An Invitation to Those LDS Members Who Are Wondering, “How Did I Get Here?”

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I want to address those members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are among the groups of dissenters, critics, and agitators in the Church who suddenly find themselves in an uneasy association with people who increasingly are openly hostile to the Church, its leaders, and its teachings.

I know that some of you are uncomfortable with the direction in which your associates have gone. Uneasy with the comments and conversations on the websites you frequent. Some of you quietly feel misgivings and twinges of conscience about the blatant public denigration of the Church and the Apostles by the people with whom you identify and with whom you have built friendships. You were seeking answers to your questions and resolution for your doubts, but now all you see is increased doubt, questioning, and strife.

Some of you are asking yourselves “How did this happen? I’m a good member of the Church. Why do other members call me or the group with which I participate apostate? How did I get here?”

Let me reassure you that there is a place for you in the Church. We want you here. And yes, we want you with all your doubts, questions, and complaints.

The misgivings you feel about where you suddenly find yourself are valid. Don’t reject them. Listen to them.

It doesn’t matter how you got to where you are as much as it matters that there is a way back.

You have fallen into a trap. And that’s okay. All of us have fallen into spiritual traps and mental snares that have led us down paths that we never would have imagined for ourselves. It may not be the same trap into which you have fallen, but we have all found ourselves far from where we intended and know what it feels like.

Getting out of the trap requires courage and humility. But there is a way out.

The first step is to open up your mind and heart to the possibility that you have fallen into a trap.

I know that there are abundant historical and other facts that seem incontrovertible to you; things, that it seems, are impossible to unsee once you have seen them; ideas that feel so compelling that you do not feel you can deny them.

But the facts are rarely as complete or comprehensive as they appear. And the ideas that seek to explain those facts are not the same thing as the facts themselves. We all have frameworks of interrelated ideas through which we interpret information and communication. These interpretive frameworks are powerful. They have logical, emotional, and social components. They can possess our minds and hearts and make it feel as if we have no other choice.

But you do have a choice.

You can choose to believe. You can choose to trust in the living apostles and prophets. You can choose to entertain the possibility that the framework through which you have come to interpret the church is false, no matter how compelling and logically complete it may feel. Though that which you have seen may not be able to be unseen, it may not mean what you think it means.

A “faith transition” is really just switching interpretive frameworks. And while it is easy to see apparent flaws in your previous framework, I assure you that your new framework is also full of holes, problems, and inconsistencies. You’ve exchanged one set of warts and contradictions for another.

Choose to question the doubting framework through which you have come to view the church and its leaders. There are alternative, faithful frameworks that account for the same facts, but do not lead to the same conclusions. You have a choice.

The second step is to acknowledge that the general membership of the church is not nearly as uninformed and naive as they have been labeled. They are not all blind sheep. Many of them have suffered deeply and faced challenges to their faith that would blow your mind. Many of them are as familiar with the issues and facts as you are. Do not confuse conformity with superficiality or ignorance. Many are not ignorant (though they may be ignorant of your interpretive framework). They are faithful and informed, but they are also private. They share their sacred experiences cautiously with those who will not mock.

Nothing you have learned is new. Rather than dismissing members because they have not adopted the doubting interpretive framework that you have, consider that they may know something that you do not that leads them to an alternative, trusting interpretation of the same facts.

The third step is to realize that it is possible to pursue good and righteous objectives through wicked means. Even if the desires and objectives you have are righteous, the means by which you seek to bring them to pass can put you at odds with the church, the apostles, and the Lord.

You must consciously decide to separate yourself from those who pursue their objectives, even objectives that you believe are good, in ways that undermine belief in the prophets, the church, and in God. The prophets are not infallible, but they are true prophets, and you can trust them. You can believe that God is powerful enough to make his will known to his authorized representatives, even in their weakness, and that He is leading the Church through them. Changes may come. But when they do it will be through those with the proper stewardship.

