Tuesday, August 18, 2009
How To Tell If You Are An Idolater
When I first started out in Radio in the late 1970's I was an all-night disc jockey at a radio station in Provo. A full time news director worked there in the daytime, but I was all alone from midnight to six in the morning, so in addition to playing the hits, I was also in charge of selecting and reading the news at the top of every hour.
The news was dispensed from a noisy teletype machine in the station's hallway, and at ten minutes before, I would go out and rip off a couple of feet of printout. Then I'd select my choice of five stories, and when it was time, I'd read those short pieces on the air.
The AP wire always sent any stories pertinent to the Utah demographic, so one night following LDS General Conference, there was a short recap of what had transpired at Temple Square that weekend. I read it directly from the printout, and it went something like this:
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wrapped up it's semi-annual conference today with church president Spencer Kimball encouraging the membership to..."
Oh my. I had just called him "Spencer Kimball". Without putting a "W" in the middle. But that was the way the thing was written when I got it, and I was already full into it and couldn't stop or go back, so I kept on to the next sentence and I knew right then I should have proofread the piece beforehand because before I knew it I was reading out loud "Kimball further reminded the members that..."
I finished the news but as I cued up the next record I was left with an uncomfortable feeling. Here I was, an active, temple-going, returned missionary and I had just referred to The Modern Day Prophet Of The Lord by his last name only. Not "President Kimball"; not even "Elder Kimball", but just plain old ordinary "Kimball", as if he was just some garden variety grunt. I felt just a tiny bit blasphemous, as if I had overstepped my bounds somehow and maybe taken his name in vain.
Since that night I've often reflected on the strange habit we in the church cling to in referring to general authorities by the formal names they had been known by in the business world. As I was growing up, almost all of these men had been successful corporate executives before they were called to offices in the church, and in that environment middle names and initials were part of the trappings of vocational ostentation.
But why should we continue that tradition in the church? Why do we feel it necessary to address them with the official honorifics they had been known by back in Babylon? Shouldn't the Lord's church be more egalitarian? After all, the early saints referred to the actual founder of our faith as "Brother Joseph", and more often as simply "Joseph". Do we esteem his successors more stately than he?
If you're a life-long member of the church, I dare you to pronounce a random list of general authority names out loud without having an uncontrollable itch to add a middle name or initial to each of them. Here, try this:
Feels kind of weird, huh?
If you felt just the slightest bit hinky saying those names out loud; if you felt like a closet sinner, then I submit that you are an idolater. That may seem a bit harsh, but consider: You're uneasy because you have been conditioned since childhood to see these men as demi-gods who are better than you, even holier than you. Certainly God looks more favorably upon these men than he does of you, right?
But wait a minute. If these men are called of God as in the ancient church, don't you think they see themselves as your servants?
They are not your overlords. They are not your bosses. They have absolutely no authority over you personally and very little ecclesiastically. They exist to serve you and the church as a whole, not to order you around or -heaven forbid- be worshiped by the membership. The highest priesthood they hold is the Melchizedek priesthood, the same one held by the average latter-day saint male. Any additional keys they hold are conditional upon the whim of the Lord; He alone decides whether, or when, or even if he will communicate through them, and unless he does, their pronouncements are their opinions only and no more binding on the the church than those of Oral Roberts or Tammy Faye Baker.
Why then would we insist on putting a wall between them and ourselves? Why insist on using titles that are more appropriate in the corporate world than in the Body of Christ -titles that only serve to make them seem unapproachable, exclusive, and distant?
I've seen good, humble people who I'm sure would be perfectly at ease in the presence of the Savior absolutely fall all over themselves when given the opportunity to shake hands with A Real Live General Authority. I've heard others excitedly retell stories of having been in the same room with one of these men, and of having been close enough to touch him.
You'd think they'd spotted Elvis.
It was in the writings of Hugh Nibley that I first saw this phenomenon among the saints described as idolatry, and I think he was accurate in his assessment. Brother Nibley quite properly chided the membership for their fawning attitude toward the church's upper management in his book "Approaching Zion", a book that posits how, rather than approaching Zion, we seem to be running lickety-split in the other direction.
