Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
churchistrue

Spencer Fluhman: The University and the Kingdom of God

Recommended Posts

25 minutes ago, jpv said:

Definitely purged along with many other scholars from the MI website, but you can get it from this BYU site:

https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol22/iss2/8/

Are you getting actual content or does clicking on download take you to “content restricted”?

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, readstoomuch said:

I really enjoyed this talk.  The same with most of the articles or podcasts I hear and  the Living Faith series of books they have published with Deseret.  Its a different intellectual exercise with the Maxwell Insitute now.  There aren't defenses of the faith in classic FARMS like manner.  Hope and faith are explored in an intellectual atmosphere.  It seems similar to the Joseph Smith Papers.  Apologetics is still useful and there is a place for them.  Hopefully the old links to FARMS material will be restored to be more available.  I guess I like my old cake and my new cake.  I eat both of them.  

I think you just read too much.  ;)

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

In Playing to an Audience, I quoted from a Fluhman editorial regarding the 2012 changes at Maxwell Institute:

Spencer Fluhman, “On Audience and Voice in Mormon Studies Publishing,” Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (blog), November 21, 2016, https://mi.byu.edu/intro-msr-v4/

Would Elder Maxell urge LDS scholars to "Speak to the scholars, period..."?  Would he say, "Let other scholars stand as witnesses at all times and in all places.  They have that covered elsewhere.  We have our professional standing in the larger commity to consider."

It's not about being disingenuous. I believe he is being both sincere and honest.  It's about who we are writing for, who we want to serve, and who we want to impress.  Nibley commented that in "Nobody to Blame" that there were many LDS intellectuals who thought that the way to impress the gentiles was to defer to them in all things.  He talked about his enounter with a group of Swearing Elders who urged him to "tell us what you really think" and "you can't possibly believe any of this!"  William Hamblin has recounted how his apologetics writing at BYU hampered his career there, how he was denied promotions and raises.

Back in the 70s, when I was a student at the University of Utah, I ran across some RLDS Journals in the University of Utah Library.   The journal was named "Courage" and all of the essays sought to demonstrate the courage to face the most difficult problems without flinching from the abyss, especially if it meant undercutting the foundations of faith.  None of the essays date very well, which is tragic considering that they affected policy and institutional committment in the community formerly known as RLDS.  Insitutionally, they have not exactly blossomed in subsequent decades.  The change of name was a formal change of community identity.  When the whole point of an intellectual adventure is to demonstrate the moral courage to face difficult problems, answers are counter productive.  When answers come, one comes across like Emily Latella, the Gilda Radner character on Saturday Night Live, whose indignant complaints evaporate to "Oh.. that's different.  Never mind."  Once a daunting problem has been located, I frequently see is a paralysis of imagination, and a limitation on exploration, as well as a tendency to come to conclusions final prematurely.  (My first contribution to LDS letters, "New Wine and New Bottles", was a response to such an essay in Dialogue.   At the time I labeled the phenomenon spiritual masochism.)  Once Othello has bravely faced the evidence regarding Desdemona's behavior, and chosen to act with finality, salvaging through his action his honor and integrity as he sees it, the last thing he wants to do is discover her innocence.  Had he a little more faith, and a little more charity, he would have had options in the face of apparent difficulties that could have prevented the tragedy.

At this point, I would like to link to my FARMS Review essay on "Hindsight on a Book of Mormon Historicity Critique" showing how an RLDS author at Graceland college wrote in the early 80s to give a final determination on the prospects of the Book of Mormon, and how he was demonstrably wrong about everything, but alas, the links are gone.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Indeed RLDS folks went the way of Clement of Alexandria and Iraneus as warned by Nibley....and at a huge cost.

Edited by Bernard Gui

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/2/2019 at 3:09 PM, rpn said:

That's not how it works in my lived experience.   It is that members wrestle with challenging things, with study and faith, and seeking more information, and seek their own confirmation from God when church leaders teach or suggest or counsel things.   And sometimes they never get that confirmation, and sometimes it takes a long time.

 

Okay, so when was the last time you heard someone in Church openly talk about a time when "they never got that confirmation" and didn't agree with something the Prophet had recently said?

Share this post


Link to post

I wouldn't expect to hear that at church.   I have heard it in situations where people are seeking or giving help to someone struggling. 

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/4/2019 at 12:51 PM, Calm said:

Are you getting actual content or does clicking on download take you to “content restricted”?

It downloaded for me. I can send you the file if it's helpful. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jpv said:

It downloaded for me. I can send you the file if it's helpful. 

That’s weird. I wonder if a setting on my phone restricts it.  My new phone seems to do that more, but since it didn’t give me an option to bypass it like my old phone does, I was wondering if my problem or theirs. 

Everyone has been complaining about stuff not being available yet, I assumed this case was it was theirs. 

Time to go exploring my new tech and see which button I shouldn’t have pushed. 

Add-on:  apparently that qualifies as “adult content”. So that option is pretty useless. 

I owe you points for helping figure out it was my tech. 

Edited by Calm
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/2/2019 at 2:47 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

Regarding the "When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" quote from the 1945 Home Teaching Message and the express rebuttal by George Albert Smith (and consider the irony of those who use the quote to assert the practical infallibility of prophets NOT considering the rebuttal from a Prophet):

https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/when-the-prophet-speaks-is-the-thinking-done

And I've argued that the reasoning does not come from the most authoritative and important LDS leaders, but from human development, a strategy for dealing with complexity, Position Two of the Perry Scheme.  Joseph Smith and the Scriptures try to lead us to Position 9.  But as Brigham explained, the gospel net gathers all kinds.

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

The quote "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" was in an article published for all members and included as the Ward Teaching message. George Albert Smith's "express rebuttal" that you point to was in a private letter to a non-member who had raised a specific question. The rebuttal would not have been known by the members of the Church who were all instructed that "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." For the people who would be impacted most by this teaching, the rebuttal was not given. It appears that the church allowed that message to stand and it was taken into the hearts and beliefs of members. George Albert Smith was quick to clarify and acknowledge the nuances privately, but clearly didn't feel like this message should go out to all of the members who read and were taught this principle.

