8 quotes from Mormon leaders on independent thinking

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obedienceA guest post by Joe Murff

As most Mormons know, modern LDS Church culture places immense emphasis on conformity to official doctrine and loyalty to the incumbent officers.

In the words of BYU Law Professor Frederick Mark Gedicks, there is in the church:

…an insistence that individual religious conscience be subordinated to the church’s institutional interests.

…As Latter-day Saints know, contemporary general authority sermons emphasize obedience to ecclesiastical authority and loyalty to the institutional church above virtually every other value.”

Let’s call this the subordination approach to Mormonism. Within this worldview, obedience to the leadership is considered right, and everything else is considered wrong.

But there’s a second school of thought that might be called the conscience-based or individualist approach. It has been advocated by a good number of LDS leaders in the past, as seen in the following quotes:

  1. “You must work through the Spirit. If that leads you into conflict with the program of the Church, you follow the voice of the Spirit.” (Elder S. Dilworth Young, First Council of the Seventy, 1945; quoted here, p. 17)
  2. “We have hitherto acted too much as machines, as to following the [Spirit*]. I will confess to my own shame that I have acted contrary to my own judgment many times. I mean hereafter not to demean myself, to not run contrary to my own judgment. …When [President Young] says that the Spirit of the Lord says thus and so, I don’t consider that all we should do is to say let it be so.” (Elder Orson Pratt, 1847, quoted here, ​cover jacket)
  3. “If we have presidents or apostles or anybody that we do not like, let us vote them out, and be free men, and cultivate and cherish in our bosoms the principles of liberty.” (John Taylor, 7 October 1872; “Discourse,” The Deseret News Weekly, volume 21, number 48)
  4. “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.” (President J. Rueben Clark, 1954 CN-7/31/54)
  5. “President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 237-38).
  6. “We desire that the brethren and sisters will all feel the responsibility of expressing their feelings in relation to the propositions that may be put before you. We do not want any man or woman who is a member of the Church to violate their conscience. We would like all to vote as they feel, whether for or against. (President Joseph F. Smith, 1902 October General Conference)
  7. We desire that the Latter-day Saints will exercise the liberty wherewith they have been made free by the gospel of Jesus Christ; for they are entitled to know the right from the wrong, to see the truth and draw the line between it and error; and it is their privilege to judge for themselves and to act upon their own free agency with regard to their choice as to sustaining or otherwise those who should exercise the presiding functions among them. We desire the Latter-day Saints to exercise their prerogative, which is, to vote as the Spirit of the Lord prompts them on the measures and the men that may be presented to them.” (President Joseph F. Smith, 1904 October General Conference)
  8. “Men and women should become settled in the truth and rounded in a knowledge of the Gospel, depending upon no person for borrowed light, but trusting only upon the Holy Spirit, who is ever the same.” (President Joseph F. Smith; as quoted by Elder Samuel O. Bennion, April 1941 General Conference, p. 32)

Perhaps the most compelling quote in this category speaks to us from the dust of ancient scripture:

“Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Nephi 28:31)


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Joe Murff

Joe Murff

Joe Murff is a second generation Mormon, and a technical writer by trade. After serving a mission in Milwaukee Wisconsin, he attended the University of Utah and completed an English degree.

As part of his research he has created the free downloadable PDF “Mormon Dissidents and Troublemakers,” highlighting ten individuals from Mormon history who have risked excommunication to speak out in dissent, including historian Juanita Brooks, anti-Nazi activist Helmuth Hübener, apostle Orson Pratt, and several contemporary figures.

You can download the PDF here: Mormon_Trouble_2016-03-09.

  • Jana: I thought for sure you’d have this one in your list of 8. It’s one of my favorites.

    “Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. ” – Hugh B Brown

    http://aims.byu.edu/sites/default/files/foundationdocuments/An_Eternal_Quest–Freedom_of_the_Mind–Hugh_B_Brown.pdf

  • Sue

    That’s what my parents taught my sisters and I. My Dad was a fan of S. Dilworth Young.

