Forays amongst the disaffected

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A few years ago, I made a foray onto a message board for individuals who have left the Church. I was open in my identity both by name and also regarding my status as a full, believing member (TBM as they call us). I went there looking to learn, hoping that I might somehow gain some insight that would help us with people who have floundered in their faith. What I failed to do was identify my association with FAIR. I tried engaging in an email exchange with Steven Benson, grandson to President Benson and a nationally recognized cartoonist who famously left the Church. The result was Steve employing his journalistic skills and “outing” me as a FAIR board member. I was banished and ridiculed as a “troll” as if I was someone spying on their open message board with a hidden identity. But there were a few who witnessed my sincere and respectful efforts approached me independently and offered to share their experiences.

What I learned was enlightening. I discovered that most who leave the church and associate on that web site do so because they perceive some violation of trust occurred. Perhaps there was a teaching they held that they found out to be false, and they could no longer trust a long time mentor to whom they had anchored their testimony. Perhaps the failings of a member created an offense, and the person could not reconcile their expectations with reality. When it is a leader that disappoints, it seems the sting is so much the greater. Perhaps they found an unflattering piece of history on the Church (ironically almost always directly or indirectly through some Church or Church-sponsored source), and they feel that the truth had not been told them. In all cases, the issue was that somehow they had an unmet expectation that resulted in feeling a trust they had granted someone or something had been violated.

Several shared accounts of their attempts to reconcile their sense of violation by approaching leaders, family members, or close friends with their concerns. Whether real or imagined, these same people indicated that the reaction to their inquiry was too often met with hostility. The very people they felt could help them often responded by either dismissing their concerns or become hostile to them, treating them more as a threat than a cherished acquaintance.

I very much realize that there are two sides to every story. Fears and insecurities may have well led at least some to interpret others’ reactions harshly. However, the insecurities of members may have equally caused their reaction to be less than it could have been.

In discussing such issues, recently sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Quentin L. Cook, made the following comment during his conference address titled “Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children“:

It is equally important that we be loving and kind to members of our own faith, regardless of their level of commitment or activity. The Savior has made it clear that we are not to judge each other. This is especially true of members of our own families. Our obligation is to love and teach and never give up. The Lord has made salvation “free for all men” but has “commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.

Such an eloquent appeal to our better natures encourages us to endure in kindness with those in the church who struggle with their testimonies.

Is this not wise advice regardless of the reason someone approaches us with a concern? In raising my children, I have often found that how I respond (my choice of words or my tone of voice) often has a greater impact on their reactions to my advice than what I say. Am I not communicating both with my words and how I use them? I think it important that we never discount a concern that is entrusted to our care, and that we validate the fact that someone has felt their trust violated. To do otherwise is to add to the possible perception of offense and remove out ability to influence them.

In D&C 121:45–46 we read:

Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

In other words, if we extend charity to those who come to us, we preserve our influence. It is no assurance that they will agree with us or accept our perspective, but at least we can hope for a day when we can again counsel them down a reassuring path with regards to the restored gospel.

In the end, my foray amongst the disaffected ended in my banishment, not because of my affiliation with FAIR, but because the moderators felt I had violated a trust by not disclosing this information up front. In hindsight, I guess this should have been expected. Still, my kind comportment and respectful dialogue allowed me some choice opportunities to exchange thoughts and ideas with some few who could see that I was not there for anything other than sincere reasons. My lesson was reinforced, and I learned that the virtues of charity and patience can indeed create a dominion of influence where one would not have otherwise existed.

138 thoughts on “Forays amongst the disaffected

  1. Erik S.

    Some of my most life-building experiences came from working at a Wendy’s fastfood restaurant. There, friendships were forged that I never thought would be possible. One of these was with a foul-mouthed, morally-challenged young man who could more often be found eating chicken nuggets in the walk-in fridge than actually manning his assigned workstation.

    Still, I believed that no one was beneath my friendship–although some people are dangerous and should be avoided–and it worked out that we became good friends, despite our differences. We would often laugh and discuss the days’ events with each other, but I refused to fall into a lower standard than I had originally. Several of my co-workers and friends criticized him, but I held my ground and just reminded them that we all have short-comings. Since we were good friends, my friend and I shared our beliefs and this led to my friend committing to quit smoking and he even visited church with me.

    By showing compassion on this boy and not judging him, I gained a valuable friend and a handful of positive experiences. Truely what you say, John, is true; charity can have unanticipated, but wonderful consequences. Thanks for your post!

  2. Becky Rose

    I have a friend a convert of about 5 or more years, been to the temple and even was employed there in a second job who is not active anymore. She attends a Protestant denomination. The reason she left was she felt anxiety about the rest of her family being so involved in their church that she left to join us. Now she feels anxiety about leaving us. She has anxiety issues, clearly and a drug would probably help her immensely and help to make up her own mind regardless of those around her.

    Henry B. Eyring gave a talk to CES educators about when students come to them with questions of faith, even to the point to questioning it’s truth. His main message was to treat them as seekers. To encourage them to keep studying and thinking and praying, etc. I think this is the key too.

  3. Michael

    John,

    This is actually a very good post. I am an active, chaste, gay TBM convert and I have been on a roller coaster in dealing with the cognitive dissonance between homosexuality and the Restored Gospel for almost 30 years. I even had to leave the church for eight years to maintain my sanity.

    The lesson I learned is that the ignorance, callousness, hypocrisy, and general rudeness of members needs to be separated from my testimony. I cannot ever rely upon the Church to handle my social needs. Those needs must be covered by friendships outside the ward. I must only seek spiritual nourishment from Sunday services and expect no more. The more I intertwine my life with the lives of other members, the more difficult it becomes to keep myself spiritually nourished and to avoid offense or the typical condescending attitude.

    Unfortunately, the church is not set up to help those who do not fit the standard family model. For those misfits, the Restored Gospel must be pursued as an individual exercise and expectations regarding the church and its place in their lives must be greatly diminished. It is the only way to stay faithful to Christ as well as maintain your sanity.

  4. John Lynch

    Michael,

    Thank you for your post. You raise an important issue I did not address but which deserves mention. That is that we are each responsible for our own testimonies, often despite the treatment we may receive from those professing Christ. Your realization of this has no doubt helped you in your journey.

    Your particular struggle is a difficult one to be sure. I have great empathy for those in our midst who seek to reconcile their faith in the Restored gospel and its teachings with attractions that were not consciously sought or chosen. I have worked for years with many people who have faced this issue, and my heart goes out to you. I commend your faithfulness, and I pray the Lord blesses you in your desire to live the gospel!

    Thanks again for your thoughts, and for raising such an important point about nurturing our own testimonies.

    John L.

  5. onika

    I think many times members think those who have apostatized have done so because they want to sin, or that they are evil anti-Christs. While that may be the case in some instances, it is also the case in many instances that they are just not convinced or cannot believe.

  6. John Lynch

    Onika,

    To Elder Cook’s point, we need to be very careful about judging others! While sin may contribute to a persons departure or quesioning, I fully agree that we need not assume it is the reason. We should never assume that a questioner has anything but sincere questions and respond accordingly, with kindness, patience and charity.

    John L.

  7. Mike Parker

    @Michael wrote:

    The lesson I learned is that the ignorance, callousness, hypocrisy, and general rudeness of members needs to be separated from my testimony. I cannot ever rely upon the Church to handle my social needs. Those needs must be covered by friendships outside the ward. I must only seek spiritual nourishment from Sunday services and expect no more. The more I intertwine my life with the lives of other members, the more difficult it becomes to keep myself spiritually nourished and to avoid offense or the typical condescending attitude.

    This is excellent advice for every member of the Church, straight or gay, black or white, Republican or Democrat (or neither), conservative or liberal, male or female.

    Thank you, Michael, for pointing this out. And God bless you on your difficult journey.

  8. Theodore Brandley

    Michael,

    The lesson I learned is that the ignorance, callousness, hypocrisy, and general rudeness of members needs to be separated from my testimony

    .

    Michael, I could accept this statement if you would have used the phrase “some” of the members. I don’t think that you meant to imply that all or even most members are ignorant, callous, hypocritical and rude?

    Theodore

  9. Steve G.

    Thanks John for your insights, and thanks for those who have responded. I think this is one of the most important topics in the Church. I love the gospel and the Brethren, but often feel like some members pay more attention to other voices, whether they are chain e-mails, talk radio hosts or others, then they may listen to the brethren if their council agrees with their primary sources of information. I love the membership of the Church and I have faith with Elder Eyring that we our moving towards a day of greater unity. I am looking forward to reading other posts.

  10. cinepro

    Interesting article, but the Church already has some excellent resources for understanding why people leave.

    In fact, we just studied it in chapter 24 of this year’s gospel doctrine course, wherein my ward was taught that people leave over petty matters like misspelled names and milk-based disagreements, pride, being too critical of leaders, being offended, wanting to sin, and accepting the false teachings of the world.

    I suspect if you dug a little further, you would find that all of your email correspondents left because of some character flaw or weakness of intellect (or just plain desire), and they were relaying an elaborate mental fiction constructed to allay their pain over rejecting things they knew to be true.

  11. Michael

    Theodore,

    I purposely did not say “some” or “many” or the “majority” or the “minority”. I left it undefined. However, if you would like me to be more specific, I would say “many”, not “some”. The gay issue remains a very difficult one for many members to get past.

  12. Michael

    “I love the gospel and the Brethren, but often feel like some members pay more attention to other voices, whether they are chain e-mails, talk radio hosts or others, then they may listen to the brethren if their council agrees with their primary sources of information.”

    Steve,

    Amen to that. The number of strange, twisted, uber-conservative, political or non-gospel related e-mails that I get from members each week lead me to the same conclusion. We do not look to the scriptures and the Brethren as we should. The things of the world are held in higher esteem (not in word but definitely in deed).

  13. Steve G.

    Some issues people deal with can be rather difficult ones, and not just like spilled milk, though I would hope that no one would leave the Church over them. What if you were an undocumented immigrant and lived in Utah and read many of the hate filled comments directed towards you that told you were a low life criminal when the church and the has called for more compassion and compared the issue to a civil trespass and not a “crime”. I would hope that no one would take offence at issues like that, but it could be hard to not do so.

  14. John Lynch

    Cinepero,

    What your tongue-in-cheek post is intended to highlight, I assume, is that the Church sometimes reinforces the notion that the flaws are in the individual, and that is why people leave. Certainly, the departure of Thomas Marsh was over more than just milk, and people leave for reasons beyond an inability to live gospel standards. In that I agree, and is why I encourage more kindness, patience, and charity whenever someone approaches us who is struggling. In some instances, how we respond may make the difference between someone maintaining versus losing their faith.

    John L.

  15. Theodore Brandley

    Hi cinepro. You wrote:

    In fact, we just studied it in chapter 24 of this year’s gospel doctrine course, wherein my ward was taught that people leave over petty matters like misspelled names and milk-based disagreements, pride, being too critical of leaders, being offended, wanting to sin, and accepting the false teachings of the world.

    This lesson highlighted some of the reasons people leave the Church, but it was not intended to be comprehensive list. Do you not agree that that the things brought out in this lesson can be elements that lead to apostasy from the Church?

    Theodore

  16. Cowboy

    Theodore, generally when making lists, you are implying greater force to the items that make the list, at the expense of those that don’t.

  17. juliann

    BeckyRose: Henry B. Eyring gave a talk to CES educators about when students come to them with questions of faith, even to the point to questioning it’s truth. His main message was to treat them as seekers. To encourage them to keep studying and thinking and praying, etc. I think this is the key too.

    ME: Do you have a reference for this? I’d love to get hold of it. My objection to the standard apostasy lesson is that it tends to turn into a finger pointing exercise, “those people who are deceived by Satan” as opposed to us who follow God. Talking about the shortcomings of others is not uplifting and certainly not charitable. Any lesson on apostasy needs to start where Erying did.

  18. Seth R.

    The important thing when heading out to ex-Mormon blogs is to realize that some of them are interested in talking about issues with an attempt at balance.

    Others are more interested in having a group therapy session.

    Exmormon.org is a big group therapy session.

    You go on there, you will become a therapeutic punching-bag.

    Give the folks there a few years. After they’ve gotten the venting off their system, put a bit of distance between themselves and their exit stories, or maybe graduated from high school, they’ll calm down a bit and you can actually talk to them.

