Pure and Virtuous Principles


john-taylorPrinciples are, in essence, the algorithms of behavior; they are the behavioral rules we adopt to attain a goal. They are tools, in other words, for us to achieve our desires. As I read, I look for principles at play – the underlying rules which govern behavior – and I extend them to logical absurdity, to see if they will bear the weight of eternity. Facts are interesting to me almost solely as illustrations of principles.

Führerprinzip – Leadership

It was therefore with interest I read of a principle called Führerprinzip, or the leader principle. I leave it to the readers to ascertain the significance of this principle. For additional reading on the principle, I suggest researching Hermann Goering’s testimony at Nuremberg on the subject (until the first recess of the tribunal). Again, ignore the particulars – look for the abstract rules which govern the behaviors being described, which principles, and the ends for which they were adopted, Goering makes extremely plain.

Questions to Ponder

Does Führerprinzip, and the process by which it was established in Germany, seem familiar? Is Führerprinzip the governing principle of the heavens? Is there an alternative principle of governance to Führerprinzip? Is Führerprinzip compatible with the Golden Rule? Why, or why not?

D&C 76:98-101 – Why do they inherit the telestial kingdom? What principle did they take for their guide? Could it be loyalty? Could it be Führerprinzip? Is loyalty a celestial principle? How is JST Mark 9:40-48 explained if loyalty is a celestial principle? How is it explained if Führerprinzip is a celestial principle?

The Golden Rule

“All Things Whatsoever Ye Would That Men Should Do unto You, Do Ye Even so unto Them.”

It is liberating as the law of heaven is written upon our heart according to our sincere repentance, and pleadings to God, because we are made free to do whatever we want, because we want nothing evil. We learn that some rules we thought were binding everywhere are, in fact, not rules of heaven at all.

I have learned that the Golden Rule precludes me from telling people they’re wrong in issues of values. The reason for this is simple – people take their positions based on how they feel about – how they personally value – things, and feelings are not choices, neither are they good nor evil: they just are. I can’t tell someone they’re wrong to feel the way they feel – the plain fact is they feel that way. I used to feel differently about stuff, too.

Taking Offense

We’ve been trained, like Pavlov’s dogs, to take offense – growing angry or emotionally pained – to things which are of themselves harmless, like four-letter words, and facts about realities that distinguish us one from another, like statistical or adopted differences between races or the sexes. (No joke.)

Also, because of the fallen and carnal nature, we take offense when our internal self-contradictions are touched, when our ego is found to be without foundation, floating in the air, and that we are in danger of falling (1 Nephi 12:18), and when our self-image is apparently diminished (2 Nephi 28:28). These things may be accounted for as a practical matter of communication and persuasion – again, as a means to an end – but the claim that others’ offense is our fault is the principle that slew the prophets, stoned them, and cast them out.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

All are alike unto God (2 Nephi 26:33). There are no relevant distinctions between people. One may be smarter, one may be faster, another more knowledgeable, and so on, but none of it matters – none of it affects his love for them, neither does it affect our duty towards them, inasmuch as we take Jesus for our Lord (Luke 6:46, in context of verses 20-49).

The Golden Rule puts no difference between a family member and an enemy. Why did Jesus permit the legion of devils to go into the herd of swine? Because they asked him to (Matthew 8:28-32). And why did Jesus then depart from the Gergesenes? Because they asked him to (Matthew 8:33-34). And when does Jesus forgive us? When we sincerely ask him to (Mosiah 4:10). And when do we receive the Holy Ghost? When we sincerely ask him for it (Alma 22:15-18). Until then, we are his enemies (Mosiah 3:19) even as the devil is his enemy (Mosiah 16:5).

Then Shall You Be Free

So let us sincerely ask to be forgiven, and let us sincerely ask for the Holy Ghost. Then he will write his law in our hearts, that we are thereby made free – for the Lord God and his law make us free (D&C 98:8, John 8:36).

Be sure you want what you’re asking for. When our words don’t match our hearts, we may not get what we say we want (2 Nephi 31:13, James 1:5-8).

A Short Self-Analysis


confused-babyPost #1: A Short Self-Analysis

Do I resent giving others what they ask? That is the limit of my grace.

Do I fear giving others what they ask? That is the limit of my faith.

—————————————–

explanationPost #2: Children Will Give a Straight Answer to These

Do you like being forced to do what you don’t want to do with your own stuff?

Do you like being forced to be around people you don’t want to be around?

—————————————–

What, then, does the Golden Rule tell you about the laws you should write, vote for, or uphold?

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked


Death is a time of reflection“Why did you do this?”
“I felt it was the right thing to do.”

“Did you think about the consequences?”
“Of course, I’ve thought about them for two and a half years.”

“Do you realize what you’ve given up?”
“Actually, I’ve been more focused on what I have gained.”

“What do you mean?”
“I’ve never felt closer to the Lord or more in tune with His spirit.”