  • Eric Facer

    Two others worth including:

    “Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, and apostle or a president, if you do so, they will fail you at some time or place….” (Elder George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star 53:674).

    “Live so that you will know whether I teach you truth or not. Suppose you are careless and unconcerned, and give way to the spirit of the world, and I am led, likewise, to preach the things of this world and to accept things that are not of God, how easy it would be for me to lead you astray! But I say to you, live so that you will know for yourselves whether I tell the truth or not. That is the way we want all Saints to live. Will you do it? Yes, I hope you will, every one of you.” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:72.)

  • trytoseeitmyway

    “University of Utah.” Figures. (C’mon people, that’s a joke.)

    But seriously folks, the cited law journal article seems to include quite a few very overdrawn assertions. The sources cited for “contemporary general authority sermons emphasize obedience to ecclesiastical authority and loyalty to the institutional church above virtually every other value,” seemed particularly weak and selective, actually failing to cite (with one exception) any “contemporary” general authority sermons. (The one exception is a quote from Elder Ballard, who is indeed a contemporary, but the quote was from 1999, nearly two decades ago, and didn’t actually support the proposition for which it was cited in the text.) If the law journal article was intended to be representative of the quality of work in the law school, I would be more inclined to regard that as the problem rather than a supposed absence of independent spiritual insight among Church membership as a whole.

  • Linda

    I can understand where he is coming from, I get it. However, why is it that these quotes are more important than what is being taught today? Weren’t they for the saints then and what is being taught now for us in this day and time.

    I grew, since I was three in the church, (though my father was Catholic) and have always been taught to study it out in my mind first. Pray, Ponder, and study it out.

    Just a thought.

  • Elder Anderson

    Out of curiosity, what’s the problem with using older citations? If a GA, prophet, or other church leader made a statement in the past, and no contemporary has spoken to the contrary, I see no problem with the age of the reference. As far as I know, statements and opinions by Joseph Smith and other early founders of the church are still taken as authoritative. Certainly the US constitution is authoritative as it applies to US law. Where shall we draw the line as to what’s contemporary (strictly speaking it means “today”) and whether being contemporary carries greater authority?

  • Elder Anderson

    @Linda
    I think it’s a reaction to the rather top-down teaching along the lines of “the prophet has spoken, the thinking has been done”, “the prophet will never lead the church astray”, “he will give [guidance] to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry”, etc.

    https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-the-living-prophets-student-manual/chapter-2-the-living-prophet-the-president-of-the-church?lang=eng

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I was making the point that the quoted sentence from the article said “contemporary general authority sermons.” If you assertion concerns such sermons, you ought to back it up by referring to as many of them as might be needed to show that the view predominates among them. That would be, you know, scholarship.

  • Elder Anderson

    The paper’s author gives a list of cites from 1965, 1980, 1999, 2001, and 2002 for his 2003 paper regarding the “contemporary general authorities” comment. What’s your problem with the scholarship? Did you expect him to cite sources from 2016 for his 2003 paper? I think you owe the author an apology.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Well, OK, that’s a decent point actually. I assumed that the U of U grad, Mr. Murff, was hanging his guest blog on something current. There have been comments on just this subject by contemporary general authorities since 2003 (i.e, in the last 13 years) that should be taken into account by Mr. Murff. But it is perfectly appropriate for you to point out that my assumption about the currency of the cited article was mistaken.

    I stand by my view that the sources cited in the footnote don’t warrant the broad assertion for which they are cited but I agree with you that my cavil with the contemporariness of them should have considered the dated nature of the law journal article on which Mr. Murff here hung his somewhat dishonest hat. So, thanks for helping me fix that.

  • These are comforting quotes. I am used to hearing old quotes resurrected by anti-Mormons who fish out the most ridiculous things general authorities said in the 19th century, (when many people spoke like Donald Trump). It is nice to hear the reasonable things they said.