    Until then, why rain on their parade?

  19. Cowboy

    Seth R:

    I would have to agree with your analysis of both exmormon.org and those participate their. The stated purpose of the site is to assist in the “recovery” from Mormonism, as though it were an illness. Generally, it is a place where catch exmormons at their worst, and can therefore be misleading as a vehicle for defining the group generally. Next, I have noticed that just like many therapy centers, everybodies story sounds almost the same, ie, the mode and form exit stories take is very institutional.

    “I was BIC, in Utah. My Mom and Dad are TBM, even though my dad was very abusive to me and my sisters growing up…”

    Suffice it to say, it’s not a good source for understanding the “exmormon”, active participants would have to qualify whether or not the site at least succeeds in therapy.

  20. Theodore Brandley

    Hi Cowboy,

    Maybe not implying greater force but I would agree with implying greater frequency.

  21. Thomas

    Theodore, Cowboy:

    After raising my eyebrows a bit at that Gospel Doctrine “apostasy” lesson, I had some second thoughts and tamped my eyebrows back down.

    Sure, the lesson focuses on some reasons for disillusionment more than others. In fact, maybe we should characterize the theme of that lesson as “Don’t apostatize for stupid reasons.”

    And who can argue with that?

    As for those who become disillusioned in the course of a conscientious pursuit of Truth, perhaps we can trust that those who seek Truth in honesty of heart will ultimately find it, no matter how roundabout the course.

    In other words, honest seekers, we’re not talking to you. Just don’t apostatize for stupid reasons.

  22. Theodore Brandley

    John,

    In your forays amongst the disaffected, did you ever find anyone who felt that they were responsible for their own apostasy, or did they always blame someone or something else?

  23. Steven G.

    I agree that any reason for turning my back on the Lord would be stupid when you consider all He offers me, and that I am always responsible for maintaining as healthy of a spiritual life as I can to help guard against apostasy, but that does not mean that it is easy or that if we tried harder to follow the Lord better we would be less of stumbling blocks in each others way. I believe what the Prophet Joseph said, “… While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; He views them as His offspring, and without any of those contracted feelings that influence the children of men.” If we could try and follow that example this hard life would be a bit easier.

  24. John Lynch

    Theodore,

    You raise an interesting question. If you read departure stories on some of these sites, you will not likely read anything that says, “I screwed up, then got mad, and it is my fault but I just can’t come back”. The reality is, as I spoke at length with those that would engage me, I learned that the issue is actually quite complex.

    As a rule, they all saw their reason for departure as being some justifiable cause outside themselves. A leader or member violated their trust, so they could just not continue to attend or believe the Church is true. Or, they learned something that represented a violation of trust such as Joseph marrying underage women when this was not taught in Gospel Doctrine. However, this is not all. The ones I spoke with also admitted, almost universally, that their departure was more complex. Several told me that there was a series of issues, a few involving personal weaknesses of some sort, that may have contributed. However, without question, the ultimate departure hinged on some violation of trust that pushed them over the edge.

    The saddest part is that the final push was, in my opinion, too often the perceived negative reactions of those they turned to and trusted with their concerns or criticisms. They could not believe that they would be “ostracized” for asking a challenging question. Based on what they recounted, I felt that a more measured, charitable reaction may have given them the space they needed to bridge their moments of doubt to a point they could obtain a re-affirmation of their faith.

    I hope this answers your question.

    John L.

  25. Thomas

    “The saddest part is that the final push was, in my opinion, too often the perceived negative reactions of those they turned to and trusted with their concerns or criticisms. They could not believe that they would be “ostracized” for asking a challenging question.”

    Really? They honestly didn’t think rocking the boat would raise feathers?

    I think they may expect too much of human and institutional nature. Any institution with an ounce of human influence in it, has a basic instinct for self-preservation. Cut too close to the bone, and even the best of men will get defensive. And of course the best defense is a good offense…

    In short, the people who feel that a “trust” has been violated, are upset that the Church behaves like a human institution. But it *is* a human institution — at least in a large, and probably majority, part.

    Now, maybe for these people, the human reaction of their Church leaders is the final straw, among a multitude of other evidences, that convinces them that the Church is *entirely* a human institution — or at least *so* human that there’s no reason for believing it has a higher quotient of divine influence than another church.

    Of course I agree that we should go out of our way to avoid slandering the disillusioned, just as we should try to bridle all of our human passions. But to a genuine, confident seeker of truth, a church’s “breach of trust,” as described above, shouldn’t be a major consideration. The Church is either true enough for government work, or it isn’t. One way or the other, “put not your trust in princes” — whether secular ones, or Princes of the Church.

  26. Brian Duffin

    Steve Benson! He is such a talented artist/cartoonist and I appreciate his work, but I would avoid discussing religion with him at all costs. He is someone who needs a few years to cool off when it comes to the church.

  27. Molly in the Jello Belt

    Thank you for writing this post. I went through my own period of disaffection, and your summary fits my experience as well. Your July 15, 11:48 post is as insightful as your original post.

    To the commenters who are insisting that people ought to be able to ignore the behavior of people they trust, I would just say that people who are questioning are hurting a lot. Hurt leads to anger, and most see the anger and forget that there’s a lot of hurt under there. Quite plainly, I wasn’t strong enough to ignore hurtful behavior. You’ve got to have a fair amount of emotional and spiritual strength to ignore a violation of trust. Just scolding us for being weak doesn’t make anyone strong. Reaching out with patience and charity builds strength.

    Incidentally, the online Mormon community is where I turned after people in real life ostracized me for having questions. There is a lot of kindness and patience in the Bloggernacle (yes, I know there are spats and arguments too). It made all the difference for me. I hung around the FAIR message boards a lot during that period. Just the kind tone of the faithful Mormons did more for me than all the clever arguments did.

  28. Thomas

    Actually, Molly, I’m describing how I myself looked beyond the kind of “breaches of trust” under discussion (including one well-meaning suggestion by a branch presidency member, to whom I confided some questions, that maybe I should see a therapist).

    I completely agree about the need for charity, and should have made that more clear. Some people focus on abstract principles; others are more concerned with human relations and feelings, and I shouldn’t imply that one approach is necessarily superior to the other.

  29. Theodore Brandley

    John L.

    I’m sure the various rational reasons for becoming disaffected are complex and compound but I think there may be one root cause underlying them all. The only reason that anyone becomes converted to the Restored Gospel is because of the witness of the Holy Ghost. If for some reason the Holy Ghost is grieved He may withdraw that witness. The Lord pointed this out in the 45th section when he referenced the Parable of the Ten Virgins. In verse 56 He states that those who “have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived…shall abide the day.” According to the Lord, this is the key.

    Theodore

  30. Thomas

    Theodore,

    What about the possibility that the witness of the Holy Ghost never genuinely converted the disenchanted person to Mormonism in the first place?

    A person’s self-reporting of having experienced the witness of the Spirit isn’t conclusive. It is not unheard of for people to claim the imprimatur of a spiritual witness for things that prove to be untrue.

  31. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas,

    Good point Thomas. I’m sure that this is frequently a factor. Even for those experienced in receiving spiritual communication from the Holy Ghost it can sometimes be very difficult to discern between the good positive feelings of the, “still small voice” and our own good positive feelings for our own ideas.

    Some years ago I asked my seminary class how they could tell the difference between the two. After a long quiet pause one young man lit up like a light bulb and waved his hand in the air. “I know! I know! You ask your Mom!” I told him that he was exactly right. This is why the Church is governed by councils rather than by lone individuals, and all decisions of those councils are to be unanimous. It is much easier for and individual to be deceived by enthusiasm for his own idea or philosophy than it is for a group seeking confirmation from the Spirit. This is the basis for the counsel to “Follow the Brethren”

    “imprimatur” Good word. I had to look it up. ;-)

    Theodore

  32. comet

    I wonder if it is possible, for most Mormons, whether a member can leave the church, in all integrity and honesty. Or is that just an unthinkable impossibility?

  33. onika

    I think people who leave because of the actions of other members view the Church as mainly a social/charitable organization.

    People who feel like their trust has been violated and feel hurt and angry (because they learn of some doctrine that they believe is untrue) are taking things too personally. It’s not like someone is lying to them to deceive or exploit them. The leaders and members of the Church, as far as I know, believe everything they teach. The only deceiver would be Joseph Smith, and what is the harm of believing in the Church even if it wasn’t true?

    When we had a lesson on apostasy it seemed like the focus was on sustaining leaders, as if not sustaining them was the definition of apostasy, but if you study the old and new testaments, sustaining leaders was not the focus, but how the people were living their lives. Apostasy is not living the commandments!! One could be sinning and still sustain leaders (offering sacrifices). Anyone who is “active” in church and sinning is in a state of apostasy! Conversely, the prophets and Jesus condemned LEADERS of the Church who were hypocrites!! Apostasy is not defined by judging a leader to be unrighteous who is sinning! Otherwise Jesus would be considered an apostate.

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  35. Scott R

    A close family member has discontinued activity in the Church and, although he will not say much, has confided in other family members that he did not beleive the Church was what it claimed to be because (1)the Book of Mormon could not be true because DNA evidence proves that the current “native” population of the Americas came from Asia (no connection to the Middle East) and (2) Joseph Smith probably made up the polygamy revelation as a way of “marrying” young women; the later point being quite shocking and new to him. Of course, it is not possible to know for certain what actually motivated the dissafection with the Church, it is quite obvious that his decision was not intended to “mask” a desire to lead a rioutous/sinful lifestyle. In fact, except for not attending Church (and perhaps a bit coarser language on occasion), his behavior is not much different than before. Yet, I doubt that his discovery of the DNA and JS young women issues was the result of a “search for truth.” It seems to me that a search for truth could certainly lead to discovery of those matters but that the search would not end with such a discovery. Instead, the journey would continue, which does not seem to be the case here. I would not be surprised if this is a rather common pattern. A young adult, with a sceptical mind, encounters such matters for the first time and rather quickly comes to the conclusion that the Church just can’t hold up under these findings. Those of you that have concluded that disaffection with the Church often occurs as an ongoing process of truth-seeking, could you provide some context for what you have seen? Thanks!

  36. Theodore Brandley

    Scott,

    A friend of mine and his wife who were active in the Church all their lives, about two years ago were counseling with their returned missionary son who was turning away from the Church after he had been reading the latest anti-Mormon books and watching the videos. The father told his son to send him the material and he would reveal it for him. After studying the material my friend also became convinced that the Church was not true. The main reason he said that he no longer believed was because there was no place that fit the geography of the Book of Mormon and therefore it must be a fable. (One of the reasons that I may seem over active with this subject)

    However, in spite of my spending some time with him showing him that there is a probable fit to the geography of the Book of Mormon, his mind was made up and I could not influence him. The light had gone out.

    It must come back to the witness of the Holy Ghost. Once a person has received these marvelous witnesses and testimonies from the Holy Ghost, if they then reject those witnesses for some other persuasion the Holy Ghost withdraws and their testimonies go with Him.

    Theodore

  37. onika

    Theodore,

    That’s because they may think the feelings of the Holy Ghost are self-generated by their beliefs and enthusiasm–they want to believe. Even the promise in the Book of Mormon says you have to have faith in Christ before asking if the Book of Mormon is true.

    I believe that feeling and thinking should go together and not contradict. The problem is that maybe people give up too soon, and don’t dig deep enough. For instance, there are many things in the OT that cause people to doubt it, but mythology always has some sort of truth at the foundation of it. People have to find the truth behind the mythology. Did polytheism come first or monotheism? Here’s an example:

    I was reading in Genesis about the sons of God marrying the daughters of men:

    Genesis 6:
    1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
    2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

    Then I read in the book of Enoch that this meant the fallen angels, who were called Watchers. The word in Hebrew is elohim (gods). The angels were called watchers because their job was to watch over mankind. They fell when they left their habitation to come to earth and marry the daughters of men.The book of Enoch says their children were giants and the fallen angels taught mankind forbidden knowledge like how to write and make musical instruments, and weapons of war. God sent the flood to destroy the giants and he bound the fallen angels. He allowed a certain percentage of the evil spirits of the dead giants to roam the earth. There is reference to this in the NT.