The fourth step is to realize that there is a real, fundamental difference between dissent and disagreement that is shared in private and that is broadcast in public. Public disagreement introduces a lot of complex dynamics and problems. Public discussions of doubt are susceptible to manipulation by those who have different motivations than you do, especially on the Internet where people can easily pretend to be what they are not. If you are looking for a safe place to discuss your doubts and questions, public Internet forums are often better at cultivating communities of doubt and reinforcing interpretive frameworks than they are at helping people work out their doubts in faithful ways. Beware of those who conflate public dissent with private dissent.

The last step I want to mention is that you need to reconsider the notion that the living apostles and prophets of the church are ignorant, uninformed, or insulated from criticism. The highest authorities of the church are intelligent, strong willed, educated, and experienced. They are aware of the issues. They know the history. They know what is going on. They are familiar with the arguments and criticisms. They have spoken to people just like you. They have friends and family members who have struggled with the same things that you have. They don’t need you to inform them. They already know.

Are they perfect? No way. And nobody is asking you to believe that they are. What we are asking you to believe is that they are true prophets and apostles of Jesus Christ and that we can trust the Lord to guide the Church through them. Give yourself space to believe that their decisions really are inspired, even if you can’t understand how they could be right.

This isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a start. This is an ongoing process. Nobody is pretending that there is a simple formula that can fix this. It may be painful and difficult and take a while. But you can do it. Just give some space for belief in these things.

Getting out of the snare may require alienating some beloved friends and associates. I know that is painful and hard to do. But it is very difficult to break out of a false framework while surrounding yourself with people who reinforce it.

Allow yourself to question your framework. Allow yourself to question your own fallibility as much as you do that of the prophets. Give weight to your misgivings about what is happening around you. Pray and ask for help to recognize what is true. And be patient. Don’t make any hasty decisions or rash declarations.

I know that many will dismiss my invitation. My hope is that at some point when you stop and look around, and see how far you are from where you expected to be, and ask yourself “How did I get here?” that you will remember what I have said. That you will open your heart and mind. And that you will know that there is a way back.

There are many of us who will be ready to put our arms around you and help you along the way.

Summary:

1. Question interpretive frameworks of doubt and remember that you can choose other faithful frameworks for interpreting facts.

2. Recognize that many faithful members of the church are neither ignorant or naive and still have a very conventional faith; conformity does not mean superficiality or ignorance.

3. Realize that good desires and objectives may be pursued through wicked means. It isn’t enough to be trying to make righteous changes. The way you go about it matters.

4. Accept that there is a difference between public dissent and private dissent and be wary of the dangers inherent in public forums that reinforce doubt.

5. Trust that God is capable of communicating with his authorized representatives. Give up on the idea that the apostles are ignorant or isolated from information.

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

43 thoughts on “An Invitation to Those LDS Members Who Are Wondering, “How Did I Get Here?”

  1. Good post. One must abandon the wisdom of men, and embrace the foolishness of God.

  2. Thank you for this, it came as a great comfort. I have spent the last 48 hours or so trying to figure out what I could do to help. Having lived through the Mormons for the ERA, I can see where this is going. I feel like I am watching a child walking on a train track, and I can see the train coming but can’t get the child’s attention. The catastrophe is coming.

    I have tried to read the boards to understand, and I have posted infrequently when I thought I could help. And some of those attached to those philosophies, I think, will make it through this with testimonies intact. But so many are going to be lost – the Devil must be overjoyed. I saw a site today asking those against the Church’s actions, or who believed the Church was sexist, to post their real names. The motivation might have been good, but I fear the effect will be the same as the Conference protests – galvanization against the Church.

    I don’t feel I do any good posting – if I am blunt, people think I’m rude and ignore the message. If I am tactful, I feel like no one gets the message. It is so frustrating to see good people selling themselves so cheaply.

    Your article reminded me that no matter how severe the consequences, this is ultimately their decision to stay or go. I figure I would do better focusing on prayer rather than posting now, as all the arguments have been heard, and articles like this are addressing this far better than I could.

    The coming months are going to be a sad, sad time.