    I think we misinterpret Wilford Woodruff’s words about the Lord not letting him lead the church astray. The end of polygamy was extraordinarily controversial within the church. Some members said he was a fallen prophet and left the church, apparently including a couple of apostles. It was a huge change.

    I don’t think Wilford Woodruff meant that nothing he said would be wrong, or that he would never make a wrong decision. I think he was talking about the really big things.

    It is unfortunate that his statement was included in the current edition of the Doctrine & Covenants. It is not part of any section or Declaration. It is not canonized and is not really doctrine. That is why it is in small print.

  • SkyBird

    Those are great points…

    I could be said that institutionalized religion creates institutionalized members. Amongst all the religions of the world who is institutionalized and who thinks for themselves? Religion has its place and I think it is to awaken us spiritually. As with ancient Israel so it is with modern Israel…

    “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!” (Old Testament | Numbers 11:29)

    How can a people follow the “Spirit” if they know not the attributes of the “Holy Spirit?”

  • Elder Anderson

    I hear you and agree. On the other hand, to rank and file members, what’s enshrined in doctrine means less than what the LDS churches *teaches*. For example, take a look at this teaching resource (especially down toward the end):
    https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of-the-living-prophets-student-manual/chapter-2-the-living-prophet-the-president-of-the-church

    How many times in recent GCs have you heard D&C 1:38 hammered home. Church authorities try to imply they (as “servants”) speak directly for God. Defy or disobey them, and you defy or disobey God. However this is *not* what this passage means at all if read in context.

    My impression: the church *implies* personal freedom and openness, but subtly hammers home a philosophy of absolute obedience to authority. Try openly disagreeing with a GA and see what happens.

  • Kevin JK

    Joseph Smith also taught that it is wrong to follow leaders when they are wrong – “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told do by their presidents they should do it without any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.”
    (Joseph Smith – Millennial Star, Vol 14, Number 38, pages 593-595).

  • Kevin JK

    “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, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. 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. This has been my exhortation continually.”
    (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9: 149)

    “How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.”
    (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9: 149)

  • Kevin JK

    “I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied . . . Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,’ this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.”
    (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3: 45)

  • The average Mormon does not search with real intent to find out if the mainstream Church position on any particular doctrine/policy is good or evil. Doing so is considered to be faithless, misguided, or apostate, because it rejects the premise that “whom God calls, he qualifies”.

    The worldview shift that is necessary to become spiritually independent is to accept that the top mortal officers might actually be leading us to hell (by accident). They are probationary stewards, and almost all of them will accidentally abuse their positions (D&C 121:39-40), and will mislead people in some important areas of the gospel. God calls or allows these partially blind guides to rise to positions of power so that a separation of wheat and tares can take place.

    Unwise virgins will give honor and obedience to blind guides who have the “right” titles and offices. True followers of Christ will have a crisis of conscience and will end up clashing with the blind guides (Matthew 10:34-38).

  • Elder Anderson

    And speaking of doctrine…. in the LDS church it’s unchanging and eternal, and that’s how you know it’s doctrine.

    But there seems to be a lot of confusion about what is doctrine and what isn’t amongst rank and file members.

    You know how in the old KJV bible they used to highlight everything Jesus said?

    Well, I wish a GA or somebody with authority to make the call would go through an authoritative LDS website (or create such a website it LDS.org isn’t it) with a collection of all relevant LDS writings and highlight all the doctrine in red. This site should be updated as frequently as new doctrine arrives.

    If an entire book is doctrinal, then include the entire text of the “authorized doctrinal” version of it. No argument about whether this or that version is authoritative.

    That way nobody would have to quibble. Go to the writings. If it’s highlighted, somebody authorized to do so guarantees it’s doctrinal.

  • Kevin JK

    “The “lay” members of the Church are under obligation to accept the teachings of the authorities, unless they can discover in them some conflict with the revelations and commandments the Lord has given. There are times when the leading brethren have expressed their own opinions on various subjects.”
    (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 2: 112.)