If you want to claim it was expressly rebutted such that members should not be pointing to this teaching as a position of the church, then the rebuttal and clarifying teaching should have been given to the members - a private letter just doesn't cut it.

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Raskolnikov said:

The quote "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" was in an article published for all members and included as the Ward Teaching message. George Albert Smith's "express rebuttal" that you point to was in a private letter to a non-member who had raised a specific question. The rebuttal would not have been known by the members of the Church who were all instructed that "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." For the people who would be impacted most by this teaching, the rebuttal was not given. It appears that the church allowed that message to stand and it was taken into the hearts and beliefs of members. George Albert Smith was quick to clarify and acknowledge the nuances privately, but clearly didn't feel like this message should go out to all of the members who read and were taught this principle.

If you want to claim it was expressly rebutted such that members should not be pointing to this teaching as a position of the church, then the rebuttal and clarifying teaching should have been given to the members - a private letter just doesn't cut it.

Are you aware of any time this phrase was repeated or paraphrased in the sense that "the thinking has been done" in an official capacity after it was published in the Ward Teacher lessons?

Edited by Bernard Gui
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
43 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Are you aware of any time this phrase was repeated or paraphrased in the sense that "the thinking has been done" in an official capacity after it was published in the Ward Teacher lessons?

I'll offer the following but don't really want to spend a ton of time researching this or tracing the idea.

  1. Sister Elaine Cannon at General Conference (1978) "When the prophet speaks, sisters, the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1978/10/if-we-want-to-go-up-we-have-to-get-on?lang=eng
  2. N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign 1978 - Expanding on Elaine Cannon's talk, concludes his remarks with "We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1979/08/the-debate-is-over?lang=eng

I am not arguing about the validity of the doctrine or teaching or whether I personally believe it. I am simply addressing someone pointing to a private letter as evidence that the Church has rebutted this concept that was presented an article widely published to members [and reinforced, as shown above, in the Ensign and at General Conference]. As these two later addresses show, one in general conference and another in the Ensign, this concept was still widespread in the Church 30+ years later. Was the Ensign article and General Conference talk rebutted? Aren't those fairly correllated sources? How did they make it through the editors/reviewers? Perhaps, since the writer and speaker and the reviewers and editors weren't Doctor J. Raymond Cope, they didn't hear President Smith's rebuttal. I think these ideas were allowed to go out to the members, so it makes sense that some members grew up believing in this and the Church may have some involvement in letting this concept exist.

Are you aware of any time this phrase was rebutted in an official capacity after it was published in the Ward Teacher lessons?

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
51 minutes ago, Raskolnikov said:

I'll offer the following but don't really want to spend a ton of time researching this or tracing the idea.

  1. Sister Elaine Cannon at General Conference (1978) "When the prophet speaks, sisters, the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1978/10/if-we-want-to-go-up-we-have-to-get-on?lang=eng
  2. N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign 1978 - Expanding on Elaine Cannon's talk, concludes his remarks with "We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1979/08/the-debate-is-over?lang=eng

I am not arguing about the validity of the doctrine or teaching or whether I personally believe it. I am simply addressing someone pointing to a private letter as evidence that the Church has rebutted this concept that was presented an article widely published to members [and reinforced, as shown above, in the Ensign and at General Conference]. As these two later addresses show, one in general conference and another in the Ensign, this concept was still widespread in the Church 30+ years later. Was the Ensign article and General Conference talk rebutted? Aren't those fairly correllated sources? How did they make it through the editors/reviewers? Perhaps, since the writer and speaker and the reviewers and editors weren't Doctor J. Raymond Cope, they didn't hear President Smith's rebuttal. I think these ideas were allowed to go out to the members, so it makes sense that some members grew up believing in this and the Church may have some involvement in letting this concept exist.

Are you aware of any time this phrase was rebutted in an official capacity after it was published in the Ward Teacher lessons?

I think the key to your point, which I am sorry to say seems well founded, is the ammunition the critics have found in this one statement and the inevitable effect it has had on members as a catalyst for misunderstanding at best and at worst, resignation from the church, adding this statement as a "straw that breaks the camel's back"

Google the phrase and see the zillions of hits you get from anti- Mormon sites. (yes I used those words!)

We need some serious re-framing of these issues based on sophisticated philosophical analysis and showing how our poor folks have been duped with ideas from critics they do not understand, and are not equipped to deal with.  This one idea of infallibility and how it has been presented by critics is one of them.   

This should be a hand-waver when people come across it on the internet.  Swipe left. Oh that again... Next.....

We have kids to raise and feed and meetings to attend, ministry visits and  earn a living as well.

We need trusted sources to show what rubbish this stuff is and how to re-frame it and show it for what it is.  

I will always be a member of the church but I was sufficiently trained before I became a member to see through the ...... bovine euphemisms deleted ...  ;) when it came up.  I knew a myth when it came up and saw it for what it was- a way of teaching profound truths through simple analogies.  The point is not about the analogies but about the philosophical principle it shows.   We don't need to know the details of everything the prodigal son did nor his name and address to understand the importance of his story.

Similarly, we don't know Joseph's sleeping habits- where and with whom- to judge the profound philosophical insights he had and revelatory experiences, dreams and visions included.   We don't judge Mozart by his personal life.

This church is at its most basic level, a philosophical position that justifies revelation, and shows it to be part of what humans do to make sense of their universe, not a collection of "his-story" about who did what to whom and needs to be seen that way by its members.   The church will survive, but not without those kinds of viewpoints expressed more widely and by the authorities who have those positions of authority given to them by the membership.   If you cannot answer the question "Why believe scripture at all?" without saying "because scriptures tell us to do so" in some form or other,  or "because I am a seventh generation Mormon" you are in trouble.

Yes we can and should accept authority which is top down, "called of God as was Aaron"

But perhaps at some level some real academic training should be required to be able to answer why that is the case in a logical way.  Our leaders are selected by revelation and because of their spiritual abilities, righteousness, leadership strengths and a host of noble characteristics as they should be!

But I think our prejudice against the "philosophies of men" leaves them ill -equipped to deal with the philosophical challenges they will soon be facing

We need to understand how to justify personal revelation (clue: William James et al) and how a prophet receives revelation and why we follow it.   One semester of philosophy would probably do it.  Even the equivalent of one semester long course, three times a week for an hour, focused on these particular issues might be sufficient.

