Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

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katielangston
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Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by katielangston » 22 Mar 2010, 13:10

About 4-5 months ago, I "failed" my temple recommend interview for belief reasons. My bishop (who is very kind) has been working with me on resolving my concerns. He's a scholar -- published in Dialogue and so on -- and so his input has been useful, but I wasn't sure I really WANTED a recommend, because I have an objection to the recommend process in general. I feel it is inappropriately personal and controlling.

Still, last week I had something of an epiphany. I realized that my membership in the Church means a lot to me, and for reasons other than what I thought. It's because I LOVE my Mormon brothers and sisters. I want to be where they are. I think we have a long way to go as a people in terms of being more open and honest regarding our origins, and that the institution (quite frankly) is in serious need of repentance in terms of the level of control it exerts in people's lives. But despite the warts and wrinkles, I realized that I really want to remain an active, contributing, faithful, loving, positive, vibrant member of this community. I want to go to the temple and participate in the rituals. I don't want to be on the margins, never really engaging or practicing my Mormon faith. I want to embrace it -- on my terms -- and live and worship with these wonderful people.

So I've contacted my bishop to set up another temple recommend interview to see if I can give it another go.

The only lingering issue is the question about whether or not I believe the Brethren are "prophets, seers, and revelators." Because...the answer is...not really. Not in the sense that I think the question is asking. I think they are well-intentioned people with a difficult task. I believe they are doing their best with the knowledge they have. I sustain them, support them, forgive them for their mistakes, and love them for the good they do and in spite of the bad they do. But I think they're wrong on a lot of things and doubt that they have more access to God's inspiration than, say, other religious leaders and people.

Is there any way to deal with this that you can see? I recognize I could just say "yes" to this question, but there's something about doing it that way that makes me uneasy. Any suggestions for how I could phrase my response honestly, positively, and non-threateningly -- and maybe still get by? :)

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HiJolly
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by HiJolly » 22 Mar 2010, 13:52

katielangston wrote:The only lingering issue is the question about whether or not I believe the Brethren are "prophets, seers, and revelators." Because...the answer is...not really. Not in the sense that I think the question is asking. I think they are well-intentioned people with a difficult task. I believe they are doing their best with the knowledge they have. I sustain them, support them, forgive them for their mistakes, and love them for the good they do and in spite of the bad they do. But I think they're wrong on a lot of things and doubt that they have more access to God's inspiration than, say, other religious leaders and people.

Is there any way to deal with this that you can see? I recognize I could just say "yes" to this question, but there's something about doing it that way that makes me uneasy. Any suggestions for how I could phrase my response honestly, positively, and non-threateningly -- and maybe still get by? :)
I work with them a bit, so you'll not have the benefit some of my experiences, which generally have been very positive.

Still I'd like to say that these men are sustained by the Church as Prophets etc. and that means that there are a lot of people believing in them, living their lives by their counsel, and praying for them. Praying that they will be able to receive revelation, praying that they will do 'right', praying that they will be strengthened.

I think that regardless of whatever claims are made, the fact is that these prayers, that the active faith of the Saints, really makes them legitimate prophets, etc. I think it is meaningful, I think it has a power to it, that is real, even if we can't measure or even detect it. For me, it's real, and that alone makes them better able to BE prophets, etc.

I realize the implications this has for, say, the Pope or L. Ron Hubbard. But they are not the subject of this post.

I guess I have a magic world-view, after all. I do. I don't know it, but I believe it.


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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Heber13
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Heber13 » 22 Mar 2010, 14:03

I think going through the exercise of what it means to be a "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator" is helpful to then moving on and answering the question of who you can believe fits the definition.

Katie, what definition of "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators" are you going by?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Brian Johnston » 22 Mar 2010, 15:06

Heber13 wrote:Katie, what definition of "Prophets, Seers, and Revelators" are you going by?
That was the exact same question that came to my mind as well. I think your definition (Katie) may really set too high of a standard. You of course have to be comfortable with your own answers, so that is really all that matters. For me though, I don't really have a problem with accepting them as "Prophets, seers and revelators" for the Church (as a whole) while at the same time reserving the right to seek my own personal guidance and revelation on my specific circumstances. They can also be wrong sometimes, in my opinion, and still hold those titles. I don't expect them to be any better at it than me.

I like what HiJolly said about the collective consciousness (aka faith) of the Saints, and their dedicated role as leaders seeking guidance, giving them both a form of power and a motivation to seek group guidance.

It seems like you might still hold too intense of a "magical" definition of "Prophets" for your own comfort level. Your deeper feelings on the subject still aren't jiving with your intellectual thoughts on what the role of these people means in our lives. Not that there has to be a single right answer to this, just that it seems parts of you are conflicted about it -- out of sync, so to say.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Euhemerus
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Euhemerus » 22 Mar 2010, 16:44

katielangston wrote:I think they are well-intentioned people with a difficult task. I believe they are doing their best with the knowledge they have. I sustain them, support them, forgive them for their mistakes, and love them for the good they do and in spite of the bad they do. But I think they're wrong on a lot of things and doubt that they have more access to God's inspiration than, say, other religious leaders and people.
I have (and had) the same view as you, and I answered "yes" to the question about 5 months ago. I suggest you move past what you think the question is asking and focus on what the question is asking. It didn't ask if you felt they were getting everything right, or if they are exclusively the only people on earth to receive revelation and prophecy for people. It is asking about your sustaining of them and acceptance of them as prophets, seers, and revelators. It seems to me that in this quoted paragraph you have answered that question in the affirmative.
Don't believe everything you think
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Cadence
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Cadence » 22 Mar 2010, 18:12