    “With respect to the people feeling that whatever the brethren say is gospel, this tends to undermine the proposition of freedom of speech and thought. As members of the Church we are bound to sustain and support the brethren in the positions they occupy so long as their conduct entitles them to that. But we also have only to defend those doctrines of the Church contained in the four standard works: the Bible, The BoM, the D&C, and the PoGP. Anything beyond that by anyone is his or her own opinions and not scripture.”
    (Hugh B. Brown, The Abundant Life)

  • Kevin JK

    “If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as a revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth.”
    (Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 544.)

  • Kevin JK

    The bottom line is that if a statement agrees with scripture, it’s doctrinal. If it disagrees, it’s false doctrine and if scripture doesn’t address the points brought up in a statement, the statement is a matter of opinion, no matter who says it.

  • Elder Anderson

    All well and good. Except I am suggesting that it all be recorded in a single comprehensive, authoritative, searchable reference that anybody can access. Today’s technology makes that relatively easy.

    It’s fine to say “accept the teachings of the authorities as doctrine”, but nobody knows what comprises the teachings, nor who qualifies as an authority.

    If it were all in one place, anybody could take any phrase or quote, search the site and say “yep, that’s doctrine” or “no, it’s not”.

    If doctrine is eternal and immutable, there should be no problem recording it. Otherwise, when you covenant to uphold the church’s doctrine you have no idea what you’re agreeing to. In contract terms, there’s no “meeting of the minds”.

  • Elder Anderson

    Well that makes it *all* just a matter of opinion. Anybody can argue about whether a statement agrees with scripture….. or even what comprises scripture.

  • Kevin JK

    Once, I spoke with a stake president about my opposition to the Church supporting prop. 8 in CA and showed him my scriptures to back up my position. he said that the verses might be able to be interpreted differently. I said that if he could come up with such an interpretation that didn’t depend on what the meaning of the word “is” is, I’d recant. he laughed but never got back to me.

    In some cases though, you DO have a point.

  • JR

    You are asking for an official creed. Joseph Smith didn’t want one. “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we have the right to embrace all, and every item of the truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds and superstitious notions of men.” The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, pp. 420.

    In the long term we might be better off without one, given the vagaries of language and culture and how they affect our understanding and our attempts to articulate what the Lord does reveal.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Well, there you go, Joe. But with all due respect to Jana Riess, I don’t need or want my faith (or the supposed practices of “the average Mormon”) interpreted for me by someone who clearly doesn’t share or understand it. In fact, you’re happy to misrepresent it. As proof, its evident that you’ve misunderstood or misrepresented section 121 here. It is evident that you have misunderstood or misrepresented the binding vel non effect of priesthood declarations as the effect is taught by contemporary prophets and apostles. You don’t even want to acknowledge those teachings, because that would undermine your thesis. Maybe section 121 verse 38 is more apt here.

  • Elder Anderson

    Joseph Smith didn’t want one. “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we have the right to embrace all, and every item…” The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, pp. 420.

    But it’s just your opinion that’s what Smith meant. Either way, Smith’s statement isn’t not doctrine, so the church is allowed to record all doctrine comprehensively.

  • JR

    I am not sure Joe Murff as guest blogger has done more than point out two apparently strong and contradictory strains of thought in historical Mormonism – one or the other more emphasized by different Church leaders at different times. (Brigham Young can be cited for both.) Perhaps one of the strongest statements of the “subordination approach” was Elder Benson’s 1980 speech “Fourteen Fundamentals of Following the Prophet.” President Kimball, the Prophet at the time, was not happy with the speech, nor, according to some, were the other Apostles. See http://rationalfaiths.com/fourteen-fundamentals-falsifying-prophet/ for a reasonably thorough, but perhaps controversial, treatment of Elder Benson’s 1980 speech, including comments on the process by which the 1980 speech became accepted by many. Of course, Joe’s selection of quotations does suggest an inference as to which of those contradictory strains he likely prefers to sing.

