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TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadership

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 05:04
by wayfarer
Please read this before answering the Poll. This post includes the full question, ground rules, and definitions of terms.

Question 4: Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

Ground Rules: Please answer "Yes" if you can answer all parts of the question in the affirmative, then explain how you reconcile your personal feelings with the question. If you cannot answer all parts "Yes", then answer "No", and explain in the post which parts of the question give you pause. Please be objective, neutral in tone, and succinct in stating why you answered "No". Please do not use this thread to vent your feelings about all the flaws you see in the church.

Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Sustain - relevant definitions that have a person as a direct object
3a. To support the efforts or cause of; to give assistance to, back up; (in later use usually military) to support (other troops).
8. To keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from failing or giving way; to strengthen the spirits or resolution of; to give encouragement or psychological support to.
10a. To play the part of; to keep up (an assumed role) competently; to represent (a dramatic part or character) convincingly. Freq. with person in early use.
10b. To hold or be invested with (a title); to fulfil or discharge the functions and responsibilities associated with (a position).
11a. To endure (something painful, difficult, or unpleasant) without failing or giving way; to bear, withstand.
13a. To tolerate the existence or presence of; to permit, abide.
13b. To permit oneself or consent (to do or be something)

Prophet (relevant definitions)
1a. A divinely inspired interpreter, revealer, or teacher of the will or thought of God or of a god; a person who speaks, or is regarded as speaking, for or in the name of God or a god.
1b. Christian Church. A person who expounds or interprets the Bible, a preacher, esp. one considered to be directly inspired by God.
1d. More generally: a prominent proponent of or spokesperson for a particular cause, movement, principle, etc.; a visionary leader or representative. With of or a possessive.
2c. Among Mormons: Joseph Smith (1805–44), the founder and first leader of the Mormon faith; (also) any of his successors as leader.
5a. A person who predicts or foretells future events, or who claims to do so; a prognosticator, a forecaster.

Seer (full definition)
1. One who sees. (rare)
2. One to whom divine revelations are made in visions. In mod. use occas. transf., applied to a person gifted with profound spiritual insight. (Originally rendering Latin videns (Vulgate), Greek βλέπων (LXX), Hebrew rōēh, said in 1 Sam. ix. to have been an earlier synonym of prophet.)
3. A magician; one who has the power of second sight. Also a crystal-gazer, a scryer.
4. An overseer; an inspector. (obsolete)

Revelator (full definition)
1. A person who or thing which discloses or reveals something; the maker of a revelation; a revealer.
2a. Chiefly with capital initial. (An epithet of) St. John of Patmos, as the author of the book of Revelation.
2b. (A title of) the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons).

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 05:19
by wayfarer
I answer this question with a tepid YES, and only can do so after investigating the meaning of the words, and the intent of the question. To me, it's the very hardest of all the questions.

I struggle because when I see the term "Prophet", I expect prophecy -- an ability to fortell relevant events to those under his charge -- this has never happened from what I can tell, and a number of attempts at forward-looking prophecy have been misplaced efforts. When I see the term "Seer", I think of a glass-looker, a scryer, which although Joseph Smith had a propensity for this, I'm not sure anyone else has tried, and I'm not sure this is the type of publicity the church wants. And lastly, the phrase "the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys" implies to me "only true church", a concept I reject. There are priests of all sorts outside of the church, and to those who believe in them, they have power and authority to those who believe.

But the reality is that I am erring, because I fail to understand what is being asked. Looking specifically at what is being asked, and the more general definitions of the terms:

1 Do you sustain the the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator

This is a request to uphold the president as what the church defines as 'prophet, seer, and revelator'. It's a title having some very non-specific meaning. Does the prophet by LDS definition see into the future as a fortune-teller would? Does the seer see all things past present and future using seer stones? The answer to both of these are NO, and the LDS church doesn't expect people to believe that the President is a fortune-teller or using seer-stones. On the other hand, does the president as revelator reveal spiritual things beneficial to the church? I would answer Yes, because there are useful things in what he says. When he is in the mode of 'revealing', then it is 'revelation', and he is a 'revelator' by definition. Thus, the terms 'prophet, seer, and revelator' are a title for the President, counselors, and quorum of the 12. OED even lists one of the definitions of each of the terms "Prophet" and "Revelator" as titles of LDS church leadership, so this is tautologically true. As well, the second definition of "Seer" is probably what is intended, although Joseph Smith was a scryer, and fit perfectly definition 3.

