Revelation and name change

I recently chatted with Patrick Mason, Shelby Lamar and Morgan McKeown on the Mormonism Magnified podcast from Claremont University about the recent efforts by President Nelson to use the official name of the church more consistently. I believe President Nelson has displayed a greater tendency to invoke revelatory language than any other president of the Church in the last hundred years. His presidency will be an interesting topic for study by historians.

I recommend listening to the discussion. You can download the podcast by searching “Mormonism Magnified” on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher, or here on their website:
http://www.mormonismmagnified.com/2018/10/03/episode3/. I am curious as to both the short and long term effects of President Nelson’s tenure and rhetoric. I strongly suspect that his style will greatly impact not only future presidents of the Church, but local leaders as well.

Comments

  1. Read it. Good discussion. I was surprised at the omission of any mention of Hinckley’s talk on the subject 6 months after Nelson’s 1990 talk. Despite its laudatory language as to Nelson’s talk, it seemed to some to be going in the opposite direction.

    Here, the “greater tendency to invoke revelatory language” has seemed to increase some members’ reported confidence in the church’s policies and to dilute some other members’ trust in such claims of revelation. It will be interesting to see how this develops further.

  2. Happy Hubby says:

    It is a good podcast. I enjoyed Steve’s input on the podcast.

  3. I personally feel that revelatory keys are held by POTC and Q15. I have been disenheartened by what seems to me to be a tendency to take sensible, good, logistical concerns such as changing the mission age, combining the HPG and Elders quorums, and engaging Young Women in Home ministry and couching them in the same garb of foundational revelation as, say, Section 138 or OD-2. Both of those foundational revelations interestingly opened large doorways in our understanding relating to how large group of people can come to Christ and participate in fellowship and ministry in the kingdom. The first clarified a truth that we didn’t understand and gets us all fired up to fellowship, in a way, with deceased persons in our proxy work at an personal level unavailable before and to prepare to keep ministering after we die. The second corrected an egregious and fundamentally evil misconception and racial cosmology that had been promulgated and taught as basic truth by prophets, seers, and revelatory for generations (oh if only it would be followed up with an apology). I believe spiritual guidance is involved in daily or even semi-annual administration of the church, but the tendency to describe everything in grand revelatory terms makes us confuse the logistics or even the controversial proto-canonical, if you will, with the heart of the gospel of Christ and can detract from such foundational needs which are begging for further light and courage, like the role of LGBTQ children of God in our cosmology and the community of Christ. Currently I can function in the kingdom only by staying closeted, a state that puts my life here on earth at risk. Essentially ignoring a large swath of the world as simply having “challenges “ when in fact what we have are intrinsic biological identity that really can’t be changed and is impossible to outrun forever. If earthly society has shown that people like me can raise and participate in loving strong healthy families, why is it that we think that can’t be the case in the eternities? An answer to that question would be more revelatory to my little transgender self than how to refer to the church, an issue that has been clarified and rehashed ad infinitum in the past. It might help younger generations of people like me forge a life and family in the kingdom without putting some hetero- or cis- spouse through all sorts of pain that could have been avoided, and it might save lives.

  4. I agree that the too frequent use of revelatory hints may dilute the seriousness with which we pay attention. I would really pay attention if statements or revelation acknowledge all of God’s children instead of navel gazing that God only really cares about how TCoJCoLDS functions. My skepticism arises from the canonization of extremely narrow bits such as D&C 15 and 16 and grows with concern about the critical issue of how to use the name of the church.

  5. I humbly suggest that you use the proper name and title, as in “President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, even Russel M. Nelson” so that readers are not confused into thinking that you are saying he is president of the United States.

  6. Rockwell
    ?
    If you are referring to my comment I fail to see where such a confusion would arise. I love and admire POTC, current POTUS – not at all. I mean no disrespect by resorting to an acronym.

  7. Troy Cline says:

    Lona Gynt – I was about to add a comment to this post but will simply refer to your 10/5/18 @ 8:12 comment. Apart from me NOT believing that the POTC and Q15 possess revelatory keys, you have spelled out my feelings exactly. In fact, it is largely because of everything you say that I cannot believe that the POTC and Q15 have revelatory keys.

  8. Kristin Brown says:

    I really enjoyed the podcast Steve. New name for the Choir- The Tabernacle Choir. Not surprising.

