Beware the Leaven of the Dissidents

Disputation

In response to recent disciplinary actions by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, supporters of those being disciplined have complained that the charge of apostasy is inaccurate because, they assert, the individuals and the organizations created by them have not taught any false doctrines or acted in opposition to the prophet or the Church.

They insist that all they are doing is asking questions. So, what false doctrine can they possibly be teaching?

This is my attempt to answer that important question.

At the outset, let’s immediately dispense with the notion that “asking questions” is always unambiguously innocent and unassuming.

Most people understand that questions can be asked not just to acquire information but also to manipulate or oppose. This is abundantly clear in the scriptures. Many of the the questions posed to Jesus or the prophets came from pharisees, lawyers, scribes and others whose intent was not to learn but to control either Jesus or the perception of Jesus by others.

There is a difference between looking for answers and asking questions to which you have already decided the answer.

So, it isn’t enough just to say, “we’re only asking questions.” You can be teaching false doctrines and opposing church leaders by asking questions. The motivations for asking, the underlying assumptions behind the questions, and the manner in which the questions are asked are all essential information for evaluating what kind of questioning is happening.

And it is often in the underlying assumptions behind the questions and actions that we find the false doctrines that are being taught. You can be selling a particular viewpoint even if it is not always explicitly stated.

We spend so much time arguing about the issues and questions on the surface, when the real point of controversy is in the underlying framework upon which the questions and interpretations are predicated.

The false doctrine that underpins the actions of dissident groups is a conceptual model of the Church, its authorities, and its operation that is incompatible with the model that the Church and its authorities teach about themselves.

The teachings of the highest authorities of the Church throughout the history of the Restoration present a remarkably consistent model of what the Church is, what prophets are, and how the Church is meant to operate.

Rather than attempt to summarize the model here, I refer you to the extensive selection of teachings from the prophets themselves in the official Teachings of the Presidents of the Church books linked in my previous post:

LDS Church Doctrine Regarding Apostasy, Following the Prophets, and Submitting to Those with Priesthood Keys

This conceptual model of the Church is the doctrine of the Church that dissident groups disbelieve, reject, and oppose.

They offer instead a competing, alternative model for the Church.

I won’t attempt a comprehensive description of this alternate model either. It can be readily discerned in the many online conversations and blog posts that dissidents write in defense of their actions and their doctrine. Some common points of this doctrine include: that they don’t see the church or the church leaders as their superiors; they see them as equals, or even inferior because the leaders are “old” and behind the times. When there is a conflict between what they apprehend to be God’s will and what their church leaders are saying, their own view of God’s will always trumps what the prophets say. They emphasize the fallibility of priesthood leaders and repeat a common liturgy of perceived errors by past church authorities to justify rejection of current teachings. In their model, being made to feel loved and accepted trumps order, obedience, and authority.

I am not going to argue the merits of these two competing models here. My views on the subject are well established. Dissidents see the framework the Church teaches as a form of idolatrous leader worship. I see the framework they teach as a dangerous form of spiritual anarchy that leaves them open to deception by false brethren and by false spirits. I have previously written at length about the intersection between prophetic authority and fallibility in defense of the doctrine of the church and the authority of the prophets and apostles.

The point is that by their actions these groups are teaching a doctrine of what the church is that is contrary to what the church teaches about itself.

I invite you to thoroughly read the selections of teachings of the prophets to which I previously linked, as well as all of the sermons delivered by the Apostles of the Church in the General Conferences of the last decade and beyond. Take a good look at what they have said and what they are saying and the model of what the Church is that they teach. Compare their teachings to the things that dissident groups are saying in their forums and blog posts and facebook pages.

They are not the same. The models are different. The doctrines are different.

It is up to you to decide whether you believe the doctrine taught by the prophets and apostles or the doctrine of the dissidents.

You know that I support, trust, and follow the authorities of the Church. I hope you will join me.

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

48 thoughts on “Beware the Leaven of the Dissidents

  1. Well done, jMax. This closely parallels my views on SSM: I’m against the progressive idea of marriage more than I am against gays marrying.

