Posted by: Jay | August 1, 2008

Expectations of Faith

Each of us has a certain level of faith that we are willing to exercise when it comes to religion. Some have a low threshold of faith (e.g. Atheist), while others have boundless faith (e.g. “True believers”). Nevertheless, everyone has a point at which their faith is tested. When our faith threshold is exceeded, many find relief in completely abandoning their old way of thinking. Some choose to shelve (a.k.a. ignore) those things that cause their faith threshold to be exceeded and yet others try to fit the pieces of their former faith together forming an amalgamation of personal beliefs which allow their expectation of faith to fall within acceptable boundaries once again. In my conversation with others from different faiths this seems to be a universal concept. Martin Luther’s expectation of faith was exceeded when he was asked to accept what he saw as corruption in the Catholic Church. Episcipalians expectation of faith is being tested by the acceptance of homosexuality in their Church. There seems to be some boundaries that when crossed are too much for the lay person to accept.

The LDS Church, by highlighting only faith promoting history, unintentionally lowers the faith threshold of its members. Presenting only the positive side has the negative effect of convincing members that their church has few flaws and is above the frailties of other Christian denominations. It is inconceivable to most LDS members that a prophet could be wrong on spiritual matters. His pronouncements whether in General Conference or on national television are considered scripture by the most faithful of saints. This misunderstanding of what a prophet is can become spiritually dangerous when a clearer view of LDS history is made available. It is compounded by the fact that the LDS Church places little emphasis on contextualizing its own history, allowing critics to paint past missteps in the worst possible light. With few resources available to the lay member from Church friendly sources, their faith in the LDS gospel is tried. Only those with the ability to reconcile seeming contradictions, bringing their expectation of faith back to previous levels, can make it through and still hope to retain their former testimony. For many the experience alters their testimony and understanding of the LDS Church to align better with the new knowledge they have received.

Once our faith threshold has been breeched it will lead to inevitable loss in confidence of our spiritual leaders and our own ability to discern truth, unless our expectations of faith are increased somehow. If we can accept faults in our spiritual leaders and their teachings and take more personal responsibility for our beliefs, we can continue in faith. The alternative is to continue to hold all men to the standard of Christ and watch as each falls by the wayside unable to measure up.

Prophets are people, they have no claim to immunity from the prejudices, understandings and influences of their generation. To think that they could escape unaffected by the world is more than should be hoped for by members of the Church. Our own history shows this to be the case. Good men do bad things, make wrong decisions and because of their standing before God those choices made by one individual at times affect negatively thousands, even millions of people.  The question for informed LDS members is, can we overlook the faults of our past prophets or were their faults so unlike our Savior that we loose faith in them?

What is your expectation of faith? How far are you willing to go to believe in things for which there is no physical evidence? What if there is physical evidence which contradicts your belief?

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Responses

  1. If there is physical evidence to contradict what I believe then I will have to change my belief and I have been doing this over the years.It gets easier the more you do it.I’ve lost count.

    I don’t have a belief anymore myself , just Hope.

    The person of Jesus Christ, The Ressurrection of Lazarus , the great return of The Saviour to put the world right have all faded away for me.

    I still want to live in an acceptable way just in case , whatever that entails.But I’ve no fear that Mormonism has the exclusive rights to ensure I will be with my family after death.

    I never had any thought before of being detached in eternity from my relatives until the Mormon Church effectively told me that I need there services for that.

    Rather than Familes can be Together ,It seems the message is Families are Not Together unless you convert and follow our system and rules.

    In fact life is so much easier when you don’t have defend a belief and you can happily listen and learn without fear of being mistaken.

    Though I’m not trying to excuse myself of any responsibilty towards my fellow man.

    Is it true that one of the Temple Oaths is to serve your fellow man ? If thats the case then that is a nice redemptive quality about the LDS church for me.

  2. “The LDS Church, by highlighting only faith promoting history, unintentionally lowers the faith threshold of its members.”

    I understand your point and agree that non-transparency can injure and break down confidence and faith. However, I would question whose role it is to be transparent and who is the “LDS Church”.

