Doctrine of Christ Conference Update


stgeorgearea

Doctrine of Christ Conference

March 18th – 19th 2017 — St. George, Utah, USA

The website at DoctrineofChristConference.com is being updated with the following information on February 27, 2017

About this Conference

The idea for this spring conference came after the September 2016 Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference where an amazing thing happened – people said they felt something entirely new and different there. For the first time, after so many years of hearing about Zion and reading about Zion, some of us found real hope that we really can learn to love each other enough to live together in a city of peace.

That’s what the Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise gave us, and that’s what we pray that the St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference will become to those who gather there this spring. Every detail of what we have planned and sacrificed in order to make this conference happen is to invite our Lord to be present, again, and to feel that sweet spirit of fellowship that makes life worth living.

Who we are

We are a few friends and believers in the Doctrine of Christ as taught in The Book of Mormon. We are not a formal organization or fellowship.

This conference is non-denominational and is not affiliated with any organized religion. There is no specific group hosting this event – we’re all just individuals contributing our time and effort to make this happen. The heavy lifting for the web site, and technical help with sound and recording comes from some of the Boise folks who did it before and are kind enough to do it again so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We thank them sincerely.

Location

We chose Southern Utah for several reasons. One is for the sheer beauty of the place. Another good reason is the warmer spring weather in the Southern Utah area. But proximity to our friends in California, Arizona and Nevada was most important to us, since St. George is about halfway between them and our North Idaho and Canadian friends. Having this conference at the crossroads will, we hope, make it a little easier for those who were unable to make the drive to Boise. God brought us together, we want to stay together.

Spring break is a tough time to find room at the inn in this area. Hopefully, if you haven’t yet booked a room you can still find a place nearby in the surrounding areas of Mesquite, La Verkin, Hurricane, Cedar City, or Parowan.

Please make your reservations ASAP.

With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference,

and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so, in spite of difficulty. There is a place provided on the website for you to request help, or to provide help for those who are requesting lodging, but please be aware that options are very limited. The organizers are few in number but will do what we can to assist.

The timing and the date of this conference

Spring Equinox is a time each year when light begins to overcome the darkness

of winter. This is the perfect time to gather again with old friends, to make new friends, and to rejoice in the light of new revelations coming forth in our day. The conference presentations of Saturday March 18th, and Sunday March 19th will provide a natural transition into the actual day of Equinox: Monday, March 20, 2017.

The planners had originally envisioned organizing a conference sunrise service at the Parowan Gap Monday morning, but have decided instead to focus all logistical time and resources on the speaking and Sacrament sessions of the conference. We leave it to individuals and families to create the Parowan Gap sunrise experience on their own. Maps of Parowan Gap and other interesting local areas will be available at the welcome tables at both venues.

The venues  

As we first contemplated organizing this conference and searched for locations, the impression came to go big or go home. We knew we needed to plan for at least a thousand people, probably more since general press releases will go out in Las Vegas, St. George and Salt Lake City.

There are many considerations for a group this size, especially for families with small children. The Cox Center for the Performing Arts seemed perfect. There’s seating for 1,200, an easy access location, good parking, clean accessible restrooms, and great acoustics for speakers and recording. There is a carpeted foyer for toddlers to roam, and piped sound and video to the foyer for any overflow crowd.

The Cox Center is on the campus of Dixie State University and therefore alcohol is not allowed on the premises. It’s a great place for speakers, but we found that there was just no way to do a conference Sacrament service there.

We wanted to be able to provide a place where the Sacrament with wine could be served, so we had to rent a separate “wine friendly” place. That’s the reason there are two venues. The Hilton Garden Inn was chosen because of proximity to Cox, and because the ballroom seats about 400. If needed, we can provide two Sacrament services, one after the other, to accommodate all of those who would like to take the Sacrament at this conference. The earlier Sacrament will start at 6:00 pm, and a second Sacrament service may be available at about 8:00 pm if there are those who were not able to take the Sacrament at 6 pm. Families with small children may want to attend the earlier Sacrament meeting. Although over 1,000 are estimated to attend, and the Cox Auditorium seats 1,200, we will only be able to accommodate 800 for Sacrament service, so please be prompt.

The Hilton charges a $5.00 per bottle (or per canning jar) “corkage” fee for any wine brought from outside, so we are asking that families please do not bring your own wine to this Sacrament meeting. All bread, wine and grape juice will be provided.