  2. One case of this alternative model that caught my attention was a recent post musing on when most of the current apostles will be dead so we can move on to a better church that wouldn’t do what the current one does. The whole phenomenon of passing the torch from one generation to the next is very interesting, but for the writer longing for a new set of apostles, the current ones aren’t merely fallible; they are mostly wrong, so wrong that any properly modern blog writer can see plainly what really should be happenning that the apostles are failing to do. Accepting the church’s leadership becomes a matter of picking out nuggets of agreement. “Elder So-and-So gave a powerful witness of Jesus’ toward the end of his talk, and I loved what President Whatshisname said about being kind to people.”

  3. Jesus wants a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This means having the humility to realize that your way of thinking about things falls short of God’s. So if you put your will in line with God as much as possible you will be making the correct sacrifice. In our day, we are fortunate to have prophets who guide us on the correct way to bring our rebellious wills into harmony with God’s will. There is only one safe course: follow the prophets and try to do what they say. Too many people who are only “asking questions” are refusing to have a broken heart and contrite spirit and are refusing to bring their wills in line with the wills of the prophets.

  4. John,

    Your point would help explain the demonization I’ve seen of Elder Bednar recently (some have been calling him Darth Bednar) as he is the youngest and even he just doesn’t seem to get it. When people raise this issue, or raise the possibility that women being ordained and installed in the 12, as an avenue for more “modern” thinking to come to bear I remind them of one simple fact. If the brethren are so flawed and are doing all of this of their own accord, is it likely that they will just go out and pick folks that disagree with them, or folks that have the same mindset and worldview that they have?

    On the OW front, I’ve often asked the question of what would happen if women were ordained, and a female apostle were chosen. Would it be someone like Kate Kelly, or Julie Beck? I then ask whether they think that women’s issues (as the feminists perceive them) would be advanced or repressed by Julie Beck. Imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth that would have resulted if “Mothers Who Know” was delivered by the Apostle Julie Beck.

  5. Sometime in the past I talked about schema, which is analogous to paradigm or worldview. A person’s schema determines how they perceive and retrieve information about their world.

    Those currently asking questions have a schema very different from the schema of a faithful member that is fully supportive of and engaged in the faith.

    For individuals with the Dehlin schema, for example, Church history is necessarily damning and current rules and discipine is necessarily harmful to the individuals who are not a privileged white male priesthood leaders.

    For individuals with the Stout schema, by contrast, Church history is necessarily fascinating, filled with beloved individuals who variously displayed honorable or tragically fallen attributes. Current rules and discipline, like medical procedures, might sometimes be less than ideal, but are intended for the prolonged and improved health of the individual.

    The questions an individual asks betray their schema. And so Kate Kally, for example, is likely telling the truth that to change what she’s been doing would be inauthentic. Because her schema, the lens through which she views the world, has become fully aligned with her behavior leading up to 22 June 2014.

    However at the end, I hope we will attempt to align our schema with the schema of God. The God I worship loves each of us. And He is willing to do anything and everything required to ensure the maximum number of us desire to return to him (c.f., Jacob 5).

  6. John, I’ve seen that argument all over the place too, and it’s actually been used on me by some family members who have chosen to believe the dissent. I call it “The Board Room Mentality” because, as you said, these people assert that once a new generation of leaders are chosen then things will change. I always counter with saying that if this is the case, then they are just sitting around a board room table making things up as they go along, and are not in fact inspired by God.

    JMax, this was an excellent post. Thank you.

  7. This is it! You nailed it. I’ve been trying to put into words what we’re seeing in the so-called LDS blogging community. I have seen so many of these false philosophies parroted around certain not-faithful bloggers and to use to sway others in the comment sections of the faithful LDS blogs. They all seem to have the same talking points–the same ones you just described. It is done so cleverly that the average reader, upon quick glance, might take their words at face value but not look deeper. One of the common things coming out now is this catchy response to following the Prophet: “I do not believe that the discussion is over once the prophets speak as that would be following blindly. To believe that is to assume a cult mentality” or “Members can’t bring themselves to accept that prophets have been wrong in the past, and, thus, could be wrong now.” I’ve seen about 20 different parroted statements from the echo chambers that mirror the anti-Mormon rhetoric. More like “anti-Mormon Mormon” :(

    The agenda of these so-called LDS bloggers is to hijack the lessons and the conversation into each ward and work from within the organization. As KK told her followers, “Stay in the church, but raise hell.” I think every active faithful member will now need to be on their toes in each class because the doctrine of dissent, as mentioned in the post, are going to be permeating into each class, Sacrament meeting talk and testimony meetings will be hijacked with their philosophies. I saw a long conversation that said that no one will stop them during testimony meetings. Be prepared if you’re a Gospel Doctrine or R.S. teacher for these questions (where their answer is already solidified by their blogging comrades) to come up and be drug into every possible lesson. Bishops have their work cut out even more.