“How can you say that? You just resigned from the Lord’s Church.”
“I resigned so I could get baptized with full purpose of heart.”

“But you’ve already been baptized.”
“I was only eight years old at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

All Decisions Have Consequences

“Did you think about how this would affect your family?”
“Yes. I have fasted and prayed about it many, many times.”

“Do you realize you’ve lost your eternal salvation?”
“I disagree. Eternal salvation does not require membership in the LDS Church.”

“How can you say that after all the LDS Church has done for you?”
“Eternal salvation requires acceptance from the Lord and knowledge of His love.”

“And it requires membership in His Church.”
“Yes, I agree. It requires membership in the Church of the Firstborn.”

“But you can only get that through the LDS Church.”
“No. The LDS Church can help prepare you to receive the Lord.”

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

“Why are you so focused on Christ? Don’t you realize exaltation is to be like Father?”
“The only way back into the presence of the Father is through the Savior.”

“Yes, of course. But what about the temple and the ordinances we receive there?”
“They’re preparatory ordinances. They’re not the real thing. They’re symbolic.”

“What? I’ve never heard of any such thing.”
“Then you haven’t been listening close enough as you participate in the temple.”

“So you’re saying the temple sealing is not binding and not eternal?”
“Not unless it’s sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That’s all over D&C 132.”

“But you’ve given up your priesthood.”
“That’s not true. The Church doesn’t control priesthood. I received it from my father.”

“But he must have received it from someone back to Peter, James and John.”
“I’m not so sure the Higher Priesthood can be passed from man to man.”

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

“Do you believe the Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John the Baptist?”
“Yes, I do. And I believe that’s the priesthood I received from my father.”

“Then how do you believe one receives the Higher Priesthood?”
“It is received only by hearing the voice of God declare it unto the man.”

“Really? And you’ve heard the voice of God?”
“I have. But I don’t believe I’ve received the higher priesthood yet.”

“This is impossible. You’ve completely lost the spirit of the Lord.”
“Quite the contrary. I feel the spirit of the Lord in greater abundance than ever.”

“Don’t you realize you have taken from your wife the greatest hope of her life?”
“She loses nothing. She has the same opportunity. It requires the Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

“This is totally contrary to the teachings of the LDS Church.”
“I understand. But it’s not contrary to what Joseph Smith taught.”

“Are you saying you can prove all these ideas from the teachings of Joseph Smith?”
“Yes, given sufficient time to put the points together in a way you’ll understand.”

“There’s no way. We must rely on the words of the living prophets.”
“Not if they don’t square with the scriptures or the teachings of Joseph Smith.”

“Sometimes you just have to trust they know what they’re talking about.”
“Not when it comes to my eternal salvation. That’s why I study and pray.”

“You’re saying God told you the living prophets have got it wrong?”
“In some very important things, yes, they have got it wrong.”

Deceived By False Prophets

“My friend, I am sorry for you – very, very sorry.”
“Now do you understand why I resigned from the LDS Church?”

“Yes. You have been deceived into believing the ideas of a false prophet.”
“Tell me, how many hours have you spent studying the words of Denver Snuffer?”

“None. And I don’t intend to. I barely have time to read the scriptures and the Ensign.”
“There’s your problem. How can you judge a matter if you don’t study it out?”

“I’ve read enough from others to know I disagree with what he teaches.”
“But you haven’t read, studied and prayed for thousands of hours as I have done.”

“No. Every time I try to listen to one of his talks or read his lectures I get a dark feeling.”
“Then you’re not prepared for what he has written or delivered in his lectures.”

“I know I don’t like what I hear or what I read. He’s not for me. He’s a false prophet.”
“I would be careful about declaring someone a false prophet whom the Lord trusts.”

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

“So Denver is your prophet? You’ve just substituted one prophet for another.”
“I believe Denver is a prophet, a servant of the Lord, and a true messenger.”

“Do you know how blasphemous that sounds?”
“Only to the mind of someone steeped in the traditions of the LDS Church.”

“So that’s why you resigned your membership in the LDS Church?”
“I resigned because the Church Handbook requires I be excommunicated for apostasy.”

“Yes, and rightfully so. You are an apostate. You are leading others astray.”
“I require nobody to believe as I do. I claim the right to share my beliefs.”

“Not in this church you don’t. You teach what the Brethren say or out you go.”
“Precisely.”

“Can’t you see the beauty of having the doctrine controlled from the top?”
“I could if I knew for certain the leaders spoke with and on behalf of the Lord.”

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

“Millions of people can’t be wrong. They all know the prophet speaks with God.”
“We all speak with God, but does he speak for God? What has he prophesied lately?”

“Well, he’s been a little out of it lately. But just you wait. Listen to General Conference.”
“I intend to do so. I enjoy listening to inspired Brethren teach the doctrines of Christ.”

“So you admit the Church is inspired and led by the Lord.”
“I do. I have always felt that way. There are many good men and women in the Church.”

