Tag Archives: False Prophets

Profits, Sewers, and Elevators

elevators

Words matter.  When today’s 15 Apostles of the Church use words to describe themselves such as “true messengers, special witnesses, sure witnesses, certain witnesses, prophets, seers, revelators, and apostles” it becomes our sacred duty to determine if they are being misleading or telling the truth.  Especially given that we pay for undisclosed salaries and benefits packages and give them 1/10th of all we possess.  The duty to discern their words falls upon us members.

They call themselves prophets, seers, and revelators.  But whether they prophesy, see, or reveal remains to be seen.  In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

Did Brigham prophesy correctly when he said the Church would no longer be true if it abandoned polygamy or gave priesthood to the blacks?

Did Thomas receive a true revelation to not baptize children whose parents have made lifestyle choices we disagree with?

Did Gary receive a revelation to allow for gay leaders in Boy Scouts?

Did Spencer receive a revelation to give blacks the priesthood or was the Church worried it would lose its non-profit status with the IRS?

Where are the additional sections of the Doctrine and Covenants formalizing all the revelations they receive?  Where are the prophesies of these men we adulate?  Which of them possesses stones through which they see?  Why will none of them declare as do prophets of old that they have seen Him even on the right hand of God?  Why do they continue to speak in parables using vain and ambiguous language because some things are simply “too sacred” to share?

We have allowed time and tradition to warp and distort the true meaning of words.

I am curious by show of hands (comments) which of you who consider yourselves to be True Blue Mormons, believe that these men see God.  Or at least Angels.  I have heard the Brethren say that they are sure witnesses of Christ and that they know Him as well as the ancient Apostles.  What do you think these words mean?  Elder Anderson said at a funeral this last week that his witness was “certain.”  What does he mean by this?

Can we at least agree that some of these men lead us to believe, by their words, that they have seen Him?  That they converse with Him face to face?  And that it would be a grave and tragic issue, if in fact they have not?

I think there is no greater question that can be asked of these men than, “Have you or have you not seen the Lord?”  If you have not, then shame on you for leading us to believe that you have!  If you have, then where are your revelations?  Your expounding of scripture?  Your bold testimonies that carry to the hearts of the children of men?  Why do you take surveys when you have the keys to revelation?  Why are you using our sacred funds to build malls and cities rather than help the poor?

If we have 15 prophets among us, why have we not created Zion?  Where are the signs that follow after you?  Where are the tongues, the Angels, the miracles, the prophesies, the additional scriptures, or even the doctrinal dissertations?

I do not look forward to the teleprompter talks this next week, written by paid speech writers and assistants who worship them.  Parables of pickles and talks about following the Brethren even when they are wrong and of the Old Ship Zion.  Same old Ship, different day.  To me it has all become noise.  Words no longer have meaning.  And messages from these men do not have the power to change hearts.  They only seek to control and to keep others from entering in.

I invite you to contrast their words to the words of scripture.  If ye lack wisdom, ask God, not men.  Follow Christ, not the Brethren.  He is a real Man.  Sadly “they” are all effeminate impostors.  Might as well be Profits, Sewers, and Elevators, for they have corrupted the Holy Church of God, and their titles no longer mean anything.

God bless you as you seek Him, not them.

AB

Zion Postponed

city_of_zion_platThis last year has been a very difficult and yet enlightening one for me personally.  Most of you don’t know me and so I will spare you from much of the personal information.  But suffice it to say, this has been a year where I have learned much.  Like many in the world, I have seen sickness, death and destruction all around me.  I have looked into the skies at the signs that prophets foresaw millennia ago.  I have witnessed miracles and have seen love grow in some of my most important relationships.  I have experienced forgiveness in damaged or destroyed relationships and feel as though I’ve received added light.  And yet, I am reminded of what a fool I am.  So quick to anger, vanity, fear, retaliation, judgment, greed, and laziness.  The more I study and ponder, the more I recognize my awful state before God as well as the awful state of our church.

When I first began to allow myself to consider that the church might not be what I had always defended it to be, my world began to fall apart.  I was a bishop at the time.  To some I was the poster child of Mormonism.  Son of converts, valiant in my youth, from a large active family, son of a father who had many important church callings, of a mother known for her kindness and zeal; an eagle scout, returned missionary, temple married, BYU educated, a leader in the church at a young age.  I served in my first bishopric in my early twenties.  My second bishopric in my late twenties.  On the high council in my mid twenties.  I was interviewed as a potential stake president in my early forties and was told by the outgoing stake president that they almost selected me.

