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Spencer Fluhman: The University and the Kingdom of God

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1 minute ago, mfbukowski said:

No I understand fully how futile an effort it is after trying it here for years.

I cannot for the life of me understand why people in the church are not interested in the fact that secular theism is fully compatible with our doctrine and beliefs and justifiable by even atheist philosophers.

Kevin has been trying also by sticking to his Perry Scheme points- which are excellent- which in my interpretation are saying "Look here folks- if you mature a little intellectually everything will be fine and the church will be saved"

But folks do not want to learn or stretch a little bit.  I suppose they feel insulted by it- I don't have any idea why they reject it.

To me, it could at least make us "contenders" to actually complete our mission of converting the world, but instead we prefer to keep on trodding the same path, and pushing the handcarts while others fly by in jets looking down on our "progress"

One can be a true blue member of Church of Jesus Christ AND be intellectually sophisticated in academic matters as well but I think we just do not believe that in our hearts or we would be open to it.

Thanks for pointing that out and putting it into words

I personally find philosophy boring. I read a bit in college and tried to read more about a decade ago but got bored. I do not reject it. I am just apathetic to it. I do think I am academically trained and pursue the fields I do enjoy (literature, history, some of the sciences).

I also do not see the point in philosophy in starting from first principles or discerning first principles depending on how you look at it. I am here. I have to deal with it. There is a God as I have communicated with Him. I don’t think rationality will convert the world and if it did we would have more members but I question the quality of said members converted by reason and not the burning fire of conviction and revelation.

What does the church need to be saved from?

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On 8/1/2019 at 9:41 AM, churchistrue said:

This seems really big. He makes a persuasive case for all to bravely explore everything about their religion, even if it has the potential for faith loss. He believes it will be better individually and collectively as a church, if we all do that.   https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/j-spencer-fluhman/the-university-and-the-kingdom-of-god/

Quote from speech:

"If in the complexities and contradictions we must all face along the way, we are driven to our knees before the beautiful, startling mystery of it all than we will be latter day saints, indeed...This intellectual and spiritual work can be difficult. It can be exhausting. I know some of you are tired. You're not sure you can keep at it. You go ahead and find some stillness today. Gather your strength today. Rest up today because tomorrow we ride for Zion and it's not quite Zion if you're not there. Remember you don't ride alone. Step back and consider the thousands around you. Consider the thousands who preceeded you. Consider the unnumbered hosts yet to come. You don't ride alone. This path takes courage and vision, yes! It takes faith. And faith will always be counterintuitive in this world. So is love. Why believe or hope or care when the data seems so often stubbornly trailing in other directions. Faith, hope and charity are audacious in such a world as this. But make no mistake, we'll find the place that God for us has prepared, even if it seems far away today. Just when your strength is flagging, you'll catch the glint of some gleaming tower off in the distance and you'll sense that God is there. He is. Keep going. God is playing the long game and we should too. If we understand the scale of the struggle, the ride will not end. The restoration will not conclude until every daughter and son of God, who will come, has been safely gathered into his extended covenantal embrace."

here's my blog post with several other quotes from the speech and my thoughts. Hopefully transcription will be up soon at the byu site.

https://www.churchistrue.com/blog/spencer-fluhman-byu-devotional-the-university-and-the-kingdom-of-god/

 

 

 

Good talk but he barely scratched the surface for how far we still need to go.  While I listened to his talk I recalled Hugh Nibley's talk mentioning the black robes of a false priesthood while he talked about university graduation robes, even at a BYU graduation ceremony.  Universities are good as far as they go but the real education comes as we commune with our Father in heaven to learn from him about what is true and real, which can happen while we attend a university or anywhere else for that matter even though temples are where we can more easily commune with him.  Brigham Young never intended his academy or any university to take the place of temples, and considering the cost of attending a university these days and the relatively short time of our lives we spend at them, if we can afford the costs to attend, we need other places to go to commune with God as we strive to learn all we can learn about everything.