   I know.  That's heresy !  ;)

 

 

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks, mfbukowskiI also agree that the emphasis on this teaching is overused and overstated by the, as you say ,"anti-mormon" crowd. But, I also think that apologists likewise dismiss it away too simply and easily. Kevin Christensen cited to the FAIR website which quotes a private letter as evidence that the Church rebutted this teaching. I simply wanted to show that, to my knowledge, the Church hasn't formally rebutted this teaching. It seems alive and well, even if more nuanced views of personal revelation, prophetic fallibility, are allowed to exist. 

Share this post


Link to post
38 minutes ago, Raskolnikov said:

Thanks, mfbukowskiI also agree that the emphasis on this teaching is overused and overstated by the, as you say ,"anti-mormon" crowd. But, I also think that apologists likewise dismiss it away too simply and easily. Kevin Christensen cited to the FAIR website which quotes a private letter as evidence that the Church rebutted this teaching. I simply wanted to show that, to my knowledge, the Church hasn't formally rebutted this teaching. It seems alive and well, even if more nuanced views of personal revelation, prophetic fallibility, are allowed to exist. 

Well thank goodness Kevin knew where to find at least that.

I recall seeing that quote before now, but can't remember the source.

But there are plenty of other places where the notion that prophets are fallible have been published. Many of them quite recently in fact, and some more implied as in the reversal of policies Etc.

I think taking the church interpretation has a case but I think it could be made stronger very easily by throwing in some William James or John Dewey or even Wittgenstein.

I seem to be rather fond of philosophers who are atheists themselves yet who promote the possibility that God could exist.

Thomas Nagel comes to mind. 

He has said repeatedly that he hopes God does not exist but of course cannot prove it, well his writings actually provide a clear intellectual path to show how he could exist. That is tantamount to saying that he has a religious faith that God does not exist, a hope for things unseen.

I think putting together a group of these quotes and notes about these philosophers could do a lot to help the church counter some of these secular teachings which also happen  to be atheistic but need not be.

I mean if even important philosophers who are atheist  or agnostic concede the basis for our Doctrine, our people need to know about it in these little squabbles with anti Mormons even if it is heresy to utter the words. ;)

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/5/2019 at 1:06 PM, cinepro said:

Okay, so when was the last time you heard someone in Church openly talk about a time when "they never got that confirmation" and didn't agree with something the Prophet had recently said?

When a girl planning on a transgender operation got up and started talking about how the prophet is wrong right now about sex changes but transitioning will be acceptable in the church soon.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Raskolnikov said:

I'll offer the following but don't really want to spend a ton of time researching this or tracing the idea.

  1. Sister Elaine Cannon at General Conference (1978) "When the prophet speaks, sisters, the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1978/10/if-we-want-to-go-up-we-have-to-get-on?lang=eng
  2. N. Eldon Tanner, Ensign 1978 - Expanding on Elaine Cannon's talk, concludes his remarks with "We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over." https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1979/08/the-debate-is-over?lang=eng

I am not arguing about the validity of the doctrine or teaching or whether I personally believe it. I am simply addressing someone pointing to a private letter as evidence that the Church has rebutted this concept that was presented an article widely published to members [and reinforced, as shown above, in the Ensign and at General Conference]. As these two later addresses show, one in general conference and another in the Ensign, this concept was still widespread in the Church 30+ years later. Was the Ensign article and General Conference talk rebutted? Aren't those fairly correllated sources? How did they make it through the editors/reviewers? Perhaps, since the writer and speaker and the reviewers and editors weren't Doctor J. Raymond Cope, they didn't hear President Smith's rebuttal. I think these ideas were allowed to go out to the members, so it makes sense that some members grew up believing in this and the Church may have some involvement in letting this concept exist.

Are you aware of any time this phrase was rebutted in an official capacity after it was published in the Ward Teacher lessons?

The words in a 1945 Ward Teaching message is not necessarily an authoritative declaration of Church policy and doctrine. It is not the way I would express it, but  the concept of sustaining General Authorities leaders is scriptural doctrine that has long been taught publicly and privately and was repeated in the quoted forms you cited. President Smith's gracious letter to Unitarian minister would not normally be made public by the Church. I would like to know more about the correspondences between the two men and Doctor' Cope's attitude. I would assume he would not accept their callings. We do know more about President Smith's view of sustaining the prophets and their role in the scheme of things. 

The context of the message makes this plain.

Quote

NO Latter-day Saint is compelled to sustain the General Authorities of the Church. When given the opportunity to vote on the proposition in any of the several conferences held throughout the Church, he may indicate his willingness to sustain them by raising his right hand; he may manifest his opposition in like manner; or he may ignore the opportunity entirely. There is no element of coercion or force in this or any other Church procedure.

However, there is the principle of honor involved in the member’s choice. When a person raises his hand to sustain Church leaders as “prophets, seers, and revelators,” it is the same as a promise and a covenant to follow their leadership and to abide by their counsel as the living oracles of God. Consequently, any subsequent act or word of mouth which is at variance with the will of the Lord as taught by the leaders of the Church places the sincerity of such person in serious doubt. One could scarcely have claim upon complete integrity, if he raises his hand to sustain the Authorities of the Church and then proceeds in opposition to their counsel.

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the “prophets, seers, and revelators” of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord’s anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart.

My reading of the quote is the same as Sister Cannon's and President Tanner's, and many, many other authorities....listen to and sustain the prophet. That is sound LDS doctrine. 

President George Albert Smith said this...

Quote

It must be a source of strength to the President of this Church to look into the faces of thousands of honest men and women and observe them raise their hand in covenant with our Father in heaven, and sustain him in the office to which he has been called as president of this great Church. The obligation that we make when we raise our hands under such circumstances, is a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means,—if I understand the obligation I assumed when I raised my hand—that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position.

More of his thoughts on what it means to sustain are available here... https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-george-albert-smith/chapter-6?lang=eng

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
6 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

  . . . . . .I think putting together a group of these quotes and notes about these philosophers could do a lot to help the church counter some of these secular teachings which also happen  to be atheistic but need not be.

