On Reading Controversial Books


saints-standard-of-truth


It’s been over four years since I resigned from the LDS Church, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A lot has changed in my life since that day in September 2014. I have been blessed immensely by the Lord in so many ways. I reflected many times on why I chose to resign back then. I didn’t have to do so but felt it was the right thing to do since I planned on being baptized again, outside the auspices of the LDS hierarchy.

I still get a lot of emails from readers wondering how I’m doing. One reader sent me an email asking “… have you come to any answers about your queries in this article? I feel the same way you do or did, and that is spiritually uplifted and edified by these authors of more controversial topics. Have you come to any conclusions about how this relates to the Brethren’s view of such authors and what they write about?” My response follows…

The Original Post

Thanks for your email. I went back and re-read the post and all 93 comments. That was written over five years ago. It brought back fond memories of deep dialog with many good people. I miss that, but until a recent change in employment, I haven’t had time to invest in reading as writing as much as I used to. I’m trying to get back into that mode. Thanks again for your email and getting me thinking about the subject again. I have pondered your question and my original questions.

Private Sacrament Meetings

SacramentMinervaTeichertA lot has changed in the last five years since I wrote that post. I am no longer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, although I do attend the full three-hour block each Sunday with my wife, partake of the sacrament and participate in classroom discussion from time to time. I am blessed to have a very kind and understanding Stake President, Bishop and Elder’s Quorum President who have encouraged me to participate. I especially enjoy singing in the choir.

Taught by the Precepts of Men

Yes, I have come to some conclusions about how the Brethren view the writings of authors who publish works that are not in harmony with the orthodox teachings found in the official curriculum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A scripture comes to mind, “…they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.” (2 Ne 28:14)

Harmony With the Mind of Christ

I am not referring to those who write such books, but to those who view their writings as apostate. I retain my original enthusiasm for the works of authors who are diligently seeking truth as humble followers of Jesus Christ. I have enough experience with the Holy Ghost to know when something I read is or isn’t leading me to Christ. That’s the whole purpose of the Spirit of the Lord – to lead us unto Christ. As we give heed It brings us into harmony with the mind of Christ.

Fight Not Against Apostles and Prophets

It saddens me to think that the above referenced scripture, and in many cases, the entire chapter, is referring to the leadership, especially at the highest levels, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have promised myself I would not fight against the prophets and apostles. I will not confront them directly. There is a scripture that counsels those who do that. They will be cut off. I still hold to that belief, that if I fight against the apostles and prophets I will be cut off.

Upheld by Fath and Prayers

One could argue they are not legitimate prophets and apostles. No matter, I have sustained them as such and I will not go against that. I continue to pray for them, thus upholding them with my prayers and faith. At the same time, my prayers of faith are offered on behalf of all those who are seeking diligently to come unto Christ and to teach us to do so, according to their best understanding. Thus I uphold and sustain men like Denver Snuffer as servants of the Lord in these last days.

The Covenant Path is Extended

The heavens are open. We have an opportunity to come unto Christ and to enter into His presence. He has holy places in Heaven to where we can rise up and be taught by Him directly. We can learn of His paths and follow them. I like how President Nelson refers often to the covenant path. I know he’s referring to baptism, confirmation, priesthood and temple covenants in the LDS Church. No matter, it prompts me to reflect on the additional covenants into which I have entered.

A Day of Rejoicing, A New Beginning

tim-malone-baptismSpecifically, I have publicly made a big deal about being baptized again as a sign I accept the words delivered by His servant, Denver Snuffer, as having been either authored by or directly influenced by the Lord. I am familiar with that process of revelation, especially as it is manifested when writing. There are times I feel or hear the words I share in the very process of sharing them. Thus, I am influenced by what I read from the humble followers of Christ who write as they feel inspired. I know that process well.

 

Additional Covenants, Additional Scripture

Second, I have entered into an additional covenant with the Lord about a year ago, in September of 2017 at the time of the Boise Conference, to accept the scriptures as they have been revealed and corrected by the scripture committee, and which the Lord accepted. Part of that covenant included a promise to seek to be of one heart and one mind with those humble followers of Christ who are seeking to bring about Zion as I am. It is an awesome thing to have additional scripture.

Writing Under The Spirit of Revelation

I hope this answers your question. Again, I am always grateful when someone reaches out to me as a consequence of something I have written and posted on my blog. I try not to take myself too seriously. There are times when I have written things I know were pleasing to the Lord, even inspired, especially when I asked him in prayer for guidance and direction in what I felt prompted to share. That post was one of many that was inspired by the spirit of revelation, even the mind of Christ.

