Conversation With The Bishop


PriesthoodLeadersThis is a fictional account. It is based on current events, but it is NOT how things went down with my Bishop. I have promised to keep that confidential. I share it because of the intense interest in the excommunication of various LDS bloggers in the news lately, including the impending disciplinary actions against Mormon Activists John Dehlin and Kate Kelly. I do not consider myself a Mormon activist. I considered it at one time, but it always seems to lead to excommunication. Enjoy.

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“Hi Brother Malone. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine, Bishop. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.”

“You’re welcome. What would you like to talk about?”

The temple. Specifically the temple recommend questions.”

“Alright, any particular question that’s bothering you?”

“Yes, it’s the one that reads, ‘Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?’”

“I’ve very familiar with that one. What’s the trouble?”

“Well Bishop, you know we’re commanded to “…seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

“Of course. That’s D&C 88:118

“Sometimes I like to read books that some members of the church would find objectionable – you know, stuff from Signature Books, and SunStone publications, that sort of thing.”

“I’m not too familiar with those, but go on…”

“I also like to read blogs and listen to podcasts that some would say are, well… not faith-promoting or uplifting…”

“Why in the world would you want to do that? I barely have enough time to read the scriptures every day.”

“I know. You’re a very busy man. I’m glad you’re the bishop and not me. We always pray for you in our family.”

“Thank you, Tim. I feel the prayers of the members. Now, what’s this have to do with the temple questions?”

“There’s this one guy in particular who has written some really interesting stuff, but he’s been excommunicated…”

“I don’t know, Tim. I wouldn’t go there if I were you. It seems like dangerous ground. Why would you read his stuff?”

“He wasn’t excommunicated when I started reading his stuff. He has some great books on how we can come unto Christ.”

“OK, yeah. I think I’ve heard of him – Denver Snuffer, right? I still don’t think I would read his stuff, but go on…”

“It started as a simple book review. I enjoy sharing my thoughts on books I read. You know I have an LDS-themed blog.

“Oh, yes. I’m well aware of it. I don’t read it but other members have told me about it. You’ve got some controversial stuff.”

“I know. I started it just before Elder Ballard asked us to get involved in the online conversations about the church out there.”

“That’s good, Tim. Tell me how reading this apostate’s book is connected to the temple recommend question you quoted.”

“Remember, he wasn’t an apostate when he wrote most of his books. It’s only his last book that got him into trouble.

“OK, fine. But he’s now been excommunicated for apostasy so I wouldn’t touch his stuff. It seems like a waste of time.”

“I never did very well in school – had trouble with lectures. Didn’t get things until I read and studied it and then wrote about it.”

“I understand. So you’re a hands-on kind of learner, right? Lots of people are like that. They have trouble with lectures and talks.”

“Good. I’m glad. Thanks. That makes me feel better. So you get why I have to not just read stuff, but need to write things out.”

“I get it Brother Malone. Let’s circle back to the temple recommend question. Are you saying this guy teaches polygamy?”

“No, nothing like that. But he’s got a lot of good points that I hadn’t considered before, things that have to do with our history.”

“OK. Is he starting a church and asking people to join? Or are you just having some trouble with the questions he has raised?”

“No, he’s not starting a church. In fact, he’s encouraging everyone to stay in the church and continue to serve wherever asked.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“Some of my blogging friends have been excommunicated simply for writing about this guys stuff.”

“And that troubles you….”

“Oh, yeah. There’s this church committee called the Strengthening the Church Members committee.”

“I guess I’ve never heard of it.”

“Yeah, I think Elder Holland or Elder Oaks called it a clipping service, but now everything’s on the Internet, so it more like a reading service.”

“You’re losing me. Why are you bringing this up?”

“Well, you know I’m a computer guy, right? That’s how I make my living.’

“OK, so?”

“Well, we bloggers are very interested in who reads our stuff, how they found us, what keyword searches they use and how long they stayed.”

“OK, makes sense.”

“We can track the visitors down to the IP address they use. We can almost pinpoint the physical address from where they read our stuff.”

“That doesn’t mean anything to me. Can you get to the point about the temple recommend question?”

“Alright, Bishop. I’m sorry. I just want to make sure you understand why I’m turning in my temple recommend.”

