Sunday, February 21, 2016

How Much Longer Before The Church Collapses?

Previously: These Gold Plates Are Not Real

Back in the late pioneer era, a bishop in the Salem, Utah area by the name of John Hyrum Koyle began to relate visions he had seen of future events. He continued to have these visions and prophecies throughout his lifetime.

In a day when automobiles had barely been invented and trucks were nonexistent, this Mormon Nostradamus reported visions of what looked to him like railroad boxcars with giant white eyes speeding down broad roads.  Koyle accurately predicted the Great Depression, the start of World War I and the end of World War II, as well as literally dozens of other fatidic pronouncements that have since come true. When the Church announced its next temple would be built in Mexico, Bishop Koyle said, "No it won't." Soon after that, the Mexican Revolution destabilized things in that country, and plans for the Mexican temple were scrapped.  Koyle even foresaw that one day banks would buy up worthless mortgage defaults and then be bailed out by American taxpayers.

So what do I think, you wonder? Was Bishop John Koyle a true mouthpiece of the Lord?

I would not presume to guess.

Bishop Koyle is best known for his prediction that in the day when America is hit with a full-blown economic catastrophe, treasure will be mined from deep within a mountain near the Salem, Utah area and that treasure will provide support for the faithful living along the Wasatch Front. But since the prophecies also say that the mine will not "come in" until that time, there's no way to know if there's anything to those prophecies. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.[1]
[1]You'll have to wait and see.  I'm not planning to be anywhere near that mountain when the Last Days kerfuffle starts up, because I've read of another visionary predicting massive earthquakes along the I-15 corridor. So you can fill me in later.

I will admit to being intrigued about one particular prediction the good bishop recorded, and it's this one:
"Near the time of the end, many of the General Authorities will become quite old. Troubles will start when three leaders will die in close proximity to one another. The new replacements will not be able to hold the Church together."

I find it interesting that we're already watching the outward edges of the Corporation of the President begin to crumble. But let me be clear about something: Mormonism -or what might more accurately be referred to as "the gospel of the Restoration"- is alive and well, and thriving in ways a lot of Mormons haven't even noticed yet.

Ironically enough, the place where the church (the one defined in D&C 10:67) is growing strongest right now is outside the institutional LDS "Church." Meanwhile that Church is coming apart at the seams. (D&C 10:68)

You may recall that Elder L. Tom Perry passed away on May 30th of last year, followed by Boyd K. Packer a mere 34 days later. Eleven weeks after that, Richard G. Scott left the planet. That's three apostles returning to the bosom of Abraham in such quick succession that all of them were gone before their ghostwriters had a chance to start on their next conference talks. There hasn't been that many vacancies in the quorum all at once since 1906.

Now, I don't think Bishop Koyle thought the passing of these three GAs would have had anything to do with why the wheels are coming off the Church bus at this particular time. And neither do I. That gradual deterioration has been a long time in coming, and it's mere coincidence that the fall is just now accelerating.  I find it kind of interesting, though, that bigger failures have been occurring in the months since those three leaders passed on, as the remaining pharisees in Church leadership stumble all over themselves like the Keystone Kops trying to find a way out of the PR disasters they've created for themselves.

It's no secret that in recent years Church growth has stagnated, not only in terms of converts, but in the amount of tithes brought in, now that the cat is officially out of the bag regarding what a tiny amount of one's wages a person is actually required to tithe.   But that isn't what's currently giving the hierarchy the fantods. If it were only turncoats and unbelievers jumping ship, no one would be surprised.  Dissenters and inactives have always been just one of the costs of doing business for LDS, Incorporated. What the hierarchy is finding most disconcerting these days is that a growing number of the most devout and faithful are finding they can still be good Mormons without ever feeling the need to set foot in an LDS chapel or kiss the ring of Church authority.  This, more than anything else, has the leadership all a-tizzy trying to come up with a fix for it.  But with every bone-headed move they make, they just end up making things worse.