    “Predatory disbelief.” Those two words exquisitely define everything that’s been happening and that will continue to grow because of the mental gymnastics and constant twisting of every single thing the prophets and apostles say.

  8. Thanks JMax.

    We are in a day when the very elect can be deceived. It is really sad to see some of the things being said about the Brethren, and their spokespeople, such as Michael Otterson. Some have compared Kate Kelly with Esther and Otterson with Haman. The benevolent king is usually played by Elder Uchtdorf, as if he is not in agreement with the things that Otterson is saying in behalf of the Church.

    It is sad that for some, their feminism and intellectualism is more important to them than their covenants and testimonies. It is very strange to me that they would consider modern apostles doing what ancient apostles did as being evil, if it does not meet their personal view of social justice.

    And many of them are not quietening their discourse, but are still percolating their emotional attacks out on the Brethren. I hope Kate Kelly comes to realize just how much damage she’s done to the Lord’s Church and the testimonies of hundreds of people in it, and that she recants the things she says and does. She can be a humble servant and follower of God or she can be a renegade hero wallowing in her 15 minutes of worldly fame. But she cannot do both.

    I understand emotions are involved here. But it is time for the members to stop moping about because their gospel hobby horse has been knocked down, and to start doing the work God has called us to do. While they complain and moan, they are losing out on opportunities to use real priesthood power and authority to save souls.

  9. I endorse this post. Some who question are innocent in the sense that they are truly unaware that they have let their thoughts become tainted and twisted by ‘the world’. Others are at least partially aware of the toxicity of the ideas they advocate. ‘Come now, let us reason together’ (Isaiah 1:18) is misused to lure others into specious arguments where they fall prey to false premises. I am thankful for modern prophets.

  10. Twenty-one years ago now (1993), then Elder Boyd K. Packer gave some prophetic commentary. This quote is notorious among dissidents and cranks. They have used this quote to justify their contention that the Church is replete with hate-filled gay-bashers and out of touch misogynists. The ironic thing is that they have helped his prophecy come to pass!

    “There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. I chose these three because they have made major invasions into the membership of the Church. In each, the temptation is for us to turn about and face the wrong way, and it is hard to resist, for doing it seems so reasonable and right.

    The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency.”

    (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council.” Text available at http://www.zionsbest.com/face.html.)

    Pres. Packer was absolutely right.

  11. The interesting thing–to me–is that if OW’s preferred model of the Church prevailed; then the Church would necessarily be so lacking in spiritual power, dedicated members, and (let’s face it) budgetary resources, that whatever “priesthood” was left wouldn’t really be worth having from either a spiritual or a secular standpoint.

  12. Michael Towns,
    And what’s most interesting, the now-repentant, former apostate M* highlighted a couple months back said something to the effect of, ‘not only was he right, but we never even considered whether he was right.’

    Liberals have purely dogmatic behavior. They claim to be tolerant, fair-minded, willing to weigh a lot of facts, but when it comes down to it, they are just plain close-minded [...] . [Edited by Admin to remove unnecessary label]

  13. This further illustrates’s the assertion that progressivism’s ultimate purpose is to _destroy_ the institutions through which they march. For previous examples, look at academia, the media, and other churches.

    My question is whether KK knows this or if she is an unwitting dupe. Her acknowledged mentor, Nadine Hansen, likely _knows_.

    I think it a gross error to attribute the OW movement solely to intellectualism, or to attribute the general rebellion of some church members against authority to intellectualism. The real common denominator is progressivism/political correctness. That is the real enemy. Feminism and intellectualism are manifestations of it.

