The Most Challenging Mormon Issues

Recently at a gathering of Saints surveys were distributed with the following question: “What do you consider to be the most vexing/difficult criticism of the Church?” There were 71 responses. My own, decidedly unZiffian tabulation of the results follows. (Many respondents listed more than one, so the numbers won’t all add up to 71.) The numbers in parentheses are the number of people who mentioned the issue. The envelopes, please:

1. Polygamy, eternal plural marriage, polyandry. (21)

2. Blacks and the priesthood; racism. (14)

3 (tie). Gay issues. (8)

3 (tie). Book of Abraham. (8)

4 (tie). LDS a cult; not Christian. (6)

4 (tie). Not believing JS story, history. (6)

5. Church secretive, hides history, not objective, insular, lies. (5)

6 (tie). Secularism; scientism. (3)

6 (tie). Members’ lack of understanding, being uninformed. (3)

7 (tie). DNA and the BoM. (2)

7 (tie). BoM authenticity. (2)

7 (tie). Attitudes towards women. (2)

7 (tie). Kinderhood plates. (2)

The above were the “winners” in that each was mentioned more than once. The following (in no particular order) were mentioned once each:

- Blogs that disintegrate into criticism [surely other than BCC!].

- LDS religion not making people happy.

- Financial secrecy.

- Tea and coffee not unhealthy.

- Apathy.

- Current teachings in conflict with earlier eras.

- Joseph not a martyr.

- Church doctrine ill defined.

- Odds against being born on same planet as JC (assuming sole redeemer of universe).

- Masonry and the temple.

- Mountain Meadows.

- Need to treat others well without judgment.

- Too Republican.

There were also some anomalous/humorous responses:

- Baptism [it is unclear from this one-word response what the issue is].

- My daughter’s boyfriend.

- Stupid fixation with Mayans.

I thought this was a fascinating glimpse into the perceptions of ordinary members and wanted to archive it for my own future reference, and throwing it up here was the easiest way for me to do that.

It should come as no surprise that polygamy issues would come in at number 1. That is hardly a secret to Mormon apologists.

But I thought it was fascinating that blacks and the priesthood should come in at a strong number 2. The notion that this is all in the past and we don’t need to address it appears to be less than accurate. (I’m hoping Margaret will see this and comment.)

The high response for issues relating to gays supports the views that social issues are becoming increasingly important.

What other nuggets of wisdom can we glean from this survey data? What can we as a Church do to begin to address such issues?

Comments

  1. The seeming absence of anything resembling a bona fide revelation since the declaration making Priesthood available to all worthy males.

    Makes me wonder if the Church is currently apostate or something.

    Most of the other stuff is just chickensh-t.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Seth, have you read Ed Kimball’s Lengthen Your Stride? Or Leonard Arrington’s account in Adventures of a Church Historian? Lifting the ban seems as revelatory to me as anything in the whole Restoration. Is it just the lack of a “thus sayeth the Lord” textual record that concerns you?

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Oops, Seth, now that i reread your comment I see that I misunderstood you. You weren’t questioning the 1978 revelation, but the lack of publicly declared revelations after 1978. My mistake.

  4. Aaron Brown says:

    Kevin, can you say a bit more about who constituted the group of 71? How representative of average LDS members are they? Or maybe I should ask, what, precisely, are they representative of?

    Seth, I’d be interested in how you would define “chickensh-t” in this context.

    AB

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Aaron, this is from the FAIR conference, so they are people who are more attuned to vexing Mormon issues than your average member. (You probably wouldn’t come up with this list by taking a poll in your GD class.) So you’re right that this sample tends to be more educated on the issues than typical. But most of them are not themselves apologists.

  6. Aaron Brown says:

    It would be interesting to take a large group of people troubled by polygamy, and find out to what extent their concern with it is:

    a) the fact that polygamy was practiced at all;
    b) the fact that pre-Utah church leaders were untruthful about the fact that they practiced it;
    c) the fact that early church leaders sometimes propositioned those already married;
    d) the age of some of Smith’s plural wives;
    e) post-manifesto polygamy;
    f) some combination of the above.

    At least this would be interesting to me.

    Personally, while even (a) has never been to my liking, it never seemed to trouble me as much as (b) or (c).

    AB

  7. For me, the big surprise here is that issues about the Book of Abraham are four times more troubling than attitudes towards women. The ongoing furor about motherhood and the roles of females indicates this is a problem for us, and I simply cannot imagine the same uproar taking place over the Kinderhood plates or the origins of Facsimile No. 1.

  8. Aaron, you forgot at least two flavors of concern about polygamy

    g) that men are still routinely sealed to more than one woman (following divorce or death);
    h) that as far as we know polygamy will be practiced in the Celestial Kingdom- or in other words, we will be practicing it again at some point.

    I’d imagine these two would be more troubling to the average person who doesn’t know a lot of the history.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    You can walk into most Relief Society classrooms in the Church and just utter the word polygamy, then sit back and watch the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. It’s a very emotional issue, which people project themselves into and take personally. I think it’s status as no. 1 is deserved.

  10. How much of this is *really* a *problem* for the “Church” (whichever group of people you’re talking about) to solve?

    I get suspicious of churches that feel they need to engage in doctrinal customer service.

    Are we saying that these are issues for the leadership to address, or apologetics (given the conference at which the lists were generated), or membership, or ???

  11. I don’t understand the question; is this what your Gang of 71 found most vexing to themselves and/or other Saints, or what they thought would most concern non-Mormons?

    It seems to be a little of both — Mormons might be concerned about other members’ apathy and lack of understanding but that hardly seems an issue of concern to outsiders (except, of course, to rabid anti-Mormons/evangelicals who are eager to rush in and fill the void with their own nonsense). Non-Mormons might be concerned about us as a non-Christian cult, but that could hardly show up on a member’s radar of concerns about his church. And I can’t understand the Kinderhook Plates being a matter of concern to Mormon OR non-Mormon.

    So I guess I’m wondering what the respondents were thinking, in order to understand their responses. That, and if the answer is that they thought these issues would be of major concern to non-members, I wonder what 71 non-members would think about those answers.

  12. I’m surprised the Book of Mormon scored so low. There still are some pretty troubling issues there such as horses and steel. There are some apologetic answers but I don’t think the counterarguments are fully convincing yet. They make it plausible to believe the Book of Mormon but don’t really resolve the issue. Then there is the issue of TritoIsaiah.

    I’m surprised something relatively social like polygamy scored so much higher than more basic truth questions tied to the BoM and BoA. I suspect that says something about us that past social behavior is more significant than truth questions. (Ditto for past racism when past Jewish racism doesn’t elicit much from most people)

  13. molly bennion says:

    Nobody mentioned Boredom?

    Kevin, how many of the 71 were women? “Attitudes toward women” seems light.

  14. Clark, I think it makes sense.

    I’m pretty over-educated, but I realize I’m still not really competent to evaluate issues of archeology, let alone TritoIsaiah.

    But it sure seems wrong to me to “marry” other men’s wives and then publicly lie about it for years. That much I learned that in kindergarten.

  15. #13, Molly – that is definitely an issue my wife would agree on. Seems that since the on-set of correlation the repeated use of the same manuals year after year lends itself to one becoming bored with the lessons.

    BTW, are you related to Don Bennion, attorney down here in Las Vegas? Curious since I used to work for him. (sorry about the personal query)….

  16. merrybits says:

    Nobody mentioned Boredom?

    Or the 3 hour meeting block?

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    #10 queuno, this kind of stuff is definitely a problem. It’s a problem with investigators, for instance. Elders come, teach a first discussion, leave, what is the first thing the investigators do? They do into the bedroom, google “mormonism,” do some reading, tell the missionaries to never come back.

    It’s a problem with members. Sister Sally is assigned to give a talk on X, she googles X to do some basic research, is shocked by what she finds, assumes it can’t be true, asks her bishop who is equally clueless, he assures her that no, it can’t be true, she does further research, decides it is in fact true, concludes that the entire church from her bishop on up has been lying to her and deceiving her about this and other matters all these years, loses her faith and leaves the Church. This happens all the time.

    Often we hear about it from the relatives of such members. Brother John’s nephew has such an experience, he is mortified but has no idea how to help.

    I’m frankly shocked that anyone would think these kinds of issues aren’t a problem. If you or your loved ones haven’t been touched by them, count yourselves lucky.

    #11 Ardis, the question is ambiguous as to whether these are to be issues the respondent personally feels are vexing or whether they are issues they feel are most vexing for others. I suspect you’re right that the answers reflect some of both perspectives.

    #13 molly, boredom would rank high on my personal list! I have no idea how many were respondents were women. (This was part of a “how was your experience/how can we improve” type of survey, it wasn’t intended to be a scientifically constructed survey.)

  18. I’ve had BYU profs tell me that, among undergrads at least, MMM is a terribly, terribly vexing question.

  19. Mephibosheth says:

    I’d put boredom under the anomalous/humorous category since it’s not strictly a Mormon phenomenon, and compared to other churches I’ve been to the Mormon service is structured to be a lot more dynamic and interactive. That said, I want to second the boredom issue. My spiritual experiences have made it possible for me to shelve all of these other things, but sheer boredom could have done me in had I not found ways of coping with it. And it is the main reason why I still find it difficult to share the gospel with my friends.

  20. I wanted to ask the same question as Molly. It seems to me some issues, cough–attitudes toward women, might be ranked higher if there was a large female sampling.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    There were plenty of women in attendance, but I don’t know how many filled out the survey. One guess might be that, since this is an issue we share with many other churches, it may not have been perceived as the number one issue, even if it is an issue. Just a wild guess, though, and your guess is as good as mine.

  22. molly bennion says:

    Sam K, To date I have not met a Bennion who was not related somehow, but there are so many of them it takes quite a while to determine the exact connection. I don’t know Don, but he too probably descends from one of two polygamous brothers, John and Samuel.

  23. Little Sister says:

    #18: Forgive the naive question, but what is MMM? I just graduated from BYU and would be very interested in hearing what was vexing me.

  24. Little Sister says:

    Oh! Mountain Meadows Massacre?! Sorry, I didn’t know that had an accepted acronym. That is troublesome, but I don’t remember ever hearing any BYU kids worrying about it. We took at face value that Brigham Young didn’t have anything to do with it and that it was all John D. Lee’s fault.

  25. #23, 24–No need to ask for forgiveness! You are correct, it refers to Mountain Meadows Massacre.

  26. Little Sister, I recommend that you read the new, and I would say definitive, text that is coming out regarding MMM. From the advanced descriptions I’ve read, it will help flesh out your Lee vs Young dichotomy.

  27. I’d be interested to know how this question/survey would have turned out at Sunstone. (And why were FAIR and Sunstone held at the same time? Is there some animosity?)
    Last week was my first Sunstone symposium and I was a little surprised that they didn’t have an evaluation at the end (which could have included the question you’ve asked).
    That list isn’t exactly surprising, but I agree with Seth R. that it’s strange we haven’t had a “Thus saith the Lord” in a while.

  28. #1 Seth R said: The seeming absence of anything resembling a bona fide revelation since the declaration making Priesthood available to all worthy males.

    Seth–the Lord answers my prayers frequently. Of course, this has nothing to do with the church or church leaders. All the answers I receive are specific to me.

    I’ve sought diligently for the companionship of the Holy Ghost for over forty years. I can say that the promises of the Book of Mormon are true regarding the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Spirit.

    I’ve been writing a blog and making comments for nearly a year in the bloggernacle and I am led to conclude that the number 1 vexing criticism of the Church is that too many members are missing out on fulfilling their baptism and confirmation covenant where they are told to receive the gift of Holy Ghost and a remission of their sins. Could this be the fault of church leaders?

  29. I can believe #2. I have a good friend. She’s intelligent, beautiful and talented, but among the young single men in our area there has been virtually no interest in her. She has told me that she believes it is because she is black. She has friends that have left the church over the same issue. They too found that no one wanted to date them so they dated and married non-members and left the church. Racism can be subtle.

  30. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 27 Jessawhy, the scheduling conflict this year was unintentional. FAIR is always the first Thursday and Friday in August. Sunstone is usually a week later, and BYU Education week the week after. But since the first was a Friday this year, the schedules overlapped. Next year they’ll be back to being a week apart.

  31. cj douglass says:

    I’m very surprised that no one mentioned the church being too American/Utahn. I guess that tells us a little about where the survey was taken….