“You’re what?”

“Yeah. here you go.”

<Bishop looks stunned>

“I don’t know what to say. Why are you doing this? Is this because your friends have been excommunicated?

“I’m not really sure, bishop. I’m still trying to figure out my own feelings. I am kind of upset about that, but it’s a matter of honesty for me.”

“What do you mean?”

“If I were going for a temple recommend, having never been endowed, and you asked the affiliation question, I’d have to say yes.”

“You mean you agree with the stuff this apostate teaches?”

“I don’t know. But I do know I have sympathy for what my blogging buddies are going through – being ex’ed for simply reading a book.”

“OK. I can understand being upset about your blogging buddies, but you don’t know the whole story and never will. Only their leaders know.”

“Agreed. But because I like to be thorough in my research, I‘m going to attend a couple of the lectures of this excommunicated author next month.”

“I see. I’m going to hold on to your recommend. I think I need to talk to the Stake President about this. I’ve never run across this before.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry Bishop. I know I’m a pain in the rear. I just can’t answer ‘no’ to that question. I hope you’ll understand.”

“I do, Tim. I know you’re a good man. We’ve always appreciated your service over the years. Let’s get together next week with the Stake President.”

“Thanks, Bishop. I’ll look forward to it.”

30 Responses

  1. This reminds me of how laws are challenged in the United States with a plaintiff and a decision by a lower court. The bishop accepted the resignation and made a ruling which he will refer to a higher court (stake). The higher court (stake) will most likely get counsel from the Area authorities and if no one else does as Brother Malone has done it will all fade to nothing and do no greater good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim- my wife recently dealt with that question in a TR interview with our stake president. He reassured her that it is a poorly worded and poorly conceived question. I mean who doesn’t associate and (even sympathize) with people who see things differently than we do. It was originally meant to fish out polygamists- but I can see it will get a reworking to fish out the believers in the Restoration Movement started by Joseph Smith

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Three signatures, my recommend has. Read denver, all three have. Blessed where I live. Yes, hmmm.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tim, this feels awfully Orwellian to me, for some reason. Maybe, as a man, this would feel different to you. (Well, it must, otherwise I’m not certain you would’ve posted it. ;) ) But I don’t know if I could ever put myself in this type of situation, based on the leaders I have, and some experiences I’ve had with the social aspect of the church. It would be putting myself in a position of rampant gossip and possibly even shunning.

    Thanks for the mental exercise, though. It was definitely instructive.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I want to preface this by saying that my comments are simply my opinion and are based on a very limited amount of information – I’m sure only a sliver of the whole picture. Your most recent post has been prefaced as “fictional”, but regarding your past posts that have dealt with this issue I’m not entirely sure what is fictional and what is real. Nevertheless, I’m sure that you will get some very real emotional responses to this most recent post. You most certainly struck a chord in me.

    So here goes. I get the impression that in your zeal for to stand up for your principals and to stand with and support those that are being persecuted, you may be bringing weapons to a battle that may not exist or at least has not started. (note that I intentionally said “battle” not war. I know that there is a war going on specifically on this issue). Also understand that these comments come from me – a guy that is historically passive aggressive, pleaser, and the “fly on the wall” type. So when you talk of making preemptive strikes, or calling someone out, I begin to have anxiety as I imagine myself in your shoes. I would hate for you to take the fight to the powers that be (bishop/stake president) and put them in a position of having to deal with something that may not even be on their radar – by taking the first swing, so to speak. A few sayings come to mind like “let sleeping dogs lie”.

    Just so happens that this particular issue (temple recommend interview questions) is fresh on my mind. My recommend expired end of May and I was having a bit of anxiety over the experiences of some regarding the augmented and probing “affiliation” question and the possibility of me having to deal with such. I worked myself up to somewhat of a fervor worrying about how I should answer should I be pushed into a corner. Would I lie? I asked myself. Could I skirt the issue and dodge a bullet? I was hoping that I wouldn’t show my sweating that was going on inside on the outside. To my relief in both interviews I was simply asked if I affiliated with or was sympathetic to any anti-Mormon groups. That was an easy “no. And that was that. I pondered in retrospect how I should respond to a more probing question. For now I take solace in the clear conscience that I have when I answer yes to the final question about feeling worthy to enter into the temple. That is really where the rubber meets the road. All the other questions support that one. So I suppose that if one can answer yes to that question in the presence of God, then that should be plenty good enough.

