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zerinus

Secret Combinations Vs. Conspiracy Theories:

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The idea of “secret combinations” in gospel related content is introduced for the first time in the Book of Mormon. I am not aware of it being mentioned in the Bible, at least not explicitly. In the Book of Mormon, however, it plays a significant role as the history of the people unfolds; and at one point Moroni declares:

Ether 8
:

20 And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among
all people,
and they are had among the Lamanites.

21 And they have caused the destruction of this people [Jaredites] of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

And then he proceeds to give us this stark warning:

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which
shall be among you;
or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; . . .

Modern day prophets and Church leaders have also confirmed this:

I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14–16; D&C 84:49–53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18–25.) —
.

The latest remarks I heard by a General Authority on this subject was in a talk given by Elder M. Russell Ballard quite recently, but unfortunately I was not able to find it. Perhaps someone can identify it and post a link. So from a Mormon perspective there can be no doubt that “secret combinations” do exist, and we should take seriously the warnings given in the Book of Mormon of the threats they pause.

On the other hand, there is also the danger that some will fall into the trap of mistaking “secret combinations” with “conspiracy theories,” and be led down a blind alley that serves the purpose of the adversary rather than the good of society. A conspiracy theory has been defined by a number of online dictionaries as follows:

Cambridge Dictionaries Online
:

a belief that an unpleasant event or situation is the result of a secret plan made by powerful people

Dictionary.com
:

1. a theory that explains an event as being the result of a plot by a covert group or organization; a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group.

2. the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

World English Dictionary
:

the belief that the government or a covert organization is responsible for an event that is unusual or unexplained, esp. when any such involvement is denied

The Free Dictionary
:

A theory seeking to explain a disputed case or matter as a plot by a secret group or alliance rather than an individual or isolated act.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
:

a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators

Macmillan Dictionary
:

the idea that a group of people secretly worked together to cause a particular event

MSN Encarta Dictionary
:

a belief that a particular event is the result of a secret plot rather than the actions of an individual person or chance

So I would say that the difference between the two is that belief in “secret combinations” is a scripturally based belief asserting that such things do exist, and pose a threat to society, without attempting to clearly identify it; whereas a “conspiracy theory” is a paranoid attempt to see the hand of such “combinations” in every suspicious (and non-suspicious) event, or at the head of a government without credible evidence to support it. It is the devil’s counterfeit measure to sidetrack us from the real thing. The questions therefore that I would like to pose for discussion are:

  1. How can we avoid falling into the trap of mistaking conspiracy theories for secret combinations? I am guessing that the real people behind “secret combinations” must have a good laugh every time conspiracy theorists come up with a new addition to their theory!
  2. How can we successfully combat such forces (as suggested in the Book of Mormon) without making unwise choices which might be counterproductive? How does the Book of Mormon suggest we should combat secret combinations?

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  1. How can we avoid falling into the trap of mistaking conspiracy theories for secret combinations? I am guessing that the real people behind “secret combinations” must have a good laugh every time conspiracy theorists come up with a new addition to their theory!
  2. How can we successfully combat such forces (as suggested in the Book of Mormon) without making unwise choices which might be counterproductive? How does the Book of Mormon suggest we should combat secret combinations?

(from the lds.org word search of the Book of Mormon): Don’t get involved with them

Do not seek power and gain through means that offend the Spirit (this is not the same as obtaining riches for furthering the work of the Lord).

Repent of personal sin

Promote freedom

Do good continually

Prepare for the judgments that will come upon those who uphold them

Uphold the regulations of proper government

Diffuse contention (begins with humility) and do not allow Satan to stir our hearts up to contend or do evil

Do not be seduced by the successes of those who promote them

Seek for righteousness, holiness of heart and the Lord’s protection

Execute the law against those who uphold them

Promote the Gospel

Avoid pride and love of riches and trafficking

Know what it means for the blood of the saints to cry out against their murderers

As a general rule, do not join in rebellion against a government for personal gain as opposed to freedom as prompted by the forces Christ employs.

