Sunday, July 16, 2017

Answering Letter to A CES Director #9

Before I start my counterargument in this edition, I would like to thank Stephen Smoot and Brian C. Hales for their help during this series (Smoot wrote #7 and Hales wrote #8). Both are men of great understanding and great faith. In respect to Smoot, few people know as much about the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and early Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture, while still having faith that the two former books are of ancient date and point to the authenticity of the Prophet Joseph Smith's divine mission. I am also convinced that no one knows as much about Joseph Smith's plural marriages as does Brian Hales, and few people have as strong a testimony of the Prophet as he does. His Joseph Smith Polygamy series is one that should be in all Mormon homes so we can have a better understanding of what plural marriage was, what it was not, and how to move forward from there.

After discussing plural marriage for several pages, Letter to A CES Director moves on to pinning the words of past prophets against living prophets, something Ezra Taft Benson warns about in his landmark talk Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet. He uses the examples of the Adam-God theory, blood atonement, plural marriage, blacks and the priesthood, and Mark Hoffman to bolster his thesis that prophets cannot be trusted because they have contradicted each other.

Before getting into the particulars of what Runnells has mentioned, a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith would be very helpful here:
This morning I read German and visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet;" but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when acting as such. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 286)

This quote is often used but sadly often forgotten. Everything that comes out of a Prophet's mouth is not the mind and will of the Lord. Prophets are humans, and humans have opinions on things that may be wrong; we all do. If a prophet does not say "Thus saith the Lord" or take up an idea for a sustaining vote, then he is offering his opinion which is not binding on the Church. That is not to say that the prophet cannot give advice that is useful that is non-binding on the church; often he and those sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators will. However, not everything that a prophet says has scriptural stature. B.H. Roberts, a former member of the Presidency of the Seventy, made this point when he said:
"Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible.” (Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887)
There are many wise things in the Journal of Discourses, Conference Sermons, BYU addresses and the like; I and others are often uplifted by what we hear and read in these speeches. But, there is no doctrine of infallibility in this Church, errors can and do happen. We would do well to remember that if an idea is not in scripture or sustained as binding on the Church, then it is an opinion and nothing more.

Brigham Young, Lion of the Lord


The Adam-God theory is an idea that reoccurs often in Anti-Mormon literature; the only thing that occurs more are the ideas of eternal progression and plural marriage. In several sermons, Brigham Young talks about the station of Adam, who we know from modern revelation was also Michael, the Archangel. In one sermon he states that Adam is "our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." President Young also incorporated this idea into the temple endowment ceremony, but it was removed soon after his death. This view was controversial in President Young's administration, as apostles Orson Pratt and John Taylor repeatedly said that there was no evidence for the idea (Pratt had to be censured by Young before he would stop denying it), and the idea was never sustained as binding on the Church by common consent. Thus, there is and never was an "Adam-God doctrine" only an "Adam-God theory". The idea was also rejected by President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who labeled the theory a "deadly heresy".

It is not clear entirely what President Young meant by this theory. He only spoke of it a few times, and at other times he seemed to contradict the view that Runnells is accrediting him. Even if Brigham Young did believe the doctrine as Runnells is describing, this would only prove what the Prophet Joseph Smith and B.H. Roberts stated previously; that men who lead this Church at times have erroneous ideas and that a prophet is not infallible. So, whether President Young believed the theory or not is of little consequence or interest.

Blood atonement is next mentioned IN short, blood atonement is the teaching that certain sins go beyond the atonement of Christ and a persons blood should be shed if they commit them and to have any chance at redemption. Brigham Young did teach this idea and the idea capital punishment; there is no question in my mind about that. And once again, the teaching was never sustained by common consent. President Young's ideas are not much different from the ones enunciated by Christ himself when he said that some sins were beyond forgiveness (Matt 12:31-32). Considering that Brigham Young claimed to be a special witness of the said Christ, it only makes sense that he would be in agreement with his teachings. Runnells' real problem seems to be with the principle of the atonement itself rather than Brigham Young's teachings on the issue. There are many different theories on the atonement (Compassion, Moral, Penal Substitution, Ransom for example) of which Brigham Young's is only one.