  32. Seems to me like President Hinckley’s revelation about small temples was “real revelation”–and that’s pretty recent.

  33. Thanks, Kevin. It was nice to meet in person at Sunstone, btw.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    I was thrilled to meet you, too, Jessawhy. It’s always weird to meet people at Sunstone, have them say their real name and it draws a blank, and then they give their blogging name, and then it clicks and I realize I’m meeting someone I’ve been reading and someone I really like already. It’s just a really cool experience. And I love your handle, btw.

  35. the absence of boredom on the list throws a blanket of suspicion on the whole thing. Honestly how could it not even be on the top 7?

  36. The Right Trousers says:

    I imagine that FAIR conference attendees aren’t the types to get bored with Mormonism. That might bleed over into meetings. They’re also probably thinking more in terms of external criticism, where boredom is more of internal thng.

  37. Thomas Parkin says:

    Jared,

    Exactly right. Your statement puts the center at the center, and from there a person can perceive what is on the periphery, _that_ it is on the periphery. I think that the apostles have been asking this question for 25 years, and have been hearing your answer.

    ~

  38. The Right Trousers says:

    I’m going to chime in and agree with Jared and Thomas. Although I wouldn’t say that the Saints not understanding mercy and grace is the most *vexing* criticism, because using just the Standard Works it’s one of the easiest to answer. I’d say it’s unfortunately the most *correct* criticism.

    Hmm. I suppose that’s actually pretty vexing.

  39. One guess might be that, since this is an issue we share with many other churches, it may not have been perceived as the number one issue, even if it is an issue.

    I am not sure we DO share conflicts in the role of women with other churches.

    Other churches do deny women priesthood, but they are often consistent about it. They also think women should be subservient to men, discourage women’s education, etc.

    The frustrating thing to many LDS about the role of women is that we preach equality in marriage, and some women have positions of great influence in leadership and are treated seriously and as equals by male leaders. Women serve missions and perform ordinances in the temple.

    So on the one hand there is the push to get an education and the value women have in the church, while on the other hand there is the exclusion of women from meetings where decisions are made and callings where they might serve, if they just had a penis.

    What creates some of the conflict among women is that our experience shades our attitude toward the church: those who have spouses who are full partners and/or have served missions and/or in leadership may be more positive about the church because that is the side they mostly see. Those who live in stakes where women aren’t allowed to give prayers during sacrament meeting and/or mothers of minors are automatically barred from being temple workers, etc. may be less positive, and frustrated by the disconnect between what they hear at General Conference and experience in daily life.

    I’ve been catholic, I have good friends who are Quaker and baptist, and I can’t think of another religion where there is such a strong dichotomy in attitudes toward the role of women.

  40. I imagine this is personal to me, but my #1 problem right now is that Dolores Umbrage is our RS President, and our bishop has neither the savvy nor the courage of Dumbledore to rein her in.

  41. Nick Literski says:

    #11:
    I don’t understand the question; is this what your Gang of 71 found most vexing to themselves and/or other Saints, or what they thought would most concern non-Mormons?

    I’m thinking it must be what they thought would most concern non-LDS. After all, history has demonstrated that one of the most truly vexing problems to FAIR members is the location of fold-up tables and laptop users.

  42. Nick Literski says:

    Kevin #17:

    You know, it amazes me how badly uninformed some LDS members really are, and the effect that can have. I recently had a telephone call from a friend in Texas, who has been a member of the LDS church since the mid-1980s. He had just had a huge argument with his 19 year old son, who was doubting the LDS church. The son had stated that Joseph Smith had more than one wife, and my friend was completely determined that this was an anti-Mormon lie. Knowing that I had a decent handle on Mormon history, my friend called me for evidence that this claim was false. You can imagine we had a bit of an awkward moment when I told him that his son was right, and that Joseph had at least 30 wives. He was stunned, and his next question was “Why doesn’t the church teach us this??” Tough as it might be for some here to picture, I ended up in the “apologist” role, explaining to him why Joseph’s polygamy really wasn’t an issue to get upset over, and referring him to some solid literature on the subject.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s the LDS church’s job to have Sunday lessons on the identity and relationship details of each of Joseph Smith’s wives (though it might go a long way to fix Molly’s noted boredom issue!). It seems there are certain members though, who expect their church to hand them everything they could possibly need to know on a silver platter.

  43. Long before I started writing about Black Latter-day Saints, I stated to a non-LDS friend that the race issue was the biggest one for Mormons–bigger than polygamy. I still believe that’s the case. I think that those who live in areas with large African or African American populations likely share that perception (especially since some African countries practice polygamy). I can say for sure that missionaries are hungry for more information on the issue as they prepare to serve.

    When Bruce and I did our weekly MTC visit last Thursday, we were stopped by one of our new districts. An elder said he had heard I knew something about the issue, and asked if I could make some kind of presentation. My answer is always the same: “Only if you get permission from the BP.” Yesterday, I spoke with an emeritus GA who I happened to cross paths with. It was interesting that he had questions as well, and seemed genuinely interested in understanding whence the restriction. He asked really good questions. My impression is that there is a keen desire to really get the history. I just reviewed what Pres. Hinckley said to Mike Wallace on _60 Minutes_.

    Mike Wallace: From 1830 to 1978, blacks could not become priests in the Mormon church. Right?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: That’s correct.

    Mike Wallace: Why?

    Gordon B. Hinckley: Because the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine that way.

    Me (not on _60 Minutes_): Actually, the dates would be more like 1852-1978, but I actually like President Hinckley’s answer, which seems quite candid.

  44. P.S. I agree with Molly that boring meetings are a BIG reason for some–young people in particular–to choose another faith.

  45. P.P.S.: I believe the #1 issue in the foreseeable future will be the Church’s attitude towards gays. What we’re seeing in California is surely the template for what will happen as other states attempt to pass laws legitimizing gay marriage. Because the Church will be a visible presence, the issue will become huge.

  46. Kevin Barney says:

    Nick no. 42, what you describe is indeed a very serious problem. Anyone who wants to know about polygamy can read the dozen to two dozen good books on the subject, and the many dozen to hundreds of articles. There is no dearth of good, responsible historical literature. The topic isn’t in any way “hidden.” But most Mormons aren’t historically minded, aren’t big readers, and simply aren’t going to take the initiative to read any of that literature. It’s not an issue until they learn of it (as your friend did), and then wonder, as you say, why the Church itself as an institution hasn’t presented them all of this on a silver platter to them.

  47. Guy Noir, Private Eye says:

    Brad, # 18:

    ‘IF’ the MMM isn’t a problem, (which it surely is), the past (?) False accounts of it put it near the top.
    MMM & WaterGate are/were close cousins; I ‘think’ that Nixon could have survived it ‘IF‘ he told the Truth from the beginning.
    there have been many, many lies told about the MMM.
    “Ditch the Truth to save the Faith”

  48. Meredith C says:

    I agree with Margaret (#45).

    Also, Carrie (#29) raises a significant issue, albeit one that affects a smaller segment of LDS population. Carrie’s friend’s race may have been a factor in her inability to find a spouse within the church, but there are many many beautiful, intelligent and vibrant women in the church of all ethnicities who are unable to find a suitable mate. It’s a real challenge of faith to turn 31, graduate from the singles ward and grapple with the possibility of a life without companionship and children. Marriage outside the church begins to look a lot more appealing than a lifetime of loneliness and celibacy.

  49. Researcher says:

    I realize that this is a touchy subject for many denizens of the Bloggernacle, but I can think off the top of my head of two major revelations to the church in the last 10-15 years. First, the small temples, as was already mentioned. That revelation came while President Hinckley was visiting the Colonies.

    The second one is the Perpetual Education Fund which addresses poverty among the Saints in a practical and straightforward manner without putting anyone on the “dole.” To my mind, the poverty of so many Saints and a real solution to improve their lives is an issue of far greater importance than anything that anyone ever said about the MMM or anything that anyone could say in the future about it.

  50. Bravo, Researcher! We take so many things for granted; we need to open our eyes and see what God is showing us.

  51. Robert Emery Rundquist says:

    #45: Disclaimer. I live in California, I am not gay, and I have no crystal ball. But I feel there will be gay marriage here because it is a none issue for most who live in this liberal state. “Who Cares?”
    Yes, gays push it. Yes, religion wants to block it. But this small war is between them… in a vacuum. That’s why it’s happening here.
    Now gas prices..that’s something to get hot about!

  52. #51: Sorry about the full name, it’s just Bob

  53. The Right Trousers says:

    #49 Researcher:

    That’s a really good point. Perhaps it’s because there was no revealed *doctrine* involved that folks tend to forget those. They’re institutional revelations – binding on the church as an organization rather than its individuals.

    IMO, we won’t get new revelation to be accepted by the membership and canonized until we study and follow the stuff we’ve already got. The Lord said the church was under condemnation for not doing so, and President Benson told us that we still are.

  54. Martin Willey says:

    I join those surprised that issues involving the role of women do not place higher of the list. I have never understood the almost obsessive focus on SGA/SSA issues, when women are far more heavily represented in the Church than gays/lesbians. Its not that the SGA/SSM issue is not important. I just think issues relating to women are at least as important.

  55. Regrouping Kevin’s categories just a little, I get:

    2. Not believing JS story or JS’s new scriptures (18)

    which I think is a fair ranking given how preposterous Joseph Smith and the translations he produced look to the outside world.

    I agree with Margaret #45 that church attitude toward gays will become hugely problematical. One reason I think this is a bigger issue than Role of Women is that our problems with real female equality are within the confines of our own doctrine and practice. We aren’t involved in political activity to abridge female rights. Whereas our very visible work to limit marriage to man-and-woman is seen as a deeply offensive violation of human dignity. I think we’re in for a good long round of “vexing / difficult criticism” on this one.

  56. Do all of the women who post here feel that the church treats them unfairly? I will admit that some of the individual members behave badly at times but I really don’t have a problem with my role in the church at all. I may not be able to give formalized blessings, but I can pray for someone and have it heard by the One who really matters. I really have my hands full just doing the things I want to do; y’all can have the Priesthood with all it entails.

  57. If my comment in 56 is a threadjack, I apologize. Looking at it now it probably is.

  58. Noray, it is a threadjack,but I’ll bite. In this context, I’m not sure it matters how women feel about their roles–the issue of structural inequity is independent of the skill and gentleness with which patriarchy is implemented. I’m also largely content with my personal experience in the church, but remain deeply troubled by the possible doctrinal and theological implications of current practice, and the apparent contradictions between that practice and scriptural and historical precedent and concepts of justice.

  59. Eric Russell says:

    I’m fairly familiar with the all of the concerns among the above listed issues and my overall impression is that it’s awfully underwhelming. If Joseph Smith just invented Mormonism out of whole cloth, then it seems to me that there ought to be no difficulty in coming up with some genuinely damning criticisms. If I were a dedicated anti and this were the best I had, I’d be kind of embarrassed.

  60. It seems to me that the first three issues reflect a general perception of Mormons, while such things as the Kinderhook Plates are more for inquiring insiders or anti-Mormons. (Kinderhook Plates–Emma’s kitchenware, right?) I’m curious if non-Mormons mesh the polygamy issue with the feminist issues, or if perceived LDS misogyny is another marker as troubling to outsiders as the first three.

  61. Thank you for your response, Kristine. I won’t go any further in to it here.

  62. Little Sister says:

    #42 and #46: I completely agree that ignorance of the more difficult parts of Church history is big problem. As I mentioned above, I didn’t know there was legitimate controversy over the role of Church leaders in the Mountain Meadows Massacre until I happened to google Juanita Brooks a few months ago. I think the blame for this does not lie, as Kevin said, in Mormons who “aren’t historically minded, aren’t big readers, and simply aren’t going to take the initiative to read any of that literature.” That definitely doesn’t describe me. Every time I hear about a new “vexing issue” I research it. My problem is I just haven’t heard about all the issues that I should look into. At BYU, no one talks about these things. If they are brought up, they’re quickly dismissed as “baseless anti-Mormon attacks.” It took several times before I learned not to believe Church leaders when they say this, but that’s truly unfortunate.

    In sum, it’s hard to find solutions for things you didn’t know were a problem.

    For everyone: is there a way we can constructively tell other young people about the items on this list of concerns before they hear about it through Google? Also, what other dark things don’t I know about?

  63. Little Sister says:

    Also, Randall- thanks for the book suggestion. I’ll definitely have to read that one too.

  64. Little Sister: Yes, there are other issues. However, how could anyone know what will be an issue for you? I’m surprised, for instance, that BY’s teachings about Adam-God aren’t on the list. Should you know about that? I don’t know. Is it the Church’s duty to create a list called “dirty laundry” and then say, “these are troubling issues that some people have, and here is our best take on them”? To date the Church has left it to its private members and organizations like FAIR and FARMS to address the issues. You could find a list like you discuss at FAIR’s website.