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As for secret combinations, I either want less corruption or more opportunity to profit from it.

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(from the lds.org word search of the Book of Mormon): Don’t get involved with them

Do not seek power and gain through means that offend the Spirit (this is not the same as obtaining riches for furthering the work of the Lord).

Repent of personal sin

Promote freedom

Do good continually

Prepare for the judgments that will come upon those who uphold them

Uphold the regulations of proper government

Diffuse contention (begins with humility) and do not allow Satan to stir our hearts up to contend or do evil

Do not be seduced by the successes of those who promote them

Seek for righteousness, holiness of heart and the Lord’s protection

Execute the law against those who uphold them

Promote the Gospel

Avoid pride and love of riches and trafficking

Know what it means for the blood of the saints to cry out against their murderers

As a general rule, do not join in rebellion against a government for personal gain as opposed to freedom as prompted by the forces Christ employs.

Thank you. That is a good answer to the second question; but it doesn’t answer the first question! How can we avoid falling into the trap of mistaking conspiracy theories with secret combinations? Equally important, how can we better inform those who have made that mistake to see the truth as it is, rather than through the distorted lens of conspiracy theorizing, which can have exactly the opposite effect of protecting us against secret combinations?

I get most of my news information online, because it is easier than reading newspapers. One of my favorite news portals is the BBC. I have subscribed to one of their feeds, and I get a regular update. An interesting news item that I received this morning was about the recent meeting of the secretive Bilderberg Group. If you scroll down the news page, there is an interesting audio clip from a radio interview with Jonathan Kay, the author of a book on conspiracy theories and the psychology of those who are inclined towards them, called Among the Truthers (more info here). He says that the best protection against conspiracy theorizing is to avoid getting into it in the first place. He says once someone goes down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories it is almost impossible to get them out of it; because no matter what evidence you show them, they simply expand their theory to swallow it up.

Do you think that some Church leaders in the past may have made the mistake of using language that was inappropriate, and had the effect of fanning the flames of conspiracy theories rather than informing Church members of secret combinations? I am in particular referring to some of the earlier rhetoric employed by Ezra Taft Benson. I think those were mistakes. After he became the President of the Church, he became much more circumspect in the language he employed, and avoided speculating beyond the what is revealed in scripture; but by then the damage was done, and he sent some Church members down the unending spiral of conspiracy theories rather than a sober awareness of secret combinations. What can we do to better inform those Church members who may have fallen victim to deception of Satan to confuse conspiracy theories with secret combinations?

It seems that it takes a certain personality type to fall easily into the trap of conspiracy theorizing. Those kinds of people seem highly vulnerable to that; and once they go down that road it is almost impossible to get them to turn back from it. What can we do to better inform those Church members who may have fallen into that kind of deception?

Edited by zerinus

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It seems that it takes a certain personality type to fall easily into the trap of conspiracy theorizing. Those kinds of people seem highly vulnerable to that; and once they go down that road it is almost impossible to get them to turn back from it. What can we do to better inform those Church members who may have fallen into that kind of deception?

Who could you mean? Saints like Ezra Taft Benson, perhaps?

Lehi

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Who could you mean? Saints like Ezra Taft Benson, perhaps?

Lehi

Well, he did tone down his rhetoric considerably after he became the President of the Church, which means that he pulled himself out of it by then, or the Lord pulled him out of it! But there are some Church members who are still determined to be stuck in that old rhetoric. Don't you think it is about time they saw the light too, and pulled themselves out of it as he did?

By the way, I just edited the previous post to add more information about the author who was the subject of the interview.

Edited by zerinus

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Well, he did tone down his rhetoric considerably after he became the President of the Church, which means that he pulled himself out of it by then, or the Lord pulled him out of it! But there are some Church members who are still determined to be stuck in that old rhetoric. Don't you think it is about time they saw the light too, and pulled themselves out of it as he did?

Does it matter what I think? You've made up your mind on the matter.