“Then why did you leave it?”
“We’ve been over that. I’ve given my reasons. Do you resent my exercise of agency?”

“I’m simply concerned for your eternal salvation.”
“And I yours. Thank you for your loving concern.”

“I wish there was something I could say to help you.”
“There is. You can always pray for me and my family.”

“I’ll do that. I’ll pray that you’ll be brought back to the light.”
“Thank you my friend. God bless you and your family.”

JesusTeaching

Why I Resigned From the LDS Church


TMalonePic4It’s customary to write an exit letter when leaving an organization after a long period of time, so here’s mine. I have no desire to flame or insult anyone. You don’t have to read this. It’s for my own soul to find peace. I share it in the spirit of love, especially for those who have prayed for me as I have gone through this difficult transition period over the last few years. God bless you.

A Few Preliminaries

First and foremost, I want to thank the many individuals over the years who have taught me the gospel or who have allowed me to teach them. I cherish moments spent in gospel doctrine class, in Seminary, in the High Priest’s Group and in Bishopric and High Council meetings when we have been edified together. There is nothing like being fed by the Lord through the scriptures.

Second, I am at peace with this decision. I confirmed it with the Lord in prayer. In fact, it was the Lord who continually urged this action upon me for the past three or four days. I know, I know. You may say, “Well, it wasn’t the Lord urging you to resign your membership.” I disagree. It was the honorable thing to do. It saved sixteen men many hours of time away from their families.

Third, I do not feel any different. I still feel the warmth and comfort of the spirit of the Lord. You may say, give it time, give it time. I hear you. I know there are things about membership in the LDS Church I will miss, but I will not miss the spirit of the Holy Ghost because he abides with me still, as does the priesthood authority I received from my father when I was but a lad.

A Few Questions Answered

Now for a couple of silly questions: Will I remove my garments? No. They still mean something to me. Will I attend the three-hour block each week? No. I will probably only attend Sacrament meeting with Carol. I will probably have my own sacrament meeting at home for a while until I can find a group with whom I can participate. Community is important. I seek a new community.

Will I continue to pay tithing? Yes. Carol and I discussed this. It is important to her to pay tithing to the LDS Church. I would prefer to pay tithing to a group where I know it is being used 100% to help the poor. But, and I know this sounds strange, unity with Carol is important to me. This is a difficult thing for Carol. Some women would divorce their husbands for leaving the Church.

I know Carol is hurt and disappointed. She is a fifth-generation Mormon. It means everything to her. She defends it with all the passion of a she bear. I have learned not to cross her. I am grateful she attended some of the lectures. I will make no attempt to entice her to follow me. I will only love her as best I can for a man who knows so little about the romantic needs of a good woman.

Don’t Blame This on Denver Snuffer

To all those who now say, “See, I told you so. I warned you the moment you started reading and writing about those books from Denver Snuffer.” Yes, you’re right. You warned me. And you warned me and then warned me over and over again. Thank you for your loving concern. It did no good. I had a witness of the truth the moment I first read PtHG that night in January of 2012.

So am I now a follower of Denver Snuffer? No. I never was and never will be. I barely know the man. I know his writings and have been edified by them, but I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let no man come between you and your God. I suppose if there’s one thing I do feel different already, it is the realization that I now get my marching orders – my daily priorities – only from the Lord.

Previous to this afternoon’s letter of resignation, I was always concerned about, “What would my priesthood leaders think of this?” or “What does the LDS Church say I should be doing with my time?” Maybe that’s my own fault or failing, but it’s has been ingrained in me from a lifetime of hearing it drilled into my soul – follow the prophet. He knows the way. Thanks, but no thanks.

Follow the Prophet – Mantra Gone Too Far

I think I finally realized how bad it was one Sunday in High Priest’s group when I answered a question posed by the instructor about marriage. I simply emphasized something I know we have been taught about temple marriages – that they are conditional upon being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This is a true doctrine. Always has been and always will be as far as I know.

You should have heard some of the comments I got from some of the brethren. And these were brethren I used to lead as the High Priest Group Leader. Somehow, it turned into a diatribe on the importance of following the prophet, that only he could interpret scripture or pronounce doctrine. It was as if they felt I was personally attacking them and their marriages. I was simply stunned.

It seems as if this has become the last stand for the LDS Church. It is a position of fear – follow the prophet. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not attacking President Monson or whoever is the current president of the LDS Church whenever you read this. I simply thank God he has given me a mind of my own, that I can think for myself and I can ask God directly for guidance in life.

Study the Doctrine – But Not Too Much

I feel as if a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders and another one placed in its stead. I am OK with that. It is the burden of life. I have simply shifted it from being overly concerned with conformity to the orthodox LDS way of thinking and acting, to now being careful to think, believe, act and live in the manner intended by my Heavenly Father. I have shifted my priorities.