    2 Peter:
    4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

    Jude 1:
    6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

    Now of course I don’t believe angels, especially spirit angels, can procreate. I thought there must be some historical background to this story which was lost and became mythology. Then I found out the ancient Egyptians called the Sumerians, from southern Mesopotamia where Abraham came from, the Watchers, and Lords of Light. Watchers were astronomers. This is why they built the ziggurats and pyramids. The kings of Sumer, as well as Egypt, considered themselves demi-gods or sons of God. Elohim is also used in the OT to mean rulers and judges (not just angels). I believe the reference to the sons of God is to these ancient Sumerian rulers who took any women they wanted even if they were married.

    Another version of the sons of God marrying the daughters of men is in the book of Jasher (Compare Moses 8):

    Chapter 4:
    18 And their judges and rulers went to the daughters of men and took their wives by force from their husbands according to their choice…

    In Psalms “the gods” (elohim) refers to those ordained by God (El) to rule the people of Israel on His behalf.

    Psalms 82:
    1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.
    2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.
    3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
    4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
    5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
    6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
    7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
    8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

    Commentary on Psalms 82:

    There are several explanations of who the “gods” are in verses 1 and 6. The first is the view which understands the “gods” to be the mythical gods of the surrounding nations.129 Another is that the “gods” are the human rulers of the nations which are oppressing Israel.130 Yet another explanation is that the elohim are angels, a view surprisingly held by Kidner.131

    The most reasonable explanation is the view most widely held over the centuries.132 The “gods” referred to in Psalm 82:1 and 6 are the rulers of Israel, who have failed to carry out their responsibilities as God’s representatives in the ruling of the nation. Several lines of evidence support this interpretation:

    (1) The way elohim is used elsewhere in the Old Testament. The term elohim almost always refers to the one and only God, the God of Israel (Deut. 4:35,39). It sometimes refers to the so-called “gods” of the heathen (e.g. Judg. 11:24; 1 Kings 18:24). The term also occasionally identifies “… rulers, judges, either as divine representatives at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power …”133

    Several passages may use elohim in this sense:

    “Moreover, he [Aaron] shall speak for you [Moses] to the people; and it shall come about that he shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God [elohim] to him” (Exod. 4:16).

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you as God [elohim] to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet” (Exod. 7:1).

    “Then his master shall bring him to God [elohim, or, the judges who acted in God’s name ], then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently” (Exod. 21:6).

    “If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges [elohim], to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property. For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges [elohim]; he whom the judges [elohim] condemn shall pay double to his neighbor” (Exod. 22:8,9).

    (2) The teaching of the Bible is that man was created in God’s image to reign and to rule as a vice regent over the earth (Gen. 1:26,28; cf. also Ps. 8:6; Rom. 8:17-21; 2 Tim. 2:12). Rulers are appointed by God to carry out His purposes of restraining evil and rewarding those who do what is good (cf. Rom. 13:1-4). In this sense rulers not only act for God; they, in a sense, act as God (as “gods”):

    And he said to the judges, “Consider what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the Lord who is with you when you render judgment. Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness, or partiality, or the taking of a bribe” (2 Chron. 19:6-7).

    (3) The condemnation found in Psalm 82 is elsewhere clearly directed against Israel and particularly its leaders, both in the Old and New Testaments:

    “Do you indeed speak righteousness, O gods? Do you judge uprightly, O sons of men? No, in heart you work unrighteousness; on earth you weigh out the violence of your hands” (Ps. 58:1-2).

    The Lord arises to contend, and stands to judge the people. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of His people, “It is you who have devoured the vineyard; the plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people, and grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord God of hosts (Isa. 3:13-15, cf. also Ezek. 34:1-6).

    “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46-47).

    (4) Finally the use of the word shaphat in the Old Testament indicates that elohim refers to Israelite rulers. I am convinced that a key to the interpretation of this psalm is a proper understanding of the Hebrew word shaphat, which occurs four times (NASB: “judges,” v. 1; “judge,” v. 2; “vindicate,” v. 3; “judge,” v. 8). Unfortunately the English translation “judge” most often falls short of the much broader nuance of the Hebrew term. In the United States, our government has three branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. At least in theory these three branches are separated to guard against dictatorial rule by a minority. An American thus thinks of “judging” merely as passing judgment in legal disputes, but to the Hebrew mind shaphat would encompass all three functions of governing.

    The verb, “judge,” in the Old Testament has a variety of meanings: (1) To act as a ruler, whether as a congregation (Num. 18:22-28), as an individual judge (Deut. 1:16; Judg. 16:31; 1 Sam. 7:16), or as a king (1 Sam. 8:5-6; 2 Chron. 1:10-11, “rule” NASB). Messiah will rule the earth (Ps. 72:12-15; 96:13; Isa. 11:1-5) in the future. (2) To judge in cases of controversy or litigation (Exod. 18:16). (3) To punish (Ezek. 7:3,8; 16:38; 23:24). (4) To defend the rights of men, especially the helpless and the afflicted (“deliver,” 1 Sam. 24:15, NASB; “vindicate,” Ps. 10:18, NASB; “freed,” 2 Sam. 18:19, NASB).
    Perhaps the breadth of the meaning of the term shaphat is best illustrated in Psalm 72, a song of Solomon which characterizes the reign of a righteous king. (In verse 4 shaphat occurs and is rendered “vindicate.”) The righteous king rules in righteousness (v. 2). He cares for the afflicted (vv. 2,4,12-14). Under him the righteous prosper (vv. 7,16), while the wicked are crushed (v. 4). To judge righteously is to rule as the righteous king described by Solomon in Psalm 72.

    http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=519

  38. Scott R

    Theodore: There is an “upside” to skepticism. I have read the Book of Mormon dozens of times and could never “get comfortable” with the notion that the events described therein occurred in a large geographic area. Yet, it seemed like that was what the Church had taught. It was some relif, then, when I “discovered” that many Church scholars had determined that the Book of Mormon lands were confined to a fairly small area in Central America. Similarly, I had never quite come to grips with the notion that modern day “Indians” were descendants of the Lamanite remnant that was busy killing each other after destroying the Nephites. In any event, I think young adults do not have the “perspective” that comes with age to be able to sort these things out over time. As you noted in your example, an intellectual “crisis” occurs, the Church cannot be true and that is the end of it–at least for a considerable amount of time. You indicate that an experience with the Holy Ghost is the only way for those who fall away to return again to fellowship in the Church. That may be true, but how does that occur? Neal Maxwell stated that those who are “unbelievers” must become meek before it is possible to engage in any productive discussions about spritual matters. How, then, will that meekness come about? Should we hope and pray for illness, disease, unemployment, relationship problems, etc. to strike our loved ones who have given up on the Church? Hopefully, patience and love from family members will be sufficient to bring about the requisite humility. Alot to think about!

  39. Theodore Brandley

    Scott you said,

    You indicate that an experience with the Holy Ghost is the only way for those who fall away to return again to fellowship in the Church. That may be true, but how does that occur?

    I think that is the root question. The missionaries do not convert anyone to the Gospel, it is the Holy Ghost that converts us. Some members of the Church may never have been converted and fall away more easily. But many who have been converted still fall away, and for them I think it may be more difficult to be reconverted. I’m sure that the Holy Ghost would be reluctant to give someone a great spiritual manifestation it they were going to disregard it. It would only bring them under condemnation. So what can we do to help them?

    I was inactive from the Church from my late teens until the age of 31. When I finally returned my righteous mother told me that she always knew that I would come back. I asked her how she could have known that. Her reply was, “I never once went to bed without asking the Lord to watch over you and bring you back.” When she said that I had flashbacks of several situations that I had been in during that time that should have totally destroyed me ether physically or spiritually. The Spirit told me that I was preserved and guided back because of the faithful prayers of my righteous, loving, mother. The faithful prayers of a loving parent, relative or friend has great power.

    As you have pointed out, we just love them, unconditionally, and faithfully pray for them continually, have patience with them, and let the Lord decide what kinds of experiences will best help them.

    Theodore

  40. Thomas

    Scott,

    “Yet, I doubt that his discovery of the DNA and JS young women issues was the result of a “search for truth.” It seems to me that a search for truth could certainly lead to discovery of those matters but that the search would not end with such a discovery. Instead, the journey would continue, which does not seem to be the case here.”

    How long must a person’s journey continue, after discovering these things, before changing his religious course could be seen as consistent with a search for truth?

    Certainly, a person shouldn’t immediately become a Catholic upon first discovering the problems with the Book of Abraham. “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that [religious habits] long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, and accordingly all experience hath shown that that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

    But may there come a point when a given person’s continued inability to reconcile contradictions in what he considers to be critical foundations of Mormon faith, essentially compels a change of course if integrity is to be preserved? We didn’t used to say Mormon faith was “all or nothing” — the “Sincerity” chapter in the old “Christ’s Ideals for Living” manual suggested the opposite — but that does appear to be the official doctrine today. It’s all true, or all a fraud. Questioners who come to the conclusion that it’s not “all true,” as “it” is presented by the Church organization, are essentially forced into a conclusion that it’s “all false.”

    Otherwise, they get charmingly characterized as “cultural Mormons stinking up the place.”

  41. onika

    Thomas,

    The truth in all the scriptures is how one should live one’s life. The religion/doctrine part is what is questionable, and for any of it to be true it all has to be true. If you pick and choose which parts of doctrine are true you end up making your own religion/church.

  42. onika

    This brings up the subject of election, which my Evangelist enlightened me on. Only the elect (chosen) believe, and they were chosen to believe before they were born.

    In the following scripture the people are asking for a sign (a reason) to believe in Jesus, and Jesus says like the manna God sent from heaven, he is the sign (God in bodily form?), and they SHOULD seek him because of his miracles, and not just to get free food. Believing on him is the same as eating manna from heaven; it gives life spiritually and physically (resurrection)? Everyone who sees and believes on Jesus will have everlasting life.

    John 6:26-36

    The following could be interpreted that those who come to Christ are given him of the Father (after they come to Christ), and none shall be lost. But it goes on to say that no one CAN come to him except the Father draw him.

    What does he mean by draw? (Haul, drag, cause to go in a certain direction, attract, entice, provoke, rouse, move, bring, force out). It must also correspond with the word give. He doesn’t say, “will give”, but “giveth” and “hath given” as if they were ALREADY chosen (foreordained).

      37 All that the Father GIVETH me [to save] SHALL come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
      38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
      39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should LOSE NOTHING, but should raise it up again at the last day.
      40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up (resurrection as well as spiritual salvation?) at the last day.
      41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
      42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
      43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
      44 No man CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
      45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. EVERY man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
     

    The Father brings/draws them by teaching them. What makes some hear/believe and others not? Does God make them believe, and thereby choose who will come? Is it all up to him who will be saved, or is he just responsible for teaching us and we then have part of the responsibility by choosing to hear/believe?

    Verse 37 says ALL that the Father GIVETH Jesus shall come to Jesus and he shall lose nothing. All who are born of God (God GIVETH birth to them) believe on Jesus.

      
    John 6:
      64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
      65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man CAN come unto me, except it were GIVEN unto him of my Father.

    The words of Christ are spirit/life (the spirit of God?). “The Word was God…” “God is a Spirit…” God draws them by teaching them through his spirit (his words). Not everyone believes his words (the spirit of God).

    John 6:
    63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

    John 4:
      24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    John 1:
      1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
      2 The same was in the beginning with God.
      3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

      12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
      13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
      14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    The Father is the one that makes it possible for man to believe (“except it were given unto him”). It can’t be their choice to believe.

    1 Cor. 12:
    3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

    John 10:
      
      2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
      3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
      4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

    14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
    15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    His sheep are the elect. He lays down his life for the elect, so the elect are the ones that benefit from his sacrifice.

    D&C 29:  (Sept. 1830)
    7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;

    John 10:
    24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
      25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
      26 But ye believe not, BECAUSE ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
      27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
      28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
      29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

     
    37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
      38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

    Believe in Jesus because of his works. God can perform miracles whether we believe him or not; Jesus and Moses did. He healed a blind man who didn’t know anything about him and believed in him after the miracle (probably because of the miracle). (John 9:1-38)

     

    The elect are manifest by their righteousness:

    1 John 2:
     3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
      4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
      29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
     
    1 John 3:
     9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
      10 In this the children of God are manifest, …

    Become of the elect through sanctification, which results in obedience. God chose them by sanctifying them. God chose ahead of time who would be sanctified.