  9. Troy Cline. I appreciate your comment, and the observations and feelings I have made might seem to be inconsistent with the idea that revelatory keys are present in this church. I think that is because I don’t equate such keys with infallibility. My personal subjective experience has led me to believe I have received spiritual guidance on my personal life, but I know for a fact that I am pretty darn fallible. If everything we needed to learn were revealed all at once we could only be considered automatons waiting for a data dump, that would be mere programming rather than the true experential learning that I believe God intends for us – he wants us involved in the process. The result of having human beings involved in a process is that things more than occasionally (in fact usually) get all messed up requiring repentance, revisions, course corrections, and sometimes fairly dramatic revelatory revolutions. The main ingredient that becomes necessary in such situations is grace, and I need infinite amounts- as does the institutional church and hierarchy prophets seers and revelators, from Adam to Moses to JSJr, to President Nelson. I can live with the idea that well meaning PSR’s (gosh I am acronym happy -AH- aren’t I?), can have keys and still require grace. My dogma teaches only Christ didn’t need it. Oh how I long for wave upon wave, here a lot, there a lot instead of line upon line, here a little, there a little… but oh well, I am not in charge and don’t wanna be. But I can respect and super clear relate to why the concerns I raise casts doubt. Believe me… I get it. Thank you for your kind words about my long-winded comment.

  10. Troy Cline says:

    Lona Gynt – I did not mean for my comment to be interpreted as a challenge to your belief about the nature of who the church leaders are. I support your right to both see great faults in the church and its leaders while maintaining a belief in their role as prophets. Honestly, I wish more members of the church could manage to hold both of these beliefs simultaneously, as you seem to do. I think we would see more of the desired changes to church culture and policy if that were the case.

  11. Kristin, it seems from the choir’s revised website that you may have indulged in an unathorized, abbreviated nickname. Despite http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org being redirected to http://www.thetabernaclechoir.org, the name is not The Tabernacle Choir (read the website); it is The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Let’s not get it confused with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (or any other tabernacle choir). :)

  12. Troy, I interpreted your comment as kind, not as a challenge. I agree with you. I think all sorts of cognitive dissonance is necessary for learning, in fact cognitive dissonance is my spes-ee-al-itt-tee. Hehe

  13. I enjoyed the podcast–thanks, Bro. Evans–and, like JR up at the top, I’m in wait-and-see mode. Which is not to say, exactly, that I’m reserving judgment. Privately, I’m disturbed about couching such stuff in revelatory rhetoric (it has a cheapening effect), and I can’t help but suspect team Packer/Nelson planned this out a long time ago, and once one of them finally got the upper hand on team Hinckley/Monsen (i.e., outlived them), drove the nail into the “Mormon/LDS” coffin via that rhetoric.

    In my public persona, teaching Gospel Doctrine and in general churchy conversation, I’ve been using the proscribed language, adding a little body English when I say, “Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” tilting my head, gazing heavenward, and bobbing ever-so-slightly with the rhythm, so that the reference is crystal clear, and the implication is that I’m trying really, really, really hard to comply. Even the most hardcore brothers and sisters seem to be in on the joke.

  14. Aussie Mormon says:

    When every change at all levels of the church is meant to have some aspect of revelation to it, why do people find it so hard to think of things like this as revelation.

  15. Michael H., I would like to see your public persona conversations! Seems like too much expenditure of energy for me do for myself. Was “proscribed” a Freudian slip for its opposite “prescribed”? Or did auto-correct strike again?

  16. Kristin Brown says:

    So sorry JR, you are correct. We naturally like to shorten names. Silly me.

  17. All these changes and rumors of changes are sure making Mormons everywhere giddy. But at what cost? We’ve lost our focus on simply loving God and loving our neighbor. Oh, they’re given a little lip service but that’s about it.
    Time for President Nelson (and those like Elder Holland that hang breathlessly on his every word) to stop playing to the crowd with all the little hints and teasers (ie “help is on the way”, “that was just a snowflake the blizzard is coming” etc) about these silly little administrative changes that bring him so much adulation and attention. Time for President Nelson to stand off to the side, out of the spotlight, and point us towards Christ. And if he won’t do that, I’m going to just stop looking at him altogether and keep my gaze riveted solely on Christ.

  18. Lona, I was not referring to your comment surgically, but rather the OP and any one who uses said name, and it was in jest.

  19. Surgically was supposed to be specifically. I’m clearly failing to communicate today.

  20. Understood Rockwell, thanks. I understand better now. 😉

  21. Fred, the reason President Nelson has asked members to use the authorized title of the church is to help us “keep our gaze riveted solely on Christ.” It is contrary to his nature to set the spotlight anywhere else.

  22. JR: I WISH there were more prescription, and less proscription.

  23. Rich Harshaw says:

    Regarding Fred’s comment: “Time for President Nelson to stand off to the side, out of the spotlight, and point us towards Christ.”

