Saints: the Standard of Truth

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
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DarkJedi
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by DarkJedi » 09 Sep 2018, 11:27

nibbler wrote:
09 Sep 2018, 10:45
When we talk about perfection/imperfection as it pertains to church leaders it comes with a lot of additional baggage.

What do we mean when we say a prophet is not perfect?

Here I think that some level of belief in the prosperity gospel influences people's views. Every member knows that the prophet is not perfect, we reserve the label of "perfection" (meaning without flaw - the definition I'll use for perfect from here out) for Jesus and Jesus alone. Claiming a leader is perfect is a line I don't think any member would cross... but in observing what is said during our meetings I believe there's a more general belief that the prophet and top church leaders are closer to perfection than others. Perfection becomes relative.

We all like to know the reason for things and it seems natural for people to arrive at the conclusion that someone is called to be a prophet or apostle because they are more obedient. I see this phenomenon at all levels of the church and I think it's an extension of the prosperity gospel. Person X got a prestigious calling because they are "better" than person Y. It's naturally human.

In 2018 I think we have this idea that by the time a prophet has attained the calling they have proven themselves worthy, they earned the calling through their obedience. That's not to say he's perfect... but the general consensus seems to be that he's better than you/me. ;) In Mormonism I think we have some concept of relative perfection. Some are more perfect than others and those rise up the ranks. Where I'm going with this is that I feel it feeds into the culture, the culture where we have that joke where we say the prophet isn't infallible but no one believes it. We need our leaders to be near perfect because it helps to prop up the leader>follower dynamic.

I also think we have a more general problem when it comes to how we look at perfection in leaders. Here again I'd say that very nearly all members would say that the leaders are not perfect, but what does that mean?

To some that means the prophet is obedient enough to not commit serious sin, most of their sins would be limited to the "foibles of human nature" but never fall into the category of "great or malignant sins."

But there is a way where I very much feel the culture believes the "prophet" is infallible. I put prophet in quotes because I'm more referring to the mantle of prophet than the person. A prophet "the man" is not infallible but a prophet "the mantle" that produces the doctrines, teachings, and polices is infallible. That's the dynamic I see in the culture of the church. We can tell ourselves that the man is imperfect but we are extremely reluctant to ever call the doctrines that a prophet teaches into question. Probably because once you pull on that thread you become your own prophet of sorts.

:oops: I didn't mean for the reply to be so long.
I absolutely hear and agree with what you're saying Nibbler. I'm also going to say that all of is is pseudo-doctrine if not just plain false doctrine. Those cultural perceptions or whatever we want to call them exist without a doubt, and some of them are probably related to Catholic ideas whether or not we want to admit that. (We also don't want to admit the influence of Calvinism and Methodist influence in our theology, pseudo-doctrine, etc.) And part of the problem is the old whitewashing of history and placing the prophet on a pedestal.
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Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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LookingHard
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by LookingHard » 09 Sep 2018, 13:02

I will put this in my frame of context:
nibbler wrote:
09 Sep 2018, 10:45
What do we mean when we say a prophet is not perfect?
I will answer this indirectly. It seems we can clearly read that past prophets have made mistakes, but we can't say, "I firmly feel that the Nov 15th policy was not of God and that whomever in the COB and top leadership tried to slip that in is wrong - even if that is President Nelson." That is what Sam Young was doing before he started the "Protect LDS children" and even that got him called into his SP's office and somewhat clearly told, "you have to stop or you might get ex'ed".

For me it seems like obedience to and worship of the current prophet and to church leaders is paramount and there is not much room to "follow your heart and what the spirit is telling you" if it doesn't line up with the top dudes.

I am going to read the book, but I expect it to just make me even more upset.

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nibbler
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by nibbler » 09 Sep 2018, 13:26

I think a lot of it may come down to loyalty to top leaders but I also think a lot of it comes down to alignment with current teachings.

Example:

Looking at the quotes from Saints: the Standard of Truth that Always Thinking shared, the current teaching is that polygamy was very much commanded by god. Check out the quote (emphasis added):
After receiving the commandment, Joseph struggled to overcome his natural aversion to the idea. He could foresee trials coming from plural marriage, and he wanted to turn from it. But the angel urged him to proceed, instructing him to share the revelation only with people whose integrity was unwavering. The angel also charged Joseph to keep it private until the Lord saw fit to make the practice public through His chosen servants.
The portions highlighted in blue firmly establish that polygamy came from god. No current leader practices polygamy but because we still teach polygamy in this manner it wouldn't be culturally acceptable to believe that polygamy was a human imperfection and not of god. We still tie the practice directly to deity.