Was the LDS Church holding me back? Yes and no. It’s the classic story. We are urged to study the gospel. When we do, we learn things that don’t jive with what is currently being taught or practiced in the LDS Church. We are nothing like the church Joseph organized in 1830. There are too many traditions and beliefs taught in the correlated curriculum that are simply not right.

Agency – It Only Goes So Far

I can’t tell you how many times I wrote about something I had studied and received a response, “You had better get your views in line with the Brethren or you’re going to be in trouble.” I got this over and over, from the least studied and newest member of the Church to Stake Presidents (not my current Stake President) and Bishops who read and comment on my blog. It’s amazing.

Do I hold any animosity toward the church or its leaders? No. I thank them for all they have done for me, especially my local leaders who have loved me, prayed with me, counseled me and tried to get me to conform to the orthodox ways of modern Mormonism. I am certain I have offended some of my brethren in the High Priest Quorum stake-wide with my writings. They told me so.

I understand the concern expressed by associates on the High Council and Stake Presidency in my former stake. They are concerned for their children and grandchildren. I get that. I apologize if you feel I am to blame for some of them leaving the church. Don’t put that at my feet. And for those in my current stake whose children have resigned – that was their decision and theirs alone.

Faulted for Believing Too Much

So what do I believe now? I believe in God. I know the Father lives and loves me. I know my Savior loves me and leads me. I have become more familiar with His voice over the past two years than at any time in my life. The Holy Ghost is real. He is the comforter. I appreciate that. I know God has a plan for my life that is not over. I went through hell last year to understand that.

I believe Joseph was a prophet of God. More than that, I know he was. The knowledge received of the Holy Ghost is burned into our souls. I have known Joseph was a prophet from my youth. My testimony of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures has not changed. We received the Book of Mormon the way Joseph said it came forth – translated by the gift and power of God.

Those Last Fingers of the Testimony Glove

TestimonyGloveThe restoration was real. God wanted to prepare a people for the establishment of Zion. It did not work out in the early church. The higher priesthood was taken from the earth. The authority of the Aaronic remained. I received that authority from my father. I still have it. Resigning from the LDS Church does not take that away. Priesthood is not controlled by any earthly institution.

Obviously I no longer believe the LDS Church has what it claims. It saddens me the LDS Church seeks to enforce beliefs by disciplinary measures. Some of the policies in the Church Handbook are an abomination. They can destroy families. It also saddens me to learn of manipulation from the highest councils of the Church to control the affairs of local members and local leadership.

We have often been taught, and I have taught it myself, “While the people in the Church aren’t perfect, the Church itself is perfect.” I disagree. The LDS Church was divinely instituted but is not now what the Lord will use to establish Zion. Zion was never intended to be established by a large institution. Zion is to be established in small groups where there are no poor among them.

A Few Closing Thoughts

I often hear the complaint from LDS Church members, “They leave the Church but they won’t leave it alone.” I owe so much to the LDS Church. I judged my mother harshly when she walked away from the Church after twenty-five years. I was wrong. I have since asked for and received her forgiveness. She was my age or a little older when she left. I understand now what happened.

Mother loved the gospel. She was a disciple of Christ. She taught me to love the Savior and to love to study. She could not have been more devoted to the Church and a better example for me. She taught Gospel Doctrine and performed more temple ordinances than anyone I have known. Yet in the end, she could not find community within the narrow-mindedness of some members.

Following the traditions of the fathers is a real problem in the LDS Church. It keeps the members from progressing. It’s good to safeguard some things that build family unity but not good to hold onto false beliefs and practices such as an over-reliance on “the Brethren” to tell us what’s what. That’s why my mother left after years of dedicated service. And now I have followed in her path.

Allow Me the Agency of My Doubts


PeterJamesJohn

Update: A better title would have been: “Please Allow me the Freedom to Have Questions.” The word “doubts” causes people to think you are not a believer. I am a believer, yet I still have questions I want answered. I recognize it is my own responsibility to find answers to my questions but these particular questions are related to some of the fundamental truth claims of the Church, in particular, if the Church has the Fullness of the Priesthood and if it can be transferred by the laying on of hands. I addressed and sent this to my Bishop and Stake President.

I don’t know if you care what I am about to say, but I feel the need to share it. I have asked the Lord in prayer to bless my words that they will help you understand why I do what I do and have done what I have done on my blog especially over the past few years. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and hope it helps you to understand me better in light of the posts I have written that may have come to your attention.

I Have Loved Serving in This Church

First, let me express my love for you. I hope that doesn’t make you uncomfortable. I admire both of you tremendously. I know what it takes to be a Bishop or a Stake President – not first-hand, of course – but after more than twenty-five years of serving in Bishoprics, on a High Council and as a Stake Clerk, I know it’s time-consuming, at times heartbreaking and a lot of spiritual work. I have loved serving in this church all my life or at least from when I was a full-time missionary.