I think that is a spectrum of conspiracies out there. I believe Satan is no less active today than he was in ad 200 or 500 bc. If he spawned secret combinations then (and they fit the definition of "conspiracy" as well as any ever known) then Mormon and Ether were conspiracy theorists. Those who believe that there is an ongoing battle between good and evil today are fully justified in seeing the same sort of conspiracies now as existed in the books of Helaman, 3 Nephi, Ether, and Mormon.

So, no, I do not "think it is about time they saw the light too, and pulled themselves out of it as he did". Just because someone would label others makes those so labeled neither wrong nor crazy. There is a reason that Jesus told us to look for the signs of the times, and to be watchful.

On the other hand, there are also people who refuse to recognize the signs, saying "All is well in Zion, yea Zion prospereth". That sword cuts both ways.

Lehi

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That is a good answer to the second question; but it doesn’t answer the first question!

What can we do to better inform those Church members who may have fallen into that kind of deception?

I think that if we are guided by the Spirit, we can discern between truth and error. Of course those who have impediments to discerning between truth and error will have to rely on grace to protect them. Sometimes this grace comes through their relationships with others, and thus the importance of being patient with those so impeded. “Fortunately” for others, the greater the impediment, the less likely such a person can actually influence others to discern incorrectly.

I can’t imagine there are many left that might have latched onto some of the things Elder Benson said, and took them to an unhealthy level. I suspect there are many more that did not heed him at all, and may have contributed their share of any current problem! In any case, I think the general teachings about avoiding deception would apply to conspiracy theories and secret combinations.

Since we are hopefully talking about a relative few who are on the relative fringes, our closer fellowship with them would definitely help. So we can help our less discerning brothers and sisters by example, which is where the Book of Mormon search I mentioned earlier applies.

I think the message from our leaders will change on this subject as it has others, depending on how the saints heed or ignore their counsel and as the landscape they foresaw as a blessing of keeping their counsel changes accordingly. For example, we now hear a lot more about the importance of marriage than the importance of having many children. We hear a lot more about a three-month supply, or whatever we can pull together, than a year supply of food. The emphasis on Word of Wisdom and other addiction issues speaks to the “conspiring men” of these days.

I’ll think about this some more--

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Does it matter what I think? You've made up your mind on the matter.

Don't you think I could say the same thing about you?

I think that is a spectrum of conspiracies out there. I believe Satan is no less active today than he was in ad 200 or 500 bc. If he spawned secret combinations then (and they fit the definition of "conspiracy" as well as any ever known) then Mormon and Ether were conspiracy theorists. Those who believe that there is an ongoing battle between good and evil today are fully justified in seeing the same sort of conspiracies now as existed in the books of Helaman, 3 Nephi, Ether, and Mormon.

So, no, I do not "think it is about time they saw the light too, and pulled themselves out of it as he did". Just because someone would label others makes those so labeled neither wrong nor crazy. There is a reason that Jesus told us to look for the signs of the times, and to be watchful.

On the other hand, there are also people who refuse to recognize the signs, saying "All is well in Zion, yea Zion prospereth". That sword cuts both ways.

I don't deny that there are secret combinations at all. But I see a difference between secret combinations and conspiracy theories. It appears that you don't.

By the way, I have been reading the reviews on the book by Jonathan Kay, and I am forming a very favorable opinion of it. Without having read the book yet, I think I would recommend it to those who have fallen victim to the deception of conspiracy theory mentality. I think it would do them good to read this seemingly very interesting book.

Edited by zerinus

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Don't you think I could say the same thing about you?

You don't know what I believe, so, no, you could not (reasonably) say the same thing about me.

I don't deny that there are secret combinations at all. But I see a difference between secret combinations and conspiracy theories. It appears that you don't.

If the only difference is that secret combinations actually exist, and conspiracies (about which there are theories) do not, then you may have something. But the fact is that Cain was in a conspiracy with Satan, and he spread the secret among the other children of Adam and Eve, all of whom were in a conspiracy, a conspiracy which was a secret combination. So, if there's a way to distinguish the one from the other, let's have it. Otherwise, you're playing semantic games.