    This approach has several advantages. Fist, if someone gives an answer that isn’t satisfying, or that turns out not to be quite right, it doesn’t somehow bind the Church to the answer. Since scholarly answers are never final or completely accurate, that is preferable – especially when the real problem is a kind of tendency to believe that the church must be infallible in the first place.

    However, that approach has several disadvantages. It obviously lacks authority. It still looks like “the church” is skirting the issues and thus private members had to take it up. In addition, perhaps some answers will not be fully satisfying. There is a legitimate place for faith and believing that an answer may be found or provided when we learn more. We are, after all, quite ignorant.

  65. #62: I say let Google and Wikipedia have a go at it. They can be used constructively. I don’t think they are the new Anti-Mormon or anti-Christ.
    The Church can certainly respond to them in it’s education systems.

  66. Little Sister says:

    Good idea YOUbet.
    Maybe when I return to Provo I’ll surreptitiously place posters all around the Wilk: “FAIRLDS.ORG: Because your roommate’s father’s second counselor who once spoke to an unnamed GA on the subject may NOT be an infallible source on Church history.”

  67. #64: “Is it the Church’s duty to create a list called “dirty laundry” and then say, “these are troubling issues that some people have, and here is our best take on them”?
    Yes!

  68. #64 – No, not “The Church” at the top level. Their duty is to preach Jesus resurrected and His Church restored. If people want academic treatments, they should turn to academicians to provide them; if they want scientific answers, they should turn to scientists to provide them; if they want historical perspective, they should turn to historians to provide it; if they want “witnessing” answers, they should turn to witnesses to provide them. At least, that’s my desire.

    I don’t want “The Church” to reincarnate Bruce R. McConkie expressing personal opinion on non-Gospel topics as official doctrine. I want Kevin Barney and Ardis Parshall and Armand Mauss and Richard Bushman and Jan Shipps and Bill McKinnon and Henry Eyring and Hugh Nibley and others to “explain” Mormon history and science and scriptural exegesis and other topics. I want the apostles and prophets to preach and minister and administer.

  69. Iow, I don’t want “The Church” to spoon-feed me everything I should eat, pureed to a consistency any baby could digest. I want to figure out how to digest the food in its own form – or to put it aside and not even try to digest it. I don’t mind if others help me decide what to eat raw, what to boil, what to grill, what to puree and what to discard, but I don’t want “The Church” turning everything into a blended shake that someone thinks should go down smoothly and not cause any indigestion. I like the diverse flavors and consistencies of my food too much to want pablum.

  70. Until such time as I know who participated in this “gathering of saints”, I’m going to hold their collective “concerns” as suspect.

  71. #56 – I, too, was surprised that feminist concerns placed so low on the list – unless people who cite polygamy tether that to feminist concerns in general. However, I was only partly surprised, because amongst Mormon friends of my own age group (I’m in my mid-20’s), and sometimes even on this site, I have noticed that people are somewhat fatigued with or eager to “move on” from discussions about gender, especially controversial ones.

    Amongst my age-group friends, I get the impression that most of us feel that various official church narratives about gender are somewhat out of touch with how we live our lives as women. Most Mormon women I know of my age, for example, have professional aspirations and don’t necessarily believe in natural gender roles. But because the church does not interfere with our personal decisions we are happy just ignoring the issue and not rocking the boat on topics like women and the priesthood. Because the status quo is acceptable, the cost of pressing the issue further is too high.

    But, I would like to see the church seriously address feminist issues at a doctrinal level, in part because in the absence of such inquiry I feel that we are developing a culture of selectively picking what doctrine applies to our lives. I don’t necessarily think that bodes well for our church’s future.

  72. #68 – Just a quick thought: in many other churches, church leaders are the academics. How does the fact that we don’t have a professionally trained clergy change what we expect from our leaders?

  73. Last comment: I also want to add what would be the topic that most concerns me: the vocabulary we deploy as Mormons.

    So often, I feel that our language – especially our strong expressions of truth – prevent us from speaking well to non-Mormons and often make Mormons who cannot testify so emphatically feel uncomfortable with their membership. Rather than deploy insider language so often, I wish we would develop a vocabularly that allows us to speak to others and hopefully to examine better what we ourselves mean by our phrases.

  74. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 70, see no. 5.

  75. Noray,

    I don’t think it is really the doctrine, but is the practice. I’ll give an example from today.

    As some of you may know, the Church is simplifying the procedure for submitting names for temple work. FamilySearch.org is being modified so you can do almost everything online from any computer with an internet connection. They are doing it temple disstrict by temple district. How did my stake leaders choose to let the members know about this new program? We had a Stake General Priesthood meeting tonight. I’m not sure what the plan is to let the women in the Stake know about the program and some of the (very!) cool things that it can do. Am I supposed to come home and tell my wife about how these new-fangled computer thingies work, and this new invention called the interwebs? She can run circles around me with the computer–among other electronic gadgets. I suspect I am not alone.

  76. A sister I visit teach recently confided me in that her co-workers were telling her that Joseph Smith had more than one wife (at one time). She was upset that someone would say that about the prophet of the restoration. She is a convert, a minority, an entry-level worker, and English is not her first language. She does not get her information from the internet. She believed the missionaries and what they taught her. No one prepared her for receiving this kind of information from a co-worker. I explained as gently and as best I could “the truth”. It is a dilemma the church has. We do need to preach the gospel and that doesn’t necessarily mean the history. But I also think some factual information — perhaps from the ward/stake missionaries when they teach the fellowshipping lessons would shore up the testimony and activity level of MANY converts. Most individuals will face this information at some point. To not be told is often to feel betrayed and it becomes difficult to trust what you have been told.

    I consider the Proclamation on the Family and perhaps the Twelve’s testimony of Jesus Christ to be modern revelation. IMHO, in time, the Proclamation may become scripture.
    I personally think how women are treated within the church is a major issue. I’ve interacted with more than one non-member woman who commented with strong emotion on the predictable treatment of women by mormon men. I think the culture of the church promotes treating women in a way that isn’t consistent with with is happening in the larger culture (at least in the US). That behavior becomes ingrained in the men so they carry it over into the work place and their social lives. I believe many women notice it and it shapes their impression of the gospel/church.

  77. Jones, just out of curiosity, where (geographically and situationally) is the treatment of women you describe happening on such a widespread level that non-Mormon women are commenting on it as “predictable”? I’m not implying anything in the question; I really am just curious.

  78. I second (third?) the boredom concern. My husband and I were in Vermont this last week for vacation and I was interested in what the ward there would be like. I had this hope that perhaps Vermont Mormons were as unique and interesting as the rest of the inhabitants of the state. But alas, I might as well have been attending church in Idaho. I turned to my husband and said, “Next testimony meaning I am going to declare that ‘I know that the church is just an inane wherever you go.'”

  79. Ray, I live in Texas. This is where the comments have been made. I am in academia. There are not many Mormons in our community or at the University but it seems they frequently become “tagged” as Mormon. Women that have worked with men known as “Mormon Bishops” or “Mormon Presidents” (that is how they have been referred to in conversation) have described behavior where they felt they were treated as second-class citizens (my description)and basically not treated with respect. The strongest comment I’ve ever received from another woman, who upon learning that I was Mormon, said she had gone to school in Utah (she is an attorney, I’m not sure what part of her schooling took place in Utah) and she would refuse to live there for the way the men treated the women. She was quite angry about her experience of how she had been treated.

  80. #75 CS Eric,
    Funny you should mention New FamilySearch. My calling is in the FHC and we are going live next week. We had a regional meeting with representatives from SL and were told that the FHC Directors would handle the roll out and Priesthood Leadership would need to have only minimal involvement. More than half the participants in that meeting were women.

    If information in your unit doesn’t get passed along to the sisters, that may speak more to your own leadership than general church leadership. I also believe the sisters need to take some responsibility for keeping on top of things themselves. We can’t expect to be equal partners if we don’t take equal responsibility.

  81. But Noray, introducing the information at a Priesthood Mtg. excludes the women. They have to take more than equal responsibility (overcome structural inequity) if they are to learn about this program. Mormon women are conditioned to do this as a matter of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok that they have to.

  82. #78–pretty bleak view, Kate. Some find comfort in the uniform nature of church worship. Though free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream after the block would be a nice touch.

  83. Polygamy………don’t know why I am surprised, but I shouldn’t be.

    From my personal experience as a YSA the people most freaked out about polygamy are women. They are especially freaked out about any insinuation that polygamy is required for exaltation.

    Whenever this subject rarely gets brought up in a conversation, they usually start fishing for a “no sister, you won’t have to live this ever”; but they only ever get a “we don’t know”.

    I alaways found it odd how people are ok with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses,once righteous David and Solomon, Gideon and many more being polygamous but uneasy about Joseph, Brigham and speculativly themselves being polygamous. As if to say, “polygamy is ok, as long as it doesn’t involve me”.

    Is polygamy required for exaltation?

    I don’t know; I don’t care and fretting about it is evidence that one are too focused on the future and not focused enough on the present.

  84. #68: Interesting view Ray. If McConkie had not been a GA, would he be on your list? Why do you think he acted alone?

  85. I think I would have to agree on the polygamy issue. Polygamy makes my TBM female relatives extremely upset. It used to even make my wife’s grandmother the daughter of a polygamist upset.

    I think like MY that gay issues will slowly come up on the list as the gap between the church and the wider culture increases on this issue.

  86. re 81

    Priesthood meetings, by definition, exclude women. But, is there a regularly scheduled analog for women to get information into the hands of women? I don’t think there are regularly scheduled semi-annual or quarterly stake wide meetings for sisters like there are for the priesthood-read men-holders. You’re not suggesting adding another meeting for members to schedule and attend, are you? Rather, I suggest the more prudent way would be to abolish the general priesthood meetings or, even better, make them co-ed. As a regular general priesthood meeting attendee, I can bear testimony you sisters are not missing out on much and and there’s not much shared at those meetings that doesn’t apply equally to the sisters of the church. So, I say open up the general priesthood meetings or abolish them. Whatever is done, do not add to heavy burden of extant meetings, please.

  87. I’m not into more meetings, just for fewer gender-segregated ones.

  88. Polygamys ranking on the list should not be a suprise to anyone. The real problem I percieve is what about polygamy is troubling, as opposed to the usual reference in the abstract? Polygamy as a doctrine is not at all a relevant concern to me because if the Church is true and God wants it this way, then it behooves us to do our best to make it our way. The problem I have had with polygamy is that the way it was practiced calls into question the credibility or early Church leaders. Marrying other mens wifes, sending them on missions, spiritual coercion (I am the prophet God said mary me, or else…), highly secretive and even lied about.

    What about polygamy is troubling to those who would list it as a top concern?

  89. #85

    Ya, Cinderella and Snow White didn’t have sister wives. Polygamy flies in the face of our culture’s most cherished notions of romantic love.

    Also, polygamy flies in the face of the western world’s most traditional views of holiness. Until Martin Luther came on the seen, the really holy people became celebate and lived in caves, talking to angels all day. They didn’t multiply their sexual partners. That is something tha the barbaric,infidel Saracens did.

    Forget about the protestant reformation or secularism, most people still take their cues from the Middle Ages.

  90. Sorry about the spelling and grammar, I was going way too fast.

  91. I don’t find that the church hides issues like these very much. There are periodinf articles in the Ensign touching most of these issues. But I do have a problem being told that I shouldn’t even look into these issues (by Bruce R Mckonkie, Geroge Q Cannon, and other GAs) because it just isn’t good. In a class where the second counselor to the Bishop opened up the discussion for questions on “anything” I asked what the churches official position on the Kinderhook plates was. I hadn’t found the Ensign article yet. But he honestly had no idea what they were and further said we shouldn’t dwell on these things. Later in Tithing settlement, I had to assure the Bishop that I wasn’t losing my testimony because I asked the question. He further counseled me to stop asking questions becasue no good will come from it.

    We select our leaders based on qualities that do not include a broad understanding of church doctrine or history. And that is fine. But I think they would make a poor choice as an expert to go to with such a question. Leave it to the apologists.

  92. re 87
    No argument from me, I completely agree.

  93. #91: “We select our leaders based on qualities that do not include a broad understanding of church doctrine or history. And that is fine. But I think they would make a poor choice as an expert to go to with such a question. Leave it to the apologists.”
    For the first 150 years of the Church GAs were the ones to give the answers. The ‘Think Tanks’ are fairly new.
    #87,92: Google Legacy 7.0 + Temple ready for LDS, and you can can get an idea of what’s being talk about.