I Write a Blog at Elder Ballard’s Request

You both know I have been writing an LDS-themed blog for the last six or seven years. For the first five years I assumed a mission to defend the faith, to offer what I felt was the orthodox or standard narrative to combat falsehoods about the church I found on the Internet. I felt justified in what I was trying to accomplish when Elder Ballard asked members of the church, especially young people familiar with technology, to get involved in the on-line dialog about the church.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

A little over two years ago I was introduced to the writings of Denver Snuffer, who, in case you haven’t heard of him, is a now excommunicated attorney from Utah who has written a series of popular LDS-themed books dealing with the subject of coming unto Christ. He has testified of the literalness of D&C 93:1, that we can Converse with the Lord through the Veil, meet the Savior in this life, receive Him as the Second Comforter and have Him introduce us unto the Father.

Passing the Heavenly Gift and Excommunication

It was his most recent book, Passing the Heavenly Gift that got him in trouble with the church and resulted in his excommunication when he refused to withdraw it from publication after being requested to do so by his Stake President at the behest of Elder Nelson. President, I don’t know if you are familiar with this book or of others in the stake who have read it (there are many), but I know you are Bishop, based on your response when we discussed my blog a little bit last year.

Uplifting Addresses from Priesthood Leaders

It is not my intention to teach you anything. Such is not my prerogative or right. I simply want to bring up two recent talks from President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland in our consideration so I can set the stage for what I am about to share. I assume you are familiar with them. The first was rather recent. President Uchtdorf delivered his address in October General Conference of 2013. The other from Elder Holland was from the previous spring’s General Conference in April 2013.

Teaching the Standard Narrative

They both deal with the issue of faith, testimony, doubts, and being accepted in this church in spite of having questions about some aspects of church history, which I confess I now have. I never thought I would confess such a thing to a priesthood leader. I have always seen myself as a stalwart member, convinced, convicted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we teach as the “standard narrative” in regards to our church history. I want to focus on that idea.

We Simply Don’t Have All The Information

In President Uchtdorf’s address entitled, “Come, Join With Us,” he states, “… this Church … honors personal agency … we respect those who honestly search for truth. “ He then said, “We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history … there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. Sometimes … we simply don’t have all the information … Sometimes there is a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.”

There is Room For You In This Church

President Uchtdorf concludes, “It’s natural to have questions … regardless of the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church …” He writes more, but the main points I wanted to share include his words that we can have differences of opinions as to what the facts of our church history mean. He also declares that in spite of those differences, all are welcome here. I’m going to ask you a specific question in regards to that invitation and how it applies to me.

Hold Fast To What You Already Know

But first, let me turn to Elder Holland’s April 2013 talk entitled, “Lord, I Believe.” In Elder Holland’s thoughtful, comforting, and compassionate way, he says, “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited.” He adds, “Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.” He invites us to demonstrate integrity toward the faith we do have and truth we already know.

Honest Declarations of Doubt and Faith

Elder Holland continues, “I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage that is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! … Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another.” He mentions the importance of being kind to others and ourselves as we work through our doubts.

I am Asking for Help With My Doubts

Elder Holland concludes with this observation: “When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help.” He reminds us to do so with real intent, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God. He concludes with his testimony that we will receive help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief and quotes the Savior when he said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” He says he has the conviction of the “more sure word of prophecy.”

Following the Bishop’s Counsel – No Facebook Links

With the background of those two recent conference addresses, please let me now get specific. Bishop, when you called me in last year to chat, I wanted ever so much to talk to you about my doubts, but not once in our three visits did the spirit prompt me to do so. We talked about my health, about my love for my son, about my marriage and just a smidgeon about my blog. You counseled me to soften my headlines and to take the links to my blog off Facebook, which I did.

Temple Interview Loyalty and Affiliation Questions

My temple recommend expires in July. As we all know, there are two questions in the interview process that test for loyalty to the Brethren, specifically to the Prophet, and test for “affiliation” or “sympathy” toward any individual whose teachings are contrary or oppose those accepted by the Church. I’d like to address those two questions with a question of my own first. If I were to express a doubt about one of those questions, would I still be found worthy of a recommend?

Doubt About the Fullness of the Priesthood

RichYoungRulerIn other words, does what President Uchtdorf and Elder Holland taught in General Conference apply to the temple recommend process or was that just talk? If I were to tell you that I have some doubt about the fullness of the priesthood being upon the earth today, would you take away my temple recommend? What if I were to tell you I read the works of Denver Snuffer, a man who has been excommunicated for apostasy, and that I enjoy many of the points he has made?

Example of How Another Brother Was Treated

Before you answer my question, let me share with you what happened to one of the readers of my blog who answered those questions pretty much in the way I have just proposed. I share this with his permission. This individual, who is an Elder’s Quorum Instructor, went in for his temple recommend interview. He was honest in his responses and apparently his bishop had no problem with what he had to say so he signed the recommend and sent him on to see the Stake President.

