Monday, November 16, 2015

A Call For Simple-Minded Mormons To Repent

A family member just shared with me today a public Facebook post by a man named Dustin Sweeten that starts with the words "come on members of the LDS church, be honest..." followed by how this rift in the Mormon family is all about following a prophet of God or not:

I'll be honest. I have a strong testimony and conviction of Jesus Christ. But I also have a testimony of the fact that He doesn't control men like puppets (even prophets). He works with what He's got, but we all have our own bias', including prophets (who aren't infallible). They can and do make mistakes, including boneheaded decisions and policies that hurt real people, because that's what it means to be fallible.

Our loyalty ultimately is to God, not to men. And if you see no difference between God and prophets, then that is the epitome of idoltry. And it's time time for you to repent.

PS: If Dustin Sweeten (or anyone else who applauded his words) reads this, please just skip everything I said and watch this short Brene Brown video to understand the difference between empathy and sympathy. Christians in deed (as opposed to just word) show empathy. Showing love is more important than establishing your dogma.


  1. Thank God for the "generation of quitters" who quit on racism and sexism even when those ideas were promulgated by the Lord's annointed.

  2. You might be interested in Matt. 10:40, D&C 84:36, and D&C 112:20. These show the Lord's thoughts in important teachings to us. I think the principles in these verses are not well understood, but they are important for genuine Christian discipleship.

  3. I think its important to follow the prophets.

  4. I think it is ESSENTIAL to follow the prophets.

  5. What about complex mormons? Do they need to repent too? Or is it just us simple folks?

  6. OBVIOUSLY, we all have need to repent. We all GET to repent. I purposely used "simpleminded" (full well knowing this will sound like I'm being arrogant) to draw attention to a specific issue of which many Mormons need to repent--conflating God and the prophet is idolatry. And simple minded people accept completely illogical statements (and circular reasoning) in the name of "faith". For example: "I know the prophet will never lead us astray, and I know this because the prophet told me." Excuse me?! And even really smart people uncritically accept these ideas. A member of our stake council who is universally seen as one of the brightest women in our stake recently even said "we know the prophet will never lead us astray because the scriptures tell us this". REALLY? And if you can't even recognize how unscriptural that idea is than we've got some serious issues to talk through before you try to make any other convincing arguments.

  7. What about D&C 1:14 & 38? How would you suggest distinguishing between what you think is correct as opposed to what God thinks is correct?

  8. "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38)

    Note that the Lord says it is HIS word that shall all be fulfilled, no matter who speaks it. He does not say that whatever someone in authority says is automatically Christ's word. If it didn't originate with Christ, it is not His word. For a more thorough discussion of this misused scripture, see this blog post:

    Prior to his death, Joseph Smith warned the people on two occasions that they were depending too much on him, and hence were becoming "darkened in their minds." Now mind you, this is the one guy we Mormons believe had regular conversations with God, and even he was telling the people to back off because the more they looked to him for guidance, the stupider they got.

  9. Another nuanced and well thought out post to consider on that commonly misquoted/misapplied scripture:

  10. "How would you suggest distinguishing between what you think is correct as opposed to what God thinks is correct?"

    Clearly, there is no infallible objective standard to discern the mind and will of God with 100% clarity and certainty. Even objective "Truth" is ALWAYS evaluated subjectively. The scriptures and the Brethren are not inerrant or infallible standards either.

    So in the end the only thing I can fall back on is individual discernment of the mind and will of God. And I'm completely comfortable living with uncertainty.

    Terryl Givens:

    “We believe that it is always our responsibility to confirm through our own study and prayer and responsiveness to the spirit, whether what we’re hearing, is the mind and will of the Lord or not.

