Questions on LDS Blogging and Apostasy

StatementOnApostasyIn response to the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women, and the pending disciplinary actions against John Dehlin, and Rock Waterman, The Office of the First Presidency issued a statement on apostasy today. As an active LDS Blogger, I am especially interested in this clarifying message positioned as “Addressing Doctrine and Questions.”

Statement from The First Presidency

“In God’s plan for the happiness and eternal progression of His children, the blessings of His priesthood are equally available to men and women. Only men are ordained to serve in priesthood offices. All service in the Church has equal merit in the eyes of God.

“We express profound gratitude for the millions of Latter-day Saint women and men who willingly and effectively serve God and His children. Because of their faith and service, they have discovered that the Church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth.

“We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding.

“We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them. Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy.

“Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine.”

Applying This Statement to LDS Bloggers

While the First Presidency statement is helpful and provides additional clarification to what is found in the handbook, I still find myself uncertain how it applies to me and other LDS bloggers. I met recently with my Stake President and Bishop to review my own blogging activities, which contain questions about LDS history and doctrine, and my attempts to find satisfying answers.

Blog Readers Not Followers in This Context

In the blogging world, readers are sometimes called followers. I have thousands of readers who receive my posts each time I publish. In some of my posts, questions about doctrine, history or practice go unanswered, with open invitations for my readers to offer their thoughts, opinions, ideas and related quotes. I don’t teach doctrine on my blog. I seek answers to honest questions.

Attending Lectures From Cast-off Members

I traveled to Utah to attend a lecture today delivered by a man some LDS members have called a messenger or servant or even a prophet of God. The lecture was the seventh in a series of ten lectures in a series entitled “Forty Years in Mormonism.” Denver Snuffer was excommunicated for apostasy by the LDS church last year exactly forty years to the day after he was baptized.

Desire to Understand Denver’s Message

This is the first of his lectures I was able to attend in person because it coincided with a planned trip to Utah to attend Carol’s family reunion. I am extremely grateful to Carol, who, knowing how much I wanted to attend this lecture on the Savior, surprised me by arranging a rental car for me to travel down to the lecture in the morning and still attend the reunion in the afternoon.

Sharing Ideas of Those Excommunicated

Because I find Denver Snuffer’s books, blog postings and lectures so fascinating, I share much of what he has shared, usually with additional thought about how it applies to me or to anyone who is serious about his primary subject, which is to receive the Savior while yet in mortality. Inasmuch as he has been excommunicated, does my sharing of his ideas constitute apostasy?

Other Bloggers Disciplined For Sharing

I continue to ask this question specifically because of the recent cases of Brent Larsen and Will Carter, two LDS bloggers excommunicated for writing about Denver’s message on their own blogs. If members are “always free to ask questions as they seek greater understanding,” and “asking questions has never constituted apostasy,” why were Brent and Will excommunicated?

Consideration of Specific Open Cases

You’ll have to decide for yourself if Kate Kelly’s action constituted advocacy that went beyond asking questions. John Dehlin’s case has been “de-escalated.”  He will be meeting with his Stake President this weekend. Can John’s Advocacy for greater kindness toward LGBT members be called apostasy? Rock’s case is open. He has been told to stop his blogging activities or resign.

Advocacy, Criticism, Doctrine and Questions

Without arguing the merits of their ideas or causes, I see advocacy in Kate’s and John’s cases. But what about Rock’s criticism of church practices? There is no advocacy there that I can find. As far as I can tell, his local priesthood leaders simply don’t like the criticism. Is that a just cause to ask him to stop blogging, resign or face disciplinary action? Do you see advocacy on his blog?

Bloggers are Targets for Public Opposition

Of course, advocacy is not the only criteria to judge apostasy. There is also the public opposition clause to consider. Before Denver was excommunicated last year, I posted dozens of positive things I found in his books and on his blog that demonstrated his support for the church. I was amazed by the number of opponents who said they found just as many that opposed the church.

Blogging in a Search for Clarification

When I asked for details, one or two readers shared a few quotes they considered to fall into the category of public opposition. I disagreed. I felt they were simply items of fact from our history. Inasmuch as I continue to assert my belief that Denver is indeed an inspired messenger from the Lord, acting as His servant and thus a prophet, am I an apostate because I also blog about it?

Seeking definitions of Some Key Words

I am not advocating anyone follow me or Denver. I am not teaching doctrine. I am asking a few questions and seeking clarifications on some key words. What is a messenger? Can the Lord send us messengers from outside the church hierarchy? Can a man be a servant of the Lord without being a member of the LDS Church? Are there other prophets besides “The” prophet?

Blogging is Usually a Public Activity

Is blogging considered public opposition by its very nature? The church asked us to be involved in the public discourse. We have been asked to let our voices be heard online. What if some of the voices are not quite in harmony with the standard historical narrative? In recent years the church has rescinded or corrected key elements of our history. The church has admitted error.

Blogging is All About Open Dialog

I’ll finish this post with two thoughts. First, I’m not criticizing the church, its faithful leaders, the doctrine, history or practices. I am simply asking a few open-ended questions. I appreciate and accept answers from all readers. I seek my own answers in the scriptures, books and online sources. But I would be a fool to ignore the extremely valuable resource of thousands of readers.

Receive the Words of a True Messenger

Second, I am serious about answering those questions about Denver. He says he is not important. I disagree. In my lifetime, I have never heard a message so clearly from anyone like what Denver has shared. It has always been there in the scriptures. In the three hour lecture today, the great majority of what I heard came from scripture or from doctrine found in the Lectures on Faith.

The Lord Defines a Prophet, Not the Church

Why in the world would the LDS Church cast out a prophet sent from the Lord with a message intended for our salvation and benefit? According to the Statement from the First Presidency today, I am entitled to ask this question. What I heard today was true doctrine. It inspired me. It increased my desire to come unto Christ. For this good thing, the LDS Church has cast him out?