Whose Church Is It, Anyway?
Anyone still wondering if Jesus Christ remains the head of this Church need only take note of how those in administrative positions within the Church are treating His humble followers. In a day when thousands of the formerly faithful have chosen to resign from the church after ceasing to believe altogether, you would think those in management would seek for ways to keep the remaining faithful happily within the fold.  But no. Take the recent example of a stalwart sister in a Cedar City, Utah ward.  She recently stood up in testimony meeting and happened to mention that in recent months she has become closer to Christ.

Well, them's fightin' words. Because it turns out that Church headquarters invited a bunch of bishops and stake presidents to attend a Southwest Regional Conference where these local leaders were instructed to listen for members using "code words and phrases" such as those uttered by that good sister about becoming closer to Christ.  Following the instructions he was given from Salt Lake, this woman's bishop called her in and asked her if she had recently been rebaptized.  She told him yes, she had.

And now a disciplinary court has been set for her excommunication.

Now just think about this for a minute. Pretty much everything in scripture teaches us to become closer to Christ. And as we become closer to Christ, Jesus Himself often lays it on our hearts to commit to him again in baptism.  Most of us were baptized when we were eight years old, hardly able to comprehend the significance of the ordinance. So it's perfectly reasonable to want to recommit ourselves to the Master when we come to a fuller understanding.

My wife is now on the Church's Enemies List.
This idea Church leadership currently clings to that there should be only one baptism per lifetime is actually a quite recent development. In pioneer days it was common for members to recommit their lives to Christ through baptism as many times as they felt necessary.  It was a common practice to be re-baptized prior to going on a mission, for instance; or before taking out one's temple endowment; or for healing from sickness; or...well, just because.

Here is where you can read a number of excerpts from the diaries and journals of our Mormon pioneer ancestors relating how, and why, and how often they would submit to being re-baptized for no other reason than because baptism was what they desired in their hearts.

The experience of this sister from Cedar City is not an isolated case, nor is it at all rare in the Church today. These days the quickest way to get yourself expelled from what is purportedly the Church of Jesus Christ is to make a public commitment to follow Him.

Loyalty To Jesus = Apostasy To The Church
If you thought that story about the Cedar City sister was appalling, this one will slack your jaw:

Regular readers of this blog will recall that back in January I discussed a book by Rob Smith entitled Teaching For Doctrines The Commandments of Men, which was subtitled Tradition In Modern Mormonism.  I guess it was inevitable that Brother Smith's church membership would be on the chopping block for that one, because the book demonstrated conclusively that the modern Church hierarchy has been making stuff up for years and passing it off as gospel truth.

As far as I'm aware, this is the second time that the only reason given a member for his expulsion from the Church is that he wrote a book. The other instance was Denver Snuffer's Passing The Heavenly Gift, a book that showed conclusively from diaries and Church documents that no real authority to act in God's name had been passed from Joseph Smith to any other person than his brother Hyrum. Brother Hyrum somehow never did get around to ordaining Brigham Young to be the next Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, although Joseph did once assign Brigham Young to be one of the Travelling Elders. This role of being just another background extra seems not to have been enough for Brother Brigham, because what he really wanted to do was direct.

It's worth noting that like me and countless others, both Denver Snuffer and Rob Smith are devout believers in the gospel of the Restoration, and both have written books which prove the leaders of the Church have been betraying the membership for decades in their assertion that they have actual authority from God that allows them to corrupt His sacred teachings in service to themselves.

Rob Smith was given only one day's notice to attend his own excommunication, and if you haven't read his account of that proceeding, you'll probably find it hard to believe they kicked him out in spite of his fiery testimony.  If there is a modern-day travesty comparable to that of Abinadi before King Noah, this would be it.  Here's an excerpt from Rob's fascinating account:
"One exchange that occurred that I thought was of note: I declared that I had not apostatized from Christ or from the gospel.  A high councilor said, 'none of us think that you have. You are here for apostasy against the Church and its leaders.' "
Let that sink in for a minute. Because that, brothers and sisters, is an astonishing admission.  Given the way the Church often operates today, it's easy to forget that the leaders still claim that Jesus Christ Himself is head of this Church and that He directs its every operation.  Yet here we have a man of high rank and station, a high priest of the Church who claims to be in the employ of the divine head of that Church, actually admitting they are expelling Rob Smith from a society that now openly purports to be a church of, by, and for a group of men, and not the actual church directed by Jesus Christ!