  94. 91. There is some substance to the argument that the Church hides history. For several years many of the popular Anti (for lack of a better word) organizations, such as UTLM, have pointed out several egregious ommissions and revisions from selected quotes out of the BY Priesthood and RS manuals. Many of these are cases where polygamy references have been ommitted, or BY comments have been revised (without proper notice) to reflect the current stance of monogomy. There are some cases also where references to “blood atonement” (as they call it) have been sidestepped with elipses in the manual to glean sermons for things which would be kosher to current sensibilities. The Church no doubt felt like it had a little bit of egg on its face with this issue, given the new Joseph Smith manuals for Priesthood and RS which now disclose the fact that revisions and omisions will be made.

    There is evidence to suggest that the Church does at least make some effort to conceal some facts. I suppose an argument could be made to blame CES, or whoever produces the manuals, independent of the brethren for the circumstances. I won’t say how aggressive I think the Church is in pursuing this course, or what exactly their reasoning is, but we can’t always blame it on the “stupid members” when there is some level of discouragement from studying unofficial LDS publications, and official LDS publications purposely mislead – despite intentions.

  95. I can think of two revelations since the lifting of the priesthood ban–the change of mission length to 18 months, and then the change back to two years.

    Wait, maybe those aren’t good examples.

  96. #93 – just to further the point, isn’t that sort of the purpose of a GA, to expound/clarify doctrine. I was under the impression that the Prophets/Apostles were the mortal intermediaries between God/ the Savior, and man. I would argue that if the brethren were more clear on matters which believe are eintirely their domain, mormon apologists would have to shrink back to their initial place as strictly educators.

  97. Steve Graham says:

    What bothers me is the changing of temple ordinances when Joseph said that such were NOT to be changed and the Lord through Isaiah decried such a practice.

    Also, #1 mentioned the lack of revelation since OD-2. Compare OD-1 and OD-2 with the revelations in the scriptures and they come off differently. They don’t look or seem the same. Now, it has been written that there were revelations backing both of these. But I have never had the opportunity to read them, nor have I ever heard anyone else having that opportunity.

    Given that these 2 contradicted former pronouncements of Presidents of the Church, even former revelations, why can we not read the underlying revelations, so that we may take the matter to the Lord for confirmation, as we have been instructed to do?

  98. I was refering to local leaders as not being experts on doctrine and history. We don’t always select the “smartest” people as Bishops and the like, but usually the ones with the strongest testimonies. Of those, ones with the best organizational and management skills go further. By the time someone has been selected to be a GA, he has already encountered most of these issues and developed an opinion on them. Even GAs disagree on the offical interpretation of some things.

    What I was really getting at was the attitude of “don’t ask” which seems very contrary to church attitudes towards education.

    But I agree with you that the church does try to hide some things. Often it is like my daughter who when she was 4 would say things like “let’s not talk about that” when I would bring up something she had done.

  99. Steve Graham, you are working a serious fundie vibe. Not that I think you particularly care, but if you want Woodruff’s account of his revelatory basis for OD-2, see Deseret Weekly, November 7, 1891, pg. 626-627. The text for OD-2 isn’t publicly available, but see Leonard J. Arrington’s Adventures of a Church Historian (pg 176-177) for an account of its delivery.

    Your comment is even more fundielicous because the priesthood ban wasn’t eve created by revelation. So you are condemning revelation that overturned non-revelatory doctrine/policy. Awesome. That said, I’d love to the text as well, but it doesn’t appear to be forthcoming.

    Let’s not forget section 138 – I imagine that it is revelatory enough for the most pessimistic.

    And where did Joseph say that the Temple ordinances were not to be changed?

  100. J. Stapley and fundie- see discussion (still rough in places) here :)

  101. Steve Graham says:

    JS,

    Thank you for the references: Hopefully I will find access to them.

    “A serious fundie vibe” It amazes me how much name calling occurs on the ‘Net, despite the fact that the participants have at least physically reached the age of majority.

    So, now we say that revelation was not the source of the priesthood ban? I wonder how long it will be before we call into question Pres. Young’s other revelations, or the ones which have not already been called into question. Perhaps, because of OD-1, we will next start publicly doubting D&C 132. What follows, who can guess? Having said all that, I am in agreement with you, that I would like to see the text of the revelation supporting the priesthood ban.

    I’m not sure why D&C 138 was brought up, for my comments had to do with #1’s comments about the lack of revelation since OD-2. All I asked for was to view the revelations which backed up OD-1 and OD-2. What is wrong with that request?

    “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 308)

    Isaiah 24:5
    The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.

  102. Dude it’s not name-calling to label someone a fundamentalist when they don’t buy OD-1 or OD-2. Plus you really should visit The Monk’s site before you rest your testimony on TPJS.

  103. Steve Graham says:

    #100

    While the article is interesting, why do you refer to me by the pejorative (Fundie) instead of my name? Is common courtesy not a feature of BCC? Do the moderators not care or enforce such? Do you think I would be offended by such a term? Do we not have better or more important things to speak of? And better uses of our time? Should I ask if your mother did not train you better?

  104. Steve Graham says:

    Steve Evans(#102),

    Read my post again. I did not say that I did not “buy” OD-1 and OD-2. I simply wished to be able to read and pray about the underlying revelations. What is wrong with that? Did you read Isaiah’s/the Lord’s opinion on changing ordinances?

  105. Steve Graham says:

    Monk,

    Thanks for the article it was quite interesting. Obviously I had viewed same as unchanged where I believe you see it in the sense of the same ordinances (none missing and none added).

    So, if we changed baptism to sprinkling, and left everything else the same, would you consider that such would satisfy the prophets’/Lord’s requirements? What if we took some of the words out? What if we changed the wording to mean something else? What if we eliminated one of the ordinances for the majority of the Church? Would these changes still meet the Lord’s requirement of not “changing the ordinances”?

    BTW, one does not have to be a Fundie to note that all of these things have been done and to be frustrated beyond all words with such.

    Please do not take this personally. It is not meant as such. Just a hot button with me.

  106. I really want to do this activity in my ward. I wonder if anyone would vote for kinderhook plates?

    I cast my vote for “apathy.”

  107. Hey Steve,

    I personally and self-admittadly have some fundamentalist tendancies, but I don’t act on it ; – )
    When it comes to changes and ordinances; I personally distinguish between The Endowment and the Presentation of the Endowment. The two are different. If we were to go back in time and see the endowment ceremonies attended by Abraham, Nephi, Mormon or Paul, I suspect we would find the same general symbolism and meaning; I would also suspect them to be very different aesthetically.
    I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that when Mormon recieved the endowment the officiator wore some type of mask, made references to corn, feathered serpeants and at the end Mormon did some kind of elaborate dance, drums, rattles and all.
    The endowment hasn’t changed; but the presentation has and must. The people recieving it need to understand it.

    As for OD 1 and OD 2:
    “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

    Both the so-called “fundamentalists” and real mormons will agree that Wilfurd Woodruff was a Prophet and as the cliche goes, thats good enough for me.

    No one is pulling the Whoolley over my eyes.

  108. If information in your unit doesn’t get passed along to the sisters, that may speak more to your own leadership than general church leadership.

    No doubt. But I think the point is that local leadership shapes the experience that women have in the church. And leadership is leadership–they are still responsible, no matter what level.

    I also believe the sisters need to take some responsibility for keeping on top of things themselves. We can’t expect to be equal partners if we don’t take equal responsibility.

    Ouch! This strikes me as incredibly harsh toward women. Exactly what is it that you think they should be doing that they are not, if the announcement is made at a male-only meeting?

    Are you advocating that they go to the meeting and sit in the foyer, just so they can hear what is being said? Or what?

    Also, please note that the church makes it difficult to find out what goes on at general priesthood meetings. One can download audio for the other general conference sessions, but not priesthood.

    I understand that it is a private meeting, but any member ought to have access, whether or not they happen to have a penis, as long as they continue to make announcements in that meeting which affect all of us, such as the building of small temples and PEF, both of which were initially announced at general priesthood. So if they want to make it available only after member login, fine.

  109. Steve Graham, there is simply no revelation that started the priesthood ban. You may wish there were, but there isn’t.

    As to changing ordinances, how do you feel about the Kirtland temple rituals?

    As to the “fundie vibe” – just calling it as I see it. If you adopt a fundamentalist world-view or adopt positions espoused by fundamentalist Mormon schismatics, be prepared be associated with them.

  110. “BTW, one does not have to be a Fundie to note that all of these things have been done and to be frustrated beyond all words with such.”

    Methinks thou dost protest too much Steve Graham. re: the numerous dumb rhetorical questions in your #103, if you don’t like it feel free to spend your extremely valuable internet time elsewhere. The dip in BCC readership that your participation represents will be quite sorely felt but so be it.

  111. Sooo true.

    The term mormon fundamentalist is an oxymoron. How can a religion based on continuing revelation, further light and knowledge,NOT change?

  112. Steve Graham says:

    Her Amun,

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I understand that different cultures might use different symbols to convey the same ideas. What bothers me is when these ideas get dropped or changed within our same society. My kids no longer get the same teaching that I received. That distresses me.

    The statement by Pres. Woodruff stands in opposition to statements by earlier presidents. This changing of doctrines also makes me crazy.

    I don’t believe that all fundamentalists agree with your assessment of Pres. Woodruff.

  113. Steve Graham says:

    J. Stapley,

    No revelation for the ban on the priesthood. Cites?

    I don’t know anything about the Kirtland endowment. Can you recommend any sources on this?

    If the Fundies have truth, I don’t mind learning from them. Nor do I mind learning from other Christians, non-Christians and even atheists. Does it matter the source of the truth?

  114. SG,
    Do you really think “endowment” meant the same thing or entailed the same performances for JS circa 1843-44 as for JS circa 1836-37?

  115. Steve Graham says:

    Steve Evans,

    I’m sorry that courtesy is not a feature on BCC.

    I’m also sorry that no one here has been able to answer sincere Gospel questions.

  116. Steve Graham says:

    Her Amun,

    Regarding change in a religion based on continuing revelation…

    What I don’t understand is how temple ordinances can be eliminated, how light and truth within the endowment can be changed and how the meaning of the endowment can be changed.

  117. SG (113),
    For someone demanding to see proof of revelation for OD1 and OD1, your demand that Stapley prove a negative in the case of the priesthood ban (non)revelation is positively laughable. The burden of proof is on those who assert the existence of revelation, is it not? In other words, if you’d like to assert, in the face of decades of scholarship on the question, that a Church president (BY, for example) claimed to receive a revelation dictating that persons of African descent should be kept from holding the priesthood or participating in the temple, then, uh, prove it.

  118. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    As I told J. Stapley, I don’t know anything about the Kirtland endowment. Do you have any cites?

    Still Joseph told Brigham to formalize the endowment, which Brigham did with the final step being the Lecture before the Veil. Compared with our endowment today, there are many differences, some of which are substantial. It pains my heart that my children do not learn as much as I did (the parts that have been eliminated) and that they learn different things (the parts where the meaning has been changed).

  119. Changes to the teachings and performances of the endowment, including the elimination of some parts, is a process that began with Brigham Young. If you’re looking for a branch of Mormonism that rejects BY’s prophetic calling while simultaneously accepting the temple endowment, I suggest you check out the Cutlerites. They have around 12 members these days.

  120. There are plenty of things, speaking as an ordinance worker in the temple, that I’ll be perfectly fine with my children not hearing should the leaders of the Church decide to change them and have that decision ratified via revelation.

  121. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    Pres. Woodruff spoke of a revelation which the Lord gave to him in reference to OD-1. I would like to read that revelation. Would you not like to? Would you not also like to see the revelation which Pres. Kimball testified to have received? What is wrong with wanting to see such?

    I don’t know if Pres. Young received a revelation on the blacks or not, nor do I know if he ever testified that he had received one. He testified many times that they were not to receive the priesthood until some time in the Millennium. Perhaps he made that up. Perhaps he got it from God. Perhaps he got it from Joseph and God, as he did with at least one other revelation. I don’t know.

    On the other hand, Pres. Woodruff and Kimball both testified that they had received a revelation from God. I would like to read them. Would you not also like to?

    On the other hand

  122. Steve, I honestly think that you should consider the possibility that your kids are being taught less false doctrine than you were and that instead of loosing light, we are gaining it. Like Elder McConkie said after the revelation on the priesthood:

    Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    It seems to me that you are making serious claims about the Church and its history, yet you confess to being ignorant of a very many important aspects of that history. The Kirtland rituals are spelled out in a number of places including the history of the Church and Joseph Smith’s journal.

