On a Friday afternoon several months ago, Connie and I got a surprise visit from our ward's new sister missionaries. They were just assigned to the area and had decided to go through the ward list and introduce themselves to the members. They were delighted to find us welcoming and accommodating, and we enjoyed a wonderful visit together. Connie and I both shared our testimonies with these pleasant young girls and they seemed very glad to be in the company of a couple who appeared to love the gospel as much as they. We were asked if they might be permitted to come by again, and we said absolutely, please do.
One of them pulled out her calendar (which I could see had no entries in it) and asked if Monday was too soon. "No, not at all, we'd love to see you again as soon as it's convenient for you," I replied, so a time was settled on for them to return in three days. Before they left I asked if I could offer a prayer, which seemed to impress them because usually they have to ask if the family would mind if they offered a prayer. I sent them off with a heartfelt blessing for God's good will to shine upon them and their endeavors. It was a very nice visit. Connie and I, who rarely have any visitors, had just made two very good new friends.
When the Monday appointment time came and went, I called the number they had left me and was told apologetically that something had come up that forced them to have to miss our appointment. "No problem, I assured her, let's reschedule." The nice sister seemed flummoxed for a moment, then told me she would check their calendar and get back to me.
She never did. I left messages twice in the weeks since, but never got a return call from either her or her companion. What I suspect happened was that at a correlation meeting at church that Sunday, they mentioned their happy meeting with the Watermans, and someone in authority likely warned them to steer clear of us.
Getting dumped by the missionaries shouldn't have surprised me. More than a year ago my home teacher, who I considered a good friend, told me he had been reassigned, but that I would be given a new home teacher right away. I never was.
Back then I was still attending church once or twice a month, and after sacrament meeting I would always ask my former home teacher, "Hey Sean, where's that replacement home teacher I was promised?" Sean always assured me he would check with the bishop and find out what was the holdup. I emailed the bishop myself twice asking for home teachers, using the private email account the bishop had given me personally two years before in case there was anything-"anything at all"- I might ever need.
The only reason I ever used that email address was to ask for home teachers. The reason for that is because although we no longer find it rewarding to attend Sunday meetings, it's very important to me that I have the opportunity to pitch in if there are any service projects going on, or if someone needs help moving. I wanted to be kept informed of what's going on so I can assist.
I never got a response to those emails, and when I finally asked the bishop in person why he hadn't responded, he brushed me off with, "Oh, I hardly ever read my emails." I asked him again at that time about getting home teachers, but he changed the subject.
Connie's visiting teachers, an enthusiastic couple who used to stop by for regular visits without fail, always with a plate of cookies, suddenly stopped coming at all without a word.
This is what happens when you get branded as apostate. The funny thing is, if we were a couple of Jack-Mormons who had a daily coffee habit, members of this ward would be falling all over themselves to fellowship us and get us to come back. But because I write this blog, we are anathema.
We could have used some of that fellowship recently when I was near death with pneumonia and Connie was experiencing similar distress. Our 27- year-old car finally breathed its last a couple of weeks ago, and it would have been nice if there had been someone from the ward we could call to ask for a ride to the doctor. Heck, we would have appreciated just a kind word from someone in the ward who was willing to pretend to care. But there is no one in our ward who calls or drops by anymore. As Connie put it recently, "Face it-We're poison."
|"Go Faster! Rock and Connie are RIGHT BEHIND US!!"|
The irony is that these days Connie and I are both more devoted to the faith than at any other point in our lives. We spend a great deal of time immersed in gospel study. We revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, embrace the Book of Mormon as literally true, and adhere to the doctrines of the Restoration. So what makes us different from most of the other members of the church?
What makes us different is our resolve to put Christ first and foremost in our lives, which requires putting Him before the institutional Church. As other uncorrelated Mormons will attest, that is a radical position to take in this curious era where "Follow the Prophet" is the new Church slogan.
In just the past year or two, thousands of devout latter-day saints have come to learn to their chagrin that faith in Christ is no longer the first principle of the gospel -not if they hope to remain members in good standing. Desiring to follow Christ first has gotten a lot of members in hot water. To be a valid member of the church today, you must confess undying loyalty to the Church itself, or more specifically, to its leaders. Just ask Will Carter, who received a letter from the Church's attorneys warning him to never step foot on Church property again or he could be arrested for trespassing. That means he can't attend church, or even drive his car into the parking lot to drop someone else off. He can't tour BYU or visit temple square. Presumably he would be arrested if he showed up at the City Creek Mall.
You would think Brother Carter had committed some act of vandalism, or disrupted a Sunday School class by lobbing a hand grenade into the room just prior to the closing prayer. But no. What Will Carter did was suggest that, according to scripture, there may be other prophets on the earth today serving God in addition to those holding high office in the LDS Church.
But that's not actually what got Brother Will banished from Church property. That was just what got him excommunicated. At least that's the reason as near as he can tell, because Will never was told the official reason for his excommunication. One high priest told him privately afterward, "What you haven't learned is that you need to bow and kneel to the sceptre of authority."
This would be an unbelievable admission were similar scoldings not also being delivered to other devoted members in wards all over the Church right now. The "sin" is often delineated as "refusing to obey priesthood authority." I hear from members who are being threatened with discipline all the time, whether it's a young mother admitting to giving her own child a blessing in her own home; or someone asking a simple question such as, "if the current President of the Church is said to be a prophet, seer, and revelator the same as Joseph Smith, why doesn't he ever present revelations to the church the way Joseph Smith did?"
Will Carter was excommunicated for wondering aloud about stuff like that, but the thing that got him banished for life from Church property was for was telling a semi-active ward member who happened to be female that he loved her and would be glad to help her out if she needed anything.
Crazy, I know. After failing repeatedly to get his stake president to tell him the precise reason for his excommunication, Will took to the blogosphere and wrote about the trouble he was having getting a straight answer. Likely because of the embarrassment Will was causing the Church by going public, his local leaders then latched onto this totally innocent statement he made to someone he merely offered assistance to, so now they could paint him as morally debased. I kid you not. As Ted "Theodore" Logan famously observed to Bill S. Preston, Esquire; strange things are afoot at the Circle K.
Want to hear the punchline? The woman in his ward Will was supposed to have greatly offended never complained about it to anyone, wasn't affected, never knew she was at the center of this storm, and likely never knew her name was involved in any controversy whatsoever. Oblivious to it all, a few days later she dropped by Will's house to ask if he and his wife wouldn't mind babysitting her child.
Full disclosure: I've told countless women in various wards I belonged to that I love them, often right there in the chapel foyer with my wife present and within earshot. And Connie has told persons who happened to be the opposite of her sex the same thing. No wonder we're on the outs! Good thing neither of us followed examples given in the bible and fell on these people's necks and kissed them, or we'd really be in trouble.
Thus Spake Zarathustra -Or Some Area Assistant
I believe in the doctrine of direct revelation. Growing up in this church, I was rightly taught that what separates us from every other Christian denomination was that we do not rely upon the opinions of men for our beliefs. The things we are to consider doctrinal are only those things that are revealed directly from God through his prophet. I also believe that through the prophet Joseph Smith, God set the pattern for how revelations were to be conveyed. That pattern shows that while revelations are received through His prophet, in every valid instance, they are delivered in the voice of the Lord -using the exact words the Lord used to convey his message to the prophet. His voice-His words. Every time we hear a message from the Lord it should be prefaced by some variant of "thus saith the Lord." As I wrote in a recent post "Not Quite The Same":
Those revelations God introduced in the Book of Commandments provide us a template for recognizing when someone's voice is to be considered the same as God's, and when it is not. Since "the word of God" consists of the words that God speaks, the person claiming to speak for God should inform us in no uncertain terms whose words it is we are about to hear. Whenever the Lord has spoken to us through a latter-day revelation, he has made himself known. He introduces himself by using some variation of "Thus saith the Lord." Our Doctrine and Covenants is riddled with examples:So here's where I start from: When I hear a conference talk, first I want to know if it is being delivered as a revelation from God. Any speech, statement, decree, or declaration that comes from a leader of the church that does not profess to have come to us via direct revelation is not to be taken as if it issued from the mind of God. It should be weighed against the canon of actual revelations to test its legitimacy, or it can be discarded and ignored. This method of judging the statements of General Authorities by holding them up to the light of scripture used to be the basic modus operandi within the church for separating the true from the false. Former President Harold B. Lee taught:
"Hearken unto me, saith the Lord your God" (Section 51); "Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word" (Section 13); "Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your redeemer, the Great I AM" (section 29); "Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, Even Alpha and Omega" (section 35), and so on.
“It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works.” (Harold B. Lee, "Stand Ye In Holy Places" pg 162-163)
Apostle Bruce McConkie had this to say:
“Though general authorities are authorities in the sense of having power to administer church affairs, they may or may not be authorities in the sense of doctrinal knowledge, the intricacies of church Procedures, or the receipt of the promptings of the Spirit. A call to an administrative position of itself adds little knowledge or power of discernment to an individual, although every person called to a position in the Church does grow in grace, knowledge, and power by magnifying the calling given him.” (Mormon Doctrine, "General Authorities")
Elders Lee and McConkie represented an era in Church leadership when actual scriptorians and theologians held office in the hierarchy. In the old days, when a general authority represented a statement as being true, members had a responsibility to weigh that statement against the scriptures to make certain it passed the basic smell test. If the statement was presented as having come from the mind of God, the members were expected to return home and pray about it in order to obtain a witness from the Holy Ghost, after which they would reconvene at the following conference and vote to accept that revelation as binding on the whole church.
Today we have abandoned that method and are expected to assume without question that everything spoken at conference or printed in a Church publication comes to us as if directly from the mind of God. Here is how Dallin Oaks, currently a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has instructed us to approach statements made by Church leaders such as himself:
“We respect our leaders and presume inspiration in their leadership of the Church and in their teachings.” (The Ensign January 2011)According to my American Heritage Dictionary, the word "presume" means:
To take for granted as being true in the absence of proof to the contrary;That seems to fly in the face of the counsel given above by Elders Lee and McConkie to test the teaching by comparing it to scripture. But oh well. Yesterday's true prophet is today's dead prophet. Don't listen to them, listen to us.
To take for granted that something is true or factual.
A year after Oaks attempted to turn established Church protocol on its head with that statement above, Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy went and did him one better. In speaking of the current Church leadership, Bennett said:
“We have learned not to question the validity of what the prophets and apostles teach or to wonder if it makes sense. … Some might call our actions blind obedience. But we have the Lord’s personal promise that the prophets will never lead us astray.” (The Ensign, March 2012)If you were to (rightly) follow the counsel of Lee, McConkie, and countless earlier Church leaders, you might start digging around among the Lord's revelations to find where He gave that "personal promise" Elder Bennett spoke of with such certainty. When you failed to find that promise, but instead found countless examples in scripture where the Lord said precisely the opposite, you might (rightly) conclude that Elder Randall K. Bennett is full of crap up to his eyeballs.
Better keep it to yourself, though, unless you want to end up friendless pariahs like me and Connie. Because as Denver Snuffer aptly described the situation in the Church today:
"In LDS Mormonism there is really only one doctrine left. Everything else is subordinate and changeable. But this single demand is paramount. If you disbelieve this position, then LDS Mormonism has no place for you. The doctrine:As I documented previously, last May I was called in by my bishop, who asked the question, "Rock, why are you a member of this church?"
'We follow a man whom we call a prophet.'
"If you disbelieve this, and think you ought to follow Christ first, and the church's 'prophet' is secondary, then you are insubordinate and a threat.
I was asked the same question several months later by my stake president. The answer I gave to both men was that I'm a member of the church because I qualify under the Lord's definition where He says whosoever repents and comes unto Him, the same is His church. (D&C 10:67)
That was the true answer. But it wasn't the "right" one. At least it was not the answer either man was looking for. In thinking about those conversations later I realized that the problem those good men had was that they saw the church of Jesus Christ in vastly different terms than I did; indeed, quite differently than the way Jesus Christ himself defined His church. They thought of "The Church" as somehow embodying the leaders in Salt Lake City, a group who are now viewed as "owning the brand" we call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because I sometimes differed with statements and actions of those leaders, they were honestly curious as to why I would want to remain a part of the organization.
I suppose that's to be expected after the last six decades of this Church operating under a corporate mindset. What my bishop and stake president really wanted to know was "Why would you want to remain employed with a company when you have problems with the Board of Directors?"
Sadly, a great many members of the Church share that mindset, which is why a great many others are suddenly awakening from their slumber and realizing they would prefer to identify with the church of Jesus Christ, and not The Church Of Those Guys Socking Money Into Malls And Condos. But when these good saints awaken to their awful situation, they frequently find themselves suddenly at odds with family, friends, and fellow members who remain in the dwindle stage.
Some are hurt by the reaction of loved ones who see them as traitors to the faith. To them I say, be patient. The honest in heart will come around. I'm hearing more and more frequently from people who despised my blog the first time they happened upon it, but who, over time, have recognized that, as the apostle Peter declared, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Not long ago I got a long letter of apology from a member who wrote me,
"When I first came upon your blog I thought you were the worst kind of traitor to the church. A wolf in sheep's clothing, a secret anti-Mormon posing as a Mormon in order to lead good people astray. I wanted to wrap my hands around your neck and strangle you. Now I just want to wrap my arms around you and say thanks."A letter like that is very rewarding, and I'm seeing similar sentiments expressed by the week. But not everyone who walks into the light sees immediate rewards. Many are ostracized by friends or unjustly disciplined by local leaders, all for wondering aloud why the structure of the Church today is so starkly different from that founded by Joseph Smith. They want nothing more than to be left alone to follow the gospel as set out in our scriptures, but instead find persecution from those who feel they should walk in lockstep with the hierarchy.
On the other hand, countless new Facebook groups and online forums are springing up full of awakened souls who enjoy communicating with each other, and couldn't care less what others think about the way they choose to worship. So you may feel rejected in some quarters, but you'll be accepted in others with open arms.
Welcome To The Remnant
Almost thirty years ago I read an essay by Albert Jay Nock, the famous libertarian theorist and former Episcopalian Priest, that had been published in the Atlantic Monthly clear back in 1936. If you are among the newly awakened who just joined us, but are feeling beset by friends and family who accuse you of having abandoned your religion, this may help you take heart. You are not going to win over everyone, but eventually those who make the effort to understand will discover on their own that you have abandoned nothing about the religion except those parts of it that were false and don't matter. The honest in heart -and there are many, many honest in heart within the Latter-day Saint community- will bubble up to the top and find the greater truths hidden within Mormonism just as you did. You will be surprised how many kindred spirits are out there. And more are awakening every day.
I will close this month by leaving you with those words by Father Nock. This is a substantially edited version of his original essay, as I've included only a few pertinent paragraphs. The full version can be found at the Mises Institute.
By Albert Jay Nock
The prophet Isaiah's career began at the end of King Uzziah's reign, say about 740 B.C. This reign was uncommonly long, almost half a century, and apparently prosperous. It was one of those prosperous reigns, however, where at the end the prosperity suddenly peters out and things go by the board with a resounding crash.
In the year of Uzziah's death, the Lord commissioned the prophet to go out and warn the people of the wrath to come. "Tell them what a worthless lot they are." He said, "Tell them what is wrong, and why and what is going to happen unless they have a change of heart and straighten up. Don't mince matters. Make it clear that they are positively down to their last chance. Give it to them good and strong and keep on giving it to them."
"I suppose perhaps I ought to tell you," He added, "that it won't do any good. The official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at you and the masses will not even listen. They will all keep on in their own ways until they carry everything down to destruction, and you will probably be lucky if you get out with your life."
Isaiah had been very willing to take on the job — in fact, he had asked for it — but the prospect put a new face on the situation. It raised the obvious question: Why, if all that were so — if the enterprise were to be a failure from the start — was there any sense in starting it? "Ah," the Lord said, "you do not get the point. There is a Remnant there that you know nothing about. They are obscure, unorganized, inarticulate, each one rubbing along as best he can. They need to be encouraged and braced up because when everything has gone completely to the dogs, they are the ones who will come back and build up a new society; and meanwhile, your preaching will reassure them and keep them hanging on. Your job is to take care of the Remnant, so be off now and set about it."
Apparently, then, if the Lord's word is good for anything — I do not offer any opinion about that, — the only element in Judean society that was particularly worth bothering about was the Remnant. Isaiah seems finally to have got it through his head that this was the case; that nothing was to be expected from the masses, but that if anything substantial were ever to be done in Judea, the Remnant would have to do it.
As things now stand Isaiah's job seems rather to go begging. Everyone with a message nowadays is eager to take it to the masses. His first, last and only thought is of mass acceptance and mass approval.
Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen; and knowing also that nothing was to be expected of the masses under any circumstances, he made no specific appeal to them, did not accommodate his message to their measure in any way, and did not care two straws whether they heeded it or not. Hence, with all such obsessions quite out of the way, he was in a position to do his level best, without fear or favor, and answerable only to his august Boss.
In any given society the Remnant are always so largely an unknown quantity. You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those — dead sure, as our phrase is — but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at anything else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you do know, and no more: First, that they exist; second, that they will find you.
One of the most suggestive episodes recounted in the Bible is that of a prophet's attempt — the only attempt of the kind on the record, I believe — to count up the Remnant. Elijah had fled from persecution into the desert, where the Lord presently overhauled him and asked what he was doing so far away from his job.
He said that he was running away, not because he was a coward, but because all the Remnant had been killed off except himself. He had got away only by the skin of his teeth, and, he being now all the Remnant there was, if he were killed the True Faith would go flat. The Lord replied that he need not worry about that, for even without him the True Faith could probably manage to squeeze along somehow if it had to.
"And as for your figures on the Remnant," He said, "I don't mind telling you that there are 7,000 of them back there in Israel whom it seems you have not heard of, but you may take My word for it that there they are."
At that time, probably the population of Israel could not run to much more than a million or so; and a Remnant of 7,000 out of a million is a highly encouraging percentage for any prophet. With 7,000 of the boys on his side, there was no great reason for Elijah to feel lonesome; and incidentally, that would be something for the modern prophet of the Remnant to think of when he has a touch of the blues. But the main point is that if Elijah the Prophet could not make a closer guess on the number of the Remnant than he made when he missed it by 7,000, anyone else who tackled the problem would only waste his time.
The other certainty which the prophet of the Remnant may always have is that the Remnant will find him. He may rely on that with absolute assurance. They will find him without his doing anything about it.
If you feel you may be a part of the Remnant, let's find each other. Please join us on May 15-17 for the first ever Remnant Family Reunion. It's free, and it's only a five hour drive from Salt Lake City. Click on the link below, then click on the image for a pdf file for details.
Rules For Commening: I again remind those who wish to comment that posting only as "Anonymous" has not been working for us. 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.
219 comments:1 – 200 of 219 Newer› Newest»
Just wanted to send my love and prayers to you and Connie. I have come late to the understanding of these things and your blog has been a blessing. Your blog was the second one i started reading after Denver's and it has been a help to me.
I am saddened my your treatment by those who are supposedly trying to follow Christ in reaching out to those in need. And you and others like you are the apostates? There are none so blind as those who will not see.
consider yourself lucky . No matter where I go they[the church ladies] seem to find me. I have explained in the nicest ways that I prefer to be left alone ,but they keep coming. I guess I will send in my resignation and see if they leave me alone. Can you think of a reason not to?
Tell the truth and shame the devil!
Rock is back and firing on all cylinders.
Rock, I would like to know how many others are victims of the new behind the scenes quiet disfellowship. I believe I have been. They used to at least disfellowship you in front of your face. Cowards, cowards, cowards every where and not a one to think.
Are you talking about people being disfellowshiped without their knowledge, Jonathan? If so, that's a new one on me.
Disfellowshipment requires a bishop's court, which requires due process just as with a high council court with the power to levy excommunication. The bishop must call the person in and that person must be present unless the person openly declines to attend.
Anybody else heard of disfellowshiping taking place ex parte?
I'm sorry but not surprised that you have been cast out of the fellowship of the "saints". It is unquestionably their loss. Seems some are mired in an us v. them paradigm that closes minds and hardens hearts. The Spirit, by contrast, distills pure knowledge and enlarges the soul. Or as Christ said, "by their fruits..."
Alan, I want you to know that no matter how much I either agree or disagree with you, I'd still be your friend and visit you. Why? Because we ARE friends and I love you. (oops, is that evidence of same sex attraction?)
I'm reporting you, Cole.
I interpreted Jonathan's reference to "quiet disfellowship" to mean the brand of de facto disfellowship that you and Connie appear to have experienced - I.e. being informally blackballed at/during Ward Council, etc. Appalling.
On a much more positive note, it is wonderful that you are on the mend, and thank you for this post.
I'm confused. Why would we desire the company of those who do not desire our company?
Ah, Svendevil, I see. So we've doubtless been quiet disfellowshiped! That's very interesting.
That's why I love the revelations from the Lord found in The Second Book of Commandments. He speaks of how His church will be cleansed in the near future.
The political kingdom of God will then be setup.
In the case of the sister missionaries, we did desire their fellowship, and they clearly desired ours.
In a Remnant Facebook group today, a woman tells of her nearly identical experience from the point of view when she was a sister missionary. They had met a wonderful inactive couple, but when they mentioned them at the ward council meeting, they were told to stay completely away. Never told why.
I'm going to see if I can convince her to retell that story on this forum.
As for the desirability of ANY fellowship, even the fake, "assigned" kind: well, like I said it would have been nice to have someone we could call for a ride to the doctor or something.
I wonder if this quiet disfellowshiping comes from the top or is it overzealous low level Rameumptonites. It seems the church is no longer an organized effort to love your neighbor, and the piety contest is all that is left. Shunning you gains people 2 points in their piety score.
Well, let me put it this way - if the sisters value the honor of their leaders over your presence, then they were fairly tested and have chosen what they valued.
Rock, I pondered about your post all during Sunday School (the meeting made for people without the social skills to carry on a conversation for an hour). I've come to realize that the bishop simply doesn't realize the blessing he has with you in the ward. For sure there are people that are dragging down his numbers - you know, people who don't come to sacrament meeting, elders who don't do their home teaching. Those kinds of people. Well, why not figure out a way to get them to visit with you. They'll be leaving in droves. Think of how much better his numbers will be. Percentages will go way up. He'll get promoted. Maybe even become a SP some day.
But, of course, maybe quite the opposite might happen, and maybe that's what really worries him. These lukewarm members might, horror of horrors, become more like you. And, as Denver's SP (or bishop, I forget) said to him, "What make you think we want people like you in the Church?"
A few weeks ago, in sunday school (ok, my social skills aren't that great) I asked aloud, "How many of you have had the baptism of fire?" Two or three tentatively raised their hands. The discussion went down the path of "We really shouldn't expect to have those types of experiences." Nonetheless, I sit in meetings looking at the audience and wondering, "Is there anyone here who is having these experiences?" I wish I could associate with people like that. Maybe it would help me. Sigh...
Rock, I wish you had a community of believers close to you. I wish I were close. I think I'd enjoy sitting on your porch with you praising God.
Thanks for the post. Keep writing.
I always enjoy a good Bill and Ted reference...and I felt a little déjà vu reading your sister missionary story. On my mission I had pretty much that exact experience but from the perspective of the missionary. We met this awesome couple on the ward list that did not come to church. They were friendly, had really cool talents and hobbies, loved Christ, wanted to serve and invited us back. We raved about them in Ward council and were told to never go there again. We were never told why and I always wondered what sort of heinous crime they could have committed to warrant missionary banishment... I mean my dad was an excommunicated member at the time and the church was using all its weaponry including regular missionary visits to get him back. You know since our role at the time was to talk to EVERYONE about the good news of the restoration.
That broke my heart. My Ex-Mormon heart. God bless you, Watermans.
Awesome post. The Nock paper is great. I'm pretty familiar with his work, but I had no idea he had that paper. Thanks for pointing this one out.
I'm sorry you are treated like a pariah. I am also treated that way at times. It doesn't bother me much, but I have a large family around. Even when they disagree with me, we still always help each other out. Pariah, or not.
Thanks for your words and information you put out on your blog. Before I knew about it, it felt like myself and one or two of my friends were the only members of the church who felt this way....I should have known better, but that's the way you tend to think when you don't see or know of things. Nock points out that tendency in his paper.
Glad you are doing better. God bless you......if he will bless "apostates".:)
Is a remnant really a remnant who self describe as a remnant?