48 comments
laruebrough
laruebrough

Tim, inasmuch as you like to read and review books, read the Harbinger by Jonathon Cahn. He is a messianic Jew. Not a member of the Church, but nevertheless a true messenger !,

Surf40
Surf40

Tim, it was never the “asking questions” that was a problem; it was the “Getting Answers” that will get you in trouble. Because there are no “correlated” answers to the questions you are asking, it will only lead to trouble when, after you ask the question, and the church has no answer, you come up with your own. Therein lies the problem.

Linda
Linda

Dear Tim, I hope this is the correct place for this comment. If not, please place it where it should go. For years I have been concerned that church leadership treats peoples' church memberships too lightly. Too quick to excommunicate, to throw the baby out with the bath water. I recall many years ago, exclaiming to my husband that the sweet missionaries work so very patiently with investigators to shepherd them into the waters of baptism; sometimes making great personal emotional and spiritual sacrifice to coax investigators to gain for themselves a testimony of this gospel and of this church; only to have the investigator balk at the last minute, or soon after baptism become inactive, and forfeit the temple recommend and the critically important endowment covenant. After all of this difficult work to teach and to coax, then sometimes as members, we ignore the new converts until they leave to seek real fellowship elsewhere, or we criticize them for bringing their traditions with them from other churches. It is so sad that we sometimes think that everyone else's depth of membership experience or/and knowledge of the church doctrine is at the same level as ours and therefore, needs no additional tender care. After all of this labor intensive work to bring new members into the church, and it seems we excuse them from membership in the church with the slightest drop of the hat. Did we ever really value them as sons and daughters of God the Father in the first place? Is it their fault that they aren't stalwart members after a mere few months in the church organization? Where was their support? People I know have been casted out of their families for joining the church; so, who supports their brave decisions to be baptized? How stalwart would you or I be without the support of those who know us best? The process dealing with excommunication should be similar to that of a divorce. It was relatively easy to get married--set the date and get the necessary paperwork done in advance. But to undo a marriage is a lengthy process, with many requirements which must be met beforehand. Counseling for both parties, individually and as a couple. Consider the effect upon the children, if there are children. What of finances? Who pays for what? Can the marriage be salvaged? It sometimes takes a year or more to finalize a divorce. Why the rush to excommunicate church members, especially those who have some depth of gospel knowledge and depth of gospel experience? It appears to me to be a strenuous process to get into the church -- and ZAP! you're out like turning off a light with the flip of a switch. This appears to be just the opposite of the civil marriage and divorce. Why? Isn't the church membership of others worth fighting for? Are our local church leaders not interested in keeping its members on the "good list"? Remember that it took a whole lot of work to get them into the church in the first place. What's the rush? I must admit to being greatly disappointed because of how lightly some leaders treat the church memberships of others. I have also been disappointed in not only church leadership, but in the general membership as well in the area of the working of miracles. Reading personal diaries of early church members showed a lot of miracles taking place on a frequent basis. Spontaneous healing when given a priesthood blessing, etc. Polynesian children raised from the dead; sight and hearing bequeathed to others. People with infirmities healed on the spot, etc. Even cattle healed by the power of a child's prayer, for Goodness' Sake! The best we can come up with today is the oft-repeated story of Pres. Monson going to the Deseret Gym because of a prompting, when one of his acquaintances was sorely despondent? Once as a young child, as we were away from our house working in the family garden plot. It was a warm day, and my brother, about 6 years of age at the time, was thirsty. We had brought no water with us, and the little "wet-weather spring" near the garden spot had dried up. So he knelt beside the spring and prayed for water. Immediately the soil became damp and soon the little spring produced enough water for all four of us to have all the water we wanted to drink on that occasion. Have miracles ceased among the rank and file of the church? Or are we just not hearing about them? And my other disappointment is with the "egg-shell-walking" our church leadership must to do maintain the "tax-free" status of the church. But I am ready to hear not only preached from the pulpit how we must get back to the Sacred Constitutional form of government and rein in all of the unlawful statutes which encumber and hobble a once free and proud people; but more importantly it must be preached from the pulpit that we discourage our young men from serving in the US military or gaining employment in any of the government's spy agencies. It must be preached and become common knowledge that we individually and as a church abhor war. How can we entertain thoughts of killing and oppressing our brothers and sisters in other lands and think that it doesn't affect our spiritual sensitivities? We as a nation, and as LDS people, have become callous and uncaring as we imagine that war is what other people put up with; but just because war isn't on our doorstep doesn't mean that we are exempt from the searing of our consciences. People, innocent people, are injured, killed, and placed in heart-wrenching, devastating circumstances because we so blythly defend going to war against a vast number of countries who've not even threatened to attack our country. In the Book of Mormon we are taught that we must NOT go up into the Lamanite's land and attack them or else the Lord will not favor us, and we will deserve being defeated. We should, instead, work every angle in order to have ways open up for us to preach the gospel to them. To bring their delightful souls to God rather than to send their murdered and starved souls to the grave. I know it must break our General Authorities' hearts to know that the US military are bombing countries back into the stone-age, but where is church leadership on this matter? Where are the bold defenders of the defenseless? Why is this not ringing from every pulpit in the land and from every chapel's steeple? Instead we get some milk-toast response that it's okay to go to war to defend some other nation. WHAT?!!! I say we provide an example of righteous living, and let the other nations see by our good example that the Lord will protect those who love the Lord and serve His children with loving kindness. Am I disappointed with the leadership of the church? Yes. Because they are living so far beneath their potential, and therefore setting a very poor example for the church membership. This is Jesus Christ's own church. Should we not be manifesting miracles and love for ALL of our fellow beings? I wonder if He is disappointed with what scant evidence there is for calling ourselves His disciples?