    Regarding the lecture at the veil, why do you suppose that it came by revelation or that it was an essential part of the temple?

  123. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    I already noted that Joseph instructed Brigham to formalize the endowment.

    As a former ordinance worker and father, I prefer to have my children receive as much light and truth as they can.

  124. SG, you seem to assume that all revelation has or must have a written record. Can you justify this assumption?

  125. …one other thing, Graham. If your subtle comment that Brigham may have gotten the priesthood ban “as he did with at least one other revelation” was intended to justify Adam-God, then you need to stop commenting now and starting reading more. You are just making stuff up.

  126. Supergenius says:

    I officially object to the use of SG to refer to Steve Graham.

  127. SG,
    You’re assuming that every word that has ever been a part of the endowment (including the parts that Brigham removed) are perfect light and truth, that there were no influences independent of revelation, and, therefore, that decisions to change anything in the ordinance relfect a conscious choice to take away light and knowledge. I assume, on the other hand, that changes made under the direction of revelation (and I am willing to take them at their word that the revelations in question took place), will enhance, rather than diminish truth. Of course I’d like to read all the revelations. Joseph Smith received and even dictated many revelations during his lifetime which he did not publish or reveal publicly. Further, unless you’re like 178 years old, I assure that the unalloyed endowment of your youth whose absence you bemoan is, in fact, less complete and is missing portions that Church members of former generations experienced.

  128. Steve Graham says:

    J. Stapley,

    You consider the parts that were changed or left out as not being light and truth? Pres. Smith and Young were mistaken on such things? I find it amazing to think that the founder of our dispensation, who was quite likely an archangel or some such, would know less than those who came after?

    Thanks for the reference on the Kirtland ordinances.

    I consider the lecture at the veil to be from God because:
    1) It was given as part of an assignment to Pres. Young from Joseph
    2) Brigham was as close to and true to Joseph as anyone else in this dispensation after Joseph’s martyrdom
    3) It includes knowledge of Deity given to Pres. Young by the Lord, as testified by himself and others
    4) And, as opposed to Elder McConkie, Pres. Young was the president of the Church and authorized by the Lord to receive revelations for the Church

    Do you think otherwise?

  129. Steve Graham says:

    Ben,

    Pres. Woodruff and Kimball testified that they had received a revelation.

  130. True, Stapley (125). Several contemporaneous descriptions of the Lecture at the Veil suggest that Adam-God was a key component of the teachings. Which explains, in part, its absence from today’s temple worship.

  131. Steve Graham says:

    J. Stapley,

    What would you have me read on AG?

  132. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    There is nothing on this earth which has perfect light and truth. We both know that. I just wish to receive as much as possible and wish the same for my children.

    I don’t see how it’s possible that by removing portions of the endowment will enhance truth. Truth by definition is knowledge of things past, present and future.

    Of course, I know that I did not receive as much as former generations. I simply do not wish my children to receive less. Do you?

  133. I find it amazing to think that the founder of our dispensation, who was quite likely an archangel or some such, would know less than those who came after?

    So what do we even need prophets and apostles for today, or continuing revelation? Joseph’s own understanding of key teachings — on the nature of God, for example (it’s virtually impossible to reconcile the teachings of the LoF with section 130, unless you move in the bizarre and esoteric directions of Orson Pratt, whose attempts at theological reconciliation here were condemned by BY as heretical). Like I said, if you want to reject the subsequent (and, yes, sometimes corrective) light and knowledge of leaders subsequent to JS (including BY, who did much more than “formalize” the endowment), while simultaneously fixating on the Nauvoo endowment as the say all and end all of eternal truth, I have no doubt the Cutlerites are looking to boost their membership numbers.

  134. Steve Graham says:

    Supergenius,

    My apologies if others have attributed your handle to me.

  135. I don’t see how it’s possible that by removing portions of the endowment will enhance truth.

    If portions were less than true, then removing them will enhance truth.

  136. Do you think otherwise?

    Yep.

    The Lecture at the veil was prepared in 1877 if I remember correctly. BY confessed to not having receiving Adam-God from Joseph. BY had administered endowments for decades in the endowment house with out such a lecture. The lecture appears to not have been used very much at all. We have no evidence that the Lord inspired the Lecture at the veil. Brigham departed with Joseph Smith on many issues, not least of which are Adam-God and the Priesthood ban.

    You seem to be espousing some sort of inerrancy for Brigham Young that is unique to him. I am quite confident in saying that Brigham Young was wrong on a great number of things.

  137. Steve Evans says:

    It would seem to me that if you’re not able to live up to what you have, you’re in no position to bemoan not receiving more light and truth. Questioning the revelatory nature of the official declarations and second-guessing the authority/wisdom of the leadership of the Church with respect to how they administer the Endowment pretty much removes in reality any entitlement you might be feeling.

  138. J. Stapley, Brad, and Steve Evans, I’m a bit curious why under a post titled “The Most Challenging Mormon Issues” where commenters have chimed in with a variety of concerns that challenge them, that the last thirty comments have been devoted to establishing the error of Steve Graham’s thoughts. Are you concerned that he is using your web site to advocate against the Church?

  139. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    We don’t have the full Nauvoo endowment today. Nor do we even have the full endowment from 1971, when I received my own. I sorrow for the loss and the changes. You do not. I get that. Less light, even if commanded by God Himself, is still less light. Your Cutlerite hints are juvenile and insulting, and I am surprised that NO ONE here calls those who make such snide remarks.

  140. John, yes.

  141. Steve Evans says:

    John M., the answer to your question is yes.

  142. Steve Graham says:

    I did not speak against the Church. I simply raised 2 issues which bothered me, just like others had issues which bothered them. I did not speak against scriptures, nor did I accuse anyone of leading the Church astray. I simply mourn changes in the endowment and wish to see the underlying revelations to OD-1 and OD-2.

  143. Antonio Parr says:

    I am late to this discussion, and my comments will likely be too brief and inartful to merit a response, but I see the most challenging Mormon issues to be (1)(By a landslide)– the fact that the Church denied the Priesthood to Blacks. Thirty years later, I still have to cringe over this one, as it runs contrary to everything I believe about the family of man and the power of the atonement and the message of Christ; and (2) Modern polygamy, and the way that it demeaned/demeans and marginalized/marginalizes women.

    A distant (but nevertheless present) concern is the frequently mundane nature of our worship services, and the alarming trend of assigning members talks about talks that were just given by General Authorities.

    (I’ll have a lot more to add when the topic turns to the least challenging Mormon issues — this is a wonderful, wonderful Church, and I thank God on a daily basis that I am a part of it.)

  144. With respect to Steve Graham’s own experience and interpretations, I question the notion that there is or ever was one “meaning” to the temple endowment. I look at it (and the gospel at large) as an onion, with many valid “layers” of meaning.

    More importantly, I think the primary (and most effective) method of learning within the temple is by revelation, not by lecture. If key concepts have been omitted from the instructions accompanying the endowment (and I think Her Amun nails it when she distinguishes between the presentation of the endowment and the ordinances performed during the course of the endowment), perhaps it is because the majority of the church’s members wasn’t internalizing or applying those spoon-fed concepts the same way they would have if they had been forced to learn them directly through the Spirit.

  145. Steve G,
    It’s only less light if the parts removed were, uh, light. Why would God countenence the removal of light via revelation through His chosen servants if such light was necessary? I know it’s difficult for you to think that JS or BY could have been wrong about anything (while at the same time rather easy to accept that the brethren are lying about revelations received in order to cover the sin of removing necessary light from saving ordinances), but you’re just going to have to learn to live with it. The Church is still true, JS and BY were still prophets, and the Church is still directed by prophets under the guidance of continuing revelation.

  146. Steve Graham says:

    Brigham testified that he had received AG from both Joseph and the Lord. Several others testified that Joseph had taught the same.

    We also have no evidence that the Lord did not inspire the Lecture. At least I have not seen any.

  147. Steve Graham, was your “Pres. Woodruff and Kimball testified that they had received a revelation” in #129 a response to my request to justify your assumption that revelation = written document?

    If so, can you expand? I don’t see that as anything more than a restate of your original assertion, that IF there was a revelation, you must be able to read it and if you can’t read it, then (you imply) there wasn’t really revelation.

  148. Steve Graham says:

    Ben,

    I did not imply what you are asserting.

    Like me restate this for the last time.

    Both Wilford and Spencer testified that they received a revelation. I wish to read them.

  149. Both Wilford and Spencer testified that they received a revelation. I wish to read them.

    So do we all. And I’m sure there were plenty of saints in Joseph’s time who would have loved to have read the revelations he received but kept private.

  150. Steve Graham says:

    Brad,

    I agree.

  151. Steve Graham says:

    Ben (147),

    I don’t understand what you want.

  152. Steve Graham says:

    Ben (147),

    I never said or implied that Wilford and Spencer did NOT receive a revelation. I just want to read them. And, in my view, so should anyone who is expected to ratify the actions they took which depended upon said revelations.

  153. What if they were not written down? What if the revelation consisted solely of the concept “ordain males of african descent”? Revelation does not need to be in words, nor dictated to the prophet by God. In fact, it is probably rarely the case. Said Orson Pratt about the revelations in the D&C, “Joseph… received the ideas from God, but clothed those ideas with such words as came to his mind.”Minutes of the School of Prophets, Salt Lake Stake, 9 Dec. 1872, Church Historical Department Archives.

    Again, though, you’ve simply restated your assumption, which I do not at all find justifiable. If I’m misunderstanding you, it’s not for lack of trying on my part. Why do you assume there is something to read?

  154. Steve Graham,

    “Whether Adam is the personage that we should consider Our Heavenly Father, or not, is considerable of a mystery to a good many. I do not care for one moment how that is; it is no matter whether we are to consider Him our God, or whether His Father, or his Grandfather, for in either case we are of one species of one family and Jesus Christ is also of our species.” Brigham Young, JD 4:217.

    I post this quote not just cuz we have gotten on an Adam-God conversation, but because the spirit of the quote is very right and applicable.

    You say that the changing of doctrines drives you up the wall, that you feel bad for your children because they are not being tought as you were tought etc.

    My view is that truth is truth. It matters not what anyone says; 1=1,2=2,2+1=3 etc.

    I recieved my endowment in 2000 ad; it makes no diference to me that the ceremony was somewhat different from what was tought and recieved in 1900 ad; what matters is that I am endowed and that Heavenly Father knows I’m endowed.

    Also, this is a formula that works for me.
    Doctrine = what we learn and teach in Church.
    Truth = what we learn by revelation.

    All doctrine is true, but not all truth is doctrine.

    It makes no difference to me whether the door swings or slides; as long as it opens.

    Bruce R. McConkie might say it swings; Heber C. Kimball might say it slides. Both agree that it opens; while the secterian world denies that there even is a door.

    The door opens my friend, lets walk through it and leave the particulars alone. Jesus Christ has given the keys to Thomas S. Monson and thats the only reason I’m LDS; because I know that is true.

  155. “thats the only reason I’m LDS; because I know that is true.”

    That a billion other reasons, but you catch my drift.

  156. Steve Graham says:

    Her Amun (158),

    I understand what you mean.

    I will tell you that I joined the LDS Church, because I felt that my former church was not helping me to get to know God better. I gained all sorts of this type of knowledge when I was baptized and thereafter. That is good.

  157. Steve Graham says:

    Her Amun,

    Thank you for treating me with respect.

  158. #101 – This is the old question of how do we no if a specific revelation or Church policy/doctrine is of God. When this argument pans out eventually two conclusions will be generally reached.

    1) Brigham Young and former Church leaders, as good intentioned as anointed disciples of the Savior can be, still espoused the racial inclinations of their enviroment. Therefore as a result of the overwhelming social psychological externalities which were imposed upon their philosophies, they imposed an unauthoritative practice upon people of African decent, which the Lord lovingly tolerated until this issue could be rectified through SWK in a more enlightened age.

    2) Elder Holland approach: We don’t know why the Lord (emphasize: Lord) instituted the ban, but we do not believe it was based on any type of spiritual inferiority, or more specifically that it had anything to do with the “Curse of Cain” or the curse mentioned in Abraham. Some will take this course a little further by making comparisons to the NT situation of the Savior and the Gospel first being preached unto the Jews, before the similar revelation to Peter that the time had now come for the Gospel to be taken to all the world. However this position still retains a shrowd of mystery, in that we still don’t know why the ban was necessary.