Thanks for your post. As you recenty said, the remnant is everywhere. And I can't believe some of the connections I've made recently with some of them.
I've also been blessed to have the Lord teach me slowly that if the church were to let me go for a silly reason, I would be ok. Because where ever I gather with other believers, there is the church. And the Church no longer holds me in fear and intimidation. It's not an easy road, but it is freeing.
Stephen, I have no earthly idea whether "Remnant" is the appropriate term for us. But what do you call a movement that isn't really a movement?
Most of us refuse to identify as a particular group that can be labelled, which leads to a dilemma: how do we refer to ourselves?
The Remnant? Maverick Mormons? Uncorrelated Mormons? Neo-Restorationists?
I guess there's always "apostates" but somehow that one doesn't sit well with me.
When I was in the mission field, we were meeting with a single, inactive lady and her two unbaptized children (ages 9 and 11, if I recall). The meetings were always very enjoyable and spirit filled.
One week when I brought them up in Ward Council. After I said my bit about them, the Bishop looked am me and said "Elders, there is nothing more for you to do there. From now on stay clear of that family and have no contact, the ward leadership will handle them." I informed the bishop about our next meeting we had scheduled a couple days from then and he told me he would cancel for us.
It was less than a week later one morning we had just tracted out a street and were in the car discussing what to do next. I had such an intense feeling that we needed to visit that family I could not think about anything else. But how could that be? The leadership specifically told us not to have any contact with them. I told my companion I was feeling impressed to do something but would not do it unless he had the same impression, he looked at me for a moment then said "We need to visit ." We rushed over there as quick as we could.
The daughter answered the door then called to her mom to tell her we were there. The mom came up the stairs with tear stained eyes and asked "How did you know?" She went on to explain that she had been down stairs crying and praying to the Lord for help. She needed support - she needed someone, anyone to reach out to her and here we were. She later told me that day was a turning point in her life.
I learned a very important lesson that day and have never forgotten it.
Is "Jack Mormons" taken? ;)
I take great exception to this part of your post: "She [missionary] never did. I left messages twice in the weeks since, but never got a return call from either her or her companion. What I suspect happened was that at a correlation meeting at church that Sunday, they mentioned their happy meeting with the Watermans, and someone in authority likely warned them to steer clear of us."
You don't know that. You're making an inflammatory statement against these two missionaries based on hurt feelings/ego and it doesn't do anybody any good. You can ask them outright and find out the truth.
"More than a year ago my home teacher, who I considered a good friend, told me he had been reassigned, but that I would be given a new home teacher right away. I never was."
I'm sorry you haven't had a home teacher. But to assume its because you're writing exposes on the church is missing the point. The home teaching program doesn't have any umph right now. I should know, I've been waiting 4 years for one. Yes, it would be nice, but no I'm not mad. Its just how it is right now.
These sorts of hurt feelings come when you are down, and they are designed to weaken your faith. I'm sorry but if you can't feel the spirit at church, perhaps its time for you to really see whats going on in your own heart.
You know, you can always find out. When your health improves and you feel moved, pop in one Sunday and enjoy the meetings. The sign outside says "Visitors Welcome". You are not much of a threat to the hierarchy. Its only a blog. I am concerned about the Meeting in May. Is it for fellowship with like minded people or could there be ulterior motives? It doesn't matter to me but I presume some may suspect and accuse the organizers of such.
You worked as a Goofy at Disneyland in the 70's right? I visited a friend in San Diego over Thanksgiving break while at BYU in 75. We visited the Park and ran into a Goofy that growled at us "What's the matter guys? Couldn't get a date? Would that have been you or another friend? I thout it was hilarious. My friend wasn't as amused.
Glad you are getting better and posting again. I enjoy finding out more of our history. I don't agree with everything (who does?). It does give me something to think about though. I did use D&C 10:67 today in High Priests quorum today in a lesson about Gifts of the Spirit and members and the body of Christ. I emphasized "you are the Church". Some may be called as apostles, some prophets, some teacher, etc. But the Church is you and not the leaders in SLC. It went over very well. We all contribute something because those gifts are spread out among us all. You too. Whether you were black balled in Ward Correlation or simply forgotten. You have a lot to say and a lot to teach; even if its to remind two losers to bring dates to Disneyland over Thanksgiving break. You do not have to take no for an answer. Just have charity and long suffering.
We should call ourselves what we are: The Church of Jesus Christ
This broke my heart this morning as I read it.
I'm sure they think they're doing the Lord's will in this. I can't think that they're maliciously telling people not to visit you to hurt you.
They're doing it to protect others. We all know how fragile these young missionaries testimonies can be. I'm sure these missionaries have to wonder why they aren't allowed to fellowship, teach and visit those that want to be visited, loved and cared for.
When I was serving in your stake we had the mission president come and visit and speak to us.
He said that the members needed to start giving referrals. That because we weren't giving referrals to the missionaries they were visiting the people who WERE home and WILLING to answer their doors during the day.
Who were those people?
They were the unemployed, the mentally unstable and sick. People that were a drain on the church and didn't produce in the form of pulling their weight and offering meaningful service in callings and tithing.
Keep in mind this was immediately after he lectured us on the church's 4-fold mission. Yes, 4-fold.
1) Proclaim the Gospel
2) Redeem the Dead
3) Perfect the Saints and
4) Care for the Poor and Needy
Nobody even caught it or dared to address the blatant hypocrisy in the what he was teaching and then asking us to practice.
Instruction: Be like Christ and take care of the poor and needy.
Lesson: Don't go to the poor and needy. We can't have them in our church. They're more of a burden than we want.
So this is being taught all over the place. Top down and bottom up.
On a slightly different note...
I have a friend who's somebody big over at church head quarters in the historian dept. They got into it someone WAY up the hierarchy ladder about Joseph Smith and what's been released about him recently.
I don't have permission to share all the details so I'm being a bit vague and I know it.
What we're seeing is that from the top down, the leadership is scared what is happening world wide with its membership.
So if indeed the ward council told the sisters not to visit you it's a fear that the truth will set them free. Free from the chords that bind them now to the brethren.
In fact, just to show you how much things have changed in the past few months there in the COB, this person would never in a million years allow me to influence them enough to consider that Joseph Smith might have acted out of harmony to God's commandments because it was prophesied that he would.
When I told them that it was Joseph's calling to restore the church and then sin outwardly and atone for the sins of the saints at the time to save them which caused him to lose much of the spirit and teach things in the latter part of his ministry contrary to what he revealed in the first part.
For the first time they are considering it because what they have access too just doesn't make sense otherwise.
All of this is contained in Prophet Puzzle or Scape Goat Doctrine/Atonement Statute that Watcher wrote about in his blog.
Again, Rock I feel for you and pray for you and Connie to be at peace. Fear not, you're in good company. For the world hated the Son of Man FIRST.
Love you dear brother.
Rock, I love your posts! They are so inspirational and have taught me so much. And you are absolutely right, the remnant will find our prophet. No matter how much he doesn't wants to be found lol.
I feel so bad about your experience with the sister missionaries and with home teachers. I made a comment in Sunday school today that we are responsible for each other. We have got to start noticing each other and fellowshipping better. Every person counts, and when it is my turn to go down with the ship, I want as many people in my ward and neighborhood to know that I love them very much. & I would do anything for them. Whether or not I am still a member of the church or not.
On what to call yourself, I think "peaceable followers of Christ". (Moroni 7:3) That is what I want to be anyway.
I really wish I could attend the reunion; sadly I can't afford it right now. I feel so lost in the church right now. I feel if I stood up in Sunday School and said what I truly felt, I would be out on my ass. My family doesn't understand at all. I get the standard "follow the prophet" and "the church will never lead you astray" dogma. How am I supposed to raise my children in this religion? I got a primary newsletter the other day where the theme of the week was something like "The Proclamation on the Family comes from Heavenly Father" are you KIDDING me!? This and other like-minded blogs are keeping me sane at the moment. Thanks, Rock.
Rock I'm in the same situation. The missionaries used to come all the time & we had HT's, but after an email I sent that made it to ward leadership that happened to mention Denver Snuffer, all that went away.
Honestly, my wife & I aren't sad about the situation. For me the mall boondoggle was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It's way too much of a business for me.
I would just like to say that maybe the sisters didn't really get to make a choice. They are young women who have been indoctrinated to obey
their male leaders, to serve where and as directed etc. Could be that they found themselves very confused and disturbed by what happened.
I really appreciate this blog. I have felt quite alone in my thoughts for so long. I am so glad I am not. I appreciate so much your time and effort to write this. I am just starting to find things like this, and although it is disturbing and sad to read what people are put through at least we are not alone.
Hey rock loved the post, it is not all gloom and doom, yesterday in my primary class we discussed the old faithful' wise man and the foolish man. we followed the correlated lesson and drew the right conclusion that christ is the rock we need to build upon. all so normal. then one of my valiants piped up" you know brother jones we should sing follow the saviour not follow the prophet!"
I of course agreed
he added" we should listen to the prophet, but only when he is teaching about jesus."
I was very pleased there is hope for the future generation. IAndy feel.
Nice post. I am glad to read another installment.
I have come to suspect that the corporate Church uses temples, marriage, and other ordinances and programs of the church to keep the tithing money coming in. This is really the bottom line. If you threaten income source, you will be cast out.
I'm sorry to be a nay sayer, but I think that applying the word "remnant" to those of us who believe differently than many within the Church is both inaccurate and dangerous. The Book of Mormon clearly describes a remnant, and while I agree there may be a Gentile remnant who is allowed to assist in the building of Zion, I don't think any of us can simply claim it. I know that using the word remnant has appeal and is somewhat symbolic in its usage, and many people probably only use it as a catchy moniker or as a meaningful distinction. I think that in the past, using words incorrectly, however innocently, is part of what has caused the problem we currently find ourselves in. Saying the word "priesthood" and referring to men instead of a godly influence is one example. Using the word Zion to describe the people of Salt Lake in the late 1800s is another. Today we kind of laugh at their propensity to identify themselves with Zion (ie. Zion's bank, ZCMI, etc), but we might just be treading the same type of path that leads to the exact same kind of confusion. I think we should all just be people trying to know God. Why do we need to be anything more than that? If God wants to save anyone as a remnant, let him do it, but until then, why presume anything?
I don't understand why you won't attend church - at least for sacrament meeting. In fact, at least for the sacrament itself. Jesus said "this do in remembrance of me" not "this do so long as everyone likes you or you like them, or the Bishop treats you right, or you sign up to every doctrinal belief of the congregation, or you don't have a blog..... etc". When we take the sacrament we renew our baptismal covenants and retain a remission of our sins. Why would you not want to do this? I don't understand.
Here's a definition of the word remnant from the Oxford English Dictionary. I am showing the definitions which apply ion a religious context.
"d. A small religious group or minority whose members regard themselves as adhering to the true tenets of a faith from which the majority have deviated."
" e. spec. A small number of Jews surviving exile or persecution, in whom future hope rests."
I think it is appropriate to use the word remnant to describe those who generally believe in the premise of this blog. The remnant mentioned in the Book of Mormon may be a different remnant, but that does not mean they are not a remnant being preserved by the Lord for some future purpose.
The second definition listed above talks about the remnant of Jews in Isaiah's time. In his essay about the remnant, Nock used the analogy of the ancient remnant to inspire a modern remnant who would preserve the beliefs or principles of freedom for future generations after our civilization falls. He saw the erosion of freedom in his lifetime (1870-1945). Can anyone honestly say that people truly understand the principles of freedom today. Very few do, and the best way to describe these few is a remnant.
As I understand it, Pure Mormonism is a blog set up to preserve and teach the founding principles of Mormonism. It is a place for like-minded people to gather. In other words, a remnant. It may not be the same remnant described in the Book of Mormon, but it is a remnant.
I remind readers that anyone posting as "Anonymous" is asked to include an identifying moniker so those wishing to respond can refer to that person's handle.
Having said that, An anonymous commenter yesterday at 4:05 took issue with my suspicion that the sister missionaries had been warned away from visit us a second time. The commenter wrote:
"You don't know that. You're making an inflammatory statement against these two missionaries based on hurt feelings/ego and it doesn't do anybody any good. You can ask them outright and find out the truth."
That's right, I don't know that. Which is why I said I "suspect" they were warned to steer clear.
Your suggestion that I could ask them outright is a valid one, and I would do so if they ever returned my calls. My suspicion was amplified when I ran into another sister missionary couple at Deseret Book who were very willing to contact the sisters in question, and took down my information, promising to deliver my invitation. That, too was months ago, and I have heard nothing back.
You took the wrong message from my post if you felt I wrote my piece based on hurt feelings or ego. We are not hurt. It was just an observation. We realize missionaries have no obligation to visit with members in the first place; their job is to share the gospel with non-members. But based on the enthusiasm they showed for returning as soon as possible, combined with their very palpable reticence afterward gives me reason to "suspect" they were warned away.
If you have served a mission, you may be aware that local authorities do sometimes advise missionaries to avoid certain people. I was given such counsel, and others on this page have told of similar experiences.
So this isn't about hurt feelings or bruised egos. This is about local Church authorities failing to remember Christ's admonitions, and instead taking it upon themselves to decide who is and is not "worthy" of consideration.
Randy and Julie,
No, that wouldn't have been me in the Goofy costume that day; Normally characters are discouraged from talking, because of course the mouths on our heads don't move. I could say "Gawrsh" now and then, or, as I was leaving to go toward the break area while my back was turned, "Woaaaaa-aaah"!, but that was about it.
Sometimes of course, a character might lean in and crack wise as was the case in your experience. I recall one day when I was playing Captain Hook I saw an old friend, Kirk Englehardt, whom I hadn't seen since his mission. He was with a bunch of friends, presumably on some kind of Young Adult outing.
I had just received my mission call in the mail that morning and was excited to tell him. What I had neglected to remember was that he had no idea who was inside that costume when I rushed up to him and his friends exclaiming "Kirk! Kirk! I just got my mission call! I'm going to Independence, Missouri!"
Years later when I saw him in Provo at a Reunion of members of the Anaheim First Ward, he told me he often related the story of how Captain Hook once ran up to him and excitedly announced he had gotten his mission call.
Randy and Julie,
The reason I no longer attend church at all is because it was made abundantly clear to me by my bishop during our interview that I was not welcome.
He had previously always been very glad to see me when I would pop in at church. He knew I couldn't attend regularly because I was needed at home to care for Connie due to her disability. So whenever I did manage to slip away, I was always greeted by him most agreeably.
All that changed last May. Of course, he didn't tell me NOT to come to church in so many words, but in our nearly three hour visit the message was conveyed and received loud and clear.
I wanted to stop in at the Ward Christmas party, but I got the distinct impression that if I did I would have been treated like a crasher.
Happily, I haven't been sent a letter from Church attorneys like Will Carter did warning me to stay away, and if the bishop or stake president were to inform me I would be welcome to attend, I would indeed enjoy being part of that ward. But the tacit message I received from both men was that it would be better for all if I just disappeared.
If, according to that mission president, the missionaries were reduced to visiting only "the unemployed, the mentally unstable and sick," then I certainly qualify for a visit!
The Amish have a term for those who have left the fold or are seen as a threat. It’s called Shunning. No one will speak to the person being shunned, acknowledge their presence, look at them, reply to a question, etc... You become persona non-grata. Humans are intensely social and so after a while the recipient of the "Shunning" will have to leave in order to maintain their sanity. It's a horrible, heart wrenching thing to be thrown out of your community, especially if you have given your life in order to serve it as you saw fit.
Once people are shunned, they feel hurt and angry.
So now the good members can look down their nose and the angry, alienated person and say "See, those who leave the church are angry and filled with the spirit of Satan". It’s a way to be cruel that makes deniability plausible.
The corporate Church is indeed between a rock and a hard place these days. The only success they are finding is within the third world, and among the poorer classes here in the states.
Like any corporation, the institutional Church today measures its success by its growth. That growth manifests itself in two areas: growth in the number of converts, and financial growth obtained through tithing, and investments derived from tithing.
Unfortunately for them, most of their numbers in the second category (money) are offset by the numbers in the first category (too many converts without money).
A few years back, the missionaries in my ward were having some success teaching some of my neighbors right here in the apartment complex I live in. This complex could be politely described as "lower income."
In those days I used to entertain the missionaries in my home quite often. One of them told me the reason they were currently teaching some of my neighbors was that as far as they could tell, I was the only household in this complex with a computer. (I found that to be true one day when I was upgrading to windows XP and couldn't find my Windows 98 disc, which was required by the program before I could continue with the upgrade. I went around to all my neighbors desperately trying to borrow a disc from them, only to be surprised to find that NO ONE here owned a computer.)
Regarding their overall success (or lack of success), one of our missionaries once told me, "If we get lucky enough to teach someone the first discussion and they are interested, after we leave they tend to look up information on the Church on the internet, and then they cancel the second discussion before we get a chance to come back."
They teach lots of first discussions, I was told, but rarely do they get a chance to go further. "Those who don't have computers or internet access are more likely to have us come back a second time", he added. "The internet is what's killing missionary work."
By the way, I never discussed my blog with any local missionaries, nor what some might consider my "unorthodox" beliefs. A young missionary's testimony is based quite heavily on his testimony of "the Church," and I would never deign to burst that bubble or sow doubts with any enthusiastic young person while on his or her mission.
Our delightful visit with the sister missionaries did not contain any reference to anything they might have found troubling, and had they returned to visit us regularly, the topic would have remained on Christ and His gospel principles and nothing else. I would never bring up troubling issues to tender and innocent souls who left home with a strong motivation to share the gospel with others.
You wonder why I wouldn't want to take the sacrament. I do partake of the sacrament. Connie and I just had the sacrament together yesterday, and we partook of it the same way the Saints did all the way through the pioneer era: at home.
There were no chapels in Utah until a small group of families began getting together on their own to have what they called "sacrament meetings." Where normally a family would have scripture time and share the sacrament together in their homes, this group, and eventually others like it, decided to get together as several families.
Over time, Church leaders got wind of it, thought it was a good idea, and the practice became institutionalized.
This was how many of the Church's best programs originated; from the bottom up. Primary, the Mutual Improvement Association, and the Young Adult program, which was originally called "M-Men and Gleaners."
All over this church there are members who are rediscovering the edifying and spiritually intimate practice of partaking of the sacrament at home, and doing so as the Savior taught in the book of Mormon. Connie and I eat our fill of the bread (which I bake myself) and drink our fill of the wine (which in our case is red grape juice because we can't hack the taste of wine.)
The sacrament is a time for quiet reflection and private repentance, but we don't remain quiet the whole time. We usually have quite interesting discussions of gospel topics, and it's a wonderful way to spend family time.
I don't know why anyone would think we forgo the sacrament just because we don't attend church. Doesn't make much sense for anyone to deprive themselves of this sacred and important ordinance, or to think that only snack sized portions of bread and water are sufficient.
I've heard others tell me that once they've become accustomed to having the sacrament the proper way, they never want to go back to the anemic ritual they were raised on. I fully understand. If you want the sacrament to be a truly spiritual event, do it the right way.
I'd like to clarify a few things.
First, it would appear to many that Connie and I have hurt feelings over the apparent shunning from some members of our ward. We do not. My reporting on these things is just an observation, and mostly given as an example that unfortunately this practice of members turning their backs on other members is taking place in wards churchwide. The only thing about the whole thing that bothers me at all is that I feel I should be serving members of my ward, but I am not notified when anyone there needs assistance. This does not keep me from serving in other areas (for instance, Both my daughter Amy and I take part in serving meals to the homeless in this city through a program at a non-LDS church downtown, and I help out my neighbors quite a bit) I just feel it's a shame I am not readily given the opportunity to assist my Mormon neighbors as well.
As I noted, sometimes the newly awakened are surprised by the reaction they get for wanting nothing more than to worship God as they see fit. The thrust of my piece was intended not to lament my becoming persona non grata, but to assure the newly awakened that the rejection won't last forever. More and more, the same people who once rejected those of us who have resolved to put Christ before the Church, are coming around to joining our ranks.
That is the message of this piece: Don't be overly concerned with those who don't understand where you're coming from. Things are unraveling at Church headquarters faster than I ever thought they would, and good honest people in the church -people who only last year wouldn't THINK about criticizing Church management- are seeing the problems that result from the church of Christ being overly concerned with how the world sees it. As the Church becomes more focused on its image, with the Public Relations department continuing to take over the role of Church Spokesman, (a role traditionally held by a prophet) the average member can't help but feel something's gone askew.
Secondly, I want to make clear I have not embarked on a campaign to come up with a label to describe "us." As Gary Hunt points out, the word "Remnant" is an accurate description of what, in a sense, we are becoming, but I I'm still a Mormon, a member of the church of Jesus Christ, and don't wish to have a new defining label placed upon me, and I know others don't want to be considered part of a new movement either.
Even those who have been expelled from the Corporate LDS Church, or who have left willingly while still retaining their religious beliefs, remain members of the church of Jesus Christ. No one can take that away from you, not as long as you continue to repent and come unto Him.
I will always be a Mormon. Rightly or wrongly, that was the nickname given to those who believe in the Book of Mormon, and I embrace it. The long form of the description of what I am is a follower of Christ; the church I belong to is the church of Jesus Christ. But if someone wants to describe me in shorthand, "Mormon" will do.
So, I am a Mormon. But I could also be described as a Maverick Mormon, an Uncorrelated Mormon, a Neo-Restorationist, etc. Take your pick, but don't tell me that is what I AM. I'm a Mormon who also happens to be part of the Remnant, which means nothing more than that I am a part "left over" from the rapidly failing corporate counterfeit that used to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back before that name was hijacked and converted by corporate charter in 1921.
I'm not looking for a label. This "movement" isn't a movement, and needs neither labels nor leaders. We have a leader. His name is Jesus Christ. His is ultimately the only name under heaven we need concern ourselves with.
Regarding the baptism of fire, I would be alarmed, if I wasn't already accustomed to such things, when I read how members of your ward said ""We really shouldn't expect to have those types of experiences."
Of course, the scriptures teach us that is absolutely necessary, and that without it our water baptisms are not finished.
Our biggest problem today is that members don't read the scriptures; they know only what they are told in church. And even for those who do read their scriptures, what is taught in church and seminary takes precedence. I can tell you that was the way it was with me. I might read about being saved by grace in the Book of Mormon, but if I was taught in church that we don't believe in that concept, I would go with what I was taught in church, and ignore what the scriptures said.
Have you ever thought about doing a post on when specifically the sacrament changed from wine to water in the congregations of "The Church?"
I know that you have mentioned that it was around the prohibition time (1920-1932) but I have been doing some studying and I can not find when the official announcement came out to no longer use wine.
Because the Lord decrees over and over in the scriptures that those who do not care for the poor and needy are not his, there is cause for soul searching and repentance on the part of someone in your area, Rock—or an area seventy or higher—whoever has initiated your shunning.
May they repent and return to the Lord's favor. Imagine the shock of these well-meaning souls motivated by something other than love coming to realize some day that they have chosen a telestial way instead of a celestial way. When you're called to testify against them, be kind, for they are our brethren, these men behaving badly.
Randy and Julie expressed some concern over the May Remnant Retreat: "Is it for fellowship with like minded people or could there be ulterior motives? It doesn't matter to me but I presume some may suspect and accuse the organizers of such."
I suppose if there is an inner circle of organizers, I'm considered part of that circle, and I can assure you there is no motive other than to gather, enjoy each other's company, and share a potluck dinner. We will have a few informal speakers, but I am assured that none of them plan on announcing themselves King And High Priest of some new order.
Rumors have it that we plan to start a new church. Nope. No such plans. And if anyone sees me even begin to propose such a boneheaded idea you have my permission to box my ears and slap me silly.
In an effort to quell the silly rumors, Adrian Larsen has provided a ten question catechism which I've reprinted at the end of this post here. Scroll down to the bottom of the post and have a look-see. (You'll find it right after that video clip of the First Presidency disrespecting the prayer):
I don't know when the church decided to stop using wine, but you've piqued my interest with that question. I do know that there were thousands of gallons of wine produced in pioneer Utah, and that before those vinyards were up and producing, Brigham Young said he looked forward to the day when the Saints could produce their own sacramental wine, so I assume they were doing so in his lifetime and later.
My guess is that it was Heber Grant who switched us back to water, as he was quite obsessed with temperance, and aligned the church with the national temperance movement, even after prohibition ended. Exactly when the switch occurred, though, I don't know.