  14. This post articulates the things I’ve been feeling. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I’ve pointed out to some bloggers that President Monson was a young man when called to serve full time as a general authority. As a member of a “younger generation”, did he seek institutional changes within the church? Did he go about challenging the more senior general authorities? No, he didn’t. While I’m sure his views have changed over his many years of service, I daresay he has had plenty of time to weigh the philosophies of the world against the doctrines of Christ. The church hasn’t ever been considered politically correct, so I think waiting for the current slate of leaders to die off is a huge waste of one’s time.

  15. Bookslinger,

    I’m not sure if is old go as far as you do in seeing progressive ideals as the real enemy (I think such a perspective smacks more of right-wing politics than it does of gospel doctrine), but I’ve definitely started moving in that direction. My posts and comments have tended to replace intellectualism as my primary target with liberal democratic values. So, yes, I’m politicizing my perspective but hopefully I’m avoiding outright partisanship.

  16. Meg, what is the “Stout schema”? That sounds like the one I have.

    Meg, you also say, “However at the end, I hope we will attempt to align our schema with the schema of God.”

    Do you think that God could have more than one schema? I suppose my opinion is that reality and God is so complex that we can only understand Him (and life) through imperfect models. The church uses a particular model, and it has the advantage of being the “authorized” one. So I think it deserves a certain degree of respect, and must be used as a catechism to which we humble ourselves. There is no humility when we only doggedly adhere to our own schema.

    But I believe we can see the church’s schema as necessarily simplified and incomplete, adapted to the capacity of the weakest of saints. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong or that it needs to change. Only that it IS the catechism which we teach, but in the end, it is only a rough outline for our own personal growth.

  17. While I agree that political ideologies and frameworks can have a great influence on our conceptualization of what the Church is, I wouldn’t go so far as to attribute the false model exclusively to progressive or liberal political views. I have known enough people whose politics run in the opposite direction who also adopt the model of the church contrary to that which the church teaches.

  18. Nate,

    You may be surprised that I agree with what you have said to a great extent. I think that God’s views are certain to be more complex than we can easily understand, and that because of that our models will be often be incomplete. Those improvements may be revealed to us in time. But we qualify for improved understanding by submitting to what He has already revealed through his official mouthpieces, not by resisting it and seeking to reform it according to our own lights.

  19. I agree with JMax.

    Nate,

    I fully agree that God has more than one schema (Stout schema, ftw!) but I reject the idea that the relationship between the official and unofficial schema is symmetric. I think it’s been made pretty clear that the official schema is allowed to pass judgment on the other schema but not the other way around. In other words, we are supposed to fit and accommodate other schema within the one official schema that God has told us to adopt.

  20. Jeff G: “I think it’s been made pretty clear that the official schema is allowed to pass judgment on the other schema but not the other way around. In other words, we are supposed to fit and accommodate other schema within the one official schema that God has told us to adopt.”

    Absolutely. It’s the paradox of the diversity and complexity of Creation, which, like the camel going through the eye of the needle, must submit itself to this “strait and narrow way.” The gospel model is purposefully a stumblingblock, a rock of offense, the foolishness of God, overseen by “the weak things of the world, the unlearned and dispised.” Out of the mouth of babes He perfects praise. You must become as a little child. We all must wear the hair shirt of correlated Mormonism.

  21. I’m not sure that I see it as purposefully being a stumbling block at all. To be sure, it most definitely is a stumbling block to cultures like those of intelligentsia or liberal democracies, but I don’t think it was intended to be so for its own sake.

    Maybe we are just saying the same thing differently though.

  22. “But I believe we can see the church’s schema as necessarily simplified and incomplete, adapted to the capacity of the weakest of saints. This doesn’t mean that it is wrong or that it needs to change. Only that it IS the catechism which we teach, but in the end, it is only a rough outline for our own personal growth.”

    Upon further reflection and at the risk of beating a dead horse, I would object to this passage as well for reasons very similar to those that JMax discusses in the OP. Yes, the gospel is simple and adapted to the weakest, but this in no way legitimizes our moving beyond this gospel in any meaningful sense. I’m not sure if Nate intended it this way, but this way of framing things makes it seem like the weakness to which the gospel is adapted is that of the intellect, sophistication being the antithesis of simplicity. This, in turn, would suggest that the “meat” that comes after the milk can be found in the disciplined study of theology, church history, etc. I reject all such suggestions.