    So did I wimp out on that one? Or should have I hit my bishop or stake president right between the eyes – forcing a response? I really don’t think so – at least not in this instance. I’m not saying that I think you are suggesting that we all need to dig our toes in and draw out our fists. I’m thinking that your post is just some of your thoughts on this issue and you want to get us pondering. I imagine you are simply laying out one of the many scenarios that have run through your mind in the quiet moments of thought. Or maybe you are actually in the midst of the furnace on this one. If this is the case, I pray for God’s strength, guidance, and peace to be with you.

    I know that each of us has his or her own individual journey before them and we must live it individually. More reason why it is absolutely critical for each of us to have a personal relationship – a conduit to God. Thereby each of us will be able to deal with the difficult situations that will be perfectly engineered for our own unique journey.

    I would simply hate for anyone to put their head on the chopping block when it wasn’t necessary – putting a rope around their own neck. You are obviously passionate about this issue. My simple advice to anyone that finds themselves faced with this situation, would be to focus on the issue at hand, listen carefully for God’s prompting(s) and then carry them out with exactness. Don’t let emotions (yours or anyone else’s) pollute or obscure your pathway or drag you someplace you do not need to be, or goad you into a fight that doesn’t need to happen.

    I guess what I’m getting at is my clear feelings that God simply wants us to attend the temple and of course, He wants us to be worthy for such. So if this is the case then simple logic leads me the rest of the way. Temple interview should be “Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?” (the last question). A simple yes or no should do it. Done. That’s it.

    But then again we are very much like the Children of Israel, stubborn and rebellious and seem to have the need to be commanded in all things (or specifically questioned in all things).

    So, I’m not entirely sure what the proper response should be. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. My dad loved the quotes – “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!!” and “swing the axe and let the chips fall where they may”.

    Of this I am sure…God will give me and every one of us the opportunity to prove whether we love Him or the approval of men more.

    BobF

    Ps – I’m kind of all over the place with this comment. Hopefully it makes sense enough to make sense of it. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think you just quantified what is happening all throughout Mordor. Thanks for such an inspiring piece (despite how depressing it was).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. BobF,

    Thank you for your faith and resolution. Your desire to tow the line has not changed since our last conversation on the topic. God bless you for your faith. You have followed the spirit in making wise choices for you and your family.

    I have also had to make hard choices. Some of which may end up costing me things near and dear to my heart. But I can not and will not deny the spirit when it rests upon me to take action. Even if no one around me gets it.

    I have done as Tim wrote about in this post. I carefully answered the TRI questions after carefully parsing them ahead of time. I was as honest and up front with my bishop as the day is long. It was a great exercise which has blessed me with wonderful fruit.

    God bless you for doing what you do. And Tim, your “fictional” account is heartening.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My own view is that as long as I don’t agree 100% with DS on everything he writes (there are some errors in his beautifully inspiring writings), then I’m not really following him to the degree that I need to say that I am supporting, affiliating, or agreeing with him. I mean, I agree with all kinds of points that all kinds of people make (in and out of the church), but I don’t fully agree with anyone, except for Christ. I don’t pay tithing to DS, and I’m not a member of his church (and therefore offer him no formal support or affiliation). I only read his books/talks, and then talk with the Lord about what he wants me to embrace. I’m ultimately just using DS as a filter to find some good doctrine, and then it’s between me and God. DS isn’t asking anyone to do anything further, is he? Has the Church so indoctrinated us into believing that it is all or nothing, that we feel we have to do the same with inspired teachers?

    Tim, I think the Church needs people like you and me. I’ve talked with the Lord, and he has told me to stay. That may not be the answer everyone receives, but I wouldn’t create an unnecessary situation that will have you removed from the Church, unless the Lord is clearly telling you he wants you to leave in that fashion.