I mean if even important philosophers who are atheist  or agnostic concede the basis for our Doctrine, our people need to know about it in these little squabbles with anti Mormons even if it is heresy to utter the words. ;)

 

 

 

 

Have you considered undertaking such a task? I would be interested in seeing it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Well thank goodness Kevin knew where to find at least that.

I recall seeing that quote before now, but can't remember the source.

But there are plenty of other places where the notion that prophets are fallible have been published. Many of them quite recently in fact, and some more implied as in the reversal of policies Etc.

I think taking the church interpretation has a case but I think it could be made stronger very easily by throwing in some William James or John Dewey or even Wittgenstein.

I seem to be rather fond of philosophers who are atheists themselves yet who promote the possibility that God could exist.

Thomas Nagel comes to mind. 

He has said repeatedly that he hopes God does not exist but of course cannot prove it, well his writings actually provide a clear intellectual path to show how he could exist. That is tantamount to saying that he has a religious faith that God does not exist, a hope for things unseen.

I think putting together a group of these quotes and notes about these philosophers could do a lot to help the church counter some of these secular teachings which also happen  to be atheistic but need not be.

I mean if even important philosophers who are atheist  or agnostic concede the basis for our Doctrine, our people need to know about it in these little squabbles with anti Mormons even if it is heresy to utter the words. ;)

I think you vastly overestimate how many of our critics and members would be impressed by philosophical argument. That said I think a few with the right niche interests could be helped. If you feel inclined definitely do it.

Edited by The Nehor

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)

Regarding the George Albert Smith's rebuttal of the 1945 Home Teachers message, you did notice that he did so by using famous quotations from Joseph Smith?  Quotations that ought to have been well known by the persons who produced and passed the infamously wrong message?  And that there are many like passages from other LDS leaders?  Many years ago I saw Michael Quinn publish a similar complaint that the obscure message had not been officially condemned, and at the same time I remember that Quinn had also previously published many useful quotations and famous on prophetic fallibility and human independence of thought from Brigham Young.  (See his anonymous response to the Tanners.) 

Quote

One use of the “Straw Man” by the Tanners involves quoting General Authorities of the Church on doctrine and history, and then showing how the doctrines in question are disputed by other General Authorities or by written scriptures, and also by showing how specific historical statements and explanations of the General Authorities are inadequate or contradicted by the historical evidences. The Tanners are aware that the official position of the LDS Church is “that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (HC 5:265), but they also know that despite this denial of infallibility, Mormons tend to give special significance (if not outright divine status) to anything said by an LDS President or other General Authority. Therefore, the Tanners use Mormon gullibility and misplaced allegiance to priesthood authority as weapons to destroy confidence in the foundations of Mormonism. Although Brigham Young is commonly regarded as an autocrat who demanded unquestioning acceptance of his word, throughout his service as President, Brigham Young criticized the indiscriminate acceptance of the statements of prophets, seers, and revelators:

These persons do not depend upon themselves for salvation, but upon another of their poor, weak, fellow mortals…. say they, … I depend upon you brother Joseph upon you, brother Brigham, upon you, brother Heber, or upon you, brother James; I believe your judgment is superior to mine, and consequently I let you judge for me…. Now those men, or those women, who know no more about the power of God, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, than to be led entirely by another person, suspending their own understanding, and pinning their faith upon another’s sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate…

I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied….

How often has it been taught that if you depend entirely upon the voice, judgment, and sagacity of those appointed to lead you, and neglect to enjoy the Spirit for yourselves, how easily you may be led into error, and finally be cast off to the left hand? ….

I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence….

Now let me ask you, if you trust to my faith, to my words and teachings, counsel and advise, and do not seek after the Lord to have His Spirit to guide and direct you, can I not deceive you, can I not lead you into error? . . .

Now, let me ask the Latter-day Saints, you who are here in this house this day, how do you know that your humble servant is really, honestly, guiding and counseling you aright, and directing the affairs of the kingdom aright? . . . How do you know but I am teaching false doctrine? . . . live so that you can discern between the truth and error, between light and darkness, between the things of God and those not of God, for by the revelations of the Lord and these alone, can you and I understand the things of God.21

General Authorities have the limitations of all men in the matters under discussion here. They can engage in doctrinal speculation, defend valid or invalid doctrinal interpretations from a faulty understanding of written scripture, and make assertions or denials about sacred and secular history that are founded on inadequate research or misunderstanding.22 This should be no more startling than to freely admit that the biblical prophets and apostles accepted the ancient belief that the earth was a flat, rectangular surface, supported at its four corners by pillars, as indicated by the references of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and John the Revelator to the “four corners of the earth,”23 by the references of Moses, Job, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zechariah, and Paul to the “ends of the earth,”24 and by the statement in I Samuel 2:8:”for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.” We should also remember that when Moroni wrote of the”mistakes of men” in the preface to the Book of Mormon, the men he referred to were the Nephite prophets and scribes.

https://www.fairmormon.org/archive/publications/jerald-and-sandra-tanners-distorted-view-of-mormonism-a-response-to-mormonism-shadow-or-reality

The point is, for those who have any interest whatsoever in formal statements from the highest authorities, they are already readily available. 

We are men of like passions with you. (Acts 14:15)

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

I told them I was but a man, and they must not expect me to be perfect; if they expected perfection from me, I should expect it from them; but if they would bear with my infirmities and the infirmities of the brethren, I would likewise bear with their infirmities.14

Obsession over the existence of the 1945 Message involves not so much seeking wisdom, but either a stumbling block to complain about and use for self justification, or for some, as leverage to deal with complexity. 

My own favorite rebuttal is in D&C 1, a conspicuous and canonized revelation, available to all Saints who care to seek out of the best books, a formal declaration by the Lord concerning "mine authority, and the authority of my servants."

These commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

And inasmuch as they erred, it might be made known;

And inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed;

And inasmuch as they sinned, they might be chastened that they might repent;

And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high and receive knowledge from time to time.

 

Given all of that, what accounts for the existence on the anomalous 1945 Message and those who agree with it?  I, for one, do not by blame it on "The Church" but on common human traits and development.  It comes from common, but not universal, human strategies for dealing with complexity. 