Like this place, even, and some other websites we now have access to over the world wide web, as we try to gather good information from wherever we can find it while communing with God as he helps us to learn and know the truth about everything there is to learn here.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

I personally find philosophy boring. I read a bit in college and tried to read more about a decade ago but got bored. I do not reject it. I am just apathetic to it. I do think I am academically trained and pursue the fields I do enjoy (literature, history, some of the sciences).

I also do not see the point in philosophy in starting from first principles or discerning first principles depending on how you look at it. I am here. I have to deal with it. There is a God as I have communicated with Him. I don’t think rationality will convert the world and if it did we would have more members but I question the quality of said members converted by reason and not the burning fire of conviction and revelation.

What does the church need to be saved from?

The mirror, and only talking to the person in it. Through a glass darkly will never get you face to face, though some may get there despite it all

But that ain't missionary work.

How many secular converts did your ward have this year.?

How many left and became secular?

Those potential converts and folks who left were busy reading the CES letter and not understanding why it was irrelevant to the meat of the gospel because they never experienced the meat of the gospel.

As Kevin might say they were stuck at stage 2, and what's worse didn't even know it.

Edited by mfbukowski

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32 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

The mirror, and only talking to the person in it. Through a glass darkly will never get you face to face, though some may get there despite it all

But that ain't missionary work.

How many secular converts did your ward have this year.?

How many left and became secular?

Those potential converts and folks who left were busy reading the CES letter and not understanding why it was irrelevant to the meat of the gospel because they never experienced the meat of the gospel.

As Kevin might say they were stuck at stage 2, and what's worse didn't even know it.

3 for the first and no idea on the second. Our ward is a continuous churning of reactivations and deactivations and a few went off to a Tongan church so probably not secular.

I do not buy into Fowler’s stages in general so I am not concerned with that. I am not even sure how it works though so maybe I missed something. I do not see stages in those around me in the church either. Some are weak and some are strong. All have gifts. I also find that it is taking the wrong course. If you are looking for the next stage of your faith or spiritual development you are unlikely to find it. You seek communion and (less popularly) commandments from a God and obey them and then are led onward not knowing exactly where you are going and find happiness. Seeking to save your life means losing it, losing your life for Christ’s sake and for the sake of His gospel means you will find it.

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Perry’s stages should not be confused with Fowler’s stages. 

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OK I will fess up up front on this post.  This is a challenge to the view that the idea of fallible prophets was not well known in the church, it was.

I knew I have seen a bunch of quotes contradicting the idea that "when the prophet speaks, the thinking is done" and wanted a bunch fast.

So I went to an "anti-Mormon" site which I had remembered had an article on precisely how contradictory we are on these topics and copied and pasted a bunch of quotes.  They had quotes on the other side as well- that was the point of the article

But all the quotes I believe must be in the public domain, so I will post them.   I do not vouch for their accuracy etc and do not want to link to the site because it IS the sort of site we are not to link to hereabouts.  If there are questions or if the mods think this is inappropriate or whatever- take them down immediately if you like- as if you would not anyway.  ;)

Quote

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet [Ezekiel], that the people should each stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish Church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state [1842] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves...”

The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-238

“What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? 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 blink self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 9, p. 150

“How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 3, p. 45

“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.... Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the Kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, ‘If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,' this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 3, p. 45

“... 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 rinning their faith upon another's sleeve, will never be capable of entering into the celestial glory, to be crowned as they anticipate; they will never be capable of becoming Gods. They cannot rule themselves, to say nothing of ruling others, but they must be dictated to do in every trifle, like a child. They cannot control themselves in the least, but James, Peter, or somebody else must control them. They never can become Gods, nor be crowned as rulers with glory, immortality, and eternal lives. They never can hold scepters of glory, majesty, and power in the Celestial Kingdom. Who will? Those who are valiant and inspired with the true independence of heaven, who will go forth boldly in the service of their God, leaving others to do as they please, determined to do right, through all mankind besides should take the opposite course. Will this apply to any of you? Your own hearts can answer.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 1, p. 312

“If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of the deception and be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion, may be exposed and silenced....”

- Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon

“... convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the Word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you will ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.”

- Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, pp. 15-16

"I think a full, free talk is frequently of great use; we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation." 

- Prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, v. 20, p. 264

“Do not, brethren, put your trust in a man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone...”

- Apostle George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, v. 53, pp. 658-659, as quoted in Gospel Truth, v. 1, p. 319

“We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never.”

- Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Journal of Discourses, v. 16, p. 248

“President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord,' comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.”

- Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Millennial Star, v. 54, p. 191

“And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God... would spite the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.”

- Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Millennial Star, v. 14, no. 38, pp. 593-595

“If a faith will not bear to be investigated, if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined; their foundation must be very weak.”

- Apostle George A. Smith, Journal of Discourses, v. 14, p. 216

“We should be scientific – that is, open-minded, approaching new problems without prejudice, deferring a decision until all the facts are in.”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999

“There are altogether too many people in the world who are willing to accept as true whatever is printed in a book or delivered from a pulpit.”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999

“I admire men and women who have developed the questing spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent – if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression.”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999

“The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything....
“And while all members should respect, support, and heed the teachings of the authorities of the church, no one should accept a statement and base his or her testimony upon it, no matter who makes it, until he or she has, under mature examination, found it to be true and worthwhile...”

- Apostle Hugh B. Brown, “A Final Testimony,” from An Abundant Life, 1999

“... the question is sometimes asked – to what extent is obedience to those who hold the Priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood.”

Millennial Star, “Priesthood,” 1852

“We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do any thing they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, unless he turns from his folly.
“When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it.”

Millennial Star, “Priesthood,” 1852

 

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38 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

3 for the first and no idea on the second. Our ward is a continuous churning of reactivations and deactivations and a few went off to a Tongan church so probably not secular.

I do not buy into Fowler’s stages in general so I am not concerned with that. I am not even sure how it works though so maybe I missed something. I do not see stages in those around me in the church either. Some are weak and some are strong. All have gifts. I also find that it is taking the wrong course. If you are looking for the next stage of your faith or spiritual development you are unlikely to find it. You seek communion and (less popularly) commandments from a God and obey them and then are led onward not knowing exactly where you are going and find happiness. Seeking to save your life means losing it, losing your life for Christ’s sake and for the sake of His gospel means you will find it.

This is nice.  But I’d invite you to repost OFTEN your post from yesterday on your personal experiences with communion with God.  It was poignant, insight, powerful and self-revelatory.  I know it resonated with those of us who have had similar experiences and can be aspirational for those who haven’t yet had those experiences.

You are much more than your zaniness, which I often enjoy, 

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13 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

OK I will fess up up front on this post.  This is a challenge to the view that the idea of fallible prophets was not well known in the church, it was.

Fallible prophets?  Not really.  A prophet by definition is someone who speaks the mind and will of the Lord and thus by definition can not be fallible in speaking as a prophet unless the Lord himself is also fallible.

I think what you mean but are not saying correctly is that a man may think he is speaking as a prophet and yet not be if the Lord is really not speaking through him.  And likewise a man may think another man is speaking as a prophet when he really isn't, instead simply sharing his own personal opinion which is contrary to the Lord's opinion or mind on that matter.  

As Joseph Smith said, a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such, meaning a man is a prophet only when he really is speaking as our Lord's oracle to share our Lord's mind on a matter.

We just need to know what a prophet really is and how to find out if a man is speaking as a prophet or not.

Good job on the quotes advising that we find that out for ourselves when someone is speaking as a prophet of God.

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30 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Fallible prophets?  Not really.  A prophet by definition is someone who speaks the mind and will of the Lord and thus by definition can not be fallible in speaking as a prophet unless the Lord himself is also fallible.

I think what you mean but are not saying correctly is that a man may think he is speaking as a prophet and yet not be if the Lord is really not speaking through him.  And likewise a man may think another man is speaking as a prophet when he really isn't, instead simply sharing his own personal opinion which is contrary to the Lord's opinion or mind on that matter.  