    As DS says in his last post, though, “A true principal in operation in your life may look very different from its operation in mine. Truth may be absolute, but lives are variegated and are lived in context. Hence the absolute requirement for individual revelation to guide each of us.” I wish everyone the best in receiving that individual revelation.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said. I rambled on but you said it as I was trying to. Aggressive religious zealot vs humble follower of God or something in between? God will give us each our directives. It is up to us to receive them and then carry them out without hesitation or fear.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think that if and when I ever do decide to come out of the closet and take issue with the LDS church in public, I will do it in the same way as Denver did, through a public publication. I don’t want to ever try sitting on both sides of the fence in the bishop’s office. If I ever really decide to say it, I will say it all, with as much power and force as possible.

    Tim, this is not meant to be criticism toward you. I see what you are doing as very brave and faithful. I also see it as very stressful and agonizing. Not for me. If I ever come out and say it, I am not going to try to sugar-coat it or be gentle about it; I’m just going to openly state where I stand, what I believe, not trying to preserve my good standing with the church.

    I’m through with fearing man. If I am suddenly targeted for church discipline, so be it. Right now I stay because the Lord wants me to stay, but I do not fear what man can or might do.

    My love and prayers go with you Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The main thing that alarms me with all of these excommunications are those with similar mind sets. I hope that just because there are those under fire from the Church, doesn’t mean that those of similar mind sets should automatically disassociate themselves from the Church (or make any rash decisions). We’re all in different walks of life and The Lord requires different things of us. Thus, everything we do should be aligning our will with His, and under the direction of the Spirit. No new concepts here. Tim, I know from being a reader of your blog that you are driven for direction from the Spirit. I just hope others are as well. It’s just really crazy to see all of this happening. It probably won’t be long before everyone in the Church knows of Denver Snuffer. I just hope the church members are ready for the shaking that’s happening.

    9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Tim… This is the first time I have posted, but I’ve read your blog off and on for some time now and really appreciate your honest and open and thoughtful essays. I can tell we are like minded, which I value, though we may never meet.

    I am a teacher in my EQ, and I recently took strong issue with my assigned lesson in the JFS manual. The testimony that I had to bear could not be reconciled with the content being emphasized in the manual. I usually am able to find some nugget in the lesson that I can focus my comments on, while ignoring stuff that could be considered questionable. That has been my normal strategy. But this particular lesson was so focused on a point that, in my estimation, isn’t scriptural. I couldn’t find a way to bear my testimony and remain in alignment with the manual. This has never happened to me before.

    I felt the Spirit as I pondered and prepared a lesson that allowed me to bear my testimony. But knowing that what I had been inspired to say, while truthful and backed by scripture, could be disruptive to the class. So, in deference to the EQP, I sent him the lesson I had prepared. In response, with only about a day’s notice, he found someone else to teach the lesson, instructed me to not make any ‘contentious remarks’ and then suggested that I just play hooky that day.

    That was followed up by a one on one in which I was given an assignment to research the topics he had identified in order to “help” me come more in alignment with the manual. I try to do what I should, so I followed his advice. What I found is that the scriptures actually support my side of the argument. So I documented my findings – intensely writing for about 2 days and churning out 60 pages quoting supporting scriptures throughout. I sent the first half to my EQP, gently, but directly showing him that the scriptures actually supported what I had to say and not the ideas that the lesson or he promoted.

    He read through what I had sent and identified passages of what I had written and offered up his arguments (which are so easy to discount) and requested that we meet again to ‘discuss.’ That will probably happen in the next few days. And I am left to wonder how it is that I could prepare a lesson as truthfully as I know how, fully supported by the Spirit and the canonized word of God, and still feel like I have to be uber-careful or else risk being called into the office.

    I love the church. It is a MAJOR part of my life and always has been. I have spent my entire life trying to do what I should. I have a very strong testimony. And now I have real concern that, because of the truthful stance I took, my status in the church might be considered to be worthy of scrutiny.

    I only tell you this because, as I read your post, I could see the pattern, which mimics my own. I live about half way around the world from you, and the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture, abound over here too. I keep hearing stories… The divisive nature of truth is causing many to question things they have always taken for granted. I feel, stronger than I ever have, that there are rumblings that we are on the cusp of the reaping.

    Your ‘fictional’ conversation is cut from the same mold as my uncomfortable situation. And I suspect the numbers of similar stories born from that mold are growing all around the world.

    I echo the thought that everyone will be led in what to do if they will only listen to the voice of the Spirit. I am reliant upon that in my situation, and I’m convinced there are many others in the same boat.