But there is something specific being asked here -- The INTENT of this question is to determine if I believe that someone other than the President of the LDS church has claim to the same title. If I think Warren Jeffs is the Prophet, then I cannot answer this Yes, because right now, TSM has the title. So, if I'm not a real apostate holding that someone else is the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, then the answer to this is YES, because by definition it is true: The President has the title 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator'. Logically, this is what Wittgenstein would call a "tautology", meaning that by simply defining the terms, the premise is always true, as long as you accept the definition.

2 ... and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?

Priesthood in the LDS church is the LDS church heirarchy. That's what the term priesthood means in its greek form, and "Priesthood keys" as a term, is unique to LDS usage. Therefore, the President of the church, at the top of the heirarchy, has all the keys and is the only one on earth who possesses them and has right to use them. Unless I think that another of the LDS spin-offs is the legitimate church, the answer is an YES.

3 Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?

Does each member of the first presidency and 12 have the title of prophet, seer, and revelator? The answer is an absolute "YES", by tautology: these are definitional titles.

4 Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

Here the definition of sustain changes from 'uphold' to 'support' -- kind of like "support the troops" If I go to meetings, pay tithing in any form, or help out with anything, I'm supporting them. If I raise my hand to sustain them, I'm sustaining them.

So, if I define "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator" as a title, and if I accept that "Priesthood Keys" is a mormon term referring to the authority of the LDS hierarchy over the church, then the answer is YES to all parts of the question: it's true by definition.

This question is easy to answer for both the true believers, and those who do not believe at all in priesthood. The former would say Yes no matter what, and the latter, not seeing any mystical value in priesthood, can get by with merely using definitions. For those of us in the Middle, however, it's a very difficult question to answer, because we care. I say yes because the question as worded can be answered Yes by definition.

I'm sure that doesn't satisfy a lot of people -- it doesn't satisfy me either -- but the position is completely justified by the common definitions in the OED.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 05:50
by SilentDawning
This is a tough one for me. Early in my life in the church I had an incident where I walked away from my Bishop and my SP's office in total bewilderment. I won't go into the details, but it rocked my testimony. To cope, I have somehow gotten comfortable withe the idea that I belong to a "true" church (see my answer to the restoration in the other thread), but that it's not necessarily attached at the hip to God. It's a temporal organization that suffers from significant "human interference" in its communication with God and its leaders make mistakes. My own conscience is the ultimate governor, so this may mean at times, not sustaining them even when they claim they are inspired and speaking directly as a result of Godly communication. Some priesthood meeting talks say one's personal revelation can't conflict with the priesthood line, making the priesthood line govern supreme. Well, I believe my personal conscience and inspirationl comes first. I consider LDS leader's counsel and comments, bit if I find their advice inadequate, flawed or primarily self-serving, I will and do reject it.

I also believe the leaders tend to "organization-itis" in which the church can do no wrong. There are tendencies on their part ot believe any lack of commitment is entirely the fault of the member -- regardless of the church experiences/faults that influenced the members' commitment. There are tendencies to take committed members for granted, and to treat them poorly if they "fall off the commitment wagon" of never saying no to a calling etcetera.

One incident, when the leaders went behind my back to my wife to find out why I had fallen off the commitment wagon bothered me. It was disloyal, and their story about how one woman threatened to leave her husband unless he straighted up left a bad taste in my mouth. I was in regular Sunday attendance, held a TR and had simply refused a calling. Did I deserve that kind of disloyalty and potential interference in my marriage?