As Joseph Smith said, a prophet is a prophet only when he is acting as such, meaning a man is a prophet only when he really is speaking as our Lord's oracle to share our Lord's mind on a matter.

We just need to know what a prophet really is and how to find out if a man is speaking as a prophet or not.

Good job on the quotes advising that we find that out for ourselves when someone is speaking as a prophet of God.

Nice to see you're back again.

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12 hours ago, smac97 said:

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.

 

Once again, a very thoughtful and astute post, Smac. 

Regarding the above quoted portion, perhaps I can shed some light. 

I was not around in 1945; I would not be born for another decade or so. But the ward teaching program was still going strong by the time I was old enough to be aware and retain a memory in the early-to-mid sixties. My clear recollection is that the ward teachers would deliver a prepared message sent out each month from Church headquarters to each family they visited. The standard practice was to read the message to the family and then tear off at a perforation a slip of paper containing the message — or perhaps a shortened form thereof — for the family to read and ponder at their leisure. I remember seeing these message slips in our home all the time. Some years ago, I even found one inside the old family piano which I had inherited and which was in the living room of our home and was typically the resting place for these printed messages left from month to month by the ward teachers. 

I’m guessing the home teaching program hadn’t changed much between 1945 and the 1960s when I was in my boyhood. It’s also my educated guess that the same (or similar) message as the one the ward teachers distributed was also printed in the Church’s flagship magazine of the day, the Improvement Era. 

If that be the case, I’m thinking that when President George Albert Smith referred to the message being in a “leaflet,” he had reference to one of these message slips that the ward teachers left with their families. That may have been what the Unitarian minister was referring to as well when he spoke of an “editorial,” or perhaps he meant the version printed in the magazine. 

I hope this clears up any question. I have to say when I saw the word “leaflet,” I immediately understood it to mean one of these printed messages left by the home teachers at each home they visited. 

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56 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Once again, a very thoughtful and astute post, Smac. 

Regarding the above quoted portion, perhaps I can shed some light. 

I was not around in 1945; I would not be born for another decade or so. But the ward teaching program was still going strong by the time I was old enough to be aware and retain a memory in the early-to-mid sixties. My clear recollection is that the ward teachers would deliver a prepared message sent out each month from Church headquarters to each family they visited. The standard practice was to read the message to the family and then tear off at a perforation a slip of paper containing the message — or perhaps a shortened form thereof — for the family to read and ponder at their leisure. I remember seeing these message slips in our home all the time. Some years ago, I even found one inside the old family piano which I had inherited and which was in the living room of our home and was typically the resting place for these printed messages left from month to month by the ward teachers. 

I’m guessing the home teaching program hadn’t changed much between 1945 and the 1960s when I was in my boyhood. It’s also my educated guess that the same (or similar) message as the one the ward teachers distributed was also printed in the Church’s flagship magazine of the day, the Improvement Era. 

If that be the case, I’m thinking that when President George Albert Smith referred to the message being in a “leaflet,” he had reference to one of these message slips that the ward teachers left with their families. That may have been what the Unitarian minister was referring to as well when he spoke of an “editorial,” or perhaps he meant the version printed in the magazine. 

I hope this clears up any question. I have to say when I saw the word “leaflet,” I immediately understood it to mean one of these printed messages left by the home teachers at each home they visited. 

Thanks for posting this Scott!  It’s really interesting to read through and learn more about what President Smith referred to as a “leaflet”.

Here’s what the minister stated in his letter, so I wonder if he received one of those leaflets (since it had a title):

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.’”

Do you remember if they had a title?  

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2 hours ago, JulieM said:

Thanks for posting this Scott!  It’s really interesting to read through and learn more about what President Smith referred to as a “leaflet”.

Here’s what the minister stated in his letter, so I wonder if he received one of those leaflets (since it had a title):

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.’”

Do you remember if they had a title?  

It stands to reason they would, although I can’t state so with certainty. 