We have secured the Hilton from 8 am to 10 pm Saturday as a general meeting and gathering place. After the last Sacrament there will be time available for socializing at the Hilton until 10 pm. Although a welcome table will be available and there will be greeters there off and on during the day Saturday, the Hilton is not available to us on Sunday.

When we got the actual cost figures for renting The Cox Center for the Performing Arts and the Hilton Garden Inn we were nearly overwhelmed. We were trying to figure out how in the world we could possibly do this when a donor stepped up and provided the cash contribution which enabled us to secure both places under contract. Of course that person wishes to remain anonymous, but we hope that when he/she is sitting there in the audience surrounded by all of us experiencing the blessing of being able to witness this event, the magnitude of the effect of that generosity will warm the heart and soul of our donor.

There are significant costs associated with any large event like this. We’re not out of the woods yet and are doing our best to cover the remainder of the costs of the venues, all the Sacrament bread and wine for 800+ people, program printing, etc.

We could sure use your help to cover these costs. Anything you can contribute is needed. On the web page at DoctrineofChrist.com is a place to contribute, if you can. Please know that after basic conference costs are covered 100% of all extra funds will go directly to those in need of financial assistance.

Saturday morning baptisms

We have scheduled 9:00 am for baptisms at Ivins Reservoir, in order to allow time to get back to St. George, dress, eat lunch and make it to the Cox Auditorium for the start of the Saturday conference at 1:00 pm. But baptisms can of course be any day or time which you prefer.

There are other places around the area for living water baptisms. One warm springs pool is close by has a steep trail down to it. (See notes at the end for detail.) Maps and information will be available at the welcome tables, and from contacting the Born of Water web host directly yourself, which we encourage you to do if you have any questions. That link is listed on the website.

Ivins Reservoir is about 12 miles from St. George, and is easily accessible for baptisms at any time. It’s a public place, so there may possibly be others there, but that’s not very likely at 9 am in March. The water is quite refreshing (OK, really cold). There are no public restrooms but we’re planning for a tent to be there for changing and dressing. If you think you may want to be baptized, please bring your own extra towels. Someone with authority from Jesus Christ will be at Ivins Reservoir at 9:00 am to baptize you if you have not brought someone yourself. (There will not be anyone standing by at other baptism sites besides Ivins.) Information on how to get to Ivins Reservoir is posted on the web site.

The Speakers and the Program

After a lot of prayer, and our willingness to let the Lord indicate who the speakers should be – each one of the speakers became an obvious choice to contribute their particular perspective on an aspect of The Doctrine of Christ.

Their topics and speaking order will be listed in a later update. For now we have confirmed the following as speakers; Rob and Quintina BearChief Adolfo, Denver Snuffer, Karen Strong, Jeanene Custer, John Pratt, Chris Hamill, and Paul Durham. There may be others to come.

All conference speakers will be recorded, and their talks will be made available on the Doctrine of Christ Conference website at a later date. Where possible, transcripts of talks will also be made available. Denver Snuffer’s talk may also be available on his website in audio and transcript form at a later date.

All conference prayers will be by invitation. Various musical numbers will be presented, as detailed in the printed programs which will be available at the welcome tables. There will also be congregational hymns. Testimonies at the Saturday Sacrament meeting are by inspiration and invitation. Because of time restraints there will not be an open testimony mic at this conference, but hopefully the time will soon come when that is possible.

Although starting times of each session are fixed, as noted below, we have reserved additional time at both venues in order to make the ending times flexible enough to accommodate the spirit of whatever is being presented.

Please be aware that ending times may go over what is posted in the schedule.

Both Chris Hamill and Denver Snuffer will have Q and A time in the speaking schedule. 3×5 cards for writing your questions for both Chris and Denver will be available at the welcome tables. A submission button tor questions for Denver will be active on the Doctrine of Christ website shortly.

