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Daniel Peterson

My Column in "Mormon Times"

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"Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the president of the church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'"

Is there a distinction between doctrine and policy? Is the statement indicative of inerrancy?

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I expect that this one will draw fire from several directions:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/21451/Keeping-our-eye-on-the-president-of-the-church

Dr. Peterson... Let me say something nice before the bullets start flying!!

I always enjoy your thoughts and perspectives... I agree with a great deal of what you have to say... And, I very much appreciate your willingness to say it...

While I don't agree with everything in your columns, I always appreciate the way your perspectives give me cause to think!!

Thanks for Standing As A Witness...

Silver Girl

:yahoo:

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More recently, the church has engaged the vexing problem of illegal immigration. On June 10, 2011, its Public Affairs Department even issued an official statement on the topic.

This time, albeit very gently, it's the ox of some politically conservative Latter-day Saints that was gored.

One of my favorites on this board is a member who accused the brethren of being soft on the illegal immigration issue because it allowed greater membership numbers on the roles. This was made even before the official statement (but not surprising since the official statement didn't really change anything about the Church's policies, only clarified).

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"Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the president of the church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'"

The "antis" use this quote, sometimes, claiming if the prophet told you to jump off a cliff, you should do it, or whatever. I guess, I kind of don't get it. I think, maybe, he was saying, if you ever think something that the prophet tells you to do is "wrong", you are likely mistaken? Because, the prophet wouldn't lead you astray...but, what if you really do have a contrary spiritual witness of something that goes against what the prophet has said? Could that ever be valid?

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Or, perhaps, it means "The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray" BECAUSE you ("the people") always have your own Holy Ghost witness....?

But, that doesn't exactly gel the idea that you should follow the prophet, regardless of whether you believe he is correct or not..

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When it is said that the prophet can never lead us astray, it means that he can never lead us away from Christ or start preaching evil doctrine that is contradictory to the central message of gospel, that Jesus is the Christ and that only He can save us. The Lord will not let that happen.

Also, Dr. Peterson, I love your column. Thank you for your insights.

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I expect that this one will draw fire from several directions:

http://www.mormontimes.com/article/21451/Keeping-our-eye-on-the-president-of-the-church

I think this one is especially timely, Dan. Bravo.

I can think of at least one other occasion when political conservatives were annoyed by an official Church position. It had to do with the proposed basing of the MX Missile system in the desert west of Salt Lake City.

That never came to fruition, and the public position of the Brethren probably had something to do with that fact.

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Libs,

I'm more of the opinion that if the President of the Church ever tried to lead us astray, he would be removed by the Quorum of the 12 apostles. I don't think it needs to be magical, or due to premature death, and I definitely think that priesthood leaders can sometimes give bad counsel and we should always verify with the Lord whether we should obey (unless, of course, the Spirit already told us too). Even Brigham Young told us to verify with the Lord whether the counsel came from Him or not.

Edit to make two other points clear: 1. I am not trying to justify others when they contradict the President. I am only speaking on personal, private action. Not public contradiction. 2. Even when the counsel does not come from the Lord, the Lord may still tell us to obey. This happened to me once. A priesthood leader made some promises, and told us to ask God if they would happen. I asked, and was told to do as instructed (because they were good instructions) but that the promised blessing would not occur.

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Libs,

I'm more of the opinion that if the President of the Church ever tried to lead us astray, he would be removed by the Quorum of the 12 apostles. I don't think it needs to be magical, or due to premature death, and I definitely think that priesthood leaders can sometimes give bad counsel and we should always verify with the Lord whether we should obey (unless, of course, the Spirit already told us too). Even Brigham Young told us to verify with the Lord whether the counsel came from Him or not.

Edit to make two other points clear: 1. I am not trying to justify others when they contradict the President. I am only speaking on personal, private action. Not public contradiction. 2. Even when the counsel does not come from the Lord, the Lord may still tell us to obey. This happened to me once. A priesthood leader made some promises, and told us to ask God if they would happen. I asked, and was told to do as instructed (because they were good instructions) but that the promised blessing would not occur.

Thanks for the input, Zeta...interesting.

I am not active, right now, but when I was, I think I would have felt less comfortable disagreeing with the Prophet, than with my local Bishop. Fact is, though, I did have one major disagreement with the Church and the Prophet. I was quiet about it, when I was active, but not so much so, now. I don't like speaking against the church, but I will speak up about this one issue.

So, what if a person does have a major issue, like that, but is still, basically, a believer...but, may also feel they need to support the issue in question?

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Thanks for the input, Zeta...interesting.

I am not active, right now, but when I was, I think I would have felt less comfortable disagreeing with the Prophet, than with my local Bishop. Fact is, though, I did have one major disagreement with the Church and the Prophet. I was quiet about it, when I was active, but not so much so, now. I don't like speaking against the church, but I will speak up about this one issue.

So, what if a person does have a major issue, like that, but is still, basically, a believer...but, may also feel they need to support the issue in question?