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19 hours ago, JulieM said:

Here's the intro (at the link I posted):

"This 1945 ward teachers' message on the obedience apparently required of Church members, the response it sparked from a concerned Salt Lake City Unitarian minister, and the response of Church President George Albert Smith to both documents seem appropriate accompaniments to the Newell essay. Typographical errors have been corrected in brackets. All italics appear as underlining in the original. The Cope and Smith letters are in Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah--the J. Raymond Cope Collection (Association no. 691) and the George A. Smith Papers (Manuscript no. 36, Box 63-8A), respectively."

 

I don't know what the "Newell Essay" is, do you?  That may have more information in it?

I think it's referring to this essay (in the same Dialogue Volume, just previous to the article you referenced that contains Cope's letter to Pres. George Albert Smith and then his response to Cope..."A 1945 Perspective").  The title of the essay is: "An Echo from the Foothills: To Marshal the Forces of Reason", and it's written by L. Jackson Newell.

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/V19N01.pdf

(If that doesn't take you right to the essay, it's on page 26....just scroll down :) )

 

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11 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Once again, a very thoughtful and astute post, Smac. 

Regarding the above quoted portion, perhaps I can shed some light. 

I was not around in 1945; I would not be born for another decade or so. But the ward teaching program was still going strong by the time I was old enough to be aware and retain a memory in the early-to-mid sixties. My clear recollection is that the ward teachers would deliver a prepared message sent out each month from Church headquarters to each family they visited. The standard practice was to read the message to the family and then tear off at a perforation a slip of paper containing the message — or perhaps a shortened form thereof — for the family to read and ponder at their leisure. I remember seeing these message slips in our home all the time. Some years ago, I even found one inside the old family piano which I had inherited and which was in the living room of our home and was typically the resting place for these printed messages left from month to month by the ward teachers. 

I’m guessing the home teaching program hadn’t changed much between 1945 and the 1960s when I was in my boyhood. It’s also my educated guess that the same (or similar) message as the one the ward teachers distributed was also printed in the Church’s flagship magazine of the day, the Improvement Era. 

If that be the case, I’m thinking that when President George Albert Smith referred to the message being in a “leaflet,” he had reference to one of these message slips that the ward teachers left with their families. That may have been what the Unitarian minister was referring to as well when he spoke of an “editorial,” or perhaps he meant the version printed in the magazine. 

I hope this clears up any question. I have to say when I saw the word “leaflet,” I immediately understood it to mean one of these printed messages left by the home teachers at each home they visited. 

My experience exactly. As a youth in late 50s I accompanied ward teachers including my dad. The WT book had pages with perforated messages. We left one with each family we visited. I also remember our family receiving them before I was old enough to be a ward teacher, I don’t recall when this method ended.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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23 hours ago, smac97 said:

Funny how nobody but critics and dissidents reference this snippet from a 1945 Ward Teacher's Message.  

If "so many members believed it," you would think it would have been quoted in General Conference addresses, used in church manuals and curricular, referenced on the Church's website, and quoted by members to other members.  And yet . . . none of that seems to have happened during the last 74 years.

Thanks,

-Smac

Which is why Inasked earlier if there were any examples of the phrase being repeated officially since then. 

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11 hours ago, JulieM said:

Thanks for posting this Scott!  It’s really interesting to read through and learn more about what President Smith referred to as a “leaflet”.

Here’s what the minister stated in his letter, so I wonder if he received one of those leaflets (since it had a title):

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.’”

Do you remember if they had a title?  

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

Interesting to see how the pieces fit together.  The minister said a short religious editorial was prepared by one of your/our leaders while saying the editorial was entitled "Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church"

Looking at the actual "editorial" we see that it was contained in the June 1945 edition of the Improvement Era and that it/the "editorial" was the ward teacher's message for that month.

Then in the body of that message is a short statement near the end of it saying "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." but that statement was after the message had mentioned how we each need to receive revelation to know whose thinking is done as well as who and what we are sustaining by sustaining the General Authorities of the Church.