    1 Peter 1:
    2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

    2 Thess. 2:
    13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

    One has to be (born) of God to hear (believe) God. Those who are not of God (born again) are of the devil and believe his lies.

    John 8:
    17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
    18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.

    47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

    1 John 4:
    6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.

    1 John 5:

    1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God…

    The elect don’t fall away:

    1 John 2:

      19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

    1 John 3:

    1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:
    3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
    6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
    9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
     

    1 John 5:

    18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

    Those who are disobedient were appointed to be disobedient.
    The elect were appointed to be holy.

    1 Peter 2:

      7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
      8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
     

    Ephesians 1: 

      4 According as he hath chosen us in him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
      5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
      6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
      7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
     
      11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
     
      
    Romans 8:

     28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
      29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
      30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
     

    Romans 9:

      11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
      12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
      13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.
      14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.
      15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
      16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
      17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.
      18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
      19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
      20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
      21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
      22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
      23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
      24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

     
    Romans 11:

      1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
      2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
      3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.
      4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
      5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
      6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
      7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
      8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
      9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
      10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
     
     
      26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
      27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
      28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
     

    What does the Book of Mormon say about election?

    Alma 13: 

    3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
      4 And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts and blindness of their minds, while, if it had not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.
      5 Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared—
     
    10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;
      11 Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.
      12 Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.

    Those who receive the Higher priesthood were foreordained to receive it because God knew ahead of time that they would be righteous on the earth. They are sanctified by the reception of this higher priesthood.

    See D&C 84:99

    D&C 84: (Sept. 1832)
    33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
      34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

  43. Thomas

    Onika:

    “The religion/doctrine part is what is questionable, and for any of it to be true it all has to be true. If you pick and choose which parts of doctrine are true you end up making your own religion/church.”

    I confess to not quite understanding you here. Does the anti-evolutionism of the McConkie/Fielding Smith faction have to be true, or else the whole Restoration is discredited? If the Book of Abraham was not written by Abraham’s own hand on papyrus, does the Church’s entire body of doctrine — from “Thou shalt not kill” to family home evening — collapse? Why?

    As for picking and choosing — well, by that logic, every generation of every religion, including Mormonism, has established its own church.

  44. Nathan

    Onika, you have quite a list! Someone has said that a mother who puts cookies out on the table and tells her children not to eat any knows very well that they will. All those scriptures make God look as smart as mothers! Of course He’s known us a lot longer than mothers have known their children. And He’s smarter than the rest of us – even smarter than mothers. He could know an aweful lot about what we will do with the “cookies” that get put on our “tables.”

    We’ve developed character over eons of time. Jesus was chosen to be our God because he “was full of grace and truth.” And the Lord gives weakness so we can be humble. And if we humble ourselves before him and have faith in him, he will make strengths of our weakness.

    The eventual fate of all is foreordained by our future choices. God established the criteria of obedience. If the criteria for obedience were decreased, we may presume that more would gain entry but the glory would be inferior. If the criteria were increased, we may presume that the glory would not be increased but the greater restrictions on who could return might have made it easier to get those who do return “up to speed” in the next world.

    So it appears that God preordained the maximum possible to return to Him.

    God either drew the line or approved a line drawn by us. And by doing so, predetermined that those who would have insufficient humility, grace, truth, faith, or whatever, were predestined out and those who would have sufficient were predestined in.

    NT says the Lord is not willing that any should perish. This implies that any perishing is not by God’s choice. God only chooses to save and to save all He can. But He cannot save by force. He can only entice us to salvation – if we can be enticed!

    The enticement is offered to all.

    How can both be true? How could God draw a line, knowing that some would perish AND He be unwilling?

    He predestined the measuring stick and that measuring stick determines our destiny.

    And a second measuring stick. (Terrestrial)

    And a third. (Telestial)

    God is not willing that any should perish but He predestinates that when we choose one end of the stick (obedience or disobedience), we receive the other end – unless we repent.

  45. onika

    Thomas,

    There are two types of doctrine. The commandments concerning how to live a good life are based on Natural Law and can be determined by anyone using their rational thinking. In other words we shouldn’t do anything to anyone that we wouldn’t want done to us, such as “thou shalt not” kill, steal, etc. They can be determined the same way we determine scientific laws. Like Jesus said, all the commandments are encompassed by one, to love others as ourselves.

    The other type of doctrine cannot be determined or known by rational thinking; it has to be revealed by God. Examples are the need for baptism, the atonement. We could not know these laws are necessary to obey without divine intervention. These are the laws that I say are controversial or questionable. This is why we have so many religions. If scriptures or prophets say they know something by revelation from God, then it better be true or they cannot be true prophets or scriptures.

  46. onika

    But you assume that those who want to live by that standard will believe? I don’t think that is true. Many very good people don’t believe in Jesus.

  47. Thomas

    “If scriptures or prophets say they know something by revelation from God, then it better be true or they cannot be true prophets or scriptures.”

    Was *everything* Joseph declared to have received by revelation true? How about Brigham Young? Did they always make it clear when they were speaking from revelation and when they weren’t?

  48. onika

    I don’t know, but if they said God said it and it wasn’t true, then they are lying, or they think God told them because they had a good feeling about it or it made sense to them. In that case they are God. This leaves us the responsibility of determining whether something they say is revelation is true or not, and we become our own gods.

  49. onika

    This brings up the subject of the story of Adam and Eve. It is about how we humans became gods/judges/elohim. God said, after they had partaken of the tree of knowledge, that they had become like God, knowing good from evil. In other words they could make judgments and act as judges and establish government. Notice Adam and Eve also became creators after they had partaken of the fruit ( there is no mention of children until after they left the garden). A god is not just a creator, which all humans are, but he is also a judge. Adam and Eve had free will and could be deceived, so their natures were the same before they ate the fruit as they were after. The only difference between God and humans is the mortality/immortality factor.

  50. Thomas

    Onika,

    Am I reading you correctly? I understand you to be saying there’s something wrong with taking up the responsibility of determining whether something presented as revelation is true or not.

    And I don’t believe there is. We are not to take every word our leaders say and just “swallow it down like a pill.”

  51. onika

    No, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m saying you shouldn’t have to if someone is a true prophet and claiming to be speaking for God and not just giving his own opinion. Why have prophets then? Why not have a vote? Do we have to pray about whether the prophet is true everytime he speaks to us? And what if we pray and we think the answer is contrary to what the prophet has said? Then what are we to do? If we don’t want to be disobedient then it would be better not to know. The only purpose I see in praying over what a prophet says is if you can’t believe it and you want God to tell you if you’re wrong or not. Of course you have to question because being a rational being requires you to not just follow someone blindly; that is very dangerous. But, do you think the Israelites were allowed to question Moses? The OT says the way to know a true prophet is if what he says comes true. I told my grandmother chocolate was bad for her (when I was a kid) and she said the prophet eats chocolate so she can eat chocolate. How about that for following blindly?

  52. Thomas

    Onika,

    The Old Testament says what it says. But it may not be any more accurate a guide to how prophecy *actually* works, than it is to geology.

    I don’t rule out the possibility that (for reasons known but to God) the line between God and a prophet might be as subject to interruption as my AT&T cellular service, and that a human prophet might not be able to tell when his mind has just taken over after a revelation cut out.

    What would be the point of prophets, if this is how prophecy works? Well, certainly not to get an infallible source of divine counsel. That’s not what we’ve got. What we have — if you believe in the LDS prophetic tradition — is a system in which sometimes divine pronouncements *do* get through, and have been sufficient to structure a Church and doctrinal system of at least fair-to-middlin’ utility to the faithful. Those pronouncements may be cluttered up by quite a bit of folklore, but ideally, the divine material that’s gotten across has given us enough tools to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    I don’t put much stock in the idea that if a prophet gets one little thing wrong, that’s all she wrote for his whole prophetic calling. No other activity in which human beings are involved gets held to that high a standard, because it’s a standard that no human being — prophetically inspired or not — could ever live up to.

  53. Vickie Duncan

    Please..may I say something??? I left the church a year
    ago…no..I was NOT offended..I love my heritage and far
    from “anti”…I simply tried to refute others for six months
    to prove to them that the church was true. I could not. I
    left because of my integrity..I could not deal with the lies
    nor lie anymore to others. My father disowned me..yes..a
    family church that loves unconditional…hurts..but I left
    with a better understanding of unconditional love and alot
    stronger for it because I can not “THINK” without the thinking being done for me. I don’t hate anyone..as I said
    I love my mormon ancestry and acknowledge the good things that came from my upbringing. But please don’t think that
    it is petty reasons. I searched and studied and read the
    Book of Mormon 5 times in the space of 13 months. Ironically, the most damaging information came from you..the
    apologetics..those rose colored glasses you hide behind just
    breaks my heart.

    Give us some credit okay? Some of us are intelligent..I,
    myself was a member and active for over 40 years. Would I
    give up all of the “promises” because I want to live in
    sin the next 30 years?? It is a painful decision to make
    that is not taken lightly.

    Thank you for letting me comment. Open your minds..your
    hearts and understand that it IS very possible..that God
    even loves us.

    Vickie

  54. onika

    Hmm…well, this is an interesting subject. Does it say anywhere in the OT or NT to pray and receive personal revelation that what a true prophet of God says is true? It seems the prophets are there to get the revelation for us, at least when it applies to everyone in the Church. Should we have to worry that one day a prophet is true and another day he isn’t? I would think the Lord would replace him if he were leading the Church astray. The way you describe a prophet, he doesn’t have any more gift than the rest of us. He uses his own best judgement and if he feels good about it then that’s how it is. What about when the Lord appeared on a cloud and spoke to Moses? How can that go wrong?

  55. Thomas

    Onika,

    I do live a ways away from Temple Square, but danged if I ever saw any blazing clouds hovering over the Church Office Building the times I was there. Apparitions of Deity in the middle of clouds may happen occasionally, but I imagine most communications to prophets are more subtle. Certainly the tradition has been for modern prophets to describe the revelatory process as something much less dramatic, and if they’re receiving full-bore Moses-on-Sinai voice-of-thunder spectaculars, they aren’t talking about it.

    “Astray,” as used in the phrase “The Lord will not let the prophet lead the Church astray,” perhaps ought to be understood as meaning “into total apostasy.” Surely prophets can get the odd detail wrong without wrecking the whole enterprise.

    “Should we have to worry that one day a prophet is true and another day he isn’t?”

    Whether we “should,” or not, according to how we think prophecy ought to operate, is beside the point. What matters is what *is.*

  56. Cr@ig P@xton

    John, I’m actually one of the few that actually remembers your foray amongst (as you call us) the disaffected. At the time, I was an active participant at RFM. Unlike Benson, I felt you came with a sincere intent to seek understanding. I sense that same spirit with this most recent post. However I also understand how your failure to fully disclose your participation here at FAIR undermined the intent of your mission.

    The so-called disaffected, feel the deepest sense of betrayal from LDS leadership. We placed the greatest trust in these leaders, only to discover that we had…to put it kindly… been fed a Disney version of reality. Ironically, the so-called anti-Mormon crowd actually became more credible than our own LDS leaders.

    Your failure to fully disclose your background played into those feelings of abuse and betrayal. You only reconfirmed that representatives from your camp can not be fully trusted. I think you blew a real opportunity to build a bridge of understanding.

    John you say: “What I learned was enlightening. I discovered that most who leave the church and associate on that web site do so because they perceive some violation of trust occurred. Perhaps there was a teaching they held that they found out to be false, and they could no longer trust a long time mentor to whom they had anchored their testimony.”

    With all due respect John, I think the one thing you missed during your visit and the one thing that you will never accept…is that most people who associate on that web site do so because they actually discover that the claims of the LDS Church are simple not based in reality. In other words, they discover that the church is not what it claims to be. This discovery is only reinforced once they become aware of the complicity of LDS leadership in presenting a less than honest portrayal of LDS foundational claims. They discover that the very men who are teaching the high moral virtues of honesty , truth and trustworthiness…have in fact been anything but…with respect to LDS foundational claims. The other thing that they discover at RFM is logical answers to the very questions that church leaders either could not or refused to answer. These answers actually make sense and eliminated all of the cognitive dissonance in their minds.