Also, at this point, I have found recent behavior of local leaders to be rather unsettling and uncaring, to the point that temporarily (hopefully), I don't support them to the extent I believe someone fully committed should. To StayLDS, I have had to impose my own terms on my service, and this has meant not supporting them when they want me to do certain things. My own happiness is better off as a result of it. No longer do I do busy work because someone in leadership had an idea.

So, if I was to have a TR again, I would have to do some serious introspection, parsing and defining of the terms in this question. I would have to find a "reconciled way" where I sustain them without the kind of surrender that made me miserable throughout different parts of my LDS experience.

I also think this question is more about making us good Mormon's rather than good people (to quote Ben Franklin's idea).

I answered "No" on this one, but I fully hope and pray this will be temporary and would like to be at one with this question eventually. Right now, it seems like it's not possible. I need time.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 06:57
by Heber13
I view this question as asking if I accept the leaders authority over the church, and can sustain them in their role. I do not read into it more than that or let my feelings on specific matters, policies, or decisions cloud the question for me.

As an example, I do not agree with President Obama on all he does and says. But I do sustain the President of this country in his role, accepting how he was put in office (the process), and as my duty as a citizen, I follow the laws of the land. I understand that in his role as President, he has certain responsibilities and power granted to him as long as he is checked and the power is to be used for its purpose, but does not have more power than it is granted by the constitution and the judges interpretations of it. I do not decide I will respect or sustain the President because he is perfect, or i dont ever want things to change, or I agree with him, or I feel I need to think like Pres Obama.

I love this country, I accept the duties required to support my leaders and recognize their authority, and can be involved to try to promote my views at the same time as an individual fitting in to the organization. I also love the freedoms I have in this country that allow me to pursue happiness as I see I want to. I have traveled to other countries and see some differences but clearly see the US President isn't better or more right than other leaders of other countries all the time. But I sustain my country's leaders in the right context and sphere of influence.

I also love the church the same way, and might have left it if I had not been reassured (even taught by these leaders I'm asked to sustain) to NEVER stop thinking for myself or seeking personal revelation. Yes, I submit to the authorities of the churcH in their sphere of influence, and sustain them in those things they have the right to claim power for (revelation for the church, etc). I do not need to give them more power or greater expectations on perfection than they claim.

There needs to be order and direction for the church, and I can accept the keys and offices claimed by the imperfect leaders have a purpose for God's work, at all levels of the organization, right down to my wonderfully flawed bishop I sustain in my ward.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 07:59
by wayfarer
I have edited this poll question to allow the user to change his/her mind. On this one, I may change my mind from yes to no...

I am struggling with this question after writing the tome above. In fact, the second post was a copy and paste from something I did much earlier.

I say "Yes" to this question under one condition: that the church does not take one more active action against marriage equality. It isn't just that I don't agree with the position of the church on the issue of gay marriage. Ginetta Sagan, one of the key leaders of Amnesty International said, ""Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor." As well, Gandhi-ji said, "Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly."

To sustain the leadership when their position harms people is to be complicit in that harm. I can't do that. I'm chalking up Proposition 8 as a valuable lesson learned by the Church, and I'm thus tentatively sustaining the leadership. It has taken me some years now to come back to a willingness to say 'yes', albeit tentatively. I hope and pray they will see clear to undo some of the harm they have done and continue to do to our gay brothers and sisters, and although the movement is slow, I see progress.

I do believe that one aspect of sustaining is an effective voice, appropriately spoken. I care for my bishop, and would not choose to oppose him in public. However, should he take a position publicly against gay marriage, I will first discuss with him my views on this privately, and why I think the position is immoral. Not sure what the next step would be after that. But at least, I'm sustaining by giving to him my view of 'truth' as I see it.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 08:06
by mercyngrace
Question 4: Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

There is a priestly line which has the responsibility of maintaining the public, ritualized, professions and symbolic demonstrations of belief. It seems to have always been so. The professions and ordinances do not save however they stir us up to remembrance and they provide us opportunity to engage the Divine in ways, like taking the sacrament, that can make us receptive to more enlightenment and progressively profound truths.