But, as usual, those who misunderstand the message show that they missed the point of the message and that they should still be doing some more thinking and praying before speaking up to misrepresent the actual message

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On 8/7/2019 at 8:24 AM, smac97 said:

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:

Pres. Smith responded to this inquiry in December 1945:

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:

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):

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):

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

I have followed this issue for a long time. IMO, reading the nefarious phrase in the context of the entire message shows it was simply a ham-fisted way of punctuating the principle of sustaining our leaders. Without it, the message would not be any more controversial than any other statement encouraging the Saints to follow the prophets. (Yes, I understand that even that message gives critics and malcontents terminal heartburn). That it has never been officially repeated, as far as I can tell, is evidence it was not important to leaders. 

This essay is the best response I have ever seen. I hope it is employed in the future to “smac” down this zombie Hydra whenever it raises its ugly little head. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Edited by Bernard Gui
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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

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

Interesting to see how the pieces fit together.  The minister said a short religious editorial was prepared by one of your/our leaders while saying the editorial was entitled "Sustaining the General Authorities of the Church"

Looking at the actual "editorial" we see that it was contained in the June 1945 edition of the Improvement Era and that it/the "editorial" was the ward teacher's message for that month.

Then in the body of that message is a short statement near the end of it saying "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." but that statement was after the message had mentioned how we each need to receive revelation to know whose thinking is done as well as who and what we are sustaining by sustaining the General Authorities of the Church.

But, as usual, those who misunderstand the message show that they missed the point of the message and that they should still be doing some more thinking and praying before speaking up to misrepresent the actual message

Well, it did state something like that more than once, so I can see why members may have been upset at the time (as the minister describes in his letter to Pres. Smith.). I had no idea this message was actually printed and delivered to each member’s home (not just an article in a church magazine).  That carries more weight too.   I’m sure it was an awkward situation but it’s hard to understand (now) if it was an error and upsetting members, why a public retraction didn’t take place?  I’m sure the Prophet handled it how he felt was best though and it’s easy to wonder in hindsight now.  This has been interesting to learn about because I’ve heard my parents use that phrase!  I just didn’t know where it originated.

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Posted (edited)

Here is the Letter of Reverend J. Raymond Cope (he quotes the different statements and his experience with upset member).  It’s interesting to read along with the response he got;

First Unitarian Society 
13th East at Sixth South Street 
Salt Lake City 2, Utah 
J. Raymond Cope, Ph.D., Minister 

November 16, 1945 
President George Albert Smith 
Church of Jesus Christ of L.D.S. 
Office of the President, 
Salt Lake City

Dear President Smith:

It has been one of the great privilege of my life to have lived for the past four years in Salt Lake City, and to have become personally acquainted with many of the leaders of the L.D.S. Church. From them I have learned many things, and the spirit of friendliness which is found in our relationships is a source of unending delight to me. It is because I have found you and the other leaders so very charitable and sympathetic that I make so bold as to write you this letter.

May I first assure you of my good will; that there is not one note of hostility in attitude. I am confident that you will understand why I write, and that we have a common interest in the problem.

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 disturance 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. Many people are suffering because of this. My reply to each of those who have spoken to me is "please do not become disturbed [sic], for this cannot be the position of the true leaders. And, from my knowledge of the early writings of your leaders, I must assume this to be non-representitive [sic].

Several years ago, when I first became acquainted with the L.D.S. Church, I read extensively in the texts, and there are many passages which may be used to give a better expression to the vision and genius of your Faith. I cite but one, although there are many others which are familiar to you.

Quoting from the Discourses of Brigham Young, as Selected and Arranged by John A. Widtsoe, in the Chapter on "The Priesthood": "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 that they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwa[r]t the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give their leaders did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not."

This quotation from Brigham Young is a wonderful passage, and it has been on the basis of such freedom that persons like myself have grown to have a deep feeling of kinship with the L.D.S. Church. It is in keeping with the high traditions of my Unitarian background that the gains made by my fellow workers are seen as gains for us all. It is a source of regret to all of us when one stone is discovered to bar the way to deeper faith within any soul.

With an assurance of my continued good-will and friendliness, 
Most cordially yours, 
J. Raymond Cope. [typed]

ETA:

I have no idea why the copy has the line through the print?  I don’t know how to fix it!!  Hope you can still read it (if you want to)

Here’s the part he felt was upsetting some members:

“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. ...""