    Anyway, I applaud your attempt at building bridges of understanding.

  57. Theodore Brandley

    Vickie said,

    Open your minds..your hearts and understand that it IS very possible..that God even loves us.

    Of course He loves you, Vickie! He loves all of His children, and he weeps for them when they are suffering and in pain. He has felt everyone’s pain and has taken it upon himself, and has prepared a way everyone’s suffering to end.

    Vickie, I am curious as to what was “the most damaging information [that] came from [us]..the apologetics..”

    Theodore

  58. Placebo

    I second Craig Paxton’s comments. Every attempt to understand former Mormons that I have read so far does not explain my situation, which is, in brief, I came to understand that the Bible isn’t holy and with it went the Book of Mormon. Scholarship (beginning with James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible) was my undoing. But I’ve never felt more informed about the bible, nor about Mormon’s origins, which are not the same stories and doctrines I was told my whole life. This surprise didn’t cause me to leave; my eventual understanding that the BOM is a product of the 19th century did.

  59. Seth R.

    onika, a list of quotes you may find interesting:

    “We can tell when the speakers are moved upon by the Holy Ghost only when we, ourselves, are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak.” … (J. Reuben Clark, Church News, 31 July 1954, 9).

    “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation…. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:150).

    “Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of church doctrine. Moreover, the church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together.” (LDS Newsroom “Approaching Mormon Doctrine”)

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
    And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
    And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
    Numbers 11:27-29

    “It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 162).

    Joseph Fielding McConkie (son of Bruce R. McConkie) once said that to claim that anything taught in general conference is official doctrine “makes the place where something is said rather than what is said the standard of truth. Nor is something doctrine simply because it was said by someone who holds a particular office or position. Truth is not an office or a position to which one is ordained” (Straightforward Answers to Tough Gospel Questions, 213-214).

    “The Lord uses imperfect people… He often allows their errors to stand uncorrected. He may have a purpose in doing so, such as to teach us that religious truth comes forth ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ in a process of sifting and winnowing similar to the one I know so well in science” (Henry Eyring, Reflections of a Scientist, 47).

    “There are exceptions to some rules. …But don’t ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord,” (Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, June 2006, 16).

    “I teach the people correct principles, and they govern themselves,” (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, 10:57-58).

    “I make no claim of infallibility,” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Need for a Prophet,” Improvement Era, June 1970, 93).

    “We make no claim of infallibility or perfection in the prophets, seers, and revelators,” (Elder James E. Faust, “Continuous Revelation,” Ensign, November 1989, 11).

    “the First Presidency cannot claim, individually or collectively, infallibility” (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, compiled by Jerreld L. Newquist, Deseret Press, 1957, 1:206).

    “even the president of the church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost” (J. Reuben Clark, “When Are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?” July 7, 1954).

    “…if He (God) should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray. … It would be because they deserved it … ” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298).

    “The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:100).

    If the LDS membership hasn’t caught on to the concept that prophets are not to be followed blindly, it’s not for lack of trying on the part of the leadership.

  60. Seth R.

    As for your remark that if prophets are not infallible, “what good are they?”…

    Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to take all the help God is willing to provide me with. If it’s not a 100% truth record, so be it. I’ll still consider the office and its guidance of great worth.

    I detest all-or-nothing thinking in all its variations – no matter whether it’s a faithful Mormon, or an ex-Mormon promoting it. It’s the sign of a weak mind, and a failure to take responsibility for one’s own beliefs and opinions. It afflicts people both inside and outside the Church like a cancer.

    The sooner this diseased sort of thinking is eradicated, the better.

  61. onika

    Those are some good quotes. About this one:

    And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
    Numbers 11:27-29

    Moses wishes all the Lord’s people were prophets and had his spirit, so they DON’T have his spirit and they AREN’T prophets. That’s why they need Moses. If everyone truly had the lord’s spirit they wouldn’t need a prophet to lead them because they would ALL be UNIFIED and get the same answer. That’s why I said the purpose of praying is to get the SAME answer as the prophet, otherwise we will not be unified and we will be going different directions and basically being gods unto ourselves.

    “Individual members are encouraged to independently strive to receive their own spiritual confirmation…”

    meaning it is assumed true and we need to come to the same conclusion.

    “…to claim that anything taught in general conference is official doctrine “makes the place where something is said rather than what is said the standard of truth. Nor is something doctrine simply because it was said by someone who holds a particular office or position.”

    Right, but what if the prophet said “the Lord said” he would have to be telling the truth or lying, not just giving an opinion.

    “I teach the people correct principles, and they govern themselves”

    Right, the prophet teaches CORRECT principles. Governing ourselves means we are responsible for obeying the principles taught.

    “…if He (God) should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray. … It would be because they deserved it … ” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298).

    Oh ho! So, maybe he DID lead us astray with polygamy? ;)

  62. Seth R.

    Possibly, but I think the polygamy thing will prove a net positive for us theologically in the end.

    I’d feel better about your “the Lord said” hypothetical, if you would provide us with actual quotes we could check for ourselves.

    I think you can interpret the mandate to search for ourselves to be “pray and get the same answer as me.” But you don’t have to. I for one take the injunction seriously, and feel that if they’re asking me to pray whether the teaching is correct, they had better be prepared for me to receive an answer they don’t like.

  63. onika

    Ezekiel 36:
    2 Thus saith the Lord God…
    3 Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God…
    4 …hear the word of the Lord God; Thus saith the Lord God…

    D&C 113:
    2 Verily thus saith the Lord…
    4 Behold, thus saith the Lord…

    Anyway, it would take to long to quote them all. But doesn’t that make sense? If the prophet says, ” Thus saith the Lord…” and the Lord didn’t say it, then he must be lying.

  64. Theodore Brandley

    Seth said:

    I think the polygamy thing will prove a net positive for us theologically in the end.

    Would you like to enlarge on that thought?

    As a grandson of a polygamist it has already proven a net positive for me. :-)

  65. Seth R.

    Sure Theodore,

    The idea that you can only have one beloved in the Celestial Kingdom seems unfair, and at odds with what I believe about the human heart. It also seems like we are projecting the inadequacies and insecurities of our mortal marriage system into heaven – which is rarely a good idea theologically.

    Why shouldn’t a person who loses his or her beloved spouse in mortality and then remarries someone else they love very much be permitted to remain with both in the hereafter.

    Joseph, may have appeared to strike out on this principle in mortality. But eternally, I think it’s a home run.

    onika,

    I wasn’t asking for Bible cites.

    I was asking for examples of where a modern Mormon prophet definitively said “thus saith the Lord” and was proven wrong.

  66. onika

    Seth,

    I don’t know of any, do you? I thought I was the one defending the position of the prophet’s infallibility.

    Regarding polygamy, do you think it’s unfair that a woman can only be married to one man? Do you believe in polyandry? This could branch out until everyone is either directly or indirectly married to everyone.

  67. Seth R.

    I’ve been a defender of both polygyny and polyandry, as a theological matter, for a long time now. Of course, I don’t advocate for either as something that would be prudent to practice in life with multiple living partners.

    But theologically, I see no reason why both shouldn’t be allowed. The D&C leaves the door open for both, and Joseph Smith himself seemed to be verging on legitimate polyandry anyway before he was killed.

    And then I hear tell of dead women being sealed to multiple deceased husbands right now in our temples.

    The camel’s nose is in the tent, as it were.

  68. Seth R.

    As for your position on prophets, my apology for mistaking where you were coming from. Thanks for the clarification.

    But I would still ask you – how often do you really hear modern prophets explicitly saying “thus saith the Lord?”

  69. Theodore Brandley

    onika,

    My grandfather was one of the last Church sanctioned polygamists, and he died ten years before I was born.

    Seth,

    As far as has been revealed, the family is the only organization that exists in the Celestial world and it is established under the Patriarchal Order. The main reason that multiple husbands doesn’t work in the eternal world is that God has established the husband to be the head of the family. Multiple husbands would create disorder in an otherwise orderly kingdom. It simply wouldn’t work. (I don’t think it would work on earth either except in a rare case where multiple husbands would accept the woman as the leader of the group.) Women who have been sealed to more than one husband are exceptions where it is usually not known which husband she would have chosen. This is a choice she will have to make before entering the Celestial Kingdom.

  70. Seth R.

    “Multiple husbands would create disorder in an otherwise orderly kingdom.”

    That seems like a pretty big assumption. Especially considering the perfect unity that we posit to exist among the Godhead – which we all aspire to partaking of.

  71. Theodore Brandley

    Let me be more specific. Multiple husbands to one wife would create disorder. In D&C 138, where the Lord is speaking about celestial marriage he states, “My house is a house of order, saith the Lord God” (v 18).

    By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

    This settles the question of who has the ultimate responsibility in any family organization. With multiple husbands who presides? It would create disorder and wouldn’t work.

  72. Theodore Brandley

    Re: Thus Saith The Lord:

    The Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration–1
    The Lord has told me to ask the Latter-day Saints a question, and He also told me that if they would listen to what I said to them and answer the question put to them by the Spirit and power of God, they would all answer alike, and they would all believe alike with regard to this matter.

    President Hinckley April Conference 2006
    It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

    “The Lord has told me,” and, “was the mind and the will of the Lord,” have both the same meaning as “thus saith the Lord.” These above quotations are both canonized so perhaps those revelations that are that authoritative usually become canonized.

    Elder Spencer W. Kimball addressed this issue in October General Conference in 1966. In his address he quoted President Wilford Woodruff:

    Read the life of Brigham Young and you can hardly find a revelation that he had wherein he said, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ But the Holy Ghost was with him; he taught by inspiration and revelation. . . . Joseph said, ‘Thus saith the Lord’ almost every day of his life, in laying the foundation of this work. But those who followed him have not deemed it always necessary to say, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Yet they have led the people by the power of the Holy Ghost. . . .It is by that power that we have led Israel…He is giving us revelation, and will give us revelation until the scene is wound up…I have had some revelations of late and very important ones to me and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. . . The Lord . . . has told me exactly what to do . . . I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write. (Deseret News, Nov. 7, 1891.)

  73. Seth R.

    Who presides ultimately?

    God the Father of course.

    I’m still not seeing that this inherently causes disorder.

    I think you are projecting the demands of our mortal situation into the heavens.

  74. Theodore Brandley

    God the Father presides at the top level of administration of all the families of man, but each father presides at the entry level of family organization, and every level above that in the extended family order. The Patriarchal Order is the order of the Celestial Kingdom. It is not a matriarchal order, and if there is more than one husband per family unit who presides?

  75. Seth R.

    I think the idea of Patriarchy has been so watered-down and qualified by modern LDS leadership statements that it’s really hard to see where the husband’s authority in the home begins and the wife’s ends, as a practical matter.

    Again, I think you are projecting your own worldly observations about the way things work in our imperfect world, and in our imperfect Church, and tarring the heavens with the same brush.

    Do you really have any idea how the Patriarchal Order will be implemented in heaven?

    Seriously, I doubt you have all that many details on the arrangement at your disposal in the scriptures or authoritative statements.

  76. onika

    If the patriarchal order has been watered down it is because of the feminist opposition. Biologically it only makes sense to have one man with many women because more children can be produced. What would the sense be of one woman with many men? How would she know whose child she had? No woman could respect or love a bunch of men groveling at her feet, obeying her every command. It’s contrary to human nature. The woman was meant to worship the man, not the other way around. Maybe that’s why some men are homosexual, because the women in their lives were so domineering and made them feel dependent.

    This world is perfect; the only difference is that it is mortal. In fact I don’t see how an immortal world could be better, since the reason we have hunger is because we’ll die without food, so how are we really going to enjoy eating? Really, our joy comes from experiencing and overcoming opposition. If we didn’t have to work we would be bored and have no pride of accomplishment, and work requires effort brought on by opposition. If we didn’t die we wouldn’t have a sex drive, and wouldn’t procreate. Maybe a better scenario is reincarnation where we experience many mortal lives.