I once came across a conference talk by the First Presidency from either 1941, or 1942 (Heber Grant's administration) encouraging the Saints to get serious about abstaining so we could set an example for the rest of the world. I'm guessing that may have been the start of when Mormons began to be identified as the religion that shunned alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. There did not seem to be much buzz about any of that before then. Mormons drank wine, beer, and even strong drink ("Valley Tan" was the whiskey of Choice, and Brigham Young imported a lot of hard liquor from outside the territory.) Those Saints (including Brigham) who used tobacco mostly chewed it instead of smoking it. Mormons weren't known in pioneer times for adhering to the Word of Wisdom.
Anyone else here know when the sacrament officially changed to water? Please feel free to weigh in.
So sorry to hear you aren't welcome at your Ward and that you were instructed so by your Bishop. That would not be the case in my Ward. They would hunt you down and visit during all hours of the day if they thought that would get you back.
I have been reading this blog for the past year and a half and have learned lots. Thank you for your insights and the time you take preparing it. It beats any SS or Priesthood class I have attended in years.
Like many, I am bothered by the lack of transparency in regards to Church finances, revisionism in Church history, and mostly by how Members are seen as resources and financial assets by leadership. When I was younger (in the 1960's), leaders acted mostly as servants or instructors. I noticed it starting to change as I put in for a mission. I was initially turned down due to health concerns but the paperwork was sent to my Stake at home and not the BYU stake where I had applied. The home SP was upset I did not apply through him and tried putting a lot of silly conditions into re-submitting my paperwork after letting me wait for six weeks before telling me the Church sent the paperwork to him by mistake. My non-member father then informed him he would no longer support me. Suddenly the paperwork was submitted and I received a call. I never forgot the experience. Some leaders enjoy acting like tools. I don't use that word in any kind sense at all.
I enjoy your blog simply because many arguments I have read are positions I have never considered before. Sunday School, Priesthood quorums or Institute classes do not emphasize critical thinking skills. The secular world we all live in does.
You seem to be very sincere. You don't kiss GA backside which is why I am convinced you aren't invited to attend despite the signs on the Church saying "Visitors Welcome". I wish that could be changed but I am not optimistic. We have our own celebrites, don't we? The few I have met were nice. I met President Hinkley as a missionary and he scared the hell out of a few of us. He didn't seem quite as stern as President of the Church but that was years after meeting him in Korea.
Thanks again for your research and hard work. Good luck to you and Connie. I hope you both recover soon. I thought you would enjoy the Goofy story. I appreciate your response. I look forward to your posts. I bring up several of your points in Priesthood or SS just to spice things up a bit. You tend to back up your points with scripture and verse or historical references which I enjoy. All the best to you and get well soon.
If I were your bishop I would invite you to come to church and participate. If someone claimed you tought false doctrine I would address it so we could all come to an understanding of the truth. The problem is that it is much easier to have ward members who make comments that just paraphrase or quote the conference talks and church manuals. You are creating too much work. If a ward member went to your blog or heard you say something in church, the bishop might have to study to know if your historical and scriptural references are accurate. They might have to pray and ponder what you said to understand the new and different information. You would really put them into a bad position if they found what you said was accurate and what the general authorities said was not the truth. We all know the general authorities are not infallible, but actually pointing out a specific false teaching is not acceptable. So your sound logic and knowledge of the facts might make work for the lazy or fearful leaders at the local level and reduce revenue at the corporate level. If what we are after is the truth, then your oppinions are not a threat but are an opportunity to evaluate what we believe.
For me, evaluating what I believe is exciting. I am blessed with a lack of fear. In other words, I am blessed with a particular kind of faith.
Dear Rock and Friends,
I'm somewhat mortified to see my name "in lights" here on your blog because the whole episode surrounding my excommunication and banishment still sometimes infuriates and humiliates me! (It certainly inconveniences me!) Inasmuch as LDS leaders have apparently endeavored to see how low they can push me, the Lord seems intent to see how well I can get there! I'm surprised Rock wrote so much about me. I earnestly confess I am not worthy of his (or your) attention. He got the gist of things right, however (for the most part). The money quote was "You need to learn to bow and kneel to the scepter of their authority", said not tongue in cheek, but sincerely by a well-meaning, but altogether blinded "brethrenite" high priest of my stake -- the only fellow interested or willing to "engage" me after my excommunication. (We have been -- and yet remain -- friends, I might add.) In his "theology", mortal men, apparently, are elevated to almost god-like status on earth by the power of the holy priesthood. Those so privileged to receive Church leadership and priesthood status are to be followed as if they were God Himself. Apparently there are now two new great commandments: #1: Follow the Brethren. #2: See #1.
This issue is humiliating for me because the nature of the allegations used against me by the Church to banish me cut so keenly to my heart. My banishment was procured without so much as a prior consultation with me. I was merely informed after the fact. "It's already in the works", my (former) bishop told me. Two months after my excommunication, he all but accused me of trying to have an affair with a woman in my family's ward! To be honest (and fully disclosing here), I did love the woman. I saw her only once or twice a year (in Church, or when she brought her children to be babysat in our home). And I cared deeply for her. I otherwise had virtually no interaction with her whatsoever. I wrote her precisely one substantial email, in which I confessed my affection for her and my resolve to "work around" that. There was NEVER any hint of sexual misconduct or interaction between us. I offered to "help" her in any way I could and wrote "Use your imagination!" (I was thinking of tithing money -- since I was no longer LDS nor allowed to pay tithing to the Church. I offered her financial support and told her so!) This email came into the bishop's possession. (How? I don't know. I'm not entirely sure this woman was as "innocent" or clueless as Rock portrays her to be, but I certainly hope she was. She may have, in fact, "used" me to get what she wanted from the bishop!) Anyway, he inferred that my statement "use your imagination" had sexual connotations. (And he made a point of telling my wife that!) I think his inference said more about his state of mind than it did about mine, however. Nevertheless, I admit it: I liked this woman. In my heart, I thought that I loved her and I said to myself that, had I lived 150 years earlier and had I been foolish enough to follow Brigham Young, I would have offered to take her under my wing and under my roof in every way possible. Perhaps I "sinned" in my heart in that respect. I certainly admit that contemplating polygamy is incoherent and incompatible with practicing monogamy. And I admitted to the bishop my momentary mental perfidy and moved on. But that didn't satisfy him. He moved to have me banished from the Church! Now he "had" something more "sustainable" (than ill-defined "apostasy") to justify his "condemnation" of me. He had "got" me, by golly!
(Continued) The irony of all this is that this bishop "painted" me as a villain -- even though I did nothing other than reach out to help a woman who came crying to me because he wouldn't (on the Church's behalf) help her financially! Even as he follows, sustains...hell, he probably descends from a long line of polygamists who did a lot more than just offer to "help" a single woman in distress! (In the interest of full disclosure, I posted online the entire email I wrote to this woman -- minus an altogether irrelevant passage referencing another party -- under the blog post "Love Letters". You can read it all there and "judge" me for yourself, if you care to.) As I said, this matter cut to my heart. Was I absolutely pure in thought, word and deed? Not in my mind. I admit that, over the years, I have been a "conflicted Mormon", struggling to rationalize "virtue" and "chastity" with polygamy and plural marriage. I've had to do many "mental gymnastics" to wrap my mind and heart around that one and, to be honest, I've come to the conclusion that polygamy did more to corrupt and damage the minds and hearts of Latter-day Saints than anything else. (I look forward to hearing and reading Denver Snuffer's latest pod cast on that subject!)
I do not wish to excuse or justify any of my thoughts, words or deeds by saying that the bishop's response (by banishing me) was over-hyped, heavy-handed and hogwash (even though it was). The Church was looking for something -- anything! -- to justify excommunicating me for "apostasy" (which, allegation itself was absurd). The claim that I was, somehow, now a "predator" or "adulterer" -- they never said as much but merely stated that I caused some (unidentified individuals) to "fear for their safety"; that I was responsible for (unidentified) "disruptions in church"; and that I "violated" (unidentified) "Church policies". All of this was, indeed, hogwash. I never did anything of the sort. My inexplicable and continuing presence at Church, no doubt (despite my post-excommunication vow and practice of silence) undoubtedly caused some of these men who saw me each Sunday to feel both fear for their safety and feel discomfort. Making them feel this way perhaps was my real “crime”. Perhaps they felt guilty. I asked them why they excommunicated me...and they could not articulate a reasonable answer...at least one that didn't condemn them to hell.
But, in the end, I did, in fact, love the (unnamed) woman and I did, in fact, tell her so. I also told her I found her attractive, but that I would "help" her (despite that fact). Doing so was arguably "inappropriate" for me. My wife deserves, merits and (now) receives my complete, undivided and undiluted attention and affection. If polygamy was ever on my mind (even for a millisecond, with regard to this other woman), it was only there because she repeatedly brought it up whenever she spoke to me!
But, enough said. I've "aired my dirty laundry" and I won't be ashamed of it anymore. The bishop can squawk all he wants and banish me until kingdom come, but I don't harbor a lustful "extramarital" bone in my body. By acknowledging my faults, the Lord has allowed weak things to become strong unto me. And by excoriating exposure, I have been tried in the crucible and furnace of affliction and purged as if by fire. For that I ought to give him thanks.
Glad to see you're on your feet again and swinging with both fists!
I went to a fireside with Paul and Margaret Toscano speaking over the weekend…
My nomination (mentioned by Paul) was that we call ourselves "Protestants". This could be the 21st century protestant reformation, protesting the excesses of the papal leadership. We even have people in leadership telling us we should kneel to authority and kiss the (papal) ring.
James Russell Uhl
Correction: I was banished seven months after my excommunication, not two.
You must know that Christ's church is not a house of confusion. The sacrament has to be authorized by the presiding priest. That is the bishop.
If you are simply engaging in DIY sacrament without the bishop's approval then you are out of order; you must know that.
Why don't you just go to another ward?
@ Good Will: Such a sad and distressing way to end up in Christ’s ‘one true church’. I feel for you, even if there are others, who no doubt will not and/or believe you to be telling the whole truth about your matter.
I personally know *two* other people who have had very similar experiences to yours (one was excommunicated, and the other was saved by his TBM ‘leader’ brother speaking for him at his disciplinary council—there was no real evidence at all; just biased innuendos and hearsay in BOTH cases!), and once I came very close to having been a ‘victim’ myself—“There is a CHARGE laid against you!” In my case, though, I spoke up boldly and with logic, and this was enough for the stake president to immediately back down. Totally bizarre to think that a bunch of men—lackeys, mostly—can get together under a so-called ’leader’ (a President) who is presumed ‘inspired of the Lord,’ to kick someone out of the Lord’s (Jesus’s) church. I can’t wrap my head around this. To be sure, if someone has or has had an affair of the heart, or whatever sin (even having sex outside of marriage) and is sorry about it, then that’s when this person needs the church (Jesus’s redemptive support and forgiveness) more, not less! Jesus of the New Testament didn’t excommunicate sinners, He just gave them a charge and a blessing to ‘sin no more’ then left it up to them (and probably God the Father). But, not in the LDS church—stern, authoritative voice: “We withdraw fellowship from them!”
So sad, so pathetic. Get out of this so-called ‘church’. Move on and far, far away from it. You don’t need it! It vexes the spirit of those who are sincere and ardent seekers of truth. To be sure, in many instances it is spiritually abusive and drags people down. This is not the Way of the True Lord. For me, now, it’s just a reality show, although a sad one to witness a lot of times.
Best of luck to you.
P.S.: Just to be clear; I do not endorse extramarital affairs and I have never been guilty of such. In my case, it was a disgruntled ex-wife going to the SP trying to shame and denigrate me because all of our kids wanted to reside with me (the father). I was being accused of turning the children against their mother, which was not only totally unfounded, but was an actual contradiction to all of what the children (especially the older, teenager ones) had to say. I told the SP that, regardless, this was a civil matter, not ecclesiastical, to which he eventually had to concur. What a tool. I lost complete respect for him when he phoned me and started the conversation by saying in a very accusative, caustic tone of voice, “This is president ___. There is a CHARGE being laid against you!” Again, what a tool.
You no doubt have listened to Denver's recent talk on polygamy and Joseph Smith. If not you'd probably enjoy it. He concludes from the historic evidence that Joseph was not an adulterer. It's intriguing that Denver has come to believe that Joseph was on to something profound in the sealing power that never made it into general circulation
As I demonstrated in my reply to you above, In the first hundred years of the church (and at least the first hundred years of the primitive Christian church, EVERYONE engaged in do-it-yourself sacraments up until Church leaders COPIED what some individuals were doing -meeting together in groups- and institutionalized the practice church-wide.
The bishop is the president of the Aaronic priesthood. Anyone holding the office of Elder has all the authority he needs to bless and partake of the Lord's sacrament without needing permission or supervision from him.
In the 20th century the Church began to elevate the bishop of the ward -whose responsibilities up until then were sort of that as a quartermaster who received tithes and judged and dispensed them to those in need- into the Supreme Leader of the local congregation. He even oversees our meetings, which was never his duty as president of the Aaronic priesthood.
Our scriptures are clear that meetings are to be conducted by the ELDERS of the congregation (still the highest office in the priesthood), and even then only as the spirit directs.
I began providing the sacrament to my wife over fifteen years ago after she first became disabled. After repeated requests to the bishop, who promised to send the Aaronic priesthood out to our home, but never followed through with those promises, I finally realized I had full authority to administer the sacrament to my own household.
It has been an incredibly edifying experience to partake of the sacrament the way the Lord Himself taught it. Connie and I do as the ancient Nephites did, we eat our fill of the bread, and drink our fill of the "wine." You'd be amazed at what a difference it makes to be symbolically "full" of the body and blood of Christ, as opposed to partaking of those anemic snack-sized portions that the Church copied from the Catholic and protestant communions for the sake of expediency and convenience.
If I were still convinced that the sacrament could only be partaken at church -a concept that anyone should see is ridiculous on its face once they think it through- I would indeed be attending a separate ward in order to partake. But that would still leave my wife without the privilege. That's where I exercise and magnify my calling as patriarch of the home. I need permission from no man to do so, even if he does hold the title of President Of All Teenage Boys.
I certainly appreciate Will Carter weighing in here and giving further perspective.
The latest post on Will's blog "In 200 Words or Less" is a must-read. I can't rave about this enough. He begins by reporting on how Church headquarters is in the process of de-emphasising the scriptures, a process that many have noticed in the works for some time:
"This "de-contextualization" and reduction of Church history and doctrine to a few "editorialized highlights" -- detached from the scriptures and other historical records from which true doctrine and history may be deduced -- enables Church leaders to more effectively teach only those doctrines and facts they agree with and promote while dismissing and ignoring "problematic" scriptures or history which conflict with current LDS memes."
Further down, Will minces no words about how arbitrary and capricious Church discipline has become in light of the constant changes in "Official Doctrine" He takes particular note of how the Church has given a slap in the face to all those who gave their time and money to support passage of California's Proposition 8, as the leaders labored to reverse the official stand. It's no wonder members never know what they are "allowed" to do and what they are not if they want to keep their membership status in good standing. Learn a little truth regarding what used to be standard protocol, and you put yourself in peril.
"When members of the LDS Church begin to discover these truths and "step out of line" by revealing them to others, they will be actively persecuted and punished at the local level by unsympathetic Mormon authorities. The LDS hierarchy I have met apparently rely upon a compliant cadre of willfully blind, brainwashed, or under-informed bishops and quisling stake presidents from whom they, perhaps, tacitly threaten to withhold or revoke the second anointing, thus holding eternal life itself in the balance, as a carrot to be denied, if they fail to comply with "training" from Salt Lake or fail to "follow the Brethren" in whatever the hell they teach as the gospel doctrine du jour.
Seriously, you gotta read this. I wish I had been the one who wrote it.
When members of the LDS Church begin to discover these truths and "step out of line" by revealing them to others, they will be actively persecuted and punished at the local level by unsympathetic Mormon authorities. The LDS hierarchy I have met apparently rely upon a compliant cadre of willfully blind, brainwashed, or under-informed bishops and quisling stake presidents from whom they, perhaps, tacitly threaten to withhold or revoke the second anointing, thus holding eternal life itself in the balance, as a carrot to be denied, if they fail to comply with "training" from Salt Lake or fail to "follow the Brethren" in whatever the hell they teach as the gospel doctrine du jour.
Congrats to good will for his transparency, but a caution to Rock Waterman to be careful of who he puts on a pedestal, so to speak. I don't think it is a safe bet to assume that everyone is holy that has been "victimized" by the church.
Good, thought-provoking post Rock!
This comment is for Robin Hood.
I have some questions for you (or anyone who would like to weigh in).
First, the sacrament is a "saving" ordinance...true or false? Assuming it is true, what if (church-wide) it isn't being administered correctly? Would it still have merit, would it still be valid?
When Christ taught the sacrament to the Disciples in 3 Nephi 18, it was done in a specific order. I believe the order has a purpose. The Disciples were instructed to partake of the bread and wine first, THEN administer it to the multitude. My understanding of this order is by partaking first they are now cleansed and worthy to administer it to the multitude. So, with clear and explicit instruction provided in the BOM, why do the young men passing the sacrament partake AFTER they have administered to the congregation?
Christ's instructions are to administer to ALL who have repented and been baptized. Do the promised blessings still apply if we don't come with a repentant heart prior to partaking of the sacrament? If we're just going through the motions without any thought to it's purpose, is it in vain?
This is what really hit me hard...Christ says "But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them." (vs. 13)
So, what does it mean "to do more or less than this"? Is it less to not perform the ordinance in the exact order as given by Christ? Is it more to require that none of the multitude be permitted to partake until the "presiding authority" has partook? Is it less to not partake until we're filled? Is it less to use water instead of wine? Is it more to allow those to partake who have not repented AND been baptized?
We allow the unbaptized (and maybe unrepentant) to take the sacrament. We administer it to each other as we pass it down the isles - many of which don't have the authority to administer. Are we creating nothing more than a sandy foundation as we continue to administer the sacrament this way?
You mentioned that Christ's church is not a house of confusion. You're right, His church is a house of order...but we don't seem to be following the order in which He has taught.
3 Nephi 18 also covers the very topic of this blog. The things that are happening to Rock, Will, and so many others does not follow these teachings:
22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
These are the very words of Jesus Christ. Anything more or less than this is a sandy foundation.
These are the thoughts, concerns, and questions I've had for some time now.
I remember one of the most spirit-filled sacrament meetings I participated in; it was the second or third Sunday while in Army Basic Training in South Carolina, when us "recruits" had not yet earned the privilege of going off-base for any reason, even to attend a church service of our choice. Having been ordained to the priesthood, and having years of experience as a priest in my ward growing up, I proposed to a couple of my fellow recruits who I had found out were LDS (though I don't think any of the others were very active) that we bless and partake of the sacrament ourselves, which we did on the front steps of our barracks, using crackers from C-Rations. It was very simple, with the correct prayers, of course, and the spirit was very definitely present with us in that short, simple meeting.
Later on, we earned off-base privileges and attended the local ward out in town, where again I was privileged to help bless and administer the sacrament in their Sunday School meetings (this was before the current 3-hour block, when the sacrament was offered as part of Sunday School opening exercises).
It wasn't until years later that I discovered that I had engaged in performing an "unauthorized ordnance", and remained confused with the fact of the spirit being so strong at that simple meeting.
Just recounting this experience brings back a very sweet memory of that meeting and of the spirit that was there.
Why don't you hie to...the East? When we lived in California, we too were ostracized. For example, I was called "by revelation" according to the bishop to substitute teach in gospel doctrine for 12 weeks while the regular teacher was undergoing a teacher training class. After two weeks, the handcart crowd would have no more of my interrupting their class-time reveries. They complained to the bishop and stake. Neither of the latter could find anything wrong with what I was saying, yet the complaints by the small handcart Mormon crowd continued. Succumbing to clique pressure, I was released after just four weeks. Apparently that crowd cared that my classes must teach the "orthodox religion," not the heterodox kind that Hugh B. Brown applauded. We were ostracized.
After moving to the East, the main criteria for service seemed to be that you had a heartbeat. I was quickly appointed a high councilor and then a bishop, and later a mission president. A woman who faced excommunication for heterodoxy in California was appointed stake relief society president, and she is thriving here.
Sometimes the leaven in the loaf gets so concentrated out west that it becomes rancid. Who knows, but if you and Connie move back here, her health condition might improve, and your blog would be sunnier!
I'm not sure what you mean by assuming I've put Will Carter "on a pedestal" because I think he's unusually "holy." Is that supposed to be a criticism?
I know Will Carter quite well. He's a friend I talk on the phone with quite regularly, often for hours at a time. So I'm well aware of his flaws and shortcomings, as he is aware of mine. I'm also aware of his incredible strengths.
That having been said, I put all my friends on pedestals. I hold my friend Will Carter in as high estimation as anyone. If I had a bobble-head doll of Will Carter and a mantle to put it on, you'd find a likeness of Will Carter in my home way up high, proudly on display.
Thanks, Gary Hunt, for the information on "remnant". I was just going to mention a little bit about the remnant Nock talked about being different than the "remnant" in the Book of Mormon. But my comments wouldn't have had the Oxford info.
Interesting how words trigger us sometimes to focus more on what we imagine them to mean, than what the definition of their meaning really is. It seems that some people take it to mean that people who would call themselves "remnant" are calling and choosing themselves or something. That could be the case with some, but I don't believe that to be the majority.
Nock was awesome. The more of his stuff I read, the more impressed I am with him. His lectures on literacy--and potential problems with it--I highly recommend. I don't believe that anyone in history has critiqued the general consensus belief on literacy quite like him.
Rebecca and Mark,
Your comments remind me of one more "flaw" I note in our present church meeting structure. Back before the 3 hour block, Sacramento meeting was separate from Priesthood and Sunday School. I think there was a good reason for that. Sacrament Meeting was held usually about 4 Pm, sometimes later. That gave the person who might not feel particularly worthy to partake of the sacrament an opportunity to simply not show up.
The sacrament is supposed to only be taken by those both worthy AND in the proper frame of mind. Placing it every week as part of the standard services not only 'traps' people who probably shouldn't be there, but it also makes it too routine.
One of the things I was struck by when learning of the early practice of the Saints as regards the sacrament, was that it wasn't done every week. Sometimes it might take place once a month, or every three months, depending on the desires of the participants.
Performing the sacrament every week like clockwork may be just what some people need and desire, but for others the reularity of it might even cheapen the experience. Surely we've all had Sundays when we weren't perfectly in tune during that sacred ordinance. I'd say in my case, the good majority of the times I took the sacrament during my lifetime in the church I wasn't really all the way "there".
That's another reason I think having it at home has been such an improvement. It has more meaning for us than when we went to church and took the sacrament just because we knew we "should."
It's kind of like going to the temple because it happens to be ward temple night. We do it because that's what we're conditioned to do, not because on that particular night we are compelled by the spirit.
I'm not sure what you mean by assuming I've put Will Carter "on a pedestal" because I think he's unusually "holy." Is that supposed to be a criticism?
No, not a criticism. I just have noticed that you often side with people that have been excommunicated without knowing the whole story. You say you have talked to Will on the phone. That only tells me you know what he has told you about himself, and probably little else. Were you at his excommunication hearing? Were you at Adrian Larsen's excommunication hearing?
I think at times, in your haste to paint the church in the worst possible light, you lack objectivity and jump to conclusions. You suggested that people listen to the Toscano's videos series...have you actually listened to them? Paul Toscano does not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but some king of mystic (his words). His wive believes in the priesthood of all believers and "heavenly mother". They both believe that God the Father and Jesus are the same person, and that Eve morphed into the Holy Ghost. None of what they say is doctrinal. I really think you would do well to carefully study the writings of people that you recommend.
Just sayin, take it or leave it.
Rock, Thanks for another insightful post that so many of us can relate with.
I also believe that the remnant today will find Christ, just as the remnant found prophets before Christ came. I believe God hasn't sent any true prophets since Christ because Christ has come & delivered his Gospel & the remnant need only find & follow Christ. Prophets are not necessary anymore, though they would of course be helpful if we had some. But even true prophets are often wrong, so Christ is the only safe person to follow.
I believe the leaders of the Church ask for blind obedience today because they know that their teachings are contrary to what the scriptures say & what Christ said. So they can't go by the 'old smell test' anymore & compare things with the scriptures, for then the people would quickly realize the leaders are completely off base.
