Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

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Gerald
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Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by Gerald » 03 Dec 2017, 17:23

I read enough blogs and listen to enough podcasts from the liberal side of the Mormon spectrum to know that what many people look for, focus on, and hope for is change! Change in doctrines, change in policy, change in leadership, change in so many things that will make the Mormon faith (from their perspective) a closer approximation of Christ's gospel, or make it more inclusive, more universal, more all encompassing. These are laudable goals in many ways but I have come to the conclusion that such dramatic changes will not occur...at least not quickly. To make the kinds of changes that more liberal Mormons find palatable would almost assuredly alienate a large percentage of the more hardline membership. The LDS leadership has only to look at their "sister" church, the Community of Christ for an example of what occurs when you "liberalize."

I was listening to a podcast by a historian from the Community of Christ (sorry!, can't remember who it was right now, though this link seems related: http://www.mormonstories.org/a-visual-h ... rist-rlds/) who talked about how the leadership of what was then the Reorganized Church of Latter-day Saints met with and were trained by some experts in theology (in the 1960s, I think). The training had the effect of encouraging the leadership to "loosen up" on some of the more dogmatic doctrines they had. This, in turn, helped the RLDS Church establish a foundation for giving women the priesthood back in the 80's. Such changes can be considered good on the one hand but had significant consequences: a large percentage of their membership left as a result.

I have to believe that the LDS Church leadership are aware of these events and recognize the inherent danger in being less literal and more nuanced. Such changes would threaten the very existence of the Church and, at the least, would create a significant exodus of members for whom the stability and structure of the Church are the very things that keep them in it. I just don't think they will make big changes for that reason....it's just too risky.

I am happy to have someone else fill in details or even correct anything I have wrong regarding the history of the Community of Christ (my memory is a bit sketchy) but I just don't see big changes coming down any time soon. That doesn't mean that change shouldn't be advocated where viewed necessary but such advocates probably ought to steel themselves for an inevitable disappointment. Too many members of the Church like the Church just the way it is.

I hope that doesn't sound cynical. These are just some recent personal reflections. Feel free to disagree! :thumbup:
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
---Edwin Arlington Robinson---

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nibbler
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by nibbler » 03 Dec 2017, 18:33

Neither the path of change or the path of no change is without risk.
Marlin K. Jensen wrote:Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues…
He calls it apostasy, I'll call it people leaving because they no longer buy the only thing the church sells, but that's not my point. Change? People will leave. Don't change? People will leave. There's probably a balance, people will still leave. But to reiterate, people are already leaving... so how is that strategy working out? Or are we still in the phase where we're trying to blame the people that leave?

Following the line of thinking "You can't change other people. You can only change yourself." Be the change.

E.g. If you want the church to change to a 2 hour block stop waiting for the change, be the change. Start attending for only two of the three hours. Guilt free! Don't want to do home or visiting teaching? Don't do it. Guilt free! Make the church experience the one you want to have.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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SilentDawning
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by SilentDawning » 03 Dec 2017, 19:37

nibbler wrote:
03 Dec 2017, 18:33
Neither the path of change or the path of no change is without risk.
Marlin K. Jensen wrote:Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues…
He calls it apostasy, I'll call it people leaving because they no longer buy the only thing the church sells" but that's not my point. Change? People will leave. Don't change? People will leave. There's probably a balance, people will still leave. But to reiterate, people are already leaving... so how is that strategy working out? Or are we still in the phase where we're trying to blame the people that leave?

Following the line of thinking "You can't change other people. You can only change yourself." Be the change.

E.g. If you want the church to change to a 2 hour block stop waiting for the change, be the change. Start attending for only two of the three hours. Guilt free! Don't want to do home or visiting teaching? Don't do it. Guilt free! Make the church experience the one you want to have.
I call it not looking at the overall experience of the membership, and being in touch with how they feel about giving up 8 Saturday mornings a year to help someone move, for example.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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LookingHard
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by LookingHard » 03 Dec 2017, 21:34

Gerald, I think you are right on many of your points.

I am certainly one for pushing for change in the church, but there are those that if change comes too quickly (i.e. temple and priesthood ban for blacks) that people will splinter off (such as some of the polygamist factions that feel they are holding on to the TRUE church doctrine).

It can be quite a line to walk and I think this is where some of the double-speak that we hear from our leaders. They are just trying to keep as many people "in" as they can.

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mom3
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by mom3 » 03 Dec 2017, 23:17

I have often thought how much I would hate to be a governing leader in this church or any church.

