly, Joseph agreed to this but the jailor thougt better of this, and there was no fight.

Its amazing how people can let anger take such hold of them that they would consider such a thing. Allegedly, William McLellin admitted to looting the house of Joseph and Emma as Joseph and others were being taken to jail not long after being ordered to be executed. Alexander Doniphan refused that order.

Personally, I don't think pride or insults are called for here when people disagree. I think people should be able to disagree without being diagreeable. I have no idea why anyone has to resort to nastiness. It seems so childish. But people are imperfect and such is life. I think it may be jealousy. Your blog gets a lot of readers and a lot of comments. He just can't seem to leave you alone. Its become personal all while trying to defend an organization who tries to teach love and tolerance. Irony of ironies.

It was the so called diaries of William McLellin that Mark Hoffman was trying to forge and make money off of in 1985. More irony. I believe the story of the near fight. Sometimes I wonder if the jailor should have let them whail on one another until they tired and would eventually come to the realization that fighting and hating are useless. I also would have enjoyed hearing that Joseph had "cleaned his clock". He slept on a cold stone floor with no quilts (all looted by McLellin) for four months and often complained to Emma about it when she would visit him. McLellin just couldn't let things go; couldn't forgive, forget, and move on. How sad. He is now just a footnote in history.

There is a lesson in that for all of us. We are just people. We are almost all related somewhere along the line. You aren't going to find perfection in yourself, others, or in any man-made institution. We all screw up. We all fall short. Its just how it is. Maybe we can all just decide to play nice. If you can't do that, don't post. Its just a blog. We are just a few people who read it. There is no call for profanity or insults just because one advocates a point of view you don't agree with. That is no excuse to offend or be offensive.
Nuff said.

Randy

friar clown said...

I think I remember FT's sincere attempt to offer financial assistance when you were in need. As I recall, despite his superior intellect, extensive education and all his worldly experience, he just could not seem to figure out how to get your email address correct when trying to deposit into your paypal account. Even after several of us typed it out for him. I guess his heart was truly in the right place so we have to give him credit for trying even if he was totally incompetent.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Miguel Aveiro said...

So all these comments that are being deleted are made by Friar Tuck? Or is it someone else?

It may seem strange why someone could be so mean. But I can understand the feeling that somebody gets (ok, maybe it's envy) when an "unrighteous" individual is popular whilst they themselves are not receiving such attention, or even being disliked, while they are living their lives better than this. I've admittedly been like this myself sometimes when someone who is bad in some way is being liked more than me, when I'm trying to be a good person.

However, this can happen when someone thinks the other person is no good but they actually aren't, e.g. with the pharisees and Jesus. They were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of their day, examples of God-fearing men and the authorised teachers of the Law. Then a man named Jesus of Nazareth comes along, who (they believe) is not keeping the law with regard to the Sabbath Day and perhaps doing other things wrong and people are flocking to him instead of them. Then when they challenge Him with questions, He shows them how they are wrong and they feel like he is making a fool of them in front of the nation that is supposed to be looking up to them. This would really grind their gears!

But Jesus didn't hang around where he was not wanted and swear at and insult the people there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yes, Miguel. Pretty much every time you see a post has been deleted you can assume it was Friar Tuck. That was my promise to him, and to my other readers.

I don't wish to belabor the discussion about this guy, but Ashley, you are correct of course that the best way to handle a troll is to ignore him. That was suggested by me and by others many times in the past two years or so. Only trouble is, the Good Friar has a way of provoking people, and once others get sucked in, the thing always escalates, eventually exploding with his frustrated cursings against me and anybody who looks like me.

It's been difficult for other readers to just let some falsehood he presents just lie there unchallenged; even those who have resolved to ignore him itch to set the record straight, so they make the attempt, usually with kindness and patience as one would with explaining something to a child. I fell prey to this tendency myself at first, thinking I was simply correcting misunderstandings on his part. It was futile.

That's why we have determined that the solution is to delete his comments as they arrive. That way no one is tempted to get ensnared in an endless round of unproductive quarreling.

Robin Hood said...

Ashley,
are you aware that the church made a profit of $1.8 million on Meet The Mormons? That was a net profit, after all the expenses of making and distributing it were deducted. So it cost tithe payers nothing.
The $1.8 million profit was donated to the American Red Cross.

Anonymous said...

Good to know, Robin Hood. Thanks for the information!

-Ashley

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ashley,
For an interesting take on "The Meet The Mormons Success", see here:

http://anonymousbishop.com/2015/03/18/the-meet-the-mormons-success/

Randy and Julie said...

Rock,

Appreciate your patience and long suffering towards this individual. Sounds likke a case of amygdala hijack. The amygdala is that part of the brain responsible for fight or flight. Ever notice that when you get mad that your ability to reason or think through a problem goes away? That is because the amygdala gets the blood flow. If one can breathe deep, count to ten, exhale, and relax, does one exercise control over this phenomena.

I believe we make lousy decisions when we are angry. Most anger seems to be derived from fear and intolerance. It seems no wonder that Christ counseled his followers to fear not but be believing. The opposite seems to lead to anger, frustration, and eventually hate.

As a founseling student, I was taught that one has to have loved or liked before they can hate. In this, perhaps you should feel flattered. This man follows your blogs and cares enough to commeng, and even try to defend and persuade.

But the amygdala hijack seems to get the better part of him. Amazing. Its hard to consider one's counter points and the strength of an argument/opinion when another resorts to anger and name calling. In that short moment of time, what you say and how you say it leaves such a negative snapshot in time, that people can't see or understand what you are trying to say.

He doesn't serm to be a bad guy. His temper seems to get the better of him. You have been both patient and kind. I think we should all do the same. In time, he can calm down and articulate what he wants to say without all of the emotion. Then we can all be efified. Or not. Have a good day.

Randy

Randy and Julie said...

Sorry for the typos. Typing this in Sac meeting on a tablet. Fat fingers. My apologies.

I. Willet deVale said...

Uh-oh Randy, now you've done it. You have suggested "Friar Tuck" may not be in full control of his faculties. He'll come back at you hard for that one!

As long-time readers know, the man is clearly unbalanced. The best evidence for that is the way he keeps coming back in order to "clear his name."

He feels his reputation has been unjustly besmirched and misrepresented.

Hello! News Alert, "Friar Tuck." Your reputation is intact. NO ONE HAS ANY IDEA WHO YOU ARE! Whoever the real you is, he is posting under an assumed name, leaving your true identity completely free of slander. Any one of us could meet you on the street and never have any idea you are secretly "Friar Tuck." So relax.

You are rushing to the defense of a fiction. There is no need to clear the air or save your good name. If you had posted under your real name, we could understand your obsession with "setting the record straight." But there is no reputation to salvage. "Friar Tuck" does not exist. Whoever you are behind that name, you are safe from slander. YOU remain unknown to everyone here.

You are rushing to the defense of a phantom altar ego. So take a deep breath, relax, and breathe easy. YOU, sir, remain secure. But every time you have your schizophrenic other self, "Friar Tuck," lash out in righteous indignation, you betray yourself as lacking a grip on your own reality.

Georgie Pordgie said...

Friar Clown,It made me laugh all over again when I read your account of how Friar Tuck, after offering to donate something to Rock and Connie, just couldn't manage to follow through with his offer. IIRC, Friar even named the amount he offered to send: $100.00.

Someone wrote in to ask if Friar Tuck had actually sent the money. No, Rock said, not yet. I was in one of Rock's old wards so I know Rock personally, so about a week ago while chatting on the phone, I asked Rock if Friar Tuck had ever sent that money to him. Rock's answer was no, he never did. I asked if Rock had received anything anonymously, because maybe that was sent by "the Good Friar" as Rock calls him.