Of course though, not everything even 50 years ago or in Joseph's day passed the 'smell test' either, for often Joseph's scriptures, teachings & 'Thus sayeth the Lord' statements were contrary to the 'real' scriptures (Christ).
Plenty of 'thus sayeth the Lord' teachings are completely false doctrine, so that unfortunately is not a true test of God’s word, for most false prophets seem to use that line or similar phrases to sound like they are speaking for God.
All authors of the scriptures, BoM, BoA, D&C or even most of the New Testament, except Christ, taught some truth & some error. Joseph Smith & all other LDS leaders & non-LDS church leaders, all teach some truth mingled with much errors & falsehoods, & then claim their scriptures are from God, but they don’t pass ‘the smell test’ when compared to Christ’s teachings.
Thus I believe the words of Christ in the New Testament are the only true & trusted scripture we have to use as a standard of truth. For everyone is very fallible & easily deceived, including prophets, in thinking their revelation is of God when it's often actually from the Adversary or their own minds.
The Church often still says to 'pray for confirmation on things', because most false prophets know that people usually will get confirmation & warm fuzzies from their own mind or even from some other Spirit, on even 'false' things & false people. So that idea still works for them & they use it too, just like Joseph Smith did.
Thus, Christ warned us to 'test the Spirits' & ours or anyone else's revelation.
Christ taught the only real way to test that any doctrine, revelation or prophet is from God, is by logically comparing it/them to what 'Christ' taught, for even false prophets claim their revelations are from God & often use the words 'Thus sayeth the Lord, etc.
Thus praying about things is usually, not a good way to measure truth, for it opens us up to lots of false confirmations & revelations from the Adversary (or our own mind) that can easily convince us that what we are praying about it true, when it's not.
Christ taught us to use ‘facts not feelings’ as our ‘smell test to’ determine truth from error. We just need to watch a person's actions, to see if the person is really keeping & preaching the commandments of Christ and not their own ideas.
It's very easy, we don't to pray to know if something is true or not, we just need to use Christ's test & study his teachings.
But unfortunately, I have never heard of anyone since Christ who can pass that test, especially no LDS leaders.
I don't know of any true prophets since Christ's day. Though I wish there were some, for it would really be nice to hear of someone who actually preaches & practices the words of Christ for a change. But then who would follow him? For the words of Christ are pretty steep standards. I don't know anyone willing or able to follow them all today. Such a person would be as lonesome as Elijah.
You seem of the opinion that I should agree with everything a person says or writes before I recommend their views to others. I would have a very limited outlook indeed if I only read books from people who shared my own parochial insights.
I recommend the Toscano Dialogues because I find them extremely though-provoking. If someone thinks of me as some kind of guru who has a responsibility to share only those things I know to be 100 percent accurate, then they are placing me in the position of being all-knowing. I'm just a shmo looking to find his way like anyone else, so when I come across someone who has something intriguing to say, I like to pass it on. That doesn't give me the responsibility to have vetted every little statement someone else makes. I share the Toscano videos with the expectation that others will find them thought-provoking and of some benefit in their own journey to higher truth. I would no more expect people to take everything I recommend at face value than I would expect them to take my own opinions expressed on this blog at face value.
That having been said, you appear to disagree with Toscano's description of Joseph Smith as a mystic. If Joseph Smith was not a mystic, then what was he?
Perhaps your definition of mystic derives from Sword & Sorcery legends, rather than its traditional meaning. "Prophet" is of course one label we can place on Joseph Smith, but "Mystic" is a much better fit. Here is how the word is defined at Dictionary.com:
"a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine...a person initiated into religious mysteries."
If Joseph Smith doesn't fit that description, then I don't know who does.
The word "mystic" derives from middle english, latin, and greek, to mean "an initiate into the mysteries." If that word doesn't describe Joseph Smith, I can't think of a better one. I can't even imagine our modern so-called "prophets and apostles" being initiated into the mysteries as Joseph Smith was. It is his qualities as a mystic that make it difficult for people even today to pigeon hole him or fully understand him. It's why even today Joseph Smith remains a mystery even to scholars.
To Darren, (Continued)
I also believe in the priesthood of all believers, and of a mother in heaven, as those are doctrines that at one time were readily taught and understood in this church. As far as mother Eve "morphing" into the Holy Ghost, I think that is put forth by the Toscanos more as a possibility than what you have interpreted as a firmly held "belief."
Speculating on the nature of the Holy Ghost is nothing new, especially among Church leaders in the pioneer era. Some have wondered if it is not the Divine Mother (which makes sense when you consider that personage's attributes as a comforter); others have thought it might be a sort of "office" held by various beings at different times. (I've even seen speculation that Joseph Smith was the Holy Ghost for a time.)
After considering for myself the various theories about who or what makes up the Holy Ghost, I am now of the opinion that the concept is indefinable, at least for me. A power that exists in, around, and through all things and is as vast as the universe yet small enough to live within me is a concept I am not able to grasp, so I allow myself to be satisfied with the knowledge that the Holy Ghost is what it is, and that its workings are beyond my limited understanding.
Likewise, the attributes of God can only be understood by the power of the spirit, as His attributes fall under the definition of "the Mysteries" we are instructed to search; or what Nephi described as the "greater things" that are withheld from those who fail to diligently seek after them.
Thus your mistaken understanding that the Toscanos believe that Jesus and the Father are the same being. They do not say any such thing. They believe, as I do, that the being who manifested himself on the earth as Jesus Christ is in actuality the Eternal God, Jehovah, the Supreme Being, the Creator.
The being described as "The Father" is someone else entirely
In discussing the necessity of comparing a statement made by a general authority with the scriptures to see if it is compatible, my use of the term "smell test" was not intended to mean that's the whole test. The smell test is the first step, just as one might initially give some substance a sniff to try and find out what it is.
After comparing a concept to the scriptures to see if it fits without contradicting previous revelations, the Saints were expected to pray about a revelation for confirmation from the Holy Ghost.
The first "smell test" of a revelation, of course, is whether the speaker even pretends that what he is presenting has been given to him directly by God. If it has not, we may still regard his words as wise counsel, and a valid teaching, but we need not treat it as though it were dispensed directly from the mind of God.
We have been instructed by God to heed the words of the prophet as he receives them from the the Lord.
And by the way, "Heed" means to give ear to, to consider, it does not mean "obey."
If we determine the words spoken are the opinions of a man, we may still feel they are worth considering, or we may ignore and discard them.
What we are NOT required to do is obey them.
In re-reading your comment above, I see a couple of additional assumptions you make that I take issue with.
You accuse me of siding with people like Adrian Larsen and Will Carter "without knowing the whole story," but I would ask you what part of the story do you think has been left out? Were you present? Are there details you are aware of that I am not?
As long as those conducting excommunication proceedings continue to refuse to allow the person being excommunicated to record the proceedings, all we have is what we have. I fully understand why these proceedings are not made public as a matter of rule, because traditionally, when a person is excommunicated for actual transgressions (such as sexual misconduct) it was proper to protect the privacy of the individual.
But when the "victim" as you call him WANTS the proceedings on the record, those conducting the hearing still won't allow it. So how can we get more of the story than that which is provided to us by the individual who was ex'd? No one benefits from such Star Chambers proceedings, not the Church, and not the candidate. If you want more of the story, perhaps you can tell us where we can find it.
Nevertheless, Adrian Larsen did post the transcript of his interview with the Seventy who was assigned to review his appeal, so we do indeed have plenty of confirmation from that recording that the things Larsen reports about the experience are the reasons actually given by the Church authorities who conducted the hearing.
Likewise, Will Carter published the letter from the Church Legal Department on his blog, so he can readily see he didn't make that up. Denver Snuffer also posted the letter from his stake president making it clear that the ONLY reason for his excommunication was his refusal to pull his book from publication.
Further, I get emails from people almost daily telling me of their being called in and having their temple recommends pulled, being put on informal probation, disfellowshiped, excommunicated, or instructed not to take the sacrament, all on some of the flimsiest reasons you can imagine. This preponderance of anecdotal evidence is something I find compelling, and unique to our day.
I'm inclined to believe these people because there are so many reports of it from active, believing latter-day Saints who love this religion and have no reason to wish to harm it; and because I myself have experienced similar unjust treatment first hand, and given the most appalling of ultimatums: stop blogging, resign voluntarily, or face expulsion.
You further write, "In your haste to paint the church in the worst possible light..."
I am a devout, believing member of this church. I love my fellow Saints who are, like me, members of this church. What possible motivation would I have for painting the church of Jesus Christ in the worst possible light? What evidence can you provide to show that painting the church in the worst possible light is what motivates me to write?
Do I point out inconsistencies in the words and deeds of some in leadership positions who act contrary to the teachings of the Savior? You bet I do. But if you think those renegades constitute the actual church of Christ, then your definition of the church is different from mine.
As to whether I paint those individuals in a bad light, I think their own words and deeds are managing to do that for them.
I only report on what these men have said. If you believe I have reported something that is not factual, please give me specifics, and if what I wrote is untrue I will go back and correct or delete it.
"I also believe in the priesthood of all believers, and of a mother in heaven, as those are doctrines that at one time were readily taught and understood in this church".
Would you mind citing some scriptural evidence to support this statement?
I would also like to say that the Toscanos offer little evidence to support their assertions. And they do not believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet that received revelations...that is abundantly clear in their videos. Also, you failed to mention how you know so much about the character of people like Will Carter and Adrian Larsen, after only talking to them on the phone.I disagree with your premise that you have no responsibility to vette things you recommend to people. A lot of people have interesting things to say, but it does not mean that they are accurate or truthful.I guess I am at a loss as to what you are trying to accomplish here. Are you trying to influence what people believe about Mormonism, as it would seem by the authoritative style in which you state things, or are you just throwing a bunch of random ideas out there for people to pick and chose from, because, either way, you have not really made yourself clear in many cases.
I used part of this great commentary as a launching pad for a post. Thanks for your contributions to Mormon thought.
"... the Mormon Church has set its heavy hand of top-down authority on its members, and through recent excommunication/discipline events (here, here, and here), it has established that variation from correlation is a bulls-eye for shaming and punishment. I believe this is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith had in mind, in Volume 5 of the History of the Church, when he said:
I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please..."
Thank you for your response. I agree with your definition of a 'smell test'. Sorry if misinterpreted your use of that term. But I have not found anywhere where God has told us to 'follow prophets', at least not since Christ's days. Christ always said to follow Him & his teachings only, if I'm not mistaken.
There of course have been many men who have claimed to be prophets & talk for God, and have said that God said that people should follow them, but why would I believe them? Especially when they don't follow Christ. Christ warned us about such men.
And even if we could find someone who did follow Christ, I don't need to follow any man, I can just follow Christ on my own.
I don't understand this 'following prophets' thing, for no prophet I have ever known of is even close to perfect, so why would I follow him?
I have Christ's words and I don't need anyone to interpret them for me or to get revelation for me, for I can do all that myself and I believe God expects us to be spiritually self reliant, or we will easily be lead astray even by 'true' prophets (like the one's Christ chose 2000 years ago) who can even be wrong at times.
I used to believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet but upon closer look I find he sadly was not and that he really didn't follow Christ and teach his commandments. I believe it's clear that he wrote or compiled the BoM with the help of others.
It is sad, for I really wish we could have some true prophets who really preached & practiced Christ's teachings. Not to follow them, but to give us strength & inspiration that it's even possible to become such & live Christ's laws. All I can find are false prophet after false prophet who preach & practice contrary to Christ's teachings, yet expect everyone to follow them.
The remnant, (those who follow or at least believe in 'all' of Christ's commandments), do seem few, so few it's appears impossible to find any.
Thanks for the info Rock.
You will know of course that the bishop is not only the president of the Aaronic Priesthood, but also the presiding High Priest. Therefore, he is acting as both in sacrament meeting.
The "ward" is not scriptural at all, but the "stake" is. The SP has authority over the Melchizedek Priesthood within the stake boundary, and using his keys, authorizes others to administer in his absence. This is the function the bishop carries out in sacrament meeting. And this is why the SP presides over a ward sacrament meeting when he is present.
So you're only half right Rock.
I think I see what our problem is here. You think I see myself as being some kind of authoritative voice.
I'm not. I'm neither a scholar nor a scriptorian. I'm just some below average member of the church who realizes he knows next to nothing about anything.
You ask what I'm trying to accomplish here. I'm trying to repent of the false beliefs I embraced for most of my life, and return to the core fundamentals of the faith as typified in the Book of Mormon, divine revelations, and the teachings of our founding prophet.
You ask for scriptural evidence for belief in a mother in heaven. There is actually very little scriptural evidence that I am aware of, which is why I said it was once a doctrine that was taught and readily understood in the church. I did not say it a basic article of faith.
You are not to be blamed for being unfamiliar with the teaching because today that teaching has been de-emphasized. But in my years growing up in the churhch in the 1950's and through the 70's it was taken for granted, taught in seminary, and discussed matter-of factly by both leaders and the rank and file. Everyone knew about it and considered it part of the faith. That may not be so true today. Here'a an excerpt from an abstract from "A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven" if you'd like to explore that teaching further:
"Since the 1840s, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have taught that in addition to a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. This cherished doctrine has been an important, although relatively obscure, part of the Latter-day Saint understanding of the premortal origins and divine nature of humankind."
I note a tendency you have to misinterpret statements the Toscanos made in their podcast dialogues with each other, which, I would hasten to remind you, are simple conversations between a husband and wife. I wouldn't let any of it throw you for a loop. It's just two people talking about their beliefs, some of it scriptural, some of it speculative, . No one is attempting to establish doctrine here. Relax a little. It's just two interesting people sharing opinions. Nothing they discuss is intended to cause a disturbance in the force.
It would appear you and I are having trouble settling on definitions. For instance I don't know how you can assume Paul and Margaret don't consider Joseph Smith a prophet when Paul specifically refers to him as a Mystic. By its very definition, a mystic is someone who attains insight into mysteries through direct communication with the divine. Again, if that doesn't describe a prophet, and Joseph Smith in particular, I don't know what does.
Although not everything Joseph Smith taught ascends to the level of scripture, because he was given insight to things the rest of us cannot even imagine, I feel it's worthwhile to heed his teachings; among them the teaching that we have a mother in heaven. His opinion on the matter, and the opinion of those those contemporaries he spoke with about it holds more weight with me than the opinions of men in office now who have attempted to suppress that teaching and wish it away.
Please note, however, that if you don't like that teaching, you are not required to believe it. That's the beauty of this religion, at least the organic version of it. Joseph Smith said you can pretty much believe what you want. You can even be mistaken, but still be a good Mormon. As Joseph Smith said regarding the Pelatiah Brown fiasco, just because a man errs in doctrine does not prove he is not a good man.
So, I'm flattered that you see me as an authority figure. But since your own opinion of me seems to disturb you, just don't believe a word I say. You have my permission.
Thanks for that link.
Although the bishop and stake presidents may be the presiding high priests, they still only hold the office of Elder, which is the highest office in the church. Titles and responsibilities may differ, but I hold the same priesthood authority -Elder- as is held by the apostles and First Presidency. There is no higher rank than Elder.
High Priest does not trump Elder, and as you are aware, I reject the idea that any Elder in the church is required to seek permission from any other before exercising his own priesthood in his own home. The stake president's and bishop's authority may be appropriate in their proper sphere, such as at meetings, but that authority does not reach into my home where I am the patriarch with a charge to protect my family from encroachment. That would include sacerdotal over-reach by others.
If priesthood power means anything, it is a power that comes from the divine directly to and through the individual. No middle man is required. Now, if I didn't hold the priesthood, and showed up to an LDS church service and attempted to bless the sacrament at church, the presiding high priest would be performing his proper role in preventing me from performing that ordinance in front of the congregation.
But if I have the authority to bless the sacrament at church, I certainly have the same authority to bless it in my home. No permission or supervision is required for that.
I understand where you are coming from. However, you illustrate to me just how important authority is in the church. There are so many people on the internet, you, Will Carter, The Toscanos, Adrian Larsen, Denver Snuffer, etc, etc, etc, each giving a slightly different take on the gospel. To me, this is how so many Christian sects have developed over the ages. Indeed, there have been a number of groups split off from the Mormon church. I think in this uncertain situation, people look to a representative of God to help them maneuver through all the uncertainties of the world. Of course there are no shortage of takers, just look at Denver Snuffer. Denver Snuffer claims to have seen Jesus, and this may or may not be true. How do we know? Does the spirit tell us? What if the spirit tells me something different than he tells you? At least the GAs of the church have a solid claim to management of the church. I don't think it wise to take matters into our own hands, as far as the church goes. This would be without precedent. If the church has lapsed into apostasy, as some have claimed, then we must patiently wait for the Lord to send additional information on how to proceed, and not be tempted by the host of charlatans that stand ready to fill the vacuum. Surely the Lord realizes what is going on, and allows it. If we are not content to function within the framework the Lord has provided, recognizing that the Lord can foresee all things,even apostasy, then we are saying to ourselves that the Lord has created a flawed system without checks and balances that we must reject. This is no new concept...there have been several apostasies in the church, and each time the individuals involved believed that they were right to question the status quo, yet history proves them wrong. So if these early apostates jumped the gun, when do we know when to start criticizing and finding fault with the leaders? What guidance has the Lord given in scripture? Is there even a scriptural guideline for justification of rebellion? When are we justified in exploring new concept on out own, like Eve being the Holy Ghost? Why do people even mention ridiculous things like that that have zero basis in scripture or reality? Again, the church may seem authoritarian, but it maintains a arguably uniform set of doctrines.
I agree with you that differing opinions & interpretations are how the Christian & LDS sects developed. But the problem is that LDS Church leaders, even presidents, differ from one another just as much as members or non-members do, in their beliefs, opinions, revelation & interpretations, etc.
So to say we should just follow the Church instead, then one would have to ask which leader should we follow? My Bishop, my stake Pres.? My Home Teacher? A GA? The prophet? Past prophets? The scriptures? (Which scriptures, for they contradict one another too) Christ? (Bingo) For they all have different & opposing opinions.
And to say that 'The Lord' has created this system, this church, these doctrines, is just another man's opinion that some people bought into. There is no proof (except people's warm fuzzies that could be from their own mind or any other or a false spirit, like the millions in other religions) that God started the LDS Church or that Joseph was a true prophet or that Monson is, but there is alot of proof that they are not true.
I believe Christ answered your question on 'how to tell which voice is right'. He said to measure everyone's doctrine & claims to be a prophet against his commandments, to see if they are really preaching & practicing the same exact things. If not, then Christ warned us to reject any prophet, person or precept that is contrary to his words. I don't think that is very hard if we are sincere & honest, for Christ's teachings are clear & few, even children can understand them.
And when you apply Christ's test to the LDS Church & it's leaders & doctrines, you find they are usually opposite Christ's and are exactly what he warned us to avoid.
I believe in following Christ & his teachings to 'prove all things & people 1st' before believing anyone's opinion or claims, no matter how much they claim to be a prophet or to have seen visions or to have new scripture.
The proof is in the pudding, in their actions. Talk is cheap. Anyone can claim anything & they do. "Men draw near to me with their lips but their hearts are far from me".
Where is there even 1 man since Christ who has keep all of his commandments? Especially in the LDS Church. For that was Christ's test for a true prophet. I myself have never found one.
I believe where you and I differ is that I believe god delivered the fullness of the gospel through Joseph Smith, and numerous revelations on how to structure and run the church. God thought a formal church organization was important, otherwise every Tom, Dick, and Harry would claim to have "The correct" interpretation of the scriptures. It is entirely possible that the flawed humans that run the church have made, omissions, errors, and changes. However, these human frailties do not invalidate the organization that god established. He gave us ten commandments too, but how many people live those to their fullest? The point is, it is not proper to criticize the LDS church leaders. They are operating within the legal framework which god established. To say that they are wrong is to judge them, and that is above my pay grade. Anyone is free to leave the church or disbelieve. However, god did not give any instructions or mechanisms for a grass roots house cleaning in the church, aside from individual votes, and complaints to the chain of command. So again I say, it does no good to complain and find fault with leaders that god has allowed to tarry in certain positions. The way I look at it, if god doesn't like it, he can change it, or I can leave the church, or I can patiently wait for more instructions without disastrously striking out on my own and trusting my own limited understanding. To leave the gospel to the understanding of each individual and his/her precarious connection with the spirit is a disaster in the making. Look at us, BK...we both claim the spirit, yet are polar opposites.
It is church leaders who have said it is 'not proper' to criticize church leaders, of course they wouldn't want us to discern & warn others about whether they were preaching or practicing falsely. That's to be expected that they would say such things. All false prophets say to not criticize them. While true prophets welcome it and are greatful if you point out something they are teaching or doing that is wrong.
Christ himself condemned the church leaders of his day and the church he was born into. That couldn't have been a sin because Christ was sinless.
And Christ commanded us to also judge prophets and discern whether they are true or false & really keeping & teaching his commandments or not, I don't understand how you can think Joseph Smith did that. His teachings & practices were so contrary to Christ's, but they were pleasing to the natural man & much easier then Christ's Gospel, so many do fall for Joseph's teachings.
But I also believe God foresaw & planned on every Tom, Dick & Harry claiming to have 'the correct' interpretation of the scriptures, thus he sent his Son to give us the true Gospel and to use it to discern who really has the 'correct' interpretation. We will have that discernment if we truly live his teachings. If not, we will easily be led astray with everyone else.
Christ never commanded us to form a formal physical Church, just a spiritual one, where everyone discerns for themselves truth from error. For no prophet since Christ is so perfect that he can do that for us and not lead us astray.
For even LDS Prophets also interpret the scriptures opposite from each other too, (just like Tom, Dick & Harry) & yet each Prophet claims they have the 'correct' interpretation.
So again, which LDS prophet are you going to believe?
I believe life is a test, to see if we will fall for false prophets and falsehoods or not, so God wants us all to discern for ourselves and not rely on any man or men to discern truth from error for us or receive revelation for us. We can & must do that for ourselves.
God warned us not to accept seriously flawed humans as true prophets, they must be stalwart examples of Christ's teachings and keep all his commandments for us to even consider listening to them.
And yes, we both disagree, and I have found I have been deceived by church leaders on so many things, but as I try to study & live Christ's teachings more and only follow him, I believe am able to see through those deceptions easier.
If 2 people really lived Christ's commandments then I believe they would all agree on most things. If they don't agree then 1 or both is probably not really following Christ.
Have you heard the latest talk by Denver? Very interesting. Although he was talking about Plural Marriage, at the end he said something about, until we correct our mistake, the Lord will not recognize us.
Ok, so the point I want to put forth is that one statement has to be across the board. Not just with plural marriage, but with everything.
You should listen to it. It's very revealing, especially if you apply it to the whole Mormon movement after Joseph Smith.
I feel to congratulate you on your latest achievement. If you weren't doing something right, you would be being shunned.
God is your best friend, and if He is your best friend what does it matter about the actions of anyone else.
Love you guys and keep up the good work.
First of all, no one asked to be made a General Authority of the church. They don't campaign for it. They do the best they can, and they make mistakes. During the history of the church, mistakes have been made. Bad things have been done. Does the United States government tell you every time they send a hit team to some banana republic to kill a crooked dictator? No, they do not, and the church is likewise wedded to some of the unfortunate things of the past. Why is it so hard to look beyond the human frailties of church leaders? The Mormon church exists to teach the gospel, provide ordinances necessary for exaltation, and to assist the family. I think the church does a pretty good job. A falling away from pure doctrines is something that has happened numerous times in the history of the Earth, but you know what? I'm not going to panic and run around like a chicken missing a head. I'm going to support church leaders and try to help them do a difficult, tiresome, and thankless job. I'm going to strengthen my family, and live a Christ-like example. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about. Rock says that he is open to all sorts of ideas, so why can't everyone just mind their own business, not try to counsel the Lord or his servants (after all, the church stresses the concept of personal accountability for our steward-ships)and get on with life?
@FT, I mean Darren,
So those poor old fellows are only human, they are bound to make mistakes. We should just overlook the error of their ways. It's not like they claim to be leading this church by divine guidance and revelation. They're just a bunch of kind and cuddly, old senile fellows doing the very best they can to tell everyone whatever they believe they must to keep it all together.
After all, what does it matter if the church has indeed drifted into apostasy and are teaching for commandments the precepts of men. As you point out it has happened so often in the past, I guess it doesn't really matter if it has happened again. so what if it causes many misery and becomes a stumbling block here and there?