This shameful Pharisee is, in effect, admitting to Rob that no one in that room is acting as a representative of Jesus Christ, because after all, none of them believe for one minute that Rob is in apostasy against the head of the true Church. Rather, Rob stands accused of being in apostasy against a different Church, a Church directed by a group of mere mortals operating out of Salt Lake City without any input at all from Jesus.

The prophet Mormon prophesied about this very thing when he warned that in the last days men would begin to build up churches unto themselves, and begin to deny the true people of Christ. (4 Nephi 1:26)

And we wonder why they call us a cult.

The First Major Crack In The Wall
If we were to give credence to Bishop Koyle's intriguing prediction that the leaders of the Church would one day have trouble holding the Church together, the first major shot over the bow would have to have been the recent policy banning the offspring of certain people from being allowed to be baptized.  There were, of course, many smaller offenses that preceded this one, but for the Church to introduce a policy change that blatantly stands in contradiction to the will of God...well, this one beats them all.

And the discovery of that policy remained the shot heard 'round the Church, at least until Russell M. Nelson, Most Senior High Apostle, lied to the whole church and claimed the policy came about through a revelation from God.

In that previous post, I fudged a bit on the question of whether Russell Nelson had actually lied about this incident, preferring to use the word "prevarication" to describe the bald-faced perfidy committed by Elder Nelson.  Those able to read between the lines could, of course, deduce that prevaricating is the worst kind of lying there is. So now let's not mince words: Of course Russell Nelson was lying!

Elder Russell M. Nelson Addresses The Saints.

What makes Brother Nelson's lie particularly noteworthy is that up until now (at least in my lifetime) no general authority has lied so blatantly, so baldly, or so egregiously as Nelson did at this time.  In the past, Church leaders were careful not to come right out and claim having received revelation when no revelation had been forthcoming.  It's true that our scriptures teach us that the main requirement of an apostle of the Lord, in order to call himself an apostle, is that he should have seen the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face.  That is the first prerequisite for the job. That's what it means in this church to be a witness for Christ.

In the past, on those rare occasions when one of these apostles was asked directly if he has had such a personal witness, the apostle being asked has managed to avoid a direct answer by hemming and hawing and mumbling something about the experience being too sacred and too personal to talk about.  Never mind that the job of an apostle, once he gains that witness, is to boldly tell everyone he encounters about it.  That was what the apostles in the primitive Christian Church went forth to do, and that's also what the Twelve were sent forth to witness of during the Kirtland/Missouri/Nauvoo period.

Can you imagine Joseph Smith declining to tell of his experience in the grove on the grounds that the experience was "too sacred"?  And yet for too long we have accepted this vacillating response that was carefully crafted to leave the listener with the impression that a given apostle had, indeed, seen Christ face-to-face when in reality he had not.

At least they used to sidestep that question. They weren't known to lie outright.  But now we have the man who is a heartbeat away from the presidency of the Church completely prepared to utter falsehoods in hopes it will quiet the membership from demanding further explanations as to why he promotes a policy that directly contradicts the revealed word of God.

No wonder believers are leaving. It is more important to some Church leaders that members look to them for instruction than it is that the members look to Christ.

The Authority Myth
What this church needs before it collapses completely is leaders willing to level with the members about the limits to their powers and abilities. Since at least the 1950s we have been encouraged to believe that every member of the First Presidency, and every member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, holds all the gifts that were given to Joseph Smith, even though not one of them has exhibited anything remotely close to Joseph's divine attributes in over a hundred years.

We were never taught that the Saints who followed Brigham Young did not assume he was Joseph Smith's spiritual successor, and that he didn't claim to be. We also weren't told that only about half the Church membership at the time went west with Brigham Young. The other half did not presume there was anything wrong with choosing to stay behind on the plains, where they continued to meet together informally and see themselves as legitimate branches of the church.