I share none of this to gloat or to brag.  I merely share it to demonstrate that when it came to commitment to the church, I was all in.  I loved the church with all my energy and served it and defended it for my entire life.

But, as I have noted here in this blog, there have been times along the way where my faith in the church has been challenged.  In times past, I most often erred on the side of defending the church and the brethren.  For much of my life, I had assumed the gospel and the church were mostly the same thing.   That began to change however, as I was met with further contradictions.  Separating the two became a required spiritual survival technique for me.

The last stand for me with the church was that I had held onto the Brethren being True Witnesses of Jesus Christ.  I believed they stood where I hoped to one day stand — even in His presence.  I believed in this doctrine since first gaining my testimony as a very young man.  In reality it was my testimony.   I read of Calling and Election Made Sure and I knew that this was man’s very purpose and I believed with all my heart that these particular men, the leaders of the church, HAD achieved this end!  After all, they had always reassured me that they “knew” Him and were special witnesses of Him.  Call me naive, but I believed them until only a few years ago.

Now, lest you think me apostate, let me remind my readers that I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus, in His servant Joseph and in the Restoration and in the Book of Mormon.  I am not a whacko.  I’m not a wannabe polygamist.  I consider myself a very normal “LDS” person.  BUT I do not and can no longer believe that the leaders of this church are anywhere near the equivalency of Joseph Smith.  To say so is to mock God!  Additionally, my spiritual journey has led me to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in a state of apostasy and has been since the early days of the Church when its members refused to accept the fulness of the Gospel.  This is further evidenced by the fact that LDS prophets today do not prophesy!  They do not see!  They do not reveal!  Ironically, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men.  They worship Handbooks and consult the learned and rely upon their attorneys.  Their lips draw nigh unto Him, but their hearts are so far from Him!  They preach the precepts of men and lead souls to Hell, yea even the very elect.  Because they do not KNOW Him!  They cannot have the testimony of Jesus nor have they received the Gospel.  If they had, there would be an abundance of signs that follow after them.  They would be healing the sick, they would be obsessed with expounding Scripture especially Isaiah, they would be focused on the poor and in building up Zion.  When’s the last time you even heard an LDS prophet speak of building Zion?  Thus we are of Paul and of Thomas and of Gordon and even of Jesus, but we do not have His testimony before the Father and thus we are damned!

I read this week in the Joseph Smith Papers that in June 1834, Joseph announced that the Lord had revealed to him that the redemption of Zion was being postponed “for a little season” (page 44, JS Papers, Volume 1, Journals also see D&C 105).  The reason for this postponement, despite that Joseph had just rallied an armed expedition of righteous and zealous volunteers to “restore and redeem Zion” was because the church refused to live by the laws of the Celestial Kingdom AND because the “leading elders of the church were not yet endowed with power from on high.”

I ask you my friends, are we any closer to the establishment of Zion today?  Have our leaders now truly been endowed from on High?  More so than the original 12?  Have they been in His presence?  Can we trust them as true messengers?  Are we living by the law of the Celestial Kingdom?   Joseph once taught, “Without a Zion and a place of deliverance, we must fall, because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, the moon turn to blood, the stars fall from heaven and the earth reel to and fro.”  Have we fallen?  Will we fall?  Are the signs and prophesies being fulfilled while Zion is yet postponed?

Do you trust these men with your salvation?  I do not!  Do you trust them to save your children?  I DO NOT!  Do they teach the words of eternal life?  Or are they just nice, good men, trying to do the best they can with what they’ve been given?  How are you receiving their teachings!?  Very well?  If so, then you will be damned for they teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

We must needs repent and be born again before it is everlastingly too late.  We must awaken and learn to discern between true and false messengers or we will die when Christ comes AND shall never be a part of Zion.  If we remain lulled and contented by these current teachings we will never recognize true messengers when and if they ever come to us.

I no longer see things as I did as a child.  I now judge of their works and am no longer fooled.  I have been in their secrets councils.  I witness that they would rather cover up the truth than expose their own hypocrisy!  They make exceptions and play favorites.  The rules do not apply to their own!  I witness that they know not God and stand not in His presence.  I add my witness that only the broken hearted and the contrite in spirit will be filled with light and be saved in Zion.  I believe that a servant has come among us who has the words of eternal life, if we will be but humble enough to read, to learn, and to hear.