kathryn
kathryn

In response to Geoff observation... "Prophets, priesthood, and keys – touch upon them at your own risk." I would like to add this commentary... at my own risk. I found something interesting when I went to LDS.com for information for a class I was teaching. This comes from class manual: Gospel Principles Chapter 9 Prophets of God. “A prophet is a man called by God to be His representative on earth. When a prophet speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking (see D&C 1:38).” When I looked up the scripture, the above quote was not there. It was an interpretation of what was there. Could the scripture be interpreted in a different way? Is it possible that the word “servants” could be "inspired men" other than the proclaimed Prophet? (just asking) Look at this definition. The Hebrew word of the Old Testament that is translated as "prophet" is pronounced naw-bee. It means an inspired speaker, as in an in-spirit-ed speaker. The key to knowing whether a prophet is of the LORD, or not, is to recognize what spirit the prophet is inspired by - the Holy Spirit of God, or the spirit of Satan.
 The Hebrew definition certainly leaves room for an Abinadi in our day. I can’t find the quote, but Joseph was not intimidated by those who received and shared insight. Let me make it clear... I believe the brethren are prophets. However, I think they may have pushed themselves into a corner by frequently making using of quotes such as the one below. (which is on the bottom of the lesson - Prophets of God.) It suggests one voice and he will not lead us astray. The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], 199). There are many other quotes that make the opposite point of view very clear. Joseph Smith: "We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them -- even if they knew it was wrong. But such obedience as this is worse than folly to us. It is slavery in the extreme. The man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings until he turns from his folly.
 "A man of God would despise this idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions.
 "When Elders [leaders] of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they [the leaders] have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves. -- Joseph Smith, Jr. Millennial Star, Archive Volume 14, Number 38, Pages 593-595 Brigham Young: "I have often said to the Latter-day Saints-- Live so that you will know whether I teach you the truth or not. 
 Suppose you are careless and unconcerned, and give way to the spirit of the world, and I am led, likewise to preach the things of this world and to accept things that are NOT of God, how easy it would be for me to lead you astray! But I say to you, live so that you will know for yourselves whether I tell the truth or not. That is the way we want all Saints to live." (Brigham Young, JD 18:248) 
 I like this caution because it puts the responsibility right back on us to be close enough to the spirit to identify truth no matter who says it... whether it's The Prophet, Denver, or anyone else. I found many additional statements from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young voicing caution concerning this issue. The brethren are not perfect. Pres. Uchtdorf acknowledged this in a Oct., 2013 conference address: And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine. I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes. I applaud his statement. It opens the door for correction to doctrine as well as policy, if they will take it. To quote a friend from another blog....

The "establishment" whether it be religious or political or academic, or whatever, hinders progress, rather than supporting it.  So embracing "greater things" almost of necessity means going "outside the box", to push the envelope into new areas, and being viewed as a maverick.  I have found that when it comes to religion, the higher understandings are encoded for those who have eyes to see, while allowing those who refuse to see plenty of excuses to linger behind.  Those who are ready to grow, do so, and those who are not, don't.  We live in exciting times... and even with all the turmoil, it may serve a good purpose. It can shake us to study and dig deeper for a greater witness of the gospel of Christ and membership... if we so choose.

T.R. Repo
T.R. Repo

the catch all cya phrase- "or practice". A practice can be anything and doesn't have to originate from truce doctrine or revelation

marginalizedmormon
marginalizedmormon

@karl, I did it again; I got adamant and intense and left words on a page, and now I have to apologize. *head/desk* I have been led by the Spirit to the Book of Mormon and to read Daymon Smith's books-- I am very sympathetic to Denver Snuffer and his plight; I think the way he was treated was outrageous. I have read his blog a few times lately, and he seems very reasonable. I am uncomfortable with anyone who measures another's righteousness according to whether or not he/she has seen the Savior, so I am a little . . . wary there. I am not in Utah or anywhere near Utah and I have no desire to be anywhere near Utah nor any capacity to be anywhere near Utah, so lectures are out of the question. Daymon puts his books online for free for a Book of Mormon reading project. Years before I heard of him, I was told to study the Book of Mormon and leave the bible and other scriptures (goodness knows I had read them plenty of times) alone-- Nobody can see into my heart, but my outburst, again, was not necessary-- I know new/other books are mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and so you are very right-- but the real problem isn't that people think we have enough scriptures; it is that they aren't reading the Book of Mormon we've been given which makes us such a blessed people, to have that book.

Tim Malone
Tim Malone

Thanks to everyone who participated in this dialog and added to my understanding and perception of the church's statement on apostasy. I suspect blogging is perplexing to some of the Brethren - the wild open freedom of expressing your thoughts without any concern for being called to task for pondering with fingers on keys. Many of the thoughts expressed here have helped solidify my growing concern that blogging by LDS members which is questioning or not written specifically with the intent of presenting the same material found on lds.org or other official church sites is frowned upon by leaders, both local and general, even though the press release says otherwise. God bless you each for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.

