"Follow the Brethren"

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"Follow the Brethren"

Post by QuestionAbound » 06 Sep 2014, 08:28

I hope I'm not repeating a discussion thread that has already been created.

The phrase "Follow the brethren" or "Follow the prophet" has bothered me as of late.

Why don't we instead say "Follow the Savior"?

I read an article today about cultural traditions that are in opposition to the "gospel principles" (which is a whole different topic of discussion)...
The author cautioned against tattoos...long hair...drinking in excess...etc.

He ended by saying "Follow the brethren"

I'm thinking...could we not say "Follow the Savior"?
Or would that open the door to too many interpretations of what the Savior did?

I mean...its' quite possible that the Savior had long hair...and a beard...and wore a robe (as opposed to a white shirt and a tie)...and drank wine...

In reality, aren't we asked to follow "Utah" church culture?
I mean, where and when did someone decide that a white shirt and a neck tie was the uniform of the priesthood? That may be something very ... American/European?

Where and when did someone decide that a a clean shaven face was the presentation of a humble servant of God?

Obviously people who feel the need to belong or to emulate want to see a living, physical representation of what/who we should become and "the brethren" provide that...hence the passion for "following men"
Maybe it's not all that wrong to say "follow the brethren"?

So ... how can I rectify this in my mind and as I try to teach my own children.

If I say "Follow the Savior"...I'm more likely talking about his behavior - not his outward appearance.

Whereas if people say "Follow the prophet" they are likely talking about his counsel...FHE, food storage, family prayer, etc.

*yeah - rambling here...I seriously lack the ability to articulate my thoughts. :wtf:

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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by Old-Timer » 06 Sep 2014, 09:30

We have had too many posts about this general question over the years to try to link some of them. That's okay, since it's an important, central question.

I did some research a few years ago for one of those threads and found that the manuals (all of them, except the 3rd hour series focused on the teachings of the Presidents, but even within most of those manuals) emphasize Jesus and God and following/obeying/emulating/becoming like them MUCH more than the prophets. Even the commandments tend to be focused on being important because they come from God and help us become more like God. (Whether that is accurate or not for any given commandment is debatable, but that is the focus.)

Also, the General Conference talks are weighted extremely toward Jesus and God and following them - FAR over the prophets.

It's at the local level that things get wonky, especially since Bishops tend to want to diversify the sacrament meetings talks - meaning they tend to pick lots of non-Jesus/God focused topics in the one meeting that is supposed to be a worship service.

It's a real issue in the LDS Church, but it's MUCH more a local issue than a global issue.
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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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by QuestionAbound » 06 Sep 2014, 12:09

Oh, wonderful response. Thank you for taking the time to write that out.

I think I'll pay more attention to GC this fall. :)

And you are right...each ward is run differently and it seems that at least in mine we hear recycled CG talks every. single. Sunday and while there is merit in CG talks, I agree that the focus should be on developing a "worship service"...not a "catch up on the latest and greatest" talk. :)

Thanks again.

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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by hawkgrrrl » 06 Sep 2014, 16:24

The phrase "Follow the brethren" or "Follow the prophet" has bothered me as of late. Why don't we instead say "Follow the Savior"?
My hypothesis is that those who promote this don't know or acknowledge the difference between the two. I'd ignore their misspeak and focus it correctly.

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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by Haven » 06 Sep 2014, 19:32

I think the leaders are aware of the emphasis placed on them. I was a primary teachers for many years and those lessons are very much about following the prophet. As much or more so than the Savior, depending on the week. The leaders know what is being taught in primary and Sunday school. They know the manuals teach that if we are not following the prophet our hearts are not turned to God. That we disrespect God if we don't follow the prophet's commandments. This is a topic I would ask Elder Uchtdorf about if I ever had the opportunity to talk with him. I would ask why they continue to promote this. But I'd ask in a very polite way. ;)

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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Sep 2014, 20:41

There are scriptures that indicate God's will and Jesus' will are the same, so we don't distinguish between the two that much. And there are scriptures that try to unify the voice of the Brethren and God/Jesus "Whether by my own voice, or the voice of my servants, it is the same".