As mentioned previously, Brian Hales did a post on plural marriage in this series which can be found here. I would like to address a quote that Runnells borrows from Brigham Young that is popular in anti-Mormon tracts: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter
into polygamy." It would seem based on this quote that men must be polygamists in order to receive exaltation, a belief still held by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, this is not the entire quote. Here is the full quote in context:
Now, we as Christians desire to be saved in the kingdom of God. We desire to attain to the possession of all the blessings there are for the most faithful man or people that ever lived upon the face of the earth, even him who is said to be the father of the faithful, Abraham of old. We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us. It may be hard for many, and especially for the ladies, yet it is no harder for them than it is for the gentlemen. It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: “We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character, and office, etc.” The man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. (Journal Of Discourses 11: 268-269)
We can see from the quote in its entirety that Brigham Young was not saying that plural marriage had to be entered into in order to go the celestial kingdom, but rather that you had to accept that principle and any other principle the Lord revealed in order to be admitted to that kingdom. Runnells' representation of the quote is plainly dishonest.

The issue of Blacks and the Priesthood is of course near and dear to my heart (I have written on it recently here) as a black Latter-day Saint, and suffice it to say that there is no evidence that the policy came by revelation, though it was ended by revelation. Having said that, I have come to believe that this line of argument is a red herring. The policy is of no interest unless a person affirms that the LDS Church has unique priesthood authority and that the president of the Church holds the keys of that priesthood. Otherwise, who cares if the Church does not give its non-existent power to men of color or anyone else? It is a non-issue because there is no such power.

The case of Mark Hoffman has to do with artifacts, not revelation. The Church, like any other organization, wants to own artifacts related to its history, and assuming that Hoffman had such artifacts they would of course want them. Not being linguists or archaeologists, they were fooled by forgeries. It was an honest mistake, which could happen to anyone. Ancient prophets were also fooled, such as Joshua when the Gibeonites fooled him and escaped being slain in battle (Joshua 9:3-15)

Finally, Runnells mentions to the term "Follow the Prophet." I refer the reader to President Benson's talk mentioned earlier, but with a caution. The term "Follow the Prophet" is a catchy slogan, but it is incomplete. The term should be "Follow the Prophet as he follows and points to Christ." We do not literally follow the prophet around the Earth, or believe his every opinion is binding on us. However, we recognize that he is the only person who can speak for the Lord in everything, has the keys of the priesthood, and the person who has the right to direct the affairs of the Church. We would do well to pray for him and listen to his counsel, but also be aware that everyone can make mistakes and that we will have to revise our view of things (even on major issues) from time to time.


25 comments:

  1. Yikes. It's posts like these that help reaffirm my decision to distance myself from the LDS Church. Mormon apologetics finished off my testimony once and for all.

    https://youtu.be/FBK7nO1NoxA

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  2. And yet you are here, commenting, after presumably reading the post. It does not appear that you have chosen to "distance" yourself at all. If your testimony is truly "finished off" as you claim, why continue to swim in its waters?

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  3. I love this! Its so clear that children of gay parents are A-OK to be baptized! Also people who are in a same sex-relationship are not apostates and won't be excommunicated! :D

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  4. That's why it is important to be close to the Spirit which testifies of all truth.

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  5. Great post - I think these are important principles to understand.

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  6. Ryan, if you are so inclined, it would be of interest to know what about this post gives you trouble. You could say all of it, but that is not instructive.

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  7. I see a lot of flaws in the points made in this post.

    1 - You underline the statement that Brigham Young taught you HAVE to be polygamously married to become a God but ignore its significance while focusing instead on the caveat that as long as you believe in polygamy you can still be in the celestial kingdom - presumably in one of its lower levels like the single righteous people who get to be celestial but are assistants or servants to the polygamous married gods there. It rules out monogamous celestial marriage as an option for those aspiring to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. Do you personally believe either of these things now yourself or that they are official LDS doctrine now? They aren't, are they. There are many statements made by Brigham Young and other General Authorities insisting as this does that polygamy is essential for exaltation. In Mormon theology when we talk about celestial glory and exaltation I think it is fair to say members are referring to an expectation of becoming like God and being married for eternity and creating spirit children and new worlds, not being 2nd or 3rd class citizens of the celestial kingdom with severely restricted rights and powers....and no genitals according to some GA's if I remember correctly!!