Geoff
Geoff

The joint statement, of The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, does give me some hope in that these issues are reaching their attention; also that this is an official response and not just PR agents. I hope that all these situations continue to prompt the brethren to listen, study, ponder, and pray about these things, to seek the Lord’s will as Alma did in Mosiah 26. I pray for them. I am sure they are concerned about the epidemic of “apostasy” that is occurring and spreading, the whole spectrum of it. I think Annalea’s distinctions between heresy and apostasy are correct, and that they’ve been conflated in our time and church culture, but it is what it is now. These 3 paragraphs do provide some insight and guidance for us as things currently stand, although they leave many questions unanswered - hopefully it will continue to unfold positively. We understand that from time to time Church members will have questions about Church doctrine, history, or practice. Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding. We feel special concern, however, for members who distance themselves from Church doctrine or practice and, by advocacy, encourage others to follow them. Simply asking questions has never constituted apostasy. Apostasy is repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its faithful leaders, or persisting, after receiving counsel, in teaching false doctrine. My hope is that this public, joint statement will establish that asking questions and seeking greater understanding, even publicly, should be allowed and should not be construed as apostasy. If local leaders just get that part of the message, it could drastically improve things for our public discourse and freedom to express and explore, but it will also undoubtedly help the Church’s public image. I also hope that all these circumstances render the Strengthening the Members or Strengthening Church Members Committee - STMC or SCMC, whatever their official designation - out of existence. What a PR/media disaster it has been and will continue to be if it continues to function like a gestapo. I hope this June 11th press release marks the end of the SCMC and any form of "top-down” church discipline: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-church-discipline-questions In these rare cases, local leaders have the responsibility to clarify false teachings and prevent other members from being misled. Decisions are made by local leaders and not directed or coordinated by Church headquarters. Actions to address a person’s membership and standing in their congregation are convened after lengthy periods of counseling and encouragement to reconsider behavior. Ultimately, the door is always open for people to return to the Church. This June 22nd press release also contains some helpful guidance about the current climate: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-says-everyone-welcome-room-for-questions In the Church, we want everyone to feel welcome, safe and valued, and of course, there is room to ask questions. But how we ask is just as important as what we ask. We should not try to dictate to God what is right for His Church. We don’t know all the particulars of Denver’s, Brent’s, and Will’s cases, for example, and neither do they - it doesn’t sound like their local leaders shared all their reasons for excommunicating them, which just seems terribly unfair. The 70 which interviewed Brent said they didn’t just ex Denver because he wouldn’t recall Passing the Heavenly Gift, that it was a combination of things. My observation, in connection with the forgoing quoted statements from the church, is that those who are being punished aren’t just publicly questioning with a tone of sincerity - the “how we ask is just as important as what we ask” - they are publicly stating or proposing ideas of “thus is so” or “thus is not so” on certain topics which are contrary to current church teaching. But it’s really hard to say when someone is exploring a topic hypothetically or theoretically as part of their questioning approach. Which brings me to a huge fulcrum and unanswered point: what is church doctrine? That may seem like a dumb question if you’re a traditional/orthodox member, but look at how many times it is mentioned in the foregoing statements. How are we to know what is safe ground? Publicly teaching “false doctrine” or contrary to “church doctrine” is grounds for excommunication for apostasy. Well, what is the difference between current church teachings, policies, and practices and church doctrine? Is every opinion or interpretation offered in General Conference true church doctrine? Is everything we do in the church and how we do it doctrine? What is our doctrine and where is it clearly defined? Standard Works? Church Handbook? Maybe it would help to define our core teachings as doctrines and differentiate that from other more peripheral teachings, interpretations, traditions, history, ideas, practices, policies, etc. It would sure make me feel safer. Brent was excommunicated, as far as I can tell, for stating on a blog that he believed Denver was “a prophet”, a true messenger from the Lord, not one who held any keys or church authority, not one who had to be sustained or followed, more like an Abinadi, from outside the hierarchy. That publicly stated belief was judged to be false doctrine and the penalty was swift and sure excommunication. Denver’s “false doctrine” appeared to be his thesis in Passing the Heavenly Gift that the “fulness of the priesthood” (D&C 124:28) was not restored in the 1840’s prior to or following Joseph’s/Hyrum’s deaths; that the Nauvoo temple was never truly completed or accepted of the Lord (D&C 124:31-44); and that the Latter-day saints were moved out of their place (D&C 124:45) as a result, etc. He proposed that we lost something, keys or something, in that set of events that was not passed on and carried west by Brigham Young and his brethren. Heresy for sure: Heresy is any provocative belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. A heretic is a proponent of such claims or beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion. Annalea’s got me looking up definitions now. Anyway, Denver got ex’d for publishing that view of our history, or rather refusing to stop publishing it, which touched one of our sacred cows, priesthood and keys. He believes it is true. Will still doesn’t know why he was excommunicated really, but it’s probably similar to Brent's. Bottom line is the church apparently doesn’t want heretics and is quite serious about it. So one has to weigh one’s heretical thoughts and beliefs, and how one expresses them publicly, against one’s membership, or temple recommend. And you better not declare that you think or believe Denver Snuffer might be "a prophet.” Tim, apparently your California local leaders are much more tolerant than their Utah counterparts because you would be ex’d if you lived in Denver’s, Brent’s, or Will’s stakes. Denver never asked anyone to testify of him, did he? “Prophet” is another one of our sacred cows apparently. Prophets, priesthood, and keys - touch upon them at your own risk. Maybe things will change over time, but for now it seems like you have to be careful what and how you ask if you want to avoid punishment. Denver posted this on the anniversary of Joseph’s and Hyrum’s martyrdom, June 27th - I leave it to you all to judge and interpret: http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2014/06/today-joseph-and-hyrum-died.html It is true I wrote a book. But the book is overpriced to discourage its purchase. It is not easily available, not advertised, not promoted and I've never handed it out to anyone. I think it is true. But it was written to help, not hurt. I think it does help. I believe Joseph and Hyrum died in a worthy cause. I think the energy and light that exploded onto the world through Joseph Smith's ministry has powered the LDS Church since his passing. Joseph's profound effect was so great that, even in the absence of any leader even a fraction of Joseph's stature, the LDS Church has been able to amass followers and do some considerable good. The absence of another leader like Joseph has slowed the momentum, and now the energy is almost entirely gone. But that does not change the goodness yet to be found inside the LDS Church still. The forces who are in control of the organization are working harder to stifle what little light that still remains. But those who see this should not desert the battlefield. Stay and testify to what you know to be right. Fight against the darkness. You can be holy even if those around you are not. Read the circumstances in which Mormon and his son Moroni lived. We have not yet fallen to that state. There are problems to be sure. Why run from them? Why not confront them by your quiet example, your goodness and firm testimony of truth? Why not bring to the attention of others what they have not yet noticed on their own? If they cast you out, then it is their doing, not yours. Let them be the aggressor, and you stay true to the Lord and His path. It is better to offend them by your example of righteousness than to take offense at their example of unrighteousness. Christ is your example.