Those who followed Brigham did not do so because they felt he was a prophet like Joseph; they followed him primarily because they saw him as a capable frontiersman who could guide them to another location. Yet over time a myth has grown up that maintains that every president since Brigham Young has been God's spokesman on the earth, even when we never see examples of God speaking through any of them. Joseph Smith was entirely unique among the presidents of the Church, but we have been slow to recognize that reality.

On February 16th, The Salt Lake Tribune sponsored a panel of Mormon scholars to discuss The New Mormon Faith Crisis. This is a real crisis for a growing number of believers, yet the leadership of the Church, rather than address the problems honestly and forthrightly, seem to prefer the Russell Nelson approach: lie about your supposed authority, and keep lying in hopes that you'll eventually be respected for the title you hold.

One of the panelists on the Tribune forum was Fiona Givens, who co-authored two books with her husband aimed at persuading Mormons in crisis to recognize what is good and valid about our religion, in hopes they would choose to stay with it. Here are her comments concerning the widespread belief that there is a person on the earth who is getting divine intervention on a regular basis:
"I think that’s actually one of the cultural fallacies we have. There
are a number of ecclesiastical leaders who say that 'no, there is no red phone to God actually, we stumble through these decisions on our own. We hope for light.'...So they are ordinary men and they have their own prejudices and every now and again something
radiates through. So if we stop looking at our ecclesiastical leaders as though they were mini-gods, we would do so much better. At the end of the day we are the Church of Christ. We should only follow Christ. Our allegiance and loyalty should only be to Christ, not to intermediaries. Christ was quite firm when he said 'do not put your faith in the arm of flesh.' Any flesh. And that includes our ecclesiastical leaders. We’ve gone a little bit wonky from where Christ is. I feel like Christ has been sidelined somewhat and unless we bring him back to the center in our collective life and in our individual lives, this isn’t going to go very well for us." 
I don't know if there is anything to Bishop John Koyle's prophecies about a Dream Mine. I'd like to think there is. Who wouldn't?  All I can say is that in my opinion Bishop Koyle got at least one thing right, and that is that this Church is in trouble. Deep, deep trouble. And the other thing Koyle got right is that the leaders are already discovering how difficult it is to hold this thing together.  This Church is now in Humpty Dumpty mode. Nothing and no one can put it back together other than The Holy One of Israel, and he appears to have moved on and left the Church's clumsy managers to trip over each other in the dark.

Wheat And Tares
The title of this piece is "How Much Longer Before The Church Collapses?"  In an attempt to answer that question, perhaps we should rephrase it as "how much time does the Church have left as a religious society?"

The Church is now a world-wide conglomerate of mostly financial interests, of which religion is only one of its many subsidiaries. Given the amount of time the various quorums of Apostles and Seventies spend managing the Church's properties and investments, I'd say the Church could last a very long time indeed -or at least until the economy comes crashing down, which I believe it soon will.  Whether that entity can survive as an actual church is another question entirely, one which will depend on whether the loyal band of myrmidons who continue to support it choose to remain in, or whether they get out.

It's no secret that the LDS Church grossly exaggerates its customer base. Of the 15 million "members of record" listed on the master tally sheet, only around four million ever show up for meetings on Sunday. That means more than two thirds of the members that the Church boasts of in its press releases are already long gone. They have voted with their feet, never to return.  Those numbers continue to shrink at a rate that is creating a panic in the board room at 47 East South Temple Street, as evidenced by the laughable "Boise Rescue" that had Dallin Oaks and Richard Turley hold a Tri-Stake emergency meeting in Idaho to try and stem the flow of persons who believed, like the apostle Peter, that they ought to obey God rather than men.  In light of the failure of Oaks and Turley to make an impression, Church leaders have come up with a temporary solution: keep doctoring those membership numbers.

In the past, along with convert baptisms, the Church would add an annual count of those eight-year-old children in member families who had been baptized the previous year.  Recently they have also begun counting newborn babies as "members" even though those babies have been neither baptized nor confirmed actual members of the Church.  That's how desperate the corporation is to pretend its customer base isn't shrinking.