General Schedule

Saturday, March 18

9:00 am       Baptisms

                        Ivins Reservoir

1:00 pm –      Welcome and Saturday Conference Session

4:30 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

6:00 pm-       Sacrament Meeting/Testimonies/Music/Social Gathering

10:00 pm      Hilton Garden Inn

1731 S. Convention Center Dr.

St. George, Utah 84970

(435) 634-4100

Sunday, March 19

9:00 am –      Sunday Conference Session

1:00 pm        Cox Center for the Performing Arts

Dixie State University

325 S 700 E

St. George, Utah 84770

There will be an additional information update to the Doctrine of Christ website about a week before the conference with more detail. With what we anticipate being shared in the presentations at this conference, and also the spirit which will attend it, we encourage you to expend any effort to come if you are impressed to do so. We sincerely hope you will come and we look forward to seeing you there.

With love, and in the name of Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ,

The St. George Doctrine of Christ Conference

Organizing Committee

 

Invitation to Fellowship


logsblogWhat is it about climbing a mountain that helps you feel closer to the Lord? I’ve hiked up to the top of Mt. Pinos a few times now, each time by myself. Upon arriving at the top I found, or rather felt directed to a private place just off to one side and behind a fallen tree. To me, it’s a perfect spot for pondering and praying aloud. I went there again last Saturday and came home feeling absolutely wonderful. I’ve decided to make another visit next month on Saturday October 15th at noon.

mtpinosmapI invite you to join me if you’re anywhere near us in Southern California and willing to drive up the mountain. You can drive up to the end of the road, leaving about a half hour to walk to the top. It’s about two hours from my house in Camarillo, and is the highest peak sitting right on the line between Ventura and Kern counties. If you’re not into mountain climbing, show up at 3pm for sacrament meeting in the picnic area. You’re all invited. We have such a small group in Southern California, we hope you’ll consider joining us.

Click on the first image above for a link to Log’s Cabin blog and a little more information. We intend to enjoy the Sacrament together at 3pm and discuss the gospel. God bless.

Strengthening One Another in Fellowship


HatchRockTwo weeks ago Carol and I travelled to Moab Utah for the weekend. We attended a conference of the Southern Utah and Colorado fellowships. We were asked to refrain from promoting it on social media, thus I wrote nothing in my blog. It was a wonderful gathering held at the Rockland Ranch (Hatch Rock) over two days with speakers from the various fellowships. I am so grateful to have been able to attend.

I am also grateful Carol went with me. I did not tell her much about it, nor especially did I mention that Denver might be there. Although Carol attended several of Denver’s lectures with me in 2014, and was especially complimentary of his lecture in St George on marriage, she is not particularly fond of the man. Perhaps it is because I resigned from the LDS Church after reading his books and attending his lectures.

On Saturday, I was asked to provide a short report of our fellowship activities in California, a difficult task since we are spread out so far up and down the length of the state, a few toward San Diego, a few here near Ventura, a few more in Northern California. I did my best – it was pouring rain – then sat down to enjoy the fine testimonies of others and they bore witness of how their various fellowships were blessing their lives.

And Their Number Were Few

FewInNumbersI have to ask myself, and upon receipt of a social email from Denver, I asked him, why so few? Why are so few willing to read the words he has written, or listen to the testimony he has borne of the Savior? He reminded me we are constrained by section 121: persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge… These are the tools of the Savior to persuade.

I also ask myself, after having served in the church for so many years, why was I unsatisfied? Why did I not feel fulfilled in my soul with a sense of purpose and meaning that should come from participating as fully as I could in what is proclaimed to be the true and living church upon the face of the earth? Was I not reading the scriptures or studying the gospel enough? I asked the Lord in prayer. That was not the case.

I want you to know I love the Lord. I wish I could tell you more of the things He has revealed to me, but He has asked me to refrain. I have hinted and tried to share as much as I dared in years past when He revealed them to me. I have been in His presence. He has encircled me about in His love. I have felt the reality of forgiveness from sins. He is quick to forgive. But there is so much more He would give us.

Correlation is Death to the Spirit

PriesthoodCorrelationLast week I attended a small gathering of our local fellowship – just five or six of us. We witnessed baptisms, partook of the sacrament and then discussed the gospel in a way that fulfilled my soul so much more as compared to sitting in a High Priest Group being fed the correlated lesson. And I was a HP Group leader. My point is the spirit is real and gives life but there is something missing in those correlated lessons.

I hope not to offend anyone. The LDS Church is doing a wonderful job, but something is lacking. I did not recognize it until a few years ago while serving as a High Priest Group Leader. There are many standard questions and equally standard answers. If your answer does not fit within the accepted nature of what is suggested in the manual, the brethren around you are quick to let you know. I speak from experience.