But What Do The Brethren Think?

And the response: “Has your Stake President brought your concerns to the Brethren? Surely posing your questions to them isn’t confronting or fighting against them, is it? I admire how you still pray for and sustain them with your faith, and your commitment to not fight against them, but I guess I’m just confused as to why you haven’t had your concerns addressed by the Brethren. Isn’t that the order of things when your local leaders can’t answer your concerns?”

Response of Local Authorities

I think I’m past the point where I care about what the Brethren have to say about my questions. I already know what they have said and written about such topics, having studied their words all my life. In defense of my Stake President, the four of us (my wife, me, my Bishop and my Stake President) met and discussed my questions. At the conclusion of our meeting the Stake President said he had no problems with my concerns or my blogging activities. On the other hand, my Bishop did.

Forbiding to Partake of the Sacrament

Jesus_SacramentWe continued to meet regularly. A few weeks after the meeting with the four of us, my Bishop placed me on informal probation for apostasy, which is really just a hand slap. However, it was his direction that I not partake of he sacrament. That bothered me. I felt it was anti-Christ. I know that’s harsh, but it is truthful. Forbidding someone to partake of the sacrament implies judgement, which, I suppose, it what a Bishop is supposed to do, right? But, it didn’t set well with me and prompted my decision to resign.

Unorthodox Views, Apostasy and Heresy

I’ve never really understood the charge of apostasy. I think the correct terminology should be heresy, meaning your views do not correspond with those of the Brethren on certain issues, in my case, of a historical nature. I’m fairly certain my bishop would not have been so concerned but he was receiving complaints from ward members and former ward members that saw and read some of my blog posts because I had it linked to my Facebook feed, in hindsight, a poor move.

Questions About LDS History

I think the most difficult concern for the bishop was the statement from a former ward member that my blogging activities were influencing her (adult) children. Being friends with her children, I can relate that they had made their decision to leave the LDS Church long before I did. In any event, I did not expect my local leaders to bring my concerns to the Brethren, nor did they. It wasn’t necessary. These were questions of a historical nature for which I would not expect General Authorities to have answers.

General Authorities Not Trained Historians

Unless the Brethren are trained historians, actively engaged in research and teaching, which, as far as I know, none of them are, they simply would not have time to study the historical records like I and many others have done. I know that may come across as arrogant, but it’s true. General Authorities are busy administering the affairs of the Church. For the most part, they are doctors (Pres. Nelson), lawyers (Pres. Oaks) and educational administrators (Pres. Eyring).

Large and Successful Institution

LDSChurchOfficeBuildingThe members of the Quorum of the Twelve had similar vocations before their call to become full-time church employees. I know we don’t like to focus on the institutional aspect of the Church, but it is one of the largest and most successful religious institutions in the world, at least from an economic point of view. Thus the need for professional administrators. It’s been said one should never ask what goes into sausage or how laws are made. Likewise, one must have a strong testimony to be an employee of the Church.

 

 

Read Church Histroy, But Not Too Much

Either that or put blinders on and ask no questions. There’s something to be said for those who innocently and somewhat naively believe the official explanations of the Church in regards to the early historical facts that have come to light in our day, even though some of those facts come right from the Joseph Smith Papers, an official publication of the Church. Most members haven’t read them, nor would they find them interesting.

Of Good Report or Praiseworthy

It’s surprising how many don’t really care about the rise of the Church and what happened after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum. To them, it’s a social institution, to be judged solely on the merits of encouraging moral values, which it does extremely well. Therefore, the Church is praiseworthy. There is no need to look too deeply into the past. The Church can be judged on the value it brings to families in the form of programs and practices that encourage and strengthen families. In this it excels and deserves our encouragement and active participation.

Do You Have Priesthood Approval?

church-in-the-home

The history and doctrine are being watered down more and more as time goes on. I appreciate the move to focus gospel study in the home, and the encouragement for individual members to meet in homes specifically to study the gospel, with the hope that the scriptures will be the foundation of that study. Perhaps that will turn things around. There is a question one used to hear in the Church when attempting to organize a gospel study in the home: “Do you have priesthood approval for that meeting?”