I've had the privilege of knowing two general authorities, well enough to call both of them friends, and I don't believe either one of them would freak out if they were addressed by their first names. These are good men with good hearts, and this odd idolatry some have toward them does create barriers that I wonder if they're comfortable with. There is a time for protocol, to be sure, but I think the Lord would rather that most of the time we treated each other as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than to exist in some forced dichotomy of "Members" and "Leaders".
I have a friend involved in the production of church films who related to me a conversation he had on a flight to Brazil to do some shooting. He was sitting next to a member of the Seventies quorum who related an incident that happened when he was home one Saturday working in his garage. He found he needed to run down to Home Depot for a hammer, and he did so.
On Monday he learned he was in trouble. Somebody had finked on him. More than one somebody, it turned out. Several Mormon busybodies had actually called church headquarters to complain about the unseemliness of a general authority of the church being seen in public wearing jeans and a polo shirt.
So now there's another rule imposed on those who accept a calling to lead the church. They can't leave the house for any reason unless they first get fully dressed in a white shirt, suit, and tie.
If members of the church insist on treating other members as if they are somehow elite and above the rest of us, that's what we're going to wind up getting: an elite group, separate and detached from the rest of us. This is not the way God wants things to be. The scriptures warn us not to esteem any man above another.
It's important to remember that Joseph Smith himself cautioned the membership against treating the priesthood leaders as if they have extraordinary powers and privilege. And you have to give Joseph credit for actually publishing the many instances when the Lord called him on the carpet for getting too uppity. If he could be entrapped by pride, anybody can.
There's a a very real danger in making celebrities of our fellow servants in Christ. These men are only human, and they can succumb to the trappings of hero worship just like anybody else. Do you think Satan sleeps and that the Brethren are immune from the temptation for power over others? Why then the famous cautionary warning in D&C 121:39?
As sometimes happened with Joseph Smith, all that obsequiousness can go to one's head and make a humble servant soon forget his place. Bruce McConkie was notorious for his arrogance in knowing he was right and everybody else had better get in line behind him. First Counselor Henry D. Moyle's unrestrained ambition spent the church into serious financial crisis before President McKay finally put the brakes on him. The revelation that Paul Dunn fabricated those incredible stories of heroism about himself, though intended to inspire, proved destructive to his reputation and an embarrassment to the church.
Boyd Packer once gave a talk at BYU entitled "The Unwritten Order of Things" in which he did not hide his presumption that men like him are entitled to a status that the rest of us don't enjoy. As the title infers, Brother Packer has come to believe some policies and privileges need not be instituted by God in order to be binding on the membership, but are simply "understood".
Although there is much to agree with, one cannot read this talk without a growing sense of unease that Brother Packer seems to be inventing some of his own doctrines here, independent of any revelatory input from Jesus Christ. (The talk appears to have now been removed from the official church website.) Boyd Packer was later revealed to be the secret instigator behind the vindictive excommunications in 1993 of six devoted Latter-day Saints, including a humble follower of Christ
whose primary sin turned out to be that he had not shown Packer the proper deference.
But there is at least one more reason to be wary of blind obedience to priesthood authority, and that is the very real danger that we could become "darkened in [our] minds" as Brother Joseph tells us was happening to the saints who grew too dependent on him. Every now and then I hear some well-intentioned member of the church declare that we should always obey our leaders even if we disagree with their counsel, because even if it turns out that they were wrong, the Lord will bless us anyway for our obedience.
There is no scriptural basis for such a papistic assumption. Every doctrine of the restoration declaims against it. Joseph Smith said that "such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings...When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves."
The general authorities of the church are human beings. They're not perfect. Heck, they are often not even unified. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Orson Pratt had open and very public differences in their understanding of scripture and in what direction the church should be steered, the latter two often contradicting each other during the same conference sessions.
David O. McKay and J. Ruben Clark's disagreements surfaced publicly in Time magazine, and "the two men polarized other general authorities and bureaucrats into 'Clark men' and 'McKay men'" for decades afterward.
Less civil and more heated were the philosophical differences between Ezra Taft Benson and Hugh B. Brown, which spilled over into serious acrimony between them and often affected quorum business. There was some seriously bad blood between these two. I happen to own a like-new copy of one of Benson's books which he had inscribed and given to Elder Brown. I found it at D.I. for two bucks. Apparently Brother Brown couldn't get rid of the thing fast enough.