  • JR

    “When any man, except the President of the Church, undertakes to proclaim one unsettled doctrine, as among two or more doctrines in dispute, as the settled doctrine of the Church, we may know that he is not ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ unless he is acting under the authority of the President.” President Clark’s Lecture: When Are Church Leader’s Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?, Church News, 31 July 1954, 10-11. See also Joe Murff’s quotation from that same lecture. (“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.” Elder Anderson is quite right that agreement with scripture is often not a useful litmus test. It seems President Clark proposed a different one, though we may not always have the necessary information and inspiration to apply it..

  • Elder Anderson

    I still say if we just wrote everything down in one place there would be no need for a litmus test nor any discussion. It would save all sorts of discussion–of the type we’re having, for instance.

    Something is either doctrinal or it’s not. Surely *someone* in the church has the knowledge and authority to make the call. If nothing else, you’d think general authorities could. Seems to me that’s why you need authorities–to make fine distinctions and settle questions.

    It’s not rocket science:

    Start by publishing standard versions of all the texts everybody agrees are doctrinal.

    Then you compile all the revelations recorded from the church’s inception to the present day. These should all be doctrine (I think).

    Then you compile all statements and opinions made by church leaders that are agreed upon as doctrinal.

    After that, you just keep the thing up to date.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Intelligent comments. I nominate you for the next guest blogger. But if you’re not a critic, Jana isn’t interested. Too bad.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Ah. You’re perfect for the next guest blogger! Looking forward to Jana giving you your big chance to really let the heretics get the fire and damnation they deserve.

  • Thank you for your concern.

    Who decides what is heresy? You can’t call something heresy without claiming to have authority to speak for God and define his truth. Are those who do so not claiming the mantle of prophet? And if they are prophets, could they not be “false”? If you believe them, are you not following prophets? Are they true prophets?

    Anyone who says the Bible can only be interpreted one way is claiming authority to speak for God. At least our leaders are open about that instead of pretending that their interpretations are the only way the Bible was ever interpreted by Christians, or that no reasonable person could ever understand the Bible differently, or that the Nicene Creed and the Trinitarian doctrine it contains was written by God instead of a committee of Bishops, centuries after Christ.

    I may doubt and wonder if our leaders are prophets, but other churches are no different. In the end, we must follow our own hearts, even when we are part of a…

  • church.

  • RC

    Sadly, there are no statements from any authoritative women presented…not that there are any to include and to refer to. It’s just very very sad this is the case in LDSism. Leaving out half the human race’s voice on spiritual matters is faulty from the start and will significantly, increasingly continue fail.

  • Elder Anderson

    “You can’t call something heresy without claiming to have authority to speak for God and define his truth.”

    That is not true. Anybody can call anything heresy. Nobody needs any authority to do so.

    Christians *never* claim God wrote the Nicene Creed. Everybody knows it’s a profession of faith adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325. Kids learn that fact in Sunday school. Not a secret.

    Mormons aren’t the only church claiming unbroken apostolic succession, neither are they the only church claiming to be the reformed church.

    Truth is, only about 1 out of 100 Christians are Mormon. For every Mormon claiming “ours is the only way to true salvation!” there are 100 Christians who beg to differ.

  • Elder Anderson

    You say that like being critical of the LDS church and Mormons is a bad thing.

  • No, heresy is something very special. It isn’t just saying someone is wrong. It is saying that it is sinful to believe it, It is a special kind of wrong, one which carries the judgment of God. You can’t really use the word without claiming that God is on your side and will somehow punish those who disagree with you. The very word carries the implication that you have special insight into the mind of God.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Do I? Huh. I don’t see that. I was just making a cogent observation about how jana runs her blog. It is sort of one-sided.