To Sustain the Church President as the Prophet

After a few moments of cordial introductory chit-chat, they began the interview. When asked if he “sustain[ed] the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator…” my friend responded as follows: “I sustain him but I don’t believe certain things that are being taught in our church today.” I’m sure you can imagine the bells that are now going off in the Stake President’s mind like, “Why did the Bishop sign this man’s recommend?”

Asking Questions – Asked to Be Taught – A No-no

So the stake president asked my friend to elaborate. He said, “There are some things I don’t understand about the higher priesthood. What is the fullness of the priesthood? How do we know that we have it in the LDS Church today?” I’m sure you can guess the Stake President was just a little bit aghast. According to my friend, he was livid. He said, “The Stake President took my recommend and then intimated they might have to consider disciplinary action against me.”

His Wife Feels She Has Lost Everything

He was immediately released from his calling. I quote now from his comments on my blog, “It has been a month and the word is getting out in the ward. I sit in the testimony meetings and my wife cries and mourns her loss when loving TBM husbands testify of their wife’s love or of their children’s innocence. She cries in Gospel Doctrine class when the discussion is following the prophet and “criticizing” the brethren is discussed. In my wife’s mind she sees that all is lost.”

Members Blame Him for Taking Away Her Hope

“She feels she now has no promise of celestial life, eternal marriage, no father for her children, all is lost since GOD’s oracle on earth has damned me to hell for my unbelief. Fellow Saints console her openly and cast sideways glances towards me grimacing. Priesthood leaders currently counsel together to strategize damage control ideas, or how to protect the flock and my family from me or my influence. In fact, the Relief Society is now bringing funeral meals.”

Leader Tells Son to Beware of His Own Father

I found this outrageous scene so unbelievable I just had to call him to confirm. We spoke for about 45 minutes on Wednesday. It was a delight to speak with him. He was not downcast or unhappy in any way. He expressed love and sympathy for his priesthood leaders. He said he understood why they reacted the way they did – that it was typical for his area there in Northern Utah. He said the Stake President called his 17-year old son in to warn him against his father.

Unrighteous Dominion is Alive and Well Today

At this point my jaw just about hit the floor. I could not believe what I was hearing. Did we belong to the same church? Does this Stake President not realize what he has just done to this man’s family, his marriage and his testimony? Talk about spiritual abuse and unrighteous dominion. This Stake President was the epitome of a priesthood leader who had no clue about the right way to help a fellow priesthood brother who had simply asked an honest question.

Persuasion, Long-Suffering, Gentleness, Meekness, Love

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

My Blog is All About LDS Book Reviews

President, Bishop, if you haven’t read my blog, and I don’t expect you to have done so since you are both such busy men, you would know it is mainly about writing LDS book reviews. I started out reading Denver Snuffer’s books a few years ago and have written book reviews about just about all of them. I have not advocated anybody believe what he has shared. I have simply done these reviews because he is a controversial fellow and I was asked my opinion by others I trust.

I Seek Deep Understanding – No Cursory Overview

However, in order to understand the books more completely, I had studied them extensively, both because the subject matter is intensely interesting to me – how to come unto the Savior – and about the early history of our church. President Uchtdorf may have been referring to Denver Snuffer’s books when he mentioned there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question. It’s OK to have a difference of opinion as to what the ‘facts’ really mean.

I Want The Temple To Be A Part Of My Life

I’d like to conclude with a few thoughts and then ask one final question. I plan to go to the temple today to participate in our quarterly stake chapel and endowment session. I love to go to the temple. I love to serve in the temple. I love to be with the members of our stake. I love to serve in my present calling as Stake Financial Clerk. I hope my service is helpful. I’m grateful the temple has been such a big part of my life for almost forty years. It has blessed my life.

I Only Teach Authorized Correlated Material

I love this church. It has blessed my life since I was a little boy. I loved serving a mission. I have always loved teaching the gospel to the saints from the pulpit or in the classroom. I always make certain I stay within the boundaries of the authorized correlated material found in the manuals. I love the Brethren. I sustain the General Authorities. I’m grateful to be able to pay my tithing. I know it pays their salaries, including my sister’s salary, who is Elder Perry’s executive secretary.

I Will Serve Wherever I Am Asked

President, I have tried to serve faithfully in any calling or priesthood assignment I have received. I try to be a 100% home teacher. I love visiting Brother and Sister Harris each month to provide priesthood blessings as he finishes up his cancer treatments. I miss teaching the saints. I loved being a primary teacher, a High Priest Group Leader, a ward missionary, Bishopric counselor, ward clerk, and in my previous stake, High Councilor, Seminary Teacher and Mission Leader.

Only Desire To Build The Kingdom of God

My only desire is to build the Kingdom of God on the Earth and contribute to the preparation of this Kingdom for the return of the Lord. I have never had a problem with tithing and love to be able to contribute in this manner. I strive to keep my temple covenants to give of my time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed me to the building up of the Kingdom of God. I love my wife and strive to do everything to help her find happiness, especially as we worship.