    2 - The overall theme of this post is implying that there has always been a clear distinction about when a prophet is speaking personally or officially, and you have raised the bar very high by saying things are only treated as official doctrine or revelation of they are sustained by Common Consent by the whole membership. That's obviously nonsense as countless things prophets said, including everything referenced in this article, were treated as revelations from God and therefore His mind and will, at least for a period of time.

    Very few doctrinal or policy matters indeed have ever been presented to the Church for Common Consent authorisation, in which case we have a very feeble offer to the world from or Prophets, Seers and Revelators. The last time this happened was the year before I was baptised aged 8 in 1979 so in all my lifetime so far of Church membership that has not even happened once. And the 1978 thing was, the Church now admits, hardly a glorious moment of further light and knowledge but correcting the most epic cock up in our history - 150 years of institutional racism taught, enforced and perpetuated as God's will by most of the prophets of our Restoration dispensation, including Thomas S Monson during his service as an Apostle - he is the last living Apostle from that time. ...continued….

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    1. Peter,

      1. I highlighted that point to show that Runnells took a few lines out of a large paragraph out of context to make a point. Yes, I do believe you can be monogamous and exalted.

      2- Yes, doctrine has to be sustained by common consent. The problem is that too many Mormons think everything a General Authority says is from the Lord, no matter how many times people state that is not the case.

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  8. …………..After generations of not making the distinction I think it was Joseph Fielding Smith, perhaps because he had served as Church Historian and therefore knew more than most how many wild and contradictory speculations were to be found among the collected writings of all the LDS Prophets and Apostles, who established the criteria for something being a revelation as 'If the prophet declares 'Thus sayeth the Lord' or perhaps being formally presented to the membership as a revelation. Ether way, plenty that we have since abandoned as condoned by God was presented to the membership with a top level of seriousness and authority throughout our history. Making these excuses for prophetic statements that are indefensible ethically or theologically now is a recent development, not how we have always understood prophets and revelation to function in the Church. And may I repeat my severe disappointment as an active and faithful member that having spent all my life since my baptism aged 8 championing the Only True and Living Church with its living, constantly up to date Prophets, at no point in all that time have they come up with anything they considered interesting or important enough by way of a revelation to present it to us for a sustaining vote and make it official doctrine. By your criteria the last 4 prophets have not had any actual revelations from God.
    Plenty of people have been excommunicated however for disagreeing with things that the prophets have taught or put into the Handbooks as official policies and procedures during that time. So which is it going to be? We only have to believe stuff that has been Common Consented, or we are so obliged to believe and practice every detail of whatever today's version of the handbook says that we cannot be members of the Church any more, or have a temple recommend, or be trusted with callings, if we object to them?
    3 - Brigham Young taught the Adam God theory (and Blood Atonement) as doctrinal revealed truth repeatedly and assertively for many years. You have misrepresented that history significantly in trying to play it down. He may have confused the heck out of everyone and they repudiated it pretty quickly after he died, but he was the prophet and he taught it with enthusiasm. Did he believe he was just speculating and could be ignored? Clearly not. I was still being taught Blood Atonement as a concept in my childhood, framed as forgiveness for murder being impossible to obtain unless you were executed and paid for it with your own life. It hadn't gone away a century after Brigham taught it. And that was in England, not some backward enclave of traditional Utah. Probably via McConkie's 'Mormon Doctrine.'….continued……

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    1. Peter,

      People are excommunicated because they campaign against the Church, not because they disagree with a practice. Thoughts are in your head, actions are what are available to the world. Thus the Church can only judge your actions.

      Brigham Young believed things that were his opinion and invention, as all people do. Since they were not sustained as binding, it is not my problem what he believed or did not believe.