    "I think of Orson Pratt who alone of twelve apostles refused to consent to the false doctrine of Adam-God and only many years later was vindicated for his steadfast integrity, so it may be that in the short term we do find ourselves on the margins or ostracized but I think that our devotion always has to be first and foremost to our conscience, before to any institution.”
    1 hour 33 minute mark on part 2

  11. I wrote more about this individual discernment in this post: "Mormonism: A Sausage Makers Religion"

    It can be a bit frightening to realize that all of God's most objective truths are always evaluated subjectively. It's initially jarring to realize that there is no such thing as unmediated revelation--that it always comes through a human filter. So while I continue to choose faith and to trust God, I no longer equate "LDS priesthood authorities" with God. I trust mortal leaders to do their best to seek inspiration, but I'm not trusting them to give us unfiltered or unmediated revelation. Everything that comes to us comes through our human experience, our human language, and human culture. And we "see through a glass darkly".

    Once upon a time I took comfort in believing there was an infallible standard I could rely on. Similar to how Armand Mauss shifted his faith paradigms as he came to understand the social construct of reality, my paradigm now places emphasis on choice--choosing to believe--relying on my own conscience as the final authority for how to live my life. Terryl Givens has explained it this way:

    "We want a standard that is infallible because it relieves us of the burden of continually exerting ourselves to use discernment. The way that Dostoyevsky put it so beautifully is that 'We want some person to be a keeper of our conscience'. The hard lesson is that there is never a moment when you can delegate your own volition to another individual.”

    Unfortunately I continue to meet many self-proclaimed "orthodox" Saints who take issue with this approach because in their paradigm it lowers the importance of apostles and prophets. By pointing out the need to use individual discernment and rely on our own conscience (our individual best effort to understand the will of God) some have even implied that I'm "attacking" the apostles and prophets, regardless of whether or not they're even "acting as such."

    When I refuse to put church leaders up on a pedestal, no one needs to pin evil motives on me or assume I think the apostles are "evil" or "sinister"(words I've seen used.) That would just be crazy talk. I've never in my life even implied such a thing as this. My theory is that this crazy talk is born out of a misunderstanding of what it really means to "sustain" our leaders--but thankfully Christian Harrison has more insight to share on that important topic as well. In reality the only really crazy thing I can see is how many Mormons want to be "relieved of the burden of individual discernment."

    ...Let's just get comfortable with the idea that we're not always going to be comfortable in a world of ambiguity and uncertainty and get on with the good news of embracing faith and grace.

  12. Obviously you need to leave the church and go find one that makes you happy. But instead you continue to bash a religion that isnt going to change for you. Why dont you go start one of your own so you can have things exactly the way you want them. But instead of leaving, you choose to be rude and arrogant because the church is not conforming to your way of thinking. Go find someplace that you can be yourself and truly happy.

    1. My sentiments exactly to anonymous who stated you want the Church to conform to your world view. I adore the Church, hold several degrees and my IQ is 145. My husband, an MD has an IQ of 165. I would hardly call we or other active full believing Mormons simple-minded.

  13. Hey, Anonymous, back off! Spencer is a dear friend and cousin to me, and although I totally disagree with him on the prophet thing, he is a wonderful soul who brings much good to the table. Please do not try to push him out because he makes you feel defensive or angry. And why don't you come out of hiding behind your anonymous next time?

  14. Here's a question: Does D&C 1:38 really mean that when prophets speak it is the same thing as if God himself were speaking? Or does this verse means that God's word shall not pass away, but shall be fulfilled, whether his word was spoken by his own voice or by the voice of his servants, it is the same, i.e. God's word will be fulfilled. Because to me there is a huge difference.

  15. Joseph said: "a brother and sister from Michigan . . . thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such." (History of the Church 5:265). Which is usually interpreted as "a prophet is always a prophet except when he's not acting as such." That is, the common lore is that a man called as a prophet has as his default mode prophetic leadership and correctness.

    But I like, and trust, Joseph's language on this: to wit, the default mode of a "prophet" is _not_ acting prophetically. It's the exception, not the rule, as I read him. So that's why we pray for them to do the right thing and lead well, as they often request.