    It’s true that my own POV is that much of public criticism of the Church is poorly considered and seems motivated by confirmation bias or extrinsic ideology. From time to time, I will take the time to point out those problems and, my goodness, the comment section of Jana’s blog (less so the blog itself, but it presents opportunities too) seems fertile ground. Since I work for a living, I don’t always have time but the enterprise is a little like eating salted peanuts; it is hard to stop once you get going. Have a nice day.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Well, anybody can call anything anything they want (that’s Humpty Dumpty’s dictum) but that doesn’t make it reasonable or consistent with natural usage.

    You might be right about the 100-1 ratio (or close, anyway) but since they disagree among themselves, they could all be heretics to each other too. I often see non-LDS Christians trying to take the view that adherence to the Nicene Creed is some kind of a litmus test. There are obviously lots of problems with that.

    A former evangelical myself, I also know that there is little point in arguing with people like Tom, whose devotion to arguments-by-authority is far more pronounced than anything of which Mormons can fairly be accused. So I was just teasing (Jana more than Tom) about him being the next guest blogger.

  • Elder Anderson

    Hmm. Don’t see anything here about insight into the mind of God. In fact, you’re the first person I’ve ever heard say that.

    her·e·sy
    /ˈherəsē/
    noun
    noun: heresy; plural noun: heresies
    belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious (especially Christian) doctrine.
    “Huss was burned for heresy”
    synonyms: dissension, dissent, nonconformity, heterodoxy, unorthodoxy, apostasy, blasphemy, freethinking; More
    agnosticism, atheism, nonbelief;
    idolatry, paganism
    “an age in which scientists were often accused of heresy”
    •opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted.
    “cutting capital gains taxes is heresy”

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Um, the guest blogger isn’t a representative of the Church. If you watch the Women’s Conference on Saturday or General Conference in another week, I think you’ll see that no one is “[l]eaving out half the human race’s voice on spiritual matters.”

    I’m mindful of course that there are complaints relating to a gender-specific priesthood. So you can cry about that if you want to. But that is not the same thing as “[l]eaving out half the human race’s voice on spiritual matters,”
    and honesty should compel you to acknowledge that. If you have to exaggerate to make a point, the point can’t have been worth making.

  • Elder Anderson

    “Humpty Dumpty’s dictum”

    That’s a good un, Try. Never heard it before. 🙂

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Gee thanks. 🙂

  • Kevin JK

    Bingo.

    The god of the Creeds is a creation of the philosophies of men…mingled with scripture. If you study Greek philosophy, you can clearly see elements of the Creeds. When the gentiles overran the Church, they brought some of those pagan ideas with them and they got mixed in and soon became official doctrine via the Creeds. Any neutral observer of a debate between a Trinitarian and an LDS over the nature of god using only the Bible as reference would easily point to the LDS as the true Christian and the Trinitarian as the member of a non-Christian cult.

  • Elder Anderson

    You know that the entire Old Testament is a mish-mash of much older Babylonian and Sumerian religions, right? Also, the New Testament Christianity you practice today originated from Hellenistic traditions influenced by Judaism, Germanic, Celtic, Slavic, and Folk religions. You need to get out more.

  • Elder Anderson

    As for the Nicene Creed and Trinitarianism, your average church-going Christian doesn’t give a rat’s behind about either one. The Nicene (Apostle’s) Creed is something they recite (more or less mindlessly) in church. The concept of the Trinity is a confusing concept they learn about in Sunday school that never really makes sense, so they pretty much ignore it. Sheesh! You make it sound like they sacrifice cats while chanting the Apostle’s Creed.

  • Kevin JK

    i agree 100%. Trinitarians don’t understand it or can explain it and certainly not defend it using the Bible, yet LDS (and JW’s and others) are condemned for not believing it. I Tim. 1:7 describes Trinitarians – “Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm”. Unfortunately, that verse applies to many LDS who believe in Folk Mormonism.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    I don’t think you’re being fair. Kevin JK doesn’t seem to be saying that everyday mainstream or evangelical Christians are all zeroed in on Trinitarianism, let alone the Nicene Creed. But as anyone who has ever argued the fundamental Christianity of Mormonism will tell you, Trinitarianism as supposedly backed by the Nicene Council is nearly always the first place the interlocutor will go. This stems from a misunderstanding of Trinitarianism, Christian history and LDS doctrine, all at a throw. But that’s still what they do.