Based on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, the four SJ Guardian types have a tendency to defer to authority.  For instance, "ESTJ Guardian Types "are very conscious of the chain of command.  For them work is a series of goals, to be reached by following the rules and regulations issues by the upper ranks of an organizations hierarchy.  The system and its regulations are good, self-protecting and self perpetuating. By following them and working hard, ESTJs believe the system will in turn, serve them. ESTJs give loyalty to the office and to the organization as a whole, though not necessarily to specific individuals therein."  (Type Talk, Kroeger and Thuesen, 268.)

I've also discussed the Perry Scheme for Cognitive and Ethical Growth, noting that the 1945 Message depicts the attitudes of Position 2:

Quote

The Perry Scheme is based on a study of the way students develop during their college years in moving from provincial communities to a diverse university environment.53 Here are Positions 1 and 2 of 9:

Position 1 – Basic Duality. (Garden of Eden Position: All will be well.)

The person perceives meaning divided into two realms—Good/Bad, Right/wrong, We/They, Success/Failure, etc. They believe that knowledge and goodness are quantitative, that there are absolute answers for every problem and authorities know them and will [Page 136]teach them to those who will work hard and memorize them.

Position 2 – Multiplicity Prelegitimate. (Resisting snake)

Now the person moves to accept that there is diversity, but they still think there are true authorities who are right, that the others are confused by complexities or are just frauds. They think they are with the true authorities and are right while all others are wrong. They accept that their good authorities present problems so they can learn to reach right answers independently.54

The point here is that the attitude toward a group’s authorities that Riskas sees as a distinctive Mormon claim applies to a position of human development that everyone faces regardless of their cultural background. Because Mormons are human, these positions will always be found among Mormons. But it is not a binding Mormon doctrine, simply an expected expression of human attitude toward their chosen society at a particular level of personal growth. As I have shown, D&C 1 expressly contradicts the assumptions of these initial positions and thereby encourages further growth.

https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/sophic-box-and-mantic-vista-a-review-of-deconstructing-mormonism/

The Perry Scheme shows that in students in the lower three positions " ALL OF THE POSITIONS ABOVE FEEL ABANDONMENT IN UNSTRUCTURED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS."  Whereas from Position 6 "FROM HERE ON THE PERSON WILL FEEL FRUSTRATION IN TOO-STRUCTURED OF AN ENVIRONMENT."

I made the case in Sophic Box and Mantic Vista that Joseph Smith by precept and example tries to lead us to Position 9.

Different people have different needs.  So LDS culture, since is it composed of variety of humans of all types and from all positions, will always contain a variety that cannot be forced into being something different, but take both time and understanding.  And all of that leads me to consider the wonderfully apt meanings of the word "sustain", something not explored by the author of the 1945 Message, but useful to me in considering such persons in the LDS church.

Sustain96

1.  To keep up; keep going; maintain. Aid, assist, comfort.
2.  to supply as with food or provisions:
3.  to hold up; support
4.  to bear; endure
5.  to suffer; experience: to sustain a broken leg.
6.  to allow; admit; favor
7.  to agree with; confirm.

It means basically, "put up with the crap" including the 1945 Message.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Edited by Kevin Christensen
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/2/2019 at 9:47 AM, rpn said:

I've heard that depiction a lot online.  

I haven't. 

On 8/2/2019 at 9:47 AM, rpn said:

And I have occasionally heard it in conference talks.  

CFR, please.  Which conference talks?

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/2/2019 at 12:13 PM, mfbukowski said:

Where was this quote "discredited"?  I am not challenging you just asking you.  Seriously, if it was in some way discredited I would just like to know.

See here.

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/4/2019 at 6:38 AM, Kevin Christensen said:

In Playing to an Audience, I quoted from a Fluhman editorial regarding the 2012 changes at Maxwell Institute:

Quote

A couple of years ago, Maxwell Institute leaders asked me to advise them on the future of the Mormon Studies Review. They were interested in engaging more fully with the rising academic field of the same name, but wondered if the journal should even continue given the already crowded periodical field. My response was brief — well, brief for me — and would not have impressed any capitalists in the room. Don’t worry about the LDS audience, I said. Other journals have that covered. Speak instead to scholars, period.…

Spencer Fluhman, “On Audience and Voice in Mormon Studies Publishing,” Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (blog), November 21, 2016, https://mi.byu.edu/intro-msr-v4/

Would Elder Maxwell urge LDS scholars to "Speak to the scholars, period..."?  Would he say, "Let other scholars stand as witnesses at all times and in all places.  They have that covered elsewhere.  We have our professional standing in the larger community to consider."

I can't help but contrast the above sentiment with these remarks by Elder Holland.  Some excerpts:

Quote

First, although I accept sole responsibility for all inadequacies, limitations, errors, and missed opportuni-ties in this message, I am here with not only the blessing but also the rather explicit expectation of the officers of the university’s board of trustees, whose executive committee I currently chair. In that sense, I speak for all of your governing advisers—not just for myself.

...

Third, I am speaking only to the work of the Maxwell Institute tonight and not to the whole of BYU’s academic effort.

Very much a targeted talk, I think.  A bit more:

Quote

But not all truths are of equal importance, and in using the disciple-scholar metaphor—that hyphenated noun Elder Maxwell left us as part of his marvelous linguistic legacy—the spiritual half of that union was always the more important. “Though I have spoken of the disciple-scholar,” he said, “in the end all the hyphenated words come off. We are finally disciples—men and women of Christ.”

And yet Spencer Fluhman was telling the Maxwell Institute "Don’t worry about the LDS audience."

Quote

Whichever audience you address at any given moment, I note the advice of the review team who challenged the institute to “promulgate a [clear] statement of its commitment to engage in work that builds the Kingdom, to set the agenda according to their own objectives and not those of the academy, and to ensure that the dominant tone of their journals and books affirms core LDS values, as outlined in the foundational documents of BYU.”

Elder Holland: "I note the advice of the review team who challenged the institute to '...set the agenda according to their own objectives and not those of the academy.'"

Bro. Fluhman: "Don’t worry about the LDS audience, I said. Other journals have that covered. Speak instead to scholars, period.…"

Oi.