  77. Thomas

    Re: the alleged impossibility of multiple men “presiding” in a polyandrous arrangement, if you define the “family unit” in question not as one unified menage-a-trois, but rather as *two* separate family units. That is, if Family #1 is deemed to consist of Jared+Janelle+their children, and Family #2 consists of Wilford+Janelle+their children, then both Jared and Wilford can each preside over their respective family units.

    With enough semantical slipperiness, all things are possible. That’s why God created lawyers.

    If you ask me, too much emphasis on “presiding” and “order” and hierarchies is dangerous, as it potentially pushes up against the concept of Christian liberty and the command to “be not many masters.”

  78. Theodore Brandley

    Seth said:

    I think the idea of Patriarchy has been so watered-down and qualified by modern LDS leadership statements that it’s really hard to see where the husband’s authority in the home begins and the wife’s ends, as a practical matter.

    I have no idea what you are referring to. The Proclamation on the Family, which is the most authoritative statement we have on the relationship of husband and wife, is very clear:

    Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose…By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families… and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

    I don’t see where anything is “watered-down” here. Notice that gender is for eternal identity and purpose.

    Do you really have any idea how the Patriarchal Order will be implemented in heaven?

    It is quite clear in the Temple, which is symbolic of the Celestial Kingdom.

    Here are a few quotes:

    D&C 107:40-41
    The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son…This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage…

    D&C 131:1-2
    In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]

    Joseph F. Smith JI, March 1, 1902,
    There is no higher authority in matters relating to the family organization, and especially when that organization is presided over by one holding the Higher Priesthood, than that of the father. This authority is time honored, and among the people of God in all dispensations it has been highly respected and often emphasized by the teachings of the Prophets who were inspired of God. The Patriarchal order is of divine origin, and will continue throughout time and eternity. There is then a particular reason why men, women and children should understand this order and this authority in the households of the people of God, and seek to make it what God intended it to be, a qualification and preparation for the highest exaltation for His children.

    Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , p.257
    How did Adam bring his descendants into the presence of the Lord? The answer: Adam and his descendants entered into the priesthood order of God. Today we would say they went to the house of the Lord and received their blessings. The order of priesthood spoken of in the scriptures is sometimes referred to as the patriarchal order because it came down from father to son. But this order is otherwise described in modern revelation as an order of family government wherein a man and woman enter into a covenant with God-just as did Adam and Eve-to be sealed for eternity, to have posterity, and to do the will and work of God throughout their mortality.

    Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , p.491
    The Church was created in large measure to help the family, and long after the Church has performed its mission, the celestial patriarchal order will still be functioning.

  79. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas said:

    If you ask me, too much emphasis on “presiding” and “order” and hierarchies is dangerous, as it potentially pushes up against the concept of Christian liberty and the command to “be not many masters.”

    Obedience is the first law of the Gospel. It is only through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel that man return to live with God and obtain the desired freedom and liberty. Without the order of the Priesthood there is no Celestial Kingdom.

    Maybe you wouldn’t like it there. ;-)

  80. Seth R.

    And what does this authority entail?

    What do you get to command?

    Do you order your wife in heaven to do stuff?

    What exact authority will I have in the Celestial Kingdom (knock on wood) that my wife doesn’t have?

    You throw this word “preside” around a lot. But I have no idea what it means in practical terms, and I’m not sure you do either.

  81. Seth R.

    And I don’t see how multiple husbands would be a confusion anyway.

    If everyone is in a Zion-state in heaven anyway. So the will of one husband would be no different than the will of the other husband anyway.

    So it would be utterly indistinguishable from having one guy in charge anyway.

  82. Theodore Brandley

    What does preside mean in practical terms? After presiding over a family for 50 years and presiding over three separate congregations of the Church I can sum it up in one word, RESPONISIBILITY.

    In any organization some ONE has to have the final responsibility, whether it is the chairman, the CEO, the president, the bishop or the father. What is every one’s responsibility usually turns out to be no one’s responsibility. There has to be one person where “the buck stops” being passed.

    In the Celestial Kingdom there are no marriages performed. These sealings must be all be performed on earth prior to the end of the Millennium. The only women that are sealed to more than one man are those who had more that one husband in this life and died without being sealed to one of them, and it is not known who she would have chosen. That is a choice she will have to make prior to entering he Celestial Kingdom (Outside of the Celestial Kingdom there are no husbands and wives).

    What evidence do you have to support your supposition that it might be otherwise?

    What evidence do you have that marriages of multiple men to one woman has ever been successful in any society?

    “That same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there.” (D&C 130:2)

  83. Thomas

    Theodore, obedience *to God* is the “first law of heaven.” We ought to obey God rather than men.

    Our objective is to bring our will into line with God’s, so that our “obedience” ceases to be what we ordinarily understand the word to mean (i.e., doing what we’re told against our will). If someone commanded me to eat a pralines & cream ice cream cone, is it really proper to call it “obedience” when I do so, when I wanted to do that anyway?

    We learn to recognize the goodness of God’s will, and adopt it as our own , by, among other things, obeying it, and thereby discovering their truth and goodness even when it may not at first have been apparent to us. It’s oversimplifying only a little to say that living the Gospel is an “acquired taste,” like raw oysters. (Really, it takes an awful lot of practice to get past the experience’s initial resemblance to swallowing a cold glob of phlegm.) Like your mother said — you’ll never know if you like it until you try.

    When I call it “dangerous” to glorify obedience, the danger I have in mind arises from the fact that it is very easy for people in power to confuse their ideas with the revealed will of God. And there is no spiritual utility in obeying ungodly principles.

  84. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas,

    I agree.

    D&C 121:39-42
    We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

    No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile…

    The difficulty lies in knowing when someone in authority is conveying the will of God or whether they are exercising unrighteous dominion. It is particularly difficult when we disagree with them. Even though we may disagree with them they still might be right and it still might be the will of the Lord.

  85. Seth R.

    Men in authority are only supposed to exercise it “by persuasion” anyway.

    So essentially, if your wife doesn’t agree, it’s a no-go anyway.

    Can you tell me where the “authority” is in such an arrangement (other than the purely symbolic kind)?

  86. Thomas

    Theodore,

    I agree, especially regarding the difficulty.

    The Catholic take on this (they having had long experience in balancing individual conscience with ecclesiastical authority, and recognizing that their Church isn’t always right) is to declare that the individual conscience must be the individual’s final resort on moral questions — but it must be a *properly informed* conscience. You can’t just neglect the training of your moral character, and willfully ignore facts that ought to convince a prudent man, and then plead “conscience” as an excuse to believe or act contrary to the Church’s teaching.

    Most of the time, there really shouldn’t be much difficulty sorting out godly from ungodly demands for obedience. First, starting with the recognition that the whole law is encompassed in “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a good rule. The harder a teaching is to square with that basic principle, the more scrutiny it ought to be given. Thus, “Do your duty!” in 1857 should’ve gotten more skepticism, whereas “Be faithful to your marriage covenants” should be pretty much beyond question.

    Second, I operate under the presumption that a principle, to which obedience is demanded, which naturally follows from a person’s basic choice to have faith in a just God, is more likely to be true than a demand that I obey what appears to be an essentially arbitrary rule. God is not capricious; nor could a person be confident of ever finding, by faith, a God whose commandments were arbitrary.

    The difficulty only comes when God reveals something that is only indirectly related to the first principle in which all the law is fulfilled, and whose connection to basic goodness isn’t immediately apparent.

  87. Theodore Brandley

    Seth,

    The Church is governed by councils, over which some one presides. A bishop has counselors from whom he receives counsel. The bishopric then prays about a certain decision or course of action and each member of the council is to receive confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the decision they are making is the correct one. If one member of the council disagrees then they are to consider the issue again. All decisions in the councils of the Church are to be unanimous.

    These are principles that we should also apply in our family councils. The Holy Ghost is essential in achieving this. He knows everything!! We need to constantly tap into this infinite data base of knowledge to find the best course of action for us and our families. Our wives are our first councilors and the Lord has commanded us to “be one.” The only way we can “be one” is if we are both in tune with the Holy Ghost. I remember a theorem from high school geometry that says, “Things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” If we are both in tune with the Holy Ghost we will both be in tune with each other.

    The biggest mistakes that I made as a husband and a father is when I said things, or made decisions, or disciplined someone when there was an argument and I was angry.

    3 Ne 11:29
    29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

    Every time I made a decision or tried to discipline under this influence I did the wrong thing, one hundred percent of the time. The key to successfully presiding over a family (or any group or organization for that matter) is to counsel together with the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

  88. Theodore Brandley

    Seth,

    That is the best answer I can give you. Your authority lies in the ability and the responsibility to direct the family council as outlined above.

  89. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas said,

    The difficulty only comes when God reveals something that is only indirectly related to the first principle in which all the law is fulfilled, and whose connection to basic goodness isn’t immediately apparent.

    I agree with this also. A case in point is the gay/lesbian issue today (which I really don’t want to get into right now). In my opinion this may be one of the main issues which will separate the Church from the world (Babylon). On the other hand, it may be one of the main issues that drives Christians from other churches to Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as other churches embrace the gay/lesbian agenda. My take on this issue is to have confidence that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are following the will of God. I have two rules concerning my following them:

    1. The combined First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are always right.

    2. If I think that the combined First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are wrong, refer to rule number one.

    Theodore

  90. Seth R.

    And again, I don’t see why multiple husbands would be a problem for that in a heaven where ALL are perfectly united in the Father anyway.

    Are you suggesting husband one would counteract husband two’s order to colonize planet X?

  91. onika

    Seth,

    “And again, I don’t see why multiple husbands would be a problem for that in a heaven where ALL are perfectly united in the Father anyway.

    “Are you suggesting husband one would counteract husband two’s order to colonize planet X?”

    It would be really inefficient :)

    To your question about authority when it’s a no-go if the wife says no. That’s not true. Lehi would have gone into the wilderness with or without Saria. If the husband is wrong the wife should not follow, and if he’s right she should. He doesn’t follow her, he follows the Lord. Husbands don’t obey your wives, but you can humbly listen to their counsel. You are only using unrighteous dominion if you are not following the Lord and you force your wife to obey.

  92. Theodore Brandley

    Seth,

    To go further with your scenario, if husband 1 was to build planet X for his posterity and husband 2 was to build planet Y for his posterity, where would the wife and mother go? We are promised that our earth will become our celestial home and that we will dwell with our Father in Heaven. It wouldn’t be Heaven if our mother wasn’t there.

    If, as you are suggesting, they would work out this problem by only building planet X then that creates another problem. The mortal inhabitants of planet X would have two Fathers in Heaven, but none of them would know which Father was theirs. Who would each individual pray to? It creates confusion and would not work.

    There is no revealed precedence for it. In fact all revelation and history rejects it. It only exists in the mind as a “what if.”

  93. Seth R.

    “To go further with your scenario, if husband 1 was to build planet X for his posterity and husband 2 was to build planet Y for his posterity, where would the wife and mother go?”

    This is possibly why we don’t know much about Heavenly Mother.

    “The mortal inhabitants of planet X would have two Fathers in Heaven, but none of them would know which Father was theirs. Who would each individual pray to? It creates confusion and would not work.”

    I don’t know… we’ve already split God into three people. So I don’t see why this would be all that particularly tricky.

  94. Thomas

    Theodore,

    Do the First Presidency and the Twelve themselves claim the infallibility you ascribe to them?

    Fortunately, those combined bodies really don’t say much, and they’ve got a good track record on the occasions when they do. However, a minuscule percentage of Church doctrine and policy is set by official statements of those combined bodies. Most authority is exercised by lower-downs (who are, of course, essentially ratified by the high presidencies).

  95. onika

    Seth said:

    “Again, I think you are projecting your own worldly observations about the way things work in our imperfect world, and in our imperfect Church, and tarring the heavens with the same brush.

    “Do you really have any idea how the Patriarchal Order will be implemented in heaven?”

    D&C 88:

    17 And the redemption of the soul is through him that quickeneth all things, in whose bosom it is decreed that the poor and the meek of the earth shall inherit it.
    18 Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory;
    19 For after it hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
    20 That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; for, for this intent was it made and created, and for this intent are they sanctified.

    25 And again, verily I say unto you, the earth abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law—

  96. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas Says:

    Do the First Presidency and the Twelve themselves claim the infallibility you ascribe to them?

    I don’t ascribe to them infallibility but they have a better probability of knowing the will of the Lord than anyone else in the world.