This should not be. Man should be free to speak his mind and expect respect and illumination from his brethren who share the same faith. Sadly, the correlated curriculum has destroyed that opportunity to be free with one’s thought and explications on the subject, quote or verses being considered. This is sad to me and is the very reason I refuse to attend Gospel Doctrine classes or High Priest’s group anymore.

A Loosening of the Tongue

start-a-blogBesides, as a non-member, the HP Group is considered a private meeting, is it not? I could be mistaken. My purpose of this post is not to rail against the tightly controlled structure of the LDS Church class meetings, but to write about the benefits and joys of fellowship among those who love you and feel the same about the Lord and the Restoration. For the most part they have been cast out or have resigned.

After witnessing baptisms in the living water of Ventura harbor, we sat on the grass a little inland, blessed and partook of the sacrament in the open air and under a bright sun. You may say that wine loosens the tongue but I tell you it caused those who partook to feel the love and blessings of the Lord. We do not drink wine to get drunk but to remember the Lord, his blood which was shed for us, and the life he imbues in us by so partaking.

We speak of what we write – three of us are bloggers – or what we read on various blogs. The gospel is discussed. The utmost importance of obeying the commandments, the reality of the Lord’s admonition to give unto the poor, without restraint. Tithing is to care for the poor, not to pay the salaries of the many General Authorities or build shopping malls.  I didn’t used to have a problem with that idea. Now it galls me.

Discussing the Gospel with Joy and Gladness

blogs-of-noteWe laugh. We joke a bit. We express love. We hug. We speak of deep doctrine and often speak of the foolishness of those who write on our blogs who have no clue what they are expressing, not having studied of contemplated the subject in depth. We are not perfect or scholars. We are each sinners as are all who have need of fellowship and the sacrament. But when we leave, we are uplifted and strengthened.

I express gratitude to my brethren and sisters who participate with me in our fellowship meetings, even though we do not get together as often as we like. I administer the sacrament in my own home each week after attending the local LDS Sacrament meeting with my wife. I pray with passion, I study the gospel, I write – either in my journal or here on my blog. I wish our fellowship could get together more often.

This will be short. I simply wanted to express gratitude for those the Lord has placed nearby – within a few hours travelling distance – and for their willingness to drive that distance here in the Golden state. I love you my brethren. You know who you are. I pray for you and your families. We share many of the same feelings about the LDS Church even if we currently attend the meetings or not.

God bless all the humble followers of Christ who desire to cry mightily unto him and to obey his commandments. I am so grateful for the Sacrament. I love my brothers and sisters who attend our LDS Wards, but derive so much more from our small fellowship, even if we sometimes only get together via the Internet. NOTE: If you wish to read or hear Denver’s address to the combined fellowships at the conference, you can find them on his downloads page.

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.

Mormons Are a Submissive People


Jesus-Rich-Young-RulerI’ve noticed a constant theme over the past few years as I have written about those who have been excommunicated from our church. I don’t know if it’s just coincidence the subject has come up so many times or if I have sought it out. I’d like to explore the idea of submissiveness with you in this post and get your opinion as to what the right attitude should be towards this.

Opposite of Arrogance and Rebellion

I’ve told you I pray about my posts. I’ve also mentioned to specific individuals privately this post was coming. These good people are worried about me. I know they love me and have expressed concern I’ve been dealing in territory they say causes them discomfort. Rebellion and arrogance are the opposite of submissiveness. I’ve had experience with both as a young lad.

Remember Them Which Rule Over You

I’m not going to address the scripture in Ephesians 5:22 of wives submitting themselves to their husbands. I’ll leave that to others. I prefer to center my remarks on the scripture in Hebrews 13:7, which reads, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.”

Obey Counsel of Priesthood Leaders

I note in the Topical guide the word remember is replaced with the word Obey. If I recall correctly the Topical guide was compiled by Elder McConkie and Elder Packer. I believe we can safely surmise the word obey can be used in the place of the word remember, at least in this case. In short, we are to remember and obey the word of our priesthood leaders who preside over us.

Blind obedience not encouraged

That’s probably the crux of the matter. Some of my readers find it troublesome to think anyone could or should come between us and our relationship with our Heavenly Father. They can quote scripture and words from the Brethren – so can I – indicating how important it is to confirm all we receive from our priesthood leaders for ourselves. In other words, avoid blind obedience.