  3. I have a feeling the Brethren will address something like “what is apostasy?” at the next Gen Conf, and how to avoid it.

    Of course they wont discuss specifics, but i think they will address matters surrounding JD and KK in the generic.

  4. I would love to hear from somebody in the Mormon blog world who has realized, “wow, I am reading all of these people complaining about the Church and almost nobody defending it. What is up with that?”

  5. Many months ago I stumbled across “The Great BCC Aphorism Contest.”

    After looking up the word aphorism to make sure I knew what I was doing and proceeded to post a dozen or more aphorisms.

    As the day went on, I realized that the aphorisms the BCC folks were posting were really snarky, not aphorisms at all. No one really commented on anything Id said and I chose not to comment on what they were saying.

    I did, however, seem to be a harbinger of the potential for that crowd to devolve into snark when faced with a situation like the one occurring now.

  6. You assume I have gone some where. Maybe it is you my friend who has found him self in a trap. You act like you need to accept me back or something. I have not left. I have always been here in the church, doing my best to follow Christ. I pray for all involved.

  7. If folks would sincerely strip away all the pretense, the ego pride that our culture grows like bacteria, seek humility, and truly open one’s heart to heaven’s ministrations, and actually obtain some personal revelation for themselves, it would be easy to obtain sufficient answers to lay some of these perpetuals to rest.

    Eternal Father doesn’t like pretense. He likes utter nakedness of soul. There is a place where honesty is manifest, not because God is suddenly open but because *we* are. Many folks don’t make it to this point because such raw honesty is difficult to handle. It reveals too much of our vapidness, our superficialities. Such truth is where we have to go to get revelations.

    Quoting F. Enzio Busche:

    “The issue is truth, my dear brothers and sisters, and the only way to find truth is through uncompromising self-education toward self-honesty to see the original “real me,” the child of God, in its innocence and potential in contrast to the influence from the other part of me, “the flesh,” with its selfish desires and foolishness. Only in that state of pure honesty are we able to see truth in its complete dimension. Honesty may not be everything, but everything is nothing without honesty. In its final state, honesty is a gift of the Spirit through which the true disciples of Christ feel the force to bear testimony of the truth in such a powerful way that it penetrates the very core of our existence.”

    Later on, he says:

    “Enlightened by the Spirit of truth, we will then be able to pray for the increased ability to endure truth and not to be made angry by it (see 2 Ne. 28:28). In the depth of such a prayer, we may finally be led to that lonesome place where we suddenly see ourselves naked in all soberness. Gone are all the little lies of self-defense. We see ourselves in our vanities and false hopes for carnal security. We are shocked to see our many deficiencies, our lack of gratitude for the smallest things. We are now at that sacred place that seemingly only a few have courage to enter, because this is that horrible place of unquenchable pain in fire and burning. This is that place where true repentance is born. This is that place where the conversion and the rebirth of the soul are happening. This is the place where the prophets were before they were called to serve. This is the place where converts find themselves before they can have the desire to be baptized for the remission of their sins. This is the place where sanctifications and rededications and renewal of covenants are happening. This is the place where suddenly the atonement of Christ is understood and embraced. This is the place where suddenly, when commitments have solemnly been established, the soul begins to “sing the song of redeeming love” and indestructible faith in Christ is born (Alma 5:26). This is the place where we suddenly see the heavens open as we feel the full impact of the love of our Heavenly Father, which fills us with indescribable joy.”

    His words are absolute truth with respect to our souls and our relation to receiving heaven’s light. This will answer most of the difficult questions that folks are grappling with. But it bears earnest declaration that nobody can ultimately help you unless you are willing to put yourself “out there” and obtain the witness for your self, and cease from relying on borrowed light.