No again. No anonymous gift. It does not surprise me that the Good Friar was all brag and bluster but no substance. What makes me laugh all over again was Friar Tuck's comment yesterday (already deleted) where Friar Tuck demanded of Rock "I offered to send you money when you were down and out, did you forget about that?" He wanted everyone here to know how generous he is and that he really loves everyone unconditionally, even his arch enemy, Rock Waterman.

I am sure Rock did not forget about that offer. And I know Rock was not bothered that it never arrived. But anyone can offer to send anyone anything at all. Talk is cheap. What matters is the follow through.

A handful of people did send donations to Rock and Connie unbidden, and they were graciously accepted and very much needed. Among them was one hundred dollars from someone Rock had once met in person. He didn't mention this person's name, but Rock said he was aware of this guy's current situation and knew he was not well off. Sending anything to Rock was a serious sacrifice and an act of faith as meaningful to Rock as the Widow's Mite. This guy was in such difficult straits that Rock told me he should have been sending HIM money.

Then get this. No sooner had Rock written to thank the man than this guy sent him $100.00 more!!

All Rock would tell me about this person is that he strives to be Christlike in all he does. I would say he is nailing it. You should have heard the wonder in Rock's voice when he told this story. He was just so amazed at the kindness.

Rock did not dwell much on the fact that Friar Tuck made an offer he had no intention of following through on. He just shrugged it off and said it did not bother him, he was just very grateful to those who did lend a hand. He honestly has no ill will toward Friar Tuck. He has repeatedly advised the Good Friar to start his own blog where he can blast away at Rock all he wants and no one can stop him. For some reason he only wants to post here. I think it is because he likes to think he is a thorn in Rock's side, but he is not. Rock just takes it in stride like everything else.

I'm surprised Friar Tuck did not offer to send Rock $10,000.00. Or even $100,000.00. He could have gotten the same amount of personal attention with those offers, and it would not have cost him any more than it cost him to offer to send a hundred.

Linda said...

The LDS church literally has members starving to death in 3rd world countries. In my estimation, the donated funds from 'Meet the Mormons' should have gone to helping destitute LDS members get a leg-up instead of going to aL world-wide corporation.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

My feelings exactly, Linda. As Anon Bishop points out, that 1.8 million won't even cover the yearly salary of the president of the Red Cross, who, last time I looked, was paid 205 million dollars for that cushy gig.

Donating the member's hard-earned tithes received in profits to an organization that supports abortion is a slap in the face to the members who furnished that money. You would think the leaders would have done a bit of research, but why should they? Announcing all profits would go to "charity" was nothing but a publicity stunt.

Did they forget that a church IS a charity? Or did they get so tangled up with the corporate lifestyle that they even forgot to maintain that pretense?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Linda said...

Rock said:
"Did they forget that a church IS a charity? Or did they get so tangled up with the corporate lifestyle that they even forgot to maintain that pretense?"

That must be the case. How sad!

We need to stop and think --Is it moral? That is what brings a clearer focus than just about any other question. Is it moral?

Anonymous said...

Good point about the movie proceeds. I personally could have used some of that. I think we all could have. I remember contributing some of my student loan money in college toward my tithing dollars. Boy am I sorry I did that - that money might have been going to subsidize BYU student tuition while I was struggling to make my own way through school. It'd be nice to have some of that back so I could pay off my loans. Oh well!

I see that others are struggling with putting the Friar Truck thing to bed. All I can say is, "speak of the devil and he shall appear." If you really want him gone, you know what to do. Perhaps some don't really want him gone. No offense, but I think this individual is beyond reasoning. I don't think his amygdala is interested in sharing with his prefrontal cortex. Hahahahaha...

But seriously, he won't leave as long as he has an audience and even then, he may continue to linger if he isn't well. I recommend that everyone cease to acknowledge or address him. This is all I will be saying regarding the matter because I choose to help FT find a better use of his time.

-Ashley

BK said...

Linda,

I believe it is not even moral for a church to ask for any money at all.

For if a church really followed Christ they would teach their members what Christ taught, to give all their money directly to the needy around them, and not to churches, who's leaders either pocket some of it themselves or use most of the money on other things while the needy continue to suffer.

I believe that those who truly follow Christ do as He says, not as any church says. Or how can they call themselves Christian?

For no one trumps Christ's words, they are our 'standard' to discern all truth from error by & whether a church, prophet, person, prompting or revelation, is true or not.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ashley,

You really know how to smooth things over. It must be a result of your psychologist training. Anyway, I look forward to seeing all of you at the remnant reunion.

Mormon (but not "LDS") said...


"The LDS church literally has members starving to death in 3rd world countries. In my estimation, the donated funds from 'Meet the Mormons' should have gone to helping destitute LDS members get a leg-up instead of going to a world-wide corporation."

I could not agree more linda, and
What RH failed to point out was that when nobody showed up to meet the moe's, many wards organized and were going together and using your tithes to pay for the tickets. kinda clever huh?

So, I guess you could say that we payed for it twice, kinda like that BoM program a few years back.


"Did they forget that a church IS a charity? Or did they get so tangled up with the corporate lifestyle that they even forgot to maintain that pretense?"

I would have to disagree with your assumption Rock, a few years ago I had one bishop Kimbal of the Camelot ward (yes,it's really called that) indeed tell me when I lived in Layton, Ut that "the Mormon church is not a charity" when asking if there was any assistance he could offer me and my family while we were struggling.

I wondered if the IRS had been made aware of our new un-charitable/only for profit status?

But, from what I have experienced personally over the past few years I am sure of it's accuracy.

Miguel Aveiro said...

I believe Thomas S Monson is a prophet like Alma, who was the High Priest of The Church in his day. Alma received revelation on how to serve the members of the church, but apart from a revelation on the spirit world and one about how to deal with members who are sinning, there wasn't anything else that was new. The first revelation was told to his son, and he may have shared the other one but apart from that there wasn't anything new that God told him (and the revelation on the spirit world was probably just a restoration of truths that were lost due to apostasy, as Lehi and Nephi seemed to have known about what happens after death.) Was the book of Alma shared with his contemporaries, including those revelations? It seems there are different kinds of prophets. It wasn't Alma's calling to receive and tell the signs of the coming of the saviour's birth, like Samuel the Lamanite did.

A while back, Richard G Scott and another apostle did a question and answer session via satellite with my ward and a couple of other wards. Someone from my ward asked them why we need to do ordinances for the dead when they could just do them when they get their bodies back in the resurrection. The brethren answered that there are different steps of phases in the spirit world (sorry for the poor paraphrase) and they can't progress unless the ordinances are done for them. Elder Scott, in conference, has also talked about experiences with his wife on the other side, if I understood him correctly. And of course, there was Joseph F Smith's vision of the spirit world recorded in D&C 138.

Also, I've heard of apostles prophesying over certain geographical areas, such as saying there will be a stake in a location where there is only a branch. President Eyring prophesied to a mission president (I heard this story from the MP) that he will see the seekers return, referring to how there used to be many people seeking the true gospel in the old days and there will again be a return of persons seeking the gospel. Consequently, the mission "newspaper" was called "The Seeker" and there were articles about missionaries finding these "seekers".

Also, members used to reference a prophesy about a future "Great Harvest", but I've only heard members in the British Isles mention it. Anyone have any idea who said this? I don't know if it was Joseph Smith or a recent President of the church.