    There are other views, but I find these to be the most common. Either version I find to be inadequate rationalizations of a very perplexing fact. It is true that there was no special session, or a solemn assebly, called that we are aware of where BY or any church leader instituted the ban. However, church history, JoD in particular, is laden with speach after speach where BY in referring to the ban (or other unsavory teachings of his) would employ the Saviors name in an authoritative affirmation of his teaching. If our Church leaders were to do this today, the teaching would be generally accepted as the will of the Lord. If nothing else, by rejecting the ban one must also concede that whatever the motive BY was extremely cavalier in executing his office of Presidency with consideration for personal bias. This should be very disconcerting that a former president of the Church would pass of his personal views as, again, the will of the Lord.

  159. “it’s not name-calling to label someone a fundamentalist when they don’t buy OD-1 or OD-2.”

    Err, Steve E., there’s a whole long list of people who don’t buy OD-1 or OD-2, who are also not Fundamentalists. There are Strangites, CoC, Cutlerites, and so on. There’s a nifty book by John Hamer discussing a few of these groups.

    Not to say that Graham is or isn’t a Fundie — he may or may not be. But it’s simply not true that rejecting OD-1 and OD-2 automatically creates a Fundie.

  160. Kaimi, true enough; but couple that with Adam-God advocacy, and temple change mourning and there you go.

  161. Steve Graham says:

    Cowboy (162),

    I would propose that there is only one way of knowing if a revelation is of God. He must tell us. We may think we know, but given that our ways are not His ways, only divine communication can suffice.

  162. Right, J. I have no opinion on Graham’s ecclesiastical status (though, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck).

    But I am a little bothered by what seem to be overreactions to Graham. You’d think BCC had never seen a Fundie before.

    For instance, Brad’s 117 points out a contradiction in Graham’s argument; but the same contradiction clearly also applies to the counter-arguments that have been raised. (I.e., if we don’t need to show actual revelation for OD-1 and -2, why would the need for actual revelation behind the PH ban?)

    Even Fundies (or pseudo-Fundies) who abide by blog norms ought to get fair and reasonable responses.

  163. Steve Graham says:

    Kaimi (167),

    Thanks for the consideration.

    BTW, you could use Steve to refer to me instead of my surname.

  164. Martin Willey says:

    Is it me, or does the term “fundie” just have a perjorative ring to it?

    Beyond that, I agree with Kaimi. I certainly don’t share SG’s views, but don’t quite understand all the vitriol.

  165. MW,
    You’re not reading the comments not released from moderation.

  166. I’m not sure what can be described as vitriol here, unless you’re counting the pejoratively descriptive term “fundie”or “fundamentalist.”

  167. Steve Graham says:

    Ben (171)-
    From Steve Evans:

    Methinks thou dost protest too much Steve Graham. re: the numerous dumb rhetorical questions in your #103, if you don’t like it feel free to spend your extremely valuable internet time elsewhere. The dip in BCC readership that your participation represents will be quite sorely felt but so be it.

    How many posters get treated to such?

  168. Martin Willey says:

    This whole discussion of the orthodoxy of SG’s views departs from the purpose of this thread. But as to vitriol, use of perjorative terms would count, as would (IMO) this

    It would seem to me that if you’re not able to live up to what you have, you’re in no position to bemoan not receiving more light and truth. Questioning the revelatory nature of the official declarations and second-guessing the authority/wisdom of the leadership of the Church with respect to how they administer the Endowment pretty much removes in reality any entitlement you might be feeling.

    Or this,

    Like I said, if you want to reject the subsequent (and, yes, sometimes corrective) light and knowledge of leaders subsequent to JS (including BY, who did much more than “formalize” the endowment), while simultaneously fixating on the Nauvoo endowment as the say all and end all of eternal truth, I have no doubt the Cutlerites are looking to boost their membership numbers.

  169. When the question of whether temple ordinances may change arises, I usually find that it is really a question about two of the fundamental doctrines of the restored gospel – authority and revelation. These are misunderstood by many, which causes almost every dispute over Church history and doctrine. We cannot seem to understand that when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve gives us counsel, direction, or revelation, it is what the Lord wills them to give us for our day, regardless of what has been revealed in the past. That is the very definition of revelation.

    Here is an example, reported by President Wilford Woodruff:

    I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made … with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. … A leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’

    When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the [living] oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.’ (Wilford Woodruff, in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, pp. 22–23)

    When the living prophets and apostles reveal something new, even if it is different from what was spoken by prophets of old, the living prophet always wins out. That is the very fundamental nature and core of what we call revelation as it has been given to man since Adam. The Prophet Joseph taught:

    Notwithstanding, literally speaking, that all knowledge comes from God, yet when it has been revealed, all men have not believed it as revelation at the time. …

    Noah was a perfect man, and his knowledge or revelation of what was to take place upon the earth gave him power to prepare and save himself and family from the destruction of the flood. This knowledge, or revelation, … was not believed by the inhabitants of the earth. They knew Adam was the first man, made in the image of God; that he was a good man; that Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years, and was translated to heaven without tasting death. But they could not endure the new revelation: the old we believe because our fathers did, but away with new revelations. And the flood swept them away. …

    The same principle … was signally manifest among the Jews when the Savior came in the flesh. [They] boasted of the old revelations, garnished the sepulchres of the dead, gave tithes of mint and anise, made long prayers for a pretense, and crossed sea and land to make proselytes, but yet when the new revelation came fresh from the mouth of the great I Am himself, they could not endure it—it was too much. It showed the corruptions of that generation, as others before, and they cried, away with him; crucify him! …

    Once more, the same course and language were used when the Book of Mormon came to this generation. The old revelation, the old patriarchs, pilgrims and apostles, were blessed. We believe in them, but the new ones we cannot abide. (“Knowledge Is Power,” an editorial published in Times and Seasons, Aug. 15, 1842, pp. 889–90)

    Elder Holland just reemphasized this principle in his last Conference talk “My Words . . . Never Cease.” It is the very nature of new/continual revelation that is not understood.

  170. Nice, Bryce. You should come on and quote the brethren more often. ;)
    Seriously, though, purificationism (the impulse to return to an idealized, unalloyed past) always militates against the notion of constant and progressive change via continuing revelation. The two always exist in tension with each other and (hopefully) always will.

  171. Thanks for weighing in, Bryce.

    –sister blah 2

  172. Naismith,
    Ok it was a *bit* harsh. I do love my sisters in the church but I get very frustrated by the attitudes of some of them. And, yes, the men’s attitudes frustrate me too! I think I should be quiet now and read the rest of the comments.

  173. “How many posters get treated to such?”

    All of em.

  174. #169:”..when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve gives us counsel, direction, or revelation, it is what the Lord wills them to give us for our day…”.
    Then are you saying there was some kind of Revelation given FOR a Priesthood ban ‘in their day’?

  175. #174:“Then are you saying there was some kind of Revelation given FOR a Priesthood ban ‘in their day’?”

    If the Lord had wanted to give the priesthood to all worthy males sooner, don’t you think He would have done so? Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church, not any mortal man, and He knows what He is doing. There have been other times in history when the priesthood has been restricted to only certain people (e.g. the Levites). Heck, even the gospel itself was restricted to the Jews until a revelation was given to Peter to take it to all (Acts 10). I am confident that the Lord is in charge and that we do not fully understand His ways (Isa. 55:8).

  176. “But as to vitriol, use of perjorative terms would count, as would (IMO) this”

    You’re right that discussion of how we ought best have treated Steve Graham is not the point of this thread. As has occurred many times before, I probably could have been nicer. I believe his views are actively contrary to the restored Gospel as presently taught by the Brethren, and as such I see no need to provide a forum for them here.

  177. Left Field says:

    I agree with those who have stated that a revelation does not consist of a written text. The revelation may (or may not) be expressed as a text, but a revelation can be received and understood independently of words being recorded in a human language.

    Furthermore, there are various canonized revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants that take the form of minutes of meetings, official announcements, letters, etc. To the extent that one might want to read the text of a revelation, I am at a loss to understand why canonized texts such as OD1 (an official announcement) and OD2 (a letter) qualify as revelatory texts any less than other letters and official announcements that have been canonized as revelation.

  178. Heck, even the gospel itself was restricted to the Jews until a revelation was given to Peter to take it to all (Acts 10). I am confident that the Lord is in charge and that we do not fully understand His ways (Isa. 55:8).

    Hi Bryce,

    I hope you don’t mind if I ask a couple of questions. I think we are getting to something important.

    In Mark 16:15, Jesus told the apostle to go into ALL the world and teach ALL nations. So, in the intervening time between when Jesus gave that instruction and the revelation about clean and unclean things in Acts 10, is it possible to think that the apostles were not living up the instruction they had already received? In other words, the revelation in Acts 10 may have been unnecessary, because, as you note in your final sentence, sometimes we (including apostles and prophets) don’t understand completely.

  179. #175: I will take that as a yes.

  180. #169

    I approve this message.

    I believe that the priesthood ban was the product of revelation; I also believe that its demise was also the product of revelation.

    I don’t need a “thus saith the Lord”, for me to obey.

    That being said, I think one can believe whatever one wants; but the minute you start getting vocal, even in private, against the 1st Pres or Q of 12; then you are started down the road of apostasy.

  181. Steve Evans says:

    Her Amun, I don’t know that the ban was the product of revelation, but I know its demise certainly was. I couldn’t agree more with your final paragraph.

  182. Did you mean that the Acts 10 revelation was necessary because they didn’t understand Mark 16:15? That sounds correct to me. I think we all tend to put things in our own pesonal context – surely Christ didn’t mean *every creature*, he must have meant *every Jewish person*. Paul’s revelation had to be given in living color with much more specific detail in order to get the message across. Since Prophets and Apostles are only human too, it makes sense that sometimes they would intepret revelations from a personal perspective which might not always be God’s perspective. When I run in to something in the BoM which sounds a little hinky to me, I just remind myself that Joseph no doubt gave voice to the translation in words that were comfortable for him to say.

  183. So if I read Steve Evan’s words correctly, it is alright to teach what the current brethren are teaching of the “restored gospel”, but not alright to teach what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and other brethren taught of the “restored gospel” – this is, those who received the “thus saith the Lord” revelations in the first place. Right?

  184. James, you’ll find it depends entirely on your intent. If you’re trying to understand, or even just to satisfy intellectual curiosity, you’re welcome to quote anybody you wish. If, on the other hand, you are using prooftexts from early prophets to demonstrate that the current leaders of the LDS Church headquartered in SLC are in error, you’ll find yourself banned from commenting pretty quickly.

  185. Also, you’ll find that most of us around here are pretty damn cocky, and attempts to “teach” generally don’t go over so well. We like to think of it as a conversation among equals (except, of course, when Stapley chimes in–we always bow to his superior wisdom ;))

  186. Her Amun said:

    “That being said, I think one can believe whatever one wants; but the minute you start getting vocal, even in private, against the 1st Pres or Q of 12; then you are started down the road of apostasy.”

    James: What happens when they themselves (current leaders) do it? Start saying and teaching things contrary their past leaders, or did it concurrently?

    Why should we believe and follow leaders who themselves didn’t believe and follow what their leaders taught?

    Why should we believe and follow leaders today? If earlier leaders could goof up and teach false doctrines, and their doctrines can be considered incorrect and part of past “prejudices”, then why can’t today’s teachings also be considered incorrect or downright false?

  187. James, we believe and follow leaders today because we have the testimony of the Holy Ghost that these are inspired men and women that are doing the work of God. Further we have the testimony from that same Spirit that our immediate duty is to hearken to their counsel and obey. In the end, this belief is fundamental to all who can call themselves Latter-day Saints. This explanation will no doubt be unsatisfying or not enough for some, but it’s the truth.

    With that, I think the threadjacks are over.

  188. James, you have convinced me to write a post on fundamentalist logic and the priesthood ban. I’ll probably get to it within the week. But here is just a taste:

    The modern Church has denounced all the reasons for the priesthood ban that Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon, Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie gave for it. So we are left with two possibilities:

    1) the Ban was not the will of God; but as He lets those with keys to govern the Church actually govern the Church, He allowed them to instate the ban.

    2) the Ban was the will of God; but He allowed the leaders of the Church to teach false doctrine about it.

    I tend to think option #1 is less troubling.

  189. Aaron Brown says:

    I find option #1 relatively less troubling too, J., but never underestimate the attractiveness of being able to apply a fuzzy, malleable doctrine/policy or doctrine/culture distinction to the pronouncements of historical LDS leaders, thus leading to the creation of option #3:

    3) the Ban was the will of God, but there was never a doctrinal reason given for the ban, notwithstanding all the speculations of early LDS leaders, so what’s the problem again?