Well, I'd counsel with the Lord. Given that He has told me that President Monson is a true prophet, authorized to lead the church, I sort of doubt the Lord would authorize me to speak against what the prophet said.

As a member, speaking against the word of the prophet one would be implicitly claiming either (1) they are a prophet, authorized by the Lord to contradict President Monson, or (2) don't believe they are authorized by the Lord to express the statement, but do so anyway, either (a) setting themselves up as a false light and knowing it, (b) not believing in God, or © not thinking He cares whether you get authorization to publicly teach what you want on the subject, contrary to church leaders.

None of those options is particularly appealing. I believe that most members who publicly speak against the prophet might reconsider if they consider what they are setting themselves up as--prophets to others.

It is one thing to claim personal revelation for yourself, and another to claim revelation for others.

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I hadn't really thought about the idea that, speaking out on one issue, would be setting myself up as a "prophet" to others...but, I understand what you're saying. That, actually, would put a lot more responsibility on the speaker, than what I had in mind.

What if the prophet is wrong? I don't think one mistake makes someone not a prophet. Wasn't Brigham Young wrong about the Adam-God revelation? Seems like a lot of people, in his time, knew it was wrong and spoke against it.

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I hadn't really thought about the idea that, speaking out on one issue, would be setting myself up as a "prophet" to others...but, I understand what you're saying. That, actually, would put a lot more responsibility on the speaker, than what I had in mind.

What if the prophet is wrong? I don't think one mistake makes someone not a prophet. Wasn't Brigham Young wrong about the Adam-God revelation? Seems like a lot of people, in his time, knew it was wrong and spoke against it.

That is the issue. Is he wrong? To what extent? If so, how do you know it? Even if he is wrong, are you right? How do you know that? How do you want to tell others that you are right and he is wrong?

It is not an easy thing being a prophet. It is also not a minor thing to claim you believe he is a prophet, authorized by God to speak to the church, and yet you know better on this one issue.

Regarding the Adam-God stuff, an apostle was officially reprimanded for speaking against the prophet.

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That is the issue. Is he wrong? To what extent? If so, how do you know it? Even if he is wrong, are you right? How do you know that? How do you want to tell others that you are right and he is wrong?

Actually, I don't go around telling people the Prophet is wrong. I just express my opinion on an issue that I had, previously, kept quiet about. It's, primarily, a political issue (also a human rights issue, IMHO). I don't "know" that he is wrong, but I do believe he is wrong. I feel pretty strongly about it. It's not something I am able to just put on a shelf.

It is not an easy thing being a prophet. It is also not a minor thing to claim you believe he is a prophet, authorized by God to speak to the church, and yet you know better on this one issue.

Yes, I agree. That's one of the reasons I feel (for now) that I cannot go back.

Regarding the Adam-God stuff, an apostle was officially reprimanded for speaking against the prophet.

Really? I didn't know that. I thought that doctrine (or whatever it was) had been highly criticized, by many in the church.

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"Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: 'My boy, you always keep your eye on the president of the church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.' Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, 'But you don't need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'"

Is there a distinction between doctrine and policy? Is the statement indicative of inerrancy?

This is something like those verses in the Book of Mormon where it says that under some conditions, God could cease to be God. A theoretical concept, but clearly do-able. As Skousen once said, "God knows how to avoid it."

I think the statement is not indicative of inerrancy, but indicative of how God will not permit certain things. Doctrine, I guess.

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Actually, I don't go around telling people the Prophet is wrong. I just express my opinion on an issue that I had, previously, kept quiet about. It's, primarily, a political issue (also a human rights issue, IMHO). I don't "know" that he is wrong, but I do believe he is wrong. I feel pretty strongly about it. It's not something I am able to just put on a shelf.

I imagine you are talking about "gay marriage rights". If so, and if you lived in California at certain times you couldn't put it on the shelf because the general authorities asked members to help campaign for Proposition 8.

In my mind it is really quite simple, but for many people I knew when I lived in Berkeley they felt as you did. It was a very difficult decision for them to make, and it resulted in different behaviors. Some people changed their minds, and worked for Prop. 8. Others still struggled with the issue, but kept it personal--I imagine never receiving confirmation from the Lord. Both pf these groups I could respect. But there was a third group--those who actively tried to persuade others not to follow the prophet's advice. I saw the same thing when Pres. Hinkley asked female members to start wearing at most one pair of earrings. It is these members, who, if they remain members and try to persuade their fellow members to disobey the counsel, are setting themselves up as false prophets in my mind.

Really? I didn't know that. I thought that doctrine (or whatever it was) had been highly criticized, by many in the church.
Not too much in the early days, as far as I know. Try to find quotes from apostles, for example, refuting the doctrine. There are not many, most came much later by Elder McConkie, and even then they seem to only condemn the modern interpretation of what Brigham said.

