Friday, September 10, 2010

My thoughts for now

I've had an extremely busy and wonderful summer. Before you know it, over a month goes by before a new blog post goes up. I have some thoughts on the back-burner. But I have much less time to write out those thoughts. I've also had much less time to read other peoples' thoughts. But I keep a Google Reader feature on my iGoogle homepage, and this post caught my eye today: Follow the Brethren and Never Fall.

For better or for worse, it sparked my first comment in weeks:

"Personally, I'm more comfortable with this scripture as a metaphor to follow Christ with exactness--'our prophet, priest and king'--marching onward as Christian soldiers.

"I'm generally less comfortable with an intense mantra of "follow the prophet" only because I don't believe that a fallible prophet is necessarily synonymous with following Christ. While there are obvious virtues for both, such a militant intensity of focus/zealousness to any mortal might actually lead to looking past the mark--or The Mark."


And those are my thoughts for now.

21 comments:

Clean Cut said...

Related thoughts: Follow the...

Papa D said...

CC, Excellent thoughts.

I am speaking this Sunday on how recognizing, understanding and following the Holy Ghost relates to supporting and sustaining our leaders. I don't think there's a necessary conflict between the two - but I agree wholeheartedly that there can be. I think either one in isolation emphasized to the extreme can be very, very unhealthy.

Frankly, this is one of the most difficult talks I've ever written, simply because I want to make sure nobody misunderstands what I want to say about finding our own individual way in the middle of competing extremes - and how "natural" it is to gravitate toward one of the two extremes.

Matt w. said...

I am of two minds on this One. I think there must be a balance between accepting the prophet as christ's living oracle and accept that he is also a man. I think following the prophet is following the savior.

Thomas Parkin said...

Ray,

Wish I was going to be there to hear your talk. Will you post the guts of it, perhaps on your blog?

CC,

I'm with you on this one.

Matt,

I agree that we receive Christ in part as we receive His servants. (D&C 84!). However, I think we are sometimes in danger of forgetting that the model we have in all things is Christ, and that we are not a religion that places a priesthood between ourselves and God. The things of God are not administered to us by priests, rather ordinances administered by the priesthood enable our unmediated access to the divine through the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Eugene Lakes said...

Personally I believe if you are following the Prophet you will make "The Mark", because isn't that the emphasis of our prophets -- to come unto Christ.
LL

R. Gary said...

I'm glad you linked to your earlier post because I stand my earlier comment.

Christ's authorized representatives are fallible, nevertheless they are Christ's authorized representatives. President Eyring was not looking beyond the mark or being over-zealous when he taught:

"The choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. That ground becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future." (Ensign, June 2008, p.4.)

Jared said...

Clean Cut--

I commented as follows at Scriptorium Blogorium after reading your comment:

To understand that following the prophet, fallible as they are, is looking past the mark is sound doctrine, I hope Clean Cut will provide some scriptural background to support his position.

aquinas said...

Terryl Givens offers one of the best overviews to the essential paradox in Mormonism between Authority and Freedom. "The resulting collision of views and valuations is inevitable. No consensus is ever likely to emerge in the Mormon community about the proper reconciliation of authority and independence, faithfulness and freedom." People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford, 2007), 16. In particular, I recommend reading Chapter One, pp. 3-19.

Anonymous said...

I think that too many times we expect our church leaders to be these super, extraordinary, and perfect men, and forget that they're just human. Then, when we discover their flaws, we're quick to condemn them as bad people, and reject them and their teachings(this is what I've seen in general, and I'm not saying that this is the case now).

Following the Prophets is just like the Parent Analogy you once gave. We know that our parents are not perfect, yet we're greatful for their teachings and examples, and we try to follow them in this aspect, forgetting their negative qualities.

I know that President Monson can make mistakes as a man, but the principles he and the other bretheren teach are definitely princples that I need to apply in my life. I also need to follow the example that President Monson left of serving and putting other's needs above mine.

It's in following these teachings and examples that I can better understand Christ's teachings and find the way.

Joe V.

Clean Cut said...

Papa D--I REALLY wish I could have been there yesterday to hear your talk. Just based on what you expressed, I'm sure it was excellent.

Matt W--certainly there needs to be a balance. I'm glad that for the most part the men chosen are such good men. I believe that in most cases people would be better off following them than not, but I still can't bring myself to say that following the prophet is naturally synonymous with following Christ. Although it can be and probably is harmonious much of the time.

Thomas Parkin--I agree with you 100%.

LL--"isn't that the emphasis of our prophets--to come unto Christ". May it always be so. Even so, some may see various points of emphasis as nit-picky and less important, while others may often see the same points as God's will.

Gary--while I agree with you, I think that the "Iron Rod Mormon" in you and the "Liahona Mormon" in me changes our perspectives enough to nuance how we view counsel from the bretheren.