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  9. ……….4 - How can you in any way say the institutional racism was a non-issue so we shouldn't worry ourselves with any of the CES letter's concerns about it because (devastatingly clever schoolboy argument...) if the anti Mormon's don't believe the priesthood is real, why are they worrying about who we didn't give it to? Is that really all that can be said about that?! That's seriously trivialising a matter that impacted hundreds of thousands of members' lives, ALL members' lives if you count forcing every faithful member to believe racist doctrines were from God and practice racist discrimination in concept, and in practice in every ward encountering men, women and children of black African heritage, and discourage interracial relationships. We should have started properly evangelising Africa and the many other populations with Africans in during the 1800's like everyone else and there would now be millions of black Latter-Day Saints. But we didn't. Racist Spiritual genocide surely cannot be trivialised or ignored so easily.

    5 - We are encouraged to 'follow the prophet' intensively these days, to the point where Bednar wrote a big long article in this month's Ensign called 'On the Lord's Side' which urges us not only to prove our loyalty to the Prophets and Apostles by following their teaching but also to imitate how we see them deal with situations and behave as if every single things they do and how they live their lives is reflective of the true path and God's will for us. This is the polar opposite of the version of the Church you are presenting in this article where we can be highly selective about what we feel officially obliged to follow in what prophets teach. Have you read the article? What do you think of it? It is based on a devotional he gave at BYU Idaho in 2010, where he used to be president and ran a pretty pharisaical tight ship with a lot of emphasis on dress codes and suchlike. The article pretty much tells us we should follow the prophet around the earth watching him to learn how to behave correctly.

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    1. Peter,

      I did not say that racism is not a concern, or course it is. I said that those who bring up the blacks and the priesthood policy are bringing up a red herring because they do not believe in the authority to begin with. Blacks chose to join the Church during the time of the restriction, no one forced them. If there is no priesthood then these people are ok with self-torture, but that is their. I do not know what a schoolboy argument is (it is not a logical term), but that is what it is.

      As for the spiritual genocide, I am unsure of that. I would point out that the Church is growing the most in Africa and other black areas. It seems this bothers white people to some extent more than black people. At any rate, it is over. Blacks can have the priesthood now, and those who were denied it can receive it through proxy temple work.

      5- I have seen the article, and I have no real problem with it. There is wisdom and safety in following the prophet, but that does not mean that everything they say or do is correct. We need to stop deifying them.

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  10. Peter, in defense of the author, I believe that the ratification he is referring to is that of the First Presidency and the quorum of the 12 collectively and not of the whole mass. This was discussed in an early issue of the Ensign. When any prophet receives "revelation" from God, the revelation must be confirmed and ratified by the other two members of the First Presidency and the Quroum of the 12. Also, prophetic infallibility has never been sustained by the church. We are wrong in believing that they wouldnt make mistakes and err in their judgement. The scriptures teach us this:
    Deuteronomy 18:20
    "22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

    Mormon 9:31
    "Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been."

    D&C 1:24-26
    "24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.
    25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
    26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;"

    All of these scriptures teach that prophets make mistakes, that they speak presumptuously, that when they make mistakes that those mistakes will be made known, and that prophets will find wisdom when they seek it.

    I personally can't say that I wouldn't let bias and misunderstanding get the best of me if I were a prophet. Despite their shortcomings and imperfections, we often forget that these men have nonetheless restored the fullness of the Gospel to the earth. I am in a way grateful for these mistakes by early church leaders because they have taught current leaders more about the importance of making decisions and receiving revelation that is based in sound scriptural logic and common sense. Mormon taught an important principle.

    Any misunderstanding we have of prophets I believe is more our fault than the prophets. Let's honor their accomplishments instead of fussing over doctrines that were never ratified or (in cases like race and the Priesthood) were based in bias and misunderstanding.

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    1. "I believe that the ratification he is referring to is that of the First Presidency and the quorum of the 12 collectively and not of the whole mass."

      I'm curious, then, about the status of the November 2015 revelation on gay members and children of gay members.

      Do we have any reason to believe that it was ratified by the FP and Q12?

      In any case, what you say seems to contradict the D&C Student Manual explanation: "... before the officers may serve in their positions, they must receive a formal sustaining vote of the people over whom they are to preside. ... Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints.
      https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/sections-21-29/section-26-the-law-of-common-consent?lang=eng

      If I read this correctly, the November 2015 policy should be inoperative.