Anonymous said...

while i agree that we cannot know for sure if they have seen god or not, it is far likelier that they havent seen god which is why they havent testified of this. what you're doing is mental gymnastics, trying to find any possible excuse to justify the "prophet" not seeing god face to face. this is not an american criminal case where if you just have a shadow of reasonable doubt you win. its like saying that we cant really know if pres. monson has walked on mars, because maybe he did and was forbidden to talk about it. it is far more probable that they havent seen god, which is why they dont mention it.

- johnny alibi

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jared Mata said...

If you look carefully in D&C you'll see that the Lord never uses the word "sustain" referring to the positive vote of the members. Instead He simply uses the word "approve" (D&C 124:144). The Lord tells us that we "uphold" our leaders by praying for them in faith (D&C 43:12, 93:51, 107:22).

Anonymous said...

Johnny,

I'm not sure if your comment is directed at me? If so, I wouldn't really call considering something from different perspectives to be "mental gymnastics." I've just always been taught to keep an open mind and, if possible, try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I'd do the same with anyone. I have to ask, do you spend any time over at FMH? Mental gymnastics is one of their favorite phrases. I heard it for the first time on Southpark so every time someone says it, I think about Kyle telling Cartman that he is using mental gymnastics to manipulate everyone. Hilarious.

BK,

I actually think that it is OKAY for a church to ask for money. Doesn't Christ give the law of tithing in the Bible (forgive me, I have not read the entire book myself)? That seems to be from where you derive your core beliefs. From a more practical point of view, churches must "keep the lights on," buy land, build houses of worship, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, I am happy to contribute to the community money pot if I am utilizing services and buildings and other resources owned by the church. I do feel, however, that they are asking for a bit more than they probably should especially during difficult financial times.

-Ashley

Annie said...

I agree with Miguel above that often there have been "placeholder" prophets. For every Moses and Isaiah there is a Joel and a Haggai. So it's conceivable that our current leaders are prophets of that stripe. (And let's be honest, it's pretty unfair to judge them against Joseph Smith. I mean good grief, that guy was a revelation MACHINE.)

But, just because it's conceivable doesn't necessarily make it so, of course. And the misguided "follow the prophet" drumbeat isn't helping the current leadership's case any.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It isn't easy to avoid comparing them to Joseph Smith when they claim to have all the very same gifts and keys Joseph did. Placeholder prophet? I could accept that possibility. But they claim much more than that.

Even Joseph Smith warned the people to STOP following him. By incessantly preaching today that we should follow the prophet, the current crop of leaders are teaching contrary to what Joseph Smith taught.

Annie said...

Agreed. My vague discomfort with these issues came to a head with last fall's conference. All those circular talks about how we should follow the leaders because the leaders tell us to. Why were they wasting our time with such empty rhetoric? Why not edify us with inspired insights and Christlike love, instead? Show rather than tell?

BK said...

Ashley,

I haven't read the whole Bible either, but from what I understand tithing was started by men & given to men, thousands of years before Christ. Christ came & taught that we must give 'all' our excess to the poor directly, not just 10%, if we want to attain Eternal Life.

It appears Christ wanted us to search out the needy ourselves & serve them and visit them & really come to understand their plight & relieve their suffering ourselves, not have someone else do it for us, unless we are totally unable.

And I don't find anywhere that Christ said to give money to church leaders or even to build a church or temple. I believe that Christ just wanted us to study his Gospel in our homes, with family & friends, as they did in his day and in most of early America, or meet outside in large groups occasionally, as they probably did when one of his Apostles came to town.

I believe Christ only wanted to start a spiritual church/religion, not a physical church with chapels/land/temples, etc. For I don't believe he would ever want us to use excess money to build & maintain a chapel, temple or pay leaders instead of feeding the hungry or relieve the suffering of the fatherless.

If we just live his simple Gospel in our homes, there is no need for a church & the costs that come with running one.

Christ's Apostles even taught that the main reason for religion in the 1st place is to 'visit the fatherless in their affliction' & relieve their suffering.

Zion is Zion because there are no more poor & needy, for they are all taken care of. Which probably won't happen til the Millenium. But then when there are no more poor among us maybe God will tell us to do something different with our excess money, but building chapels & temples before we take care of all the poor will do us no good anyway, for Christ said our righteousness depends on how well we take care of the needy around us, once we have taken care of our family 1st.

I know so many widows & fatherless and none are being taken care of by the Church as they should be & need to be.

They are even told by church leaders to pay their tithing before even feeding their children or paying their light bill, 'tithing' which goes into the pockets of usually able bodied & wealthy church leaders to pay 'their' light bill, which is so wrong in so many ways.

No prophet or leader should be supported or paid 1 penny by the members, let alone supported by the fatherless & widows & needy. Church leaders should support themselves just like everyone else & like King Benjamin did, though I think he is fictional but still a good example. It's just unfortunate church leaders don't follow their own Book of Mormon.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jared Mata,
Thanks for that information. It had not even occurred to me that the Lord did not ask us to "sustain" anyone. That seems to be a tradition adopted somewhere along the line that is a common practice, though not scriptural.

Anonymous said...

BK,

This is interesting. I actually think it sounds like my kind of church! Haha! I am just curious, do you follow the Bible to the letter... or do you believe that it has been corrupted? Do you also follow the Book of Mormon? Do you believe in modern-day prophets? I feel that a secular church might be necessary just to help keep people from going off on too many tangents, which is why I subscribe to the church still. We've seen in society how sometimes crazy cults can develop when people start interpreting the scriptures in twisted ways. I personally feel like we need modern day prophets. I do believe in personal revelation but I have a hard time believing that God would send prophets to ancient people but abandon us. It doesn't make sense to me.

-Ashley

Anonymous said...

Annie,

I like your placeholder prophet theory. It makes sense to me.

Like you, I think that we can't really compare modern prophets with Joseph Smith. We have to remember that JS was restoring the gospel. The Lord needed to reveal quite a bit to him to get things going. Things have been up and running for some time now so there is less of a need for major information today.

I also kind of feel like, right now, we are just waiting things out until the next big thing happens. Maybe there's just not much that we need to know until the world gets closer to the end. Maybe the prophets are just waiting on stand by until they receive further instruction to relay to us. I think it's a little demanding to ask every prophet to give us major news in order to prove to us that he communes with God.

I am just pulling thoughts out of my head as I eat breakfast. I find all of you to be very interesting people and I enjoy passing around ideas.

-Ashley

BK said...

Ashley,

I do believe the Bible is very corrupted, & full of untrue stories, false doctrine & unrighteous people/prophets who only 'thought' they were righteous & led by God. The only words I trust are probably almost all true are the few words of Christ in the 4 Gospels, & even those we have to test & prove for ourselves. But I have studied them & tried to live them and found them to be the only teachings that make sense and the only ideas that lead to lasting true happiness, liberty & peace for people, families & societies.

And I was raised in the Church but slowly woke up to how unrighteous & abusive all the local leaders were & that they don't follow Christ, and then I realized the leaders were like that all the way to the top, including the prophet. So I just thought the Church today was in apostasy, until I started researching back to the founders of the Church and found they were even more unrighteous then the leaders today.

So I now believe the Church was never true nor started by God and I see how there wasn't even a 'restoration' needed, for the Gospel was never lost, we all have it to read, study & live if we want to.

And I investigated how the BoM likely came to be, by Joseph & others writing it, for it teaches far too many things contrary to Christ to be of God or written by true prophets. And when you look into where Joseph probably got his material for the BoM it's beyond reason to think it was from an ancient record, though it does teach many good & true things & has many useful stories, like most religious books out there do.