Those poor old business men are only doing the best they know how to do, trying to grow the corporation and invest your sacred funds into whatever will grow the Lords money. win-win!
This is why it is so important to build more and more expensive, extravagant buildings. We must project the image of success to the whole world, how else are they to believe that we are indeed the Lords one true church on the earth. What other fruit do we have to show?
"Those Mormons must be onto something, they must surely be guided by the Lord himself, they are so rich and successful, we must join to learn what wise truths they must have". lol
More like making asses of ourselves to the rest of the Christian world. I wonder how many LDS even bother to read the NT. Oh that's right, Christs teachings have been replaced by secret handshakes and magic underwear, now we can have as much nice stuff as we want and its ok with God forget charity, we have a work around. We can keep all our cake AND put it up for all eternity, ours is truly the privilege to live in a better day! We truly have found a better way. I think Jesus could find a better use for those funds then building abominations to Babylon.
I appreciate your response, but I had failed to appreciate how far you had moved from the doctrine and practice of the church.
What you're basically saying, if I have interpreted you correctly, is that you favour a cafeteria type of Mormonism where you can pick and choose the bits you like, reject the parts you don't, and emphasise the smallest tidbit of obscure data in order to build a great supastructure of doctrine and practice upon and around it.
You are no doubt aware that the scriptures instruct us to "go to the house of prayer" (not stay home) on the Lord's Day to "offer up thy sacraments" (D&C59:9).
I worry about you Rock.
"I will give you one of the keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives." (Joseph Smith)
I sincerely hope you do not fall into this category, but I am beginning to worry.
Hey Rock, Adrian Larsen here. You mention that I posted a transcript of my interview with a 70. I think you have me confused with someone else. I didn't have an interview with a 70 or post any transcript, though I do recall reading such a transcript from someone else.
Having said that, I applaud those who do record and post their interactions, and I also note a growing trend in response--requiring people to sign agreements not to record before the interview commences, or being asked to show their phones and "prove" they're not recording the interview. The church is evidently afraid of having these interactions made public.
Also, I can't make the link work to the remnant reunion information. It seems to be missing. Am I doing something wrong?
Wonderful post, as usual. Glad you're back!
The transcript w/ the seventy is with Brent Larson.
It would appear I'm confusing my Larsons with my Larsens.
A tip of the hat also to "me" for identifying the transcript as coming from BRENT LarSON and not ADRIAN LarSEN, and also for sending the link to the transcript. Mucho Gracias for the correction.
This forum is intended to be a place for honest give and take where believers in the Restoration can learn from one another. When you first commented here, you asked what appeared to be sincere questions, and I and others have responded.
But you continue to issue baffling challenges without acknowledging the answers you have received, and your subsequent comments appear to maintain a point of view that does not recognize the answers you have received. Instead you plow ahead making unfounded accusations and asserting facts not in evidence.
I have received some private communications suggesting that you are the same troll who was banned from this site. Could be. So I'm going to ask you a number of questions about the accusations you posed in your recent comments, and if you choose to return and answer them, you will not be permitted to sign in under anonymous. You, and only you, must register under a Google account and use your real name on this forum, otherwise your comments will be deleted. You may or may not want to return under those conditions, but nevertheless that is your price of admission.
I welcome vigorous arguments on this forum; it's a good way to learn. But I don't care for one-sided quarreling. Many who have gravitated to this site are, like me, faithful believers in the restoration. We are not swayed by your arguments, because we have come to question many of those very assumptions that cannot be validated through the word of God. So if your desire is to better understand the reasoning behind our conclusions, I welcome your sincere inquiries. If however, your intent is to assert your own position without bothering to listen, none of us will learn anything. Being "humble" means being teachable. You have so far not exhibited the kind of humility we like to see around here.
You made what would appear to be statements you deem to be true without question, but which I would like to challenge. My questions will follow.
1. You say that I, along with "Will Carter, The Toscanos, Adrian Larsen, Denver Snuffer, etc, etc, etc, each give a slightly different take on the gospel."
Would you care to give some examples of where we differ on the gospel? Remember, you're referring to different takes on the GOSPEL, not different opinions on policy, direction, Church management, and so on. I haven't noticed much difference between some of my friends when it comes to the revealed gospel, so would you mind pointing out what I have missed?
2. You further wrote, "To leave the gospel to the understanding of each individual and his/her precarious connection with the spirit is a disaster in the making."
How would that be a disaster? Didn't Joseph Smith say it doesn't prove a man is bad just because he errs in doctrine? Even the prophet agreed that Pelatiah Brown was dead wrong in his interpretation of the Book of Revelations, yet he rebuked the high council that excommunicated Brown and reinstated the old man back into the church post haste, declaring before the entire conference that Brown's interpretation was his own and shouldn't matter to anyone else.
So a.) What was disastrous about Brown's personal misinterpretation of scripture, and b)Can you show me where the scriptures warn against having a connection with the spirit, even if YOU think that connection is precarious?
3. "No one asked to be made a General Authority of the church. They don't campaign for it."
How then, did Brigham Young become president of the Church? Was he not elected to that position after a vigorous campaign? Or do you think Brigham Young was ordained to that office the same way Joseph Smith was?
After Brigham Young's death, the quorum of the Twelve, concerned about the "stiff hand" Brigham Young had governed with, decided there should be no president to succeed him, and for three years the church was governed by the Twelve as a body. But three years later didn't John Taylor, reasoning that he was the senior apostle, CAMPAIGN for that office? And after Taylor's death, when none of the twelve wanted to see George Q. Cannon installed as president, how was it Cannon was finally allowed to step in? Was he ordained of God? Or did he "campaign" for it?
4. You write, "At least the GAs of the church have a solid claim to management of the church."
How solid is that claim, Darren? The presidents of the church trace their claim of the keys of "prophet, seer, and revelator" all the way back to Joseph Smith. I'll grant that Joseph Smith was ordained of God to be a prophet, seer, and revelator. So was his brother Hyrum. But When exactly was Brigham Young ordained? What date did that ordination occur? And can you tell me who ordained him?
5. " I don't think it wise to take matters into our own hands, as far as the church goes."
Do you know anyone on this forum or elsewhere who desires to take matters into their own hands?
To Darren (Continued)
6. "If the church has lapsed into apostasy, as some have claimed..."
Are you referring to me? In my book, What To Expect When You're Expecting" I specifically state I don't believe the church is in apostasy, and I give my reasons why. So who are these persons you are referring to who claim it is?
7. You say we should "not be tempted by the host of charlatans that stand ready to fill the vacuum."
Can you tell us who this host of charlatans might be? Your strong inference is that you feel I'm one of them. Can you show where I or anyone else you know of as ever expressed a desire to fill a vacuum left by the leaders of the church?
8. "People look to a representative of God to help them maneuver through all the uncertainties of the world. Of course there are no shortage of takers, just look at Denver Snuffer."
When did Denver Snuffer claim to be a representative of God? Hasn't he stated that he has no respect for people who look to him as a leader? How can you therefore say he's ready to take that job or "fill the vacuum"?
9. "Denver Snuffer claims to have seen Jesus, and this may or may not be true. How do we know? Does the spirit tell us? What if the spirit tells me something different than he tells you?"
So what? Why would you need the spirit to tell you whether Denver Snuffer has seen God or not? Doesn't that experience count as a personal revelation for Denver alone? How then would you need confirmation from the spirit whether Denver Snuffer received an encounter that was intended only for him? Sure, Denver has told others he had that experienced, but where do you even get the idea anyone is required to pray for confirmation that it happened? Has he represented himself as the rightful heir to Church leader? Has Denver ever pretended to deliver a revelation from Christ to anyone else? If so, what were Jesus' exact words to Denver Snuffer? Can you even tell me what message he received during that visitation? If Denver had a specific message to deliver, in the specific words of Christ, he seems to have forgotten to share it with the world. I guess in that respect he seems to have something in common with the current "prophet" of the Church, who has not repeated a single word he was told by Jesus to anyone. And HE goes on TV twice a year!
10. "If we are not content to function within the framework the Lord has provided...then we are saying that the Lord has created a flawed system without checks and balances that we must reject."
What checks and balances did the Lord provide to guarantee that those in leadership positions in the Church would always remain faithful to His commandments? He provided us with the Book of Mormon and additional revelations so the people could check their assumptions, but otherwise did he not leave us all to our agency? Did he not provide numerous prophecies foretelling that the church would indeed drift from it's moor and wander from the pure doctrines He had originally established?
If America, the nation blessed above all nations on the earth, can allow its government to come unglued from the constitutional anchor that HE provided for it, is it not possible that the government of His church might one day also ignore the anchor of scriptures he provided for its management?
Darren, you appear way so concerned with denying and "correcting" other people's spiritual growth that you don't have your own eyes open to what is going on around you. All you want to do is gainsay other people's faith.
I appreciate that you have a testimony of the Church. Most of us here once had similar testimonies just as you do, keeping our eyes single to the glory of our leaders. We have traded in that idolatry for an eye single to the glory of God.
Rock, at first I was going to respond to Darren, then I changed my mind and decided he was so full of misinformation that he was not worth bothering with. He's obviously set in his ways and not the least bit interested in the answers you gave to his previous objections. I mean, the guy is so full of pride yet so ignorant of church teachings that he thought the doctrine of the mother in heaven was some fringe belief. Even when you referred him to an article about it in BYU Studies, he still came back and wanted to fight. I mean BYU Studies! What more of an authority did he need, A visit from the mother herself??
But then I realized a lot of new readers just as ignorant as he is might have believed the same hogwash, like that you and Denver and others wanted to change the church. We have no desire to tell other people how they should worship. We just want to worship according to our own conscience, as it says in our articles of Faith. So I am glad you set him straight rather than just let those accusations lie there where others no better informed than he is might think he actually knew what he was talking about.
I’m typically a bit late to the party. The more I reflect on your post, the more it troubles me.
First of all, there’s a passage in the BoM that goes something like, “Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall you continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them, and yes shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.” (3 Nephi 18:32). Now, independent of whether the LDS leaders in your congregation feel you need to repent, they’re OBLIGATED to continue to minister to you. I don’t think in the above passage there’s a clause that says, “except those who believe differently than you do.”
Next, I can’t help but wonder if the silent treatment you’re receiving has been directed from above. No, not from God, but from his satellite office in SLC. If this is the brainchild of a local leader – well, whatever. If it came from SLC as an unwritten method for dealing with inconvenient thinkers, this is doubly troubling.
I was recently assigned to HT a man who, after 10 years of activity, hasn’t been to church for 20 years. I showed up and almost the first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t want my name removed from the Church records.” He told me he’s been asked that many times. He was pleasant – not a mean bone in his body. Why someone would offer to take his name off, I don’t know (Ok, well, I do know – he brings down the numbers). Anyway, he shared with me his experience. I could only say, “I wish things were better now, but they’re probably worse.” I think my response surprised him.
Maybe, I need to approach the bishop and say, “If you have any people you’re shunning because you don’t like the way they believe, put them on my route.”
You know… were I in Church HQ, I’d give direction to your local leader to treat you with kindness: knowing that the kind actions would be reported on a blog read by a lot of people. What a great way to get good press! Why they think shunning you, knowing there’s a good chance that such action would end up on your well-read blog, is a good thing is beyond my feeble powers to comprehend. I gotta believe they have at least one or two people in the congregation with firm enough testimonies to stand up to the ferocious Rock W. What’s the cost of being nice and what’s the benefit? On the other hand, what is there to be gained by being anti-kind?
Sigh. I’m not the brightest bulb in the box, I know. I’m having a difficult time understanding.
What is being illustrated in what I may characterize as "TBM VS REMNANT" fights are really conflicts between competing paradigms. There are a whole host of assumptions which are not shared between the two groups, which assumptions themselves entail other interlocking conclusions. Because the foundation is not agreed upon, there is never a satisfying conclusion to conversations between the two - that is, there is never "epistemic closure."
There is never a "meeting of the minds," is what I mean to say.
1. The TBM begins with the axiom that Thomas S. Monson is God's representative on earth.
2. The TBM holds as axiomatic that all things whatsoever President Monson says is to be received as though God himself had said it.
3. The TBM also holds Führerprinzip as axiomatic.
The Remnant, on the other hand, currently are a hodgepodge for which there are no universal axioms other than the negation of #1 or #2 or both.
Because these are axioms, they are not "up for grabs." These are the starting positions.
And, in the end, the problems each paradigm solves are held by the adherents thereof as more important to be solved.
I know what the problems are that each solves, and I am saddened by the conflict. The Remnant ought to know better given its generally held goal of Zion. But there is time enough for everyone to see that conflict / debate / strife / disputations / contests don't work, if the point is to bring all to a voluntary union of understanding and acceptance. It does work, on the other hand, if the point is to gain status in whatever social hiearchy one perceives oneself to be a part of.
He that hath the spirit of contention is not of Christ, but is of the devil.
To the TBM - the railing, reviling, anger, and even hatred you perceive in the Remnant towards the Church is not, as you may imagine, sons of perdition seeking to destroy that which is good - though there is a diabolical spirit in it, as well - but it is the natural reaction to betrayal, similar to when a divorce occurs. These Remnant feel betrayed by the Church and have not yet forgiven nor moved on. They keep shrieking about the sins of the leadership, the shortcomings of the membership, because they want to be whole again, to be restored to the society of the Church, and can't bring themselves to simply let go. They keep harping on the inconsistencies of Church history and the divergence of current practices, teachings, and policies from the beginnings of the Church because these were fatal to their trust in the Church, like finding out one's spouse cheated on one. They want you to see what they see so that you will join with them so they will no longer feel alone and uprooted. There is also an element of pride involved - they're right and you're wrong, and they're going to make you see the light by the strength of their arguments. Of course it doesn't work.
To the Remnant - your reasons and examples and logic do not persuade the TBM because to the TBM, these contradictions are holy mysteries, like the trinity in Roman Catholic thought. While the answers aren't perhaps known, they trust that there exists an answer consistent with their axioms. So playing up supposed contradictions or inconsistencies or distasteful happenings just doesn't work.
It just doesn't work, folks. What does work, if voluntary unity, harmony, peace, joy, and love is the goal, is to do unto others everything you wish others would do to you. Which may mean leaving the beliefs of others alone, and simply doing good to them.
Think about it deeply, if you will.
Discussing, reasoning together, sharing opposing views, or even disagreeing, doesn't necessarily mean people have contention in their hearts or that they are arguing or that the discussion is not doing good somewhere.
People can discuss and even disagree with love & peace in their hearts.
Contention is in the heart of the person, not because of what is being discussed but because of their own spirit & intentions. If they aren't discussing to learn or to be open to new thought but just to preach and show they are right, then contention & pride may be in their heart, while the other person in the discussion may have only peace & good will and humility in their heart.
Christ contended with many and disagreed with many and taught very unpopular things, and many got upset at him, but he still didn't have any contention in his heart even if others did.
Also, we learn line upon line. Especially though discussing things with others, as long as we are open & teachable. When we read a book that is like reading a blog, we learn from other's viewpoints, things we didn't know or think of before.
I have learned so many new & vital things from Rock's insights, knowledge & blog and from other blogs & people online, far more then I have ever learned at Church the past 30 years, where true & open discussion about real things is discouraged or not even allowed.
So I believe there is much good that comes from these discussions, though learning can come slowly most of the time, new thought by new thought, that slowly expands our understanding.
I believe that there are many among the TBM's who are awakened & stirred by the reasonings here of those who highlight & warn of the inconsistencies of the Church and it's leaders.
What TBM's sometimes don't understand is that those who see problems in the Church aren't always speaking out out of pride, but often out of charity, with a desire to share the truth they have found and try to awaken souls to how they are being deceived & taken advantage of. Those who are deceived would want to be awakened if they knew how deceived they were.
I am so grateful to Rock for all the ways he as awakened me to so many falsehoods I had no idea I fell for through the years. So this blog is entirely consistent with the Golden Rule.
Leaving people to their deceptions is not doing good to them, especially if they are willing to listen in to different views. If people do not want to hear other viewpoints other then what they hear at Church, then they wouldn't be coming on blogs such as this one anyway.
I think you have most of us wrong. You must be confusing Rock's Blog with some of those Facebook pages where all the Ex Mo's laugh at and mock others for believing the same things they once did but now that they have all wised up, vent their hurt on others.
I don't think the point is to convince anyone of anything. I think pointing out where they are not following the Lords way in things and where they contradict the scriptures that we were given for this very reason, to prevent us from wandering off course (again) would be appreciated by those who don't seem to be to familiar with what they actually teach. We are SUPPOSED to judge what is being taught by our "leaders" by what is written in them. I would think most people would appreciate the truth being pointed out to them but Instead they declare them oppressive personalities, harass them and tell the membership to shun them. It's really just like a more passive-aggressive form of scientology, modern mormonism is a sort of scientology-lite if you will.
I have been shunned by this church when my family has been in great need of support and even by my own family for no longer choosing to believing some of the things they believe, and while it is truly sad, It really doesn't upset me. I have accepted that they just never were what they seemed to be.
I am sure there are people in Rock's ward and even "leaders" in this "church" that keep a watch on his blog posts and I am positive there was someone aware of what he was going through. Someone could have mobilized the RELIEF society to come to this, the least of their brethren's aid, but nothing. That pretty much speaks volumes for what this institution has degraded into.
What I have learned is that you can not expect to find any of Christ's true disciples here, even the ones who desire to be, are kept stumbling along by following the council of their "leaders" instead of the teachings of their God. I know this came as no surprise at all to Rock, that no one came knocking on his door when he was close to death and there was no one to help him or his wife.
I have discovered that morons are some of the most childish, unforgiving and passive aggressive people I have ever met, I'm sure it even gave some a smug little smile to know that Rock was in need of help and they, being in a position to offer aide were in a position to choose not to offer it.
As Christians we are charged with coming to our neighbors aide when we know they are in need. We are not to judge them because they do not believe exactly what we believe. Those who put on the name of Christ must follow him and live his example.
To anyone that would have came and offered assistance, it would have been as though they were offering aide to the Lord himself. But they would not. How sad it will be for such at that final day. How can they call themselves Christ's. How can you know the voice of the master you do not serve?
Those who value the truth of God above false fellowship will have to bare their own crosses. Even Christ who was greatest of all was falsely accused, mocked even slapped and spat upon. Are you greater then he?
True disciples of Christ do not shun their brothers when they are in dire need of help and they do not persecute and cast them out from among them for disagreeing with them on doctrine. I feel there truly is a sifting taking place, but remain faithful and persist in following the teachings of Jesus Christ even above those of the arm of the flesh and from following false council to stay away from those who are in need, even if it means you will run afoul of the "authorities" yourself. Ye ought not fear the judgments of man, but fear the judgments of God.
Remember, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".
Log, I wholly agree with you to a point, after which I find I divert sharply from your analysis.
You are indeed correct that the TBM and the Remnant have difficulty because they speak different languages. The classic True Believers are clearly under the spell of FuhrerPrinZip, and indeed freely admit that they are. As the term is defined in German, "the leader is above the written law." This belief is encapsulated in the mantra that "the prophet's words are more important than the standard works," a mantra that the True Believer is not ashamed to profess without apology.
(For those unfamiliar with the concept of FuhrerPrinzip, I highly recommend Log's post on the topic, "Pure and Virtuous Principles" found here: http://latterdaycommentary.com/2015/02/02/pure-and-virtuous-principles/ )
But here is where I depart from your analysis, Log. You write, "These Remnant feel betrayed by the Church and have not yet forgiven nor moved on. They keep shrieking about the sins of the leadership, the shortcomings of the membership, because they want to be whole again, to be restored to the society of the Church, and can't bring themselves to simply let go."
I have been involved in numerous and lengthy conversations with many who might accurately be considered prominent "players" in whatever you want to consider this awakening, and I can assure you that none of us are motivated by feelings of anger or betrayal over the sins of the leadership, nor do we have any problems letting go. We harbor no desire to be restored to the Church as presently constituted. Many believe the corporate Church to be a lost cause, beyond the ability to reform itself. We tend to believe the best recourse is for every individual to stop depending on leaders of any stripe. We honor no king but Jesus.
I think you are confusing the Remnant with those who have ceased to believe in the principles of the religion, who sometimes even turn to atheism, constantly cajoling and proselyting others to join them in their new found alternative "religion" of nihilism.
This isn't the case with the Remnant. Although some had crises of faith for a season when discovering the leaders are not as perfect as they had assumed, once they were able to let go emotionally to that which has proven to be hollow, what they wanted next was to be left alone to worship Christ unhindered by the extraneous baggage once loaded onto them in their days when they were more loyal to the Church than to Christ.
To Log, (Continued)
We do indeed speak a different language than the True Believer, but we have the advantage: his language was once our native tongue. We can understand him in a way that he is incapable of reciprocating, because we were once exactly like him, and therefore know the thought processes that infuse his beliefs.
Whatever frustration we may feel is the result of the constant barrage of attack from that quarter by people who are intent on returning us to their parochial viewpoint. A case in point is the missionary efforts of "Darren" in his several posts above. These people still pester us to stare at the ground with them while we're engaged in looking up at the stars.
Do we wish they would discover there is more to see than dirt and rocks? Yes. But they get angry at US when we even mention our love of the sky. To them, the sky is something we shouldn't even be looking at. The sky is dangerous. The sun and the moon and the stars could burn us; there is too much light in that direction, and they fear that if they were to look up even for an instant they might get burned the way they imagine we have been burned.
So instead they get angry at us for not staying down. Makes them feel safe.
We do get weary of others constantly haranguing us about how wrong we are. But we're not angry. Not in the least. The way I see it, those who return here over and over trying to dissuade us with threats of damnation are the angry ones. If they are not ready for further light and knowledge, they need only go their way in peace. At some point we grow weary of the disruptions to the conversations. Look at how many Remnant Facebook groups had to change their status to "Closed," not because they wished to remain secret, but because every time they started a discussion thread, they were interrupted by angry TBM interlopers who would disrupt and interfere. Although we are more than happy to share our views with newcomers, we sometimes have to stand in the gap and say "knock it off, please" to those who don't yet have the spiritual capacity to understand.
At the same time, we realize that eventually our detractors will come around. I am constantly hearing from new "converts," and it gives me hope. I am not in the least bit angry. What I feel for those who deem me their enemy is nothing but love and compassion, for it was not that long ago that I was one of them, railing against the storm and kicking against the pricks.
You should have seen me. There was a time you would have written me off as impossible to reach. But now here I am.
have you gone on a mission? missionaries are always looking for appointments because their schedule is empty most of the time, which means tracting/knocking on doors and getting a thousand rejections. missionaries love to visit members who will have them, as they prefer to work with the members. the only other logical reason for these missionaries to not even call the watermans back is because they are terrible missionaries who could care less about serving. every missionary is taught the importance of following up. a missionary who is interested in working would, at the very least, have called the watermans back and reschedule (because they might have a reference) or said that they were too busy teaching 100 people a day to fit any member family into their schedule (which wouldve been a lie, most likely, which is why they didnt do it). but no. they didnt even call. the only reason a missionary stops calling someo.e is because they believe they cant help them and/or are led to believe they are crazy or dangerous. since the watermans were nothing but welcoming, the only reason the sisters wouldve thought they were dangerous or pariah is if somebody else influenced them to feel that way.
- jebediah springfield
Dear Readers (Rock et al)-
I am addressing two opposing audiences.
I have accurately characterized how each sees the other.
I have sought to render the both understandable, in human terms, to each other.
You, who comprise these two opposing groups, need not agree that I have characterized your group accurately. My purpose is not to describe you to your satisfaction, but to the understanding of the opposing faction.
My purpose in so doing is to encourage you to lay down your swords and cease from opposition against one another, to more perfectly abide the law of God.
Zion will be comprised of those who are unwilling to take up swords against their neighbors (D&C 45.68).
If the Remnant is sincere in its yearnings for Zion, then the path it should take is clear.
Nevertheless, all may choose for themselves.
Unfortunately your attempts to mediate somewhat between the TBM's and the Remnant has, in my view, one fatal flaw....it's nonsense.
There is no such thing as "the Remnant". Just because some choose to refer to themselves as such does not make it so. The same can be said for the so-called "TBM's". The minute labels are applied, division is born.
Regarding Rock's latest article, I have to say that it is, by his usual standards, extremely poor and disingenuous. It appears to be a bit of a moan/rant due to the fact that some sister missionaries didn't keep an appointment with him. So what! Hopefully, they were out teaching or giving away Book of Mormon's instead. Why waste time on a believer when there are millions of non-believers to interact with?