MH
MH

On the topic of questions... When someone close to me was recently interviewed for her temple recommend, the stake presidency counselor who interviewed her informed her that the question about affiliating with apostates is going to be changed in the next couple months, to become more "specific" and "in-depth"... I don't know if the new question is merely supposed to correct the abysmal wording of the current question, or as "in-depth" implies, if it is meant to begin culling out all the non-correlated membership... MH

Velska
Velska

As a bit of a heretic myself, or at least a person who likes to question, I am somewhat worried, that we should go to the sources on these kinds of questions. I have seen at least two different pdf files purporting to be Church statements, that used language that was obviously not originated from the First Presidency and the 12. So, I'm keeping my eyes open, my mind and heart also. I'm troubled by questions that seem to presume circumstances, about which we have no public knowledge. Withholding my judgement and trying to "be still" so that I might know where to go. P.S. I've always enjoyed your blog. I don't think you've been even heretical, heterodox or anything. Anyway, I thought our Church to be putting the emphasis on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.

dan
dan

Tim...it was so nice to see you at Ephriam. I wanted so much to introduce myself and chat but felt you needed to maintain a low profile. I commend you for your work in asking questions and blogging about current events. You have helped my testimony be strengthened in many ways. Glad Carol is so nice to you! See you in Vegas.

marginalizedmormon
marginalizedmormon

Today in church a new man spoke, and he had the 'way' with him. A 'friend' (who is really quite a superficial friend and loves to drop names; yes, she does--she really does and does it all the time) said, "oh, he sounds just like a general authority!"-- And she went up and gushed at him about having the spirit, but it wasn't the spirit; it was his method of delivery and his mastery over his voice. *sigh* Not the spirit. Yes, loyalty to the 'brethren' above all else. Above loyalty to Jesus Christ. And loyalty isn't even something Jesus demands us-- Well, it's not found in the Book of Mormon. Jesus asks us to let Him heal us, to let Him guide us, for us to worship Him enough that He can heal us and then we can follow Him. That's how I see it anyway-- No human can do that for us. And--through Joseph Smith he gave us the Book of Mormon, which 150 years of Mormons managed to water down and dilute, because it was all about Jesus, and that was an uncomfortable topic, because we should be focusing on the 'church'-- Now *we* are supposed to focus on conference talks. *sigh* This is what I perceive as I have watched the 'church' for decades. It is becoming more like this; it has been gradual, perhaps, but it is moving away from the profound and central truth of Jesus Christ towards faith in an organization-- so sad-- and as for 'rejoicing' over how Kate Kelly was treated, most of my LDS friends are-- and I feel very sad; I mourn. I knew that I felt differently from them, but this has created a huge gulf. The only 'safe' place is my family and the family of one of my siblings. We are 'it'. And they live far from us-- far. But we talk on the phone. Yesterday my husband and brother in law had to talk about this; they are the only ones they can talk to.

Michael A. Cleverly
Michael A. Cleverly

How kind of Carol to surprise you with a rental car! That was an act of true love. You are a lucky man.

salemmanofthecloth
salemmanofthecloth

As I stated on your last post, the wicked committee needs to be re-purposed for something moral and constructive or responses to members by 'local leaders' will continue to be ham handed with inconsistent results (the opposite of correlation). The committee is wicked because it prevents intimacy among the saints and engenders fear of reprisal. We can't share our deepest and most sincere hopes and experiences with anyone until we first see if the coast is clear. More often than not, we'll get a wagging finger in our face about how this or that has cankered our souls and to follow the prophet etc. I had just such an experience yesterday as I shot the breeze with a new friend of mine at a supermarket. 'What do you think of Kate Kelly's excommunication?' I was asked. Being somewhat unguarded with a friend I said, 'I think it is a moral tragedy because we didn't take the time to teach aggressively why women are not permitted to exercise their priesthood authority as the Lord established it. Elder Oaks hinted at priesthood authority held by women but we always sidestep the real truth of the matter which creates more confusion. The Internet is out there for Kate Kelly and other to plumb for information' My new friend was taken aback and shocked. He didn't know how to respond to my unorthodox view on what is going on in the Church. He half smiled hopefully and said, 'I just don't worry about what the Brethren should be worrying about because I trust them.' He said it with one eye fixed on me for another heretical response. I said, 'Hmm..sadly your grandchildren will be all the worse off if we don't do something now to start answering questions with real answers....' He erupted with his index finger wagging, 'YOU CAN'T SAY WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO MY GRANDCHILDREN. YOU CAN'T. IT'S NOT YOUR PLACE!' Ouch. Feeling less intimate and looking toward the floor, I said 'you're right, I should have spoken more generally about our grandchildren's generation.' Well, I tried to patch things up but I can tell we won't speak to one another again soul to soul unless it is about subjects which don't matter. If the immoral committee could turn itself into a moral listening arm of the church to assist our leaders to better relate to us, apostasy's grip will have a chance to stop it's inevitable spread until the tree's fruit planted in the choice part of the vineyard is good for nothing (Jacob 5). I can appreciate the First Presidency's attempt to be more timely and relevant, but it came after Sister Kelly's excommunication and it was vague. Vague statements are politic but not enlightening. I have read it twice and now a third time. It assures me, "the Church is a place of spiritual nourishment and growth." That's true for some I hope, but so not true for others trying to make sense of things in the run up to the Millennium.

Karl
Karl

And I add that the PR statement above is so vague and nonspecific, that it still leaves room for the leadership to take any action they feel appropriate. Thus, a statement can appear to be conciliatory to membership, but do nothing to address the real problems and concerns of membership. As Log said above, the real reason bloggers are being disciplined it because they are not right in line with the Modern Mormonism. Tim, I think you have been wise to always emphasize your support for the Brethren. All bloggers would be wise to be extremely careful in both what they say and how they say it. This is not a fair or just fight. Remember, the current leadership live in a world where any and all criticism of the church is equated with apostasy. This is not right, moral, or justified by the scriptures, but that is still where they are at in their perception.