Examples from Disciplinary Councils

Put another way, we are to submit to their counsel, especially when it is given in love with concern for the salvation of our souls. Perhaps I can best illustrate with a few examples from disciplinary councils in which I have participated over the years. Don’t worry, I’ll provide no specifics; mention no names nor identify anyone in any way so you may think you know them.

Restoration of Full Fellowship

I have been blessed that the majority of these disciplinary counsels have been convened to consider bringing the member back into full fellowship after a period of disfellowshipment or excommunication or. I am pleased to report that most of these councils have resulted in positive outcomes. Tears and hugs all around have usually been expressed at the end of the proceedings.

A Willing and Contrite Spirit

In discussing as a bishopric or High Council what is different in the second council, it invariably comes down to a matter of attitude. We note the contrite spirit, the willingness to do as advised, the demonstration they have done as counseled over the year or years – I hate to see a disciplined member go more than a year without sacrament and temple blessings. They are different people.

Submissiveness Natural Result of Repentance

In other words, they have learned to be submissive. I have specifically heard penitent individuals express words to the effect of, “Bishop (or President), what would you have me do? I will do whatever you ask, anything you say to get my membership back or to be considered a member in full standing again.” There is no pride, no thought for self, only a desire to please their leaders.

The Lord Forgives, So Should We

Of course we ask them to relate their feelings about the Lord. We ask about their prayers. We ask if they feel forgiven. We ask if they feel the Love of their Savior. We ask about their efforts of restitution, if they have asked forgiveness of those they have harmed, used or abused (often a hard thing to do). We ask about their scripture reading, their gospel study and other habits.

Don’t Dwell on the Sin

If you have never gone through a disciplinary council, you may think this intrusive. We don’t dwell on the sin. We don’t rehash details of the sin. We focus on their efforts of repentance. I think my first disciplinary council was in 1989 as an executive secretary. Ordinarily the clerk attends but he was unavailable so I was asked to take notes and write up the report to Salt Lake.

Bishop’s Counsel is Recorded

I can only recall one council in which we decided the individual was not yet ready to be returned to full membership status. They obviously had not taken the bishops counsel seriously. We always provide a written record of what the bishop feels inspired to ask of them as evidence of their willingness to repent. That is his right and responsibility as a sustained common judge in Israel.

Counselors Provide Input for the Bishop

Having sat on the side of the table in which my duty is to provide counsel to the Bishop or Stake President, I have noted their response. With some leaders, it’s just a poll to see what we think, especially if it’s a cut and dry case. With others, the priesthood leader is genuinely interested in what we have to say. I have always appreciated that, especially when I was a new in the calling.

High Council Disciplinary Format Different

Remember, in a Stake Disciplinary council half of the High Council is to speak on behalf of the member. The member is allowed to have witnesses speak on his behalf and if I’m not mistaken, to have members of his family present to be at the proceedings, as long as they are reverent. The format is given by revelation. You can read about in in section 102 of the Doctrine & Covenants.

Submissiveness Shows Respect

Now, let’s return back to the idea of submissiveness and respect. I’ve always struggled with the habit we have in our church of standing when a General Authority of higher authority comes into a meeting. To me, this smacks of hierarchy worship. That’s not to say I don’t follow it. I do. When I conducted sacrament meetings and a member of the Stake Presidency entered, I stood.

The Unwritten Order of Things

When sitting in Bishopric training meeting or High Council or Stake PEC, I note that we always deferred to the presiding authority as the last to speak and having the final ward. We usually expressed our opinion from youngest to eldest. It’s just the unwritten order of things that Elder Packer discussed in his talk offered so long ago on the subject, which many said they disliked.

I’m a First Generation Mormon

I suppose it’s the natural man in me, the rebel of a first-generation Mormon. I come from a long line of Baptist preachers and Presbyterian ministers. I attended the Presbyterian Church with my mother until I was five years old and still remember the pomp and formality of the worship service. Dad was a lapsed Baptist. I have many living relatives I love who are ministers today.

Apostasy not same as Moral Transgression

I want to conclude with a short discussion of the difference between a disciplinary council convened for moral transgression as opposed to one convened for apostasy. I’m alarmed we have seen more of these apostasy councils lately. It wasn’t that way as I was growing up in the church in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Apostasy usually brings up visions of rebellion, arrogance and pride.