So I don't believe Joseph was a true prophet anymore, though I do give him the benefit of a doubt that he didn't live polygamy, just because he seemed to understand how evil & abusive it was & because there is no proof he did, only vile hearsay by mostly people who had every reason to lie & cover for their deeds. But it's possible he fell for it too, for he did many other things that were unrighteous too it seems and did not follow Christ.

I agree that it would be nice & only fair that we get to have true prophets today like people of old did, but it seems those prophets were pretty rare too, and it doesn't seem like many of those old prophets stayed valiant either. But even if we had true prophets today, I don't think many would follow them & their teachings which I believe would be opposite to what most people want today, so they would just be cast out. Maybe there are some true prophets around who don't make themselves known yet. It would be nice if they did.

And as far as needing a Church to help us stay in line, that might be true in many cases but it seems every Church has taught it's own set of falsehoods, some worse then others.

And I can't think of a worse kind of cult then the LDS Church was at the beginning with all it's polygamy, control & abusiveness towards women, & teachings of blind obedience, much of which continues to this day.

So it seems just as safe to study the teachings of Christ on our own in our families, then to have someone else interpret the scriptures for us who could just as easily be wrong & lead us astray.

And I definitely see the wisdom in taking care of the needy ourselves to make sure they are really taken care of, rather then give our money to men/leaders who usually don't use it as we would want it used.

I think we will be accountable for the suffering of the fatherless & needy if we give our money to churches who don't use it all on the needy.

And I believe that if we are sincere about following Christ on our own I don't think we will get too far off the path. As I have done that I have finally learned how deceived I have been by those I thought could never lead me astray. I don't believe God wants us to trust in any men, but just in him & Christ, then everything starts to make sense.

Miguel Aveiro said...

Be careful who you share the "placeholder prophet" theory with; I went on a blog of a man who was excommunicated just for thinking the President of the Church was such a prophet. His bishop and stake president seemed unsure what to do with him as they hadn't encountered anything like that before. He shared his views online and so, after inviting him to get a testimony of the apostles and the prophet and he, yet again, replied with his own view, the bishop and SP thought they should excommunicate him for apostasy.

So are we "allowed" to have slightly different views but not share them? Which views would make us apostate? I used to think people were just ex'ed for immorality (actual sins!) and perhaps if they continued to cause disruption at church. Then I heard about if they continue to teach false doctrine, even after being corrected. I could understand if they taught, for instance, Dr Bennet's spiritual wifery, or that we don't need to believe in the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith. I only thought of assigned teachers doing this, but it could be anyone going about trying to lead others astray.

But sharing views on a blog!? I thought if one simply does not believe a doctrine and admits to it, they would just be invited to study it out and pray about it. Like what missionaries do with investigators, or even less-active members. No one is cast off or excommunicated, they're just left to their own devices if they don't want to believe something.

So why all the purging of active, faithful members who share some doubts and concerns?

A nony Mouse said...

Miguel,
How did you think the wheat and Chaff would be separated?..

The "Chaff" always think they are the wheat. Their wicked hearts are easily stirred up to persecute the meek and lowly in heart.

BK said...

Miquel,

The Church is & always has been clearly apostate from the Gospel of Jesus Christ & believe in 'Spiritual wifery' themselves, and so of course they cast out anyone, past or present, who says the 'Emperor has no clothes' & speaks up for what is true & right & for Christ's teachings.

Now that they are a very wealthy church & don't need many members, they obviously only want silent blind followers who will be obedient to their charge to not read anything or talk to anyone who might challenge or question their beliefs & teachings.

False prophets pridefully think they are totally right & say they can't lead people astray & they isolate their people from outside truth & knowledge. They may say all the right things but they do the opposite.

While 'true prophets' are humble & know how easy they can be wrong, deceived or even fall & lead people astray, so they always tell people to not accept anything they say, but to always question it & only follow Christ, for only he is safe to follow.

Member with all the bad ideas said...

It recently occurred to me that paying tithing to the Church is transferring power from the individual to the neighbor called to be a bishop and the neighbor called to be the stake president.

I have seen how people pay tithing while thinking, in part, that at some future time, if they needed assistence, they would be able to count on the church as a safety net. Many times people do not receive the help they need.

I don't know any good reasons why a person would arrange their lives so other men have power over them more than is necessary or unavoidable.

So I suggest that you keep your power partly by keeping your money. If you feel like Christ would have you give your money to someone in need, then do it directly and cut out the middle man. One of the people you can help is yourself. It's much like they tell you on an airplane. Put your own mask on first then help others.

In any case, I suggest following the spirit....above any man.

JB said...

Ashley,

"I also kind of feel like, right now, we are just waiting things out until the next big thing happens. Maybe there's just not much that we need to know until the world gets closer to the end. Maybe the prophets are just waiting on stand by until they receive further instruction to relay to us. I think it's a little demanding to ask every prophet to give us major news in order to prove to us that he communes with God."

This is a good point. It seems that the prophets who were at the head of each dispensation (Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith) played major roles in terms of revelation/etc (Adam being the first man, Enoch's city was translated and he walked/talked with God, Noah and the flood, Abraham and the promises made to him, Moses and the miracles, Christ of course, and JS and his many revelations/visitations).

I would agree that "not all prophets are equal", in that some play a more major role, clearly, than others. Some clearly have more often/direct contact with God as well. Nonetheless, this does not mean they are not called of God, and are not fulfilling their primary purpose of bearing witness of the Savior. Greater prophetic roles, such as those at the heads of each dispensation, require more direct intervention/revelation from God.

So indeed I don't think that constant comparison of current prophets/apostles with Joseph Smith is appropriate, as they have different roles.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

But, JB, you are assuming these men actually WERE called of God to fill those positions. If So, when did He call them? What date can any of them point to on the calendar when they received that anointing?

If Brigham Young only assumed leadership after campaigning for it and being voted by the people, and never claimed to be anything but a placeholder and not a prophet, where do those who succeeded Brigham get their authority to be more than even he claimed to be?

Why do you think Russell Nelson demanded Denver Snuffer's book be pulled from circulation at the threat of his excommunication? It was for one reason: that book proved that Elder Nelson and his chums have no claim of authority passed down to them from Joseph Smith. Denver's previous books were sold at Deseret Book and were very popular. He had developed a readership, and his exposure that the leadership's claims were fabricated threatened their power and position.

A few months back, Edward Lyman, writing in the Journal of Mormon History, documented how succession worked after Brigham Young. The Twelve still had no clue who was to be in charge, since they never got any instructions from the Lord concerning it. For three years after Brigham's death, there was no Church President; some of the Twelve felt there shouldn't ever be.

Eventually they sorta, kinda figured maybe the guy with the most seniority probably should step up, so John Taylor filled the slot. But when it came George Q Cannon's turn, most of the other members of the quorum didn't want him to be president, so they quarreled about that for awhile, until finally the controversy was settled: the senior member of the Twelve would always be the next president of the church, and we'll just make like that's the way the Lord had it planned all along.

No man has been properly ordained prophet, seer, and revelator since Hyrum Smith. That's the reality.

A president can be a placeholder, as Brigham Young declared he was until Joseph's son came of age, but being a placeholder doesn't make a guy any kind of prophet, not even a minor one.

This Church is not being run by revelation. It's run by tradition: "This is the way we've always done it, so this is the way it's always done."

JB said...

Rock,

"You are assuming these men actually WERE called of God to fill those positions. If So, when did He call them? What date can any of them point to on the calendar when they received that anointing?"

Yes, I suppose it is assuming on my part they were called of God, as they have not stated the exact date/circumstances of themselves being called to their positions from God himself. Agreed also that much in the Church nowadays is run by systemization/protocol.