Edited by JulieM

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3 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Several years ago, when I first became acquainted with the L.D.S. Church, I read extensively in the texts, and there are many passages which may be used to give a better expression to the vision and genius of your Faith. I cite but one, although there are many others which are familiar to you.

Quoting from the Discourses of Brigham Young, as Selected and Arranged by John A. Widtsoe, in the Chapter on "The Priesthood": "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 that they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwa[r]t the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give their leaders did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not."

This quotation from Brigham Young is a wonderful passage, and it has been on the basis of such freedom that persons like myself have grown to have a deep feeling of kinship with the L.D.S. Church. It is in keeping with the high traditions of my Unitarian background that the gains made by my fellow workers are seen as gains for us all. It is a source of regret to all of us when one stone is discovered to bar the way to deeper faith within any soul.

Yes, it seems clear that his Unitarian minister understood that the "the thinking has been done" message was at adds with the teachings of the Church.

I am glad people of good will can sensibly approach such things (as opposed to those who try to weaponize this incorrect message against the Church).

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 8/7/2019 at 8:18 AM, smac97 said:

I haven't. 

CFR, please.  Which conference talks?

Thanks,

-Smac

Just following up with RPN re: my CFR.

Thanks

-Smac

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4 hours ago, ALarson said:

I think it's referring to this essay (in the same Dialogue Volume, just previous to the article you referenced that contains Cope's letter to Pres. George Albert Smith and then his response to Cope..."A 1945 Perspective").  The title of the essay is: "An Echo from the Foothills: To Marshal the Forces of Reason", and it's written by L. Jackson Newell.

https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/issues/V19N01.pdf

(If that doesn't take you right to the essay, it's on page 26....just scroll down :) )

 

Ok.  Thank you!  I’ll try to read it today!!

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9 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes, it seems clear that his Unitarian minister understood that the "the thinking has been done" message was at adds with the teachings of the Church.

I am glad people of good will can sensibly approach such things (as opposed to those who try to weaponize this incorrect message against the Church).

Thanks,

-Smac

Hey, mistakes happen and members should understand.  It is too bad it wasn’t clarified or corrected at the time (where members would see it), but hindsight is 20/20, right?  We now know it was an error.

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25 minutes ago, JulieM said:

Here’s the part he felt was upsetting some members:

“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 think most people who had a problem with that statement didn't think enough about why the original message used quotes around that part, "do their own thinking".  if whoever originally wrote that message had not used quotation marks I can see how more people would have a problem with it, including myself, but the use of quotation marks signifies to me that Lucifer is simply calling it that while trying to cause trouble.  Of course we should all do our own thinking, and we should find out for ourselves whether or not some of our leaders are truly "prophets, seers and revelators" before we stick our hands up in the air to signify that we affirm that they are. If we don't know, we should just sit there and neither sustain nor object, keeping silent until we find out by praying for God to help us know whether or not they truly are.

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, Ahab said:

I think most people who had a problem with that statement didn't think enough about why the original message used quotes around that part, "do their own thinking".  if whoever originally wrote that message had not used quotation marks I can see how more people would have a problem with it, including myself, but the use of quotation marks signifies to me that Lucifer is simply calling it that while trying to cause trouble.  Of course we should all do our own thinking, and we should find out for ourselves whether or not some of our leaders are truly "prophets, seers and revelators" before we stick our hands up in the air to signify that we affirm that they are. If we don't know, we should just sit there and neither sustain nor object, keeping silent until we find out by praying for God to help us know whether or not they truly are.

Interesting thoughts.  Thanks!

Are you referring to this part of the message?

 “

He (Satan) wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to ‘do their own thinking.’”

I’m not sure I agree with your view about that, but we can disagree.  I think that’s stated pretty clearly actually.  Combine with the other statements, and it’s easy to see why it should have been corrected and clarified for the members.   

(This:

“He (Satan) specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in the eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.”

And this:

“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. God works in no other way.”)

 

 

Edited by JulieM

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