The uncomfortable history of the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve is the history of any corporate institution. It's a not always pristine story of climbers, alliances, and end-runs around authority. We deserve to remember that God has always worked through men who were regular, flawed human beings. We don't do these guys any favors by putting them on pedestals and forcing them to live up to some image of how we feel the ideal men of God should behave. By doing so we create the misconception that somehow they themselves are "the church", and force them to divert much of their energies into protecting their own images.
Unwarranted truckling doesn't bring the members of the Body of Christ closer together; it drives us further apart. Worship should be reserved for the Master only.
We have a role to play here. We can start by stopping the idolatry, by ceasing to assume or expect perfection in those called to management positions in the church. We can stop elevating them above us, and we can refrain from clucking our tongues when they don't measure up to our pious expectations.
We can go back to treating them the way the early saints treated Joseph Smith and the early apostles: Like regular human beings, like brothers in the gospel rather than leaders held aloft. We can treat them, as the apostle Paul might put it, like "fellow citizens with the saints".
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I usually refer to them as Elder "name inserted". I don't see the need to call them by their full name or with the added initial and I don't think it's a matter of disrespect.
I won't name names, but I have a very good friend who I've been friends with since childhood. His uncle is one of the apostles. I told him that I had heard that this apostle insisted that people stand when he enters the room. My friend, his nephew, simply said, "Yeah, that sounds like him."
I remember a talk given by Elder Nelson a few years ago in general conference. His talk was about President Hinckley and how he should be our model. The talk sounded almost like we were worshiping President Hinckley. I'm sure he meant well, but I was very uncomfortable with it and I wondered if President Hinckley was as well. Seems to me that the Savior should be our only example. And that is not to demean the apostles. I respect them and their callings, but I don't worship them and I don't think they would want that honor, anyway.
I see nothing wrong with paying them respect, but I agree that a lot of the members seem to go way overboard.
It might seem odd to you, but a lot of people have a hard time with critical thinking. They doubt their ability to make good decisions for themselves so they follow the crowd and put trust in the people perceived to be "experts".
In this case I wouldn't say it's the worst thing ever. It might become a problem with that kind of trust is extended to all of the people believed to be experts at something.
I've mentioned this before but this topic is far more appropriate: When I was at BYU a general authority once spoke at either a ward/stake conference and told a lot of stories about President Hinckley, then joked along the lines of, "If President Hinckley was here, he'd poke me with his cane and tell me to stop talking about him and testify of Christ."
I also recently attended the missionary farewell for a daughter of one of the families I home teach. She spoke along the lines of not only never criticizing church leaders, but also to never even disagree with them. The first thing that came to mind (after I felt the spirit leave the meeting) was, "And church members wonder why people think we're a cult." I also recall a talk given by Elder Scott at a CES fireside back in 2002 (also back at BYU) in which he discouraged blind obedience.
I gained the following insight while browsing through the news this morning in regards to the assumed statement that even hearkening to incorrect (or even false) council from church leaders would bring blessings for obedience:
Isn't that the same attitude that mainstream Christian America has in regards to always supporting the nation of Israel, despite its own crimes and corrupt history since its founding?
Idolatry really comes in all forms.
On the idolatry thing,if I take it a step further and call President Boyd K. Packer "Boyd KKK Pecker" and President Gordon B. Hinckley "Gordon Be Wrinkley" and President Thomas S. Monson "Tommy Ass Monson" am I all the less idolatrous than those who use their full titles? It is nice to know I am more righteous than the rightoeus in at least one respect now. Thanks.
Once again, great article.
I had a nice long response as well, but blogger apparently didn't want to take it and I lost it. Oh well.
Has anyone else taken a look at the http://new.lds.org site? I opened it up and the first thing I see is not one, but two giant images of Thomas S. Monson in a slideshow with the church logo that contains the name "Jesus Christ," you know, the GOD that we're supposed to worship, practically tucked away in the corner and not standing out in any way at all.
At least compare this to the current/old lds.org, the logo is front and center on the top of the page with a picture of the Cristus statue right next to it that draws the attention right away.