I have been reading the reviews on the Book by Jonathan Kay, and I am forming a very favorable opinion of it. Without having read the book yet, I think I would recommend it to those who have fallen victim to the deception of conspiracy theory mentality. I think it would do them good to read this seemingly very interesting book.

If it's only "seemingly" interesting, why should I bother? "Potentially interesting" might be another matter.

But I am forgetting the real question here: who is Jonathan Kay, and what's the name of "the Book [sic]"? And why should anyone care?

Lehi

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You don't know what I believe, so, no, you could not (reasonably) say the same thing about me.

I know as much about what you believe as you know about what I believe. If you can make that judgment about me, then I can make the same judgment about you.

If the only difference is that secret combinations actually exist, and conspiracies (about which there are theories) do not, then you may have something. But the fact is that Cain was in a conspiracy with Satan, and he spread the secret among the other children of Adam and Eve, all of whom were in a conspiracy, a conspiracy which was a secret combination. So, if there's a way to distinguish the one from the other, let's have it. Otherwise, you're playing semantic games.

The answer seems to be what most people have already recognized: don't accuse someone of being a conspirator, or some event of having been caused by a conspiracy, without having undeniable evidence to support it.

Study the Book of Mormon very carefully, and see what secret combinations in the Book of Mormon looked like, and what measures the book recommends on how to combat them.

If it's only "seemingly" interesting, why should I bother? "Potentially interesting" might be another matter.

But I am forgetting the real question here: who is Jonathan Kay, and what's the name of "the Book [sic]"? And why should anyone care?

As I had said, I have edited post #4 to provide more info about the author and the book.

Edited by zerinus

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The difference is usually this:

Conspiracy Theories:

Have near perfect secrecy.

Control things with a near perfect control.

Are detectable only by the enlightened (i.e. conspiracy theorists).

Lack of evidence is evidence.

Control high-ranking people.

Are a crutch used by many to make sense of the world and any problems and/or suffering in it.

Secret Combinations:

Run by fallible humans who screw up regularly.

Are trying to control things and sometimes succeeding.

Fall apart in civil warfare regularly.

Battle other groups for supremacy.

Eventually they always leak like a sieve.

Can be incredibly petty (office political factions) to grand (trying to control nations).

Are an attempt to use oaths or promises to create a kind of "honor among thieves" for protection; they are rarely successful for long as the participants jockey for power.

Most involved have delusions of grandeur.

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Study the Book of Mormon very carefully, and see what secret combinations in the Book of Mormon looked like, and what measures the book recommends on how to combat them.

The Book of Mormon speaks of secret combinations originating in our hearts under the prompting and influence of Satan, and of their manifestation in individuals conspiring one-on-one with Satan, among groups of people, and right on up to a national scale. This is why families and keeping the covenants within the family are so important: they give rise to what gets planted in the individual heart as well as the fundamental units of all societies and nations of the earth.

In its heyday, communism was a very real threat to the spiritual environment of the individual and the family in places where the gospel could be preached and where the Church was gaining a foothold. The manner in which it was practiced and promulgated, it qualified as a secret combination. Elder Benson warned about it accordingly. His language was suitable for its day. Its effectiveness was a function of his and his hearers’ inspiration and the grace of God.

I’m sure people could say the same thing about capitalism, where other kinds of secret combinations often operate. But it wasn’t getting in the way of the Church’s mission like communism was, and its dark side was addressed in many other ways, mainly through the basic Christian message to keep our hearts and treasures aligned with heaven, the Word of Wisdom, and other standards.

I’m not sure if it matters that any change in his language was due to his prayers, the heed the saints gave him (or whether either had anything to do with the timing of the fall of the iron curtain), the weakening and fall of the iron curtain, self-correction or reprimand by others, the change in his scope of responsibilities upon becoming President, advancing age, or any number of things.

