About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

Mormon gnostics: a must-read talk from the FAIRMormon Conference

I wanted to bring to your attention a very important talk on “Mormon gnostics” at the FAIR conference last week. The talk was given by Cassandra Hedelius, one of those young, smart FAIRMormon volunteers who are helping the organization grow.

We should address the term “gnostic.” Hedelius is using this term the following way:

Mormon Gnostics emphasize personal spiritual effort and de-emphasize the role of the church in spiritual progression. This can lead them to conclude that they have learned a new scriptural interpretation, contrary to what church leaders have taught, or that they have discerned that church leaders and members have strayed, and God has called new leaders or revealed a new means of spiritual progress without prophets. Gnostics try to get at a supposed hidden, deeper truth that most members don’t find due to supposed faithlessness or lack of passion for spiritual things. Gnostics seek for what the scriptures “really” mean, or what prophets are “really” saying, or for teachings that were known a long time ago but aren’t part of modern mainstream belief, perhaps because they were unofficial and hence abandoned, or prophets revealed better understanding.

In real life, a Mormon gnostic might be that guy in High Priests or Elders Quorum who loves to quote some apostle from 1850 revealing some deep secret that is not emphasized today. Or it might be somebody like Denver Snuffer, a dangerous apostate who is leading people away from the Church. The former is relatively harmless; the latter is very harmful.

If you have been around the Mormon blog world long enough, you may have seen liberal Mormons claim that if you are “too conservative” you will end up parroting Denver Snuffer. The claim is of course ridiculous because a conservative Mormon is, by definition, somebody who follows the prophets, i.e., the current prophets speaking at general conference every six months.

However, the Mormons liberals may have a point that *some* Church critics start out from the perspective of trying to be “more Catholic than the Pope” or, in our case, “more Mormon than the prophet.” And this is a tendency that can take you down the wrong path.

Hedelius points out that a Mormon gnostic might start out innocently enough trying to study new things that support the Church. She notices the following pattern:

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FAIRMormon Conference, day 2

I will only have time to cover the first talk today on M*. There may be other posts that discuss the FAIRMormon conference.

The first talk is by Michael Otterson.

The title is On the Record.

Michael R. Otterson has been serving as the Managing Director of the Public Affairs Department since 2008, with responsibility for public affairs issues of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide.

He was educated in England, his birthplace, where he completed his formal journalistic training. For eleven years he worked as a journalist on newspapers in Britain, Australia and Japan.

Since 1976, he has worked in the London, Sydney and Salt Lake City Public Affairs Offices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In his current role as Managing Director he oversees many contemporary concerns facing the church such as women’s issues, religious freedom and an ever-expanding global church.

Presentation: On The Record

Summary: This presentation will cover the role of Church Public Affairs and how it interacts with the Church and the press. Brother Otterson will also discuss many of the issues and misconceptions he deals with, as well as respond to questions from the audience.

Here is a live summary of his talk:

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FAIRMormon Conference, day 1

To M* readers: M* will provide occasional coverage of the FAIRMormon conference, which is being held Aug. 6 and 7.

The first talk is by Ed Pinegar and is entitled: “How to help young Latter-day Saints deal with criticisms against the Church and the doubts they cause while remaining faithful”

Brother Pinegar is married to the former Patricia Peterson who served as Counselor in the General Presidency of the Young Women and General Primary President of the Church. They are the parents of 8 children, 38 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.

He has served in many callings in the Church and has taught religion classes in the CES for 34 years. He has served in the LDS Church as a bishop, stake president, stake patriarch, on the general board of the church’s Young Men organization, as president of the England London South Mission, and as president of the Provo Missionary Training Center. He has also been director of the Orem Institute of Religion, a religion professor at BYU, and a seminary teacher. He served a mission with his sweetheart Patricia in the New York Rochester Mission at the Historical Sites around Palmyra July 2007 to January 2009. He served as President of the Manti Temple from 2009-2012. He presently serves as a Sealer in Mt. Timpanogos temple. Brother Pinegar is the author of over 60 books and talk CDs, most recently The Temple: Gaining Knowledge and Power in the House of the Lord, A Mighty Change, Preparing for the Melchizedek Priesthood and My Mission, and The Christmas Code.

He has taught in many Continuing Education programs and was a recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from BYU, Division of Continuing Education, in 1979. He also received the Outstanding Young Man of the Year Award, the Service to Mankind Award from Provo City, the Sloan Community Speaker Award from BYU in 1999, UVU Distinguished Service Award 2001 and the UVU Excellence in Leadership Award in 2003.