He Who Is Compelled in All Things

Wow. What a turnaround. I think this is a big deal and hope the Saints appreciate this change in direction. I believe the Lord will bless those who seek to understand the gospel better through these informal study groups. My only concern is that perhaps some will continue to look to Salt Lake for direction on what to study. In fact, the Church has already published the official guidelines. Why can’t we decide on our own, under the direction of the spirit what we should study?

Comments welcome…

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About Tim Malone

Tim is a computer technology professional providing desktop support, network administration and systems management in the Small and Medium Business market. After twelve years, he recently retired as the IT Director for a private corporate jet management company located at the Burbank Bob Hope airport. He began his career as a programmer but switched to tech support many years ago. Tim is married, has one adult son, and, until recently, was very active in his local community church. He spent two years in Central America as a missionary. He enjoys hiking, reading, research, writing, correspondence and has a special interest in alternative medicine and events of the last days. You can find him online every day on various internet communities and blogs, especially in the tech area. He maintains three blogs online, one on technology, one on current events and one on health research.

4 thoughts on “On Reading Controversial Books

  1. Tim,

    I always enjoy reading your posts. You have a peaceful way of telling the truth without offense. That is a rare thing these days.

    As a fellow sojourner who has also taken a similar path as yours, I still listen to the directions that come from Conferences of the Church of the Jesus Christ. I can honestly say that the direction it has taken lately all seem to be good moves in the right direction. I truly believe that the Brethren are making changes that conform to requirements in the Book of Mormon. The decree to adjust the name of the Church, at the end of the day, is a good move. I hope it’s more than that. There are hundreds of churches that call themselves after Jesus Christ. It is not enough to simply call yourself after His name. In fact, one may risk the ire of the Lord is they take upon themselves His name unworthily. There may have been a reason Joseph Smith changed the name of the Church to the Church of Jesus Christ “of Latter-day Saints” indicating it was a church of men after 1834 and not a Church of Jesus Christ. Have we change our hearts enough to earn that title back? I’m not sure we have, but I believe the intent is good.

    Other changes such as simplifying quorums, ministering, home study, all seem to be in the right direction. It feels inspired. Although I would not call it Revelation, Prophecy, or See-ing, the vein of Joseph Smith or other prophets in scripture. I continue to await for that possibility, but until then, I’m content to have the Lord send prophets, seers, and revelators who come from outside of the Church, similar to how He did so with Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist, Abinidi and Samuel the Lamanite.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tim

    I don’t have any doctrinal commentary to offer but I just wanted to tell you how great it is to see you blogging again. You certainly have had a great influence on my spiritual journey. I wish you nothing but peace and happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your hard work with your research and your blogging. I agree with much of what you write, but in this post, I’m a little bit perplexed with your assertion that you aren’t fighting against the incumbent LDS leadership. Your blog meets their (misguided) definition of apostasy, and so from their perspective, you are fighting against them. From their perspective, you are leading people away from Christ. They equate obedience to them as being the same thing as obedience to Christ, and faith in them as being the same thing as faith in Christ. They consider their official (unified) decisions, by definition, to be the mind and will of God, in keeping with the misguided Woodruff doctrine, “we can’t lead you astray”.

    I think the only way you could stop fighting against them (from their perspective) would be to apologize for any alleged heresies you’ve supported, to get rebaptized, and to publicly support everything they do and say, and to henceforth offer no criticism or doctrinal disagreements except in private, in keeping with Pres. Oak’s guidance in his Ensign article “Criticism” (https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng).

    Of course that would unrighteous on your part, since you have light and knowledge that leads you to open your mouth and speak as the Spirit dictates, and not as mortal officers dictate.

    The Savior’s example was a perfect one: he acknowledged that the Sanhedrin had valid callings (that they were legitimate priests and high priests) and he acknowledged that they “sat in the seat of Moses”, but at the same time, while acknowledging the legitimacy of their offices, he fought against them vigorously in public, condemned them, and called them wicked and perverse stewards.

    I encourage you to embrace the idea that you are fighting against the incumbent LDS leadership. They deserve to be opposed. Support them in any truly prophetic or virtuous teachings they put forward, and at the same time, openly oppose all the bad things they do and say. That is how the Savior responded to the priesthood hierarchy of his time, and we should take the same approach.
    Linked below was my effort earlier this year to follow that example, in a letter that was published in the Salt Lake Tribune:

    https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2018/09/08/commentary-an-open-letter/

    Love is the motivating factor in calling people to repentance. You clearly have that love, and you have been calling the LDS leadership to repentance for a long time in an implicit way, if not explicitly. By any reasonable definition within Mormon culture, such speech is “fighting” against them.