Quote

Regarding that faith-filled scholarship of which Elder Maxwell speaks, may I note plainly one thing we expect you to do because it is central to your raison d’être. It is to undergird and inform the pledge Elder Maxwell made when he said of uncontested criticism, “No more slam dunks.”  We ask you as part of a larger game plan to always keep a scholarly hand fully in the face of those who oppose us. As a ne’er-do-well athlete of yesteryear, I was always told you played offense for the crowd, but you played defense for the coach. Your coaches will be very happy to have you play both superbly well.

This seems to speak a fundamental difference of opinion as to who is the Institute's primary target audience.

Quote

About four years ago, at the university’s invitation, three outside scholars reviewed the circumstances the institute was then facing and wrote nineteen pages of observations. Some of what they said addressed the matter of apologetics broadly defined. 

Whatever else they had in mind, I thought it a marvelous understatement for them to have said, “There will be times when our faith will require an explicit defense.”  We want the Maxwell Institute and many others to contribute to that defense—with solid, reputable scholarship intended as much for everyday, garden-variety Latter-day Saints who want their faith bolstered, at least as much as it might be intended for disinterested academic colleagues across the country whose stated purpose will never be to “prove or disprove the truth claims of the Church.”

Helping to build "an explicit defense" through "reputable scholarship intended as much for everyday, garden-variety Latter-day Saints ... at least as much as ... for disinterested academic colleagues" seems rather incompatible with "{d}on’t worry about the LDS audience ... {o}ther journals have that covered" and "{s}peak instead to scholars, period.…"

Quote

Obviously that agenda must always include work done on the foundational documents of the kingdom as well, the Restoration scriptures and especially the Book of Mormon. It may have been in this regard that the reviewers said, “The current culture at MI may have lost some of the institute’s founding vision and original purpose.”

Yep.  I don't think that "vision and original purpose" was ever to "{s}peak instead to scholars, period."

I continue to be more or less in the dark as to what has happened at the Institute since 2012.  

Thanks,

-Smac

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 8/4/2019 at 12:24 PM, jpv said:

Definitely purged along with many other scholars from the MI website, but you can get it from this BYU site:

https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/msr/vol22/iss2/8/

Has anyone really been able to figure out if there was a "purge" of the MI's past publications?  That seems like a serious charge.

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
16 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Well thank goodness Kevin knew where to find at least that.

I recall seeing that quote before now, but can't remember the source.

But there are plenty of other places where the notion that prophets are fallible have been published. Many of them quite recently in fact, and some more implied as in the reversal of policies Etc.

I think taking the church interpretation has a case but I think it could be made stronger very easily by throwing in some William James or John Dewey or even Wittgenstein.

I seem to be rather fond of philosophers who are atheists themselves yet who promote the possibility that God could exist.

Thomas Nagel comes to mind. 

He has said repeatedly that he hopes God does not exist but of course cannot prove it, well his writings actually provide a clear intellectual path to show how he could exist. That is tantamount to saying that he has a religious faith that God does not exist, a hope for things unseen.

I think putting together a group of these quotes and notes about these philosophers could do a lot to help the church counter some of these secular teachings which also happen  to be atheistic but need not be.

I mean if even important philosophers who are atheist  or agnostic concede the basis for our Doctrine, our people need to know about it in these little squabbles with anti Mormons even if it is heresy to utter the words. ;)

Do it!

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Raskolnikov said:

The quote "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" was in an article published for all members and included as the Ward Teaching message. George Albert Smith's "express rebuttal" that you point to was in a private letter to a non-member who had raised a specific question. The rebuttal would not have been known by the members of the Church who were all instructed that "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." For the people who would be impacted most by this teaching, the rebuttal was not given. It appears that the church allowed that message to stand and it was taken into the hearts and beliefs of members. George Albert Smith was quick to clarify and acknowledge the nuances privately, but clearly didn't feel like this message should go out to all of the members who read and were taught this principle.

If you want to claim it was expressly rebutted such that members should not be pointing to this teaching as a position of the church, then the rebuttal and clarifying teaching should have been given to the members - a private letter just doesn't cut it.

Let's contextualize this a bit:

1. The Source: The 1945 message was first addressed by Pres. Smith when he was responding to this 1945 letter from a Unitarian minister, which stated in pertinent part:

Quote

Last June there was delivered to my door a short religious editorial, prepared by one of your leaders, entitled “Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church.” Its message amazed me a great deal, and with the passing of weeks my disturbance became very acute. It might have passed, except that several members of your Church have come to me to discuss the subject. The most recent was a prominent doctor, who, because of this tract, he affirms, is losting [sic] his religious faith. He is a large man, and I became impressed with his deep sincerity as he broke down and wept like a boy. I am convinced that he is undergoing a very dangerous experience.

Permit me to quote the passages which seem to be brought most in question:

“He (Lucifer) wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to ‘do their own thinking[.]”
“When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan–it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy….”

I do not know who is responsible for this statement, but I am sure it is doing inestimable harm to many who have no other reason to question the integrity of the Church leaders. 

Pres. Smith responded to this inquiry in December 1945:

Quote

I have read with interest and deep concern your letter of November 16, 1945, in which you make special comment on “a short religious editorial prepared by one of your (our) leaders entitled “Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church'”. You say that you read the message with amazement, and that you have since been disturbed because of its effect upon members of the Church.

I am gratified with the spirit of friendliness that pervades your letter, and thank you for having taken the time to write to me.

The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not “prepared” by “one of our leaders.” However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.

The key bit: "The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not “prepared” by “one of our leaders.” However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed."

2. Confirmation of the Source: The above quote is verbatim from the controversial June 1945 Ward Teachers article, the title of which was "Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church."  The minister references "a short religious editorial" published in "June {1945}."  There has never been any question that the minister was referring to the Ward Teacher's Message.

3. Context for the Source: The June 1945 Improvement Era was a 60-page periodical (including the cover).  Here is a link to a .pdf copy of it.  It was apparently 11 inches tall (or perhaps diagonally), and so was fairly small for a "magazine."  I'm not sure there is a significant difference between a "magazine" and a "leaflet" here, particularly given the passage of 70+ years which may obscure some of the nuance in vocabulary usage used in the 1940s.