    May God give us all the strength to stand for truth in these perilous times!

    Kudos to you for asking questions and causing your readers to think!

    Sincerely,

    Russell

    P.S. I wish I could attend those lectures as well… I am very much looking forward to reading them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Tim I admire you and share your theological difficulties with much of what passes as church “doctrine” .I also am deeply concerned about the misuse of alleged priesthood authority which I see taking place.I was around for the Sept 6 and at least 3 of them were my friends. The way they were treated was reprehensible and i see the same pattern emerging. However this is as much your church and mine as it is your bishops or Thomas Monsons. My family has been in it longer than theirs and i bet you and i have been as devoted as any. My question is why would you voluntarily give a fallible man unwarranted and unjustified and in your case unsolicited power over you. Your recommend is a device that lets you do much good for others. Why would you surrender it we no one wanted to take it from you. Why would you in essence voluntarily subscribe to the proposition that fallible men can exercise unjust dominion based upon faulty theological concepts that probably were originally promulgated by the devil. Origen condemned the unwarranted zealousness that caused early Saints to seek opportunities to be fed to Lions. Are you and your brothers and sisters in Christ benefited by this action. I don’t think so .It seems to me that with every such action the forces of darkness succeed a little more because there is one less faithful Saint who can with moral authority speak out in sacrament meeting and correct error and succor their brothers and sisters in Christ. Obviously we need to follow the Spirit but to give up before the battle even starts does not seem wise to me given the very high stakes which is nothing less than the souls of men

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the diatribe but I really wonder should we as undershepards abandon the sheep or passively surrender to the wolves without a struggle. I recognize that you are still in the fold but it seems to me that you have agreed to try to protect the sheep with one hand tied behind you , You know full well the very soon everyone in the Ward will know what you have done and your moral authority will be lessen in the eyes of those who are most vulnerable. Follow the Spirit and do as it directs but please don’t effectively abandon those who need you most out of an over zealous sense of honesty or a faulty view of what integrity appears to demand . We should follow God and do as he directs rather than worry about the opinions of men.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I know I’ll probably never succeed at making a persuasive case for honesty, but I’m going to continue to try until someone says, “I get it.” So far, very few people “get it.”

    Item 1: We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, etc….

    Item 2: “Are you honest in all your dealings with your fellow man?”

    Item 3: I read material of individuals who have been cast out of this church for apostasy. Whether they are apostates or not is not my place to judge. I only know I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of their writings and have been enlightened with many “ah ha” moments as I have read their stuff.

    Item 4: “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    Item 5: The temple recommend is the property of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and must be surrendered if the individual member does not meet the requirements or qualifications to possess it.

    Item 6: My surrendering the recommend was the right thing to do based on my unwillingness to lie. I will not lie when I answer the affiliation question. I do support, affiliate and agree with the teachings of an individual who has been cast out of this church for apostasy. I can’t be any clearer.

    Item 7: I am not in any way, shape or form, denouncing my membership or apostatizing from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love this church and I love the men who lead it, both local and as General Authorities.

    Item 8: The responsibility to determine my worthiness lies with my bishop and stake president. They are the watchmen in Zion, the common judges in Israel. It is their responsibility to determine if I am worthy of a temple recommend. They are held accountable for their actions, just I am held accountable for my requirement to be honest.

    Item 9: I am NOT a leader in this church. I am a lay member.

    Item 10: We have been asked to be involved in the conversations on the Internet by Elder Ballard, a man I sustain as an apostle of the Lord.

    Item 11: The church has said it is okay to write about our experiences with the church, the gospel and just about anything we want to write about as long as we do it in a prayerful and respectful manner.

    Item 12: I want my temple recommend back. I want to attend the temple. I am willing to do whatever my local leaders counsel me to do short of removing my blog. I have the Lord’s endorsement on that.

    Like

    • What do you mean by “support”?

      What do you mean by “agree”?

      What do you mean by “affiliate with”?

      What are the teachings or practices accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – which solely consists of the scriptures – that those whom you support, agree with, or affiliate with, teach contrary to, or are opposed to?