Apostasy Usually Decided At The Top

However, in cases I have investigated first hand, I found none of these were present on the part of the individual who was excommunicated. Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say for certain, but I have interviewed them or read their account of the proceedings and their letter of appeal. I sense a difference in the actions of the presiding authorities – their minds made up in advance.

Stake President Carrying Out Assignment

This was clear in the account of Denver Snuffer. There is no doubt his stake president was told by members of the SCMC in Salt Lake what needed to be done with no room for negotiation. In other words, the decision was made. The stake president was simply under orders to carry out the formalities of discipline. I feel the same thing happened with Mel Fish and with Brent Larsen.

Even Good Men Can Err in Doctrine

This quote from Joseph reminds me of my friend Paul Toscano: “I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammeled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine.” (HC 5:340)

The Sanctity of Dissent

Paul wrote a book explaining his side of things, “The Sanctity of Dissent.” The more I think about it the more I agree with Paul. I believe we have a right to disagree with the interpretations of scriptures and doctrines as offered by our General Authorities. I believe we should be able to share that on our private blogs without fear of reprisal or punishment from church officers.

Blogs are For Exploring New Ideas

Of course, as I have written many times, I would not dream of teaching my personal ideas or interpretations from the pulpit or in the classroom. I sustain the Brethren and their right to declare what should be taught uniformly throughout the church – but NOT to censor what we write in private or semi-public, such as a blog. Our blogs are not official word of the church.

Blogging is Following Counsel of Elder Ballard

That’s why I wrote in my previous post how it troubles me when we are punished for trying to follow the counsel of Elder Ballard to be involved in the online dialog about the church and our doctrines. We want people to understand us, even if we differ somewhat from the standard or orthodox interpretation of the official doctrines that are presented by teachers in our classrooms.

Seeking to Remain Informed

For those who have expressed concerned I have gone apostate because I enjoy reading, writing about and discussing the writings of certain individuals such as Denver Snuffer, Max Skousen, D. Michael Quinn, David John Beurger or just about anything from Signature Books, please don’t think this affects my testimony of the fundamentals of this church. My testimony is intact.

Many Prophets In Addition to Joseph

I revere Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. In spite of his flaws, he was a prophet of the Lord in these latter days. But don’t take away from me my right to call Denver Snuffer a prophet as well. I accept the Book of Mormon as the Word of God, intended to be a warning for our day. Again, please don’t take away my right to read and discuss the writings of Denver Snuffer on my blog.

Seek Guidance From God in What to Study

As I’ve written many times, I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve in the small capacity in which I am asked, be it as a home teacher or in my current calling as the Stake Financial Clerk. I seek the guidance and direction of the Lord each day in what I should read and study in addition to the scriptures. I feel lead and am grateful for that still small voice to my soul.

Submissiveness to Local Priesthood Leaders

I like to think I am a submissive individual. I try not to take any offense when corrected by my priesthood leaders. I try to welcome it with a cheerful attitude. I know they love me and have my best interests at heart. As I’ve always said, I would remove my blog in a heartbeat if they said it caused people trouble or caused them to doubt their own testimonies of God and of our Savior.

Expressed Willingness to Remove my Blog

I wonder if the day will come when that changes. This is probably getting repetitious to my regular readers. I am growing. I am learning. I am seeking the face of the Lord. I do not feel this blog is being written by commandment of the Lord but by suggestion and a desire to follow the counsel of prophets and apostles. God bless them, especially those who suffer effects of old age.

Seek Learning by Study and by Faith

God bless you my brothers and sisters. May you seek learning by study and also by faith. I strive to do both. I will not leave my eternal salvation to what I hear taught each week in the three hour block of meetings. It is simply not enough. It is my personality and learning method that I must write and share as I read. Otherwise I do not feel a commitment or internalization of what I read.

Keys to My Participation in Ordinances

Please, rest assured, I intend to be and remain submissive to the direction of my priesthood leaders. Unless the Lord tells me otherwise, I will do as they direct. I sustain them and grant them authority over me. At this point in my life, the spirit directs I should do so. I want and need the sacrament and the temple. These brethren hold the keys of those blessing in my behalf.

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