    Hopefully your post will anticipate and somehow deal with that “option” too.

    AB

  190. #185: “when Stapley chimes in–we always bow to his superior wisdom ;)) No, none of us are smart enough to know if he’s making it all up or not.

  191. Hee hee.

    Aaron, I don’t disagree that some might do that, but it is obviously not historically tenable.

  192. James,

    “Why should we believe and follow leaders today?”

    First, everyone who has ever walked upon the face of the earth,Christ excepted, has had within their pee brains a combination of truth and error.

    Adam, Enoch, Moses, George Washington, Genghis Khan,your barber,Brigham Young, that one black guy in the mormon tabernacle choir; everyone, at one time, has believed at least one thing that is not true.

    Why follow the Bretheren?

    Because if I am gonna be right on some things and wrong on others; then I want to be right/wrong with Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ, with living breathing Prophets, with men who are bound for exaltation, with men who Jesus Christ trusts to have the keys of the kingdom.

    I want to be right/wrong with men who know Jesus Christ.

  193. “with men who are bound for exaltation”

    Provided they don’t pull a Judas Iscariot; but you catch my drift.

  194. [not]Monk says:

    “What can we as a Church do to begin to address such issues?”

    A revelation on each issue.

    So for example: Woman receive the priesthood.
    Gays are pronounced ‘ok’ and in full temple fellowship, that would mean a revelation on gay marriage in the temple. Fun thought.

    As far as Joseph Smith goes, turning the scriptures into good myths to live by, that would mean that you wouldn’t need to worry about Joseph Smith’s scriptures not being literal or historical.

    Polygamy: New revelation opening it up for women to have it. I think that might actually solve the problem, but that’s just me.

    Marrying other men’s wives kind of creates a problem but we could always go for Prophets are human and make errors too.

    Secularism; scientism: I think here we need to simply mold the two together and update any of the doctrines through the progess of revelation, that need to take place here.

    Blacks and the Priesthood: It would help for a formal “I’m sorry” from the church on this, and a few more “Prophets are human and can make mistakes.”

    Not believing JS story, history: Start by saying “Prophets are human and can make mistakes…” the rest can be made easy.

    Members’ lack of understanding, being uninformed: Keep pushing the members from General Conference to ‘get all the education you can’ in the end that will lead more Mormons to become ‘Liberal Mormons’ and come here to bycommonconsent.com or postmormon.org one of the two.

    7 (tie). DNA and the BoM. (2)

    7 (tie). BoM authenticity. (2)

    For both of the above the soluation here is to simply go by the evidence. We can call the scriptures good parables to live by but not to be taken literally. That would solve the problem of trying to make them historical or authentic or proving anything like DNA that doesn’t exist.

    7 (tie). Attitudes towards women. (2)

    Again a revelation giving women the priesthood and maybe making one an apostle would go a long way.

    7 (tie). Kinderhood plates. (2)

    This goes back to my: Prophets are human and can make mistakes.

    – LDS religion not making people happy.

    Make the LDS Church a culture not built on excessive guilt or excessive perfection. Focus more on the grace of Christ, less on being perfect through our works.

    – Financial secrecy.

    That’s simple make it open again.

    – Tea and coffee not unhealthy.

    Go back to the way they used to intreprate the Word of Wisdom to allow for health benefits.

    – Apathy.

    Make Church less boring?

    – Current teachings in conflict with earlier eras.

    Prophets are human and can make mistakes but can also correct the mistakes of other Prophets, but of course can also make new mistakes, i.e., Prophets are human and can make mistakes…

    – Joseph not a martyr.

    That’s ok, it may make him more human to the members to learn that. Which may help them not to punish themselves too much.

    – Church doctrine ill defined.

    Liberal Mormons need to define it or at least counsel the Prophets and Apostles to define it. This of course could cause problems later, maybe we should keep it undefined.

    – Odds against being born on same planet as JC (assuming sole redeemer of universe).

    Look at Jesus as a Jewish Rabbi who wanted to reform Jewish faith?

    – Masonry and the temple.

    Prophets are human and make mistakes.

    – Mountain Meadows.

    Prophets are human and make mistakes.

    – Need to treat others well without judgment.

    We are all human and make mistakes?

    – Too Republican.

    Republicans are human and make mistakes.

  195. The previous comment is not by The Monk associated with Mormon Monastery or comment #100 (and the BCC folks can confirm that via the posted email or IP address.)

  196. Her Arnun,

    ready to tell us what beliefs Adam, Enoch and Moses had that were not correct?

    How does one know what is correct and what is not? And who defines it? Society in general? The current LDS leadership?

    These two options mean basically the same since all changes that have been operated in church (doctrine and ordiances included) followed internal and external pressure or the so-called common sense (even though the principle of common consent has been avoided in some occasions)

  197. Lulubelle says:

    [not]Monk: Wow, I love it! Thanks. Very insightful.

  198. #188 – I made this point 30 posts ago in #158.

  199. J. Stapley,

    I actually prefer option #3, and I think it is historically tenable. But I would restate it:

    3) the Ban was the will of God; but He gave his prophets and apostles their agency to state their own personal opinion and views on the why’s and wheretofore’s without a specific revelation giving a reason for it.

    It’s similar to #2, but without stating that the Brethren were teaching “false doctrine.” Even prophets are given the mortal privilege of having their opinion on matters, which shouldn’t be construed as “false doctrine.” I would prefer “false opinion.”

    I do not believe that God would have allowed the ban if it was not His will. Otherwise, who is in charge?

  200. Bryce, the “false opinion” tack consequently dilutes just about everything the Church now teaches to “opinion,” something that I tend not to view as favorable. Further the conviction with which early leaders taught false teachings on the matter suggests that they didn’t believe that it was simply opinion.

    You ask who is in charge if it wasn’t God’s express will to institute the ban. My belief is that God has given the governing quorums of the Church the rights, privileges and keys to govern the Church. I personally believe that God doesn’t give revelation for every policy decision. And I think the historical record bears this out.

  201. “Further the conviction with which early leaders taught false teachings on the matter suggests that they didn’t believe that it was simply opinion.”

    That is entirely the point when it comes to arguments about doctrine/revelation vs. prophetic opinion. There are instances, especially more contemporarily, where leading Brethren have made statements of opinion regarding certain points, and have been clear that the statement was just that, opinion. Bruce R. McKonkie comes to mind with regard to the priesthood ban, his statements make no pretense to anything other than speculation based on the prevailing interpretation of scripture.

    There have been however, instances where leading Brethren have made no allusion to speculation. Obviously Brigham Young comes to mind here. If the Brethren cannot/could not be clear whether a teaching was of themselves, or divine, can we dismiss the conflict with a simple diagnosis of human error?

  202. If the Brethren cannot/could not be clear whether a teaching was of themselves, or divine, can we dismiss the conflict with a simple diagnosis of human error?

    I’m quite certain that the teachings were false. The Church currently appears to agree.

    I also wouldn’t characterize McConkie’s teachings as so unequivocally and self-evidently opinion.

  203. Bryce, you are are on very thin ice in suggesting that God wouldn’t “allow” anything wrong or bad if it was not his will. That makes God willing every tragedy on earth–from the murder of Cain to the Holocaust to the plane crash on Saturday that killed a flight instructor and burned the parents of four young children. I understand that you are limiting the scope of your argument to Church policy, and you’re assuming that a prophet will never lead the people astray, so if the Church institutes a policy, it must somehow be from God.

    I think we would be dangerously arrogant to assume that within our own little bubble, we don’t have to grapple with the reality of human error and false traditions. (How many times does the Savior mention tradition in the NT, and how often are “the false traditions of the fathers” cited in the BOM?) I also think that kind of idea sets up many devout Mormons–particularly young ones–for a crisis of faith from which some never recover.

  204. Perplexed says:

    anyone have an idea of why a bishop would be released early and put on probation?

  205. Perplexed, it’s probably because she got found out.

  206. Why can’t the prophets have strong opinions? I don’t think that dilutes anything, but rather is a witness that they are still human, and makes their prophetic utterances ever more poignant. But even if they are wrong in their opinion on specific matters, by doing so they are still emphasizing more broad & general true doctrines that the Lord has given, such as obedience. What would have happened if members of the Church had disagreed with BY, or subsequent prophets, and had gone off alone and begun ordaining everyone to the priesthood? They would have been excommunicated from the Lord’s Church for not following the instruction of the prophets. It would have been considered apostasy. It is the same today. Those who think it is wise to disagree with the Church’s stance on SSM are heading down the same road to apostasy.

    Again, I don’t think the Lord would have allowed a ban on priesthood for over 100 years if it was not His will. He knows what He is doing in His Church. My personal opinion on the matter is that the Church might have been completely wiped off the earth if the priesthood had been given to all from the beginning. It was already near destruction with all the persecution in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Salt Lake, and elsewhere. Armies were combining to take care of the Saints. Mobs martyred our founding prophet. The horrendous atrocities and brutalities of MMM occurred largely out of fear. Giving the priesthood to men who many in the country were extremely prejudiced against at the time might have been the final nail in the coffin for the Church, resulting in unrecoverable repercussions, and ultimately its demise, something which the Lord would not allow. On the other hand, if it did not result in the destruction of the Church, it may have severely limited its growth and progression, something else the Lord was not willing to allow.

    Yes, racism is utterly and thoroughly wrong. But I think it would have been an even greater wrong to publicly and openly oppose the leaders of the Lord’s Church. Such would have been criticizing the Lord’s anointed, and stoning the prophets.

    I have confidence the Lord knows what He is doing, even if we do not, even in policy decisions. The will of the Lord for His Church changes according to the dictates of the time and place, and is for the building up of the Church. This has been shown to be true throughout history. Those who stay close to the prophets and apostles will be doing what is right, even if they privately disagree with them in some particulars.

    Joseph Smith once declared this principle:

    Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know, unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another. God said thou shalt not kill, at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which may be considered abominable to all who do not understand the order of heaven only in part, but which, in reality, were right, because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation. A parent may whip a child, and justly too, because he stole an apple; whereas, if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite, there would have been no stripes all the pleasures of the apple would have been received, all the misery of stealing lost. This principle will justly apply to all of God’s dealings with his children. Every thing that God gives us is lawful and right, and ’tis proper that we should enjoy his gifts and blessings whenever and wherever he is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon these same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to go down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed, and as God has designed our happiness, the happiness of all his creatures, he never has, he never will institute an ordinance, or give a commandment to his people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which he has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his laws and ordinances. Blessings offered, but rejected are no longer blessings, but become like the talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant the proffered good returns of the giver, the blessing is bestowed on those who will receive, and occupy; for unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly; but unto him that hath not, or will not receive, shall be taken away that which he hath, or might have had. (Joseph’s Letter to Nancy Rigdon)

  207. They would have been excommunicated from the Lord’s Church for not following the instruction of the prophets. It would have been considered apostasy.

    Why? Because those in the governing quorums have the rights, privileges and keys to govern the Church. Following the Church leaders is a good thing.

    I understand your position, but I think it is both wrong and existentially incoherent.

  208. Margaret,

    See the quote from Joseph Smith in #206.

  209. Yes, following the Church leaders is a good thing, and that’s why not following them is a bad thing, and leads to apostasy.

  210. Bryce, what are you getting at? I don’t think anyone has advocated not following Church leaders. And who said anything about SSM?

  211. J. Stapley,

    If I must repeat myself, what I’m getting at is that I believe that the Lord is in charge in the Church, and that the policies, decisions, revelations, counsel, direction, advice, and even opinion given by those who the Lord has set to govern the Church are for the betterment of the Church and kingdom of God on earth. We may not understand at the time why, they may even seem horribly wrong under different circumstances, and we may strongly disagree with them, but it is for the good of the Lord’s Church.

  212. J Stapley (202)
    I am not disputing that the statements were false, or that the Church has since officially discounted them. I am saying that it is a perplexing issue to faith and ones belief in Prophets when they can be so wrong about things. The whole premise of Prophets is that they hold the keys to knowledge of God and things, so there isn’t much budge room for error. Some Prophets have said things as a matter of opinion, and that fact was disclosed prior to making the statements. Certainly if those things turn out wrong, that is permissable and could be covered under the “prophets are only human” clause. But, rarely have those speculations been introduced as Church policy, especially when the ramifications would include dening Church blessings to an entire race. So the challenge is, BY seems to have thought that the Priesthood ban was divinely inspired. He was wrong, there are serious implications here. Bryce seems to understand this, as does Elder Holland, that is why they have taken the position that the former “folklore” was incorrect, though the ban must have been from God.