Come on Rock, you can do better, much better, than this.
"I have accurately characterized how each sees the other."
That's where the misunderstanding lies, because you fail to understand what it is we feel.
You have lumped us in with the non believing former LDS. We are not hostile in any way towards the TBM members, we used to be the TBM, we have not abandoned the gospel of Jesus Christ, the BoM or Joseph Smith as a Prophet.
We have just come to recognize there is a lot of corruption of the original teachings and are searching for the pure truths as they were originally taught. Because of the loftiness of this church, the branches have overcome the roots that were good. We are NOT ex-Mormons or anti-Mormons, we are just trying to remain faithful to the original truth as restored by the founding Prophet of this dispensation.
There is no ulterior motive behind our questions, It is your own insecurity and fear that cause you to be suspicion about our searching. This fear has been planted by our "leaders" to control what thoughts you will open your mind to even considering (for your own protection of course). You are held hostage by the fear of losing your families forever. The fear of that possibility prevents you from even considering other possibilities. Because the priesthood "authority" now seems to be so freely wielding that scepter to withhold your blessings and cast you into outer darkness threatening you with eternal separation and misery.
We are not deceived by the "cunning tricks of the devil", neither do we "desire to live a life of sin". And we are most certainly are not lashing out in rebellion to the Lord because we have had our feelings hurt by foolish, judgmental members or a tool of a "leader" exercising his "authority" unrighteously as a bishop, SP or other. These are excuses you have been taught to think has occured within us, why else would someone want to lose their eternal reward, right?.. It's bunk. lol
We were told to NOT blindly follow anything but to pray for conformation of EVERYTHING, but because we have now come to depend so much upon a prophet, our minds have been covered in darkness.
I do not fear the threats of any priesthood leader, they are the ones being tested, not me. I claim no "authority" beyond exercising my agency to decide for myself. I will not allow any man to decide for me who I will treat as my brother, the Lord does not motivate or influence you out of fear and intimidation. These are the tools that men use to exercise their influence and control.
This church has a two fold mission, it disperses the scripture, and then provides the perfect proving ground for those who would desire the blessings. It is the great sifter. Those who are called to "leadership" positions are the ones being tested.
The only "authority" that the priesthood brings is the authority to serve others. Did Christ not have a fullness of the priesthood?.. He is the example.
"For who is greater, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves?.. Is it not the one who is at the table?.. But I am among you as one who serves".
"A good compromise leaves everybody mad."
"Robin Hood," if "Remnant" and "TBMs" doesn't meet with your approbation, maybe the scriptural terms "tares" and "wheat" might suffice? Or, perhaps, "wicked" and "righteous/just?"
I leave it to you to determine which group warrants which label.
The search for truth is not about compromise, It's about sorting between that which sounds pleasing, but is only the wisdom of men which may only cause you to stumble, from that which is wisdom of God and will bring you closer to him.
People have become spiritually lazy and no longer seek to find the truth, they instead rely upon a "leader" to tell them what they must do.
When we surrender that right and the responsibility to decide for ourselves, that which we must choose, we become nothing more then a cult.
We can not lay the responsibility for our eternal progression at the feet of any man. It leads to a darkening of the mind. we fall asleep and can easily drift further and further away from the true path.
Joseph taught to always seek guidance for ourselves from the Lord and to NOT blindly follow a "prophet",or we would be deceived.
Today we have been told that all the thinking has been done and we need only follow our leader and the brethren. They can not lead us astray.
This is a very dangerous choice and each of us must make our own decision because the responsibility rests upon each of us individually, we have been warned.
We are each responsible individually for our choices and spiritual progression, you can not just follow the herd and institutionalize your salvation(neither can you simply write a check and trust it to another to help you develop charity). it is required by each of us to discover the truth and develop a personal relationship with the Lord, individually.
Hello Brother Waterman, glad to read your latest blog. I suppose you are in better health now, I am glad for you.
This post is inspired by the Lord, or at least a considerable part of it; while reading I could feel the spirit that always accompanies truth.
About you “quietly being disfellowshipped” as one of the commenters calls it, this is of course silly and ridiculous, but also a shame and a disgrace, and indicating to where morale and respect in some LDS quarters (Utah I suppose?) has come. It reminds me of comments made by the Lord about persecution of His followers; written down in the four Gospels of the NT, like Luke 6: 22, 23; and John 15: 18, 19 and 23. I don't want to take too much space here; you could look it up in the Bible.
About prophets outside the “official” church, and also Priesthood outside (and even above) the church; that is in accordance with the scriptures, though few people know that. I feel that the same principle regards our membership. But we have to beware of false prophets of course.
About the idea of a “remnant”; long ago Heber C. Kimball prophsied: “There is a test, a test, a test coming” (yes, three times he mentioned the word). Was he speaking of our time? I think he was. A fact is that he was a great visionary man.
About the internet: what a blessing that is (as we use it wisely of course) for Mormons who want to know more than what we are being told in Sunday School, but who want to stay close to the Lord and to his Gospel. And how wonderful it is to find out that so many people are involved in studying these things.
Since the days of Adam, the vast majority of the people who ever lived have been deceived to choose or support evil, politically & religiously, despite that most of them were/are really nice helpful people most of the time, they just don't realize they are supporting or doing evil, for it seems so natural & right to our carnal minds.
That is why no society on earth, known to man, has ever been able to maintain true liberty & peace, let alone a Zion.
I don't know if Joseph Smith really saw or said this, but it's written that the worst thing he ever saw was a vision of the next life, where most people received a far lesser reward then they had expected and the great remorse & surprise they felt and that they did not merit Eternal Life.
Just judging by history, Christ's words & looking around in Churches, I would think the slim odds for Eternal Life would make people far more concerned about being deceived, then to pridefully think they already have it all figured out, while the other guy doesn't.
I have found that the more I learn the more I realize that I don't know, and the more I realize how easily & completely I have been deceived & wrong about countless vital things, even though I felt sure I was right my whole life. And the more I realize I can be easily deceived by even what I thought was 'the Spirit or 'a prophet'.
So it's not surprising to read Rock's post & learn that prophets like Elijah can become discouraged because it's so rare to find anyone who is truly righteous & awake.
It seems that most people do not want to really grow up. They want the perks of adulthood but not the responsibilities. They still want to remain like children and have someone else tell them everything they should do, & what is right or wrong, whether politically or religiously. Most people want Kings, politicians, presidents, prophets & priests to do the thinking for them & manage things & make all the decisions. It gives us more time to play.
For it's just so much easier, for most people don't like doing their homework, especially when someone offers to give them easy 'supposedly true' answers to all the test questions.
But unfortunately Christ taught that it's not that easy to get to heaven & that 'few there be' that find it, while most will not.
If we are righteous we will not need anyone to think for us & tell us what is right or wrong. We will be spiritually independent & willingly responsible for our own discernment, as Christ taught us to be.
Christ never taught us to trust or listen to men, or go to their churches, or give them our money to take care of the poor 'for us', even if they would do so, which is very unlikely. Christ knew that doing it all ourselves is the only way to grow & learn & gain Christlike love.
If we have the Bishop or RS. Pres. visit, comfort & help the fatherless, the afflicted & the imprisoned for us, how will we ever come to understand their horrible plight & gain empathy & learn to serve them? Christ knew we don't gain those virtues just by reading about the plights of others, we have to actually visit & serve them ourselves. We can't pay someone to do it for us.
Righteous people are their own prophet & prophets don't need prophets. They only need Christ.
It also takes a true prophet to know a true prophet from a false one. For it's impossible to tell the difference unless one is keeping all of Christ's commandments, and who really does that?
So, in our imperfection, the only safe thing is to consider ourselves completely deceived & work & study to find out how & why we became so deceived, & climb slowly out of all the deception, that we fell for from our well-meaning parents, family, friends, church & society or our own weaknesses & of course, the adversary.
To think we aren't greatly deceived is confirmation that we in fact are.
In log's defense, I want to say that he has been over at LDSFF where there has lately been more agitation and apparent-anger than normal. He has started several threads there, and I think the intent was to stop the contention.
I do not identify with the "remnant" because I don't fit Jesus' description of it in the BofM. I am a follower of Christ with no label. I like it that way.
Rock, I learned a great deal in some of the comments you made to this post. For example, about meeting in homes and partaking of the sacrament there during pioneer times. And the bit about bishops not originally being the father of a ward. Thanks.
I think my main take-away is that I should be studying the scriptures more (specifically the BofM) and praying/crying out to God more. And by "more," I mean a great deal more, as in hours each day.
May God bless us to figure out what contention truly is and to desire that peace above all else (once we figure it out).
Contention is to engage in contests, disputes, opposition, strife, debates, argument, proving people wrong, tending the motes in others' eyes, etc.
It is conflict. Me vs. you, Me Right, You Wrong, etc.
And it is a trial to me, because I am not yet perfect, to decline to engage in it, even to defend my own beliefs or positions, both here and on ldsff. I have to fight my urge to oppose all the time.
Indeed, as evidence that I am not yet perfect, one may point to my last to Robin Hood, above. It may be subtle, but perhaps someone might see where I have treated him perhaps not quite as I would have treated myself.
I believe that peace is only achieved once we, of ourselves, voluntarily lay down our swords, and let our opponents do as they will, even when we could do something about it. The Anti-Nephi-Lehis knew this, and put it into practice in the real world.
The peace of God is found not in defeating the enemy in others, but in overcoming the enemy in ourselves. When we have plucked all the wild and dead branches from the vineyard of our heart, and bear good fruit in ourselves, then we may have wherewith to assist others in tending to their vineyard, if they desire it, being able to give them good branches to graft into their personal trees.
Zion, again, will be populated by those who refuse to take up arms against their neighbors - it is good practice to refuse to take up our rhetorical arms against them online, too.
Of course, it's not gratifying to the ego, but the ego is something that should not be gratified - from my perspective, given the goal I have for myself, which is to follow the example of Jesus.
God's example shows that when we have truly forgiven the trespasses against us, we remember them no more.
To judge righteously means to leave all judgements to him whose name is Righteous. If we believe in the Atonement, all are always innocent.
". . . this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23: 6)
Folks ! Ya gotta stop with the arcane acronyms ~ explain yourselves, include an acronym reference table !! (What the heck is a "TBM", and others that I have forgotten ?) Meaning gets lost when you use these - not all of us are in the insider cognoscenti...
Howdy Rock -
Welcome back to the land of the living. Interesting post. So many angles and directions to go, and so many comments do, like mine probably will...
I think I know where you went wrong - you didn't do enough that was overtly out-of-Latter-day character. You just asked questions and voiced your opinion. You didn't do anything to soften the confrontation, like wear non-white shirts and bolo ties (who needs a noose anyway !?), and joke about carrying a cigar in your jacket ready to pull out and toy with when it looks like you're going to be in for a calling you might not want.
The beard and long hair was good, but you've got to add some of these other elements in advance so that people who haven't eyes to see nor ears to hear can dismiss you and your ideas and not take you seriously. Hide in plain sight, so to speak !
I gotta ask - where do you see things falling apart ? Up here in the Sierra foothills, it seems all stability, status quo, and nobody (except me) rocking very many boats. I guess I don't get out enough and I sleep through too many "let's read from the manual" Sunday School and Priesthood lessons.
"Remnant" seems too hopeless a nickname. And, it's too bad that the Roman Catholics ruined "heretic" - it has such an interesting ring to it. Which leaves "heterodox" as the closest and most accurate choice - meaning a dissident unorthodoxy, believing in doctrines/opinions at variance with official orthodox positions. Far better that, of course, than the "apostate" label so freely flung at those who ask uncomfortable obvious questions. Too bad officialdom and orthodoxy got hijacked by the corporate supplanters.
In your opinion you feel I have moved from the doctrine and practice of the Church.
If there is a theme running through this blog, it shows my my intent to move closer to the doctrines of the Church. That often requires moving further from some of its modern practices, which I maintain have proven undoctrinal.
You bet I favor a Cafeteria style of Mormonism!
A week or two after I recovered from my recent ordeal, I returned to the hospital to pick up the X-rays to take to my doctor. While there I headed downstairs to the hospital cafeteria. There was a variety of vittles to choose from, and I was struck by the fact that even in a hospital -an institution supposedly devoted to health and healing- there was much to choose from in that cafeteria that was less than nutritious.
So it is with the Church today. We can choose to believe those things that are true and good, or we can choose to ingest junk. Although sometimes at Hometown Buffet I have indulged in too much that is NOT good for my body, I prefer to feed my spirit only with that which I know to be pure.
I spent a lifetime living on junk Mormonism. Now I'm picking out the good parts and leaving the rest alone.
As for that which is not worthwhile, someone else always comes along who's willing to swallow it.
I believe your citing of D&C 59:9 is misapplied. The Lord instructs the Saints to "go to the house of prayer and offer up thy
sacraments on my holy day." But what "house" would that be? The word "house" varies widely within the Doctrine and Covenants.
That revelation was given in 1831. There was no temple (the revelation to build the first temple, the one in Kirtland, wasn't even received until the following year), and the Saints had no chapels. Would not the house of prayer be wherever "two or more are gathered in my name"?(D$C 6:32) That was what the house of prayer was in the primitive Christian church where there were no specially desginated buildings to meet
in. In the absence of chapels, the house of prayer would be any space dedicated to offering up prayer, which in those days could
mean a home, a room, or even a closet.(Matthew 6:6) If families partaking of the sacrament on their own was not the norm, why then was it considered a novelty when church leaders discovered some members gathering together in multiple families? As I pointed out above (the full story is in Daymon Smiths' "Cultural History of the Book of Mormon") church leaders thought that was a good idea and only THEN did we institutionalize the idea of weekly sacrament meetings where numerous families would gather every Sunday in a building specially intended for that purpose.
We should remember there is a difference between "partaking" of the sacrament on the one hand, and "offering up sacraments" on the other. On page 351 of The Doctrine & Covenants Commentary we are told the meaning of D&C 59:9:
"On the sabbath, the Saints should be in the house of prayer and offer up their "sacraments"; that is, present their devotions
before the Lord, in the form of songs of praise, prayer, and testimonies, partaking of the sacrament, and contemplation of the Word of God. All this is meant by the word "sacrament," which in its widest range, stands for any sacred rite or ceremony whereby we affirm our allegiance to the divine Lord."
Is it good to gather together with the Saints on the sabbath for the purpose of both offering up our sacraments AND partaking of the sacrament? Certainly. I would say it's the preferred method. If there is any historical purpose at all for "church" it was the purpose engaged in by the early Saints in the first century, who gathered together for the purpose of associating with like-minded individuals. But gathering together with others is not the only method approved by the Lord.
What if your family is living where there are no other like-minded individuals around? Or what if you find yourself in a situation like Connie, where she
is unable to go to the specially constructed chapel which is now an adequate substitute for the "house of prayer"? What does she do? Does she simply NOT offer up her sacraments, nor partake of the Lord's supper?
No, she offers up her sacraments in the same house she prays in daily. Our home is a house of prayer, as should every home be where two or more are gathered in His name.
In what I assume is a rebuke to me, you cite the following quotation which is often attributed to Joseph Smith:
"I will give you one of the keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle that has existed with God from all
eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way while he
himself is righteous, then know assuredly that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives."
I would point out that it is very unlikely the prophet ever said those words; in fact I'd say the unlikelyhood stands at about 99
percent. It was not recorded by Wilford Woodruff, the man who recorded every other word spoken by Joseph in that speech EXCEPT that paragraph. Willard Richards, who was on a mission in England when Joseph gave the speech Woodruff recorded, later copied the speech from Woodruff's account, and mysteriously dropped that paragraph right in the middle of it.
After the prophet's death, Richards is known to have willingly doctored many statements of Joseph Smith's under the direction of
Brigham Young for the inclusion of the official History of the Church. He excluded entire sentences, and added words the prophet never spoke. We are able to compare the words Richards put in the prophet's mouth in the DHC with the original sources, and the difference often reverses Joseph's original meaning.
The other scribe commissioned to that work, whose name escapes me at the moment, refused to participate in that fraud and quit, eventually leaving Utah altogether. I don't trust Willard Richards.
(For a thorough examination of the provenance of that alleged statement, see "History and Heresy" which can be found here: http://www.totheremnant.com/2014/07/history-hearsay-and-heresy-part-3.html )
But let's suppose for a moment Joseph Smith actually DID say those words. Can we truly attribute the meaning you intend?
It's common today to refer to "the church" as those in management positions. But Joseph never used the word "church" to refer to himself or the Twelve. When Joseph spoke of "the church" he was referring to the membership as a whole, as defined in D&C 10:67. He was very
careful not to give that term any meaning other than that, as the Lord forbade it in D&C 10:68. In fact, the Lord makes it clear that anyone defining "the church" in any way other than the membership in general would himself be "out of the way, and not of my church."
When Joseph gave the speech in which he is alleged to have made that statement regarding the high road to apostasy, he was speaking to a small group consisting of the Twelve and some Seventies. How much sense does it make for him to condemn the Saints for criticizing the leaders? He wasn't speaking to the body of the church, he was addressing only certain leaders. Given the recent apostasy from
the church by several members of the Twelve, it makes much more sense to realize he would have been warning these new guys not to get so full of themselves that they rise up against the MEMBERS, find fault with the MEMBERS, saying the MEMBERS are out of the
way while they themselves are righteous.
Robin Hood (Continued),
Pretty much every true prophet in history spoke out boldly against the LEADERS of the established Church in every dispensation,
saying the LEADERS were out of the way. If Joseph Smith did indeed speak those words attributed to him, he would have been doing what every true prophet has done: warning the LEADERS to to beware of letting their positions go to their heads. THAT, he warned them was how you enter onto the high road to apostasy; by believing your position and rank gives you privilege and authority over any other person in the church.
I would submit that would include a bishop believing members of the church in his ward are "out of the way" when they righteously partake of the LORD'S sacrament without first getting his permission to do so.
@Rock W. — “junk Mormonism” — Yes, I like this term. However, how far can you take it? This is what needs to be firmly established. Someone giving a lesson or talk in church that is ‘false doctrine’ (we’ve all heard this from time-to-time) being misinterpretations of scripture or mere opinions being exhorted as if it was, and things like this is, to be sure, ‘junk Mormonism’. But when a top leader speaks, i.e., a ‘prophet, seer…’ this should NOT be taken as ‘junk’, but rather *the* definitive ‘truth’ for at least within the context of the time and situation(s) it is spoken. What they speak is supposed to be ‘living scripture’; at least that’s what *they* have always taught us and want us to believe!
If you get too far away from what the current leaders at the very top are saying what we should believe, or even *have* to believe, then this is schismatic and you need to start or find something that is your your ‘brand’ of Mormonism, i.e., what is not ‘junk’ to you. What you are doing is usurping the current top leadership in the current church, which clearly delineates what is ‘your’ church from that, which is the one they stand at the head of. They are the bosses or overseers in the current church and this is especially germane if you believe that this is *still* the, or even possibly ‘a’ church guided by Jesus Himself.
You can’t have it both ways (be a totally, cafeteria Mormon) and remain a valid members of the Salt Lake City LDS movement or ‘church’.
The abbreviation "TBM" stands for either "True Blue Mormon" or "True Believing Mormon."
Since many of us here consider ourselves quite orthodox in our acceptance of the legitimate doctrines, it is not the most accurate description. for instance, I consider myself a true believer when it comes to the core fundamentals, i.e. The Book of Mormon, the Revelations given through Joseph Smith, etc. We could use a better term to refer to those whose belief system goes beyond the word of God, there is no doubt. But this seems to have become the accepted abbreviation.
"TBM" as used on this forum has come to refer to those members of the Church who insist on blindly following the leaders without question, whose allegiance is to the Church and its leaders above all else, and who are critical of those who do not see the religion on their terms.
Me From Cali,
I consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ as He defined it in D&C 10:67: "Whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church."f
That would appear to be the ONLY recognized definition of the Lord's church, as he warned in the next verse, "Whoseoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me; therefore he is not of my church."
Whatever legal recognition our community obtained when Joseph Smith organized the church in 1830, it was overturned by Heber Grant in November of 1923 when he reorganized the Church under corporate charter, changing the structure of its organization, its methods of procedure, and even changing the name of it to "The Corporation of the PRESIDENT of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
("How be if my church," asked the Lord, "except it be called by my name?" Good question. How be it His church if it is officially called by the President's name?)
It is this latter incarnation that I do not identify with. The Salt Lake City movement may go its own way. I do not concern myself with it, except in one area. The corporate Salt Lake City movement continues to represent itself as being the same entity that was founded by Joseph Smith.
Many in the congregation of the Saints are awakening to the realization that the gifts of the spirit that were abundant in the church Joseph Smith founded seem to lacking in ours. I believe the church of Jesus Christ is alive and well within the hearts of the latter-day Saints. The problem is this corporate counterfeit is running alongside it, attempting to take control.
That's why you may be correct when you suggest I can't choose to accept only the valid doctrines of Christ and still remain a valid member of the Salt Lake City LDS movement. The movement represented by the leaders does not concern me. I am not a member of that corporate body, and never was. Neither is any member of the congregation, as specifically implied in the charter itself.
Until that movement forcibly removes me from the congregation currently under its control, I will continue to identify with the congregation. When and if it does remove me, it will have no effect on my membership in the church of Jesus Christ. I still qualify for membership under His definition, and will continue to worship with my many brothers and sisters who have also been cast out of the synagogue.
I can appreciate how you might see my latest post as a bit of a moan and rant over the sister missionaries failing to keep an appointment with me. Many others have expressed sympathy, assuming Connie and I are swimming in tears of loneliness over being abandoned.
That was not the intention of my piece. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves, and we are not lonely. I'm well aware, for instance, that the lack of home teachers and visiting teachers most likely does not signify anything unusual. That kind of laxity is systemic in most wards of the church.
It was not until this highly unusual situation with the sisters became clear that I even began to suspect something was amiss. As Jedediah Springfield pointed out above, missionaries are HUNGRY to be welcomed by members the way these two were welcomed by us. Judging by the enthusiasm they had for us, you would think they would be at our door daily. Knowing how few opportunities the missionaries today have with non-members, they are spending all their time with the members. Under normal circumstances, we would be beating them away from our door with a stick.
Here in the states, the new program of sending missionaries out at age 18 for men and 19 for girls has been an unmitigated disaster. There are too many missionaries shoehorned into wards that already have two or more sets of missionaries with nothing to do.
They are discouraged from tracting, and told instead to develop relationships with the members. When visits to the members dry up, reports are often they end up playing video games in their apartments for lack of anything better to do. 23 percent are returning home after an average of 4 months out. These young people started out with boundless enthusiasm, but after realizing they are accomplishing absolutely nothing, and with the prospect of remaining in such a meaningless limbo a full two years, some decide they would rather go home so they can move forward with their lives.
There are known cases where missionaries, encouraged by their mission presidents to stick it out, have even confessed to sexual sins they were not guilty of, so desperate are they to be released from the boredom.
That's why when these VERY enthusiastic sister missionaries failed to return, made excuses, and never returned my follow-up calls, I felt something was fishy.
I met another pair of sister at Deseret Book, who were equally delighted to meet a devoted member who wanted to meet with their fellow missionaries. They excitedly took down my information and promised to deliver it to the sisters in my ward. They promised I would be followed up on.
Well, I wasn't. Do I feel bad we were unable to develop this promising friendship with these sisters? Yes I do. But I'm not feeling sorry for us. I feel sorry for them. I also feel bad about my bishop, who was aware that Connie and I did not attend regularly because of her illness, but was visibly happy to see me every time I stopped in to sacrament meeting once or twice a month because he knew how difficult it was for me to get away in the mornings when Connie needed my assistance the most.
He visited on occasion and we developed a real friendship. Once he brought an apple pie. I loved that guy, and still love him. Things only changed when he was alerted that I might be someone to beware of (he still admitted unfamiliarity with my blog). My bishop took his marching orders from above, and has stayed away ever since. I'm pretty sure the sisters were also warned away. I also ran into the Elders on the street some time ago and invited them over (these were new guys I hadn't met before). They apparently got the same memo, because they never came back.
Many others have also experienced this mysterious reaction once they begin to ask questions, or express skepticism over whether the leaders are to be obeyed without question.
Denver is right. There is only one doctrine left in this church, and if you refuse put this one ahead of the teachings of Christ, there is no place in this church for you.