  8. Michael, of course what you say is right, but somehow it rings hollow when coming from you and J. Max.

    I think it’s because you see the church as self-evident and it seems to reflect all of your personal beliefs, at least in the comments I’ve seen you make. We were not as lucky as you. We liberally minded were doomed to see the conflicts and the paradoxes and were unable to reconcile them, try as hard as we could. You do not seem to live in a state of paradox or conflict, and it seems to me, this makes it much easier to be in the church. Of course you will have your own struggles, but they are different than the struggle of the liberal soul. Maybe your struggle is also to have humility in the face of self-righteousness, and this is a great and worthy struggle for you. But it is no more worthy than the struggle of a liberal to humble himself before a church which seems like such foolishness to him. The foolishness of God is greater than the wisdom of men. This is a hard saying, but one we liberals must embrace. You need not embrace it, because you see God as wise, and men as foolish.

  9. Nate, my entire point is that it isn’t necessary for the liberal soul to bear the burden of grappling with paradoxes or reconciling them. I don’t believe that a liberal soul who humbles himself receives a different revelation from a conservative soul who humbles himself. (If those labels must be used.)

  10. @Michael I have seen humble souls on both sides be given different answers/revelation to the same question.

  11. You write: “You must consciously decide to separate yourself from those who pursue their objectives, even objectives that you believe are good, in ways that undermine belief in the prophets, the church, and in God. ”

    But what if the people are close family members such as a spouse, a son, a daughter, or a parent? Are you recommending that people disconnect from family members? Please clarify.

  12. Nate:

    Just speaking for myself, but if you think the conservative soul “do[es] not seem to live in a state of paradox or conflict” – well, Nate, I suggest not guessing at what goes on beneath the surface.

    As the hymn line goes “in the quiet hard is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see” and I say I’ve grappled and wrestled with most (if not all) of the same issues and came to different conclusions (or still wrestle with them, but deal with my wrestling by not airing it publicly).

    Though I can really only speak for myself, I will be blunt and say that your comment reveals a lack of charity toward your more conservative/orthodox fellow saints and a large misunderstanding of what goes on inside.

    Of course, there’s plenty of misunderstanding to go around, but J. Max’s post strikes me as charitable, even if he doesn’t quite speak in the right cant for some liberal/progressive saints.

  13. Monica – I don’t know what J. Max’s response is, but there’s the hard saying in the New Testament: Matthew 10:37 “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

    Some like to argue must not be an actual teaching of Jesus, but that argument only succeeds by diminishing the scriptures and ignoring similar teachings from latter day prophets. As John 6:60 says: “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”

    Even if we don’t want to hear it, we have to. The church teaches family is important, but God comes first.

    (this is one of the issues I often struggle with, but I have had several assurances that it is a true principle).

  14. Michael says: “I don’t believe that a liberal soul who humbles himself receives a different revelation from a conservative soul who humbles himself.”

    This is probably the main difference of perspective. It’s a question of universality versus diversity. To make a gross simplification using these imperfect labels: A liberal experiences God’s manifestation in a great diversity which encompasses various paradoxes and contradictions, and his observations of the world reflect this view. A conservative experiences God as consistent and universal and his observations of the world reflect this view.

    Would you agree with that Michael?

  15. No Monica I am not advocating disconnecting from your family members. I am advocating separating from social groups and organizations that undermine faith.

    That doesn’t mean that I am saying that you should never disconnect from family. As Ivan said, there are times when some people may have to choose between family and following The Lord and his church. But that decision is dependent on individual circumstance and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

  16. Ivan W. You are right that my comment reveals my tendency to oversimplify the conservative perspective, which is obviously much more nuanced and complicated than I give credit. Yes, I lack charity, and perhaps speak from a defensive posture. I think abstractly that conservative perspectives are just as valid as liberal ones, it’s just that I am seeing things from the liberal side, as that is my nature, as God made me, so I’m constantly underestimating the conservative side. But I aspire to pure liberalism, which is to recognize the truth in all voices, even conservative ones.

    For the record, I do think that J. Max’s post was from the heart. It’s got that “oh that I were an angel” feel to it, and I sympathize with it. J. Max is a true saint.

    But that is not the voice that speaks to me from heaven. The voice I hear is: “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here, or Lo there; for behold, the kingdom of God ye have within you.”