  213. Once in awhile there is a post (with comments) where I want to print the whole thing out and read through it all (with the comments) carefully. This is one of those posts.

    There ought to be a plugin that makes the whole thing printer-friendly. (not a criticism of BCC: – just a thought about WordPress in general)

  214. Dan, that plugin would be used like once every ten years.

  215. danithew,

    There is. I use it, and it works great. It is called WP-Print.

  216. Sorry for the threadjack.

    As a sidenote, for whatever reason, the whole thing printed out beautifully I thought I was going to have these odd margins but it all expanded out very cleanly. 52 pages. This will make for some interesting subway reading.

  217. Dan, you’ll note that BCC has a special print stylesheet so that it prints without the regular formatting garbage. Check it out in print-preview. All without a plugin!

  218. #212: [If] He was wrong, there are serious implications here.

    I don’t disagree, and I see why some [many?] take the position you describe. I just think that there are more even serious-er implications when you take that position.

  219. I just checked it out. Fifty-one pages of threadjack, but the clean format is nice.

    Oh and I vote for boredom being the number one challenging issue.

  220. Bro. Jones says:

    Any regulars be willing to start a new thread/post on what, if anything, the LDS church should do about boredom among its members? Seems like an interesting topic that warrants its own discussion.

  221. I’ve actually been looking for a post on why the Church still owns cattle ranches. Any takers? :)

  222. I gotta say, I am not very excited about the idea of a whole thread about boredom.

  223. I think Bryce #221 is on to something. Ideally, the person who does it should do some on-site research. (and post pics!)

    Steve, what is the per-diem for on-location reporting for BCC? :-)

  224. #221 – My guess is the fairly obvious: Because they make alot of money.

  225. Bro. Jones says:

    #221 I thought the church divested itself of its livestock holdings a few years ago?

    #222 Consider it a thread on adressing boredom, rather than merely BEING bored.

  226. Steve, it is a very serious thing to publicly state that you don’t like or are not excited by boredom. It indicates a lack of respect for Church leaders and High Councilmen. You are on the high road to apostasy. I know that my accusation violates BCC rules, but I simply cannot watch you sink into dangerous waters and not comment. I do not want your blood on my hands.

  227. Steve Evans says:

    Margaret, I’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road, and I’ll be at Sunstone a’fore ye…

  228. :)

  229. Eric Russell says:

    Bro. Jones, Elder Maxwell frequently spoke on topics that intersect with boredom. This one is a classic. I also like this passage, from a different talk.

    The true believer has struck a balance between being too content with himself and being caught up in the equally dangerous human tendency of wishing for an enlarged and more important role. Alma said, “I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me” (Alma 29:3). Often ignored is the tutoring sixth verse which follows: “Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?” To develop careful contentment by using our existing opportunities is obviously one of our great challenges, particularly so when we seem to be in a “flat” period of life. We may feel underused, underwhelmed, and underappreciated, even as we ironically ignore unused opportunities for service which are all about us.

    In any case, I’m truly perplexed by the comments on boredom. If I were to guess at the average member’s chief complaint it would be that they are too stressed out because the church has so many programs and expectations with regard to callings.

  230. Now we need a post listing all that is right with the church.

    I’ll mention one. The Gift of the Holy Ghost is available to all baptized members of the Lord’s restored church who will diligently seek for Him.

  231. Eric Russell says:

    Jared, that kind of material is not appropriate for this forum.

  232. Yeah Jared, what are you thinking?!?

  233. Bro. Jones says:

    Can we ban Jared?

    (Personal revelation. It’s why I became Mormon, and why I’ll stay Mormon no matter what life throws at me.)

    (Not that I will actually show up on time for sacrament meeting based on this conviction, though.)

  234. “Her Arnun, ready to tell us what beliefs Adam, Enoch and Moses had that were not correct?
    How does one know what is correct and what is not? And who defines it? Society in general? The current LDS leadership?”

    All I am saying is that I’m throwing my hat in with my oldmen at 47 E. South Temple St, and that is the bottom line. That is where the safety lays and that is all I’m asked to do.

    We can philosophize, hypothesize, style and profile; but all this hemming and hawing on speculative minutia ain’t gonna do anyone a bit of good.

    When the Savior visited the survivors at Bountiful he didn’t get into some crazy deep explanation of Nephi’s or Alma Jr’s actions and teachings. He tought them what they nedded to know to return to the presense of the Father.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if during the 2nd Coming the first things the Savior goes over will be just a repeat of the Sermons on the Mount and Temple.

    Just look at the Temple Recommend interview; it is far more about what we do than what we believe.

    No where have I been asked: what is your take on Adam? Do you belive polygamy is essential for exaltation? What do you think of Pres. Young’s view on black priesthood holders in light of Elijah Abel? Do you believe Christ was a polygamist, monogamist or single?

    Now, I have no problem with people having a wide range of viewpoints on these subjects; I think about them all the time.

    But the minute one starts to deride, devalue or spread doubt about the living prophet, then you are on very dangerous ground.

    And this is from someone with “fundamentalist” tendancies. Follow the Bretheren; that is where the safety lays.

  235. “When the Savior visited the survivors at Bountiful he didn’t get into some crazy deep explanation of Nephi’s or Alma Jr’s actions and teachings. He tought them what they nedded to know to return to the presense of the Father”.

    I would be careful with this assumption. During the Saviors visit among the Nephites we get a reiteration of the Sermon on the Mount, a series of prayers, then some abrubtness that what he then taught the Nephites were not permitted to write. Many have suggested that was because he instituted the Temple rites with them. This may be true, but would only serve to suggest that the assumption that he did not teach them any doctrines in elaborate detail, is completely and totally false. It would seem that quite to the contrary that is exactly what he did, though perhaps not with the specific examples you listed (then again how would we know).

  236. #229 – Given the nature of this forum, I would argue that the boredom that most people are feeling is intellectual boredom. Sunday School and other official forums for Gospel learning are a bit stagnate.

  237. “Just look at the Temple Recommend interview; it is far more about what we do than what we believe”.

    I would just make one further point here. The Temple reccomend interview is a worthiness interview. It is intended to determine whether an individual has lived up to covenants already made, and yes many of the questions are aimed directly at the core beliefs and affiliations of individuals. You are right only in that it is not required that one possess a perfect understanding of truth. I want to tread carefully here, but I would just conclude that the purpose of then going to the temple (literally and symbolically) is so that we may have divine communion and recieve that holy light which only God can provide. It is all about what we know and learn, and yes what we do. I would caution against the rationalization though, that these matters of intellectual inquiries, are not relevant. As Joseph Smith stated, (parahprase) we can only be saved as fast as we gain intelligence.

  238. Bryce (#206),

    Why the heck was Joseph writing a letter to Sidney’s 19 year-old daughter? Does it have anything to do with the number one most challenging Mormon issue from the OP? I’m cracking up that you used that letter to illustrate some concept about God being in charge. Instead, you probably should’ve written, “Joseph Smith once declared this principle, concerning THE PRINCIPLE.”

    Also, you do realize “the ban” did much more than just disqulify blacks from holding the priesthood, right?

  239. Steve Evans says:

    “I would argue that the boredom that most people are feeling is intellectual boredom.”

    Naw, feels pretty much like the regular ol’ dumb kind.

  240. #226 – “It is a very serious thing to publicly state that you don’t like or are not excited by boredom. It indicates a lack of respect for Church leaders and High Councilmen.”

    OUCH!! I promise I’ll try harder from now on, Margaret.

  241. Responding to comment #217 – J. Stapley, I just have to say that is a very nice piece of print code. I was genuinely surprised and pleased to see how well that post/comments print-out turned out.

    I ended up reading through everything and felt I couldn’t add much to this discussion but it made for some very interesting reading. Thanks Kevin for putting this up.

  242. The latest developments regarding the Deseret Ranch (deseretranchflorida.com) can be read here and here.

  243. Kevin,
    I didn’t read through all the comments to see if you disclosed what group this was and were the issues listed or did they come up with them on their own and you just gathered the responses?

  244. Doug, it was at a FAIR conference. See comment #5.

  245. I think the answer to all of these issues lies in the treatment of the MMM. For a long time this was totally hush-hush and that made it seem all bad. Then the church decided it had to face the issue, made several very good moves including the most recent book and the issue loses much of its bite, at least among the faithful. So the church must begin to tackle these other issues the same way. They will be shocked how much less damage will be done by discussing them honestly than just hoping nobody brings them up.

  246. #245: I really hope you are right. What I would not want to see is this: “We are open. See how we handled MMM?”. Then not be.

  247. Kevin Barney says:

    sscenter, I agree that the recent treatment of MMM is a model of how it should be done; may it be so.

  248. Here is one of my main criticisms-

    Although I love LeGrand Richards as a person and a general authority, it bothers me that in his book “Marvelous Work and a Wonder” and many of his talks he has influenced so many members of the church to think that the Marvelous Work and a Wonder began back in 1830 when the church was restored…

    I think this is really unfortunate! In fact I have just started a blog to voice my humble opinion about this topic

    I would love to see a poll take on bcc to see what % of viewers think the mmw is a future event and how many of them think it began over 170 years ago

    After all, the answer to this doctrinal questions is critical for the great test that is coming and it affects a persons perspective of the current state of the Club

  249. What are the “kinderhood plates”?

  250. Aaron, here is a nice write-up from the Ensign no less.

  251. Thanks for sharing that, Jonathan!

  252. Just read this interesting thread. These issues are evidence of a vital church with much work ahead of it. The boredom comments are evidence of a less vital church so far as they are indicative of a leadership and laity that overlook the real issues of concern.

    Some posters have expressed surprise that the priesthood BAN ranked so high, as if that’s old history we should just “get over”. It isn’t old and past for many black members of our church, who face challenges to their faith over this single issue almost daily like an open wound that won’t heal.

    Having the present-day church honestly address the BAN would be a humble and human act and one of the only ways to truly find peace on this. I believe the Ban is a collecgtive sin for which the church itself must plead forgiveness. Those who would lay the blame for it at God’s feet as if nothing happens without His command, are just searching for a way to justify good old fashioned hate and prejudice at God’s expense. I’m pretty convinced He isn’t in that line of business (Moses 1:39)

    I picture Our Father up there just shaking His head most of the time over the things we do in His name. He pleads with us, he clearly tells us (“All are alike unto god . . ., love everyone . . . shew unto you a more excellent way . . .no respecter of persons, etc.) And yet we still find ways to exclude our brothers, to hate our neighbors, and pretend it’s God’s will. Even Peter had to be clearly instructed about taking the gospels past his neighborhood, more than once, before he progressed forward, and he walked with Christ!

    In order to make life secure and comfortable, I’m sure my own father would love to step in at every point of my life and “help” me make the right choices about everything from job choice, my college major, wife (luckily I did alright on this one), and financial decisions. But he doesn’t as well he shouldn’t. I am grateful that he just let’s me live my life as I wish, and I stumble, and in turn succeed.

    Our Heavenly Father also lets us live our petty little lives down here, knowing that “all things on Heaven and Earth shall pass”, and lets the march of human history commence on our own volition.

    There is suffering in the world and much of it is squarely human-caused when it could be just as easily human-prevented. The mess we make down here is not God’s Will. His will is that we choose the righteous path, the straight and narrow, the Higher Law. When we choose otherwise, the consequences can’t be projected on to God’s Will.

    All are sinners. Hate and prejudice aside, without even intending it we may even have blood on our hands. Whether it’s from buying diamonds, Nikes from child labor in Vietnam, or supporting a power elite who oppress others around the world for their benefit, and sometimes for our own trickle-down benefit, we are indeed sinners, desperately in need of forgiveness.

    That is the purpose of our probation–in the end we are all brought to our kinees , humbled by life itself, vulnerable to our own imperfections and weaknesses, in desperate need of an atonement.

    BTW, the word probation carries a connotation of proving oneself. As humans, sometimes we surpass all expectations of ourselves and become something truly Christ-like. At other times, inevitably, we fall horribly short–we blow it.

    With the Ban et al., I think we blew it. It is my hope that we, (and I mean all of us “we” in the church), can find the institutional strength to ignore the numbing notion of infallibility as balm to our collective consciences, and make our experience in church a part of a humble acceptance of our human condition. It is in this spirit that I pray for our church, through it’s authorized leadership, to openly address this issue, clear the air with an apology and ask forgiveness.

    These people were wronged, but not by God. They deserve the respect that an honest, humble, and loving apology would provide. Would the Gospel tell us otherwise?

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