    Funny, that’s exactly (and I do mean exactly) what it appears to me he has been doing for quite some time.

    His April 2016 Priesthood address was right on point to this topic. All of the administrative changes, in my opinion are efforts to take peoples’ eyes off the church and affix them onto the Savior.

  24. Kristen, One of the choir members has suggested that the appropriate abbreviated name/acronymn might be “TabCATS.” I rather like it, though I still have a soft spot for MoTab.

  25. Today’s print edition, front page of Deseret News calls it a “revelatory season.”

  26. Which policy would better serve the church going forward? (1) scrubbing the nickname “Mormon” from our collective memory, including doing things like renaming the iconic Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or (2) announcing “emeritus” status for general authorities at age 80?

    Purely from the standpoint of an objective observer, which seems more likely. Was the Lord silent while the church spent millions of dollars on the “I’m a Mormon campaign”–including the production of an expensive feature film named “Meet the Mormons”– and then, after the money was spent, decided to reveal that using the name “Mormon” was “a major victory for Satan” (exact words). Or did an obdurate and slightly autocratic nonagenarian implement his pet project when he assumed the mantle.

    Am I being hyperbolic, or is this a bit of an incipient cultural crisis?

  27. Different times, different needs, RDP. The “I’m a Mormon” campaign was instituted right as the ‘Book of Mormon’ musical was debuting on Broadway and just as a very prominent member of the Church was running for the US Presidency. It made sense to utilize the Mormon moniker then just as it makes sense now to course-correct. At least, makes plenty of sense to me. I thought President Nelson laid out his rationale quite appropriately and thoroughly.

    Also: is your blatant and crass ageism reserved for Church leaders you disagree with? Or are you an equal-opportunity-hater when considering directives from old people? (Or am I misinterpreting the sentiments behind your words?)

  28. The problems that attend a gerontocracy with very old people at the top is widely discussed among church members. Outside the 15, emeritus status is bestowed much earlier than the 80 years I proposed, so at least I’m rather less ageist than the church’s bureaucracy.

    Which do you honestly think is more likely, that the Lord watched a nickname he views as a “victory for Satan” become deeply ensconced both within and outside the church with little to say on the matter for generations until forcefully mandating a course correction in 2018?

    Or do you think this has been Russell Nelson’s hobby horse for a while, and now he gets to put his plan into action?

  29. “Widely discussed” seems a stretch. Had it read, “widely discussed repeatedly among a small sliver of church membership,” I’d agree.

    And you’re right – members of the First quorum of the 70 are granted emeritus status at age 70. Appointments / callings to the other quorums of 70 are for 5-year stints.

    Regarding whether this is the Lord’s directive or President Nelson’s “hobby horse” – why can’t it be both? The Lord knew the kind of energy and focus this switch would take. He knew what President Monson’s health was like. The Lord has priorities, too – is it such a stretch to think that He waited to inspire this change until a leader was in place who was already on board and willing / able to run full-throttle on it?

  30. Bensen,

    You’re ignoring the core of RDP’s argument. Russell Nelson has called the use of the word “Mormon” in reference to the church or his people “victory for Satan.”

    Contrast this with Gordon Hinckley’s talk from October 1990, “Mormon Should Mean More Good”. Nelson’s rhetoric implies that Hinckley was aiding Satan’s victory. Especially considering the fact that Hinckley was responding directly to Nelson’s Pharisaical address from April 1990 where he laid the foundations for this hobby horse (wee the opening paragraphs of Hinckley’s remarks). Indeed, by Nelson’s logic, the “I’m A Mormon” campaign seems inspired directly by the adversary.

    So we are left in the uncomfortable position, once again, of having contradictory inspiration from the brethren. And when someone brings up the issue, he is attacked by the Pharisees who demand obedience to the current president of the church.

    Is it any wonder our world is becoming more polarized?

  31. I have been reading through all of the information about “Come Follow Me—Individuals and Families” on lds.org and marking the parts that I strike me as particularly helpful. Here are two that jumped out at me on the site in regards to the notion that this means an extra required hour of instruction by parents to children.

    “How Should I Use This [Come Follow Me—For Individuals and Families] Resource?
    Use this resource in any way that is helpful to you.”

    “Do I Need to Follow the Schedule?
    The schedule will help you keep up with the material covered in Sunday classes, but don’t feel bound by it; the schedule is simply a guide to help you pace yourself. The important thing is that you are learning the gospel individually and as a family.”

    So… this is a resource to add to your personal and parenting toolbox and use as you see fit, not a program you are supposed to add to your to-do list.

  32. Oops. Sorry. I posted that comment on the wrong post.

  33. It fits perfectly here too Mary