I personally consider that heresy because it invests divine authority, and often, blind obedience into the hands of men, and that can be dangerous (such as with the Mountain Meadows Massacre).

No longer part of my own personal theology, that the Brethren's words are the same as Gods.
"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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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by cwald » 06 Sep 2014, 22:17

Zack Tacorin wrote:I finally made the time to listen to the rest of the podcast, and I think I got this figured out. The reason the Givens' comments and observations seemed so disconnected from my LDS experience is because they must belong to a different branch of the Mormon restorationist movement than what I belonged to. You see, I was a member of the SLC-based LDS Church. The Givens' Church allows for debate and openly following your conscience even when opposed to the leaders of their Church. The LDS Church I belonged to was much different as demonstrated in the quotes listed below. I wish the SLC-based LDS Church could be more like the Church the Givens are a part of. :shock:

"When the prophet speaks the debate is over."
(PRESIDENT N. ELDON TANNER, First Counselor in the First Presidency, FIRST PRESIDENCY MESSAGE,
“The Debate Is Over”, Ensign Magazine, August 1979)

"When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it also means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that come through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant."
(ELDER DAVID B. HAIGHT, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "Solemn Assemblies", Ensign Magazine, November 1994)

"The Lord emphatically stated that the inspired words of his ordained leaders are his words."
"Point out that we have been specifically directed to follow the living prophet’s inspired counsel."


“Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” . . .
“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth”

(D&C 21: 4, 5)

‘Fourth fundamental: “The prophet will never lead the Church astray”’
(CLAUDIO R. M. COSTA of the Presidency of the Seventy, “Obedience to the Prophets”
KEVIN R. DUNCAN of the Seventy, “Our Very Survival”
Both were from General Conference talks in October 2012, citing and reinforcing a talk from Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve, in 1980 called “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet”)

“It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.”
(DALLIN H. OAKS, LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Mormons” a PBS special aired April 30, 2007)
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by DarkJedi » 07 Sep 2014, 04:59

I read that same article, QA. The headline drew me in: "Addressing cultural traditions that oppose LDS principles." In the end, the "addressing" was to forsake cultural traditions (such as long hair on men and tattoos) because the brethren said they're bad. There was no reconciliation there, just "follow the brethren." Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I value cultural diversity, and I believe the top leadership of the church is beginning to recognize that such diversity must be allowed. The days of sending Native American children to grow up in white LDS homes are long gone and should be. The article is here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/8656 ... iples.html

That said, yes, it bothers me that there is so much emphasis on "follow the prophet" and I agree that it pervades lessons and talks in church, especially on the local level. In fact, I believe the whole PH/RS lesson series on the presidents is designed just for that purpose. "We won't lead you astray because we said we won't" doesn't cut it with me - and I don't see any real scriptural backing for it. I would much prefer a "follow the Savior" mantra, and fortunately we do hear that a good amount of the time as well.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

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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Re: "Follow the Brethren"

Post by cwald » 08 Sep 2014, 16:51

oliver wrote:In addition to two talks given in General Conference, the fourteen fundamentals of following the prophet have been placed in the new Sunday School manual:

https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-of ... t?lang=eng

Every point is in the lesson, mostly verbatim. There are a couple of points that they reword while keeping the original meaning. As terrible as it was to hear this sacrilegious non-sense uttered from the pulpit, it is even worse to have it sanctioned for teaching in our Sunday School classes.

This lesson is blasphemous for the following reasons:
1) It teaches people to give their God given agency to the president of the church.
2) It establishes the president of the church as an infallible object of worship
3) It countermands the scriptures and church policy by placing the words of the church president over that which was properly canonized.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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