Karl
Karl

Do you really think that message originated from the First Presidency? Sounds like the PR dept crafted it, and sent it up to be signed off by someone in the FP. It is crystal clear to me that the real position of the FP is that of non-response (stonewalling), and they will continue to attempt to silence all opposition, with any disciplining efforts available. I don't think they are going to go after Tim Malone, but I "prophesy" that Rock will be cast out within the month. John Dehlin might slip by, since he reversed and swung back to the faithful side of the aisle. I guess disfellowshipment for John. Make no mistake: the Old Guard party leadership is not going to concede without a big fight. At the moment they hold all the power and authority they need to sweep through and purge dissent. But, they won't live forever, and thereafter it will be the dawning of a new day in Mormonism. Do you really think the church leadership is willing to purge out a million bloggers? About 1980 the church missed a golden opportunity to reinterpret Mormon history, when Leonard Arrington was given free reign to do more honest history. He was axed and deepsixed by Boyd Packer (of course), and exiled to BYU. The opportunity missed here was a 15-year headstart on the internet. The church could have had a lot of faithful, reinterpreted history ready to go right at the beginning of the internet age. Now, the leadership is facing the impossible task of controlling and suppressing more honest history, doctrine and discussion of policies, practices, and procedures. My conclusion is that eventually the leadership will change. The military top-down model of Mormonism must give way to a decentralized, egalitarian model (which is the one outlined in the BOM & D&C), but this is going to take some time. Meantime, there will be many casualties, as the battle lines are drawn and then redrawn. Pray for the Brethren. This is going to take a huge paradigm shift. Remember all the Brethren inherited the current model from an earlier time. I predict it will take another 5 years just for them to understand the problem, but I hope and believe that 10 years from now, the leadership will begin to soften and return to where it should have been all along. Pray for the Holy Ghost to guide them. Pray for charity on both sides of the battle.

Log
Log

Other Bloggers Disciplined For Sharing I continue to ask this question specifically because of the recent cases of Brent Larsen and Will Carter, two LDS bloggers excommunicated for writing about Denver’s message on their own blogs. If members are “always free to ask questions as they seek greater understanding,” and “asking questions has never constituted apostasy,” why were Brent and Will excommunicated? Brent was ex'd because he said Denver was "the" prophet. The implications are clear. Will was ex'd for the very reason his high councilmen said they ex'd him. You don't trust the Brethren. That's why you were excommunicated. As veneration of the Brethren is modern Mormonism for a great number of people - and I shall forgo the explanation of why this is - both Brent and Will denied the faith. Both you and I know Will personally, and I know Will has not been stripped of the Spirit, wherefore I know God dishonored the priesthood authority of his excommunicators in this instance, at least. It is, however, spin to say they were ex'd for asking questions.

marginalizedmormon
marginalizedmormon

I have come to find the talks and policy statements of general authorities, with few exceptions (often young new 70 are fresh and bright) to be generally so couched that they are too vague to be understood. They could mean anything. It makes me feel confused and sad at the end of conferences, when I used to plug those talks into my comfortable political and religious system and just zing along, feeling rejuvenated. Not anymore. Now they just don't make sense to me. They bring up more questions than they clear things up.

Me
Me

Glad you were able to attend. Hopefully we can meet up next time. My wife and I traveled from California as well. We enjoyed his lecture very much.

Annalea
Annalea

The First Presidency statement is confusing. They have taken the definition of heresy and slapped the label "apostasy" on it. I've done some research, and the term heresy isn't part of the LDS church's lexicon. It's not used anywhere in church materials that I can find, which makes it seem like the church has combined the two terms under the word apostasy. That presents an issue, because apostasy is abandonment of the principles/foundation of a belief system, while heresy is going against tradition and accepted practice of a group of people. Apostasy is abandoning Jesus Christ (the foundation of our faith). Heresy is differing in opinion from the majority of the church, its leaders or the traditions of our fathers. The letter makes references to both (the founding principles and church/leaders), and yet uses only the word apostasy. I find this both confusing and concerning.

Nonrandom Set
Nonrandom Set

Tim, I think you know very well that it wasn't for the good thing of teaching people to come unto Christ that Denver was cast out. It appears that everything was fine until his final book, which included his claims about the priesthood. Even if you think his claims don't constitute opposition to the church and he shouldn't have been excommunicated, let's not muddy the waters by claiming it was for something else. In response to your question about whether asserting your belief that Denver is a messenger of the Lord makes you an apostate, I don't think it does.

Log
Log

"Again, let me appeal to those who have done wrong (if any there are) and follow it. Did you come to this Conference from your homes before you first repented of your sins, and obtained forgiveness? If you did I want you to leave in the intermission and go home again, and there I want you to stay, until your sins are remitted; or get an Elder to immerse you in City Creek, and wash away your sins, so that you may not hinder those who are pure, that every individual's heart in this Conference may be pure before God, and have a mite to contribute to the faith of the whole body, that every heart may be lighted up by the power of God, and receive the Holy Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, and increase from this time in all righteousness, and not come and go like a door upon its hinges, without any variation for the better. When the people complain of each other -- when they complain of the Church, of their hardships, of hard times, of this and of that, because the Lord does not speak with His own voice from Heaven, because the revelations of God are not forth-coming, as they were in the days of Joseph Smith, all I have to say to them is, prepare your hearts, for there is all for you that you can receive, and a great deal more than you know what to do with. That is all that I need to say to you on that point." (The Teachings of President Brigham Young, pp. 263-264)

salemmanofthecloth
salemmanofthecloth

Hello kathryn: I generally like your posts. What do you make of latter-day saints who thoughtfully say other voices (other than the prophet) even speaking by the spirit contribute to a disunity of the saints?