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  11. Excellent. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Glad someone though so. Thanks for your kind words.

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  12. Malkie,

    As to it being ratified by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 you can find information for that here:

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/president-nelson-handbook-change

    As for the policy itself as I understand it, it has been in affect for children living in polygamous marriages and from what Elder Christofferson explained they wanted to maintain congruency in policy. That information can be found here:

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/handbook-changes-same-sex-marriages-elder-christofferson

    My perspective on the change: it is really beneficial for both sides because the child has his own decision to make at an age where he or she can understand the full nature and significance of same-sex marriage and it's affect in the Plan of Salvation. The Gospel is simple enough for children to understand and is so beautiful in intention and affect that it shouldn't be a worry. Are we really going to require ourselves to explain matters as potentially explicit and clearly sensitive as homosexuality to children?

    Context+experience+ a choice of faith = Happiness in the church

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  13. ……Why is it so hard for members defending the indefensible to live in the real world and be practical and have some empathy for the people impacted by these policies? We saw it for decades when otherwise decent people completely blanked out the real impact of the racist descrimination. At least black children and teenagers could be baptised and have their sins washed clean and enter a basic covenant with God. The November policy is unbelievable cruelty to children and teenagers whose lives are already hard enough.

    In the Priesthood session of the last Conference Elder Causse talked about a scenario of rallying round a young man attending Church without much parental support and making sure he is ordained and supported to the max to progress exactly as if he had an active father, and Bednar spoke of priesthood and temple as a teenager being essential preparation for a mission. Such raging hypocrisy contradicting the whole tone and message of Elder Christofferson's interview trying to justify the Policy in which he downplayed the importance of these things and even said a motivation was to save the hometeachers in a ward from feeling obliged to keep visiting the gay home. If you don't see or understand how significant a contradiction or ethical, spiritual and philosophical shambles this is regardless of being just cruel to the children and parents involved, you will be baffled why so many members have found this rocking their testimonies or trust in the General Authorities and are even leaving over it.

    How can it possibly be beneficial for a child or teenager who wants the saving ordinances and priesthood to be denied them and given the message that the Prophets and Apostles and the whole church don't care about their pain and have decided to throw them under a bus because of a political or legal agenda in their war against gay marriage?

    Put more simply, do you think age 8 or 12 or 15 or 17 is too young to really know or have experienced enough to be baptised or differentiate between what your parents do and your own religious practice? We will still baptise children even if their parents are cohabiting out of marriage heterosexually, or drug addicted, or alcoholic, or in jail, or single parents.

    Surely how things should be in the Church of Jesus who told us not to reject or inflict suffering on children is: 'The Gospel is simple enough for children to understand and is so beautiful in intention and affect that it shouldn't be a worry'...if their parent is homosexual….continued....

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    1. As a black member, I do live in this "real world" you are describing. As far as the policy on children, I do not understand why it happened but I didn't make the decision and am not responsible for it. I think it is overblown also; how many homosexual couples will want to baptize their children in the LDS Church? My guess is not many.

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  14. ………Malkie, I totally agree with your point about the D and C manual and have referred to that often myself.

    Tarik, you say "The term should be "Follow the Prophet as he follows and points to Christ." That's not what we have the children in Primary sing though is it. They sing 'Follow the prophet - he knows the way' and apostles have often taught that God will never allow the prophet to lead the church astray. It is fascinating that now it is impossible to defend that position apologists are falling over themselves to emphasise that they are fallible.

    So this begs the question, which I would sincerely be interesting in your and 'Unknown's' and anyone else's opinions about - how then do we as active members trying to be faithful decide what to trust or believe or sustain or not in what the Prophets Seers and Revelators say, or issue as policies? Because a lot of them, particularly Oaks and Bednar now Packer has died, have given talks in General Conference making clear that the criteria for truth is that they said it and there cannot be a loyal opposition. If you believe something or hear something that contradicts what they preach, by definition it is wrong, the deciding factor being their authority, not their consistency with scripture or logic. I sincerely would love to hear people's thoughts on that because it is what a lot of these controversies boil down to. I think I have established clealy that the criteria Tarik offered of having a Common Consent sustaining vote of the membership is not how things are. Unknown has suggested you meant the Apostles sustaining it. The D and C says the First Quorum of Seventy also have to sustain before policies are presented to the general membership. So what should the criteria be for us now that noone is sure and there are lots of contradictory ideas being promoted by different authorities?