How can the church possibly defend its claim that it isn't a cult who worships the current president when it does everything it can to portray complete support for the accusation instead? I don't get angry nearly as easily as I did when I was a kid, but the two things that have pissed me off the most often latest have been the federal government and the corporate church.
I just popped over there to check, and you're right, Dave. Picture no. 2 has our dear leader waving to his fans.
Though they did have the savior's name tucked up into the corner like you said, it would have been nice to at least see an illustration of him on page one.
This article is absolutely fantastic. I'm a new reader of your blog and have been going back to the older articles and catching up to the present.
The portion about members of the church being upset they saw a General Authority (why do we capitalize that title as well?) out of his "official" costume cracked me up. I served my mission in the Utah Salt Lake City Mission from '99-'01 and I cannot count how many times our mission president would talk and laugh about members of the church calling him to tattle on his missionaries for things like:
Grocery shopping on P-Day (because grocery stores play worldly music, therefore we should not ever enter those places even if we need a few important things, you know, like food), for eating lunches as places like Chili's or Hires Big H (because there are female waitresses there), for biting, then double-dipping our fries into our own ketchup or fry sauce (because one of the Lord's missionaries wouldn't ever do something gross like that), for not knocking on doors correctly while on splits, for kicking trash out of the way while walking down the sidewalk (because that's a childish and undignified thing to do), for not teaching the discussion the way that THEY taught it on their mission...the list could go on and on.
My favorite was when I was transferred to Magna, UT. Someone had a large yard and turned it into a small llama farm, of all things. The first time I saw it I thought it was random and funny, so we stopped knocking doors for a few moments so that I could take a picture feeding the llamas. Within that short time, someone driving by saw us, pulled over and got out of the car and decided to lecture us from across the street about shirking our responsibilities and that we should "stop horsing around and get to work." Having put up with shenanigans like his for almost a full two years, I then told him I understood his frustrations, but informed him that I was out knocking doors trying to find people to share the gospel with because HE was the one shirking his responsibilities, as missionaries are called to "teach and baptize," while it is the primary responsibility of all church members to find teachable people.
He didn't like that response very much.
When he called in to tattle on me to my mission president, he was promised I would be spoken to. What he does not know is that the mission president and I had a good laugh about it at his expense instead.
The moral of this long winded story?
I think we as human beings innately need to venerate, praise and worship someone or something, and it's even better when we can impose (rather than share) those beliefs on someone else. We get caught up in it a little too much and slowly begin to lose our common sense while we do so.
Anyway...keep up the great posts. I'm loving what I'm reading here.
Great story, Jeff!
I can't imagine a worse place to serve a mission than in Utah. Never a moment of privacy.
Two things today:
The new LDS.org has become the standard website for the church and it looks like they listened, at least for now, on having a picture of the risen Savior the first thing someone sees when accessing the site. (Though the fact that I find the new site clunky and poorly designed, especially when looking up scriptures, is another matter)
And Jeff, I have to applaud how you were able to put up with people literally looking over your shoulder the whole time you were on your mission. I served in North Carolina and had to come home early after a nervous breakdown that I pretty much brought upon myself because I let those little "imperfections" and "not being a proper missionary" crush me. I'm a guy who really, REALLY hates making mistakes and it took a long time to get over the fact that those mountains out of molehills are what did me in. (The fact that I felt I dodged a bullet by getting out of my engagement last July is another matter.)
Rock and Dave,
I obviously can't compare my mission in SLC to anywhere else as it's been the only one I've served...however, I did spend a lot of time with the missionaries back home in Vermont before I ended up serving my own mission and I was accustomed to to their rules/policies, so when I got to SLC I didn't like that I had to re-learn a new standard of protocol once I got there. But I got over myself, stepped outside of my own head and realized that it was ok that my mission president was different than the one I had come to know in New England.
As for everyone looking our shoulders...yes, it was rather taxing, some times more than others (like when I served up at the UofU in a singles stake of recently returned missionaries who thought they knew everything there was to know about the Work). We took President Kimball's statement of "Every Member a Missionary" and changed it to "Every Member a Mission President." It bothered us more when we were younger or newer missionaries but once we realized and understood our individual callings as a missionaries, those kinds of encounters bothered us less and less.
For the most part however, the members there were incredibly supportive and truly wonderful. While I was there, the mission would baptize on average 100-120 people per month with tremendous involvement from the members in the various wards and stakes.