Donald Gene Taylor
Donald Gene Taylor

Denver: "The forces who are in control of the organization are working harder to stifle what little light that still remains." I assume this is hyperbole, of course; but, really, why does Denver take shots at the GA's like that? The leadership may be off the mark, in some regards, or in many regards, (depending on where you're at). Do you think the leaders are "trying to stifle what little light still remains?" There is a huge difference; being wrong, but doing the best you can do, based on your knowledge and culture -- verses trying to lead the Church astray. Tim, can you not feel the chip that Denver is carrying? Look, I understand the Doctrine of Christ, and all these mysteries, starting with the Baptism of Fire. There is nothing new here; its all in the scriptures (in the BoM especially.) But in the past, those of us who have spoken of these sacred things have done so in code, more or less; especially regarding "the apostasy" (not regarding apostates.) For example, Brother Nibley wrote a monograph titled, "When the Lights Went Out" about 1st and 2nd century Christians, when (within the church) the rhetoric of the schools replaced those apostles who could give first-hand testimony of their direct experience (like Paul). What do you think the Nib was writing about? He was writing to those who have ears to hear. Read and understand Isaiah and you will see the future. There's no use reaching out to steady the arc. Its not in the cards. The questions are all about timing. When? Coming in direct conflict with the GA's is nuttily. I could see clearly how the thing with Denver was going to end -- simply by reading his last book. There was no question what was going to happen. All of you who were surprised or don't understand the line that is crossed to get exec -- I don't understand. Its clear what it takes to get exec. Denver has taught 80% great stuff; but I would never never ever give up my TR in support of a guy with such a big chip on his shoulder, who obviously wanted to take on the church. He was the aggressor. He took the first swing; if he didn't know what was coming, then he's not that great an attorney. Tim, are you wanting to follow that path and be "right." The church teaches the "preparatory gospel." After that, you are on your own, to pursue as much "greater light and knowledge" as you want. The church has its own course to follow. In the time we have left, I do as much good as I can in the church and outside; open my mouth when its appropriate; yes, I say too much sometimes, and some people in my ward think I'm a bit nutty; but I don't go overboard trying to advocate for a particular position -- for what? to become popular. "Power, popularity, gain, and the lusts of the flesh." Popularity is a very powerful temptation. We all have to watch out for that one; on all levels.

marginalizedmormon
marginalizedmormon

I think the church leaders are on a train track headed in one direction, and members of the church who are seeking the Savior are on another train track, headed another direction. I think the stations are entirely separate, literally--stations in life. I do believe some of the leaders are fine, good men with integrity, but they have spent their lives being leaders; they have not been squished. Many of the rest of *us* have been squished by various things, including the church and other church members. Those trains are not going to meet except in collision. I am sad to say this, but I believe it is true. How many years have many of us sought for the Savior's Second Coming? I know I have have, many-- so many-- *We* sense, I believe, those of us who have hung around and watched things happen for a while-- that things will get bad before they get better. I believe that the church will be in a state of sadness when Jesus comes. It is not my place to say what He will do with those who have oppressed others, but as for my 'friends' who rejoice over excommunications, I am just sadder than sad, because I fear they will not know Jesus when He comes, because Jesus was oppressed. As for the leaders, I don't know-- I can't say; it's not my place, but I think that the church is not headed in a happy direction, and it's all something that Father and Jesus have known about all along; we just don't have all the facts and specifics, and it's time to trust THEM, not worry over what men and women will or will not do.

Karl
Karl

Geoff, You hit the nail on the head. The central issue comes down to this: there are many in the church who believe that everytime a GA speaks, it is the voice of God himself. However, any serious look at LDS history, tradition and/or scriptures quickly exposes this belief as absurd. If this were true, we'd still be teaching and believe the Adam God theory (as some fundamentalists still do). Obviously, policies, practices and procedures change all the time. Even many doctrines are in fact merely interpretations of scripture, or the best belief at the time, and have been constantly changing until say 70 years ago or so. This last two generations has inherited 1. absolute trust in Authority 2. assumed we have all we need for the restoration (a Book of Mormon, we have a BOM and need no more) 3. assumed the current Modern Mormonism is identical to the original 4. are interpreting any criticism or doubt as to the first 3 postulates with antipathy toward any source that points any of this out.

Tim Malone
Tim Malone

Hi Michael: Carol also knew I would not make it back in time for the majority of the family reunion. She sacrificed for me. I truly am blessed.

Karl
Karl

Good comment. I have learned to be quite guarded in whom I confide. To those in the church that believe that the words of leadership equal the words of God, they are just shocked to death almost at the realization that certain members have issues with this concept. About the only one I can really confide in is my wife, because some of these issues take hours to frame, and frankly, very few others are willing to endure the time it takes really understand the myriad of historical and doctrinal difficulties that have become codified and now passed on in Mormonism.

Log
Log

Did you notice the omission of "correction" in the statement? It makes sense since, by all public reports, Will wasn't corrected. Will was simply told he was wrong, but pure knowledge was not given to replace his errors. And I'm relatively sure that Snuffer wasn't corrected, either.

salemmanofthecloth
salemmanofthecloth

I honestly don't think we have time for the old guard to die out because precedence never dies until a prophet has the courage to change course and kill it. President Kimball did it in 1978 even though he was part and party to precedence. Your points about military style top-down loyalty is well expressed. Watching the latter-day apostasy of God's covenant people is like watching a train wreck in slow motion while on the train bracing with dreaded full expectation. I sincerely think the Lord wants the excommunications to rattle off as fast as possible so change can come from the chaos. Re-creation always follows chaos which means we'll be ready to be a Zion people again; free from telestial trammeling of one another.

Karl
Karl

Log, you are right. These 2 good brothers were exed for not passing the "loyalty" question, which seems to be the most important question in Modern Mormonism. Perhaps we could amend the TR to read: Do you support the Brethren as the highest value in your life, without regard to what they say or do, and without regard to the directions in the Holy Scriptures or personal direction to you through the Holy Ghost? If you answer yes, then you are in; no, and you are subject to discipline.