But even with all this shooting of feathers, real membership numbers are shrinking. Convert baptisms are as rare as a stuffed pig at a Jewish wedding.  If you want to see a missionary despondently hang his head, ask him how many baptisms he's had so far. On those rare occasions when they do get one in the water, the retention rate is abysmal. The average convert attends our meetings a mere nine months before disappearing forever.

Not to worry, though. The Church keeps those converts' names in the Church records forever so they continue to be counted as being present.

Who can blame our converts for failing to stick around? The dullest of dunderheads can't help but sense the abessive character of our Sunday meetings. Whatever spirit of joy and awakening the convert experienced while visiting with the missionaries, that feeling is completely absent once they begin attending our lackluster meetings. If Jesus Christ does direct this Church, you'd think he'd lend his spirit to the meetings once in a while. His absence is particularly acute to those converts who came from a denomination that actually held worship services where joy and celebration were palpably present.

There's a widespread belief that this Church cannot fail; that it is somehow destined to spread and grow and roll forth until it fills every corner of the world.  But no such prediction was made about the earthly Church.  The prophet Joseph often referenced the Book of Daniel in that phrase, where Daniel had a vision of a stone cut out of a mountain, which rolled forth until it had filled the whole earth. Joseph interpreted that metaphor on various occasions, predicting that "the truth of God will go forth," the "gospel" shall "roll forth," "the Kingdom of God" is predicted "to roll forth," and "the latter-day glory" may, if God chooses and the Saints are united in one common cause, "roll forward." None of those statements reference the corporate, institutional Church with its hierarchical structure and its adulterous relationship with mammon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a sublunary society; an earth-bound terrestrial organization. That structure is not celestial; it dies when the world dies -if not before.

Eventually a good many of our brothers and sisters in the faith will awaken to their awful situation and realize they have been following the wrong shepherds.  When they recognize that the Brethren cannot fulfill the promises they made to save them, they will turn instead to Christ. But when they first awaken, they will feel lost; they will feel scared and abandoned; and they will feel betrayed by those they trusted to look after them.

These good people are going to need a place to land where the gospel of Jesus Christ is alive and well and fully operational.  Let's be there for them.


One of the perks of writing this blog is that every now and then someone will contact me with inside information. So I recently got a phone call from someone who was able to explain the real reason the Church has chosen not to allow children of certain parents to be baptized.

As many of you know, there was a time when the teenage sons and daughters of fundamentalist Mormons were permitted to attend our meetings and befriend our sons and daughters.  But a problem soon arose. Their teenagers tended to introduce our teenagers to statements by Brigham Young, John Taylor, et al that our teens had never read or heard of before, "proving" that plural marriage had been declared by the early prophets to be an eternal principle. Unless one entered into plural marriage, it was impossible to enter into celestial glory.

Next thing you know, some of our good Mormon boys and girls had been recruited into the fundamentalist lifestyle, so the LDS Church initiated a policy barring children born of polygamous marriages from joining our Church, since the objective of the FLDS crowd was clearly to infiltrate our church and recruit our children.

After the Supreme Court announced gay marriage to be A-OK, some of these fundamentalist leaders approached the leaders of our Church and said, "Hey, you guys are hypocrites! You won't let our children into your wards because you disapprove of the marital arrangements of their parents.  You also disapprove of gay marriage, yet you don't seem to have any problem allowing their children in.  What gives with the double standard?"

This question made sense to some of our leaders, who immediately sent confidential notices to bishops throughout the Church that no child should be baptized in this Church who had a parent in a same-sex marriage or relationship.

Anyone with any sense can see there is no comparing the children of gay parents with the children of polygamists.  While the teenage children of polygamists are likely to share the gospel of fundamentalism with their fellow Mormons, the offspring of gay parents are rarely homosexual themselves.  It's absurd to think they would have an incentive to try and recruit Mormon youth into the gay lifestyle.

Church leaders at the top seem to still be of the opinion that there is some kind of gay cootie that can be spread from person to person via casual contact. And that is the reason our Church has adopted a completely unscriptural and un-Christlike rule not to allow kids to join our church who could possibly pick up the gay cootie at home and bring it with them to church.  And that's why Elder Russell Nelson felt it necessary to feed the Saints a whopper about Jesus Christ himself reversing his doctrine by way of an esoteric revelation to Thomas Monson.