Serving in SLC made it so we were also privy to things and places that other missionaries/members/visitors/tourists were not. I may not have been a missionary who knocked doors is rural Italy or the Philippines, I may not have taught discussions to the people living in humble circumstances within the mountain caves of Guatemala like my father did, but I was able to visit the 4th and 5th floors and the the solemn assembly room of the Salt Lake temple, to climb inside the spires of the temple and visit rooms not used or visited for common purposes, to walk the tunnels beneath temple square, to be taken up inside the dome of the original tabernacle to see the original trusses there held together without the use of metal or staples or nails. My first baptism was a family of 5, baptized right on temple square in the font found on the west side of the tabernacle. I was able to personally hold and read an original Book of Mormon and one of the remaining 14 or so first edition Book of Commandments that the church doesn't have stored and locked up in their archives. I was able to meet (typically in random circumstances) members of the Twelve and 1st Presidency and have them bare unprompted personal and individual testimony to my investigators about the divinity of the Savior and the words we were teaching them...
We may have had it easy, REAL easy in a lot of ways, but that does not make serving in Utah any less unique, individual and marvelous. It was exactly what I needed at the exact time that I needed it, and I am grateful for it (annoying and nosy members and all).
It was my mission in Utah that gave me the opportunities to read and study things that aren't in circulation any longer or that are simply extremely difficult to come by these days that gave me my taste for pure doctrine, for the prevailing truth instead of policy that has been instituted AS doctrine which I feel we are only getting more and more of these days (which is exactly why I can't get enough of your website, Rock!).
Anyway. I've once again rambled on far too long. Thanks for the both of you taking an interest in my initial comment. It's been great reading and chatting with you both! I hope for more to come.
Thanks to Connor's Twitter I ran into this today:
Talk about missing the forest for the trees/not seeing the elephant in the room/etc. I also easily noticed that my comment calling out the church for its idol worship of the "prophet" did not get approved. But then again, it is BYU. Having an actual differing opinion is not allowed there.
//Worship should be reserved for the Master only.//
You should have seen the big hoopla when our current bishop was called to his post. There was a prelude of intrigue in which we were promised great things next week (almost as if the Second Coming would be here), then a big fanfare of a party after church when he was sustained. I've been in the church all my life and I'd never seen the like.
This is the bishop who was once my home teacher. The only reason I know he was my home teacher because he announced it to me outside the Relief Society room. That was the extent of my contact with him.
You see how far men's methods are from the Lord's? The Lord would have us quietly serve with integrity and diligence. Men would announce that someone is absolutely the cat's meow.
Even if the praise were warranted, it's probably inappropriate to deliver it publicly. If someone really has done something incredibly nice, then thank him or her personally.
In the case of our bishop, despite the great accolades he receives, I cannot see evidence of greatness. I once offered to send inactive members the Ensign at my own expense if he would just give me a list of those he wanted to receive them. He promised to provide the list. It never appeared. I reminded him again and received effusive assurances it would soon make an appearance.
That was probably two years ago. The list never appeared.
You'll hear a lot of praises being exchanged between members, a lot of back-patting and self-exultation. But will you hear praises to the Lord Jesus Christ? Will you see humility before the God who gave his own life that he might offer us salvation?
No. Forget about that. They're really too interested in self-worship to worship the Lord.
It seems to me, that if the GAs didn't want to be worshipped like gods, they could probably put a stop to it.
Oh, but didn't you know that it isn't their fault if they're worshiped like gods? One of the big things that the church likes to drill into the minds of the people is that everything that goes wrong is always the fault of the lay member, never the church or one of the leaders.
Excellent article Rock. I go out of my way to in all types of company (both TBM and not and everywhere in between) to simply refer to them as their names, Gordon Hinckley, Tom Monson etc. I grew up in a neighborhood and ward in SLC where we my sunday school teachers were former presidents of 70, very high profile members, as well as 12 former mission presidents, a couple of apostles etc etc. - and we all just called our Bishop by his first name, Dan. Anyway I refuse to participate in this nonsense. If I were a leader of any kind, I'd like to just be called by my name and wish our leaders were down to earth enough to desire the same. Like in the B of M where King Benjamin and Alma (the younger?) worked of their own account, preferring to keep a low profile among the people of the land and church. Where is such an example today? Gordon Hinckley famously said he fights hero worship every day - and I know his family and know that they are good, down to earth people for the most part.