I do think the Book of Mormon teaches how to rescue people who are a bit off the path. Numbering and tracking them among the faithful, making sure they have a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing them with the good word. And interestingly, President Benson heavily emphasized our need to read and study it, saying, "If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same?" The whole speech, which i think can be read with a view toward the many kinds of secret combinations afoot in our day, is here: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=56a6ef960417b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____

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The Book of Mormon speaks of secret combinations originating in our hearts under the prompting and influence of Satan, and of their manifestation in individuals conspiring one-on-one with Satan, among groups of people, and right on up to a national scale. This is why families and keeping the covenants within the family are so important: they give rise to what gets planted in the individual heart as well as the fundamental units of all societies and nations of the earth.

In its heyday, communism was a very real threat to the spiritual environment of the individual and the family in places where the gospel could be preached and where the Church was gaining a foothold. The manner in which it was practiced and promulgated, it qualified as a secret combination. Elder Benson warned about it accordingly. His language was suitable for its day. Its effectiveness was a function of his and his hearers’ inspiration and the grace of God.

I’m sure people could say the same thing about capitalism, where other kinds of secret combinations often operate. But it wasn’t getting in the way of the Church’s mission like communism was, and its dark side was addressed in many other ways, mainly through the basic Christian message to keep our hearts and treasures aligned with heaven, the Word of Wisdom, and other standards.

I’m not sure if it matters that any change in his language was due to his prayers, the heed the saints gave him (or whether either had anything to do with the timing of the fall of the iron curtain), the weakening and fall of the iron curtain, self-correction or reprimand by others, the change in his scope of responsibilities upon becoming President, advancing age, or any number of things.

I do think the Book of Mormon teaches how to rescue people who are a bit off the path. Numbering and tracking them among the faithful, making sure they have a friend, a responsibility, and nurturing them with the good word. And interestingly, President Benson heavily emphasized our need to read and study it, saying, "If the early Saints were rebuked for treating the Book of Mormon lightly, are we under any less condemnation if we do the same?" The whole speech, which i think can be read with a view toward the many kinds of secret combinations afoot in our day, is here: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=56a6ef960417b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____

I had more in mind talks of the kind referenced in the two YouTube video clips posted here. I think that the rhetoric employed in these clips were mistaken, and I wouldn't judge them to have been inspired. I think they are more inclined to promote conspiracy theories than help the saints guard against secret combinations. After he became the President of the Church he seems to have become aware of that, and changed his language to conform more closely to the Book of Mormon when referring to secret combinations.

Edited by zerinus

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Given that secret combinations are secret, it can (obviously) be difficult to expose them and root them out. However, I imagine that it is equally difficult for them to hide all evidence of their illicit activities, and so the more crimes they commit, the more likely they are to leave traces behind.

My coworker is a conspiracy theorist, and one thing I've noticed is that those theories tend to be pure speculation. Yes, it is theoretically possible (remotely) that they could be true, but they never produce any actual evidence.

I also like to apply Ockham's Razor to these things, "selecting the competing hypothesis that makes the fewest new assumptions, when the hypotheses are equal in other respects."

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Well, he did tone down his rhetoric considerably after he became the President of the Church, which means that he pulled himself out of it by then, or the Lord pulled him out of it! But there are some Church members who are still determined to be stuck in that old rhetoric. Don't you think it is about time they saw the light too, and pulled themselves out of it as he did?

By the way, I just edited the previous post to add more information about the author who was the subject of the interview.

I'm not sure what you mean by calling Benson's views about conspiracy as "rhetoric" but I don't like it. Benson did indeed tone it down later in his ministry but you don't know why he toned it down and neither do I. Personally I think its unlikely that his perception of the world and reality changed. I think its more likely related to PR purposes.

There are still tinges of conspiracy views coming from church leaders giving some indication that it's on their minds even if they don't think its is wise or necessary to say much about it from the pulpit. For example in his talk "Examples of Righteousness" given during the priesthood sesssion of conferense on April 5, 2008 President Monson made mention of "political machinations" and "despots grasping for power."