 Permit Me Agency of My Doubts and Questions

Here’s my concluding question: If I confess my doubt, or my question really, about what the fullness of the priesthood really is and if it is found on the earth today, will expressing this doubt preclude me from being found worthy of holding a temple recommend, serving as a stake clerk or will my confession cause me to face disciplinary action? I have thought about this and written about this previously here in my blog. Why am I making this confession? In order to be honest.

Others Are Punished For Asking Questions

God bless you Bishop and President. I hope you will look kindly upon the confession I share. Is there still room for me in this church, as Prsident Uchtdorf has declared? I do not look upon my questions about the priesthood to be doubts, really, but simply questions. I want to be taught. What is the fullness of the priesthood? Is it the same as the Melchizedek priesthood? Is it the same as the patriarchal priesthood? Does it contain the sealing power like Nephi received it?

We Have Limited Free Will


We have limited free will. Within certain limitations, we can make choices and act upon those choices. Our choices are partially controlled and determined by outside forces and by the laws of physics. But we have agency to act within certain bounds of natural laws that exist. We can exercise that agency, make choices and act upon those choices. Logic dictates there is no purpose or meaning to life if we do not have some free will. We instinctively know we have power to act in some things without constraint of necessity or fate. We are bound or limited by physics but we are independent agents within our sphere of influence. We intuitively think or feel we are free. We therefore act at our own discretion. We are capable of responding to random chance with purposeful choices. Thus we can be held morally responsible and accountable for our choices and actions in both the deterministic world of physics and the indeterminate world of observable quantum mechanics that we are still discovering.

Absolute free will is logically incompatible with determinism because we do not control the universe. However, as individuals, we are able to take more than one possible course of action in any given scenario. There are obvious choices in life we can choose to follow. We can conceive and believe things. This proves some free will even though there are limitations on the choices available to us. For example, because I am not a fish, I do not have the choice of living underwater without some sort of breathing apparatus. It is determined beforehand that human life is incompatible with living unaided under water. I am therefore limited to certain pre-determined boundaries if I want to sustain life. In like manner, in some situations I have a limited number of choices I can make because of the randomness of life. I hope I never have to decide what to do if I am in a plane that is about to crash. I would have no control of the physics causing the plane to crash, but I still have some obvious choices I can make and act upon, like remain calm or panic.

As an argument against any kind of free will, consider the views of hard determinism. Determinists believe that our thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviors are all predetermined from the moment that time began at the big bang. A determinist advocates that we do not have any control over the state of the universe or the laws that govern the universe. Free will is an illusion, they say. You may think that your choices and actions have an effect on the universe but you are really no more than an observer. For a determinist, free will is a nothing more than a necessary delusion that allows us to build a society where praise and punishment actually mean something. Compatibilists hold individuals morally responsible for their actions as if they had free will. Although it doesn’t really exist, they say, we can act as if it does, thus providing a necessary condition for moral responsibility – accountability.

Following this logic, the universe is deterministic and bound by the laws of physics. Our bodies are bound by those same laws. If you are a materialist, you believe that all behavior is caused by chemical brain states outside of our control. In order for free will to exist, there must be a supernatural agent that is not bound by those laws to inject an input from outside the system; in other words, a God. I wish I could develop this further, but for now I will propose that there are only two arguments against free will. First, if determinism is the true state of things, then the will is not free because all events are caused and our actions are predetermined. Therefore, there is no moral responsibility or free will. The second argument against free will is indeterminism of random events or chance. If all our actions are caused by chance then we have no control, and therefore, again, no free will or moral responsibility. True free will requires we have control of outcomes. However, we do not control the universe or the laws of physics. If you think about it, we control nothing of this world or the universe. To prove free will, we must prove that we can control at least some things, thus becoming independent agents with power to act.

I don’t disagree with all the views of materialists or determinists. In fact, I readily concur with determinists that the laws of the universe are outside our control. I also concur that a large part of our body processes are apparently outside the control of at least our conscious mind and will. I can’t control the motion of the planets, the effects of nature, or prevent myself from dying someday. These things are determined. My bounds are set in these matters and many others. I also concur with indeterminism as it relates to many of the choices with which I am presented in this life. So many things are just random and purely by chance. I come across an object on the freeway that gives me a flat tire. It was pure chance that I happened to come upon that object and embed it in my tire first because I just happened to be there at that place and at that time. Random chance is just part of this life. So many things – most things – are out of my control.