I have Snuffer's book (Passing the Heavenly Gift) and I've read it (though probably need to give it more than one read to absorb all that's taught there). He does make a very convincing case for the premise that the true authority/power of God/prophecy/etc was lost with Joseph's death.

This is my dilemma: the way I personally seek truth is to consider all the facts with an unbiased mind, study as needed, but then ultimately pray to God and ask Him to confirm the truth of these things. I've done this with the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ, and have received clear answers they are of God. I've read other non-LDS sources like Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" (he makes the case for atheism), and Buddhist/Eastern teachings as well, and I do get a spiritual sense of what is true and what is false.

Denver Snuffer's teachings/premise I do find very interesting, yet when I pray asking if this is true (as he outlines it), I do not get a clear answer - the Spirit has indeed not confirmed to me Denver's teachings are true. Actually the "stupor of thought" is what I receive when I pray about it.

Yet, when I watch General Conference and attend Church each week (although I find it to be very repetitive/etc), the Spirit still confirms to me these are good things, and that it is the Church of God on the earth. Likewise when I go to the temple/etc.

So, what I'm saying is, I don't currently know how to reconcile the fact that intellectually I agree with much of what Denver has written about these matters, yet I don't get spiritual confirmation they are indeed true. And on the flip side, I often find myself bored/tired of the "same old messages" we receive at Church on Sunday or during conference, yet the Spirit bears witness to me these things are true.

What would you suggest I do to resolve this? I'm no stranger to considering new viewpoints; years ago I read some books by Max Skousen (his "Tree of Life" series) which he was excommunicated for teaching, but I did sense the spirit of truth in his writings (even though he was excommunicated). Yet with Denver, while I intellectually agree, I don't get a spiritual witness one way or the other.

I don't ask in the way of antagonism; I'm just honestly curious what you think about resolving this. For example, in your case, in addition to doing the study/research on these topics, does the Spirit/God's revelation/etc reveal to you that the LDS Church is in fact in a state of apostasy/loss of God's approval/etc?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

At least you're doing it right, JB. During most of my years I wasn't open-minded at all. I started with the certainty that EVERYTHING about the Church was true, no questioning. Truth started and ended with what the leaders said. "It's either all true, or it's all a fraud" -that was MY guiding mantra. So for me, it was all true. And that was my starting place. So I applaud your willingness to be open minded. You have it all over me in that respect.

As for your not getting confirmation on some of the things Denver Snuffer presents. I've found that we don't always get answers to everything when we want or need them. The important thing when asking is not to generalize. I think we are expected to be specific. So I wouldn't want to ask, for instance, "is what Denver Snuffer teaches true?"

Well, not necessarily. Is everything I present on this blog absolutely true? I'd like to think I'm not mistaken, but chances are some of my sources could be. So anyone taking what I say at face value could be making a BIG mistake.

So, for example if you want to get to the truth of something Denver brings up, what you want to do is zero in on specifics. God isn't going to give us a blanket confirmation that so and so is speaking the truth. That would just lead to following another person. Just as with what we are presented in conference, we are expected to break it down and ask for specifics when praying for confirmation of truth. Was Elder so and so correct when he taught this principle? Was he speaking from inspiration or from his own experience? Can I take it to the bank?

In short, (and I'm not saying you're doing it this way; I'm just sayin') we have to be specific when we seek spiritual confirmation. God isn't going to tell you that Denver Snuffer is The Man. At least I hope he wouldn't. Like I said earlier, though, I started out thinking the Brethren were incorruptible and infallible. I was lucky. When I realized they were only humans feeling their way like the rest of us, it didn't throw me for a loop to learn they were not the spiritual giants I had thought they were.

Other people have been devastated to learn that our true history has been fudged, or that when the prophet speaks, he is not necessarily inspired. Even Joseph Smith was not right a lot of the time. Difference is, he tried to tell the people that, and they wouldn't listen. They WANTED him as a guru, when he was a teacher, plain and simple.

So the best way to truth is the way you're doing it. Better to listen to what others have to say, pray for confirmation of what is true, pick out the good, and don't worry about the rest.

So far, what I get from Denver Snuffer is that he recommends returning to scripture. That leaves me with only having to get confirmation that the scriptures mean what I think they mean. I don't have to worry about whether Denver Snuffer is right or wrong, I only have to be concerned with whether I'm interpreting the scriptures correctly.

JB said...

Rock,

Thanks, you make good points. I agree very much about the specificity of praying for confirmation about things - perhaps it is in my case that God would just not have me focus as much on these issues at this time (hence I get neither a "yea" or "nay" when I pray about them, also to be honest when I begin to pray about these things I almost feel like God wants me to continue in faith, and thus not even be overly concerned about knowing 100% for sure or not if Denver's claims about the modern line of prophets losing authority/prophetic gifts is true or not). God's answers to us revealed in His own time/etc. For example once I prayed to know the truth of polygamy (whether it's of God or man), and the above description is what happened (no answer either way, continue in faith)

I see what you say about Denver suggesting to return to the scriptures and search them as well (not to follow Denver or any other man), he certainly has made this very clear on his blog/etc.

If you don't mind me asking, as I mentioned I'm just wondering - in your case, in addition to the research you've done, have you also received the witness of the spirit/revelation/answer from God/etc that the LDS Church/leadership, in it's current state, has indeed lost the prophetic gifts, and has had a "falling out" after Joseph's death, etc? I understand you maintain this position through research/scriptures/etc, but have you also received the spiritual witness of it (for example, like how you know Jesus is the savior), so you can say unequivocally this is the case? (not that I'd rely on your spiritual witness without seeking my own, but I'd like to know if you don't mind)

A Nony Mouse said...

What Rock thinks or believes doesn't matter. It's what you believe that matters. His current views are quite different from the ones he once held, and may continue to change still. The search for truth is not a destination but a journey. The searching is what draws you near God. Ones beliefs are a personal thing and I do not think he desires to influence other peoples progress. I don't think Rock wants others to just adopt his view of things or to be judged by them. I think he just wants to present information he has discovered and let each one of us come to our own conclusions. You should not try to compare his opinions to your own. There is only one Rabi, the rest are equals, we don't need another "leader".

A Nony Mouse said...

...Besides, how can a church thats not a church be in a state of anything but impostacy?

Miguel Aveiro said...

I've been wondering the same thing and have prayed to know what to do about all this. It's hard to explain what the answer was in full, though part of it was to be humble. I suppose God doesn't want me to get carried away with all this alternative ways of doing things or to believe what people are saying on blogs, just like that, without studying it out myself. I studied a couple of things out like polygamy and got an answer about that. Needless to say, I won't be practicing it if the (for want of a better word) opportunity presented itself. I was adamant that if the church bought it back, I'd be straight out the door but then I thought I would check with the Lord first. I think BK would say "of course you should go, they're all apostate!", and yes that's what I would want to do lol, but God may want me to stay for some reason. Perhaps to call people to repentance. Long story short, I've been told to stay put and remain faithful. I think there's a lot of good I can do in the church and I realised that we all need repenting, the leaders and the rank and file and especially myself.

However, Rock mentioned an "institutional repentance", as in the instituional church needing to repent. I don't know yet what to think or do about that. I would love it if the leaders at the top cleaned out everything and restored the restoration (or rather they received God's commandment to do so and carried it out). But I don't pretend to know what God wants to do with the institutional church.

I haven't been called to start a new one so I'll just live the gospel the best I can. I don't want to stop searching for truth. I'm a convert and I joined this church due to a search for truth. God lead me here and I found a lot more truth than what I had previously and many questions were answered. It was hard to leave my previous church where my family has been in for generations, but it had to be done if I was to progress. If I stop this journey of learning and accepting all truth from wherever it may come, just because a church or its leaders tells me certain truths are not true and to just believe what they say, I would be sorta back to square one.