Let's compare how the prophets of the church today react to praise from others in general conference vs how Jesus Christ reacted.
Prophets today: What I have noticed is silence. They neither acknowledge or rebuke/reprimand those who have praised them. Let me know if you have seen otherwise.
Let's look at Mark 10:17-18
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
If we believe that our goal is to steadily become more like Jesus, we need to emulate Him. This can be done through following Him and His faithfulness, His love for God, and His humility before God.
Jesus, the one and only one in the history of the world, could have legitimately accepted the praise, still did not, and gave all of the praise to the Father.
Follow-up scripture to what I posted: D&C 76:61
61 Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet.
This is not being followed at all, especially in general conference.
Thanks, Commander. That's a good one to keep in mind.
I have come to discover for myself that: Spitituallity is between me and God. Religion is a way of getting things accomplished in society with people that have similar spiritual ideals. Minor prophets are there to organize religion and occasionaly remind us about how important our relationship with God is. The difference between a minor profit and a major prophet usually has a lot to do with how much they pedestalize former prophets. I think it was Nephi or Jacob that chastized Solomon and David for their wickedness. Taoism teaches that those in pursuit of the way of truth every day something is unlearned. All we have in the church today is parrots * who are unwilling to tear down any rat infested slum of ideas even if the work would quadruple.
*thats why conferences are so dull Gordan B said this Thomas Monson said this I can do an ensign search at LDS.org and prepair an equivelent talk in 15 minutes)
It is not healthy for any organization heads to surround themselves with ass kissers. It is a problem with man in general.
Nothin is worse than Magna.....
I'm going to start calling Thomas S. Monson "Brother Monson" for now on. Thank you!
You know the real reason why GAs (Geriatric Authorities) do that whole first or middle initial thing? It has nothing to do with Masonic and Corporate traditions of vanity. It's just because they all were given silly and embarrassing names by their parents.
Russell Muscle Nelson
Mallard Russell Ballard
Richard Gott Scott
Neal Axwell Maxwell
Dallin Hoax Oaks
Boyd Korihor Packer
Poor guys. What were their parents thinking?
I'd never read that Boyd Packer talk until stumbling across it here. I find his most presumptuous sayings to be in regards to funerals. While I agree that the sacred things, including belief in the resurrection, should be made clear, the the "principles" he's relying on are anything but Christlike. I mean, actually TALKING ABOUT the deceased person, including "humorous experiences or jokes" which "repulse the Spirit" (just HOW does he know that btw?)? All these things at a person's very own FUNERAL is simply PREPOSTEROUS! Never mind the fact that any non-members who attend may be curious why their loved one's funeral turned into a kitschy sermon devoid of any sort of remembrances!
How about the simple admonition to "mourn with those that mourn?" I am in no position to judge others on how they grieve, and neither is Brother Boyd. He should have called his talk "The Unscriptural Order of Things" instead, as he even goes so far to ask us to "learn and study the unwritten order of things" to gain the Lord's power. Should that be before or after scripture study?
Temple Square. :)
In the Old Testament the Lord plead with the people not to accept a king, but they overruled the Lord's prophet and got what they wanted. We are put down here on this Earth to gain faith by making decisions and choices, but because we are lazy, we prefer to offload as much responsibility for our decisions and choices to others.
Politically, we tend to prefer to let "somebody else" make the laws and hard decisions, so we elect politicians to take over that burden. Ecclesiastically we tend to do the same thing. We support leaders of the Church who make all of our decisions for us, that way, when asked why we did not act in a Christlike manner we can say "the General Authority beguiled me, and I did eat".
It is Satan's plan to encourage us to lean on others for our testimonies and our decisions about what is right and what is wrong. We allow others the authority to put us into a small box, so we can truly say "I had no choice but to act within the confines of the box", when it would be more correct to say "I had no choice but to act within the confines of the box I asked them to build and put me in".
Socialism is a perfect example. Most supporters embrace the idea of forced "charity" to our underprivileged fellow man, instead of accepting responsibility for being personally charitable.
