Joseph prophet or not

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Curt Sunshine
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Mar 2010, 19:12

Devil's Advocate, pardon my bluntness, please, but what you describe in your last paragraph is NOT the stance of the LDS Church. It isn't even the belief paradigm of a large percentage of the membership, and it certainly doesn't match what Joseph said about himself. Also, I don't know of a single apostle in the history of the Church who said or who would say that Joseph was infallible and that every word that came from his mouth was God's perfect word.

One of the purposes of this site is to cut through all the stuff that has grown in the culture of the Church and find the core of what I call "pure Mormonism" that can bring us joy and allow us to stay LDS of our own volition - and, ultimately, of our own desire. In order to do that, I believe we simply MUST let go of what some members believe and not attribute those things to "the Church" as a whole - or even the leadership. We simply can't argue for or against strawmen on this site, since it just isn't productive for our own growth or the edification of the community.

Not everything we say here has to be edifying, but we just can't traffic in strawmen and hyperbole. We simply can't.
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

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Brian Johnston
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Brian Johnston » 01 Mar 2010, 21:50

DevilsAdvocate wrote:All you can do is consider the evidence and make your own conclusions. Personally, I don't believe in the traditional Mormon idea of prophets as some kind of ultimate final authority where we should just trust them without question and consider all their words as literally God-given truth without fail. I'm not so sure that there have ever been any prophets like that whether Moses, Isaiah, etc.
Well ... it sounds like you answered your own questions.

There really isn't the either/or, black/white, true/false dichotomies many of us expected, wanted and assumed. So where was the error? False prophets or false expectations? As always, the answers are inside us.
"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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Tom Haws
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Tom Haws » 02 Mar 2010, 12:09

DevilsAdvocate wrote:the traditional Mormon idea of prophets as some kind of ultimate final authority where we should just trust them without question and consider all their words as literally God-given truth without fail.
There is a dominant element of this in some families/traditions/people in the church. It's wonderful for you to recognize that the element of it that was in your own family/tradition/heart was gravely mistaken or simply a part of your development it's time to leave behind. And it's good for you to desire to be a minimizing influence on the persistence of that element. I think this site is all about finding the way that really works to be a healer and a good influence, partly or largely by healing ourselves first.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
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Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

MWallace57
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by MWallace57 » 02 Mar 2010, 13:43

I agree that the Church tries to project a vision of the "infallible Prophet/Leader of the Church. Years ago, Gordan B. Hinkley's doctor advised him to "carry a cane", fearing the GBH was a little unstable on his feet.

GBH bought a cane and "carried it", but refused to use it for support as he walked. I think that he wanted to appear strong and stable and allow the Lord to uphold him instead of relying on a cane for support. Honestly, there were many times when I feared that GBH would literally be a "fallen Prophet".

Truth is, we can all fall. We can all mess up and big time!! "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us".

From the Book of Mosiah, Chapter 1, here is King Benjamin|:

0 I have not commanded you to come up hither, that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I, of myself, am more than a mortal man;

[SNIP, large text cut out by moderator]

King Benjamin considered himself "of the dust", but confessed that the "dust" belonged to "Him who created it".

Prophets exist as servants unto the Lord. Some are more faithful than others. Our challenge is to emulate Christ, not man, serve God, not men.

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 02 Mar 2010, 18:58

Brian Johnston wrote: Well ... it sounds like you answered your own questions.

There really isn't the either/or, black/white, true/false dichotomies many of us expected, wanted and assumed. So where was the error? False prophets or false expectations? As always, the answers are inside us.
The error could possibly be both false prophets and false expectations. Maybe Joseph Smith lied for whatever reason and maybe the other LDS prophets have been defending and promoting some of these lies ever since. Maybe there really is some genuine revelation and inspiration but perhaps it's just not as clear and reliable as many Mormons want to believe. Maybe the Church's essential message is mostly correct but no organization managed by people will ever be perfect and critics have exaggerated any perceived flaws in an unrealistic and dishonest way.

In any case, some ex-Mormons had extremely high expectations about how great Joseph Smith and his work was supposed to be but as soon as they found some less-than-flattering information about him it was devastating to their faith and many of them have now become atheist/agnostic and feel betrayed by religion in general. I don't know what the Church should do about this but I think scenarios like this will only increase with easier access to information and different opinions. Now there are even some "new order" Mormons who don't believe in Joseph Smith's claims but still attend/support the Church for other reasons.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 02 Mar 2010, 19:01

Ray Degraw wrote:...what you describe in your last paragraph is NOT the stance of the LDS Church. It isn't even the belief paradigm of a large percentage of the membership, and it certainly doesn't match what Joseph said about himself. Also, I don't know of a single apostle in the history of the Church who said or who would say that Joseph was infallible and that every word that came from his mouth was God's perfect word.