    First, I would argue that we should not expect nor would we want the voice from LDS headquarters as the sole voice of transparency. We need independence as a check, much like the need for independent journalism in society. When challenges are made I think we want a voice from LDS headquarters that is not defense but humble but also positive. Personally I think the LDS Church is handling this better as time passes. The norm of response has completely changed during the administration of Gordon Hinckley. And there are positive signs that that will continue such as the Ensign carrying a story about the Meadows Mountain Massacre recently. Historically to understand why the church responsed to criticism the way it did I think Teryl Givens’ “People of Paradox” is the most insightful analysis.

    I think there already exists a body of faithful LDS watchdogs so to say. I think the greatest example of extreme critic while at the same time unquestionable loyalty and faith was and is Hugh Nibley. And there is a whole group that have followed in his footsteps. I personally think there critics who get too caught up in their criticism that they shoot themselves in the foot and lose their faith, but that is not the fault of the Church by any stretch of the imagination, that is a battle within the mind of that individual. I think modern authors like Bushman and Givens are some of the best well-known examples of how to live that balance appropriately, but there is also a whole population of common everyday Latter-day Saints that have found that balance as well, however it is more likely to hear the voices of those everyday members who did not find that balance when you peruse the internet.

    “Once our faith threshold has been breeched it will lead to inevitable loss in confidence of our spiritual leaders and our own ability to discern truth, unless our expectations of faith are increased somehow”

    I disagree with ‘inevitable’. In any aspect of life and development there is naivety and then subsequent increases in knowledge that challenge previous worldviews, the response of the individual at those points in time is completely a choice. It is the easy path that jumps to conclusions, that says they are an expert in LDS history and doctrine the minute they discover an issue. It is the wise and humble who will say, here is an issue, let me learn more, it is obviously an issue known about by other faithful members, and can accept that our knowledge might never be complete.

    In the complete opposite of inevitable loss of faith, I personally think that coming to a view that leaders of the church are fallible and human is a profound humbling and faith building experience and often comes with age as well as being asked to be a leader oneself.

    Overall, the issues are neutral, the response of the individual is on trial.

    Re: physical evidence- which strikes me as a separate topic- again I think there is a group that responds with haste, thinking the current level of knowledge on all sides is complete, that they understand the issue better than others and they let everyone know about it. That is pride. The wise- and better scholar imho- will suspend judgement, will continue to investigate, will acknowledge those aspects that are not currently known and often that the unknowns are greater than the knowns.

    Finally regarding ElderJoseph’s comment that the temple oaths being about serving our fellow man as being redemptive… first that has always been the message and covenant from baptism on, I think the most poetic description of that is found in the verses around the Waters of Mormon. And yes the culminating temple oaths are never about blind obedience to church leaders or blind faith but they are about (as have been published elsewhere) 1. Obedience to God’s commandments (the primary commandments being about love) 2. Sacrifice of self 3. Purging of unholiness from our lives, particularly in the way we treat and interact with others 4. Fidelity in Marriage and 5. giving of our whole souls, everything we have and are, to God, his Church, and building his kingdom (which I will point out does not mean blind obedience to some institution but the complete opposite: the whole hearted freedom of choice to choose to build and to make the vision and mission of the institution your own i.e. caring for the poor, building faith, making good men better.

  3. I disagree with ‘inevitable’.

    If our faith threshold is not increased somehow (i.e. we develop the faith to accept whatever it is that is troubling us), our confidence in spiritual leaders and the institution they run will be damaged. I would agree that it is not inevitable that someone will loose faith in their Church if they are willing and able to change their view of it. For example, members informed about racism in the early church will have to reconcile that with their view of a prophet of God. While most are aware that prophets have human frailties, in reality members seldom allow for such egregious character flaws in a leader. Unless the individual is able to alter their perception of what a prophet is and what flaws he is capable of having and still receiving inspiration to run God’s church, they will loose confidence to some extent. Some LDS members are able to make this switch others are not.

    It is the easy path that jumps to conclusions, that says they are an expert in LDS history and doctrine the minute they discover an issue. It is the wise and humble who will say, here is an issue, let me learn more, it is obviously an issue known about by other faithful members, and can accept that our knowledge might never be complete.

