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Tacit Notions/Expectations of Prophetic Infallibility: A Key Ingredient in Faith Crises?

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3 minutes ago, Ahab said:

So far so good.  So when is a prophet acting as a prophet doing what prophets do? Or to make it a better phrased question, when is a man acting as a prophet of God doing what prophets do?  And we all know what prophets do, I hope.

And here we hit it, again.  When is a man acting as a prophet of God to reveal the mind and will of the Lord?  Only when that man actually is doing what prophets do, correct?  

So, was Brigham Young acting and speaking as a Prophet when he taught his Adam God Doctrine?

Or was Spencer W. kimball speaking as a Prophet when he called it false doctrine?

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40 minutes ago, JulieM said:

So, was Brigham Young acting and speaking as a Prophet when he taught his Adam God Doctrine?

Or was Spencer W. kimball speaking as a Prophet when he called it false doctrine?

Would love an answer to this...thanks JulieM!

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10 hours ago, smac97 said:

But if and when such an assumption/expectation/requirement is present, it can lead to a "cascade failure" of the individual's belief system.

Thoughts? 

I think dysfunctional beliefs can lead to a cascade failure of the belief system if the system itself is faulty or the individual is faulty. Otherwise checks, balances and corrective measures keep both the system and the individual thriving. A perfectly functional individual can still misapply a perfectly good system for reasons having nothing to do with erroneous beliefs when belief itself is not a priority. But try telling them that it is dysfunctional to believe that such-and-such a belief is unimportant... :)

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, JulieM said:

So, was Brigham Young acting and speaking as a Prophet when he taught his Adam God Doctrine?

Or was Spencer W. kimball speaking as a Prophet when he called it false doctrine?

Were the prophets who never had the faith of the brother of Jared leading their flocks astray all that time? Did God forbid the brother of Jared to share the truth?

Both Young and Kimball were both acting as prophets. But so what?

Why does God expect some things of some prophets and not of others? Why do some prophets go beyond His expectations with impunity?

Edited by CV75
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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

So far so good.  So when is a prophet acting as a prophet doing what prophets do? Or to make it a better phrased question, when is a man acting as a prophet of God doing what prophets do?  And we all know what prophets do, I hope.

And here we hit it, again.  When is a man acting as a prophet of God to reveal the mind and will of the Lord?  Only when that man actually is doing what prophets do, correct?  

And no that is not just anytime that man opens his mouth to say something, or whenever he writes something down.  That is evidence that man has said something but how are you supposed to know when that man is acting as a prophet of God?

I've already told you numerous times and still I hold out some hope that you will finally get it, eventually.

When is he acting as a prophet?  When he is standing behind a pulpit speaking, when he is representing the church, when he is publishing church policy, etc.  

1 hour ago, Ahab said:

Because he is, as all prophets are.  But the man who sometimes acts as a prophet is not infallible.  That man is infallible only when he acts as a prophet does.

Most members never hear from the man who sometimes acts as prophet (a description I find unsupported by church teachings, but I’ll go with it for this goofy discussion).  So, what we’re talking about is, specifically, the times when he acts as a prophet.  And at those times you are arguing that he is infallible.  Now... do you understand why some members might come to see the prophet as infallible?  I mean here you are arguing that whenever he is acting as prophet (which is all the time that we see him) he is infallible. 

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19 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Both Young and Kimball were both acting as prophets. But so what?

So one Prophet taught a doctrine (important enough to teach in the temple) that a later Prophet called false doctrine.  That’s so what.

This means what President Nelson is teaching could be called false doctrine in the future.  What happened to God being the same yesterday, today and forever?

Do you believe God’s doctrines change and become false?

Edited by JulieM
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10 hours ago, ALarson said:

Have you experienced it?   If not, I wouldn't generalize like that....but if you have, did you really self-impose a marginalization from fellow members?

That would be odd to do, IMO, and not at all what I have observed, experienced at one time and continue to see within the church (and from even good and well-intentioned members).

I’ve observed it several times. Some were up close and personal. I don’t minimize the pain. One can choose the public declarations one makes. I have had my own faith crises but I refrained from telling Sunday School classes about them. 