So what do I control? There are many things over which I have control and thus free will. I control my responses to the choices I am presented in life. I can control my thoughts. I can control the things I put into my body. I control the things I say and the things I do. Nobody forces me to act a certain way or respond in a specific manner. I control my attitudes and my beliefs. I decide what I will do with my time, who I will go visit, what work I will do, what I choose to study. I may not choose many of the things that happen to me in this life but I can and do choose how I respond to those situations. I determine the character I build by using my free will adequately. My free will is limited to those things over which I have some control and have choices. I do not have free will when it comes to the laws of physics and nature. They are out of my control. In the things over which I do have control such as thoughts, beliefs and opinions I choose what I want to think about or believe. My thoughts are not caused and are not random. They are purposeful and demonstrate free will, especially when I act upon them. Therefore, my conclusion is that we have limited or adequate determinism and limited but genuine free will.

We Have Limited Free Will


We have limited free will. Within certain limitations, we can make choices and act upon those choices. Our choices are partially controlled and determined by outside forces and by the laws of physics. But we have agency to act within certain bounds of natural laws that exist. We can exercise that agency, make choices and act upon those choices. Logic dictates there is no purpose or meaning to life if we do not have some free will. We instinctively know we have power to act in some things without constraint of necessity or fate. We are bound or limited by physics but we are independent agents within our sphere of influence. We intuitively think or feel we are free. We therefore act at our own discretion. We are capable of responding to random chance with purposeful choices. Thus we can be held morally responsible and accountable for our choices and actions in both the deterministic world of physics and the indeterminate world of observable quantum mechanics that we are still discovering.

Absolute free will is logically incompatible with determinism because we do not control the universe. However, as individuals, we are able to take more than one possible course of action in any given scenario. There are obvious choices in life we can choose to follow. We can conceive and believe things. This proves some free will even though there are limitations on the choices available to us. For example, because I am not a fish, I do not have the choice of living underwater without some sort of breathing apparatus. It is determined beforehand that human life is incompatible with living unaided under water. I am therefore limited to certain pre-determined boundaries if I want to sustain life. In like manner, in some situations I have a limited number of choices I can make because of the randomness of life. I hope I never have to decide what to do if I am in a plane that is about to crash. I would have no control of the physics causing the plane to crash, but I still have some obvious choices I can make and act upon, like remain calm or panic.

As an argument against any kind of free will, consider the views of hard determinism. Determinists believe that our thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviors are all predetermined from the moment that time began at the big bang. A determinist advocates that we do not have any control over the state of the universe or the laws that govern the universe. Free will is an illusion, they say. You may think that your choices and actions have an effect on the universe but you are really no more than an observer. For a determinist, free will is a nothing more than a necessary delusion that allows us to build a society where praise and punishment actually mean something. Compatibilists hold individuals morally responsible for their actions as if they had free will. Although it doesn’t really exist, they say, we can act as if it does, thus providing a necessary condition for moral responsibility – accountability.

Following this logic, the universe is deterministic and bound by the laws of physics. Our bodies are bound by those same laws. If you are a materialist, you believe that all behavior is caused by chemical brain states outside of our control. In order for free will to exist, there must be a supernatural agent that is not bound by those laws to inject an input from outside the system; in other words, a God. I wish I could develop this further, but for now I will propose that there are only two arguments against free will. First, if determinism is the true state of things, then the will is not free because all events are caused and our actions are predetermined. Therefore, there is no moral responsibility or free will. The second argument against free will is indeterminism of random events or chance. If all our actions are caused by chance then we have no control, and therefore, again, no free will or moral responsibility. True free will requires we have control of outcomes. However, we do not control the universe or the laws of physics. If you think about it, we control nothing of this world or the universe. To prove free will, we must prove that we can control at least some things, thus becoming independent agents with power to act.

I don’t disagree with all the views of materialists or determinists. In fact, I readily concur with determinists that the laws of the universe are outside our control. I also concur that a large part of our body processes are apparently outside the control of at least our conscious mind and will. I can’t control the motion of the planets, the effects of nature, or prevent myself from dying someday. These things are determined. My bounds are set in these matters and many others. I also concur with indeterminism as it relates to many of the choices with which I am presented in this life. So many things are just random and purely by chance. I come across an object on the freeway that gives me a flat tire. It was pure chance that I happened to come upon that object and embed it in my tire first because I just happened to be there at that place and at that time. Random chance is just part of this life. So many things – most things – are out of my control.

So what do I control? There are many things over which I have control and thus free will. I control my responses to the choices I am presented in life. I can control my thoughts. I can control the things I put into my body. I control the things I say and the things I do. Nobody forces me to act a certain way or respond in a specific manner. I control my attitudes and my beliefs. I decide what I will do with my time, who I will go visit, what work I will do, what I choose to study. I may not choose many of the things that happen to me in this life but I can and do choose how I respond to those situations. I determine the character I build by using my free will adequately. My free will is limited to those things over which I have some control and have choices. I do not have free will when it comes to the laws of physics and nature. They are out of my control. In the things over which I do have control such as thoughts, beliefs and opinions I choose what I want to think about or believe. My thoughts are not caused and are not random. They are purposeful and demonstrate free will, especially when I act upon them. Therefore, my conclusion is that we have limited or adequate determinism and limited but genuine free will.

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