    The gospel is not dumbed down because some of us are stupid, but because some of us are smart. The simplicity of following our ordained leaders is precisely intended to sideline any kind of scholarly or dialectical discussion of God’s dealings with us. The deeper truths are supposed to be found by approximating rather than distancing oneself from the Lord’s priesthood leaders.

  23. “We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding.”

    I stopped reading your blog blerb after you tried to twist things by saying that some people shouldnt ask questions. Or asking questions is wrong.

  24. kinglamoni, he did NOT say some people shouldn’t ask questions or that it is wrong. He said those who ask questions should be doing it for the right reasons. Those reason should be for building faith, not pushing an agenda contrary to those who have the authority to answer them or not. How you ask and behave with those questions determines the validity of the questions within the context of faith.

  25. kinglamoni,

    I have seen this “I stopped reading when you…” kind of comment around the Internet a bit and it has always struck me as a weird thing to say. Why stop reading just because someone says something that you find incorrect? Wouldn’t it make more sense to read some more just to make sure you are understanding what they are trying to say? And if you knowingly stopped reading before the end, why bother to tell the author that? Either you are interested in understanding the author’s point of view or you aren’t. But bothering to tell the author that you aren’t is really just being contrary. Why bother if you aren’t going to try to understand or discuss? In the same amount of time it took to scroll down and post a comment saying that you stopped reading, couldn’t you have finished reading and then not said anything?

    As Jettboy already pointed out, I didn’t say people shouldn’t ask questions nor did I say that asking questions is wrong. I said that not all questioning is the same and that it is important to evaluate the kind of questioning going on. And I said that questioning can be used to push a certain point of view, depending on the motivation, the assumptions, and the manner.

    The church’s statement that you cite does in fact encourage questioning but it ties it to “earnestly seek[ing] greater understanding”. Adjectives like “earnestly” are not superfluous.

  26. Getting back to the schema thing, God is omniscient. So his way of comprehending reality is the one great whole that we talk about.

    There’s a delicious tension between loving all of us (e.g., ensuring we had free agency despite the “questions” of the Son of the Morning) and doing whatever it takes to make sure the maximum number of us desire ultimately to return to Him (e.g., setting rules, boundaries, and teaching those who have erred that an error has occurred (i.e., discipline).

    The organization of the Church necessarily focuses a significant amount of its effort on the rules, boundaries, and discipline. The Church also helps us collaborate on acts of love (having chapels instead of worshiping in fields, reaching out to those who are down and out so they get back on their feet, providing for the victims of disasters, visiting one another, etc.) But love is something that individuals do. So the best the Church can do is facilitate the members to become loving. The Church itself cannot “love.”

    When love and boundaries clash, we see the difference in our mortal schema. The person whose schema is to support God’s desire to have His children return will become aware of the boundary and align themselves with God’s plan as conveyed by leaders that are respected as being part of God’s Church.

    The person whose schema is not primarily informed by supporting God’s desire to have His children return will demand that love necessitates the destruction of the boundary. They do not acknowledge that there is a reason for the boundary, and when others attempt to explain the boundary, they respond with contempt and derision. At least that’s how I’ve behaved when I felt the boundaries being imposed interfered with me, back when I was younger and frankly a bit silly.

    I think of an individual’s schema as being like the fruit of the olive trees in Jacob 5. As long as the schema is sufficiently close to God’s schema, the fruit is sweet. But as the individual’s schema becomes foreign to God, the fruit becomes bitter, and God works to excise the fruit, because of the damage it threatens to others.

    Which brings us to the bad apple idea. Nothing wrong with an individual apple that has started getting funky. You just snip out the soft brown bit and enjoy the delicious part of the apple. But when you have an apple going bad in a barrel of apples, the other apples will rot much more quickly than they would have left on their own.

  27. @J. Max Wilson The internet is a big place with a lot of different things to read. I don’t care to make the time for reading the entirety of this article. I read enough.