      I “get it” in the sense that using certain definitions of these words, you would be justified in answering Item 4 with a “yes.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • … well, the accepted teachings are solely the scriptures.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Log is right. This isn’t about scrupulous honesty ( the kind God requires not men) but about mans erroneous interpretation of gospel principles and teaching precepts of men mingled with scripture as the truth. We should fear God not false traditions and the opinions of men. Don’t fall into the trap that fallible men lacking divine inspiration have been complicit in setting for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Incidentally I “get it” too.But if you let fallible men twist the ground rules for determining what honesty is we are in trouble

        Liked by 1 person

      • The teachings and practices of the Church encompass a heck of a lot besides the scriptures, regardless of whether those teachings and practices contradict the scriptures, like the recent lesson #11 in the RS/EQ manual that I found extremely frustrating. I’m going to have to side with Tim on this one. I believe the actual intent of this question, regardless if you personally parse it otherwise, is to determine whether you are a correlateable mormon. I don’t think my conscience will let me get away with answering no next time I’m asked, although I don’t personally feel I need to go schedule an appointment with my branch president to discuss it.

        This goes along with some thoughts I posted on my blog this morning. (I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to do with the blog, but felt I needed to start documenting things I figure out)):

        http://scoaladeduminica.blogspot.ro/2014/06/an-alternate-interpretation-of-mosiah.html

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Church has accepted the scriptures by common consent. The Church has not accepted any other body of teachings by common consent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Support - Some of my friends have been excommunicated, or had their temple recommends pulled or been told they must stop blogging or they will be excommunicated. I am willing to bear my friend’s burdens, that they may be light. I am willing to mourn with my friends who mourn over being rejected and cast off from this church. I am willing to comfort my friends that stand in need of comfort because they have been or will soon be cast off from this church.

        Agree – I find a lot of truth in the things I have read from certain former members of this church who have now been cast off. I agree with many of the things they have written. Yet the church says they teach false doctrine. I disagree. I believe the things they teach are more perfectly aligned with the doctrine of Jesus Christ than what we currently teach in this church. Does that make me an apostate because of my beliefs?

        Affiliate with – I intend to attend lectures presented by one of those former LDS members who has been cast off for apostasy. I very much look forward to getting to feel of his spirit and make a better determination for myself of his honesty, integrity and if what he is teaching squares with what I believe. And guess what? Not everything that is taught has to be in the scriptures. I believe some things that are not provable by the scriptures – or at least in the way the church has and does interpret them. MMP for example, but let’s not go there.

        So, yes, I do support, affiliate with and agree with some of the teachings of an excommunicated man cast off in fear and anger by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, I have gone so far as to say he is a prophet and I have no problem with making that statement – again. For those who have read my blog, this is not new. It is scriptural and anybody who is honest knows it is. The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. I know it when I hear it. I’ve heard it on recorded CDs and look forward to hearing it in person next month.

        Like

      • Log: The church, by common consent, also accepted the Lectures on Faith as part of the doctrine of the church. They were withdrawn from our scriptures by committee, but never voted on by the church. I still accept them as binding doctrine.

        Like

  14. Boo: I have not shared before but feel prompted to share now, what happened on that first occasion I practiced the true order of prayer in my home. I asked some very specific questions about my standing before the Lord as well as offering Him – again – everything I possess. I know I have already made that covenant but you see, that covenant was changed by the church so I wanted to make it with the Lord.

    He accepted my offering and made it clear in no uncertain terms I was loved, forgiven, had been baptized of the spirit and received the Holy Ghost. He brought those occasions to my mind just to make sure we were both clear on when they had occurred earlier in my life. He then poured forth a measure of his love I have NEVER felt before as a sure witness he had accepted of my offering and would direct me as I asked.

    He then asked me to search my feelings about the temple recommend questions and, knowing I would be meeting with the bishop in a few days for our next scheduled interview, he asked me to do what I felt was right. I pondered and struggled with that. I fasted and prayed. I wrestled with the Lord. Finally, I came to peace and knew what the Lord was asking me to do. I concluded to turn in my recommend.

    It is not men that are determining what it means to be honest, it is the Lord. I knew what I needed to do. I reiterate: Because I love my Bishop and Stake President I was hesitant to put them in this position. But in order to be obedient, I wrote the post “Allow me the Agency of my Doubts,” which should have been entitled, “Please Allow me the Freedom to Have Questions.” I did what I did to obey the Lord.