The Spirit of Prophecy

IsaiahThe scriptures warn us that in the last days there will be prophets who do not prophesy and seers who do not see (Isaiah 30:10).  Jesus also warned that there would be false prophets and an abundance of men teaching their own precepts to get gain, so that even the very elect will be deceived (2 Nephi 26:29; JS Matthew 1:22).

As Latter-day Saints we must learn what a true prophet is and we must learn to discern between true and false prophets lest we also be deceived.

The scriptures provide a standard by which we can all judge.  Simply put, a prophet must have the spirit of prophecy in order to be a true prophet.  This is the sign.

As we watch General Conference we should look for the spirit of prophecy.  We should measure carefully what is being said.  We should pray that those who we sustain as prophets will prophesy and speak prophetically because when prophets and seers, prophesy and see, they become a great benefit to their fellow man (Mosiah 8:18).  This is the means whereby we can receive salvation.

If men who are called prophets do not have the spirit of prophecy we can know they are false prophets.  Nephi gives us an important bar by which we can measure:

Wherefore, hearken, O my people, which are of the house of Israel, and give ear unto my words; for because the words of Isaiah are not plain unto you, nevertheless they are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy (2 Nephi 25:4).

All prophets will understand the words of Isaiah.  They will also share the testimony of the Savior and of Nephi and others that the words of Isaiah are great!  (3 Nephi 23:1).

When’s the last time you heard an LDS prophet give a talk on the words of Isaiah in General Conference?  When Jesus came to the Nephites, He gave them the “commandment to search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.”  Do the servants of the Lord today emphasize this same commandment?

Deseret Book

In a cursory search on DeseretBook.com, I found 21 books on the topic of Isaiah:

The GA Awards

GA Awards

Did anyone else struggle with the general mood permeating this weekend’s Conference?  Did it feel like an Award Ceremony for you?  There seemed to be a lot of extra back slapping and testimony bearing of one another.  Fun press conferences and lots of thank yous and I couldn’t have done this without yous coupled with I’m so blessed and “humbled” and oh did I mention I’m a multi-generational Mormon?

I don’t think it was intended to be conveyed but the message for me was “I’d like to thank my mom and dad and my wife and kids and grandkids and mission president and college classmates and all of you, who have made me into the amazing man I am today.”

Holy HoldingsI was also perplexed that there was so much commercialization taking place on KSL in-between sessions, especially on Sunday.  KSL of course is owned by the Church and ad spots during Conference are not cheap.  I was taken aback when I saw a commercial for Icon Health and Fitness just after the Sunday session Elder Stevenson spoke.  He is the founder of Icon and I believe he still has a financial interest in that company.  Was that just a strange coincidence?

Juxtapose the commercialization on the Sabbath to the new hobby theme of “keeping the Sabbath day holy and making it a delight” being mentioned in nearly every talk.  Any issues for you there?  Should the Church be running for-profit ads on Sunday in between the words of “prophets”?  Why not just say, “This next talk by President Monson is brought to you by Lehi Roller Mills” and have the company logo displayed on the screen below him?  It’s not like the Church has no say in the matter.  They could have just as easily chosen to promote nothing during Conference.

Since I first published this post, I have received word from commenters and in email that Elder Devin Durrant used his position and his talk to try to sell merchandise.  I highly recommend reading this story from KUTV.  It may surprise you.

ponderize being released

Apparently Elder Durrant tried to capitalize on the word ponderize, a word he invented that he would introduce to the World Church in his upcoming Conference talk.  Apparently they bought the domain name in September 2015, “ponderize.us” and began printing t-shirts and making wristbands to be promoted the moment Elder Durrant finished his talk.  His son Ryan is listed as the contact agent of the domain name (see whois listing).  Elder Durrant has apologized for “letting his son” go ahead with the idea, but only after a lot of criticism and after a lot of family planning to design and order inventory.  To say this is an example of the commercialization of our religion would be an understatement.  As a member, I say shame on us.

I don’t point these things out just to be negative.  Each of us has an obligation to decide if these men who call themselves prophets, seers, and revelators are in fact acting as such.  Do they stand in the presence of God?  Are their words inspired by angelic ministrations?  Have they knelt at Jesus’ feet?  Do they teach others to come unto Him in the same manner?  Or are these just “good” men doing the best they can with the precepts of men?  I don’t condemn them if so.  I pray for them to receive mercy.  I know a few of them and I love them.  BUT, we will be judged if we cannot discern whether they are true prophets or not.