...We simply can't argue for or against strawmen on this site, since it just isn't productive for our own growth or the edification of the community.
I exaggerated this point, what I meant to say is that the idea is that the revealed word of God (scriptures) given to us by prophets should be trusted as literally true without fail. The assumption is that these words came directly from God so they must be right and because of this these revelations should basically trump or supersede other sources of knowledge. Whether this is an official policy or not this is the impression I always got.

I understand the idea that prophets or apostles are not perfect and can make mistakes and still have their own personal opinions and this all makes sense. When anti-Mormons bring up some obscure quotes from the "Journal of Discourses" or some hearsay about Joseph Smith it never bothered me nearly as much as something that doesn't make sense in the standard works. I guess you can always interpret things differently and maybe God allows some confusion and uncertainty just to test people's faith but sometimes it's hard to believe that some of this came from God.
"Truth is what works." - William James

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Mar 2010, 19:49

"but sometimes it's hard to believe that some of this came from God"


then don't.

We have "as far as it is translated correctly" - and we have fallible individuals - and we have people saying even in the Book of Mormon that "if there be mistakes, they are the mistakes of men" - and all kinds of other disclaimers all over the place.

I have no problem whatsoever taking everything in scriptures with a grain of humanity salt. I like to take some things literally, and I like to take other things symbolically, allegorically and/or figuratively. Sometimes, I like to take the same thing in more than one way. Whatever floats my boat, makes sense to me and adds meaning to my own life - that I take from it.

You have identified one of the core issues that bothers and even breaks some members. All I'm saying, really, is that you don't have to follow that route if you don't want to follow it. I don't - and I serve in highly visible callings without major issues. I'm not a threat, and I'm gentle and non-combatative and comtemplative in my comments, so people don't freak out about my views. Sometimes, they even listen - especially those who feel like they can't speak any alternative view.
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

katielangston
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by katielangston » 05 Mar 2010, 13:58

This discussion about authority, infallibility, and reliability is at the heart of my spiritual struggle.

Letting go of the need for there to be some abstract, authoritative, all-encompassing Source of Truth and and Goodness and Authority in a human being or human establishment or human book is so damn hard. (Pardon the swear.) ;)

It makes sense that we long for it. It makes sense that some people even set themselves up as that source. Modern people have been culturally programmed to yearn for objectively provable Truth, and we search for it high and low.

But it doesn't exist. It just doesn't.

Truth is relational. It's experiential. It's too big to grasp, too deep to handle. The best we can do is catch glimpses here and there, and apply what we can apply, and leave the rest. I think the secret is to realize that I am the ultimate authority of Truth in my life. I get to say what I believe and don't believe. I get to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before God.

I have to trust in God that He'll lead me where He wants me to go, and that I have the capacity within myself to listen and respond to His guidance -- while maintaining a sense of humility that I'm most certainly wrong about even the things I'm most sure of. (What a frustrating paradox!)

Accepting that authority within myself, and letting go of the pipe dream that infallible external authority (in human form) exists is the hardest thing in the world for me. I struggle with it day after day. But I think that's a key. I really do.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Curt Sunshine » 05 Mar 2010, 16:13

Well said, kaite. Very well said.

The tender balance between accepting institutional authority AND person authority is a both a great and terrible paradox - but I've come to love it.
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

Roy
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Re: Joseph prophet or not

Post by Roy » 16 Jan 2012, 11:05

Ray Degraw wrote:Obviously, "questionable conduct" can mean LOTS of things, and there are levels of such conduct that are important to discuss. However, I think it is foundational to realize that this means we are engaged in a personally subjective decision when we tackle that question and understand that Jesus himself (not to mention Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Paul and Isaiah . . .) had some pretty serious questionable conduct that exclude ALL of them from acceptance as "prophets" by some people.
Speaking of "questionable conduct" vs. larger than life legacy, I ran into this article that briefly talks about the contrasting views of MLK.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46005503/ns ... -evolving/

Two quotes that seem to embody the conflicting views are the following:
Gloria Drake, 60, of Cheraw, South Carolina, said she remembers King almost as though he was Moses leading his people to the promised land, even when there were so many reasons to doubt things would get better in an era of segregated buses, schools and lunch counters.
And,
"It's important for people our age to see that he wasn't this saint-like figure, It's making you see that just because you're not perfect, it doesn't mean you can't do good."
Just the juxtoposition that we hash about here regarding JS and others.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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