    D&C 68:4
    4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

    And, yes, they feel the same way:

    The whole burden of my message can be said in three simple words: FOLLOW THE BRETHREN. Though I may elaborate and attempt to illustrate and emphasize, there is the fact, the disarmingly simple fact, that in the three words, FOLLOW THE BRETHREN, rests the most important counsel that I could give to you…I bear witness, my brethren and sisters…that in this Church men are as they indeed must be—called of God by prophecy…May we learn to follow the brethren, I pray…(Boyd K. Packer, “Follow the Brethren” Speeches of the Year, BYU, 23 March 1965, p. 1–10.)

  97. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas says:

    Fortunately, those combined bodies really don’t say much

    You should listen to General Conference sometime.

  98. Thomas

    Theodore, when I listen to General Conference, I hear lots of individual Brethren giving talks. I don’t recall many statements issued in Conference under the joint authority of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. In recent memory, there were the Proclamation on the Family, and “The Living Christ.”

    Theodore, you have a first-rate intellect. Relying on sarcasm associates you with second-raters.

  99. Thomas

    Theodore, again:

    “I don’t ascribe to them infallibility….”

    Compare:

    “1. The combined First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve are always right.”

    How is that not infallibility?

  100. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas,

    Sorry about the sarcasm.

    In every General Conference all of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak. At the end of almost every conference what has been said is endorsed by the Prophet. The addresses are then published in the Ensign, which lists as the publishers all of the names of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. I agree that it may not carry quite the same weight as a special document with all of their signatures appearing at the bottom, but what they each said is sanctioned by them all. Additionally there are many, many documents published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that must be, and are, approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. Such documents are the “General Handbook of Instructions,” the missionary manual “Preach My Gospel,” and many others.

    As far as infallibility is concerned, you left out my rule number 2. If I was ascribing infallibility to them I would have stopped at rule number 1. As I subsequently noted the reason I have rule number 2 is that if I think they may be worng it is a reminder that “they have a better probability of knowing the will of the Lord than anyone else in the world.”

  101. Thomas

    Theodore: No worries — I’m kinda touchy in the morning.

    I believe the Brethren have a better probability of knowing the will of the Lord than anyone else in the world with respect to the major questions — the matters as to which there is a guarantee that the Lord will not allow them to lead the Church astray. As to less significant matters, that confidence is not necessarily warranted.

    The Brethren are afforded a deference and immunity from questioning that was not present in the early Church — either its incarnation in the meridian of time, where Paul “withstood [Peter] to the face, for he was to be blamed,” or in Joseph’s tenure. In American republican thought, it is gospel that allowing people or institutions to go unquestioned or unchecked leads to error. With the one exception of when error is prevented by supernatural, revelatory means, I believe this is sound thinking. Thus, when the typical left-liberal administrative busybody tells me to shut up and get in line with what all right-thinking people really *must* believe, I bristle.

    As mentioned above, the Church has a guarantee that the Lord will not let the Brethren lead the Church “astray.” Since various Brethren have occasionally taught error in Conference addresses, or endorsed it in erroneous Church-published material — and have sometimes even openly acknowledged this, as in Elder McConkie’s famous retraction of aspects of his and other leaders’ teaching on race — I have to conclude that this supernatural backstop on the Church’s doctrinal integrity is limited in some respect. I have concluded — and I may be wrong — that the guarantee is similar to the Catholic doctrine of the “sensus fidei,” the guarantee that the main body of Catholic doctrine will be miraculously preserved against fundamental error, even as occasional errors are made as to peripheral matters.

    Outside the sphere of this guarantee, however, I believe there may be areas of knowledge where the Brethren may not be more likely to know the will of the Lord — that is, the Lord’s truth — than other people. For instance, a few years ago, the Ensign published an article endorsing the literal Genesis account of a global flood. On this point, I think the evidence is overwhelming that the geologists have a better understanding of the mind of the Lord on this issue than whoever wrote and approved that article. A more recent article repeated some of the weaker arguments of young-earth creationists. Regardless of what you believe about evolution, the author of that article knew less of the truth than others. The Primary lesson manual misrepresents other Christian churches’ teaching about the Trinity, and a recent Conference address misconstrued the language of the Athanasian Creed.

    In secular spheres — that is, those spheres where revelation does not directly operate — we believe that insulation from critique invites error. Does that same dynamic operate in the Church, outside the sphere of the guarantee against major apostasy?

    I am not particularly concerned that “following the Brethren” will lead me into serious error. As I wrote above, the First Presidency and the Twelve are very careful these days with their authoritative pronouncements, and I agree with what they’ve said. (I’m socially and politically conservative, so I’m spared the angst of the Mormon liberals who waver on the gay-marriage issue; I think they’re wrong on purely secular as well as doctrinal grounds, and I have no desire to wear one earring, let alone two.) I am more concerned with being saddled with things the Brethren have said in the past, in times when the teaching culture was less cautious — things that I simply cannot accept as true. It’s a matter of keeping sand out from under my foundation.

  102. onika

    I grew up being taught the prophet can never lead the church astray. Who said that? Where does it say that? Even the Book of Mormon says the leaders of churches will lead people astray, and I don’t think it’s just talking about other Christian churches.

    Mormon 8:
    28 Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.

    In order for the churches to become defiled they would have to have been pure from the start. To deny the power of God they would have had to have had the power of God from the start. The apostasy had taken place in the Old World long before he wrote this. He is talking about the future, our day.

  103. Theodore Brandley

    onika said,

    I grew up being taught the prophet can never lead the church astray. Who said that? Where does it say that?

    President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, may have been the first one who first publicly expressed this concept. Many other prophets have emphasized it since.

    Wilford Woodruff, The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, edited by G. Homer Durham, p.74
    There are men today, there will be men till the coming of the Son of Man, I expect, who feel as though they ought to lead the Church, as though it is not going on right-that this, that, and the other is wrong. I say to all Israel at this day, I say to the whole world, that the God of Israel, who organized this Church and kingdom, never ordained any President or Presidency to lead it astray. Hear it, ye Israel, no man who has ever breathed the breath of life can hold these keys of the kingdom of God and lead the people astray.-MS 51:546-547 (1889).

    Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball, p.459
    No one in this Church will ever go far astray who ties himself securely to the authorities whom the Lord has placed in his Church. This Church will never go astray; the Quorum of the Twelve will never lead you into bypaths; it never has and never will.

    Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , p.137
    I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.” Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.” (CR October 1960, p. 78.)

    Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p.296
    I wish that each of you would remember that tonight you heard me say that this Church is true. Other churches also do much good, but this is the “true and living Church” of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name it bears. (See D&C 1:30.) Be true to it. Cling to it. If you will do so it will become as an anchor in the midst of a stormy sea. It will be a light to your lives and a foundation upon which to build them. I give you my solemn testimony that this Church will never be led astray. It is in the hands of God, and should any of its leaders ever attempt to lead it astray, His is the power to remove them. He has said that He has restored His work for the last time, “never again to be destroyed nor given to other people” (D&C 138:44; see also Dan. 2:44-45). (“Stand True and Faithful,” Ensign, May 1996, p. 93.)

  104. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas said:

    Outside the sphere of this guarantee, however, I believe there may be areas of knowledge where the Brethren may not be more likely to know the will of the Lord — that is, the Lord’s truth — than other people. For instance, a few years ago, the Ensign published an article endorsing the literal Genesis account of a global flood. On this point, I think the evidence is overwhelming that the geologists have a better understanding of the mind of the Lord on this issue than whoever wrote and approved that article.

    I disagree. I think the article you are referring to was “The Flood and the Tower of Babel,” Ensign, Jan 1998, 35, written by Dr. Donald W. Parry, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brigham Young University. He is heavily involved with the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This does not make him an expert in geology but he has studied geological theory and has read much of the geological evidence against a universal flood.

    As Dr. Parry explains, it is primarily the theory of Uniformitarianism (geological processes have always moved very slowly and always will move very slowly) that has been the basis that has led to the conclusion that a universal flood was impossible. As Dr. Parry points out, the theory of Uniformitarianism is a useful theory but it is not a proven fact. The interpretation of geological evidence has all been done using this theory as the base.

    The scriptures, however, make it clear that God has control over the elements of the earth and moves them at His will. If one does not believe the scriptures are the true word of God then of course one will not believe that God has such power and that He exercises it. To the believer the creation itself is evidence of God exercising this power. Enoch moved mountains and changed the course of rivers. The brother of Jared moved the mountain Zerin. Moses parted the Red Sea. The earth was divided in the days of Peleg. The face of the earth was changed in America at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the coming of the Lord the earth will be violently changed at His word:

    D&C 109:73-74
    73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;
    74 And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth;

    D&C 133:21-24
    21 And he shall utter his voice out of Zion, and he shall speak from Jerusalem, and his voice shall be heard among all people;
    22 And it shall be a voice as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, which shall break down the mountains, and the valleys shall not be found.
    23 He shall command the great deep, and it shall be driven back into the north countries, and the islands shall become one land;
    24 And the land of Jerusalem and the land of Zion shall be turned back into their own place, and the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.

    Notice that “the earth shall be like as it was in the days before it was divided.” This tells us that at the time of the Flood the earth was smooth and that there were no exceedingly high places or low places. This makes a universal flood feasible.

    The scriptures from Genesis to 2 Peter, to the Book of Mormon, to the Doctrine and Covenants, to the Pearl of Great Price, all speak of a universal flood. Jesus himself said:

    Matthew 24:36-39
    36 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
    37 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
    38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
    39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them ALL away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (emphasis added)

    If all of the combined scriptures are wrong about the universal flood then the scriptures are not the word of God. If the scriptures are not the word of God then there is no God. Everyone can choose for himself whether to believe the current prevalent interpretation of geologists, or to believe the word of God.

    Theodore

  105. onika

    Theodore,

    There could still be a God even if the scriptures were not true. Many of our Founding Fathers believed in a Deist God.

  106. Thomas

    “If all of the combined scriptures are wrong about the universal flood then the scriptures are not the word of God. If the scriptures are not the word of God then there is no God.”

    Like the old math cartoon says, I think you need to show a bit more of your work between points 1 and 2.

    I leave defending scriptural inerrancy to the Protestant fundamentalists, who truly are cooked without it. We haven’t necessarily painted ourselves into quite the same corner; we have other potential sources of authority than inerrant ancient scripture.

    “My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.””

    As between Elder Benson and Elder Charles Penrose, who expressly condemned this kind of reasoning, I follow Elder Penrose.

  107. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas said:

    we have other potential sources of authority than inerrant ancient scripture.

    If ancient scripture has to be in error in order for there not to have been a universal flood the let us look at other potential sources of authority in modern scripture:

    Moses 2:1
    1 AND it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; WRITE THE WORDS WHICH I SPEAK. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth…etc, etc. (emphasis added)

    It is clear from the above that God dictated Genesis to Moses. Moses did not get it from some ancient localized source.

    Moses 7:32-45
    32 The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, …
    34 And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them…
    38 But behold, these which thine eyes are upon shall perish in the floods; and behold, I will shut them up; a prison have I prepared for them…
    41 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook.
    42 And Enoch also saw Noah, and his family; that the posterity of all the sons of Noah should be saved with a temporal salvation;
    43 Wherefore Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand; but upon the residue of the wicked the floods came and swallowed them up…
    45 And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and FROM NOAH, he beheld all the families of the earth (emphasis added).

    All of the families of the earth are descended from Noah because all of the rest were drowned in the flood.

    3 Nephi 22:9
    9 For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee.

    Ether 13:2
    2 For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands…

    JST Gen 8:22
    22 And behold, I, even I will bring in a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every thing that liveth on the earth shall die.

    JST Gen 8:42-45
    42 And all flesh died that moved upon the face of the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beasts, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man.
    43 All in whose nostrils the Lord had breathed the breath of life, of all that were on the dry land, died.
    44 And every living substance was destroyed, which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; and they were destroyed from the earth;
    45 And Noah only remained, and they that were with him in the ark.

    JST Mark 13:47-49
    47 But of that day and hour no one knoweth; no, not the angels of God in heaven, but my Father only.
    48 But as it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be also at the coming of the Son of man; for it shall be with them as it was in the days which were before the flood.
    49 Until the day the Noah entered into the ark, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

    D&C 138:8-9
    8 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
    9 “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” (1 Peter 3:18-20.)