Anonymous said...

Miguel and JB,

I think we are like-minded individuals.

A little over a year ago, I started reading blogs in the 'Bloggernacle' and I will admit, what used to be my faith has been shaken a little. What it taught me to do was to rely more on personal revelation and my relationship with the Lord (like both of you have expressed).

Like both of you, despite the issues in the church, I still feel that it is the best game in town. However, I have also learned that blanket statements are made (by the church) that don't always apply to everyone, which is why personal revelation is so important.

I, for one, see the institutional church as far less perfect than I once did. I get so, so bored. I think it is too long. Three hours? I think too much of what we discuss in gospel doctrine is people's opinions (generally 2 old men arguing over their theories and young people taking their word for it) resulting in false doctrine. I personally believe that (and seminary/institute) are where the polygamy rumors began. I think gospel doctrine does more harm than good and frankly, I'd rather learn more about Jesus than about ancient prophets. I have personal feelings about several other issues but at the same time, I do not believe that the church is in a state of apostasy.

For me, it all goes back to the basics I learned in primary, and my personal relationship with the Lord. When I am reading my scriptures every morning, there is an undeniable feeling of the Spirit that follows me throughout the day. The core of the gospel is true. Christ is real and he is there. I just go along with the church as long as it feels right to me and rely on my personal revelation when it does not.

I just pray for the Second Coming. I want the Savior to come back and set everything straight.

-Ashley

Robin Hood said...

Ashley,
Those are wise words.
They reflect my attitude to the gospel and the church almost exactly.
It seems to me that some people expect absolute perfection from the church and it's leaders and when it becomes obvious that isn't the case they think they have license to fault-find anything and everything. As Dale Carnegie said, "any fool can criticize and most fools do".
It's a great shame, but that's human beings for you!
You're right about boredom. Fortunately, I haven't been in gospel doctrine class for years but I remember it almost exactly the way you describe it. I'm not particularly looking forward to going there again when I am released one day.
I have vociferously advocated for a 2 hour Sunday block for some time, and have heard it is being experimented with in some parts of the world. It will be interesting to see what happens.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

JB,
You asked me, "If you don't mind me asking, as I mentioned I'm just wondering - in your case, in addition to the research you've done, have you also received the witness of the spirit/revelation/answer from God/etc that the LDS Church/leadership, in it's current state, has indeed lost the prophetic gifts, and has had a "falling out" after Joseph's death, etc? I understand you maintain this position through research/scriptures/etc, but have you also received the spiritual witness of it (for example, like how you know Jesus is the savior), so you can say unequivocally this is the case? (not that I'd rely on your spiritual witness without seeking my own, but I'd like to know if you don't mind.)"

I don't mind you asking at all, JB. At the same time, I can't think of a better answer than that given by A Nony Mouse above: "What Rock thinks or believes doesn't matter."

More importantly, I'd say that any spiritual confirmations I've received -or not received- regarding my research and opinions shouldn't matter to anyone but me.
And for one very good reason: whatever counsel or spiritual affirmations I might have received from the Lord to my questions might very well be wholly inappropriate for someone else. That's why we're taught that personal revelation is intended only for the person who receives it; not because that counsel is secret, sacred, or particularly special, but because it is personal. To that person.

Let's look at an example. Some time ago due to illness, Connie and I were unable to attend church meetings for five months. We compensated by honoring the Sabbath day at home through our own personal study and gospel discussions. So although we were missing church, we were still immersed in the religion; more so, in fact, than we had ever been before. The things we were learning, and studying, and sharing with each other during that time were -dare I say it?- more interesting than any Sunday School, Priesthood, Relief Society, or Sacrament meeting we might have missed during that period. By the time we returned to church five months later, we found "church" much less interesting than our Sundays at home had been.

Now, nothing had really changed at church. The three hour block was the same stultifying chunk out of our Sundays it had always been. But that five months of absence had given us an opportunity to see those meetings with new eyes, almost from the point of view of a non-member visitor. Had we been non-members popping in to see what Mormon church was like, what we experienced would not have motivated us to return for more.

Now, there was nothing about our ward that was any different than any other ward we had belonged to in our lives. This was not a bad ward. Indeed, it was quite typical. But two things made it possible for us to see Mormon church services the way an outsider might.

(Continued below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Continued)

First, we had just moved into this ward, and had only attended for a short while before Connie's illness took a turn that prevented her from attending, and required my presence to take care of her at home, especially in the morning when church meetings took place. So though we did have some surface acquaintances in the ward, there had not been time to make any lasting friendships. We were so new, no one really noticed we weren't there anymore.

The second thing that happened was that when we returned, a bigger ward from another chapel had been combined with ours, so now the ward was filled to the brim with families who were all strangers to us. We came back a few Sundays, but because we, too, were strangers, that made it easy to slip away unnoticed. We hadn't been missed before, and now we were in what amounted to a completely new ward. None of these people would miss us, either.

What really made it easy for Connie and I to slip into what some would call "inactivity" was that for the first time in our lives, it hit us both that church meetings were unrewarding. Worse, those meetings were spiritually dead. And further, we realized that the only real reason we had attended church meetings all our lives was not because we felt an overwhelming desire to attend, but only because we felt we should.
Given how edifying and spiritual our Sundays had been at home on our own, going to church "because we should" no longer seemed like an adequate reason.

Still, although Connie's health prevented her from attending every week, she still came when she could. But she confided in me one Sunday that just being there made her skin crawl; she just couldn't wait to leave. And if you knew anything about Connie's dedication to activity all the years I had known her, you would understand how surprised I was to hear that coming from her. It was the nearest thing to blasphemy I could imagine.

So while Connie stayed home, I made the attempt more frequently. But I still couldn't help feeling it was a waste of my time.

(Continued below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...

(Continued)

Now, suppose I were to tell you that Connie and I prayed about whether or not we should continue to make the attempt to be active church goers? And suppose the answer we got was a spiritual confirmation that, were I to put that answer into words, it would sound like "it isn't necessary"?

If you happen to find attending church as unrewarding an experience as we did, you might conclude that the answer we got from the Lord was to your liking.

But unless you prayed and got the same answer, you might not be acting as the Lord would wish for you and your circumstances.

Although I know many latter-day Saints who find that endless three hour block of meetings as unbearable as I do, I know of others who get a lot out of attending church and wouldn't think of stopping. Even if Sunday church meetings aren't doing it for you, I can think of at least two good reasons to continue to attend.

First, there's the social aspect. That's probably the most important reason for "church" in the first place. Certainly it was for the first century Christians, who benefited from meeting together with other like-minded individuals to pray, sing, and worship. It seems to me that the most important reason we have "church" in the first place is for the community of friends it provides us. Friends who share the same faith serve to bouy us up when life throws us curves.

A second reason to attend church is you might be needed there to shine YOUR light. Church might be boring as hell for most of the people there, but if you can manage to radiate some spiritual energy, your mere presence will be a benefit to others.

So suppose God REALLY wants you to attend church because you have a purpose there, but you happened to learn that Rock Waterman prayed about it and God said church isn't necessary. You would have gotten it wrong. God might have said church attendance isn't necessary for Rock Waterman, but it might be
EXACTLY what you could benefit from. It's very possible that the Lord needs you in your ward to do something Rock Waterman could never accomplish in his.

Well, that's a long-winded example, but I think it demonstrates why no one should look to the answers someone else receives to his prayers as pertinent. Believe it or not, this is NOT a One Size Fits All religion. We are all on our perfect paths, which is why we are to seek personal revelation for our OWN situations, and never rely on another's.