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I agree with The Nehor's response. I think he outlined the differences very clearly and in fact along the lines I was thinking.

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I'm not sure what you mean by calling Benson's views about conspiracy as "rhetoric" but I don't like it.

I mean that he expressed views or used language that was rather extreme, and bordered on conspiracy theory rather than a sober assessment of secret combinations as taught in scripture. I recall having heard or read that President Harold B. Lee disapproved or disagreed with some of his extreme views, or some of the doctrines that he taught; but I haven't been able to find a reference to it so far.

Benson did indeed tone it down later in his ministry but you don't know why he toned it down and neither do I. Personally I think its unlikely that his perception of the world and reality changed. I think its more likely related to PR purposes.

We can come close to answering that question by noting how he toned it down. He made it more scriptural, and stuck more closely to the scriptural language, than speculating on the nature of the conspiracies.

There are still tinges of conspiracy views coming from church leaders giving some indication that it's on their minds even if they don't think its is wise or necessary to say much about it from the pulpit. For example in his talk "Examples of Righteousness" given during the priesthood sesssion of conferense on April 5, 2008 President Monson made mention of "political machinations" and "despots grasping for power."

As I said, whether there are "conspiracies" or "combinations" at all is not disputed; but how they are looked at and talked about.

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I agree with The Nehor's response. I think he outlined the differences very clearly and in fact along the lines I was thinking.

The "secret combinations" of our day seem to have been cleverer than what he describes, and haven't left easily recognizable traces of themselves for us to track them down. We can tell that they exist because the Book of Mormon and modern prophets (when not speculating) have informed us that they exist. That is why it is counter-productive to try to speculate on who they are, without having undeniable evidence to prove it.

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I mean that he expressed views or used language that was rather extreme, and bordered on conspiracy theory rather than a sober assessment of secret combinations as taught in scripture. I recall having heard or read that President Harold B. Lee disapproved or disagreed with some of his extreme views, or some of the doctrines that he taught; but I haven't been able to find a reference to it so far.

We can come close to answering that question by noting how he toned it down. He made it more scriptural, and stuck more closely to the scriptural language, than speculating on the nature of the conspiracies.

As I said, whether there are "conspiracies" or "combinations" at all is not disputed; but how they are looked at and talked about.

I heard the Harold B Lee couseled that there is no need to twitch the tail of the beast. However, I can't find a reference either.

You're really stretching to find a way to argue that Benson didn't really believe what he taught. I don't like it. You have no basis for your belief. What you call "conspiracy theory", Benson called "conspiracy fact." His language and beliefs were very solid and unmistakable and he never retracted anything he said on the subject.

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I had more in mind talks of the kind referenced in the two YouTube video clips posted here. I think that the rhetoric employed in these clips were mistaken, and I wouldn't judge them to have been inspired. I think they are more inclined to promote conspiracy theories than help the saints guard against secret combinations. After he became the President of the Church he seems to have become aware of that, and changed his language to conform more closely to the Book of Mormon when referring to secret combinations.

I may look at these later; I'm not inclined right now but would rather discuss how the saints can guard against secret combinations than the evolution of his presentation--especially if you already believe he ended up in the right place, then we are on the right track of identifying the right things to do.

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I heard the Harold B Lee couseled that there is no need to twitch the tail of the beast. However, I can't find a reference either.

You're really stretching to find a way to argue that Benson didn't really believe what he taught. I don't like it. You have no basis for your belief. What you call "conspiracy theory", Benson called "conspiracy fact." His language and beliefs were very solid and unmistakable and he never retracted anything he said on the subject.

I refer you again to the two YouTube videos posted here. That is the kind of thing I was referring to. His advocating of the book None Dare Call it Conspiracy for example leaves question marks over the depth of his thinking, or even prophetic insight into the subject. That is a very cheap, shallow, superficial book. If he was impressed by that book, then I would say that his message was not very reliable (to say the least), neither intellectually nor prophetically. Similarly, his paranoia over Communism reveals the same lack of depth in his thinking at that time. As events proved those fears were unfounded. The real threat came (and is still coming) from elsewhere. His saving grace was that he did change his rhetoric after he became the President of the Church, which means that he was capable of doing better all along.

