My Personal Themes from General Conference

McConkie follow the prophetWe’re 10 days out from General Conference. I am still thinking about it and letting the lessons I learned from it percolate in my head. I hope you had your own personal theme develop for you as you listened to the speakers.

I was impressed by speaker after speaker with three themes.

First, FOLLOW THE PROPHET! Yes, I realize that’s in all caps, because yes, I am screaming that at the world. We just need to follow the prophet to find the answers to our questions, the solutions to our problems and for maximum happiness in this life. Sister McConkie taught in her talk “We heed prophetic word even when it may seem unreasonable, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.” Did we get that? Following the prophet is always right, despite what is popular out there in the world.

Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the 70s also addressed following the prophet instead of following popular trends as well. He asked us, “Which way do you face?”, and challenged us to not invert the first and second great commandments. Again we were reminded, “The scornful often accuse prophets of not living in the 21st century or of being bigoted. They attempt to persuade or even pressure the Church into lowering God’s standards to the level of their own inappropriate behavior, which in the words of Elder Neal A. Maxwell, will ‘develop self-contentment instead of seeking self-improvement’ and repentance. Lowering the Lord’s standards to the level of a society’s inappropriate behavior is—apostasy.” That was the money quote for me, lowering the Lord’s standards to the level of society is apostasy. Makes you think about the things we’re interested in and advocating for. I hope we all asked ourselves if “our issues” match up with what the prophets are teaching us, and if they don’t, instead of rationalizing them away, we’re willing to change our thoughts to match the council of the prophets and the standards and doctrines of the Church.

Eyring revelation from GodMy second theme of General Conference was the importance of receiving our own witness of the teachings of the prophets. Elder Eyring’s talk specifically addressed this and the principle of “confirming revelation.” He said, “Human judgment and logical thinking will not be enough to get answers to the questions that matter most in life. We need revelation from God.” Did we hear that? We cannot rely on our own judgments, the opinions of friends, junk we see on facebook, or the latest and greatest train of thought. We must receive our own “confirming revelation” like Nephi of old.

I am heart broken to see so many friends, who are also members of the Church, cherry picking the words of the prophets to fit their agendas, rejecting the doctrines of the church, specifically those regarding chastity, morality and marriage, for worldly standards and practices. The thing is, the world is always in a constant state of flux, and revels in emotionally charged rhetoric that will surely short change us on our salvation. I’ve also been told numerous times by these same friends that they had “personal revelation” and/or a “witness of the spirit” that things like The Family Proclamation and the Church’s stand and support of traditional marriage are not true. I’ll just be bold here and state that these witnesses cannot be true. It might have been a witness, but a witness that is not inline with the doctrines of the Church and the words of the modern, living prophets is not from the Lord. The Holy Spirit is not going to give any of us a confirmation or a witness of something that goes against what the Lord has taught. The Holy Ghost will always witness the truthfulness of the Gospel and the truthfulness of the words of the prophets.
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Rejecting the Living Prophets by Following Future Prophets

[Cross posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

kept-my-cupOne of the key doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we have living prophets and apostles today who are authorized by God to receive revelations for the church and for the world. The scriptures are full of stories of how the people of the church rejected the messages of the living prophets, often justifying themselves by appealing to the words of previous prophets. Even Jesus was rejected by appealing to Moses or Abraham.

As President of the Twelve Apostles, Ezra Taft Benson warned: “Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.” (Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, 1980)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained further: “…the most important difference between dead prophets and living ones is that those who are dead are not here to receive and declare the Lord’s latest words to his people. If they were, there would be no differences among the messages of the prophets.” (Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall, 1992)

I’ve noticed a troubling parallel among some progressive members of the church: Rejecting living prophets in favor of what they anticipate future prophets will do*. Continue reading

I Was Constrained By The Spirit That I Should Vote For…

[Cross Posted from Sixteen Small Stones]

One of the important aspects of the LDS doctrine of personal revelation is that the Holy Spirit can and does sometimes instruct individuals to act contrary to our own reason and understanding.

So here is a little supposal:

Think of a presidential candidate that you do not support.  Now put the candidate’s name into the appropriate places in the following passage:

And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should support [a specific candidate] for President; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I supported a [candidate of that ideology/party/record]. And I shrunk and would that I might not support [her/him].

And the Spirit said unto me again: Behold it is the Lord’s desire that [that candidate] be President of the United States…

We spend a lot of time debating and defending our political beliefs, and comparing political candidates to our ideals. But what if, regardless of political party, or ideology, or record, or aptitude, or personality, or anything else we might use to judge our candidates, the Lord for His own reasons wants you to support a candidate different than the one you would choose?

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Discussion: Revelation vs. The Philosophies of Men

In my post on The Case for Christ one of the commenters (David) made a comment that raised concerns from another commenter (SmallAxe). David quoted a number of scriptures that suggest that human wisdom does not compare to God’s wisdom. Then he said:

We should not easily give up our convictions, especially when we have a personal witness that these ideas have God as their source. The “philosophies of men” can’t compare with the wisdom of God. We simply should not allow them to in our minds. If we let our own intellect prevail over what we have come to know by the Spirit, we are letting our natural man becoming an obstacle to our reception of God’s wisdom, which is infinitely greater than our own (or any man’s).

This statement then led to a substantial sub-thread in the comments, mostly between myself and SmallAxe. This is obviously a point SmallAxe has great passion for. I, perhaps, have half a notch less passion for it, but obviously I care about it a great deal as well.

If I might attempt to summarize SmallAxe’s position, as best that I can. (Bear in mind that I am biased and he will ultimately speak for himself.) I think it is as follows:

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