    The issue is this. Your trying to malign or rather discredit a specific group of people with your statement. You may be trying to enlighten people or make the world a better place. I just think there is a better way of going about doing that with out having to try and put some one or some group down. For those kind of articles, I don’t have the time.

  28. Thank you! This post explains exactly how I feel every time I hear someone say, “But I was only asking a question…” when they are clearly asking what used to be called “loaded questions”, or setting verbal traps, just as the Pharisees did when Jesus was on the earth.

  29. Sorry you feel that way, kinglamoni. Thanks for reading as much as you did. Someday I hope you will reconsider your perception of me and what I write. You might find that I am different than you think.

  30. Meg Stout,

    I like your schema idea, but it should go without saying that until Christ comes here personally, we will never have his schema as the governing force in the Church. We will have the Monson schema, the Bednar schema, the Holland scheme, etc. As had as any of us tries to bring our will in line with Christ’s will, we will fail.

    We may want to believe that the 15 are fully in line with Christ, but they are not. An investigation into Church history shows that these 15 men have, at various times, have not been in agreement with each about certain things, from the theory of evolution to the publication of Mormon Doctrine, to the ordination of black men. We can only imagine that the lack of agreement continues to our present day.

    They probably try hard to overcome their personal preferences, but it is a fantasy to believe that none of those 15 ever have to swallow their own preferences in order to present a face of total harmony to the world.

    One might argue that we, therefore, also must swallow our preferences to be in harmony with the 15. While that falls in line with Church teachings, it seems to place our loyalties with the wrong people. Christ said we should call no man Father and that we should call no man Rabbi.

  31. Jman, you have three choices: 1)you can try to be in harmony with the 15 2)you can try to be in harmony with somebody else or 3)you can try to be in harmony with whatever you personally decide is morally right.

    As you note, the Church teaches that you should follow the 15. The scriptures are filled with the sad stories of those who try to follow courses 2 and 3. It seems that given these choices, following the prophets is the only safe course.

  32. JMan,

    I don’t think anyone here disagrees with the notion that sometimes the apostles disagree with each other and that each of them has had to compromise their own view of things according to the order of the church.

    But this is the key section of your comment:

    One might argue that we, therefore, also must swallow our preferences to be in harmony with the 15. While that falls in line with Church teachings, it seems to place our loyalties with the wrong people. Christ said we should call no man Father and that we should call no man Rabbi

    You don’t deny that the church teaches that the order of the church is for the members to work to align their views with the prophets (which is undeniably what the church does teach), but you suggest that that teaching is wrong and contrary to the teachings of Jesus. This is exactly what I am referring to in my post. Laying aside momentarily the question of whether you are right or wrong, there is no question that you are advocating for a doctrine of how the church should operate that is contrary to the doctrine taught by the church itself. You are setting yourself up as an alternate source of God’s will for the church to those who have the authority to be God’s mouthpieces. You can’t deny that you are teaching a different doctrine. Which is the point I was making in my post.

    Now, looking more closely at the doctrine you are teaching, I have addressed the issue of prophetic fallibility at length here:

    http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/watchmen-on-the-tower-on-the-limits-of-prophetic-fallibility/

    The 2 things from that essay that I will repeat here in response to your comment are these:

    First this video of President Eyring gives a great deal of information and testimony about how the apostles and prophets make decisions:

    As I argue in the linked essay, citing prophetic fallibility as justification for opposing their teachings is really saying that God is not powerful enough to make his will known even to his official spokesmen; it is not an expression of doubt in the prophets, but a veiled disbelief in a God who speaks.

    This is the missing variable in your formula. Sure the prophets and apostles are all strong willed, opinionated men of experience who disagree at times (as President Eyring shows in the video). But if God has prophets at all, then He is certainly capable of making His will sufficiently clear to them to accomplish his purposes. That is why we can trust and follow them. So the doctrine you are proposing in your comment boils down to a claim that either the leaders of the church are not true prophets or that God is not powerful enough to communicate His will to his own official representatives.

  33. Excellent post, JMax. It makes sense and can be applied to every issue out there. I especially liked this part:

    “I invite you to thoroughly read the selections of teachings of the prophets to which I previously linked, as well as all of the sermons delivered by the Apostles of the Church in the General Conferences of the last decade and beyond. Take a good look at what they have said and what they are saying and the model of what the Church is that they teach. Compare their teachings to the things that dissident groups are saying in their forums and blog posts and facebook pages.”