    While I understand what you are trying to say and agree that many do jump to conclusions about LDS history, there are many that have studied the issues in depth precisely to understand all sides, wanting to believe and retain their testimony, but they are unable to reconcile their testimonies with the history available. Forcing your mind to go against your conscience is something few people can do.

  4. I find it hard to believe that God would not simply take Brigham Young to task over his prejudice. If he is really leading the one true church, why is he not getting any personal advice?

  5. I think that my faith threshold has varied throughout my life depending on what else was going on in my life. For example, I probably had a lower threshold when I was depressed because of the nature of that disease.

    In regard to prophets, my view is that I recognize that prophets are people too. I agree that they are effected by the prejudices and influences of their time. I also believe that a prophet can be so clouded by these prejudices that he doesn’t listen to or misinterprets what God says. But it is likely that the prophet who has that weakness is balanced out by some strengths. Brigham Young isn’t my favorite prophet ever (to put it lightly) but I do give him credit for holding the Church together during hard times. I just wish that someone else had questioned his policy on race much sooner. That’s another disadvantage of “the prophet is infallible” thinking – limited questioning.

  6. JMJ,

    This blog is for discussion of topics designated by the blog post. No one cares about your off topic, self-righteous preaching.

  7. JMJ,

    Sorry I had to delete your comments (It’s only the 3rd time I’ve ever had to do it). Please keep your comments on subject. I don’t mind having a conversation about what you posted, but it simply wasn’t in keeping with the topic.

  8. I know not one of you Mormons would be willing to be fed to a starving lion for the false gospel of Joseph Smith and the false Christ you all have been duped into believing in. Your fearless leader Joseph Smith was not martyred but killed in a gun battle in which he was firing shots back at those who recognized who he was. Joseph Smith was an adulterer and a liar.

  9. JMJ,

    I am not one to defend Joseph Smith on a lot of topics, but in the case of him dying in a gun battle, that is ridiculous.

    150 guns against 1 is not a battle. It is a slaughter. How many martyrs are you aware of that died willingly outside of Jesus?

  10. JMJ,

    We are aware of the details of Joseph Smith’s murder. I don’t think the fact that he defended himself really discounts the fact that he was brutally murdered by a mob of hundreds of disguised men.

    Martyr – a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause.

    I find that some extreme Christians like to define words so that they fit their arguments. There is nothing about being a martyr that says you can’t fight back against your attackers. Joseph Smith knew his life would be in extreme danger by going to Carthage. Nonetheless, he submitted to the arrest (even though he could have escaped unharmed). That makes him a martyr of the Mormon cause. I can understand the desire of critics to make him appear not to be a martyr, but such attempts are unwarranted IMO.

  11. Jay you ever thought of running for political office? You have plausible deniability down to a science. Joseph Smith was ruled by a perverse and lying spirit and was an adulterer who wanted to have sex with as many women as possible. Joseph Smith’s so called teachings are the great abomination and anyone who “accepts” his teaching are part of Satan’s grand scheme to destroy as many souls as possible.

  12. BR,

    http://utlm.org/onlineresources/josephsmithsdeath.htm

    “As he struck the floor he exclaimed emphatically, “I am a dead man.” Joseph looked towards him and responded, “Oh, dear brother Hyrum!” and opening the door two or three inches with his left hand, discharged one barrel of a six shooter (pistol) at random in the entry, from whence a ball grazed Hyrum’s breast, and entering his throat passed into his head, while other muskets were aimed at him and some balls hit him.

    Joseph continued snapping his revolver round the easing of the door into the space as before, three barrels of which missed fire, while Mr. Taylor with a walking stick stood by his side and knocked down the bayonets and muskets which were constantly discharging through the doorway, while I stood by him, ready to lend any assistance, with another stick, but could not come within striking distance without going directly before the muzzle of the guns.

    Joseph attempted, as the last resort, to leap the same window from whence Mr. Taylor fell, when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward, exclaiming, “Oh Lord, my God!” As his feet went out of the window my head went in, the balls whistling all around. He fell on his left side a dead man.”