Most members of the Church want the Prophet to tell them what to eat, drink and wear. The Brethren have unwisely IMHO condescended to provide answers: White shirt, short haircut, one earring per ear, long skirt, no pantsuits, no Beer, no marijuana, no ice tea - no exceptions.
We have transformed ourselves into a parody of the church in Jesus's day with our own pharisees and sadducees telling us how many steps are okay on the Sabbath. We justify ourselves just as the Jews in Jesus's day by looking down our judgmental noses at non-conformists and presume to know whether they are a "good Latter Day Saint". We think that by following a list of mostly superficial criteria we can judge the "worthiness" and worth of others, without bothering to walk in their shoes. We justify ourselves by quoting the GA's and not following Christ's admonitions.
It may very well be the case that those who unwisely accept responsibility for making my decisions will have to answer for their folly, just as Christ threatened to punish the Pharisees when they came before his judgment bar. They magnify their burden by encouraging blind obedience in Church members.
Satan seems to be following the same playbook that worked so well (in his view) for the Catholic church, where he created an elite group with status equivalent to kings and princes; with sole authority to make judgments, dispense callings, define heresies, interpret scripture and dictate policies to Church members.
Although we like to look at the leadership of the Catholic Church as knowingly evil, it is entirely possible that they were simply doing what they thought best for the Church at the time, just as we do today. Satan appeals to our vanity; our innate belief that we are actually "good" and therefore our actions "pure", when neither is true.
A good brother in my ward recently quoted our area authority (Australia) that if we don't sustain our leaders we are not entitled to personal revelation! Really???
I can't say I've sustained all our leaders but I continue to receive personal revelation. Maybe I should reconsider the source from whence it cometh.
There was a recent conference talk that said something close to that idea, so I think that's the Churches new line of thinking they are selling. Funny though how they never seem to mention or admit the vast amounts of leaders who are caught doing very evil things asking members to do evil things. It's like members are to pretend that leaders are 'always' right and could never be wrong. Now Bishops are infallible! I've heard it all! It's so ridiculous I can't even believe they actually say it and think people will buy it, but surprisingly and sadly people do buy it. It only goes to show how deep the delusion and blind obedience is in the Church.
Such thinking is close to the new idea given also in a recent conference, that if your revelation is different then your leaders that 'yours' is from the devil. Such a statement is actually humorous if it so many people weren't believing it.
Actually I believe it's just the other way around, that if you sustain the leaders of the Church the Spirit will withdraw and you won't receive personal revelation.
For I believe supporting the Church is supporting evil, despite the good things the church may do to 'look good'. We can't support evil and maintain the Spirit.
For it's like Joseph Smith warned us, we will be damned if we fall for & support false prophets (especially one's who believe in polygamy), which I believe all LDS Leaders were who came after Joseph.
I had a new mission president that wanted us to stand up when he entered the room. This was the instruction given to us by the APs that he had requested us to stand in his honor. The previous president never did this and the APs were the same elders that served under both mission presidents. Interesting that the mission president that insisted on us standing is now a general authority. So to say that some of them do not like the title is not accurate to me. Some actually like it and some probably do not. The stake presidents and bishops now teach at the direction of the brethren that titles are important and that leaders holding keys should be called "President" and that not doing so is disrespectful. This is an underground teaching that does not come from the scriptures. I think this is a very bad thing.
You're such a gifted writer.
I enjoy reading your posts and the uniqueness insight you have into our culture. The way you point out things that have been hidden or gone unquestioned in our culture is alarming and yet liberating at the same time.
Alarming that such things would have seeped into our culture and liberating that I'm now free to choose to act upon what I want and know to be correct doctrine or principles and not do things blindly because it was part of the "unwritten order" of things.
I think the mistake most of us make (and I made this mistake big time) was that once we obtained a testimony of the First Vision or of the Book of Mormon, we were ready to accept everything else we were fed by the institutional Church as being equally valid.
That's why it's important to obtain a witness through the Holy Ghost about every teaching, every doctine, every tenet, and not simply accept the whole package blindly. Unless we do, we risk exposing ourselves to the buffetings of Satan. Satan has it easy if he can just get us to believe it's ALL True. Then he can lead us by the nose in whatever direction suits him.
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