When Adam was being taught all manner of false doctrine by the leaders of churches in his day, he stood firm.  The god of this world trained his leaders to teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture (2 Nephi 28:31) and they perfected the craft so that the teaching was received very well by nearly all.  “Except this man,” Adam would not believe what was being taught.  Why not?  Because he had been promised (as we are all promised) that God would send true messengers (Moroni 7:22).

Adam undoubtedly listened to their talks and may have even felt warm inside as church leaders shared stories and comforting words.  But it was not enough for Adam, and so he sought greater blessings.  He remembered God’s promise to His children and despite the pressure, he did not give in to men.

Even when the angels finally appeared and began to speak, Adam questioned their authenticity.  “How shall I know you are true messengers?”  Do we question messengers sent to us today?  We are warned that in the last days, there will be false prophets (3 Nephi 14:15, 1 John 4:1).  Who shall proclaim all is well (2 Nephi 28:21) and that the Lord has done his work and thus now he gives his power unto men (2 Nephi 28:6).  These men will preach there is no hell, only kingdoms of glory (2 Nephi 28:22).  They will preach to get gain (Alma 30:35).  They will wear costly apparel (Alma 31:28).  They will say they “know” Him and will perform many wonderful things in His name.  But, will we question them?  Will we be blessed because we don’t?

Elder Bednar has taught that they are true messengers.  Would Adam have trusted Elder Bednar?  Should we?  Should we look to men (the arm of the flesh) for a message from heaven?  Is that the pattern shown in the temple and in scripture?  Or should we consider ourselves as if Adam and Eve respectively and do as they have done?

When I hear these men speak, I pray God will help me discern.  I believe God expects us to become sanctified that in Christ we may be perfected, in part by discerning between truth and error.  But there are those in red seats who may disagree:

05-GCoct-SundayPM-updated

The October 2015 Gen Con Memes are already out, to be tweeted, shared, and promoted so that the digital rock that has been carved out without hands may fill the earth. I sure hope they are doctrinally accurate.

We can choose to believe words that make us feel better or we can choose to believe Christ.  Either way, we do choose, and will be saved or damned by our choices.

If Ye Lack Wisdom, Ask Trained Scholars

BalklardElder Ballard spoke last week to a very large crowd in the Marriott Center.  You can read his entire talk here.

In his remarks, Elder Ballard spends a significant portion of his time “praising the Saints” he says “as Paul did” in Biblical times.

Elder Ballard suggests that the Utah County saints are the most faithful, most affluent, and most blessed among all of God’s people.  He makes the case that our vast wealth in Utah County, and access to hospitals along with our great athletic teams and the Arts and Universities and spacious buildings are the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that the desert would blossom as a rose.

It quickly becomes clear that this talk is meant to be of the Boise Rescue variety, wherein Elder Ballard begins to focus on false prophets (i.e. Denver Snuffer) and the need to follow the Brethren, who, as he reminded us in his last conference talk, “cannot lead us astray, the Lord will simply not allow it.”

But there’s a feigned change to his tone when Elder Ballard expresses sympathy for those of us with unanswered questions or concerns:

We have heard stories where someone asking honest questions about our history, doctrine, or practice were treated as though they were faithless. This is not the Lord’s way. As Peter said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man [or woman] that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”[9]

We need to do better in responding to honest questions. Although we may not be able to answer every question about the cosmos or about our history, practices, or doctrine, we can provide many answers to those who are sincere.

I have to chuckle when Elder Ballard says “We have heard stories…”  as if to suggest he and the Brethren have had nothing to do with the way Denver Snuffer, Adrian and Tausha Larsen, Rock Waterman, and dozens of others have been treated for “their questions.”  Denver Snuffer’s Passing the Heavenly Gift, for example, is one of the most honest books I’ve ever read that asks sincere questions about the Church’s history.  Is he not being treated by the Brethren as “faithless”? all the while ironically, attempting to provide answers the Brethren have not provided, with the hopes of keeping people from leaving the Church.

But here is the revealing highlight for me from the talk.  Elder Ballard explains what he does when he has questions:

When I have a question that I cannot answer, I turn to those who can help me. The Church is blessed with trained scholars and those who have devoted a lifetime of study, who have come to know our history and the scriptures. These thoughtful men and women provide context and background so we can better understand our sacred past and our current practices.   

Now I get that some of you may rightly argue that Elder Ballard doesn’t mean to suggest that he never asks the Lord when he has a question.  But, don’t you find it peculiar that one who calls himself a “prophet” doesn’t go out of his way to emphasize that when he has a question, he asks the Lord, with whom he speaks regularly?  That’s what it means to be a prophet right?  Is this not the message of the restored Gospel?  That God once again speaks, even face to face, with His servants the prophets…?