Presentation: How to help young Latter-day Saints deal with criticisms against the Church and the doubts they cause while remaining faithful

Summary: We will discuss the following topics: 1) Understanding their situation. 2) Understanding the process of change. 3) Becoming an instrument in the hands of the Lord. 4) The role of the Holy Ghost in the conversion and change process. We will also answer the following questions: How can we help them replace doubt with faith? How can we help them deal with negativism and half-truths? How can we help them deal with criticisms of our prophets and leaders? How can we help them gain a testimony sufficient to deal with attacks against the Church? How can we help them be rooted to Christ and not yield to the sophistries of the devil? How do we help them when they justify their beliefs because of their sins? How can we help them when faced with new facts that they have never dealt with before?

Here is a summary of his live talk:

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From Harold B. Lee

There are many who profess to be religious and speak of themselves as Christians, and, according to one such, “as accepting the scriptures only as sources of inspiration and moral truth,” and then ask in their smugness: “Do the revelations of God give us a handrail to the kingdom of God, as the Lord’s messenger told Lehi, or merely a compass?”

Unfortunately, some are among us who claim to be Church members but are somewhat like the scoffers in Lehi’s vision—standing aloof and seemingly inclined to hold in derision the faithful who choose to accept Church authorities as God’s special witnesses of the gospel and his agents in directing the affairs of the Church.

There are those in the Church who speak of themselves as liberals who, as one of our former presidents has said, “read by the lamp of their own conceit.” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine [Deseret Book Co., 1939], p. 373.) One time I asked one of our Church educational leaders how he would define a liberal in the Church. He answered in one sentence: “A liberal in the Church is merely one who does not have a testimony.”

Dr. John A. Widtsoe, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve and an eminent educator, made a statement relative to this word liberal as it applied to those in the Church. This is what he said:

“The self-called liberal [in the Church] is usually one who has broken with the fundamental principles or guiding philosophy of the group to which he belongs. … He claims membership in an organization but does not believe in its basic concepts; and sets out to reform it by changing its foundations. …

“It is folly to speak of a liberal religion, if that religion claims that it rests upon unchanging truth.”

And then Dr. Widtsoe concludes his statement with this: “It is well to beware of people who go about proclaiming that they are or their churches are liberal. The probabilities are that the structure of their faith is built on sand and will not withstand the storms of truth.” (“Evidences and Reconciliations,” Improvement Era, vol. 44 [1941], p. 609.)

Here again, to use the figure of speech in Lehi’s vision, they are those who are blinded by the mists of darkness and as yet have not a firm grasp on the “iron rod.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, when there are questions which are unanswered because the Lord hasn’t seen fit to reveal the answers as yet, all such could say, as Abraham Lincoln is alleged to have said, “I accept all I read in the Bible that I can understand, and accept the rest on faith.”

How comforting it would be to those who are the restless in the intellectual world, when such questions arise as to how the earth was formed and how man came to be, if they could answer as did an eminent scientist and devoted Church member. A sister had asked: “Why didn’t the Lord tell us plainly about these things?” The scientist answered: “It is likely we would not understand if he did. It might be like trying to explain the theory of atomic energy to an eight-year-old child.”

Source: 1971 Conference: “The Iron Rod.”

A few more details on the Church and the Scouts

This Salt Lake Tribune article is the typical garbage spewed by that rag of a newspaper.

Still, every once in a while you can find something interesting in the sewage. Here are a few details that may interest M* readers:

That could have dire financial consequences for BSA. The LDS Church is far and away the nation’s largest Scouting sponsor, serving 437,160 boys in 37,933 troops.

In 2013, more than a third (37 percent) of troops were LDS sponsored, accounting for 18 percent of the BSA’s 2.4 million total membership (Mormon troops, while more numerous, tend to be smaller in size).

An LDS Church withdrawal also could ruin the three Scout councils in Utah, which say between 96 percent and 99 percent of their members are in Mormon units.

And importantly:

The policy change approved Monday evening by the BSA’s 80-member National Executive Board to allow “openly gay leaders” to serve in Scout troops “is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church,” the release added, “and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.”

Although the LDS Church has allowed — and does allow — openly gay Mormons to serve in church assignments, including the Boy Scouts, these members are deemed to be living the faith’s standards. This means they are not acting on their same-sex attractions.

The BSA’s new policy, however, makes no such distinction between “openly gay” and “sexually active gay leaders.” So a gay Scout leader could have a partner or a same-sex spouse — and that troubles the Mormon brass.

While the BSA insists that religiously affiliated troops, including those sponsored by the LDS Church, can continue to ban gay leaders, many observers doubt such an exemption can be legally defended.

Of course the Tribune being the Tribune, the reporters and editors felt it necessary to quote only people opposed to the Church’s position as the story continued. Are Tribune reporters too lazy to actually call people who support the Church or are they simply uninterested in even trying to appear close to objective? I am guessing the latter.