I use Pope Francis as my example. He was elected because he was more liberal.He is loved by a certain cross section of his faith. His hailed a hero by many in the media. The other Catholic's from Cardinals on down are doing a strategy dance to keep Catholicism calm. I listen to Catholic radio a lot. Again and again local leaders are always saying "Yes he said such and such but that doesn't mean..."

Trying to keep your church alive, fresh and new without losing a long held base is hard.

I wish for small change. But small change can feel a tidal wave to some one else. Perhaps it's easier to let people walk then make a shift that will throw others out the door.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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dande48
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by dande48 » 04 Dec 2017, 05:43

I think it's important to take a TBM perspective here. The biggest thing with the Church, is that it's "true". The doctrine has stayed exactly the same, eternal, since the creation of Adam. Any future releaved doctrine teaches us things that have always been, and any past leaders were only voicing their opinion when they told us otherwise. They will never come out and say the doctrine "changed", and I don't think they feel it has changed themselves.
Neil Degrasse Tyson wrote: “Every great scientific truth goes through three phases. First, people deny it. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say they’ve known it all along.”
I don't know if I'm cynical enough to believe that the Church leaders would or would not "change" doctrine because of risk of offending the membership. The elect would follow them to the end of the earth, and offending people is just God's way of sifting the wheat from the tares. God's will does not bend to the will of the membership. Subconciously (where all revelations come from), it's probably a different story, where the bretheren are influnced by all sorts of factors.

There's also the fact that humans are big into the "Us vs Them" mentality. Humans can't stand the bordom of having nothing to fight for.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

AmyJ
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by AmyJ » 04 Dec 2017, 10:06

I see this a lot in my Pathways class - both the online part and to a lesser extent the weekly gatherings.

It was challenging at times to find scriptures/quotes or other parts of the lessons that were not divisive - Us vs Them, Prosperity Gospel, etc.

What helps me is I chose to focus on the 2 Great Commandments as my lens to review everything presented - especially with a focus on Charity. So I appeared to be on the same page as everyone else, but what I was getting from it was not what everyone else was getting from it. I knew I could benefit from studying Charity, and that everything I presented would be useful for my classmates as well - not divisive or hurtful.

Whenever I got annoyed with the TBM tone (which happened not infrequently), I chose to remember that my peers were probably in a different place than I am, and respect that. Just because they are picking up Stage 3 evaluations and themes does not give me the right to "contaminate" them with my stage 4 evaluations/themes and thoughts - but it does give me the right to encourage common ground growth for all of us by my actions.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by Curt Sunshine » 04 Dec 2017, 15:58

Major changes have occurred when top leaders saw the need to change and prayed sincerely about it. They thought they knew change was necessary, and they got revelation confirming their views.

It helped when the leader(s) had a "change is okay" mentality.

Right now, we have a bit of a convergence window possible with regard to some fairly major changes, and there have been quite a few small movements toward major changes. I think two or three senior leaders might need to be gone before major changes can occur in isolation, and those leaders need to be replaced by people who see the world more like a few of the senior apostles and most of the junior apostles, but I truly think the changes will continue more quickly than I thought possible twenty years ago.
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: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by Roy » 04 Dec 2017, 17:19

dande48 wrote:
04 Dec 2017, 05:43
Any future releaved doctrine teaches us things that have always been, and any past leaders were only voicing their opinion when they told us otherwise.
My uncle had an interesting perspective on this. He felt that God is continuing to direct changes in the church. That the church is more perfect today than it was yesterday and that it will be more perfect tomorrow than it is today. This is similar to the idea that the "restoration" is not complete but ongoing.

It is a pretty nifty perspective. It does not paint you into a corner with past doctrine and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Whatever the church becomes tomorrow is one step closer to its divine destiny.
Gerald wrote:
03 Dec 2017, 17:23
Such changes would threaten the very existence of the Church and, at the least, would create a significant exodus of members for whom the stability and structure of the Church are the very things that keep them in it.
I think along with this continuing restoration perspective comes the question, "Why does God take generations and centuries to perfect his church? Why not just restore it in perfect form and let the pieces fall where they may?"

I think one potential answer is that God is merciful to us and does not force us faster than we have strength to travel... something about loving, gentle persuasion entreating us to a better more enlightened way.
"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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LookingHard
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Re: Why the Church cannot change...at least not too much

Post by LookingHard » 04 Dec 2017, 19:58

Curt Sunshine wrote:
04 Dec 2017, 15:58
I think two or three senior leaders might need to be gone before major changes can occur in isolation, and those leaders need to be replaced by people who see the world more like a few of the senior apostles and most of the junior apostles, but I truly think the changes will continue more quickly than I thought possible twenty years ago.
I might agree with you, but "Bednar"!

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