Your loyalty to the memory of a former great prophet and Apostle is certainly commendable, and I admire you for it; but I also reserve the right to object to being fed with what is after all a load of crap. More importantly, I reserve the right not to feed the same load of crap to others who are still riding the "conspiracy theory" bandwagon inspired by his (earlier) incorrect teachings.

Edited by zerinus

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I may look at these later; I'm not inclined right now but would rather discuss how the saints can guard against secret combinations than the evolution of his presentation--especially if you already believe he ended up in the right place, then we are on the right track of identifying the right things to do.

Thank you, I agree. I believe that the Book of Mormon model of "secret combinations" is best reflected in modern society in the form of what is today described as "organized crime". That is what they were in the Book of Mormon times. They were essentially "robbers," although in the times of their greatest wickedness they had penetrated into the political establishment, as well as the judiciary and legislative branches of government. Today we see many of the same patterns developing in the form of organized crime: drug cartels, human traffickers, the sex industry, gambling, the Mafia etc. to highlight the main players. I am sure more sophisticated versions of them exist as well, which move in political circles and other high profile professions; and have means or agents at their disposal to commit more sophisticated crimes.

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Thank you, I agree. I believe that the Book of Mormon model of "secret combinations" is best reflected in modern society in the form of what is today described as "organized crime". That is what they were in the Book of Mormon times. They were essentially "robbers," although in the times of their greatest wickedness they had penetrated into the political establishment, as well as the judiciary and legislative branches of government. Today we see many of the same patterns developing in the form of organized crime: drug cartels, human traffickers, the sex industry, gambling, the Mafia etc. to highlight the main players. I am sure more sophisticated versions of them exist as well, which move in political circles and other high profile professions; and have means or agents at their disposal to commit more sophisticated crimes.

To zero-in on organized crime, keeping a current temple recommend is a great start, as tithing addresses the lure of financial temptation and the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity address the lures of moral temptations, and so forth. Keeping the Holy Ghost as a constant guide as He communicates through various media (scriptures, leaders, discernment, personal revelation, etc.). The Proclamation on the Family keeps the personal compromises made for power and gain at bay. These also help the higher the crime gets and more national in scale it becomes.

Ether 8:22 makes the connection between national-scale secret combinations and the blood of the saints. For example, in the late 70’s I knew Church members who were assassinated for their political views (real or imagined by their murderers), and others who were just in the way of the commotion around them. I would categorize the underlying activity that brought this about as a form of organized crime.

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So I would say that the difference between the two is that belief in “secret combinations” is a scripturally based belief asserting that such things do exist, and pose a threat to society, without attempting to clearly identify it;

I highly disagree. The BoM clearly identified the secret combinations of their time.

whereas a “conspiracy theory” is a paranoid attempt to see the hand of such “combinations” in every suspicious (and non-suspicious) event, or at the head of a government without credible evidence to support it. It is the devil’s counterfeit measure to sidetrack us from the real thing.

Sure. But one's beliefs and philosophies clearly identify if one at least supports the ideals of one secret combination or another. Then there is also the matter of "secret". What does that mean? Could it imply a lack of "credible evidence"?

How can we avoid falling into the trap of mistaking conspiracy theories for secret combinations? I am guessing that the real people behind “secret combinations” must have a good laugh every time conspiracy theorists come up with a new addition to their theory!

I'll bet they laugh as they become part of the mainstream of civilization while members of the Church give them money and support.

How can we successfully combat such forces (as suggested in the Book of Mormon) without making unwise choices which might be counterproductive? How does the Book of Mormon suggest we should combat secret combinations?

By voting against them or not allowing them to control the cirriculum.

Edited by BCSpace

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