    But we are all different. For J. Max and Michael, the kingdom within and the kingdom without probably feel the same. For me, they feel different.

  17. “Would you agree with that Michael?”

    No I do not.

    Hugh B. Brown was a liberal. Ezra Taft Benson was a conservative. (If we must continue with the dichotomy.)

    Both had the same apostolic witness with respect to Christ, the gospel, etc. God transcends our political conceits. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stands ready and willing to reveal Himself as soon as we are ready.

  18. I hugely admire and appreciate Nate’s comments in this thread since it was not so long ago that I felt the exact same way (although I think Nate is more honest about it than I ever was with myself).

    The point where I would disagree is his implicit suggestion that his liberalism is a part of his essential, unchanging nature. I do not think for a second that our political and moral intuitions are permanently ingrained within us any more than I think that it is a quick and easy task to change them. What makes this change even more difficult than it has to be is the fact that it is not at all clear that God wants or requires us to be politically conservative rather than liberal. I, for one, do not believe this.

    I do, however think that faithful loyalty toward the church is much easier as a conservative. This, I suspect, is why I had to become a conservative in order to really begin the re-conversion process in my own life. Nevertheless, I think we have more than a few examples of people who are both good liberals and good Mormons, so I know that it’s possible.

  19. “It is not at all clear that God wants or requires us to be politically conservative rather than liberal.”

    “This, I suspect, is why I had to become a conservative in order to really begin the re-conversion process in my own life.”

    Jeff G. Forgive me, but are you saying you were once a liberal? And if it is not at all clear what God requires, then why did you feel it was necessary to “become a conservative”?

  20. “A liberal experiences God’s manifestation in a great diversity which encompasses various paradoxes and contradictions, and his observations of the world reflect this view. A conservative experiences God as consistent and universal and his observations of the world reflect this view.”

    I don’t think I would frame it this way either. The way I look at it is a liberal democracy and the kingdom of God on earth each have their own distinct set of rules, values and ideals that they affirm and aspire to. The problem is that these two sets are not at all fully compatible with each other, which means that church members who live in these liberal democracies find ourselves forced to compromise on at least one of these sets. These inconsistencies, I think, are the paradoxes and contradictions experienced by the Mormons, liberal and conservative alike.

    The difference between these two, in my rough opinion, is that for whatever reason, conservatives are much more comfortable allowing tradition and authority figures to trump and constrain the ideals and values of liberal democracy than liberals tend to be. This makes it that much easier for them to allow their church to stand in judgement of their state. Liberals, on the other hand, are habituated to judging traditions, authority figures and thus their own church to be measured and judged by the standards set for liberal democracies.

    Thus, I don’t think that conservatives necessary experience any less consistency or universality than liberals do. They are just more comfortable with such things.

  21. Tiger,

    Sorry I didn’t make that clearer. In my own personal journey, I feel like I had to become conservative before I could properly distance myself from the particular doubts and conflicts which had led me personally out of the church. But since everybody’s journey is different, I would never be so bold as to suggest that God requires or even wants us all to be conservatives.

  22. To answer your other question, yes, until 2 or 3 years ago I was pretty confident in my welfare liberalism. I still remember quite vividly the heated debates and exchanges that I had with Jmax (I thought he was quite the know-nothing Bible thumper) and it wasn’t until a year or so ago that my comments stopped being automatically moderated on Geoff B’s posts.

    This political conversion of mine is more or less what fuels my now rampant anti-intellectualism in the ‘nacle.

  23. Monica.

    This much I can tell you, you do not need to separate yourself from family members or friends, but you do need to set some ground rules for your relationship with them, like letting them know that you love them but there will be no (zero, zilch. nada, nothing) discussions regarding church matters or beliefs subjects that you feel will undermine your faith. They cannot bring them up neither can you. You will respect their beliefs (or unbelief) and they will respect yours. You will love them the same and accept them for who they are even if you cannot agree on this thing. You will pray for them and hope that someday they will soften their hearts. Unconditional respectful love is the key. You respect their beliefs and they respect yours. If they cannot agree to that, then it will always be and uphill battle to maintain the relationship, but most people would agree, that it is a fair to everybody involved to keep it neutral, otherwise strife will be the constant companion and will destroy the relationship. It’s the only way. Keeping the source of contention and strife out of the relationship.