The portions highlighted in red interest me. Joseph may very well have made those claims in his defense but it really feels like the author is attempting to steer thought. The reader that feels aversion to polygamy can now identify with Joseph. See, Joseph felt the same way as you! The reader that wants to turn away from polygamy can see that Joseph wanted to turn away from it as well. And of course he was a prophet so Joseph knew how negatively the practice would later be viewed. Joseph thought it was bad, he even knew others would think it was bad... so don't get upset with Joseph.

That's beside the point though. I think there are certain beliefs that serve as tribal boundaries that mostly tie back to agreeing with the correlated message, whatever it has evolved into in the present. How we reverence top leaders of the church is a part of that correlated message.

Step outside of the correlated belief, the thing that sets Mormons apart from others, and it seems natural for the in group to start viewing and treating people that believe differently as the out group. The beliefs define the boundaries.

But back on topic. Booooo that paragraph I quoted. Booooo.
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Ann
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by Ann » 09 Sep 2018, 23:06

nibbler wrote:
09 Sep 2018, 13:26

That's beside the point though. I think there are certain beliefs that serve as tribal boundaries that mostly tie back to agreeing with the correlated message, whatever it has evolved into in the present. How we reverence top leaders of the church is a part of that correlated message.

Step outside of the correlated belief, the thing that sets Mormons apart from others, and it seems natural for the in group to start viewing and treating people that believe differently as the out group. The beliefs define the boundaries.
Did anyone watch the Face to Face with Elder Cook? It was done to launch the “Saints” book. He and two church historians at Nauvoo answering YA questions. I often watch live events “with” my kids while texting each other our thoughts. It’s clear they belong in the out group. There was no boundary moving tonight to make a space for them.

The historian launched into the polygamy discussion with the unstated assumption - of course it was commanded by God himself.

Same for First Vision. Of course these versions all combine to make perfect sense. We should be rejoicing. There’s no room for the out group kid who’s struggling because of her belief that the handwritten account is closest to the truth. If she doesn’t think God and Christ appeared, it’s best for her to stay quiet.

The Face to Face is already on the church website, if anyone wants to watch. There’s a beautifully sung duet at the beginning. :-)
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"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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LookingHard
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by LookingHard » 10 Sep 2018, 03:22

I set it to record and I turned it on for a few minutes and it was covering. They asked about polygamy. Elder Cook asked the Sister historian (Kate Holbrook) to answer (interesting). It was typical apologist stuff and "I am glad to have been born of that lineage". The historian then said something like, "nobody was forced to do it" and I turned it off. It was going to ruin my day.

And does Elder Cook seem to have a forced smile a bit too often to anyone else, or is it just me being too critical?

I did go download the podcast version of the book (they don't have it published as a true podcast that I can find, it is just a set of MP3').

AmyJ
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Re: Saints: the Standard of Truth

Post by AmyJ » 10 Sep 2018, 05:10

My husband and I watched it.

I had a mental brain lapse and thought it was supposed to start an hour later than it did. However, I got the dishes done and the kids put to bed and idly decided at 8 PM Eastern time to "idly" check if it was still being broadcast at 9 PM (when in reality, it started at 8 Eastern time).

I am proud of myself for biting my tongue from commenting about the angel and the sword for Emma when the lady historian said that all parties entered into it "willingly".

My husband and I have talked about legitimacy of online sources periodically, so Brother Grow's answer for the YSA question we found useful and uplifting (and common sense ish).

Yes, I picked up on the Elder Cook forced smile. To me, his non-verbal communications implied that he felt he was "pampering" a generation and placating them by setting up space to answer questions that he felt they should not be asking. My husband thought that they were champions on screen because the people there must have been dealing with a ton of mosquitos - and did not let it show on camera. He cited that he saw several mosquitos though out the broadcast, so the number that he didn't see must have been enormous and eating all those people up.

I am in my late thirties (and married), so I felt more like Hans Solo while listening to Elder Cook's wrap-up about the golden generation of Luke Skywalker-like YSA's. Actually, it's not a bad thing to be a Hans Solo - he got the girl, and got to fly around the galaxy with his friend Chewy rather then draw the ire of Darth Vader.

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