katielangston wrote:
The only lingering issue is the question about whether or not I believe the Brethren are "prophets, seers, and revelators." Because...the answer is...not really. Not in the sense that I think the question is asking. I think they are well-intentioned people with a difficult task. I believe they are doing their best with the knowledge they have. I sustain them, support them, forgive them for their mistakes, and love them for the good they do and in spite of the bad they do. But I think they're wrong on a lot of things and doubt that they have more access to God's inspiration than, say, other religious leaders and people.
Here is an interesting thought. If you do not believe they are prophets then it is obvious they are lying to you that they are. Why is it OK for the leaders to be able to lie to you yet you are expected to tell the truth in the interview. Even if you think they believe they are prophets yet they are not, are you not then supporting a fraud if you say they are. There is no way to win on this if they are actually just men doing a job. You can look at what the definition of what a prophet is and all the nuances, but I think it is rather clear what the expectation is in the church. You may just have to say "I believe so" or something as vague as you can get away with if you want a temple recommend.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Curt Sunshine » 22 Mar 2010, 21:26

There is nothing (really, nothing at all) by way of instruction to those who are on the asking end of the interview by way of definition or explanation when it comes to what the questions mean. The official instructions are, essentially, "Ask the questions as they are worded." How you answer is up to you, but there is NO need to explain your answers. If they are your honest, reasoned answers, they are legitimate.

In that vein:

I can answer that question with a strong "Yes" for a few reasons:

1) Like HiJolly, I have some limited experience with them that others haven't had, albeit in my case through my mother - who was one of Pres. McKay's secretaries many years ago. They really are amazing people.

2) I have a strong belief that THEY believe they are prophets, seers and revelators - and that means a lot to me when it comes to this question, since it means they truly are striving to hear the voice of God in their lives and their callings.

3) I don't expect them to do so perfectly, so I don't hold them to that standard - but I think they "get it right" FAR more often than they get it wrong.

4) I believe adamantly that there isn't a "bad person" among them - that, if it is possible for there to be prophets on the earth, these are the kind of people they would be.

5) I believe, to a large degree, that prophets are as prophets are sustained and supported - that the expectations and hopes and dedication of the membership actually helps in a real way.

6) I can read the Bible and accept unmarried, Christian-killing, sexist-teachings accepting Paul and quick-tempered Peter and burn-up-the-competition Elijah and dysfunctional family father Lehi and perhaps bi-polar Nephi and (how can I describe him charitably . . . other than stupid for love or lust) Samson as prophets (as well as Muhammed and perhaps Jethro [not an Israelite from whom Moses received the Priesthood] and many others outside of Mormonism) - so I certainly can accept our current FP and Q12.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

nightwalden
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by nightwalden » 22 Mar 2010, 21:58

I take the view that God can inspire the church leaders just as much as he can inspire me. I think the difference is our focus. My focus is on my responsibilities so when God inspires me it is generally about what is in my realm. The church leaders have responsibility for the church so I believe that God can inspire them in regards to the church. I think that anybody that God communicates to can be considered a prophet. Since I believe that God communicates with me, I fit within my definition of prophet and so do most people. Certainly, I consider the church leaders to fit within my very liberal definition of prophet.

So my definition is probably not what the powers that be intended but it works for me for getting through the TR interview.

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Heber13
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by Heber13 » 22 Mar 2010, 22:16

nightwalden wrote: So my definition is probably not what the powers that be intended but it works for me for getting through the TR interview.
That is well said, NW. When you say it that way, I totally see your point...and in no way do I see some kind of dishonesty or manipulation about it...it just becomes a new viewpoint to look at the meaning of the words in the interview and how you can honestly answer them.

That's great...I don' think one has to become sneaky about it...just resolve and reconcile the meanings and answer the questions as they mean to you...the person in the interview asking the questions will not question your viewpoint, I wouldn't think. Who is to say your viewpoint is any less valid than anyone else's, right?

Thanks for sharing.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

katielangston
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Re: Temple Recommend Renewal and Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

Post by katielangston » 22 Mar 2010, 23:36

Thanks everyone for your helpful responses!

I really want to view the Brethren charitably. I really want to believe that they have access to inspiration and revelation. I believe that I can work within a definition of "prophet, seer, and revelator" that is liberal enough to include anyone who has this access. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's just getting there.

Here's the rub: without going into too much detail, I've been personally damaged by certain church policies and teachings that, as far as I can tell, have come straight from the top. Though I've been able to reject the teachings as false or inapplicable in my life, there are moments that the past pain still eats away at me. These moments are much fewer and "far-er" (haha, not a word I know) between these days, but it's still a hurdle I can't quite see my way over.

The thought process usually goes like this: how can policies and teachings that caused me so much unnecessary agony come from God? The answer: they didn't. So how can people who support and perpetuate these damaging concepts be prophets?

I know I'm setting up a false dichotomy. I know I have to be willing to leave room for mistakes and errors and extend them the huge amounts of grace that God has shown me. I know I have to be humble enough to acknowledge that the very same teachings that have been so damaging for me might have been helpful for others. I know that part of finding lasting peace in my own life will be coming to terms with this issue, because it will finally mean forgiveness.

I know all this.

It's just really, really hard to make it happen sometimes.

Anyway, thank you all for your responses. I've found each of them very valuable and something I will try to work with. I especially like the idea that because so many people have such faith in them, it endows them with a special kind of power they couldn't have otherwise. That's a very lovely thought.

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