    Still, it is amazing how many Christian (Protestant or RCC) have some variant of trinity in their names. If you ask someone to explain the trinity to you, they usually give a version of modalism, which was itself declared to be heretical long ago.

  • Technically, these are over 30 years old, and thus not relevant to the modern LDS church (they council to reject anything more than 30 years old, my former stake president even went as far as to say that Joseph Smith isn’t that relevant to the church anymore.) But, I still found this very cool.

  • RC

    Lol trytoseeitmyway! Thanks for making my point even STRONGER with YOUR examples! Women’s suffrage is alive & well. The voices of women are woefully not give equality of time, nor quality. It was just recently that women were “allowed” to give prayers in General Conference. There really was no need for that unhealthy slight to women. At the very least ( and I’m being kind), it certainly was not affirming to women both old & young.

    BTW, half the talks in General Conference AREN’T given by women. There’s an ample pool of women from the Relief Society, Young Women’s and Primary, who have divine authority, that can voice what needs to be voiced in General Conference. There’s no actual useful reason this disparity needs to exist. And pointing to a segregated style “Women’s Conference” does not “equity” make.

    More relevant equity needs to take place in the church! Sadly, many of my girlfriend’s stake/ward clerks didn’t like it when SHE was called to be their stake…

  • JR

    I’m quite curious to learn who counseled whom (when, where, why, etc.) to reject anything more than 30 years old. In about 60 years of sacrament meetings, Sunday school, priesthood meetings, stake, ward and general conferences I’ve not heard that. Maybe I haven’t read widely enough. The idea seems rather inconsistent with what I see in church publications. If you can clue me in on the source and context of this advice, please do.

  • RC

    …SHE was called to be their ? stake financial auditor.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    OK, I did say you could cry if you want to (Lesley Gore, 1963; Amy Winehouse, 2010), so I guess that’s what you’re doing. My point, lest we lose track of it, is that it is an exaggeration to say (as you did) that the Church is “[l]eaving out half the human race’s voice on spiritual matters,” You’re admitting, here, that that is not the case.

    Some might fear that giving even greater roles for women might increase the use of scare quotes, all caps words and lol’ing, but I know many many women who are far more measured in their written communication, so I would not be concerned. It is pleasing that your gf was called to be stake auditor, since I am sure she was well qualified. Probably not at all goofy either. Good for her stake president for taking that step.

  • trytoseeitmyway

    Oh c’mon, JR. Don’t you get it? That’s his interpretation of something a stake president supposedly said once, so, you know, its gotta be what “they” all say or do.

    You always know you’re dealing with a genius when he or she uses “council” as a verb. Of course now he or she is going to say that “they” habitually correct his or her grammar and that this is more evidence of … something. I don’t know what, but I am sure it will be a bad thing.

  • JR

    lol
    Is anything implied by your use of a detail from Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates? Are you channelling Socrates? “Condemned to death or exile by the Athenian government for his teaching methods which aroused scepticism and impiety in his students, Socrates heroicly [obsolete spelling] rejected exile and accepted death from hemlock.” http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav_soc.html

  • R C

    trytoseeitmyway, “crying” as you so sensitively call it, has a very emotionally abusive tone to it. It’s very condescending. Ironically, you further strengthen my point. If I have slightly exaggerated my point of the church’s disporportional lack of inclusion of women in voicing spiritual matters it is well justified. Until there’s indistinguishable parity, my point stands. BTW, TRUTH is not “crying”.

    SMH, goofy?!? What the heck?

    Unfortunately, the poor treatment of women is highlighted & fueled by individual bigotry that’s enhanced & supported by the LDS cultural construct. As a church, “it” & “we” can do better & must do better! I wish the support for change was from the top of the heirachical food chain down & not the other way around. Even more optimally, a validating movement of support towards one another from both directions.