  24. Hehe. What can I say? I’ve never been much of a precision-instrument. Too close for missles? No such thing!

  25. Jeff G,

    Have you chronicled your journey on your blog? I’d be really interested to read more about the process you went through from liberalism to conservatism, if that’s how you frame it.

  26. Yes and no. The things I blog about are definitely me taking the ideas that influenced me and packaging them in a Mormon format. I don’t, however, tend to get autobiographical very often. I have been invited to get a little more autobiographical in an upcoming project, so maybe I’ll talk about it then.

  27. On the other hand, my summary of what they could have written as an exmormon:
    1. Question frameworks of faith that force you to perform mental gymnastics and remember that “the glory of God is intelligence”.
    2. Recognize that many exmormons didn’t leave in order to sin and still lead very honorable and good lives; individuality does not equate with sin or pride.
    3. Realize that good desires and objectives may be pursued through incorrect means. It isn’t enough to desire to believe. The way you go about it matters. (i.e. empirical versus emotional methods)
    4. Accept that there is a difference between public dissent and private dissent and be wary of the dangers inherent in public forums that squash doubt. Make use of your freedom of speech and never remain silent when an injustice is being perpetrated.
    5. Trust that God is incapable of communicating with his “authorized” representatives. Give up on the idea that the apostles will make changes until social pressure forces them to.

  28. Hi keshengjie,

    If folks shaken by the recent discussion of disciplinary councils are at a point where the exmormon viewpoint appeals, then they might want to reflect on the fact that they are standing in the doorway looking out.

    You finished with “Trust that God is incapable of communicating with his “authorized” representatives. Give up on the idea that the apostles will make changes until social pressure forces them to.”

    This last statement makes me wonder if you write this because you don’t believe in an omnipotent God, because you don’t believe apostles are in any way inspired, or because you believe there is no God to inspire in the first place.

    As for me, I think God is omnipotent but chooses not to constantly interfere. I believe apostles are human and so can therefore err. And I absolutely believe in God. But then again, I wouldn’t have written that last statement.

  29. I don’t know if God exists.

    As a member of the church, I always wondered where the new revelations were. There haven’t been many “Thus sayeth the Lord” revelations or translations since J.S.

    If the men sustained as prophets, seers and revelators have these gifts, then why have they failed to foresee anything of significance? Why were they duped by Mark Hoffman?

    If they don’t do much better than regular men, what value is there in following them?

  30. keshengjie,

    This is not the appropriate venue for tearing down the faith of others.

    Someday I hope you will realize that the clean binary you assume here between evidence based logic and emotion is a myth. There are logical components to emotion and there are emotional components to logic. They are not reducible to discrete, separate approaches. The appeal of logical completeness is emotional. The preference for truth over falsehood is irrational and emotional unless there is some kind of god.

    Human beings are pre-configured for faith. We all have faith in something or someone. We are hard wired, faith-machines. Nobody can escape accepting some things based on faith in some perceived source of truth. Faith is based on evidence. We trust based on a combination of evidence, experience, logic, and emotion. Your beliefs are founded in faith just as much as any of us. There is no way for it not to be.

    At some level all logic is circular. It’s unavoidable. And so all frameworks require their own “mental gymnastics”.

    Please take your efforts to undermine the faith of members of the church elsewhere. Thanks.

  31. “The preference for truth over falsehood is irrational and emotional”

    Shades of Nietzsche there, J. Max:

    (I read “Truth and Lies in a non-moral sense” a few weeks ago, and that sentence could be a decent summary of one part of that essay).