Log
Log

I suppose I should say "I believe Will has not been stripped of the Spirit, wherefore I believe God dishonored the priesthood authority of his excommunicators in this instance, at least." As I do know what I am looking for, it's a bit stronger than a mere opinion on my part, but yet, I suppose, strictly speaking, it's not knowledge.

Log
Log

And I should have put "the faith" in quotes, because veneration of the Brethren is not the faith of Christ, even if it is, generally, modern Mormonism.

Tim Malone
Tim Malone

It was a surprise for me too. I was also totally surprised by how many people came up to me to say hello and thank me for my blogging efforts. I felt like I was among friends. We plan to attend the Las Vegas and St. George lectures and hope to be able to say hello to as many blog readers and friends we can.

Karl
Karl

Confusing yes, because the Brethren are confused about the whole subject. Nice distinction between apostasy and heresy. Thanks.

Tim Malone
Tim Malone

Hi Non Random Set - you are correct. Denver was cast off for not meeting the demands of Elder Nelson given through President Hunt not for his witness and testimony of Christ.

Linda
Linda

Thank you Log. I haven't yet digested all you've posted, but thank you for this quote.

kathryn
kathryn

Salemmanofthecloth... I guess we all take a risk that someone will have their faith challenged when we have discussions, whether in person or on blogs such as this. I know frank commentary on blogs run the risk of creating some disunity because we sometimes come from polarized points of view. However, I think it comes down to intent. We all have to ask ourselves this question: What is my intent in questioning, commenting, correcting and exploring doctrine?” If one is looking for a “fight” you can always instigate one. If one is looking to be “right” there is always someone to offer an opposite point of view to make you “wrong.” If you are looking for an excuse to leave the membership... you can always find one. If one is looking for truth, one will be open for discussion and welcome all points of view. For the most part, that is what is happening here. Folks are laying their concerns on the table so truth can be identified and prevail, no matter where it is found. When the rubber meets the road, we are are responsibility for going to the Lord for confirmation for all discussion. For me personally, these discussions have made me think more deeply, made me study scriptures more intensely, dig into the history for clarity, and read more books than I have in the last five years. My commitment to the faith has increased one-hundred fold. Warts and all I love the history, the brethren, and members and I’m committed to the gospel. Some folks are trouble by all the seeming disunity that is going on right now. As I said before, I think it is great.... It will either make us or break us. We knew there would be a time of “sifting” as the “End” nears... the cream will rise to the top and be better prepared to establish Zion and meet the Lord. I happen to want to be part of the cream.

Michael A. Cleverly
Michael A. Cleverly

Denver: “The forces who are in control of the organization are working harder to stifle what little light that still remains.” I assume this is hyperbole, of course; but, really, why does Denver take shots at the GA’s like that? Having been a long time reader of what Denver has read I've found him to always be very precise with the words he uses. Notice that he said forces and not, as you read it, general authorities. If he had meant the GA's I'm inclined to believe he would have called a spade a spade and said so. My understanding of forces would be in the historical and institutional sense and would encompass things like correlation, bureaucracy, public relations, marketing, ballooning middle management at HQ, institutional PTSD, etc. I found Daymon Smith's Correlation: An Uncorrelated History to be very enlightening in tracing how the pioneer Mormonism of Brigham Young and John Taylor became the modern Mormonism of David O. McKay and Harold B. Lee and beyond. Viewed in PtHG terms, Daymon shows how the transitions from phase two through four occurred without there needing to be any conscious malign intent on the part of any of the leadership.

salemmanofthecloth
salemmanofthecloth

Donald Gene Taylor: Do I ever like you and yes, I want to adjolate you at least a little. Sorry if that makes your head swell. Thank you for clarifying my own need for a mission within the Church and a clearer reason to endure to the end. I love the nickname "the Nib." However, I would not have said exactly what you said to theTim because his saga has been most instructive, but it is time for him to retake is preparatory TR in order that he may stand as a witness against all forms of apostasy (intentional or otherwise) in end times. theTim: come back now. We need you inside the Church.

marginalizedmormon
marginalizedmormon

what! The Book of Mormon is not even 'used' by the members-- maybe a handful of people say that, but the Book of Mormon has been imprisoned for 180 years!!!!!!!! We NEED the Book of Mormon, not the bible, not the bible, not the bible-- once *we* read the Book of Mormon, really read it, without all the bells and whistles from the bible-- then maybe, if the Lord believes we are worthy of more-- He'll give it to us, but I believe we are far away from that.

Log
Log

Well, the handbook says this: 2. Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishops or higher authority. That's why I bring it up. Apparently, now the heretics need not be corrected, merely informed they are wrong. Then they are excommunicable apostates. Thus, the possession of pure knowledge need never be demonstrated.

Karl
Karl

Yes, because in order for leadership to offer a correction, they would have to 1. take seriously the objections the member is raising and 2. then make a correction on the merits, ie., using the method of true priesthood (kindness, persuasion, charity, etc) and as you say pure knowledge. Since the Brethren are unwilling even take seriously the questions of a member, they never really reach the correction part. Best.

Boo
Boo

Unfortunately i am much less optimistic than you. While I pray for them daily I also look at the prophets in the book of Mormon and particularly Moroni and his words in Mormon 8, and particularly v8 which makes it clear that the leadership will in fact " pollute the holy church of God". The only question is has it already happened or if not when?

Karl
Karl

You may be right here. I express hope that with the changing of the guard, a new view may enter in. But you are correct, this is hardly certain, and I think it will take a Kimball-like leader with a lot of courage to redirect the ship. Let's pray that he will arrive soon. Keep the faith.

Adrianne
Adrianne

Thank you Tim. Unfortunately I'll be away from Viva Las Vegas. Dang it!

Adrianne
Adrianne

Hi Tim! When is his lecture in Las Vegas?