    What it comes down to now is this: Will my Bishop and Stake President judge me as one who has broken or not kept his temple covenants and keep the recommend for a season while they counsel me? I would be pleased with that wise decision and do all I could to change what they feel I need to change. I trust them both. I believe they have some sort of keys, whether we define them the same or not. I want their counsel.

    On the other hand, perhaps the Stake President will say, “Tim, you are being a stubborn fool, making a mountain out of a molehill and causing distress and embarrassment for you, for us, for your ward members, for our stake and everyone who loves you. Why did you do this? It couldn’t have been inspired of the Lord. We now very well may need to hold a disciplinary council to determine if this constitutes an act of apostasy.”

    And you know what? I would support that course of action as well. I have prepared for it intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. I know it would be hard on my wife, but so far, she has agreed to stand by me and has reiterated her promise to attend Denver’s lectures in Las Vegas and St George or at least to meet him. She may walk out of his lectures, but at least she will have met the man. I’m OK with that.

    Don’t assume that what I do is all of my own ideas. I like to think I’m a smart guy but I do all within my power to submit my will to the Lord’s. When I ask people for feedback and they respond, “Tim, if you don’t feel sure of yourself, then you are probably in the wrong.” I suspect it doesn’t appear obvious to some people as it does to me, that what I write is as much a test to see how they will respond as it is for me.

    God, I hope this comes across as humble and not arrogant. God bless.

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  15. Support – Some of my friends have been excommunicated, or had their temple recommends pulled or been told they must stop blogging or they will be excommunicated. I am willing to bear my friend’s burdens, that they may be light. I am willing to mourn with my friends who mourn over being rejected and cast off from this church. I am willing to comfort my friends that stand in need of comfort because they have been or will soon be cast off from this church.

    Do you feel that what the temple recommend question requires is that we break the Savior’s commandments? (3 Nephi 12:44, inter alia) Because that is the logical end of that line of reasoning if we construe “support” as you have.

    Agree – I find a lot of truth in the things I have read from certain former members of this church who have now been cast off. I agree with many of the things they have written. Yet the church says they teach false doctrine. I disagree. I believe the things they teach are more perfectly aligned with the doctrine of Jesus Christ than what we currently teach in this church. Does that make me an apostate because of my beliefs?

    Has the Church (priesthood hierarchy, in context) specified what, exactly, they teach that is false? I’ve looked for that with respect to PTHG, but not found it (Christensen’s latest article at the Interpreter seems to concede a major point of contention about PTHG). If not, then we’re back to where I started – do you (or they) agree with or teach things that contradict the scriptures, which themselves comprise the sole official teachings of the Church? The fact that someone of whatever calling says such-and-such contradicts the teachings of the Church doesn’t make it so.

    Affiliate with – I intend to attend lectures presented by one of those former LDS members who has been cast off for apostasy. I very much look forward to getting to feel of his spirit and make a better determination for myself of his honesty, integrity and if what he is teaching squares with what I believe. And guess what? Not everything that is taught has to be in the scriptures. I believe some things that are not provable by the scriptures – or at least in the way the church has and does interpret them. MMP for example, but let’s not go there.

    Affiliate means to formally align oneself, or to join with in an organization, in context. And neither oxygen nor America are mentioned in the scriptures – so nobody requires that you limit yourself to only believing things that are explicitly stated in the scriptures.

    So, yes, I do support, affiliate with and agree with some of the teachings of an excommunicated man cast off in fear and anger by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, I have gone so far as to say he is a prophet and I have no problem with making that statement – again. For those who have read my blog, this is not new. It is scriptural and anybody who is honest knows it is. The testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. I know it when I hear it. I’ve heard it on recorded CDs and look forward to hearing it in person next month.

    I have no problem saying I believe him to be a prophet, on the balance of the evidence – do you do more or less?

    And I agree with whoever agrees with the word of God – whether in or out of the Church – and I disagree with whoever disagrees with the word of God – whether in or out of the Church – do you do more or less?

    I affiliate with no organization which opposes the Church or its accepted teachings – do you do more or less?

    I support all according to the commandments of the Savior, but that is, in context, not what is meant by “support” in the question (reduction to the absurd eliminates that conclusion) – do you do more or less?