Like Melchizedek, a minor character in scripture actually, to whom Abraham submitted himself or the Sadducees to whom the Lord Himself submitted in the temple, the men who maintain the temple, collect tithes, and govern over the offering of oblations perform a significant role that I can respect and honor.

Are they prophets, seers, and revelators? In the realm of their priestly charge, absolutely. They speak, see, and reveal for God in the context of overseeing and governing priestly observance. And I sustain them in the duties they fulfill. Is it their job to guide you into the kingdom? Provide pre-processed bits of doctrine for mass consumption so that you can grow spiritually under their tutelage? No. You are to work out your own salvation. These men are stewards of the outward observance only, protectors of a path that points the way but is not The Way.

Are they the only prophets, seers, and revelators? No. Not by a long shot. But the question doesn't ask that. It asks if the President of the church is the only one who is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys. He is. He alone governs the operation of temples and church services - the duty of the priestly line.

Many prophets, Lehi for example, walked a path by divine mandate, which put them in direct conflict with the priestly class.

And yet, The Lord taught that we are to be subject to the men who "sit in Moses' seat" insofar as they teach aright and in spite of their actions which may be wrong or hypocritical.

I'm not suggesting that the leaders of the modern priestly line are Sadducees or hypocrites, only that personal feelings about them are irrelevant to my responsibility to uphold what they stand for as guardians of public observance.

Hope that makes sense. It sounds much clearer in my head. LOL.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 08:19
by Minyan Man
My short answer is: sure. Why not?
I am not going to make it anymore complicated then that.
Maybe that's the coward's way. I don't think so.

The more important question is: does the LDS leadership sustain the members?

Mike from Milton.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 14:27
by cwald

15 months ago...I would have been a definite yes. Today...definitely NO

* Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? - Nope. I don't believe god cares about "priesthood keys." I think it is merely a man made construct to manipulate and control people.

Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? - Nope. Perhaps I sustain Uchtdorf and Eyring as "prophets." But as a whole I feel like the the church leadership promotes and encourages the very principles the mormon church was founded to escape from...mainly, loyalty to the "church authority" and the need for man to intervene between the individual and the gods via priesthood and ordinances required for exaltation, as well as the focus on Pharisaical beliefs and practices.

I am one of those who the apologists correctly label as a person who is looking/promoting for the church to reform and change direction and policy. Yep. I am...and I will not apologize for it.

Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church? - Nope. I think I would have to be a tithe payer, and active and holding a calling to answer in the affirmative. 15 months ago i went above and beyond to sustain my local leaders and do my part. Today. Nope.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 15:02
by bc_pg
1) Interpretation

I think this is a pretty easy one to get around. Since Joseph Smith I don’t believe any church leader has claimed to have any more insight than being lead by the Holy Ghost. So when it comes down to it, all this question really means is:

Do you respect the authority of the leaders of the church as regards to having authority within the church?

The priesthood keys is pretty simple as well. Priesthood keys is just what the church calls the authority to run the church – so by definition the leader of the church has the authority to run the church.

It’s kind of like asking if I believe the pope is authorized to be in charge of the Catholic church.

That’s pretty easy to answer yes to.

In my mind the intent of this question is really just a rehash of “not speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed.” Do you keep your mouth shut and not publicly criticize the leaders even if you internal have some concerns? That’s really all they are truly asking, IMO.

Even more broadly it is a question of are you planning to attempt a hostile takeover or do you support the status quo of the authority line?

I suppose you could do an introspective evaluation of how well you sustain the leaders by following their council. I don’t think that’s the intent of the question though.