There is no room in this organization for believing as you choose, It demands complete compliance with the official doctrine and an oath to confirm it's leaders divine appointment or the rights necessary to your eternal salvation and that of your family will be withheld from you and you will be cast out.
Sounds exactly like the Christ I was taught about as a child, the one who so loved each and everyone of us that he died so that we might be saved.
But, I guess that's only if you keep up on your tithing. Do not concern yourself with how we use it. That is the Lords business.
Our leaders wives deserve those anniversary gifts paid for with the lord's sacred funds, even if you have not been able to afford any gifts for yours for the last few years.
Our leaders deserve these "modest" perks for all the righteous works they do in investing the Lord's money into shopping malls and other investments, because the work our Savior always placed the highest priority upon was growing his wealth! (not the poor, the afflicted and the wicked. They brought that all upon themselves!)
How else could he have afforded to build all those fine sanctuaries and the many great and spacious buildings. How else are we going to grow and spread the gospel,if people do not see how damn successful we truly are?..
Don't you get it Rock? Financial success and wealth are the very "fruits" that are spoken of which always follow the truly righteous and the Lord's "one true church"!
I wish you would just figure that out already and get on board with the rest of us (the lord's favorite and chosen people), Geez.
If I am to consider myself a member of a ‘church,’ then coming to Christ and living by his precepts is the most basic qualifier, so in this sense I absolutely agree with you. There are other criteria for a ‘church,’ though, and I am sure you would agree that one of them is the concept of ‘community’, or as the Buddhists call it, the ’sangha’ where they are to take refuge; hence, there is 1. the Buddha (who would be for us: the Christ), 2. the Dhamma (the doctrine, precepts, teachings, truths of the Gospel), 3, the Sangha (the community of believers and practitioners).
It’s only my opinion, but if you are hanging around waiting for the Brethern to see the light, repent, and steer the church in another more appropriate, Christ-like direction, then what I like to say in a mock, Charlie Chan accent, “He who wait for fried chicken to fly in mouth, wait looooooong time.”
Right now it seems like you are in an unhappy place; I mean sure, on a day-to-day basis you are not weeping and wailing, but on a level of completeness—fullness of joy—being fully immersed in an active community of an established church (the people, the building, the events, the rituals, the ‘everything’ of what Mormonism used to be back in the day) is gone. At this juncture in your life, or I will say in *my* life, is that I moved on. “On to where or what?” you might asked, to which I would say: To a place where I climbed another sacred mountain, and in reverent communion, worship in a way of The Spirit of Christ as best as I can understand it, with The One that breathes out as I breathe in.” In essence, I have a fair degree of peace (which accompanies, or is a subset of ‘joy’), with the hope that one day, either in this life or the next, I will eventually find a ‘community’ (or ‘family’) of like-minded persons.
In fact, if you were to so-called, found or start a church of your own, meaning being able to come together with people who are on the same page as you, then really, what can be wrong with that? Where is the evil? Sure the SLC Mormons would call you and your group an apostate off-shoot of the real, ‘one true church’, but it is really still ‘the one, true church’? Really?! A church that excommunicates some of its good, upstanding, members, or pressures them to resign (“Get the hell out of OUR church!”)?
Listen, God, or ‘the God’ as for whatever your concept is of Supreme Deity is not so small-minded as to send someone to ‘hell’ for having a brain and coming to honest conclusions that worshipping and believing in the ‘old’ church organization is not working anymore. Whatever brings *you* closest to ‘God’ is the right ‘religion’ for *you* and that ‘God’, just as long as that God is Love.
Just my thoughts.
"Richards is known to have willingly doctored many statements of Joseph Smith's under the direction of Brigham Young for the inclusion of the official History of the Church"
This is certainly true.
For anyone interested, here is a really good recent post that covers the topic of altering the history of the Church, posted by the searcher
Hey, But... I AM a robot!;
You remind me of the song leader we had about a year or so ago in Primary, who when we would sing "Follow the Prophet" in sharing time would have everyone stand up and go through robot motions, pretending to be robots. After a few times of this, she was released, presumably due to her pregnancy (she did already have several children). Oh, and now the comment box is asking me to prove that I am NOT a robot!
But I Am A Robot,
I know you were being facetious, but it always surprises me when I come across members who actually do believe that the wealth of the Church represents the "fruits" of the spirit.
What about the bone crushing poverty of so many of its members? Don't they realize that some small part of that wealth the Church owns has come from the sweat of some of its poorest members who are directed to pay the Church first?
Where are the fruits for these poor souls?
Oh, I forgot. They must be doing something wrong or they would have received greater material blessings. Presumably the kind of blessings the Brethren receive from robbing these people's tithes for their personal use.
LR, aka Friar Tuck,
You know you are not allowed to vent here. If you have such a desire to expose me as a "stammering, stuttering, blabbering idiot," why not follow my previous counsel and start a blog of your own dedicated to exposing me?
Your comments will always be deleted here, before most people get a chance to see them, but no one can keep you off your own blog. Why not be a dear and give it a go?
That primary teacher must have been a blast! We could use more like her. Many more.
I've been asked if I think this church is still a good place to raise children. I do believe it would be if not for that one unforgivably false doctrine they are indoctrinated in.
Thank heavens that song did not exist in the church when I was a child. I never heard that teaching stressed either until the 1980's.
It seems, frustratingly, that we have a new fourth article of faith:
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are, first, faith in the leadership of the church; second, attendance and membership records in the ward geographically assigned to you; third, having a formal calling, position or assignment; fourth, holding a temple recommend and compliance with its requirements. And endure to the end of the meeting.
Me From Cali,
No, I'm not in an unhappy place; I actually feel very fulfilled. While I respect your decision to leave the church and find your own joy, I do get plenty of association with like-minded people on the internet, so I do have a community. Too many communities, you might say. There are currently more fascinating Mormon themed Facebook groups than I can keep up with. Any one of the several that are devoted to the themes of Restoring the Restoration or looking to Zion could occupy me full time if I were to concentrate my reading on even one.
I also find plenty of opportunities to interact with other Christians, and I and Amy assist with local Sacramento churches in feeding and ministering to the homeless, helping out at food banks, etc. I just feel it's a shame that my own ward won't keep me posted on service projects I could be involved in there, as I would prefer to minister within my own faith.
But we go where we are needed, and that keeps us happy and fulfilled. So no, I'm not unhappy. Puzzled, more than anything, I guess.
I hasten to add that I am not "hanging around waiting for the Brethren to see the light." If the prophecies in the Book of Mormon are any indication, that is not likely to happen in our day. The most any of us can do is worship God according to His word, and allow others to make their own choices. I don't think it's my role to save the Church from itself.
As I'm sure you know, Brigham Young did not consider himself the successor to Joseph as a prophet, and recognized that since Joseph's death we would have to all stand on our own before God.
“For the first time in the kingdom of God in the 19th Century,” he said, we are “without a Prophet at our head.” Henceforth, he added, we are “called to walk by faith, not by sight.” (HC 7:232)
We all get to muddle along as best we can. Fortunately we have the standard works to guide us, and we are all subject to direct revelation if we seek it. Doesn't seem to be a recipe for unhappiness to me.
As always, a very informative post. I've even enjoyed reading a lot of the follow-on commentary. It seems some people really get into this. They don't contradict, so much, what your original message said. They just have to get in their digs or post some epiphany they had while studying scriptures. I learned long ago that such arguments are not winnable. They're just pride battles. Take the pride out of it and you're left with differing opinions, experiences, or simple points of view. Its a diverse world out there. One can't expect the same.
I've grown up in the Church almost all of my life. I can't remember a time when it wasn't there. My Mom was baptized before I was 3. Missionaries knocked on her door and she was impressed how clean-cut and nice they were. I was playing at her feet and she later told me that the thought that went through her head when she met them was "Boy, I wish my boys could look and act that way when they grow up". Fortunately, she was taught by sister missionaries and became a very strong member despite getting boatloads of persecution from her side of the family as well as my father's side.
We are a diverse organization of members. I have known many who have only grown up in the Rocky Mountain West where the LDS Church is very strong and predominant in many cities and states. Members there hardly know anything else. Their family members are of the same religion and the same culture. Do vary from that would be akin to denying the formative years of one's life. It is among this group that I feel the most sympathy when they grow older and come into contact with history and experiences that differ from what they were taught in Primary, Sunday School, Seminary, Church Schools, Institute, and even on their missions.
But, that information is out there now that we live in a digital world. I've been exploring this information off and on since the late 1990's. I once read a news article that posited a likely fear of Church Leadership today. They don't fear apostates so much as they fear Google Search. Anyone today has libraries of information at their fingertips. If they take a little time and exert a little effort, they are going to find out a lot of information that they haven't been exposed to. Because of decisions made decades ago by well-meaning yet controlling Church leaders, many who have found out this information feel betrayed or lied to. Many of these are those whose comments I have read that seem disloyal to this Church. I don't know if it is disloyalty to the institution as much as it is anger in being manipulated and not trusted.
I came to your blog about 18 months ago after sitting through another distressing and opinionated lesson on the Law of Tithing given by a High Priests Group instructor who taught out of the manual and never let anyone else talk but himself. He spiced up the lesson with all of his theories and opinions but would quickly change the topic or lead the discussion away from any comment he found not agreeing with what he taught. I did a Google Search on Tithing and came across your Blog Entry on "Are We Paying Too Much Tithing". It was an eye opener. How would any member know about how the law was originally taught when Joseph sought answers through prayer and received the 119th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants? How would they know that Brigham and the other leaders changed the policy of paying on your surplus two months after Joseph died? Since then, I've read as much as I can of those articles listed in the right hand column of the blog. I like them because many opinions there are things I've never though of considering. Like many, I've just accepted what I have been exposed to.
I'm still an active member of the Church. I try to go most Sundays but I find myself getting disturbed over opinions taught as doctrines and the especially the expectation that everyone needs to conform. It flies in the face of my personal experiences of living in 4-5 different countries, learning three different languages, and experiencing how it is the differentiation in life that is one thing that should be the most appreciated. I'm glad people don't see the world the way I see it and vice versa. Instead, most men wear white shirts and ties, most will regurgitate the same answers in Gospel lessons that they have heard many times, and they'll sit through (maybe even slumber a bit) through General Conference talks that sound the same and pretty much cover the same topics conference after conference and year after year.
Those who have become uncomfortable probably go through the same symptoms as many who experience the loss of a loved one in life. First, they can't believe it. Then they are shocked. Eventually, the get angry and may act out. Ultimately, they find a way to accept it and move on with their lives. That isn't the exact process but it may be similar. Mourning the loss of one's innocence and how they were brought up (especially when bonds of love, friendship, marriage, etc are often tied into one's spiritual beliefs), probably plays a big role in the vehemence of some comments made here. They may see anything or anyone attacking points of doctrine that they were brought up with to hold sacred as a huge disruption in their own life and maybe that of others too.
Continued.....so sorry for being verbose.
Don't believe what I'm talking about. Then what is this conference that you have invited many of your readers to? Is that not an attempt for like-minded people to come together, socialize, and maybe make some friendships? One of the lessons I remember from childhood is "birds of a feather flock together". It's a human trait. We like to be around those who are like us. Its not a sin. I don't condemn the meeting in any way.
If not for you and your blog, I would never have learned who Denver Snuffer is or what he has gone through. I would not have put Jon Delin together with the guy whose Mormon podcast I once viewed on You Tube which comforted me greatly and helped me work through some questions I have. I don't understand the need to put people like these out of the Church because they simply disagree or have different experiences than Church Government Leadership in Salt Lake.
I think more people need to learn about these things so that they can come to determinations on their own. It is never good to hear just one side of the story. I mentioned in an earlier post that LDS people, as a whole, don't seem to be good at Critical Thinking Skills. We live in a world where our employers demand and reward this skill set. In Church, its expected that we put it aside and not use it at all. Believe the "faith promoting" rumors or stories as some want to teach us. I don't think everything we've been taught is wrong or even inaccurate. I do believe, as you have pointed out, that some scriptures have been changed, doctrines have been changed, and newer generations aren't being taught much but to "follow the Prophet; he won't lead you astray". Who would teach such a thing? In my experience, it is those who don't want people to ask questions or to think and make decisions on their own. They are people who fear, and not truly love, those that they are called to serve and lead. Its really quite sad if you allow yourself to think this way.
Continued...last one, I swear.
I cast no stones or make accusations. I quote no scriptures. I do remember lessons taught to me when young that "by their fruits ye shall know them". And the fruits of many of our leaders has not been that appetizing or appealing. But, they are called to lead a diverse group and I'm sure they do the best that they can. I'm sure they're good men who pray on the decisions they want to make. Well, sometimes at least. As I've grown older and a little more cynical each year, I see their weaknesses as much as I can see their strengths. Yet, I raised my hand to sustain them. Sometimes, they do deserve the benefit of the doubt. And sometimes, they deserve the scorn of my doubts when they try to manipulate me to doing that which I really don't want to do.
So, I appreciate the things you have written. I don't always agree with them and I certainly won't attack you on your own blog. I will urge you to keep up the good work and share the wealth of things you have found out. Why? Because there are a lot of us out there who haven't been exposed to these things. You know how Mission Field LDS people are. Many of us grew up thinking Utah and the Rocky Mountain Saints were living in a place like Mecca. They knew it and were exposed to it. Once we started to rub shoulders with these kids by going to school with them or serving in the mission field with them, we found out that they are just as screwed up as we are, if not more.
So, please continue to do as you have been doing. Its nice to have a diversity of opinion. Its nice to see something from someone else's perspective once in awhile. I can't believe 15 million people (only 30% of those who truly practice the religion) actually have all the truth and experiences that a loving father would want all of his children to have. What an arrogant thought it would be if one entertained that notion too long. Whoever God is, I believe he is not a respecter of person. I don't think he sends people here to condemn his children. Instead, he shows them in whatever way possible how to live better, be better, and to pass it on to his other children. That's just my own belief though.
It could be that Joseph Smith was a great prophet and everything that Latter-Day leaders have claimed him to be. But, its also possible, considering much of the evidence, that he is a fake and a fraud. One has to consider all sides, study, pray, and make a decision for himself, if that is what he is going to believe. I'm almost 60 years old and I'm still trying to do it. Some days are better than others.
So, for those who want to criticize someone else's opinion, please, lay low and calm yourself before you type your post. Better yet, start your own blog and say there what you want. They're free. I do hope that we can all be respectful and kind to one another. Maybe we can make attempts to treat others as we would have them treat us. Yes, I think I've read that somewhere. Anyway, thanks for your work and your words. You have taught me a lot, kind brother. Get better soon and have a great weekend.
Anyone questioning whether Brigham Young fraudulently usurped authority to manage the affairs of the Church following the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum would do well to read the latest post by "One Who is Watching" as linked to by the anonymous commenter above. That post is dynamite, and I learned things I had not known, such as that Sidney Rigdon had been announced in the Times and Seasons as having been ordained Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, just as Joseph and Hyrum were.
Whether one cares to accept that he possessed those spiritual gifts at the time of the succession crisis, (Rigdon was in very poor health) there can be no doubt that our Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear he was the only person in the church who had the right to PRESIDE over the church, a role that Brigham Young took upon himself with absolutely no authorization.
It would be interesting to know how different the church might be today were Sidney Rigdon given his rightful place at that time. It's a sure bet we would not be living under the shadow of polygamy.
It's interesting that the Lord gave us specific instructions for recognizing who was and was not qualified to take the reins of the church: "And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived," He said when providing the rules of succession.
But the Saints were deceived, easily swayed by Brigham's oratory. A good half of those at Nauvoo were deceived into electing him over the one who actually held the keys at that time.
Election by the people was as close as Brigham ever got to "rightfully" holding the office. He was only elected; he never did get ordained. God said that person had to be ordained.
The Watcher's blog is always well worth reading, and this one is essential. That link again:
Brigham wasn't the only leader trying to lead remnants of the Latter-Day Saint movement after Joseph was murdered. By the time of his death, Joseph and Sidney were estranged. Sidney did form the Rigdonite Church and I believe some still exist in Pittsburg. Lyman Wight, who ordained Joseph to the Melchizedek Priesthood in 1831, led a group to Texas. Brigham led his group too. His became the most successful. I believe the leader of the Strangites murdered him in 1856 In Wisconcin or Michigan. Martin Harris served a mission for them.
I read the other day there were around 14,000 people in Nauvoo when Joseph and Hyrum were murdered. That's not a lot. I never have read what percentage of them followed Brigham to Utah. I know Brigham hated Emma for staying behind. They don't write much about this in Seminary and Institute manuals. :)
That should read that Joseph Strang was killed by those who followed him in 1856. I can't remember if it was in Voree, WI or in Michigan. I hate typing on tablets.
Thanks for your long comment, and there's no need to apologize for the length. Have you noticed how many entries it often takes me to get to my point?
Regarding the supposed evidence that Joseph Smith could have been a fraud, I found that when you strip away all the stuff that built up around him, and judge him only by the purity of his output, he comes off pretty darn good.
The corporate Church could help a bit if it didn't filter everything through Brigham Young. Everything got very complicated after Brigham took a near perfect libertarian American religion and converted it into an authoritarian one that today resembles the Soviet model of management. We would fare better today had we stuck to the original pattern.
I think it was Voree, Wisconsin, Randy. And it was James, not Joseph. Don't worry, I wrote a whole post once referring to him as Joseph myself.
I'd have to go and look it up to be sure, but I believe Sidney and Joseph were reconciled at the time of Joseph's death. If he was the third member of the First Presidency, he was the one with the authority; the D&C makes it clear. Again, gifts of Prophet Seer and Revelator aside, he still had the authority to preside. Brigham didn't even pretend to have those gifts, (even denied he had them) yet he convinced the Saints he was qualified to lead them, and three years later elected himself president of the church.
My reading of sources (I'm sorry I forget where I read them) is that there were over 20,000 Saints in 1844. Most were in and around Nauvoo, but there remained branches in Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, and new converts in Great Britain. Some ten thousand followed Brigham to the Rockies, which left about 10,000 more scattered in branches. Some followed Lyman Wight, of course, and some followed James Strang. The others continued in the faith within their various branches until years later most congregated to the newly formed Reorganized Church.
It should be noted that a goodly number of saints who had gone to Utah changed their minds after experiencing the heavy hand of Brigham Young, and skedaddled back and joined with the other branches on the prairie states.
I did not know -or did not remember- that Strang had been killed by his own followers. I'll have to find out why. What I do recall is that he eventually crowned himself King of Beaver Island, out near Voree.
I should point out that Joseph once wrote a letter where in an aside he mentioned there were 200,000 members of the church. Some people accept that as accurate, but I'm inclined to think Joseph made a typo.
If it was 200,000, then only a small minority followed Brigham Young, because we know that figure to be somewhere a little over 10,000.
I agree that it is very unlikely that only 15 million today know about the 'true' Gospel of the LDS, I believe the 'full & true' Gospel is really in the New Testament, which most of the world has access to.
But for me, leaving the Church was like finally leaving an abusive relationship, having gradually awakened to all the abuses going on that I had been taught were normal & right. There was only joy, freedom, common sense & great peace once I left, no mourning at all, for I had already done the mourning all the way along throughout the abuse, when I couldn't make any sense of how the leaders were acting and what they were teaching & going along with.
And I too thought I once wanted my sons to be like the missionaries, until I realized that it's only a facade, innocent children just repeating falsehoods they were told to say, having no idea what they are really selling. Now I can't get my sons to 'follow Christ' for they can't let go of all the lines they were taught to memorize, like 'follow the Prophet'.
And I learned that the Devil is usually very nice, helpful, clean cut, charming & looks & sounds just like a Prophet, claiming all kinds of visions & scriptures. How else could he win our trust, obedience & money?
I appreciate the kind words and I agree with you that the blog post referenced is a really really good one. But it was not written by me.
Kudo's to the person who calls himself "Searcher" who wrote it.
What? I'm confusing "One Who Is Watching" with "One Who Is Searching"?!
Man, I'm getting dumber by the day.
What? I'm confusing "One Who Is Watching" with "One Who Is Searching"?!
Man, I'm getting dumber by the day.
Where do you get the 23% figure from? Seems very high to me. Certainly that is not happening here in the UK.
If there are too many missionaries in US wards, we'd willingly have them here. Numbers here are being reduced here over the next few months. We have 4 missionaries in my ward and in a few weeks time we will be reduced to 2. This is because the blip is now over and the numbers are settling down.
I suspect your 23% figure is inaccurate. Probably more like 2.3% if the truth be known.
I'm not aware of a single missionary going home early through disenchantment in this part of the globe.
I don't have a moment to search for that 23 percent number Because I have a video conference coming up in five minutes; I think I saw it on the Nearing Kolob blog.
If you google "18 Year old missionaries returning home early" you'll find several articles. That should be a good start. Try similar searches. I've read that in wards everywhere guys coming home early is become an epidemic.
Nearing Kolob has been monitoring missionary blogs and gets a reading on the dissatisfaction out there.
If anyone else here would like to refer Robin Hood to some sources, that would be nice. I'll look for that number later if no one else finds it for him.
Funny that the "fraudulent Brigham Young" kept the church intact after the exodus from Nauvoo,”
Using this kind of logic I suppose, then, Islam is also the ‘one, true religion’ because, after all, if it wasn’t for the warrior ‘prophet’ Mohammed keeping things together, chances are no one ever would have heard of Islam.
Me thinks this is called the ‘Fallacy of….’
"Sorry, your argument is non sequitur."
Me: Oh, yeah, how so?
Back again huh? What a pathetic clown. Do not bother attempting to engage him in any intelligent discussion or any attempt to reason with him. It is much to far beyond his ability. He really is only here to disrupt. I think he may actually be a converted Scientologist. Their harassment techniques are startlingly similar. But, this is what you attract/produce when you run your religion like a cult.
I see 'Anonymous' has been deleted (he should use an actual, unique moniker as what has been requested!)
My response, notwithstanding:
“Mr Waterman believes in Mormonism….I never said anything about…”
Okay, I can understand where you are coming from with this clarification. However, if it had not been BY who gained control of Smith’s church, but instead Whitmer, Strang, Rigdon or whomever else, the church would no doubt have been different (e.g., no polygyny, no Mormon pioneers, etc.). In fact, if BY had not made a sole play for top position, but instead, let’s say, brokered a deal with Emma Smith (and eventually her sons), then for sure there would have been no polygyny (but perhaps still Mormon pioneers!). Nevertheless, the BofM, the D&C (with perhaps many, many more Sections than the current SLC LDS movement), etc., would have survived as books of scripture.
In other words, although it was BY who mainly prevailed (even though there were other Mormon movements after Smith’s murder who had the BofM) we definitely know that the BofM (and Mormonism) would have survived until today because of Emma Smith’s movement—The Reorganized COJCOLDS (now ‘The Community of Christ’).
History could have gone in so many other directions, but it can only go one way, and this so happens to be the way it did go. I *very easily and plausibly* could have ended up marrying ‘Suzy’ who was infertile, but instead I married ‘Jane’ who wasn’t, and ended up having nine kids, one of whom discovered the cure for all cancers, or…. whatever, whatever, whatever. History could have gone in myriad different ways, unless, of course, one believes in predestination, fate, pre-determinism, etc.
Just my thoughts.
Rock I know you already deleted Friar Punk, because he has no business spreading his pus around here, but I couldn't resist responding to the little wiener just this once, his accusation was so laughable.
I wonder where he got the idea the church grew and prospered under Brigham Young? The only converts were poor immigrants from England and Denmark, most of whom had no inkling they were walking across half of America only to find themselves stranded in the desert as part of a religion that preached polygamy as a requirement. Polygamy was the very reason no one in America joined the church during his administration.
The destitute Danes and Norwegians had no escape, so stayed and made the best of things. The best you could say about Brigham Young was that the church didn't disintegrate. how could it? There was literally no place to go. Keep in mind that there were still active branches of the church back on the plains merrily going about their business living the religion without any leaders to speak of. Brigham Young had nothing to do with keeping that half of the church going.
Except for childbirths, There was no further growth in the Utah church once those few waves of immigrant converts arrived. Converts to the church from the states were virtually nonexistent, so convert growth stopped cold. The truth is that the church was stagnant under Brigham Young, it did not grow and prosper. Brigham Young prospered of course, because he was in the business of selling whiskey and tobacco he imported from the states.