Jared, please don't misunderstand me. I never said that following the prophet is looking past the mark. I was only concerning myself with extremes (ie: the militant metaphor). The scriptural support for my position can be summarized by "Come follow me" and "Follow the Son with full purpose of heart", etc. In fact, there's plenty more scriptural support for keeping an eye on the Savior ("Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not") than keeping an eye on the bretheren.

aquinas, that was a great chapter, especially towards the end. Thanks for sharing.

Joe, thanks for your well thought out comment. Your first concern is also my concern, which is why I suggest adjusting expectations in the first place. I also appreciate your subsequent thoughts.

Jared said...

Clean Cut,

Thanks for your reply.

I'll pose a few questions for all of us to consider:

Can we come unto Christ without the prophets? If we can, then why does the Lord call prophets?

Are there any examples in the scriptures where church members got into difficulty by following the prophets?

Are there any examples in the scriptures where church members got into difficulty by not following the prophets?

Matt W. said...

Clean Cut:

I think I misrepresented myself, based on your response.

Christ tells us to follow the prophet. Therefore following the prophet is following Christ. It matters very little how Christlike/perfect/wise/good the prophet is, so long as I believe Christ told me to follow him. And I do believe Christ told me to follow the prophet. I do not do so mindlessly, and certainly not unilaterally, but I do believe following the Prophet is what Christ wants me to do.

Clean Cut said...

Jared, I'll take a stab at your questions.

"Can we come unto Christ without the prophets?"

Yes. The prophet is not a "go between" or mediator between us and Christ. Naturally, the words of the prophets can help us to know Christ better.

"If we can, then why does the Lord call prophets?"

For a whole bunch of additional reasons (on top of teaching and testifying of Christ), probably too many for me to list here. In short, He calls prophets because He has a work for them to do.

"Are there any examples in the scriptures where church members got into difficulty by following the prophets?"

Yes. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Having a prophet is no guarantee that people will be free of "difficulty". Even many prophets themselves got themselves into "difficulty".

"Are there any examples in the scriptures where church members got into difficulty by not following the prophets?"

Yes. (see above)

"Difficulty", no matter how you define it, seems to be quite a common and repeated topic in the scriptures, both for those who seek to know God and especially those who rebel against God (including prophets). Just ask Jonah. :)

Clean Cut said...

Matt W.--thanks for the follow-up.

For the sake of clarification, would you elaborate on what you mean (and your sources) when you say: "Christ tells us to follow the prophet."?

Jared said...

Clean Cut,

I appreciate understanding your perspective.

I don't believe man can come unto Christ, in the full sense the Book of Mormon and Bible teaches, without the prophets.

The main reason I see it this way is because of "authority". The first principles of the gospel require baptism in order to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Baptism can only be valid is done my proper authority.

However, the Lord doesn't leave his sons and daughters who aren't baptized by authority without access to the Godhead. They can receive the Holy Ghost. This is evident in Christian churches through out the world.

The question then becomes: what is the difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost? A short answer is, the Celestial Kingdom.

ji said...

I appreciate CleanCut's point. We all follow Christ, and our prophet follows and teaches us to follow. So our prophet is a leader but is also a fellow pilgrim, and he and we are all following the Lord, Jesus Christ.

I don't know why some are giving Clean Cut a hard time. He didn't advocate ignoring the prophet, not at all. But there is a fundamental truth (at least, fundamental to me) -- faith in the modern prophet or faith that the Church is true is not sufficient to save our souls. Saving our souls requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, with all our efforts aimed at following him. For Latter-day Saints, following a prophet is merely a subset, if you will, of following Jesus Christ.

Clean Cut said...

Thank you, ji. I sincerely appreciate your comment. I'll add my "ditto". :)

Jared said...

Clean Cut--

Ditto?

I never considered an exchange of ideas as giving someone a "hard time".

Clean Cut said...

Jared, my "ditto" was not to be understood that you're giving me a hard time. :

Here's what I was "dittoing": "We all follow Christ, and our prophet follows and teaches us to follow. So our prophet is a leader but is also a fellow pilgrim, and he and we are all following the Lord, Jesus Christ...

...faith in the modern prophet or faith that the Church is true is not sufficient to save our souls. Saving our souls requires faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, with all our efforts aimed at following him. For Latter-day Saints, following a prophet is merely a subset, if you will, of following Jesus Christ."

Amen, and amen.

Clean Cut said...

Whoops--forgot the ) after the :. That was supposed to be a grin. :)

Clean Cut said...

About giving me a hard time, I will say that I received a message behind the scenes. This person thought I was being nit-picky and hypercritical. I must say I'm a little dumbfounded by that. (Certainly not offended, but confused nonetheless). Because to me it was clear from the get-go that I was expressing my comfort level with interpreting scripture. I felt I articulated the bend I'd feel more comfortable with (probably with even more tact than I might have used verbally in person), so I'm not seeing where the nit-picky and hypercritical comes into play.