2) Personal

Disclaimer: I think everyone is aware, but I’m just stating my personal beliefs here. I’m not trying to convince anyone or be anti – I’m just stating what my personal response is to this question. I think everyone is OK with that, but I am being pretty direct.

No I don’t believe these men have any kind of personal inspiration – they are absolutely not literally prophets, seers or revelators. I think they are running a corporation and I think they run it like a corporation. They don’t even have the guts to clear up something as messy as the word of wisdom in regards to caffeine. They respond to issues long after they should and lag society: e.g. civil rights, evolution and gay right. The most prophetic thing I’ve heard in the last 20 years was Hinckley somewhat predicting the recession – and he emphatically denied that it was a prophecy when he said it, so you can’t give that much credence.

I think the bishop in our ward boundaries is one of the biggest jerks I’ve ever met in my life. He is the embodiment of practicing unrighteous dominion when he has a little authority as he supposes. I believe his reign of terror has greatly diminished the happiness and quality of life of many ward members. It is no coincidence the activity rate has dropped by 20%. He’s been in for almost 6 years. The stake presidency who put him in place clearly were not inspired nor have they even shown any reasonable common sense judgment by putting him in that position.

About 2 years ago L Tom Perry visited our stake and gave the stake presidency a list of ridiculous unattainable goals to be completed in the next year. Despite the stake presidency worrying and fretting about it constantly and making presentation after presentation to the leaders and members they got nowhere close to attaining any of these goals. The only result I saw was the stake presidency getting increasingly pushy and the bishops and high council getting increasingly frustrated with them. After about a year and a half the stake presidency realigned all of the ward boundaries in response and figured that was what it was all about – which mostly just upset set a lot of members and made them stressed and sad to have to change wards – usually that is because of growth in this case it was arbitrary.

A few years ago a member of the stake presidency was very gung ho about home teaching interviews. I was EQ Secretary at the time and we would meet with him quarterly. In one of these meetings he told how an EQP in another ward has responded that he didn’t think that monthly home teaching interviews were necessary for his quorum.

A bishop told our children that they did not need to pay tithing on gifts (e.g. grandma gives them cash). A few months later the new bishop told them explicitly that they need to pay tithing on gifts.

Church leaders are a bunch of normal people winging it. They don’t even get sufficient training to do it right.

Re: TR Question Survey - Question 4: Sustaining LDS Leadersh

Posted: 08 Jul 2012, 15:55
by Curt Sunshine
I believe there are all kinds of issues involved in the organizational structure of the Church. I've called it the genius and idiocy of the Church, and I've called it the best and worst thing about the Church. I've taught my children that they don't have to agree with or obey church leaders just because they are church leaders - and I've included apostles and prophets in that statement. My children know I don't agree with some things I hear in church - at all levels. I can't support every leader I've had or seen in every way they would like me to support them . . . but that's not what the question actually asks.

There are enough definitions of sustain to cover how I work with leaders at all levels and of all kinds, especially when "to give encouragement to; to endure (something painful, difficult, or unpleasant) without failing or giving way; to bear, withstand" is included in those definitions.

Therefore, my answer to the question asked is, "Yes" - and I can do so whole-heartedly.

When everything is boiled down to the most basic level, I see this question as asking if I am willing to remain inside the Church's authority structure without fighting it publicly - to not be apostate in my approach to my leaders. I can do that, and I can do it without reservation - again, since a legitimate definition of "sustain" is "encourage, endure, bear, withstand". If I oppose a leader on principle, according to the dictates of my own conscience, I am sustaining that leader in an important way that can't happen if I leave and withhold my sustaining. I want to hear that voice when I'm a leader, sustaining me by speaking up, so I provide that voice when I'm not a leader - just not, usually, publicly. I've disagreed verbally with leaders in the past, and I've gone above their heads in extreme situations, and I'm sure I'll do it again - but that is not the same thing to me as not sustaining them.

I can treat others (sustain them) how I want to be treated when I am in a leadership position (be sustained), so I can answer positively - despite everything I said in the first paragraph of this comment.