The biggest problem we have in this church is we tend to look to those we think are better informed, or more spiritual, or who hold positions of authority, to advise us as to how we should live. I say look to Christ only, and if answers to your questions are not immediately forthcoming, just keep plugging away until those answers come.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Okay, JB, I feel compelled to give you a sort-of answer to your question, though I'll leave out anything about what direct answers I've received from God about it. Let's focus merely on the obvious.

The gist of your question, if I get it correctly, is whether I think the church is in apostasy. I addressed this question in my book "What To Expect When You're Excommunicated" and the answer I gave there was "of course not."

Let's not forget that "the church" means all who repent and come unto Christ. He defined it as such in D&C 10:67, and in verse 68 he warns us not to define any other entity as being His church. So the leaders alone are NOT the church. We deserve to remind ourselves of that, lest we incur the wrath of God.

Since WE ALL are the church, and the true definition of "apostasy" means to turn one's back on Christ and his gospel, every one of us would have to renege our belief in Christ and his gospel in order for "the church" to be in apostasy.

But you also ask about my beliefs concerning the leaders of the church. Are they in apostasy?

No, I don't think so. They sometimes make errors, they misspeak, and they misrepresent their powers and abilities (See, for instance, my piece "Not Quite the Same" for an analysis of their frequent boasts that when they speak it is the same as if God himself were speaking).

They sometimes even change the doctrines of the church, and even invent new ones. Those are acts no man has the authority to engage in, as doctrine is promulgated only by God through written revelations. When they usurp God's word without any authority to do so, I believe we have a duty to call them on it.

I would submit Church leaders DO have authority to institute policies, such as the recent lowering of the age for missionaries. But they are not immune from criticism for those policies. Still, so long as the policies and procedures they create don't conflict with scripture, they have full authority to institute them. They get this authority through the sustaining vote of the members who have in essence elected them to lead.

(Although I don't believe the lowering of the missionary age was a wise policy decision, it was well within the purview of the Brethren to announce that policy change, as there is no scripture addressing or prohibiting it.)

(Continued below)






Alan Rock Waterman said...

JB, (Continued)

So, are the leaders in apostasy?

You would have to assume that the leadership of this church acts and agrees as one, and they do not. As Robin Hood stated above, "some people expect absolute perfection from the church and it's leaders and when it becomes obvious that isn't the case they think they have license to fault-find anything and everything."

I'm not one of those people. I don't expect absolute perfection from any mortals, especially when those mortals are flying by the seat of their pants without direct revelations instructing them on what they should be doing. Finding fault with ALL these men on anything and everything would be not only improper, but scatterbrained and ineffective.

Do I believe some of the general authorities have a better handle on the Lord's word than others? Yes, I do. you can detect it in their conference talks. But some others who are directing the course of the Church today are the spiritual descendants of N. Eldon Tanner, who admitted he was not much of a scriptorian. But he was a great manager. For several months Tanner was practically running the church himself because the rest of the First Presidency was completely infirm.

On the whole I agree with Matthew Bennett who I quoted in the original post saying these men are doing the best they know how.

I believe they are largely hampered by false traditions that originated by those who came before them, and are slaves to the only information they have as to how things should be done. Certainly some errors made in the past continue to be perpetuated by the current administrators. But "apostasy" suggests a willful turning against the truth, and I don't know of anyone in Church leadership who is knowingly and willfully fighting against God.

I do believe it is our responsibility as members of Christ's church to point out when individual leaders are in error so that we don't continue to perpetuate false teachings in our community. One example of where I believe it was proper to take individual leaders to task can be found in my piece "Vengeance and the Latter-day Saint." There I singled out certain Church leaders who were actively encouraging young latter-day saints to participate in the type of warfare the Lord clearly prohibited us from being part of. Those who flattered LDS soldiers by telling them they were engaged in "a noble profession" were out of line in that instance, and I did not hesitate to say so.

I believe when leaders teach falsehoods, especially when those falsehoods result in death and killing, we have a particular duty to call them on it, and show how those falsehoods embody not a righteous cause, but disobedience to God.

Randy and Julie said...

Rock,

You pointed out that you believed Brigham Young wrongly had himself declared as the Prophet over the Church without being anointed by the Lord. That he was a member of the Q12 and received the vote from a majority of Church Members at the 08 August 1844 Conference in Nauvoo is unquestioned. That he had a right to eventually declare himself as President of the Church in 1852 when he advocated it be led by the Q12 is a historical fact. Its interesting that he eventually followed Sidney Rigdon's plan 8 years later with himself as President rather than Sidney. Irony of ironies. Or was it?

Brigham and his followers are or were responsible for instituting several teachings that today are considered false. Let's list them.

1. The Adam God Theory
2. The Blood Atonement
3. Law of Tithing (surplus or gross)
4. D&C 132. Its story is sketchy.
5. The Reformation of 1855-1856
6. ZCMI and driving out Merchants
7. The Mountain Meadows Massacre
8. Not investigating MMM as Governor
9. His personal and trustee holdings. Sorting out his will was a mess.
10. Lying about polygamy to European investigators and new members while practicing it openly in Utah.
11. Polyamory. He fathered a child from Zina Harrington who was married to another man and had two children by him.
13. Brigham's 10 divorces. We talk about the number of wives he had but little about those that divorced him.
12. Change of the Word of Wisdom from being non compulsury to being a pre-requisite for entry into the temple when it explicitly says not to do so. I still can't get over how Heber J. Grant got away with that but couldn't change other policies.
13. Banning of African Americans from holding the Priesthood when Joseph Smith had ordained a few black members to it. No scriptural backing to this doctrine. Just his prejudices or so it seems.
14. Acceptance of the Book of Abraham as Scripture when Joseph Smith never suggested it should be.
15. The establishment of a Corporation Sole. We've become very similar to the Catholic Church.

Randy and Julie said...

Continued

In short, I believe Brigham was more concerned in gaining and consolidating his personal power than being an effective over-seerer of the Church. Maybe it was his ignorance. I think it was his personality. He dug being in charge. This leadership style affected the administrations of John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, etc. Only Lorenzo Snow seemed to be obedient and somewhat humble in how he conducted himself President of the Church. (He gave up his polygamous wives did claim to seeing Christ in the Salt Lake Temple who instructed him not to delay in reorganizing the First Presidency). Of course, we only hear this story second hand from his grand daughter who reported that he told her this. I'm troubled by this and not a revelation spoken directly to him announcing such a change. It seems to suspicious.

I think you're right in that Tradition plays a huge role in the management style of those who serve today. It bothers me some that we emphasize the "follow the Prophet" doctrine over following one's conscience or following the Savior. We members aren't lemmings. I assume the principles we are taught have a reason behind them. Perhaps its to help us make decisions in life and not just to take the easiest path. If so, this current emphasis on Following the Prophet doesn't seem logical.

Then again, nobody gets into power and stays there without expecting obedience from those they lead. This is their dilemma today. I wouldn't want their job. I do think some things could change though in keeping with a better-educated membership who has easy access to information not available even 20-30 years ago.

Our leaders need to be transparent about how Church funds are spent and account to the membership fully. That is a must. There is a legacy of doing this many years before. They need to realize that they are servants to those they serve and not authorities in their life. They need to serve without pay of any kind, without benefits of any kind, without member chauffers, house staff cleaning their homes etc. They should not be paid for serving on the Board of Directors of businesses owned primarily by the Church. Let professionals and not ecclesiastical authorities manage that. In fact, get rid of all outside businesses altogether. We're a Church and not a for profit corporation. Lastly, we need to quit calling General Authorities from those who are related to one another by marriage, kinship, or anything approaching that. It just looks bad to the outside world who often see us as a closed society of a few inter-related families. Nepotism may have been understandable 150 years ago. We're far beyond that today.