The church as we know it only began to grow beginning in the 1950s, well after abandoning the false doctrines and iron hand of Brigham Young.
This guy is not only contentious, he never has any idea what he is talking about. Every one knows that growth and prosperity were the last words anyone would use to describe the church under Brigham Young. Everyone.
Or maybe, if the original saints hadn't rejected the fullness when the Lord offered it and had built a temple to their God in the time he allowed, they would never have had to wandered off into the desert following old king brigham, we wouldn't need to give credit to him for producing and preserving a counterfeit church.
It really comes as no surprise that The message of this blog and the intent of it's author would completely escape the type of person that could tell a terminally ill woman to "just hurry up and die".
I have no doubt that had you been alive in those days, you would have followed brigham young. As I am sure you follow those who sit in his seat today.
just keep writing out those tithing checks and practicing those tokens, we wouldn't want you to burn at the Lord's second coming!
“Do not bother attempting to engage him in any intelligent discussion or any attempt to reason with him.”
If this is what is referred to as ‘highjacking a thread’ then I can understand your frustration and annoyance. Rock has requested that no one post as ‘Anonymous’, so I don’t know why he persists in this. — Hello ‘Anonymous’, why don’t you comply with the blog owner’s request?
In any event, right now I’m not sure who I am communicating with!:
I think most everyone has a tendency of seeing and assessing things in very ethnocentric ways. Don’t you think that what can be and is said about BY being this great colonizer, etc., has equal merit with regard to, say, Genghis Khan? In fact, I would say that GK did far more than BY in shaping world history.
The west would eventually have been developed; think of Las Vegas today, (even though a few Mormon financiers were involved)!
Still checking on those stats on percentages of the new missionaries coming home early. I believe I originally got them from a former bishop living in Europe. I've sent him a message, but because of time differences it usually takes us a couple days to get back to one another.
Meanwhile I've been reading some of the posts about this interesting phenomenon. If you happen to do the same, don't miss the comments. Everyone has a story, and they're all very interesting.
I should not have used the word "disaster" earlier when writing about this phenomenon. These young guys (and it's mostly males returning home early, though I did read one account so far of two sisters from the same ward returning) have their reasons, and I don't want to appear to be judging them.
I actually see it as good news that the stigma of coming home early seems to be lifting somewhat. In my day (mid 1970's) it was still seen as better to return in a casket than to come home for ANY reason before completing the full two years, even for medical reasons that couldn't be helped. We had it drilled into us that success on our missions would translate into success in the rest of our lives, but it was also a "given" that if you failed on your mission you would absolutely, certainly, without a doubt fail in everything else for the rest of your life. Pressure was immense to stick it out, and I knew two guys in my mission who eventually cracked. One guy in the group I came out with tossed all his garments on the floor in the middle of the living room and set them on fire. He got sent home, but had to live under the stigma of mental illness. Back then society didn't have the tolerance for such a diagnosis, and to the rest of us we would rather have a millstone tied around our necks and thrown in to a river than to go back to our home wards with everyone knowing we were insane.
A mission is a difficult thing to stick out under any circumstances. A lot of guys kept going motivated only by fear. Today it seems that often returning home early is thought of no differently than had they taken a job that didn't work out, or deciding to quit school and try something else. That's gotta be a better way of viewing things than how it was in my day.
If there's a "problem": with it all, according to the general consensus, that problem is that fresh out of high school never having been away from home is just too soon to take on grown up responsibilities that require a lot more maturity. As one writer put it, these kids kids are better prepared to teach the gospel than ever, but far less prepared for missionary work.
I should mention that when I left on my mission, I had turned 21 six months before, had traveled quite a bit with my work, and had lived on my own. Everyone other missionary I lived with was 19 and fresh out of home where their mothers made their meals and washed their clothes. One or two may have had a semester away at school, but kids that age have no clue how much they had still been depending on their parents for the basics.
At age 21 my prefrontal cortex was not yet fixed, so I was not the picture of maturity myself, but man, there was still a palpable difference between me and some of the guys I was paired with as far as the ability to function on one's own. The average 19 year old is still a babe in the woods. I think the greatest challenge to mission presidents and their wives is that a lot of their efforts are expended just dealing with this army of kids who have difficulty making proper life decisions. They don't call them mission "parents" for nothing. Most of their responsibility comes down to being babysitters.
Okay, Robin Hood, here's the reply I just got from my bishop friend in Europe. Please note that the examples he gives are not restricted to European missionaries. He is an American currently spending time temporarily overseas. This is a topic that greatly interests him, and I would say he has his pulse on it. From our earlier conversations I'd say he is referring mostly to missionaries from the Mormon Corridor of Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and California:
"I don't recall the exact number I read or heard. I have heard that 50% or more are coming home after their missions and are going inactive and that only 10% are actually coming back to the church. I've heard the vast majority are still identifying as Mormons but for whatever reasons are not wanting to go to church... Now those are numbers I've gotten from someone whose name I can't share who has COB connections."
"The missionaries coming home - I have seen this a lot personally. Lots of sisters and elders. I don't know any numbers but one friend had like 10 kids come home in his stake alone during a relatively short period."
So the 23% figure is pure conjecture then. I suspected as much. A bit shoddy if I may say so Rock.
I read the Times & Seasons article and had to chuckle a little. What's the matter with 18 year old Americans? We have been serving missions at 18 here in Europe for decades. I myself went into the mission field aged 18 years and 33 days, 36 years ago!
My ward has regularly sent out 18 year olds, and none have ever come back early.
When the age reduction announcement was made, it wasn't really a big story here. In fact, President Monson acknowledged the practice had been going on for some time already in Europe, without any problems.
So if there are problems now the Americans are doing it, the question is... why?
What makes the European and American experience so different? Why are British/European 18 year olds able to cope with something that, if the reports are to be believed (and I'm not entirely sure they can be), American 18 year olds can't?
Is it a "national cultural" thing or a "church cultural" thing?
I would be interested in any comments.
No, Robin Hood, the 23 percent number is not speculation, at least not on my part. If anything, I may have hit low, as the numbers stuck in my head at either 23 or 32. I could not remember, so I went with the lower figure to be safe. But I did see it in writing and what recall it was in a reliable site such as the Tribune, Huffington Post, or some such journal of reporting. It's possible the percentage did not refer to church wide. It could have been in reference to the U.S, or one particular ward or stake. The point is, those numbers are unprecedented, and only began showing up after they changed the missionary age.
I haven't had time to track down every single online source that referred to this phenomenon because there are so many. That's why I took the shortcut and asked someone I knew who had first hand experience if he recalled where those numbers came from. This high "failure rate" was the subject of a LOT of buzz when the news first started breaking; it's been discussed all over the Mormon Facebook groups. That's why I was surprised to learn it was news to you. There is an abundance of discussion on it; so much that it's not easy knowing where to start the search.
But I stand by those figures as having come, to my knowledge, from a reliable source. I didn't just make them up. Keep in mind that my friend who replied said the figure he got from a source within Church headquarters put the figure at closer to 50 percent, which I assume refers to churchwide, and not isolated to a single stake or ward. But as you would have seen in reading the comments on some of the sites, nearly everyone confirms it happening in their wards. In my day, as well as yours, it was a very rare thing for a missionary to return home early. The one time I recall it happening in my stake, the missionary was sent home for moral digressions. The father was on the stake high council and the family moved our of the stake out of shame and embarrassment. And no one thought it unusual that they did. That's how big a deal this sort of thing used to be on those rare occassions when it occurred.
If anecdotal evidence is any indication, this propensity to quit and come home early may very well be A U.S. phenomenon as you suggest, which may be why you don't seem to be seeing it in the UK.
From the many commments following the sites that have addressed it, one would surmise that being suddenly cut off from use of cell phones, computers, games, and other devices is what really causes the culture shock. Add to that those who suggest that American youth are often coddled and unused to striking out on their own at that young age, and there you have it. It's easy to conclude that a missionary sitting around with nothing to do might realize he is wasting his time, and decides if he's going to waste his time why not waste it the way he is accustomed to wasting it?
Again, as the quotation goes, these young people are more prepared than ever to teach the gospel, but far less prepared for missionary work.
As for around me here in Utah I have known some male missionaries come home early in my ward & area, one very close to me. My kids are that age range so I see alot of these things with their friends. I believe far far more kids would come home if they weren't so pressured to feel they had to stay, no matter how unhappy & miserable they were.
It is just not right to pressure such young kids into doing something so difficult that most adults wouldn't want to do, leave home & family for 2 years, put dating, marriage & education on hold and live in appalling places & often suffer greatly because of it.
Missions should be much more open & free choice and no pressure involved.
But I see an even greater problem around here with sister missionaries. With the lower age for sisters I believe it is pressuring many to go on a mission when they really don't want to. I saw this with relatives & girls I personally know. They either finally spoke their minds & choose not to go 'after' they got their call or some have gone because they felt pressured to go because of parents & ward & friends expecting it now, and so they went, though admitted that is why they went, when they really didn't want to. I felt so bad for them, for missions are very difficult even when one 'wants' to go. I can't imagine feeling forced to go & not free to express your true feelings.
I served a mission and enjoyed alot of it (of course though I went to one of the world's leading tourist destinations, Italy, so who wouldn't enjoy it), but there were many aspects about my mission & missions in general that I felt weren't right or wise even at the time. I was much older then the kids today I was 22-23 when I went & far more prepared to be away from home & speak up for myself.
While I love the idea that everyone should be sharing the Gospel, including older children, I believe it would be far better all around if young people would do so from home or close to home or at least much shorter segments of time away from home and be allowed to contact home as much as desired. And be able to continue dating and education while they act as missionaries other times during the week. And absolutely no pressure for length or leaving home to somewhere far away.
It's almost like the Church is isolating the kids from anyone who could speak up for them when things aren't right.
Now as a mother of past or present missionary age kids, and with more knowledge & understanding of the real truth about the church & it's leaders, I feel missions are not a wise thing as presently conducted.
I now believe that missions can be and often are harmful & destructive to those young people who go & who are away from the care & help of family for so long. From things like 18 often being too young for boys to leave home, especially being so pressured to conform & not speak freely about true feelings and not being allowed to call or talk to family or return home regularly like kids do who go away to college.
I also don't believe the kids are properly looked after, often having to live in substandard places, (while the mission president of course doesn't) and being so young and pressured to go along with whatever negative happens because they want to be seen as a 'good' missionary.
I have been appalled at some of the things that happened on the missions of my sons & son in law. One almost died a few times because he was so sick (where parents probably would have brought him home) & he would't come home because he was made to feel that wouldn't be 'valiant'. So now home & married, he has lingering serious health problems because of his mission.
My other son had a case of ingrown toenails & had to have his toenails ripped out by a Doctor with no numbing to his toes, when the Dr. had the numbing medicine but no one spoke up for my son to let him know he had the option, so he just endured the torture. He was not looked after as parents would or would want & expect.
My son also said that almost everyone who is baptized did not continue to come to Church after a few weeks or months, despite his mission being known that year as the 'world's highest baptizing mission', the Church just doesn't talk about the falling away rate. And my son also greatly disagreed with the way missionaries were told to get people to be baptized, before they even had testimonies. My son refused to do it & even talked to the MP about it, who had to admit it wasn't right. But they got to be the world's best in baptisms so I guess that's what counts, not truth or true conversion.
My other son said & recounted his exposure to far more negative things on his mission, from 'other elders' he had to live with, then he had ever witnessed or experienced all growing up. He said most of his companions were not there to work, just there because of pressure to go on a mission.
There are so many other aspects also (like the financial hardship on many families) that often make missions a negative or destructive thing that as a mother if I could choose I wouldn't want any of my children to go or have gone, but would prefer they spread the 'real' Gospel of Christ here at home, or while at college or working, amid getting their education & dating or even as married couples.
I now feel so bad for kids going on missions, totally unaware of what they will have to endure, while not feeling free to refuse or do much about.
I now believe some of the strongest ones are standing up for themselves & are choosing to come home early.
I think the whole program is a disaster. I think missions are ment more to isolate and indoctrinate the missionary,(kinda like a boot camp for future tithe payers).
When the church sends out youg men encouraged to act like car salesmen and places it's emphasis (overzealously) on numbers over conversion and before people are truly ready and committed to abandoning their previously held traditions and belief's (because they didn't know they would had to, or would not be willing to abandon them) they tend to bring with them these false traditions and corrupting doctrines into the fold (Jacob 5:48). Many, later feel "tricked" into joining anyway, before learning about our past and truly understanding our doctrines and wind up leaving anyway feeling betrayed and foolish, resenting the mormons for pulling one over on them. Many give up their faith all together.
I have never understood the reason for spending so disproportionally on the Missionary Program and not concentrating investments and spending in retention. I serve as a Ward Employment Specialist and applaud the Church for the programs they have set up for members with these needs. They are very wrll done. And hats off for Welfare Missionaries who serve and train people in job searching and interviewing skills.
But I believe tradition more than anything else forces us to continue to emphasize 1.5 - 2 years of voluntary service for young men and women than any return that convert baptisms brings to Church growth. Most of that seems to now come from baptisms of those raised in LDS households than those retained through conversion and staying with their new religion.
I don't know the exact figures but I believe one reason for decreasing the missionary age was due to the rate of retention of returned missionaries. Yet, I have seen few if any, statistics of the retention rate of returned missionaries who quickly entered college or career training soon after returning home. My guess that those rates are even higher. Perhaps that was a reason for lowering the age. Get them before they go off to college and get involved in something that would prevent them from serving a year later. That's just my guess.
I believe money gathered and spent would be better used retaining those they have than constantly fishing for new coverts who have a falling away rate somewhere around 90% in some countries I have lived in. Institutes of Religions at many State Universities are a benign attempt. I believe we need more schools such as Virginia Southern that are private schools with an LDS emphasis but are NOT church run. BYU is now too large and too exclusionary. I think the average GPA of this year's Freshman class was 3.8. If you are a GA's kid, tuition, room and board are free. We need to invest money in retaining everyone's kids and not those born into the families of Church leaders.
As for missionary service, it can be a growing up experience and one that helps retain strong values for those who work diligently. I just don't think today's 18 year old boy has it. I think young women are fine at 19. But why are the ages for young men and women different? Its my experience that young women at 19 are much more mature than their 19 year old male counterparts. I just shake my head at some of the foolish things that I see 18 year old missionaries do and say now. The 19 year old sisters I have met are fine. I imagine both sexes struggle with homesickness and the trials of mission life though. I was 21 when I served. Like you, I had travelled and lived on my own for a couple of years. There is a big difference in the maturity level of an 18 year old male from the 70's than an 18 year old male today. To me, they aren't even close.
One more comment and I am done for today. The only financial information we have seems to be from conjecture in regards to Missionary program vs. Education and career development. As you pointed out often, the Church had decided to not be transparent to their membership on how they spend the donations of their members. This is in spite of doing everything by common consent.
People of the world. Follow my inspiration. I will lead you if you but follow me and let me into your hearts.
I am God.
Well Jamie Barry, I'm in.
I recall reading that when a man appears on the scene who has the ability to lick his own elbow, it's a sign we have found the One Mighty and Strong.
And The One Remarkably Flexible.
It's in the D&C.
That was good stuff! Thumbs up if it isn't a central European computer virus infector.
Oh dear Rock.
You haven't got a source for the 23% figure; even if you could find it you don't know if it's related to just one stake/ward/mission etc; your European bishop friend has heard "something" but doesn't know any more than that (he certainly won't have 23% or 50% of his missionaries coming home because chances are there are probably no more than one or two out at a time from his ward - which is typical in Europe - in fact that is above average); so the whole claim is spurious at best!
You suggest that the reason all these missionaries are going home is that they can't cope without iphones, ipads, and computer games. Is there some magical cut-off at age 19? Somehow the digital world becomes less significant then? Or maybe you don't think European 18 year olds have access to such things? They're all yokels.
Have to say Rock, this is very shoddy indeed and I am more than a little disappointed with your research. In fact to be honest my friend "research" is over-egging it a tad methinks.
When I first came to this blog I was blown away by the well presented and seemingly well research articles. The arguments were fair, well thought out, measured, and in most cases reasonable and thought provoking. What happened?
Is it just that you're running out of material or have you been overcome by the whinging classes, or as President Hinckley labeled them, "the gifted pickle suckers". Perhaps too much attention is paid to the band of sycophants who encourage you.
So what if the sister missionaries didn't call back. So what if the bishop or WML has told them not to bother with you but focus on others! Why are you so easily offended? In fact, given that you have basically developed your own brand of the faith - Watermanism (complete with your very own Rameumptom) - why would you want any contact with the "apostatizing" church anyway?
Seems to me the church is damned if they do and damned if they don't. As Dale Carnegie so accurately remarked "Any fool can criticize and most fools do".
Please Rock, for crying out loud, stop this madness. Go back to writing good articles about real issues and with real research rather than the hearsay you appear to be serving up these days. Go back and look at your earlier articles and then compare them with your later ones and you'll see exactly what I mean.
In this part of the world we have a saying, "when in doubt do nowt!" I suggest a slight modification, "when in doubt say nowt". Unfortunately it appears, for me at least, your credibility depends on it.
I've been wrong about a lot of things my whole life, and will freely admit to my errors. But I'm sticking to this report. It is obvious from the many reports coming in from all over that an EXTRAORDINARY number of missionaries are coming home early, as typified by any number of online reports about it. This one on on the Times and Seasons website has a telling headline: "Salt Lake City, We Have a Problem."
If I gave the impression I was reporting this from personal experience, then I did not make myself clear. I don't know a one of these returning elders and sisters; but it should be evident from the massive amount of online commentary that it's reached pandemic proportions. I was remarking on this buzz, and reporting on it. From the preponderance of evidence, it looks to me like we do indeed have a problem. I considered posting about it myself, but frankly it has been talked to death already. I'm surprised you are just now hearing about it.
I'm also concerned about what's going on. If you are of the impression I'm somehow gloating about one more failure of the corporate Church, then you are reading me wrong. This is a problem I find alarming, but it is one of many problems that results when men pretend to be operating a Church guided directly by God, then make decisions that effect the lives of others without first obtaining a revelation from God to do so.
Commenters have already come onto this site to share their personal experiences in this matter, and if you were to simply enter a few words into a search engine you would be overwhelmed yourself by the number of articles discussing this current tragedy. You would be overwhelmed again by reading the personal experiences of hundreds of others found in the comments following these articles.
I thought I made it clear that some of the reasons put forth for why these kids were having trouble hacking mission life were the conjecture of others and not my personal observations or views. I have reported to you some of the things I have read. These writers have not speculated on whether British kids have an unusual dependence on electronic devices, they have merely suggested that SOME American kids grow up spoiled and may have difficulty cutting their dependency on tools they spent their entire lives with.
Based on what I am seeing and hearing, I think the 23 percent number is conservative. My recollection is that the source was as near official as possible given a Church that is notorious for its lack of transparency in areas not complimentary to its operations. I'm almost certain I got that number 23 from a source who posted it on one of the many Facebook LDS themed groups. You are correct that this phenomenon of missionaries coming home in greater numbers than ever is hearsay. I've heard it said many times. You would appear to be one of the few members of the church not only unaware of this, but who refuses to believe any such thing is taking place only because it does not appear to be happening in your ward.
To tell you the truth, I stopped searching for that particular source because I simply didn't have time, and don't believe it's worth the effort needed to find it. I don't know how to pull old threads off of Facegroup, and wouldn't have the time to wade through them if I did. You are straining at a gnat in insisting I prove that number exists. The bigger issue is that the phenomenon is real. It's unfortunate. It borders on the catastrophic. And I agree with others who say it is the result of an uninspired Church policy.
Robin Hood, (Continued)
In one respect I understand your skepticism about these numbers. From the standpoint of you and I at our older age, it would not seem that a young man of 18 is that much different from one of 19. Apparently there is a world of difference. Eighteen years old is just too young for a substantial number of kids to be given that level of responsibility and be required to leave home on their own for that length of time. Particularly when the Church attempts to cut off nearly all personal communications with home and family. What's wrong with a missionary receiving a video feed communication from his loved ones? Why does Church headquarters forbid close communications?
I would remind you that those returning do not represent the majority. But it seems like a substantial minority to me; substantial enough to warrant some concern.
I was surprised to see you quote Dallin Oaks as one who teaches we should "assume without question that everything spoken at conference or printed in a Church publication comes to us as if directly from the mind of God". So I looked up the source you provided and here is the quote in context, "Some wonder how members of the Church accept a modern prophet’s teachings to guide their personal lives, something that is unusual in most religious traditions. Our answer to the charge that Latter-day Saints follow their leaders out of 'blind obedience' is this same personal revelation. We respect our leaders and presume inspiration in their leadership of the Church and in their teachings. But we are all privileged and encouraged to confirm their teachings by prayerfully seeking and receiving revelatory confirmation directly from God." So we see that what Elder Oaks actually teaches is, out of respect to our leaders, we presume they are inspired, but that we are encouraged to prayerfully seek confirmation from God that what our leaders teach is indeed inspired of Him. So the presumption of inspiration is subject to revision depending on whether confirmation by the Spirit is received. This seems quite different from the impression given from your quotation of his words taken out of their context.
I also read the article from which you took the Randall K. Bennett quotation. In this article Elder Randall makes it abundantly clear that they were led by the Spirit to follow the counsel of the Brethren regarding self-reliance in general and food storage in particular. Once again you pluck particular words out of context to make it appear Elder Randall is advocating something he is not. He gave reasons why he and his wife have been blessed by following the counsel of the prophet, and these reasons include that the prophet's counsel was confirmed to them by the Spirit.
I happen to agree with you that Elder Randall's statement that "we have the Lord’s personal promise that the prophets will never lead us astray" is inaccurate. What we have is (and Elder Randall cited references) modern prophets' statements to the effect that the Lord will never allow the prophet to lead the church astray. So, while Elder Randall misspoke on this one item, I believe it was ungenerous of you to "conclude that Elder Randall K. Bennett is full of crap up to his eyeballs."
You and others such as Denver Snuffer who continue to insist that the current church leadership demands uncritical obedience to everything they say, are simply wrong. You have supported this position by taking church leaders' statements out of context and by quoting Denver Snuffer's unsupported assertion from his Only One Doctrine Left blog. I sent an E-mail to Denver about this assertion of his and asked for references to support it. He responded saying he could give quotes from General Conference talks, presumably in support of his "one doctrine left" claim, but he has yet to supply any such quotes or any other documentation. I don't doubt that there are misguided members of the church, including some leaders, who believe what Denver claims, but the assertion that Church doctrine is that we follow a man we call a prophet over following Christ is simply ridiculous and untrue.
John F. Cannon
But Rock, If what we've been taught is true, that this is the "one true church" and it is lead by the Lord himself, then why does it keep making poor decisions?.. Why does the Lord need a PR or marketing department. Why does the Lord need to do opinion polling before he alters his policies?..
You MUST be mistaken, clearly this is all part of the Lord's plan. Haven't you heard the prophecy about the church rolling forth to fill the earth. The numbers have to be wrong, It is simply not conceivable that our growth could be stagnating.
Do you not know that the Lord is hastening the work, did you not get that memo?
In any case, my paradigm simply will not allow me to accept that what you are suggesting might be true.
These are not facts they are the cunning lies of the devil, and you Brother, have been deceived.
You are a suppressive personality, Why don't you stop committing suppressive acts and take down your blog?.. We will now exercise our unrighteous control by fear, through intimidation, to cut you off from everyone that you thought were your true friends. Don't you know We hold the "keys" to your eternal salvation, We are in complete control Muhhahaa!
...But we love you Brother, and will pray for you to return!
The problem is, Christ did not say to 'follow the Spirit' or 'follow the prophet', men did. Christ said follow 'Him'.
Only when our inspiration or the inspiration or words of others (like church leaders) exactly 'match' Christ's words, will we know that revelation or teaching is true.
To think that Church leader's words in Conference or elsewhere, are always inspired, is to believe that God is very fickle & that truth keeps changing, from prophet to prophet & person to person, for even the Leaders of the Church often contradict each other, as well as Christ.
Christ is our only safe & sure guide.
Thank you for all your writing. You really take the time to give well thought out replies to people. I watch for your blogs every week hoping to see a new one. I go to church because I have made a commitment never to leave it. I do feel like it is way too structured in certain ways. It doesn't seem right. I try to speak my mind whenever possible. I too have felt "shunned" but I don't care. I will not stop going. Hang in there and thanks for writing about how I feel sometimes!
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