    Jay,

    While “General” Joseph Smith was standing in the window he was giving the Masonic distress signal. He was begging for mercy from some of his Masonic brothers. Joseph Smith did not suffer religious martyrdom as he did attempt to kill those who were firing upon him. Jesus and many of his true followers have suffered true martyrdom for the true Faith.

    Yet Mormons make true that which they love rather than accepting the truth about this charlatan. Mormons follow the teaching of Joseph Smith and not the teaching of Christ.

    Even though the lie within Mormonism has been revealed many still accept it like there was no other way. They been led to believe all Christian teachings are an abomination. If only you would read the lives of the true Saints and Martyrs who GAVE their lives willingly for the true Faith of Jesus.

  13. JMJ,
    Do you go by another name at some other blog? Some of the phrases you are using remind me of another hostile person I had several conversations with. Just wondering if you are the same person.

    I think some that visit my blog would agree with your assessment of Joseph Smith, I simply do not. Sure I don’t agree with everything he or other prophets/leaders did, but to paint them with the broad brush you have is to ignore the many good things they did do. Truth has a hard time coming out of bigotry. The world is not black and white. We all have good despite our bad habits/actions.

  14. “I shall never forget the deep feeling of sympathy and regard manifested in the countenance of Brother Joseph as he drew nigh to Hyrum, and, leaning over him, exclaimed, ‘Oh! my poor, dear brother Hyrum!’ He, however, instantly arose, and with a firm, quick step, and a determined expression of countenance, approached the door, and pulling the six-shooter left by Brother Wheelock from his pocket, opened the door slightly, and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed died.” (History of the Church, Vol. 7, p. 100, 102 & 103)

    Joseph Smith was no martyr!

  15. I think I already addressed that. It doesn’t really matter if you or anyone else think JS was a martyr. He is what he is. Did the Christians in Rome just let the lions eat them? Did they run? Did they just bow down and watch as the lions torn them apart? I would find that hard to believe. Human instinct favors survival and anyone would use any means at their disposal if it meant they could survive. Your view of what a martyr is is simply wrong. Arguing semantics with you is hardly productive.

  16. Jay,

    It is interesting to compare the death of Joseph Smith with that of Jesus. In Isaiah 53:7 we read the following: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: HE IS BROUGHT AS A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” In the New Testament it is claimed that Christ fulfilled this prophecy (see Acts 8:32). The reason that Christ fulfilled it is that he did not try to fight back when he was led to death. He died without putting up a fight. In 1 Peter 2:23 we read: “Who, when he was reviled, reviled NOT AGAIN; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”

    Most Mormons believe that Joseph Smith died without putting up a struggle, but the actual truth is that he died in a gun fight. In the History of the Church the following is recorded concerning Joseph Smith’s death:

    “Immediately there was a little rustling at the outer door of the jail, and a cry of surrender, and also a discharge of three or four firearms followed instantly….JOSEPH sprang to his coat for his SIX-SHOOTER, Hyrum for his single barrel,…

    “When Hyrum fell, Joseph exclaimed; ‘Oh dear, brother Hyrum!’ and opening the door a few inches HE DISCHARGED HIS SIX SHOOTER IN THE STAIRWAY (as stated before), two or three barrels of which missed fire.

    “Joseph, seeing there was no safety in the room, and no doubt thinking that it would save the lives of his brethren in the room if he could get out, turned calmly from the door, dropped his PISTOL on the floor, and sprang into the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from without, and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming, ‘O Lord, my God.'” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 617-618)

    Again, Joseph Smith was murdered, not martyrd.

    I mean come on now ~ anyone with just a little common sense can see that all this talk about Mormonism is only adding to the confusion that exists on the earth. Joseph and Michaelus are the only two that I’ve read that have a clue about what’s really going on.

  17. Jay,

    The foundation you base your faith on is made of sand. Every time you try to defend it another wave of truth washes what little truth you stand on away.

    No Jay you are wrong and just about everything that has to do with the Spiritual Life in Christ.

