Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Terryl Givens on the "Prophetic Mantle"; Myth of Infallibility

From Terryl Givens' "Letter to a doubter":

"Abraham deceived Abimelech about his relationship with Sarah. Isaac deceived Esau and stole both his birthright and his blessing (but maybe that’s okay because he is a patriarch and not a prophet, strictly speaking). Moses took glory unto himself at the waters of Meribah and lost his ticket to the promised land as a result. He was also guilty of manslaughter and covered up his crime. Jonah ignored the Lord’s call, then later whined and complained because God didn’t burn Nineveh to the ground as He had threatened. It doesn’t get a lot better in the New Testament. Paul rebuked Peter sharply for what he called cowardice and hypocrisy in his refusal to embrace the gentiles as equals. Then Paul got into a sharp argument with fellow apostle Barnabas, and they parted company.
"So where on earth do we get the notion that modern-day prophets are infallible specimens of virtue and perfection? Joseph said emphatically, “I don’t want you to think I am very righteous, for I am not very righteous.” To remove any possibility of doubts, he canonized those scriptures in which he is rebuked for his inconstancy and weakness. Most telling of all is section 124:1, in which this pervasive pattern is acknowledged and explained: “for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth” (D&C 124:1; emphasis added).

"Air-brushing our prophets, past or present, is a wrenching of the scriptural record and a form of idolatry. God specifically said he called weak vessels so that we wouldn’t place our faith in their strength or power, but in God’s.  Most crippling, however, are the false expectations this paradigm sets up: When Pres. Woodruff said the Lord would never suffer his servants to lead the people astray, we can only reasonably interpret that statement to mean that the prophets will not teach us any soul-destroying doctrine—not that they will never err. President Kimball himself condemned Brigham Young’s Adam-God teachings as heresy; and as an apostle he referred as early as 1963 to the priesthood ban as a “possible error” for which he asked forgiveness. The mantle represents priesthood keys, not a level of holiness or infallibility. God would not have enjoined us to hear what prophets, seers, and revelators have to say “in all patience and faith” if their words were always sage and inspired (D&C 21:5)."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Appreciating the Tapestry/Symphony

When I was thirteen my family made a trip to Utah where we saw the BYU Young Ambassadors at the Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City.

I enjoyed the show and it made a big enough impression on me that I still remember it. Granted, this may be due in part to the fact that we bought the soundtrack and listened to it all the way home to Oregon, and then again and again once we got home. The show was called "Tapestry", and it wove a variety of songs and themes together in a really beautiful way.

This idea that we each have a valued and unique part in the tapestry of life is captured in two memorable General Conference talks, and also in a song which formed the core of the show all those years ago. Tie these three together and you have a tapestry I can really appreciate.

First the song: (Once you get past the cheesy video you begin to appreciate the music and the message)

"Tapestry" Lyrics:

I am a thread in the tapestry,
I have the Master's hand on me,
And then He weaves me carefully,
Making textures as He goes.

Each of us part of the great design,
You've got your part and I've got mine,
All of our lives are intertwined,
As the fabric starts to grow.

Through thick and thin,
The Master weaves us in.
Young and old, we're the colors of the rainbow.
Our lives are short and long,
But together we hold strong,
In this everlasting tapestry.

Taking the lovely and the plain,
All of our laughter and our pain,
Crossing them back and forth again,
The pattern can be seen.

And when we're finished we will be,
A perfectly woven tapestry,
A beautiful new creation scene,
For the universe to see.

And every thread is known by name,
Not a single thread the same,
As we're woven on this plane,
In a tapestry of love.

Through thick and thin,
The Master weaves us in.
Young and old, we're the colors of the rainbow,
Our lives are short and long,
But together we hold strong,
In this everlasting tapestry.

(Words and music by Teri DeSario)

Now for the conference talks. While they don't use the tapestry analogy, they both use a symphony to make the same point.

Elder Wirthlin's "Concern for the One":

"Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

"Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole."

President Dieter Uchtdorf's "Four Titles":

"While the Atonement is meant to help us all become more like Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same. Sometimes we confuse differences in personality with sin. We can even make the mistake of thinking that because someone is different from us, it must mean they are not pleasing to God. This line of thinking leads some to believe that the Church wants to create every member from a single mold—that each one should look, feel, think, and behave like every other. This would contradict the genius of God, who created every man different from his brother, every son different from his father. Even identical twins are not identical in their personalities and spiritual identities.

"It also contradicts the intent and purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ, which acknowledges and protects the moral agency—with all its far-reaching consequences—of each and every one of God’s children. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are united in our testimony of the restored gospel and our commitment to keep God’s commandments. But we are diverse in our cultural, social, and political preferences.

"The Church thrives when we take advantage of this diversity and encourage each other to develop and use our talents to lift and strengthen our fellow disciples...

"In the great Composer’s symphony, you have your own particular part to play—your own notes to sing. Fail to perform them, and with certainty the symphony will go on. But if you rise up and join the chorus and allow the power of God to work through you, you will see 'the windows of heaven' open, and He will 'pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.' Rise up to your true potential as a [child] of God, and you can be a force for good in your family, your home, your community, your nation, and indeed in the world."

These three messages form a beautiful tapestry in and of themselves. And that is the kind of symphony I'd enjoy playing in and/or listening to again and again.