    Log: The church, by common consent, also accepted the Lectures on Faith as part of the doctrine of the church. They were withdrawn from our scriptures by committee, but never voted on by the church. I still accept them as binding doctrine.

    All the doctrine in them comes straight out of the other scriptures anyways, so there is no conflict there.

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  16. I can’t argue with you, Log and I won’t. I hold you in too high esteem as a friend. Besides, you can out-logic me anytime. I don’t work strictly on logic, nor do I work strictly on the scriptures. My feelings weigh heavily on my decision-making process, and, frankly, I admit, I am also at times, impulsive, acting based on a gut feeling and on experience.

    Perhaps turning in my recommend was impulsive, but it wasn’t done without much thought and prayer, considering how it would affect others, in spite of what some of my extended family members and former associates in leadership positions have said. I knew it would be taken wrong, be misunderstood and hurt some people I love.

    But I refuse to accept the argument some have used, “Well, nobody keeps the word of wisdom perfectly – so many are overweight as a result – so should they say they no that that question?” Honesty and Integrity in this question is an issue for me because of my efforts to follow Elder Ballard’s counsel to be an active blogger in the church.

    I could make it a lot clearer and easier if I were to share a post based on what Jared has suggested above – to simply come out and be bold in openly declaring where I stand, what I believe and not try to preserve my good standing with the church.” If I were to declare what I really believe, it would be contrary to acceptable church doctrine and established history – the traditional narrative we all have been taught.

    That’s not what the Lord has asked of me right now. He DOES want me to work with my local leaders and do all within my power to preserve my standing with the church (it may not be so good any more). And Jared also freely admits the Lord has asked him to remain in the church for now. That is also my position. I want to work it out.

    Jared’s words: “Tim, this is not meant to be criticism toward you. I see what you are doing as very brave and faithful. I also see it as very stressful and agonizing. Not for me. If I ever come out and say it, I am not going to try to sugar-coat it or be gentle about it; I’m just going to openly state where I stand, what I believe, not trying to preserve my good standing with the church.” I thank you for the observation, Jared.

    I hope that all goes well on Tuesday. My Stake President has asked me to keep my conversations with him and the Bishop private. I want to honor and respect that wish. There will be no detailed report of what we talk about although I may report on things in general, round-about terms. I will accept whatever they council about the “right” way to answer the affiliation question based on my current understanding.

    Thanks Log. You always get me thinking.

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    • No worries on my end, Tim; your course is your own choice. My ideal may not be everyone’s ideal, but all things are possible to them who believe (Mark 9:23).

      You’re going to have to do more work to make a convincing apostate of yourself.

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    • As I should have expected Log has articulated my view on most of these issues more than adequately, I can only add Denvers observation that “any true doctrine (scrupulous or zealous honesty in this case) or principal can be used for evil, oppression and excess”. We need to get our own revelation to learn to deal with those who would oppress or exercise unrighteous dominion. I am delighted you have made the effort to do so ( ironic isn’t it your use of the true order of prayer violates church policy but that is another discussion). Our prayers are with you and we will pray especially for your bishop and stake president that they will have the guidance to deal with a problem not of their making. We love you and may God bless you.

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  17. You know, that has always resonated with me since after my mission. There was an unfortunate incident when a very dear person left the Church during my mission, and started advocating stuff that I believe you’d consider straight-up anti-mormon stuff. So I still affiliated, well, socialised at least with this person, but didn’t agree with the propaganda that this person distributed. I asked my SP after my mission when I realised how far it had gone, and he said not to worry.

    Anyway, zooming to this day, there are people who’ve left the Church or have been excommunicated (and let’s agree that we never know more than what the person in question wants to publicise), who sometimes raise good questions, but at the same time, I believe I’ve got intellectually honest answers from a faithful perspective. That stands as it is, and I believe my biggest handicap is that I sometimes use language that is questionable, but I put that to my quick temper.

    I’ve seen some crazy situations, and I tend to judge bad things when I see them. But more often I remember, that I am not the judge of this world and its inhabitants. I’m barely on my own clay feet, because despite feeling the Spirit in my life, I acutely feel my weakness and flaws, so I withhold judgement.

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