  18. JMJ,

    “Joseph and Michaelus are the only two that I’ve read that have a clue about what’s really going on.”

    This proves that you are not reading all the comments on this blog.

  19. BR,

    Does it really “prove” that I am not reading ALL the comments on this blog?

  20. JMJ,

    Yea I think it does. You probably think I’m a True Believing Mormon and that I disagree with everything you say. You would be wrong on both accounts. I am not a TBM. In fact, I think the LDS church is based on lies. I agree with a lot of what you say, but not all, and I disagree with your approach. You speak in broad sweeping terms that only offend and alienate those that you are trying to persuade, as well as those that might agree with you on certain topics. I find that the evangelicals are the most offensive posters on religious blogs. They are intolerant and unwilling to have a discussion. Their tactics are abrasive coming on to blogs preaching, judging and condemning making it impossible to have a meaningful discussion with which ultimately prevents them from being taken serious…regardless of the validity of their points.

    Does this make sense? I think you would be much more successful if you used a different tone.

    Don’t just jump from blog to blog preaching your message in an abusive manner, shaking off the dust from your shoes when no one responds. Do you think your savior approves of this method?

  21. BR,

    Then it is your opinion that you are judging me by for again none of you has a clue about who Jesus really is and what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in all of us. You just will not soften your hearts with sincere contrition for you sins and seek God’s mercy, love, forgiveness and grace for we are all sinners and committ sins everyday. It’s like we are with Jesus for a little while and then the attractions of this perverse age over shadow us and we fall and have to get back up and try again and again and again so that we might overcome sin through perserverance and most of all obidience to God’s will, not ours.

    You see I am not seeking to “convert” anyone. The Holy Spirit will convert you if your hearts are not filled with pride. The more believers there are who have sincere contrition for their sins, the more the Holy Spirit works in all of us. The more pride and arrogance one is possessed by then the more Satan and his minions have power over us.

    Also I’m not an evangelical nor do I believe in a state run 501c3 church of any denomination especially the Catholic Church for even it is pending purification.

    The book of Mormon has exalted itself and now it must be proven a false testimony about who God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are.

    Here are some true words about what my Lord and Savior said to those who are concerned with following the letter of the law and fulfilling the temple requirements. He would say the same things to true believing Mormons and all who are allowing a treasonous tyrannical government to flourish in America. And yes Jesus does approve of everything I’ve said.

    Matthew 23, 11-33

    11 The greatest among you must be your servant.

    12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. 14 You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

    15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

    16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’

    17 Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?

    18 And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’

    19 You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?

    20 One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; 21 one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; 22 one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.

    23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. (But) these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

    24 Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

    25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.

    26 Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.

    27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.

    28 Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

    29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’

    31 Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; 32 now fill up what your ancestors measured out!

    33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?

    When you look upon the Cross and see what our Lord suffered and is suffering in the starving, the homeless, the persecuted, the imprisoned, and every other malady that afflicts humanity, know that Jesus is still suffering in each of us to some extent because of the culture of death which predominates our planet. Here is where we can unite our hearts, minds and bodies to Jesus Christ crucified. Looking upon the Cross is visible proof of how much God the Father so loves this world. It is the one act upon which we can base our salvation and nothing else. Get a copy of The Passion of the Christ and make your own personal Way of the Cross. Your own personal miracle awaits. That miracle being your conversion to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, for when you see Jesus being beaten, scourged, and then nailed to the cross, know that the suffering Jesus endured was for your sins and the sins of the entire world.

    Remain in Mormonism and suffer the fate of Revelation Chapter 3, 14-17

    14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this: ” ‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God’s creation, says this:

    15 “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot.

    16 So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.

    17 For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

    I mean what other book can replace the Sacred Scriptures, Traditions, and the writings of the Saints of God’s Church on earth for the past 2000 years?

  22. JMJ,

    You totally missed my point. You call yourself an agent of Jesus Christ crucified, but take no responsibility for conversion. Your tactics are to preach hell and damnation with offensive terms letting the holy ghost clean up your mess.