    You are fighting the good fight, but your language could be more precise and more powerful. There is nothing wrong with openly condemning the incumbent officers and calling them corrupt or ignorant. King David was a true prophet of God at various times, he received true revelations, but at other times he was corrupt and misguided in his leadership. The Israelites should have supported the good and inspired things he put forward, and resisted the bad. Instead, they treated him like a god, and submitted to all of his mistakes and instructions.

    I think the concept in D&C 1:14 (the warning to give heed to prophets, else we will be cut off) can be understood along the lines of how J. Rueben Clark explained it:

    If a man speaks by the Spirit he is by definition a prophet during that moment (Alma 32:23), and we should heed him. If a man speaks in any other way (as a common man), he is not a prophet in that particular moment, and we have no obligation to heed those particular words. The burden is on us to discern when any person is speaking as a prophet and when they are speaking as a common person. Importantly, this can alternate from moment to moment, and often has little or nothing to do with that person’s administrative office or divinely appointed calling.

    At any given moment, Denver Snuffer or Russell Nelson might speak by the Spirit and be acting as a prophet in that moment, and the very next moment, they might revert to speaking according to their own understanding, and be unintentionally leading people astray who have become addicted to following them (2 Nephi 28:31).

    One of the greatest weaknesses of human nature is idolatry — to follow men or objects or groups that are allegedly more powerful or more intelligent or more spiritually connected than we are — we are constantly tempted to adopt artificial gods and to put our trust in them. Hence the first commandment that God gave to Moses, to have no other gods before God. It is a constant struggle, and it is a commandment that is broken frequently (and unknowingly) even by very righteous people who are striving to keep the commandments.

    Tim, you yourself are a prophet in the truest sense of that word. But you are only a prophet when you speak by the Spirit. Those who reject the truth you have spoken or written by the power of the Spirit will be cut off from the light you offer until they repent and heed what you have spoken. The warning in D&C 1:14 applies to you being a prophet just as much as it applies to anyone else.

    Apply this rule to all other men, and then you don’t have to be shy about “fighting” against anyone who speaks words that are not backed up by the Spirit. You can be explicit and bold, just as the Savior was, when he condemned high priesthood officers, and called them corrupt and ignorant. At the very same time, he recommended that people follow all the truth they spoke.

    A couple of good posts to consider:

    http://upwardthought.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-role-of-true-messengers-and-those.html

    http://upwardthought.blogspot.com/search?q=prophet

    Regards,
    -Joe

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Tim
    It’s great to see you back. I have missed you.

    I have chosen to keep my membership in the LDS church but I am grateful for those who have help me see the gospel and the “Church” from a different vantage point than I had10 years ago. Many “messengers”, who have really done their homework and made personal sacrifices, have contributed to a new understanding of the doctrine, Church history and of policy.

    With all the new changes that are being made in the Church, like the increased focus on Christ and home group study, I can’t help wonder if the “underground” movement that has taken place the last few years has not made a difference. Just the fact that meeting together in homes is now encouraged rather than discouraged or “outlawed”, I can’t help but think they have been watching and listening. It will be interesting to see how this all spins out in the future.

    Although, when reading the new “History Book” I find it still lacking and white washed. The work of the “correlation” dept. I suppose. I have not viewed the new study guide for home study but I fear it has taken the same “correlation” swipe. White washing the history of the restoration and Church policy since Joseph Smith has not contributed to the well-being, nor increase the trust in the LDS organization. However, I applaud their efforts in attempting to make some “corrections”, even though it is deficient in many areas.

    What I love about the bible, is that the story line reveals “warts and all” – the weakness of individuals as well as prophets are revealed, along with their strengths. I believe there is great benefit in being privy to both. It gives me hope that our “human condition” can be over come no, matter who you are. God is good.

    In the meantime, I attend Church to participate in the sacrament. I attend Sunday School and RS, when I feel I can endure, and have learned to keep my contributions to a minimum. Offering new ideas or considerations often stirs up contention and that has never been my intent for sharing. My gospel understanding and study has become very personal and private and only discussed with those of “Like Mind.” I like it that way… my soul feels calmer.

    Again.. good to have you back, I have always valued your contribution to those who are seeking.

    Liked by 1 person

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