This is certainly Nephi’s counsel when his brothers had interesting and difficult historical questions about the House of Israel and the Olive Tree from Lehi’s dream?

And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?  And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.  Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?  Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you (1 Nephi 15:8-10)

What’s interesting is that Nephi doesn’t ask his brothers if they’ve asked the prophet Lehi for an answer to their question.  And he doesn’t ask them if they’ve thought about writing a letter to the Rabbinical scholars from Jerusalem for an answer.  He asks, “Have you inquired of the Lord?”

Conversely, Elder Ballard teaches us that when they have tough questions, they don’t always take those questions to the Lord, they often take them to trained scholars, but remind us to rely upon them, the “living prophets,” for the answers.

Maybe soon the Brethren will just cut to the chase and teach: “Follow the Trained Scholars” for they cannot lead us astray.

Elder Ballard concludes his talk with:

It is hard for me to understand why anyone turns to other voices on the internet without first turning to voices of the scriptures or the voices of the living prophets and apostles.

Well, that would be because it’s a lot easier (and safer) to go online to see what trained scholars say than it is to get an appointment with an apostle who apparently is only going to defer to the trained scholars anyway and who might just instruct your stake president to excommunicate you.

The best advice from this talk is to consult the scriptures and I would add “the Lord” as we have questions.  Despite what others may say, He is the only one we can trust.

“I Am Scripture”

Bednar

In a recent meeting Elder Bednar was supposedly asked a question by a sister missionary about women and the priesthood. He’s said to have given his own thoughts about the subject and when he concluded, the sister asked a follow up question.  “Are there any scriptures that talk about this subject?” Elder Bednar responded, “I am scripture.”

Now in fairness to Elder Bednar, I’ve heard this account from two different sources both in attendance at this meeting, and thus I relate the story relying upon second hand information.  If any readers have also heard this same story, please correct or confirm the details.

My first reaction to such a statement is not good.  Yet I fully understand as an LDS person raised in the church, that Elder Bednar is only stating what we teach.  “When a ‘prophet’ speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is scripture.”  Elder Bednar obviously considers himself a prophet and many of us sustain him in that calling.

But, we are also taught that “when any person speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is scripture.”

So why give more credence to the words of Elder Bednar than say… someone else claiming to speak by the Holy Ghost?  The standard LDS answer is “because God’s house is a house of order and that’s why keys are so important.  Whoever has the keys AND speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost is who you listen to.”

For nearly 170 years (post-Joseph), these men we sustain as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators have been able to more or less say “Let it be written, for I am scripture.”  Their Conference talks are immortalized and their words are given as lessons and talks and made into refrigerator magnets all around the world for years and decades to come.

Abundance Oaks

The Immortalized Words of General Conference

But to what end?

For me when someone (and I mean anyone, besides The Lord) says something akin to “I am scripture” the effect is to shut down any and all further communication or questions. The same can be said of many statements we tend to make as Mormons.

I’m reminded of a missionary companion who liked to one-up investigators who disagreed by “boldly” bearing his testimony. Its effect? The conversation usually stopped awkwardly. He taught other missionaries this principle too.  “Whenever you can’t answer a question, just bear your testimony (really hard).”

One time we were having a great discussion with a Catholic gentleman. He was hung up on The Book of Mormon. His questions and concerns were sincere. Then it came. “Sir, I know The Book or Mormon is true beyond a shadow of any doubt and that this church is the only true and living church on the whole earth!” This man replied with his own testimony. “Well, I know The Book of Mormon is NOT true and that your church is NOT the only true church on the whole earth!” My companion was taken aback. I waited for him to say “IS NOT!” like a 4-year old who has no logical arguments left. Fortunately he didn’t.

To be fair, our investigator wasn’t saying he “knew” anything. He was merely demonstrating how strange and immature such grand statements sounded to him and how off-putting they were.  The conversation usually just ends.

Even to members of the church familiar with such bravado, the effect of these traditional tactics can be very damaging.

To say “I know God lives,” five times in a row, for example, while increasing the pauses in between sentences, while climactically raising the tone of your voice each time, may just lead someone to believe you have literally stood in the Lord’s presence. This was a technique I observed from the late Elder Loren C. Dunn. If he had not actually seen God, would this be a good thing to do? Might this cause people to treat someone as a light and heap upon them their praise?