    Do you really expect to have any success here or anywhere else? Are you looking for success? Not sure from your last comment. If you are not looking to convert, then why are you here? It certainly is not to engage in dialog related to the blog posts.

  23. JMJ

    Well I hope you are at least Catholic, as you are quoting a Book which they put together and authorised. So I assume they had the authority at the time to decide what went in and what was thown out. And many other gospels and letters were thrown out.

    In relation the The Pharisses and Scribes. I’ve never understood why Jesus condemned then as they were following the Law which God supposedly gave them. The good samaritan Parable never made sense to me as the Levite and Priest had litle choice but to pass by the beaten up man.They couldn’t risk going near a dead corpse because of the Law and the subsequent fall out that would have incurred in religious rituals of purifying themselves and not even being allowed to work.

  24. Jay said, “His pronouncements whether in General Conference or on national television are considered scripture by the most faithful of saints.”

    I don’t know that I would classify those who consider every word of the prophet to be scripture as “the most faithful of saints.” Maybe “the most ignorant of saints,” “the most delusional of saints,” or “the most idolatrous of saints” (as prophet-worship is a form of idolatry.)

    If it isn’t accepted by the body and canonized, we aren’t bound to it, and thus, it doesn’t count as scripture by which we will be judged. The only scriptural standard we have are the Standard Works. Every Latter-day Saint should know this. Anyone is free to go beyond this standard and invent as many more commandments and rules as they want, but that’s Pharisaical ground and they’ll get a Pharisaical reward for it.

    Although I agree in theory with your post, it only makes sense if one’s faith is centered in the church, where it is not supposed to be. The first principle of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ, not faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is made up of 13 million plus imperfect people. So, I think the Church’s policies concerning church history, etc., would only really affect those whose faith is not firmly grounded in Jesus, in personal revelations from the Holy Ghost, and in the Standard Works (the word of God). If one’s faith is not centered solely on these three things, then imperfect people inside and outside of the church will eventually erode whatever faith they do have, or even natural, financial or other calamities of life can erode it.

    Our problem of faith in the church is that we (speaking generally) have placed it in our leaders and not on Christ and have largely neglected Him as the main topic of all discussion. When you remove Christ from His church, people have got to substitute and fill the void, so they do this by extolling the virtues of their leaders.

    Every member should see that this has happened. Any member can go to church on Sunday and hardly a word praising Jesus or talking of Jesus, but plenty of words telling how great the bishop is or that brother or this leader and talking of programs and principles and of how true the church is, etc.

    So, it is not the “cover-up” of history that lowers the faith threshold in my opinion, it is the follow-the-brethren mantra which creates the cult of leadership worship that ultimately leads to doubts when the leadership finally is seen for what it is: imperfect, fallible men who do their best but make many grave mistakes. If the leadership would instead focus the members’ attention on Christ as our standard and the canonized scriptures as our ruler for measuring all things, including the leaders and their words, we would have a self-cleaning, self-auditing, largely decentralized organization full of faith, with every man, woman and child of this church truly on equal ground. In other words, we’d have religious anarchy. But we can’t have that, now can we?

    At any rate, it is not the leaders’ fault. None of it. All the problems of the church are membership problems. Every leadership problem can be easily fixed with the law of common consent. But no members want to fix anything as they don’t see that anything is broken. They don’t want the responsibility. They’d rather be commanded in all things. And they get what they want. They want the church just as it is and the Lord always gives them what they want.

    Sorry for the rant.

  25. The only scriptural standard we have are the Standard Works. Every Latter-day Saint should know this.

    The sad thing is that they don’t. The perfect example is the overwhelming belief by LDS members that the Ensign is scripture as is anything said “over the pulpit” in General Conference.

    Our problem of faith in the church is that we (speaking generally) have placed it in our leaders and not on Christ and have largely neglected Him as the main topic of all discussion.

    This is due to the emphasis place by the Church on prophets as the mouthpiece for God/Christ. Members trust this and look toward a visible person (the prophet) to guide and lead them instead of trusting their own revelation.

    Any member can go to church on Sunday and hardly a word praising Jesus or talking of Jesus, but plenty of words telling how great the bishop is or that brother or this leader and talking of programs and principles and of how true the church is, etc.