    I’m not sure why, but for some this is difficult to do. To me, it is simple and logical. And yet I see many get hassled and bullied by our own members for having simple faith and a love for following and going forward with faith. For honest seekers of truth, it would make sense to go to the correct sources to have questions answered. Yet speaking about those who seem to delight and cling to dissenting opinions (mixed with some doctrine for good measure), do they do this because the aforementioned teachings of prophets and apostles are just not tantalizing or sensational enough to merit their attention? Perhaps they like to proudly flex their intellectual muscles by providing alternate voices and ideas to get the flattery and accolades of readers? Why do some posture and create competing, alternative models when we have the perfect model? Why the rush and urge towards alternatives when we have countless volumes at our fingertips.

    Just thinking out loud here and trying to find out the underlying issues of the dissenters.

  34. Thank you for pasting the link to the press conference with President Eyring. I remember how I felt when I first saw his extemporaneous description of how decisions are made by our leadership. I am puzzled by attempts to portray them as senile or stolidly set against progress. As a body they represent the best minds, not just in the Church, but I believe it would be difficult to find a more impressive and diverse group in the world, and if you could find such a group, the powerful personalities and overarching prestige of a few of those with most tenure would likely always prevail over the others. As for the issue of senility in an aging group, I once heard Hartman Rector talk about his call as a general authority. At the time he was called the Prophet was widely regarded as being only a handsome figurehead. Rector expected to be interviewed by someone else when he was told he would meet with the President of the Church but nobody seemed to know why he had been asked to come. Finally he was taken to the Prophet’s apartment in what was then the Hotel Utah and left alone with the elderly man. In a wavering voice the Prophet called him by name and extended the calling. When he left the room and encountered other leaders he had to tell them what had happened. I heard an account by a journalist who saw President Hinkley waiting for a meeting near the end of his life. The Prophet was sitting somewhat slumped over and when he looked up his eyes were dull. Then someone approached to tell him it was time for him to join the meeting. A change took place in his demeanor as he stood. His eyes focused, his head lifted, his step grew less faltering.
    I took care of my father in the final months of his life as senile dementia closed in. Now and then he would say something that startled me with an almost eerie insight. For example, he warned of an electrical problem in the transformer on a pole outside the house. When the power failed a few days later an electrician found the fault in the transformer. This taught me that the spirit can be aware and functional even after the physical vessel begins to fail. It is possible that only an act of God can release a Prophet.

  35. Pingback: The Gospel is Not Dumbed Down | Junior Ganymede

  36. How can they be smart and educated enough to make decisions Pat. They aren’t lawyers, doctors, educators, or scientists . . . wait.

  37. Thank you for this post. It made me think of C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. Screwtape to his demon-in-training nephew:

    But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.

    I wish I had read this post and C.S. Lewis when I was a supposed young intellectual feminist earnestly “questioning” my LDS background through the lens of Gender/Queer Studies 101 dogma, post-modernism, etc. (anything but through a faithful lens). Perhaps it would have saved me from two decades of being involved in movements and a life that separated me from the Spirit and the blessings that come from living a gospel-centered life.

  38. My honest observation of the ideology of apostasy all really grinds down to three foundational points.

    1) Is God real?
    2) Is this church God’s church?
    3) is this church both guided and upheld through God’s proper power and authorization?

    Any kind of apostasy reasoning, regardless of how right or left leaning it may be, involves doubting or denying any or all of these three points.

    Far right ideology (conspiracy and anti-government paranoia) is every bit as dangerous to engage in as opposing the church doctrine from the leftist perspective (the reason I don’t say liberal is because a lot of leftist ideology nowadays is not traditionally liberal in it’s nature). Either way, I have seen sadly enough, some people fall away due to doubts over the fact that the brethren don’t somehow expose and declare the conspiracies they wish that they would. It’s pretty sad that people can lose their way when there’s plenty of real opposition, but also plenty of reason to be happy and engaged in positive cause as a member of the church. But J Max is right, it can be fringe right ideology that leads someone astray too.

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