The Church responds to Dehlin’s comment on disciplinary council

The Church issued this statement:

Holding a disciplinary council for a member of the Church is not something that any local leader takes lightly. Such councils are always held in private, and the member is always invited to be a part of that discussion. The decision as to whether to hold a disciplinary council, when and for what reasons rests with the local leader who knows the individual best. Local leaders operate under general principles and guidelines of the Church.

Such councils are always far better when all involved respect the principle of confidentiality. At the very least, this principle helps those members who wish to return to full fellowship at a later date. When the member has chosen to air their grievances in public, the Church reserves the right to correct the public record. In this case, attempts have been made to create the impression that the disciplinary council convened on Sunday, February 8, 2015, and which has resulted in a loss of Church membership or excommunication of Mr. Dehlin arose largely because of his views on same-sex marriage and priesthood ordination for women. Although his stated positions on those subjects are not consistent with the Church’s teachings, they were not cited in the local leader’s letter delivered to Mr. Dehlin on February 9, which spelled out the reasons for the local council’s unanimous decision, as follows:

Disputing the nature of our Heavenly Father and the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Statements that the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham are fraudulent and works of fiction.
Statements and teachings that reject The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as being the true Church with power and authority from God.
In his letter the local leader stated, “I want you to know, Brother Dehlin, that this action was not taken against you because you have doubts or because you were asking questions about Church doctrine. I also want you to know that I acknowledge your right to criticize the Church and its doctrines and to try to persuade others to your cause. Our Heavenly Father has given us moral agency to decide how we will live our lives, and cherished free speech rights in this country allow you to openly state your opinions. But you do not have the right to remain a member of the Church in good standing while openly and publicly trying to convince others that Church teachings are in error.”

View local leader’s letter courtesy of the Deseret News

Church discipline is not designed to be the end of the process, but the beginning of the road back to full fellowship. One who leaves the Church is always welcome to attend weekly worship services and is always welcome to return to Church membership through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Of Apostates and History

imageNearly 170 years ago those who believed in the Church of Jesus Christ were directed to evacuate Nauvoo, their City Beautiful. Their two leaders, Joseph and Hyrum Smith, had been killed while in the protection of the state militia. The state had removed legal protections by revoking the Nauvoo City Charter, and the surrounding community had burned Mormon homes and killed Mormon adherents.

In the ceremony held this past Saturday to commemorate the flight of the Saints from Nauvoo, starting February 4, 1846, this failure of the United States to protect the rights of her citizens was discussed. But we also spoke of how we now enjoy full rights and protection before the law. And in this vein, we pledged allegiance to the flag of that government which has sustained us in our freedoms.

This month there has been a bit of fuss over some dissidents. Are they brave? Are they not?

Here is my question. Can you remember the dissidents of yesteryear? Continue reading

What the LDS Church Really Says about Reading Anti-Mormon Literature

flier-clipart-ar130411564061063Those members less inclined to know the history of the LDS Church, especially the more complicated parts, express concerns that they were told to keep away from reading non-faithful material. They claim to have been taught to always turn to Church sanctioned material only and avoid non or anti-Mormon literature. No doubt there has been warnings of the harmful effects of the less than official sources, but an outright ban is a misreading of many lessons taught. The message isn’t always clear because opinions on just how to approach anti-Mormonism is mixed. There is no one single set of standards how to engage or respond. What is consistent over the years is the warning and how to be careful.

Learning is an essential part of growing in the Kingdom of God. The subject matter that we should focus on is very wide. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 77-80 how open: Continue reading

Lord is it I? Faith and the Dark Night of the Soul

As have many other LDS Bloggers, this week I have been reflecting on the pending disciplinary proceedings for John Dehlin. However, as it happens I also visited South Florida this week where I grew up and spent most of my childhood. As such, I have also been reflecting on the nature of faith and testimony and my own faith journey.

As I reflected on my long windy path, through belief and disbelief, theism and atheism, and my eventual embrace of the Restored Gospel, I came to better appreciate that faith is never a static thing, we are always constantly either strengthening or weakening our faith. Moreover, unexpected experiences can deeply shake our faith or shatter it. We are never as secure or as sure in our faith as we think.

The events of the last supper most recently discussed by President Uchtdorf at conference powerfully illustrate this point. When the Savior told the disciples that one of them would betray him, they all turned inward and asked “Lord is it I?” Implicit in this question is the fact that it very possibly could have been any of them, or any one of us. We may as Peter declare boldly that we will never forsake the savior or the faith we hold dear, but as with Peter we may find ourselves in the very situation that causes us to waver however briefly.

When I was in high school, I was very secure in my faith in God. Although in that period I began seriously investigating both Christianity and Judaism, my faith in a personal and loving deity was very strong. I wrote an essay for my English class about a personal spiritual experience which I declared made it so that I could not doubt the existence of God. I was convinced that my testimony of God was secure beyond any doubts.
Continue reading