Maybe it really is time we parted ways with these clowns.

Monday, February 15, 2016

These Gold Plates Are Not Real

Previously: Did Russell M. Nelson Take The Lord's Name In Vain?

People, people, PEOPLE! You have to STOP this!
I'm seeing this report of gold plates found at the Hill Cumorah posted all over Facebook, accompanied by exclamations of joy that archaeological evidence has been found to corroborate the discovery of the Book of Mormon.

Don't any of these people wonder why they haven't heard this news before, seeing as the byline date goes back to last April 3rd? And how about checking the source? "World News Daily" is an online incarnation of The Weekly World News, the highly entertaining supermarket tabloid that used to bring us stories about Rush Limbaugh shaking hands with alien Greys, and the ever popular Batboy.
I loved the Weekly World News back in the day, but I understood that all the stories were completely made up, as is this one about Brigham Young University archaeologists discovering gold plates within a hidden cavern in the Hill Cumorah. Look at the picture of the plates they include in the story. May I remind you that gold doesn't rust? And that if this discovery had been announced by archaeologists from a Church owned university, the claim would be instantly suspect?
As an honest believer in the Book of Mormon, what I find disconcerting about this current stir is how readily so many fellow believers are to blindly embrace this story as further proof of the truth of their religion. You're making fools of yourselves, and by extension making all of us who accept the divine origin of the Book of Mormon look just as foolish as you.

As I scanned the comments under the article at the World News Daily site, I didn't see many readers questioning the authenticity of the article itself.  Most of the discussion centered around an assumption that the article was reporting real news, the only question being whether the plates are authentic to Book of Mormon times.  Here's an example:
"There is no reason to summarily dismiss the article based on presentiment alone. That is not logical, scientific or, for that matter, rational. If the newly discovered plates are a fraud, such fact should be determined by subjecting them to scientific and archeological analysis..."
Better, I say, to subject the source of the story to a simple analysis.

As an online friend astutely observed, 
"Could it be that members are so hungry for spiritual confirmation of something that they grasp at anything? They are so spiritually underfed."
That, I think, is the problem. Members are no longer encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, as much as they are counseled to "follow the Brethren" who spoon-feed them dubious doctrine that often does not comport with scripture. As another friend put it, "A testimony of spiritual things can only come from a spiritual witness." We don't get those kinds of witnesses by piggy-backing our testimonies onto the testimonies of others. Members today are encouraged to gain testimonies of what the Church leaders tell them. Rather than develop a testimony of Christ and His gospel, they are encouraged to have testimonies of the authority of the leaders. Sadly, developing a testimony of "the Church" practically guarantees a person will end up grasping at any possible evidence that will reassure them that they're on the right team. Meantime, more and more frequently members who testify of becoming closer to Christ are suspect in today's Church and subject to disciplinary action.

So I issue this plea to my fellow Saints: Please stop posting this bogus report as a testimony building story. Not unless you are also willing to post these other stories from the same source. That way, everyone can understand what kind of gullible sop you're willing to swallow:
"New Jersey Gay Couple Discovers They Are In Fact Long Lost Twins" 
"Hermaphrodite Impregnates Self; Gives Birth To Hermaphrodite Twins"
"Punxutawany Phil Predicts Crushing Victory For Jeb Bush" 
"Missouri Pig Brothel Dismantled During FBI Raid"
And most ridiculous of all:
"Utah Man Struck By Lightning While Masturbating To The Bible
If you need further proof this is all a hoax, click on the source of the story, then click on the link labeled "News" in the top left corner for more "amazing but true" hogwash.

Writers at the Weekly World News consistently delighted in coming across actual photographs, then creating outlandish stories out of thin air to accompany the photos. Like stories published in the satirical newspaper "The Onion," the stories were complete fabrications. Unlike The Onion, stories in the Weekly World News were always told with a straight face, so that only those who "got it" understood the entertainment value of the paper. The large majority of people who kept that tabloid in business tended to believe it was reporting real news.