    Pardon my lack of adequate eloquence & proper language usage for your taste…I try. I also don’t fall for your sick humiliation…

  • R C

    Tactics.

  • RC

    Speaking of fear trytoseeitmyway, hope you don’t choke on your peanuts, lol. If you happen to be alone, you can always throw yourself on a chair back and hope the darn thing disloges ; )

  • JR

    for Elder Anderson:
    Humpty appears in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1872), where he discusses semantics and pragmatics with Alice.[22]

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’ ” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ ”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”
    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything…

  • RC

    Lol, I meant dislodges. BTW, trytoseeitmyway, thanks for priming the pumps. Carry on…a wee bit more sensitively, though.

  • Jen K.

    Bruce R. McConkie tried to do that – and it was disastrous.

    I believe it’s more difficult than rocket science.

    Once someone tries to nail down capital T truth by writing or uttering propositional statements, problems arise. Scripture itself is problematic (see Book of Mormon verses on the curse of dark skin for starters — that doctrine is now disavowed by the church).

    To attempt to create definitive statements we all (or even just the Brethren) agree is doctrine might be the quickest way to discover how much we really don’t know.

  • Elder Anderson

    “all it takes is one wrong prophesy”

    Wait. You mean if a prophet predicted winning lottery numbers and was only wrong 1 time out of 10, you would not take her advice for the chance to win $100 million? I’d take that bet. I mean, what if she just had a headache that day? I think a true prophet prophesies correctly more often than predicted by chance alone, otherwise, she’s a false prophet.

  • Elder Anderson

    “their predictions came true”

    The ones you know of.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    JR, I assumed Elder Anderson was familiar with the passage you’ve helpfully quoted.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    You might be reading too much into it. 😉

  • Elder Anderson

    You don’t seem to know what a prophet is. The word comes from roots meaning “speaker” or “advocate”. All a prophet does is deliver a message (prophecy) from God to humans. A prophet, therefore, may *never* predict the future. It depends on the message God gives the prophet to convey. Look it up.

    You can call Joseph Smith any name you like: false prophet, conman, pedophile, whatever. Knock yourself out. I’m not defending him. I’m just saying you don’t know what a prophet is.

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Zzzzzzzz

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    Tom’s argument becomes tedious. I’m mindful that the two of you would want to reach the same conclusions for much different reasons – and that the discussion is WAY off point – but claims of failed prophesies either misread the statements in question or get the timeline wrong.

    An observation such as that one inevitably leads to someone like Tom saying, oh, yeah? What about this one? Followed by a claimed failed prophesy, garnered from a tendentious “Christian” website. One can then explain why that claim is based on a misunderstanding or gets the timeline wrong … leading the person like Tom to shift to a related claim, restarting the cycle. It never ends because the person literally can’t conceive that the website could possibly be wrong. I’ve learned it’s a waste of time to play.

  • Elder Anderson

    That, and a prophet need never predict the future at all. You are right about it being a timewaster. I’m closing the peanut jar right now. To tell the truth, I’ve just been yankin’ his chain for my own amusement. 🙂

  • Trytoseeitmyway

    1 John 4:2.

  • Vaughn Hughes

    Amen, Joe.

  • Daniel

    “Schools of thought” might be more accurately phrased, “contradictory schools of thought to pick and choose from.”

  • RC

    Quoting Tryandseeitmyway, “Zzzzzzzz”

    That’s a very dismissive comment with an uncivilized, manipulative tone. I should turn my other cheek, but that wouldn’t be a health response for me. Instead, I bid you a civil adeu…

  • Joel

    Well said, Jen.

    The universe of definitive Mormon doctrine is much smaller that people inside or outside the church might realize. Although, the opinions and extrapolations of our leaders (which may be inspired) could fill libraries.

  • Elder Anderson

    Don’t be hurt! He was giving you the “beehive sign”. That’s considered like a thumbs up in Utah. The more zzzzz’s, the more he likes you!

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