It sounds that I may be a critic of the Church. I'm not. They have a right to teach and believe what they may. They have a right to lead as best as they see fit. We all have the right to follow them or not. I try to be careful what I say in public. I'm not trying to influence anyone to believe or not. All of these things transpired before I was an itch in my father's jockey shorts.
But, I dislike having things misrepresented to me. I've witnessed many preach false or teach false doctrines in a Priesthood Quorum so long as they aren't critical of the Church's divinity or it's leaders. But, let someone question Joseph Smith's testimony, preach something against the Book of Mormon, the D&C or Pearl of Great Price or current leadership etc., and they're gone. Its sad that we have allowed this to happen. Its just as much our fault as it is of those taking on these responsibilities on their own. Just my two cents though.

Randy

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Randy, I appreciate seeing that long list of Brigham's crimes all in one place. I hadn't seen them listed like that and when they are, the realization that he was trouble is daunting. And the new information! I thought maybe two of Brigham's wives had divorced him, but ten! That was news.

I'd add one more item to that list: Sometime upon arriving in Utah, Brigham reorganized the church as a corporation under federal law. You do mention the corporation sole, but I think this was something else. I need to learn more about it, but have not yet dug around.

What that did, of course, flew in the face of the church Joseph Smith organized under the laws of the state of New York. The original "organization" was more like an announcement like one would register an announcement of a birth or a marriage. It was a common law proceeding, much less nefarious than incorporating under federal law as Brigham did.

Brigham changed the church Joseph Smith founded so blatantly that it's a wonder anyone thinks it is the same church. But just watch how people will come to the defense of the "church" as being the same as ever.

Randy and Julie said...

Rock,

I think he registered the church as a corporation under Territory of Deseret law. Not sure why. Then again, there was a schism on going with many such as Lyman Wight and James Strang organizing their own Churches. Not all from Nauvoo followed Brigham. I believe Sidney Rigdon organized a Church in Pittsburg that is still there. David and John Whitmer too many years later. Don't the Whitmerites own a plot in Adam OndI Ahmen?

Brigham was unique. He was a lot of things yet never claimed to receive revelation. That didn't stop him on expounding upon and creating some doctrines. Didn't he issue one revelation? D&C 136 or someyhing like that?

If he were alive and leading the church today, there would be a huge exodus out. He was a man of his time and understanding. I am glad I don't have to deal with him. We would not get along. I find little of merit or of redeeming value in knowing about him. To me, he was a want-to-be-rich-and-in-charge bully. I cringe at how he bullied and taunted his wives about accepting their lot, living their religion, and not complaining.

There are URLs that list the wives of Joseph and Brigham. By my count, Brigham was divorced or left by 10 of his 55 wives. Several died on him too. He only left 16 of his wives part of his estate in his will. The church forgave him of $3 million. After they were done, he only had about $200,000 or so left over for his wives and kids. I think his estate was around $6 million beforehand.

I read Eliza Webb Dee Young's expose biography The 19th Wife. I believe a lot of what she had to say about Brigham. Fanny and TJH Stenhouse mentioned a lot of the same attributes in their books about frontier Utah, Brigham being power hungry etc. We wouldn't hold BY in high esteem if he were leading today. Of course, the Journal of Discourses quotes a lotfrom him too. I think his teachings and some of his sermons are embarrassing today.

Randy

A Nony Mouse said...

26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light? (Helaman 13)

Randy and Julie said...

Rock,

Check out this link on the wives of Brigham Young.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Brigham_Young%27s_wives

Randy

Robin Hood said...

Rock,
I thought your article was well written and quite balanced. Well done - a big improvement on recent offerings in my view.

But, and there is always a "but" with me, when I clicked on the link to Brother Matthew's full blog statement regarding his reasons for his opposing vote at General Conference, I can honestly say I wish I hadn't. What a moaner!
A number of things jumped out at me, far too many to list here, but I can't believe this guy is actually taken seriously.
Take his comments about the Correlation Department for example. After listing his concerns he ends by saying he doesn't really know if what he has said is true, but it is a rumour. One of the reasons he gave a contrary vote was because of a rumour?!!! Good grief!
He also brings up the issue of the SCMC and blames the secret weeding out of opposing voices in the church on it. His examples are Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, and John Dehlin. Did they need weeding out? Frankly, they were very open, vociferous and public about their positions, which were plastered all over the internet and news media for their Bishop's, Stake President's and others to see. This is hardly the work of a secretive committee. What utter clapstrap!

I could go on but I've said enough. The article was good Rock, but Bro. Matthew needs to get out a bit more.

Scott said...

The problem with Ms. Samuelson's assertions are that they start with a complete error.
I don't know who all five of the 'opposing voters' were, but I know one of them personally. One of the organizers of the display. He is a former member that now considers himself to be an atheist. That's about as far from active, faithful member as you can get.
So my question is whether she was misinformed, guessing, or lying?

Scott,
Was this organizer one of the people who actually attended and voted at conference? If so, his vote holds no weight. Only those who believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ are entitled to either sustain or oppose nominations in the church of Jesus Christ.

Yes Rock, he was there voting. In fact a photo of him doing so is now on their homepage.
I will repeat my question. Was Ms. Samuelson misinformed, guessing, or lying? It was one of those three things. Either way it speaks to her credibility and brings into doubt any other 'facts' she asserts.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Scott,
How does her (quite understandable) error on the first point bring into doubt any of the other facts she asserts? Read them again. She is one hundred percent correct on all of them.

As for the first point, when I wrote my piece I still didn't know the names of the people who had voted to oppose, other than Matthew Bennett. Had I known one of them was Micah Nicholaison (the "athiest" you refer to) I would have vouched for him myself at the time as a believer. It was only AFTER the event that he has come out and declared himself to now being a non-believer.

Michah is a friend of mine. I was interviewed by Micah a couple of years back for "A Thoughtful Faith" podcast. I saw him again in Salt Lake City. He was a believer then, and Sister Samuelson would have had no reason to believe otherwise when she wrote that comment.

So she was neither misinformed, guessing, or lying. Everyone who knew Micah knew he was a believer in the Restoration. People change, though, and Micah's announcement was more recent than her statements of fact. The overall truth of her statement still stands. How these people voted, and where they cast their votes was entirely proper, as supported by the Lord Himself in D&C 124:144.

Nothing has changed other than the outlook of one voter. So what?

Log said...

A Response To Ajax, aka Steve:

Yes, I do. Rules, however, that cannot be known, that only exist in the judge's head, I cannot know, because I don't have a mind-reading device.

I have to say, Rock has proven he is no self-righteous hypocrite. I have provoked him a number of times, and he hasn't resorted to any kind of negative sanction whatsoever.

I apologize, Rock - they banned me from the LDS "Freedom" Forum. Indecorous behavior, don't you know.

Log said...

For context, See here, and here.

Log said...

I find it interesting. No need to condemn, either - I just watch what they do. Of course, "propriety" exists only in the mind of the judge - it is inherently abusive and unjust.

The "profanity filter" rendered it impossible to break that rule. One man's "trolling" might be the Lord's call to repentance. Who knows, since it is not defined except by way of reading minds and hearts - and I ain't seen the functioning mind-reader yet.

Not even Ajax, whose pattern is to try to stick snarky shivs in people's backsides.

The question of Ajax's I was answering was "Do you keep the rules of the society you are a part of?"

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 238   Newer› Newest»