4. All Roads Lead to June 1945: I have never, in my 40+ years in the Church, heard the teaching/concept that "when our leaders speak, the thinking has been done."  Contrary to what RPN claims above ("And I have occasionally heard it in conference talks"), this phrase appears zero times on the Church's website.  All references to this phrase I have found trace back to the June 1945 Ward Teachers article, and nowhere else.  I am open to correction, of course.

In 2012 Elder Andersen astutely observed:

Quote

A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

If "the thinking has been done" were an integral or significant element of LDS doctrine or practice, we would have seen it repeated over and over.  And yet . . . we don't.

5. Critics and Dissidents Need to Get a Sense of Proportion: I think the critics and dissidents of the LDS Church need to gain a sense of proportion and perspective when discussing those five controversial words published 70+ years ago ("the thinking has been done").  Daniel Peterson aptly summed things up here (a 1999 email response to John Smith, an evangelical anti-Mormon):

Quote

{JS} I have 2,500 books on Mormonism (by far the most pro-Mormon).

{DP} But have you understood -- actually mastered -- their contents? I do not wish to be uncharitable, but I've seen no sign in your writing that you have. Nor any sign in the Evangel and the Inner Circle that anybody there really has much of a clue.

...

{JS} My collection includes years of LDS Church News, years of the Ensign, and also quite an assortment of the Improvement Era, but it does not go back as far as June 1945 - the issue in which the "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done, when they propose a plan it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe, when they give direction, it should mark the end of the controversy."

{DP} Odd, isn't it, that that statement, if it is so central to LDS belief and self-understanding, can only be found in a ward teacher's message -- a ward teacher's message! do you realize how far down the totem pole that is? -- from more than half a century ago?

By the way, though, do you think that turning your mind over to Matthew, Peter, Luke, Paul, John, and Mark makes you an independent thinker? Or do you -- as consistency might demand -- denounce the fundamentalist Protestant insistence that one has to believe what they wrote, and that their pronouncements are inerrant? Are you a slave to those old dead guys? When they speak, has the thinking been done? Is the question settled? Or do you feel free to disagree with the Bible?

6. Critics and Dissidents Need to Get a Sense of Proportion (Part Deux): I get that the Ward Teacher's Message was apparently not publicly disavowed by the Church, though it was disavowed in December 1945 in a private letter from Pres. George Albert Smith to a concerned Unitarian minister.  Perhaps it should have been, particularly since Pres. Smith acknowledged to the minister that "not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings" by the message, and that "General Authorities have been embarrassed."

But again, a sense of proportion and perspective is needed here.  The Ward Teacher's message was prepared in the first half of 1945, the last year of World War II.  Can we perhaps grant that Brethren, who prior to June 1945 were witnessing the conclusion of World War II, the most destructive and widespread war in the history of the world, which had been raging for many years and had resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people worldwide, just might have been a bit off their game in terms of editorial oversight of The Improvement Era?  

Can we, sitting in front of computers in 2019, really conceptualize the zeitgeist of early 1945?  

Are we really in a position to act as armchair quarterbacks and criticize what "should" have been done?

7. Some Thoughts Re: Group Dynamics / Power Structures: The general issue of the leadership of a group making an executive decision on a given subject is, for me, not a particularly controversial or disturbing concept.  That is not to say that the executive decision precludes "thinking" about the subject, only that a decision has been made by the leadership for the group.  That is their purpose and function: making decisions for the group.

When I was in the Army, I had some limited experience in working within a command structure of small groups (squads, platoons, companies).  The leader of the group often listened to input from the group, but then the leader made a decision, at which point the discussion is over.  It would have not made any sense to allow endless debate and defiance of the leader's decision.  In such circumstances unit cohesion would fail.  The mission's objectives would not be achieved.  That is not to say that the decisions made under such circumstances are always right, but rather that they must be made, and the subordinates must - in most circumstances - accept the decision and act in accordance with it.  This may sound abhorrent and terrible to people who have never been in the military (and to be fair, it's not a perfect system), but unit cohesion and mission objectives generally trump the individual's preferences.

As an attorney, I often attend hearings and, occasionally, trials.  The U.S. legal system is carefully and clearly designed to allow adversaries to submit their legal dispute to a judge, who then has the authority to render a decision.  So while the judge is bound by the law, and while the law prescribes remedies for when the judge makes a mistake in judgment, there is no question that the judge is the person who is responsible for making that decision.  He/she wears a black robe, sits on a chair ("Bench") elevated above every other chair in the room, does not answer to anyone in the room, and dictates to the parties and court staff what the decision of the court is, what the parties must do or not do, and so on.  This may sound abhorrent and terrible to people who have little experience with the legal system (and to be fair, it's not a perfect system), but as a general rule our society's need to have an authority in place to decide disputed issues trumps the individual's preferences.

As an employee, I get to provide input and feedback to my employer.  However, once my employer makes a decision for the company, that pretty much settles the matter.  As long as my employer is acting within legally permissible bounds, I am obligated to submit to its decisions (or quit).

I could give other examples, but I hope the point is made.  I think the problem here is that critics and dissidents fail to conceive of the LDS Church and its form and function.  It is a community of faith.  It claims to have been founded by God through a prophet and led by prophets and apostles who seek and obtain revelatory guidance and instruction from God.  It is hierarchical, not a democracy.   It has a visible, discernible, not-in-dispute-that-it-exists hierarchy.  Its decision-making processes take into account input from rank-and-file members and involve discussion and study, but at the end of the day decisions are to be based on revelatory principles and on The Spirit.  In that sense, the leaders of the rank-and-file members are not a "constituency" to which the leaders are answerable.  

This is, I think, where faithful, observant Latter-day Saints part ways with the critics and dissidents.  The latter folks seem to construe the Church not what it is and claims to be, but rather as a political entity.  That is, the rank-and-file members are a "constituency" ("a body of voters in a specified area who elect a representative to a legislative body ... a body of customers or supporters").  When viewed in this way, the perspective and conduct of critics and dissidents (as pertaining to issues like the above-referenced Ward Teacher's Message) begins to make a bit more sense to me.