Monson

I spoke to a brother recently who provides security detail for the Brethren when they come to his area. He is a trained police officer. He told me that when an Apostle, Prophet or even a Seventy come nowadays, there are members who try to find out what hotel they are staying in so they can stalk them and try to meet them. He recently had to rescue a visiting GA from an overly excited LDS crowd, literally removing him from danger. The spared GA told this brother that it’s getting worse and worse as they travel around the world.

Curious, I asked why he believed members reacted like this around the Brethren. He said “It’s like they’re rock stars and people think that because they know the Savior, that if they can just touch them, something amazing will happen!” He then went on to say that a full grown man from his stake boasted that he shook Elder Ballard’s hand and was “never going to wash it again.”

Such adoration and idolatry is anti-Zion and anti-Christ. All of us can learn a lesson from this. Maybe you or I are not tempted by GA celebrity status, but our own claims may cause others to look to us as a light instead of to Him.

The Savior’s Example

The Savior of the world epitomized meekness and humility. When he was called “good,” he objected and deflected all praise to God (Matthew 19:17). When he gave talks, he quoted scripture, giving all recognition to the prophet he quoted. This despite the fact that it was He, the Great Jehovah, who had given the quote to begin with.  Unlike any mortal, “prophet or not,” Jesus IS literally the Word of God.  He, and only He, is Scripture.

When Jesus taught He did not often make bold self-promoting proclamations to induce obedience or to enhance his bona fides. Clearly He was entitled to, but He more often said:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21) or “Blessed are the meek…”

He could have just as easily said “I am the Great Jehovah who once commanded you, Thou shalt not kill…” or “I the God of Heaven and Earth command you to be meek now before I pull your temple recommend.”

Jesus does not use His power and authority to compel obedience and adoration.

Although perfect Himself, He invited others to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Jesus speaks in plainness and humility.

And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things… (Ether 12:39)

Notice that Moroni’s claims are also plain, overt, and factual. He doesn’t leave the audience guessing whether he did or did not see the Lord.

Some Ideas to Consider

Whether leader or layperson, none of us is perfect.  We can benefit from each others’ feedback and prayers.  It’s a humbling and difficult experience to recognize or be made aware of our weaknesses.  The Brethren need not feel threatened, condemned or judged by our feedback.  They deserve our help as much as we deserve theirs.  Furthermore, it is incumbent upon us to discern when they or anyone act and speak in the Lord’s name, otherwise we do them no favors and we only damn ourselves.

Here are just a few suggestions that I think would help us as members to NOT idolize the Brethren as well as to not set ourselves up as lights unto the world (2 Nephi 26:29).

We should never mislead people about what we know. We should not exaggerate our claims. If we haven’t seen Jesus or Angels, we should not make people believe we have.  We should not mislead others about it by speaking in circles or by emphasizing how special our witness is. Let’s be honest and humble and direct ALL praise to our Lord.  Only He can save.

Most of us can all do better in deflecting compliments and praise. Jesus said we should not even call one another Rabbi, which is to say Master or Teacher (Matthew 23:7). In my ward the CES contingency take turns suggesting that the other is one of the “Great Master Teachers of the Kingdom.” I believe such things to be devilish and destructive and yet all of us are tempted to heap praise upon each other.  It’s our culture.

We should not often call people by their full names preceded with titles. Let’s drop the words president, elder, beloved, prophet, seer, revelator, general authority, etc. from our vocabulary when addressing someone. EVEN Jesus said to not call Him good! Do we really suppose He would have liked to be called Our Beloved President Jesus (add initial) Christ, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, while in mortality?  To do so is to desecrate Him; His calling. Why should we be greater than He?   He was called “Jesus.”  That should serve as our model when speaking to or about each other, no matter our calling.  Titles and initials inflate egos.

Church Leaders not speaking at General Conference would send a powerful message if they did NOT sit on the stand. In fact, they could even dress normally, i.e. not to the nines in expensive suits and dresses (fine twined linen?) and they could serve as Ushers and Parking Attendants and assist the infirm. They should consider standing at the doorways rather than sitting in plush red seats where all can see. Didn’t the Savior teach us to be servants especially when we are viewed as greatest?  (Matthew 32:11).  Let the poor and the elderly sit in those seats.

General Authority families should not be given preferential seats at General Conference. They should not occupy the entire front section of the Conference Center as they currently do. These people should get in line with the rest of us for tickets.  Why not let first year converts or investigators sit in those seats?  Or the handicapped?