    Yes, I agree that this is a problem. Especially since we have started studying the LDS prophets in EQ/HPQ and RS. Instead of reading the words of Christ we tend to read the words of BY, JS, Heber C. Kimball, or whoever the manual is on that year. Because of the close connection members believe is between the prophets and Christ, we forget that Christ’s original words are the most important and should be repeated often and remembered. It is seldom that I hear a scripture from the NT used and it saddens me.

    But no members want to fix anything as they don’t see that anything is broken. They don’t want the responsibility. They’d rather be commanded in all things.

    This is referred to as lazy faith in a previous Mormons Talk post. The idea is that members wait to be told what is right and wrong, rarely question or think about if what they have been told is right or consistent with scripture. They are fixated on the promise that the prophet will never lead the Church astray without realizing that the prophets have lead us astray in the past and while this is a good general rule, it is not always true. I think a better statement would be the prophets will never be allowed to destroy the church. Prophets have and probably will continue to lead us astray on certain subjects because they are human and will make mistakes, even major ones. To trust everything they say on Larry King, town hall meetings and even general conference would be a mistake.

  26. Does anyone know when the LDS church came up with the doctrine that it ain’t doctrine unless it is in the standard works?

    I don’t believe Joseph Smith or Brigham Young held to this belief.

  27. Jay, EJ and BR

    I love you guys! I have missed you all SO much!

    Jay your blog seriously rocks. I love the way you all can discuss this stuff lovingly and then when some strange person comes on and starts barking you all ban together with respect for one another!

    I think you’re all so freakin great!

    I missed all ya’ll :) :) :) :) :) :)

  28. Steffie,

    We’ve missed you too! I kept going to your blog to see if you had a new post, but nothing appeared. I hope you and your husband are doing great. I thought about you last week as my wife and I went to Nashville to pick up my nephew from the airport.

  29. Hi Steffie ,

    Great to hear from you again. Hope all is well.

    That scripture comes to mind from Amos about a famine in the land ( though not for food). Well we have had a famine for Steffie’s words :)

    I’m still trying to get better with the way I present myself and communicate. I’m trying to emulate Jay and BR:) Its a slow process for me. lol

    Because of my own difficulties and experiences with Mormon history,doctrine, and proselytizing practices, I sometimes lose sight of the fact that LDS members on the whole are only trying to be genuine. :)

  30. Jay,

    I think at some point our families should totally hang out. I bet you are as cool in person as you are on here! Next time you come to Nashville let me know!

    EJ,

    You are doing a great job with your presentation, I was reading your words and I was pleasantly surprised!

    I have also opened my mind to different people and I have become a lot less onesided since I first began here. I really appreciate others beliefs and opinions. BR has really helped me with that. I believe there are wonderful things to come for all of God’s children, regardless of what specific “faith” or religion you are. None of us KNOW anything, even though many of us try to act like we do.

    I am very happy with my personal faith, I wont sit here and insist my way is the right way, all I can say is that it works for me, it has made me a better person. Actually it’s done A LOT more for me then that. I feel so blessed to be where I am today.

    I really believe that God loves ALL of us, and he doesn’t want ANY of us to “burn”. I love my children and even when the do bad things or disappoint me, I still love them, I would NEVER do anything to them that would hurt them forever. And that’s how I view God, as a loving Father!

    Anyways, that’s just my opinion :)

  31. STEFFIE!!!!

    That’s all I have to say about that.

  32. Steffie,

    I’d love that. My wife and I are coming to Nashville in a couple of weeks to drop my nephew off at the airport. Maybe we can get together then. I’d love to meet your husband and kids. Anyway, email me and we can set something up!

  33. Sweet!!!!!!! That would be so awesome! I will def email you!!!!!

  34. Steffie

    I love your version of belief !
    Its much better than the ‘official’ LDS one:) lol

    I do understand what you mean when you say it works for you. It could have worked for me too( and has been a good influence for the most part)but unfortunately for me it just fell to pieces after studying it in greater detail :(


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