    The universal flood is confirmed throughout the Holy scriptures.

    Theodore

  108. Thomas

    Theodore, you make a good case. I don’t buy it — I think the evidence from geology is compelling that there was never a global flood, and I’m open to the possibility that the Lord may reveal scripture to people using the religious idiom with which they are familiar, which could include seeming to endorse the flood myth.

    I’m curious, though, about what others on the FAIR crew think about this. Are they also dedicated to defending the notion of a literal, worldwide flood?

    Sometimes an advanced defense — staking out the battle lines as far forward as possible — makes sense. Other times, you wind up like Sickles at Gettysburg.

  109. onika

    If there wasn’t a world-wide flood, the people thought there was, and that’s why they wrote it. so maybe the scriptures aren’t about what really happened, but about what they thought happened. Theodore, I don’t want to tell you anymore if this is going to make you depressed.

  110. Theodore Brandley

    Thomas,

    Just for the record I am not “on the FAIR crew.” I’m just hangin out here like you are.

    onika said.

    If there wasn’t a world-wide flood, the people thought there was, and that’s why they wrote it. so maybe the scriptures aren’t about what really happened, but about what they thought happened. Theodore, I don’t want to tell you anymore if this is going to make you depressed.

    :-) It made me smile to think that you were concerned about me! I learned how not to get depressed many years ago.

    For those who do not believe that the scriptures are primarily the word of God that is the obvious explanation. However, for Latter-day Saints who do believe the scriptures to be the word of God that explanation doesn’t work. We read in Moses that Genesis was dictated to Moses by God, so he didn’t get the flood story from some other ancient writing. Many other prophets through the ages, including Jesus Christ have confirmed a universal flood.

    This is a typical case where the current understanding of science does not agree with the standard understanding of the scriptures. It is not reasonable that a universal flood could cover Mount Everest at 29,000 feet, but the scriptures say that the mountains were covered (Genesis 7:20). Modern revelation resolves this by informing us that prior to the earth being divided in the days of Peleg that there were no high mountains (D&C 49:23; 133:22-24).

    This is in conflict with current geological theory that claims all geological process move very slowly, always have and always will. The scriptures again claim otherwise in that the Lord has power to raise up mountains or to lay them low at his command (we may witness this power in operation before too long).

    The problem for a Latter-day Saint believing in the Limited Flood Theory is that it generates doubt in the scriptures and in the prophets, including Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. This doubt challenges faith and leads to further doubts in God himself.

    As I said prior, everyone can choose for himself whether to believe the current interpretation of geologists, or to believe the word of God. But for me and my house…

    Theodore

    p.s. I’m away from my computer for a couple of days so have fun without me around to spoil it. :-)

  111. Steve G.

    May be it is a copout but I no longer worry to much about issues like this. That is not to say that they are not important it is just that I am comfortable not knowing the answer. I understand Theodore Brandley’s point, and I am open to the idea that science is not a closed book but and that we will still learn useful information in the future that will change our present day paradigms. I am also open to the idea that not all of our revelations our perfect and that the Lord reasons with man on his own level and according to his own understanding. I still believe in the gospel because I find so much truth in other things and because of what it does for my life that I do not have to have an answer to every question. It is kind of fun to see this conversation is still going on.

  112. Thomas

    “The problem for a Latter-day Saint believing in the Limited Flood Theory is that it generates doubt in the scriptures and in the prophets, including Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. This doubt challenges faith and leads to further doubts in God himself.”

    That’s possible, particularly if you make historical or scientific matters that are susceptible of being considered by reason into matters of faith.

    On the other hand, I believe that if faith is reserved, as I believe is proper, for those matters which reason is inherently incapable of supplying a conclusive answer — such as the existence and nature of God, and the reality and supernatural nature of revelation — then there will never be an occasion for science to interfere with faith.

  113. Seth R.

    I don’t see what possible relevance a universal vs. local flood would have to my theological beliefs.

    So I guess I don’t really care.

    Nor do I care if the scriptures are 100% accurate in everything.

  114. Thomas

    Seth,

    At first impression, I’d agree that just how much of the earth got wet in Noah’s time is a theological footnote at best.

    But there is a larger theological issue behind the debate. That issue has to do with the proper role of faith.

    One school of thought holds that faith is properly applied only to those First Principles as to which reason, by its very nature, is incompetent. For example, if you posit the existence of things (such as God) that are ordinarily beyond the reach of the natural senses, unaided reason by definition can’t supply the answer.

    Things like the existence of God, his nature, and the supernatural nature of revelation are things which I believe can only be known by a decision to exercise faith. Observation and reason can never supply a definitive answer as to these “things not seen,” so if we want to arrive at an answer, it has to be by faith or not at all.

    Another school of thought holds that it is legitimate to arrive at decisions by faith, not only when reason is inherently incompetent, but also as to things which are ordinarily subject to rational evaluation. This category includes matters of astronomy, geology, biology, history, and other disciplines, which we ordinarily use secular reason to evaluate. (We didn’t use faith to send a rocket to the moon; we don’t use faith to measure whether a house built on a California hillside will fall down; we don’t use faith to determine whether to take out somebody’s appendix.) It is only in those cases where a religious tradition, for whatever reason, has touched on matters that are ordinarily measured by reason, where some people propose to resort to “faith” for an answer, instead of using their ordinary rational tools. This can cause conflicts between the secular and spiritual realms, because scripture and science don’t always agree. It also causes conflicts between competing religious groups, because you can have “faith” in just about anything, which leads to sectarian conflicts between groups of people who are equally convinced, by faith, in the rightness of their exclusive doctrines.

    Historically, religion has a very poor track record when it goes up against science. Moreover, societies that make faith their basic model for understanding the physical universe tend not to progress in knowledge as well as societies that value rational inquiry.

    On the other hand, societies that dismiss faith altogether also often tend to stagnate.

    I believe the best society is one that values *reason informed by faith.* Exercise faith to choose an answer to the fundamental questions, and then reason out the implications of your basic confessions of faith, and any other matters in which your reason can operate. The “two wings” of faith and reason are complementary.

    What interests me about the debate over whether the Flood was global or limited, is that the side that says we must believe it was global, reveals that it holds up faith as superior to reason. Though reason is fallible, and so articles of faith shouldn’t necessarily be instantly discarded when something proposed by reason appears to conflict with them, some things — like the evidence from geology that there was no global Flood — are so firmly established, that you can’t really reject it without putting out the light of reason more or less altogether. And as Locke pointed out, you can’t do that without diminishing revelation, also — because it’s partly by reason that you recognize a revelation as authentically such. (We have to be taught, by rational argument, to recognize the Spirit for what it is.) Not only that, but when reason becomes too diminished in a society, you get something like Islamic civilization — a stagnant parasite on reason-honoring societies. I’ll pass.

    So the debate over the Flood isn’t just a tempest in a teapot over a theological footnote. It’s a proxy for a larger debate over the nature of faith, and its relationship with other means of knowledge.

  115. onika

    Shouldn’t it be “faith informed by reason”? “I believe because of these reasons.”

    If I watch my mother make bread and see that when she uses yeast, following the directions, to make it rise, then I can have faith that when I use yeast to make bread, and follow the directions, I will get the same results. But, if I don’t follow the directions, and use water that is too hot, or the yeast is too old, or I don’t feed the yeast, it doesn’t matter how much I believe, the yeast won’t raise the bread.

    Alma 32:
    21 … therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.

  116. Thomas

    “If I watch my mother make bread and see that when she uses yeast, following the directions, to make it rise, then I can have faith that when I use yeast to make bread, and follow the directions, I will get the same results.”

    That’s not faith — that’s reason. You’ve observed a process, seen that it works, and therefore have a reason to have confidence that it will work when you repeat the process.

    Faith is having hope for things that (unlike your example) are “not seen.”

    When I use the phrase “reason informed by faith,” I mean that I make decisions based on reason, going all the way back to my basic choice, by faith, to assume an eternal perspective to my existence.

  117. onika

    Even if I have seen it work for my mother, that does not mean that I know it will work for me. Even if I have made bread a thousand times before, I am still exercising faith every time I make bread. I am expecting a certain result but I don’t SEE it until after it happens. The seen result of my action is knowledge.

    So, are you saying you make a decision based on reason, but if it conflicts with what you believe, you change your decision? I understand your decisions have to be in harmony with your values.

  118. onika

    Theodore (and anyone else),

    I have never had much faith in scientists measuring how old things are, but the reason I don’t believe in a global flood is because civilizations that existed before the flood still existed after the flood (like the Sumerians). That is why I think it was a huge flood like the Persian Gulf and the Black Sea flooding over, but not covering the entire earth.

    It is interesting that faithful LDS would say they don’t believe in the flood. It is probably because they don’t believe in the Bible that much, and that is acceptable in the Church. Does anyone express as much scepticism about stories in the Book of Mormon?

  119. Thomas

    Onika,

    “Even if I have made bread a thousand times before, I am still exercising faith every time I make bread.”

    You’re using “faith” as a synonym for “confidence,” or “expectation.” Are they really the same thing?

    When you follow a proven bread-making process, you’re applying your reason, not faith. You’ve discovered that following that process has a high probability (100%, so far!) of yielding a certain result. Do you “know” it will continue to work that way? Well, technically, no; there’s always the remote possibility that the laws of physics and chemistry will suddenly change. But since we have yet to observe an occasion of that possibility, we can reasonably conclude the odds of it are quite remote indeed, and so we can reasonably expect breadmaking to keep working the same way as before.

  120. Theodore Brandley

    onika,

    The vast majority of those who are regularly active in the LDS Church believe in the Universal Flood. The Ensign article by Dr. Parry that we have been discussing would probably be fully accepted by 99 % of those who regularly read the Ensign. However, one does not have to believe in the Universal Flood in order to hold a Temple Recommend. We are all individuals and come from individual backgrounds and experiences and we all judge things with a slightly different perspective.

    I think that among the LDS people there are fewer that question things in the Book of Mormon than they do in the Bible. I think there is generally more confidence that the Book of Mormon was given recently by direct revelation, through one prophet, and there is less likely to be errors. Joseph Smith said that “it was the most correct book on earth.” Notice that he did not say it was inerrant. Even Moroni, who sealed and hid the plates wrote, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ” (translated title page).

    Theodore

  121. onika

    Heb. 11:

    3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    So, God had to have faith to create the worlds.

    James 2:

    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    I believe the yeast will raise the bread, so I act upon that belief by putting yeast into the bread dough (works). This is faith. After I see the bread has risen I have knowledge.

    Faith is confidence/expectation based on true laws.

  122. onika

    Thomas, I take that back; Heb 11 isn’t saying God had faith. He’s saying that faith allows us to believe God created the worlds out of nothing by his word.

  123. Theodore Brandley

    onika,

    Allen Wyatt has done an excellent job of presenting an overview of this complex situation. I really can’t add anything to his summation. And again, everyone will draw their own conclusions. On this issue I will have to turn judgment over to the Lord and wait for the time when it can be explained to me by Henry and Zina and Joseph and Brigham.

  124. onika

    Zina said, “I will tell you the facts. I had dreams–I am no dreamer but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order [Celestial marriage] I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it.”

    This must have happened AFTER she married Henry or she would not have turned down Joseph’s proposals.

    Some time after she was married Joseph explains through her brother (someone she trusts) why he introduced plural marriage. Why didn’t he tell her that in the first place, before she got married? If God insisted that Joseph and not Henry marry Zina, why didn’t he send an angel to her, or give her some kind of spiritual prompting or confirmation to marry Joseph, BEFORE she married Henry? It is not fair to Henry. Why does he not deserve to be married for eternity to his first wife, the mother of his children?

    The purpose of the law of Levirate is to ensure the deceased brother has posterity if he didn’t have any before he died. So, was Brigham ensuring posterity for Joseph or himself by marrying Zina? If polyandry was acceptable, why get divorced from Henry? Their marriage must not have been considered a legitimate marriage.

    Some time after her divorce and separation from her husband who was sent on a mission, she writes Brigham Young expressing her love for him. How can she love him if she had no intimate relationship with him before? My guess is that she loved him when she was sealed to him.

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