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I imagine you are talking about "gay marriage rights". If so, and if you lived in California at certain times you couldn't put it on the shelf because the general authorities asked members to help campaign for Proposition 8.

In my mind it is really quite simple, but for many people I knew when I lived in Berkeley they felt as you did. It was a very difficult decision for them to make, and it resulted in different behaviors. Some people changed their minds, and worked for Prop. 8. Others still struggled with the issue, but kept it personal--I imagine never receiving confirmation from the Lord. Both pf these groups I could respect. But there was a third group--those who actively tried to persuade others not to follow the prophet's advice. I saw the same thing when Pres. Hinkley asked female members to start wearing at most one pair of earrings. It is these members, who, if they remain members and try to persuade their fellow members to disobey the counsel, are setting themselves up as false prophets in my mind.

I have lived in CA most of my life, so this was an issue for me. I wasn't active in the church, when members were asked to campaign for Prop 8 (I left right before that). I know that I couldn't have, if I had been active, at that time. I do have one LDS friend, who is British, (a good and faithful member) who was not happy about being asked to participate. She declined, but didn't try to convince others not to participate (that I know of), so she likely fell into your second group. I still have quite a few LDS friends. We didn't discuss the issue much, but they did know where I stood. I did some active campaigning on the "No" side, but not with my LDS friends. I respect everyone's right to their own opinion on the matter.

Not too much in the early days, as far as I know. Try to find quotes from apostles, for example, refuting the doctrine. There are not many, most came much later by Elder McConkie, and even then they seem to only condemn the modern interpretation of what Brigham said.

I am not even sure where I heard that it was an unpopular doctrine, but I do remember reading it somewhere. I'll look into it more.

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Not bad but you forgot to attack the critics. They might think you're getting soft.

What percentage of my columns "attack critics"?

Be sure to give an accurate figure. Some might think you're going soft in the head.

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What percentage of my columns "attack critics"?

Be sure to give an accurate figure. Some might think you're going soft in the head.

Well, I was going to gather some statistics for you but it appears that the Deseret News has done some reformatting and broken the links. But we can look at your previous article for a typical example.

Some people are, yes, too gullible. But hardened cynics are far worse. They trust nobody and nothing. They resemble the Dwarfs in "The Last Battle," the final book of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia: "'You see,' said Aslan. 'They will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.'"

Dwarfs imprisoned in their own minds? Really?

What's odd here is not your over-the-top rhetoric, which is par for the course, but the disjointed manner in which you tacked on this last paragraph. It's a bizarre conclusion that strikes discord and undermines the rest of your article. It leaves readers with the impression that you're insecure about your thesis and that you've failed to make your point. You're basically saying, "Yes, we're a bunch of overly credulous sheeple but so what? The critics are worse!"

If you'd like, I'd be happy to preview your future articles to help you make better arguments. I want to see you succeed.

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I don't know, the last paragraph merely shows an example that CS Lewis used in regard to faith. How those without faith imprison themselves in their own cynicism. The last paragraph fits the theme, it brings in a non LDS perspective, and it closes out with an author many people are quite familiar with. CS Lewis was also built into the article before the last quote, so to call the last paragraph disjointed is not a reasonable assessment.

I suppose one can consider CS Lewis to be "over the top", he was a Christian apologetic, and those who don't like Christianity, much like those who disdain our beliefs, will and often do consider any statement "over the top".

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Well, I was going to gather some statistics for you but it appears that the Deseret News has done some reformatting and broken the links.

Lucky you.

Dwarfs imprisoned in their own minds? Really?

What's odd here is not your over-the-top rhetoric,

It's not mine, of course. It's C. S. Lewis's.

And I think it's quite good rhetorically.

which is par for the course,

It would be wonderful if I could be the greatest writer of the age, but You've already got that position locked up. Or so You seem to think.

but the disjointed manner in which you tacked on this last paragraph. It's a bizarre conclusion that strikes discord and undermines the rest of your article.

Though it proves me guilty of lèse majesté, I disagree.

It leaves readers with the impression that you're insecure about your thesis and that you've failed to make your point.

At least, it leaves one reader with that impression, I suppose.

You're basically saying, "Yes, we're a bunch of overly credulous sheeple but so what? The critics are worse!"

Nope. I didn't say that at all.

If you'd like, I'd be happy to preview your future articles to help you make better arguments. I want to see you succeed.

I ought to be grateful for even the slightest crumb that falls from Your table, but . . . No thanks.

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Some might think you're going soft in the head.

As further evidence that you're going soft, my informants at the MI report that you have thus far failed to do anything at all to curb their nefarious activities, which are, in fact, going on right now under your very nose.

What have you got to say for yourself?

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As further evidence that you're going soft, my informants at the MI report that you have thus far failed to do anything at all to curb their nefarious activities, which are, in fact, going on right now under your very nose.

What have you got to say for yourself?

That I endorse most, if indeed not all, of their nefarious activities, and wish them every success.

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