  32. I’m not really a fan of Nietzsche, Ivan, but it’s probably because as an Übermensch I don’t feel bound by popular, conventional academic ideas like his. ;)

  33. I would suggest there aren’t many more “revelations” canonized because the D&C is already too long to be well-studied or understood. The General Conference addresses are looked on by many as additional revelation.

    As for Hoffman, revelation does not mean God opens a window and tells us everything. I dare say that had the Brethren been assiduous scholars of our mutual history, they would have immediately realized the many ways in which the documents didn’t fit. My own experience with revelation has been a matter of brilliant insights and cryptic divine messages (like “No” or “eight”).

    Again I’ll relate my experience one day, seeing a bright oval as we were driving through the woods. My initial conclusion was that this was a bright light (just as the Brethren’s initial conclusion was that the documents were authentic). Within moments, we left the forest, and I could see the bright oval was actually the nitrogenous matter expelled from a cloacal orifice (aka bird poop).

    I expect with enough time and study, it would have become clear that Hoffman’s documents was so much bird poop. For better or worse, Hoffman blew himself up before the documents had been exposed as fraudulent.

  34. In my experience, those who complain the loudest about the supposed lack of revelation are usually the same people who have the most disregard for priesthood authority as a way of structuring revelation.

  35. Those folks who like to use the Hoffman case as a way to “expose” Church leadership as not really being prophets and seers is rather amusing. How many times was Joseph Smith poisoned? A few times. Why didn’t the Lord make his seer-radar go off when he put the fork to mouth?

    I mean, if Joseph can be duped occasionally (because, you know, he’s just a mortal dude), then why our current Brethren cannot be occasionally be flummoxed over matters I’ll never know. As if they aren’t allowed to be mortal either? Or because it just doesn’t fit an anti-Mormon or hostile-Mormon narrative?

  36. It is always interesting to see those following lockstep with mortal movements criticize the Lord’s chosen leaders. Uchtdorf’s talk, one of the few some people believe legitimate in recent years and the reason some have given for supporting the Kellyites and Dehlinites, was mocked by Dehlin (“doubt those who tell you to doubt your doubts”). They take a sentence from the middle (an important sentence, but not the important sentence) and ignore the rest of the talk before mocking the conclusion. Then some accuse those who don’t agree with their skewed interpretations of mental gymnastics. This inconsistency is, in my opinion, a worse flaw than being fooled by forged documents.

    To me, it is more logically consistent to follow a Heaven-chosen leader making mortal errors than to follow a mortal-chosen leader making heavenly errors.

  37. Jon C, I have gotta say, that is one of my biggest pet peeves from liberal/heterodox/questioning Mormons these days: the very selective choosing of one or two phrases on which to build an entire worldview. You give a good example with the Uchtdorf talk, but there are so, so many others. It might make a good post someday (or series of posts).

  38. Great post. Been really enjoying the content on M*. Just finished Meg’s a faithful Joseph. Can’t wait to read the next installment.

    I think that there is an interesting point that Nate brought up whether he meant to or not. I think at times there are beliefs held by conservatives that are very contrary to the gospel and need to be changed. For example many conservatives struggle more with focusing on god more than money, thinking that the possession of money makes them more righteous, having compassion on the poor, loving war, and hating the environment. Not that all conservatives are guilty of these things but just some of my observations. Spencer W Kimball once gave a talk on several of those things at the bicentennial celebration of the formation of the United States. There are things in conservativism that are also contrary to the gospel. So to assume Nate that it’s much easier to be conservative is I think false. Which granted you admitted and I respect you for being willing to admit that you do struggle to see that viewpoint. But as Hugh Nibley points out we are not trying to decide whether the liberal or conservative viewpoint is correct. The correct viewpoint is that of Zion and we simply must conform. And as Elder Maxwell once told Elder Holland, “There was no problem with conformity when Moses parted the Red Sea”.

    The lesson for me is that while right now is definitely a challenging time for liberals in the church, it is also a challenging time for conservatives who must not forget to go before The Lord and ask what do I yet lack? All of us must submit our wills and place them on the altar, not just liberals.

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