When viewed in this way, the tactics and strategies used by critics also begin to make a bit more sense.  In Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals," a book specifically designed to affect society change through, inter alia, political action, Rule #5 is "Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon."  There are all sorts of exhortations in the scriptures and from modern prophets and apostles which encourage us to read and to study and to seek guidance from the Spirit in all times and in all places.  And yet here we have critics and dissidents reaching back in time 70+ years for a five-word phrase ("the thinking has been done") that A) was not written by a general authority, B) was not approved by the General Authorities tasked with reviewing the Church's publications, and C) was inadvertently allowed to be published in the Church's official magazine.  The only fathomable reason for this is . . . ridicule.  Ridicule is a potent weapon in politics.  It has no place amongst the Saints, but dissidents among us use it because, I think, they view the Church as a political or quasi-political entity.

Alinsky's Rule #12 is "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”  In the Ward Teacher's Message we have a five-word phrase that that

  • A) was not written by a general authority,
  • B) was not approved by the General Authorities tasked with reviewing the Church's publications, 
  • C) was inadvertently allowed to be published in the Church's official magazine,
  • D) was published 70+ years ago,
  • E) was published in the waning months of World War II, the most destructive war in the history of the world (and which therefore might explain why the GAs of the time were perhaps distracted by the death and destruction, and not totally attentive to their editorial duties),
  • F) contravenes extensive writings by ancient and modern prophets and apostles regarding the importance of studying and "thinking" about things important to us, and
  • G) was subsequently disavowed by the President of the Church (albeit not in a widespread way).  

And yet critics and dissidents have "picked the target," and frozen and polarized the bejeebers out of it.  I think the only people who pick and freeze and polarize a 70+-year-old Ward Teacher's Message are . . . people who view the Church as a political or quasi-political entity.

Alinsky's Rule #8 is "Keep the pressure on. Never let up."  I think critics and dissidents who rely on the 1945 Ward Teacher's Message as a substantive argument against the LDS Church are really doing themselves a disservice.  It comes across as contrived.  Desperate.  Pathetic.  And yet they keep the pressure on and never let up.  This has no place amongst the Saints, but critics and dissidents among us use it because, I think, they view the Church as a political or quasi-political entity.

Alinsky's Rule #3 is "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. ... {L}ook for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty."  Latter-day Saints are taught to study, ponder and pray.  Constantly.  "{B}ehold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you..."  (D&C 9:8).  In contrast, the controversial 5-word phrase "the thinking has been done" appears nowhere on the Church's website.  Given the voluminous literature available to the Saints about their faith, I think it would be quite understandable for even the most studious amongst us to not include in our studies a 70+-year-old Ward Teacher's Message.  So the only reason I can think that critics and dissidents keep bringing up this 5-word phrase ("the thinking has been done") is . . . as a rhetorical "gotcha."  As a way "to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty" in the hearts and minds of Latter-day Saints who are - rather understandably - "outside the{ir} expertise" when dealing with a 70+-year-old Ward Teacher's Message.  Such measures have no place among the Saints, but critics and dissidents among us use it because, I think, they view the Church as a political or quasi-political entity.

Alinsky's Rule #2 is "Never go outside the expertise of your people.”  There is a reason, I think, why critics and dissidents constantly re-hash the same complaints and criticisms against the Church over and over.  Many of these criticisms fall within the ambit of this statement by Carl Mosser and Paul Owen (published in 1997, I think, and so even more relevant today):

Quote

The second conclusion we have come to is that Mormon scholars and apologists (not all apologists are scholars) have, with varying degrees of success, answered most of the usual evangelical criticisms. Often these answers adequately diffuse particular (minor) criticisms. When the criticism has not been diffused the issue has usually been made much more complex.

This is perhaps why Jeremy Runnells enjoyed 15 minutes of fame.  His CES Letter typifies the lazy and unstudied nature of so many criticisms harped on by critics and dissidents.  Posting criticisms of the Church as "questions," then ignoring (as pretending they don't exist) serious and thoughtful published efforts to address those "questions," and then re-asking the criticisms-dressed-up-as-questions is, I think, an exercise in "{n]ever go{ing} outside the expertise of your people."  

8. A Note on Hypocrisy: It is acutely hypocritical for critics and dissidents to accuse us of discouraging "thinking" by resorting in 2019 to something as lazy and thoughtless as copying and pasting a complaint about a 5-word phrase from a 1945 Ward Teacher's Message.  Not a single one of these folks originated this criticism.  They are just parroting it after having heard it from their fellow online critics.  Endlessly.  For years.  If that is not a failure to "think," I don't know what is.

And so it goes.  I am open to legitimate critique and criticism of my faith.  I don't really enjoy it per se, but it makes me think and study and ponder more than I would otherwise.  At the end of it all, I wind up feeling rather comfortable with my faith and my perception of it.  By constantly pointing out perceived (and, I admit, some actual) flaws in the Church, our enemies make us confront and work out these thorny issues.  In contrast, my take is that any critic or dissident who seriously resorts to such stale complaints as a 1945 Ward Teacher's Message is in the thrall of lazy, uncritical thoughtlessness.  

Mosser and Owen quoted Hugh Nibley as saying: "We need more anti-Mormon books. They keep us on our toes."  He was quite correct.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Raskolnikov said:

The quote "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done" was in an article published for all members and included as the Ward Teaching message. George Albert Smith's "express rebuttal" that you point to was in a private letter to a non-member who had raised a specific question. The rebuttal would not have been known by the members of the Church who were all instructed that "when the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done." For the people who would be impacted most by this teaching, the rebuttal was not given. It appears that the church allowed that message to stand and it was taken into the hearts and beliefs of members. George Albert Smith was quick to clarify and acknowledge the nuances privately, but clearly didn't feel like this message should go out to all of the members who read and were taught this principle.

If you want to claim it was expressly rebutted such that members should not be pointing to this teaching as a position of the church, then the rebuttal and clarifying teaching should have been given to the members - a private letter just doesn't cut it.

Thanks for posting this.  I'd honestly thought that an announcement was made to all church members regarding that statement (from the Prophet that we do not teach that sentiment).  But it was only done in a private letter to a nonmember?

That would be like something coming out from the general leaders in Salt Lake (in writing) for all members to be taught and then assuming they'd know it was done in error because Pres. Nelson wrote a nonmember a private letter stating that.  How would members even know what was written unless the nonmember shared it and even then only a few may hear of it.

No wonder so many members believed it and thought it was the truth.

Edited by ALarson
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...