NO calling in the church should EVER BE REMUNERATED nor should anyone receive a stipend who teaches or serves in the church (Mosiah 18:24). The church knows that its 80,000+ missionaries and its 3+ million active members of the church tell everyone that what makes us different from all other churches is that no one is paid.  The Brethren KNOW this is what we tell people.  And yet some of us KNOW this is not true.  It’s simply wrong to encourage the lie by not correcting the record.  It’s dishonest.  It’s immoral.  It would be one thing perhaps if the brethren were merely being supported.  This is simply not true.  They earn very large sums of money as a direct result of their callings.  The church needs to come clean and set the record straight and deal with the consequences.

ALL transactions and expenditures ought to be made available for members to see.  Every contract, every piece of property bought or sold, every trip, every personal expense, every stipend, every salary, every bonus, every royalty ought to be made public.

Church leaders should not fly First Class as I have witnessed on more than one occasion.  For those of you that don’t think this possible, here is a recent picture of President Nelson.

13k_Nelson

He’s apparently on an International flight from SLC to Germany, traveling with Elder Hallstrom accompanied by their wives and someone who appears to be Elder Nelson’s bodyguard (far right in the picture) ALL flying First Class.  Retail price of each ticket?  $13,000.  Coach price?  $1300.  What would be wrong with sitting in a regular seat with normal folks?  It would sure save a lot of tithing money.  One ticket at this price is equal to two years of tithing for a person who makes $65,000 per year. Fifty people could have flown for the price likely paid for these five tickets!  One ticket would pay for an entire mission for a young man or young woman who cannot afford it.

Are these men so frail and so important that they can’t sit in a normal airplane seat?  Why not just pay the extra $100 for more leg room?  “But everyone would bother them if they were in coach” one might argue.  But, isn’t that their calling?  To preach the gospel whenever they can?  I’ve heard more than one apostle say we should pray when we get on a flight that we will be able to share the gospel with someone seated next to us.  How does the future prophet of the church do that here surrounded by his wife on his right and protected by hired muscle on his left?

Church leaders should not be served the sacrament first, but rather should bless it and administer it as servants to the congregation as the D&C teaches.

There are many small but important changes the church could make that I believe would both help the church to better conform with scripture as well as prevent people from leaving.  Again, brothers and sisters, it’s our duty as members of Christ’s church to sustain these men in their callings by sharing our concerns.  We need not be angry or revile against anyone.  We can share our concerns with love.  If we don’t, then who will?  Anti-Mormons?  It is far better that we encourage positive change from within by “common consent” than have it imposed upon us by the wrath of God, when it’s likely too late.  We who believe in the Restoration must open our mouths.  Those in the chief seats would do well to stop trying to silence those who offer their concerns.  It’s our church too.  The Savior’s message to the church leaders of his day seems to still apply to us in our day.  Will we heed the call of our Master?

And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.  Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?  Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.  (JST Matthew 7:6-8)

The Boise Rescue

Boise Rescue

Some of you are aware that Elder Oaks and church historian Richard Turley made a special trip this weekend to Boise, Idaho to try to resolve questions of faith apparently prevalent in that area.  You can listen to the presentation made by Elder Oaks and Brother Turley by clicking here.

I’ve listened to the presentation in its entirety and will just summarize some of the main arguments made which I’ve paraphrased or quoted below.  I make some comments in parentheses following the emboldened points:

  • For apostates “It’s always, ‘I have a better way than the current leaders.'”  (Apparently Abinadi, Lehi, Alma , John the Baptist, and Jesus were apostates by this definition because they disagreed with church leadership.  Thank God Jesus believed He was “the Way” and was willing to show us His better way.  Did Joseph Smith seek to provide a better way than the churches of his day?)
  • Some people say that Brigham Young didn’t hold keys to have authority over the church? ‘Answer – Well then who had them!? If he didn’t then there was no authority on earth.’  (I don’t find this answer very satisfying – it’s as if to say “Because we claim authority, then we must have it.  This shows me the church is unwilling to consider another narrative even though other possibilities may be more accurate and might just help us better understand God’s plan for us.  I wish Elder Oaks had addressed the controversies surrounding the succession in more detail.  If the argument is Brigham had the keys all along then why take 3 1/2 years to make Brigham President?  If Brigham always had the keys then why did he say “We’ve lost the keys…” when he heard Joseph was killed, followed with “Oh wait, the 12 have the keys”?  If the 12 had the keys, then why didn’t they transfer them to Brigham, or ordain him?  If the 12 had the keys, wouldn’t it be important that the 12 unanimously sustain BY?  And then ordain him?  John Taylor and other apostles opposed BY succeeding Joseph.  Does that matter?  Addressing the authenticity of section 110 added many years after Joseph’s death, addressing why Emma and Lucy didn’t believe BY to be fit to succeed Joseph, discussing how BY in the beginning argued the succession belonged to Joseph III and that anyone coming in as president would do so as caretaker until Joseph III was old enough…  So much more that should have been discussed in my opinion.  This is a really important issue for people struggling with their testimonies as it pertains to keys.)
  • The idea that the current prophet has strayed and needs to be replaced is a tool that Satan has always used.  (And yet it is Jesus who teaches us to beware of false prophets and to judge whether a prophet is true or false by his fruits.  When Apostle Lyman committed adultery/bigamy as a “prophet” for 18 years before being caught and excommunicated and Spencer Kimball replaced him in 1943, were those who replaced this prophet using a tool of Satan?  The church now conveniently disparages Brigham Young regarding his views on race.  Is the church using a tool of Satan by suggesting BY strayed on this issue?  To argue that a “prophet” is infallible is an issue for many people in and out of the church, myself included.)
  • It’s okay to not see the Savior in this life.  Those who teach otherwise are using a common technique deployed by apostates.  It’s great to want to see the Savior, but it’s not necessary.  (I wish Elder Oaks had used a single scripture here to justify his statement.  The Book of Mormon seems to strongly disagree.  How is this desire apostate?  Doesn’t such a question deserve more attention rather than just saying this is an apostate technique.)
  • Modern apostles are called to witness of the name of Christ. Not a personal witness. Witness His name is to witness of the plan of Christ.  (A little confusing.)
  • Of course Apostles are also witnesses of Christ as are all members of the church because we have the Holy Ghost.  (So how is their witness any different than most members if at all?)
  • Today we are counseled to not tell people that we have witnessed Christ. Otherwise people can put it on the Internet and that will violate Savior’s commandment to not cast pearls before swine.  (One of my biggest issues with the church is this endless back and forth, double speak…  Have you seen the Savior or not?  If you have, and don’t want to have sacred things mocked, I respect that.  But if you have NOT seen the Lord and yet clearly lead us to believe you have by providing these kinds of responses, then when members read LDS history and find that LDS prophets generally aren’t seeing the Lord, this becomes a significant stumbling block.  Frankly it makes people feel like they’ve been lied to.  It seems fair to say that likely not all the 12 and 70 have seen the Lord.  So why don’t more of them tell us they have not rather than lead people to believe they have?)
  • Following someone other than Lord’s servants is a sign of apostasy.  (Why not following someone other than the Lord is apostasy?  Again, provide some scriptures here please.)
  • When you follow false prophets; when you are on the road to apostasy, you are on the wrong side.  “I know about being on the wrong side. One time I sat on the wrong side of the cow when I was milking it.”  — Elder Oaks
  • If we stay with and follow the current leaders of the church we will receive salvation and eternal life.
  • The number of our latter-day temples is a sign of the truthfulness of the church.
  • “Reasonable questions are okay, doubts are darkness.”
  • Apostasy is chaos.  The example of the pharisees of Jesus’ day was used to suggest that these apostate leaders pointed to Abraham as their father.  (I think a better example would be to say that Jesus’ apostasy from the Jewish Church was viewed as dark and chaotic by the wicked men who did not realize they were apostate).
  • “They are not to teach their own doctrines. They are to teach from the scriptures…further they are to teach church articles.”  (I’m not sure what Elder Oaks intends here, but if it is to say that we should teach the General Conference edition of The Ensign or The Handbook of Instructions, over the Scriptures,  I’d have to disagree.)
  • The Lord’s principle of order is… church led by prophets, authority comes from prophets, prophet voted for and sustained by members, teach what prophets tell you, come in by gate known to prophets, not some secret gate.  (The only gate I’m aware of that matters is the one where He employs no servant.)

I’ll be interested to see what others’ thoughts are on this special Boise meeting and the contents of the presentation.  I find it interesting that the efforts of the church do not seem to be to reclaim those they consider apostate, but rather only seem intent on preventing others from leaving.  If the effort was to reclaim those they’ve lost they would do so with patience and persuasion without calling them preposterous and apostate and other names while not addressing their sincere concerns.  I know many good people who do have faith in the Restoration, in Joseph Smith’s mission, in The Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price, who are looking for reasons to stay in the church.  I think not digging deep to make more compelling arguments is short-sighted.