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    1. Peter,

      I am a convert and never sang that song as I did not go to primary. Having said that, God sends prophets to lead people. Prophets are flawed people, and they make decisions that they would take back at times, like all people do. President Uchtdorf made this clear in a recent conference talk.

      As for what is a doctrine and what is a policy, you look to the scriptures and statements of past and current leaders. If there is a consistent theme, probably a doctrine. If one person had the idea and was opposed by others (Adam-God for instance), probably one persons idea.

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  15. Peter,

    I have felt impressed to write a response. It is likely that you will never see this post but I feel as though the Spirit has been impressing me for a long time to write something.

    First, I must categorically deny your assertion from earlier (posed in the form of a question) regarding Church members, blacks, and members of the LGBTQ community:

    "Why is it so hard for members defending the indefensible to live in the real world and be practical and have some empathy for the people impacted by these policies? We saw it for decades when otherwise decent people completely blanked out the real impact of the racist descrimination. At least black children and teenagers could be baptised and have their sins washed clean and enter a basic covenant with God. The November policy is unbelievable cruelty to children and teenagers whose lives are already hard enough..."

    You assigned pretty uncharitable interpretations to my comments. I forgive you for that. I can easily understand how these things can be misinterpreted and cause anger. I just don't believe you when you assign these ulterior and vicious motives to the bretheren. It's not the only way to interpret the evidence. In fact, it is the most negative way to interpret what they have done. Unless you want to accuse the brethern of lying, this policy was meant to provide the most understanding and sensitivty to the relationship between LGBTQ parents and their children.

    You and many others seem to have additional concerns about the policy. A few of them may be

    1) Won't the children of LGBTQ parents be affected negatively by the policy?

    A) Like Tarik said, most parents most likely won't want their children to join the Church knowing what the Church teaches about acting out on homosexuality. It may be that they're okay with the Church teaching that being gay isn't a sin. Regardless, it is too difficult to tell since it is such a case by case matter.

    B) Some LGBTQ parents would be okay with their children joining the Church if that is their choice.

    2. Wouldn't the children of LGBTQ parents be ostracised from their peers at church if they're not baptized and don't receive the priesthood?

    That too is a case by case matter. So that answer is "maybe." But shame on anyone who does not practice their religion in that regard! I will be at the forefront policing any such behavior. We all can as we call out what is truly unfair and continue to learn from each other.

    Besides this, FairMormon has done a good review of the new policy and has published information which can be found here:

    https://www.fairmormon.org/blog/2015/11/06/a-look-at-the-churchs-new-policy-on-children-of-gay-couples

    I invite you to read that with an open mind and heart. I wish you and everyone else the best in their journey for faith.

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  16. Also my thoughts on your concern regarding what we can trust are simple:

    Like Tarik stated in the original post referencing Joseph Smith, doctrine is not binding on the church until approved by the body of the Church. That is regarding doctrine. Policies are different. You might notice that few if any policies in the Church Handbook have been sustained by Common Consent. Policies are temporary. They can be used as learning experiences and then changed according to the needs of the body of Saints. This has been the order of the Church since the beginning. I hope this is helpful.

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  17. Furthermore, the words of any apostle and prophet should be evaluated by the canon of scripture already sustained. If they speak beyond what is canonized, without the supervision of the rest of the First Presidency and/or Quorum of the 12, then we can be assured that they won't be as accurate in their judgement. That is why Joseph Fielding Smith said that we don't have to believe everything written in the books written by the apostles because it may contain things that go beyond what is required of the Saints to believe and not. Their comments may be true as they are trying to synthesize scripture and expound upon revelation, yet it may be erroneous.

    Alright, I'm off. Much love. I wish you and anyone reading that the best.

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