Edited by Bernard Gui
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12 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

When someone, or even a group of someones proves to be untrustworthy or unreliable on a (semi)regular basis, it is reasonable for one to stop trusting or relying on them. It's not about perfection or infallibility, but it is about trust. People will come to different conclusions about where the line of trust is drawn, but it's difficult to recover once trust is lost. I find it interesting that some want to blame the people who have lost trust in leaders by arguing that it's their fault because they had previously placed too much trust in leaders.

It could be argued that losing trust in leaders is a necessary step in spiritual progression. I placed too much trust in leaders and the institutional church. Why? Did that level of trust come naturally? I don't think so. It's because I was taught to place extreme levels of trust in leaders. I was taught to sing Follow the Prophet. I was taught that obedience to the words of the prophets, even if wrong, would bring blessings. So I'm very willing to admit I trusted too much. I guess some would call that naïve, or juvenile, and maybe they're right. So now I don't trust church leaders to adequately teach the will and mind of God. I'm sure I'm wrong in some of my beliefs, but so are the prophets so what's the difference. I might as well be wrong on my own instead of being wrong because I trusted someone else that didn't deserve the trust. When I meet God I'll be happy to answer for my beliefs and actions. Church leaders aren't a part of that.

So when a church leader says I should stop saying "Mormon", I decide for myself if that makes sense or if I will continue saying "Mormon". When a leader tells me I covenanted to wear G's 24/7 I will decide for myself if/when/how that covenant was ever made and how I want to wear G's. When a leader tells me God doesn't want me to drink coffee, I'll decide for myself if God really cares about that. I no longer accept the judgement of church leaders in declaring my worthiness status before God. I will decide everything for myself instead of abdicating my personal decisions to someone else who claims to speak on God's behalf, yet has been proven wrong repeatedly.

^This^

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16 hours ago, smac97 said:

"So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions?

That would depend on how foundational the error is.

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12 hours ago, Ahab said:

The problem is mostly about not using the correct terms often enough to describe what this would look like if it were to ever happen.

A prophet of God by definition is someone who speaks for God, when speaking for God.   Someone who isn't speaking for God shouldn't be referred to as a prophet of God when he isn't speaking for God.

So what would that look like? A prophet? There would be a man saying something for God, since by definition a prophet is also a man.  A woman would be referred to as a prophetess when speaking for God.

Do you think the president of the Church has ever acted as a Prophet in your lifetime?  If so, can you list 3 or 4 times and what they were about?  Or is this all just theory?

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11 hours ago, JulieM said:

So, was Brigham Young acting and speaking as a Prophet when he taught his Adam God Doctrine?

Or was Spencer W. kimball speaking as a Prophet when he called it false doctrine?

 

Neither 

It’s like the Pope. They are infallible when speaking ex cathedra.  All the other stuff is informed opinion  

One finds these revelations in books like the Doctrine and Covenants. Like Kimball’s revelation in 1978 about blacks and the priesthood. 

Edited by mrmarklin

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33 minutes ago, california boy said:

Do you think the president of the Church has ever acted as a Prophet in your lifetime?  If so, can you list 3 or 4 times and what they were about?  Or is this all just theory?

I can think of at least two instances. The canonization of Smith’s 1918 revelation about the Spirit World and the 1978 revelation to make the priesthood available to all male Church members. 

Clearly our modern prophets lead the church with inspiration. But are they infallible?  No. Most decisions are good ones, however. 

Edited by mrmarklin

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11 hours ago, JulieM said:

Do you believe God’s doctrines change and become false?

No.  Emphatically no.

God's direction for the Church, instruction on how to proceed in a current situation can and should change.

But real doctrine, truth, is eternal.  Something either is or isn't true.  Jesus died on the cross for me.  He died and was resurrected.  Joseph Smith restored the fulness of the everlasting gospel to earth.

The problem comes when we blur the line between doctrinal truths and situational direction.  The name of the Church, the updated Word of Wisdom, the "November" policy are all current examples of this blurring causing problems.

In my opinion we need to quit blurring the lines.

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That Joseph Smith was a flawed vessel was acceptable to me. I could imagine a flawed person being a conduit for the Divine. It was one way the condescension and love of God is made manifest to His children, and it was beautiful.

The question for me was not fallible versus infallible. It was fallible versus depraved, the idea of a well-intentioned person doing their best and stumbling, versus a person deliberately and chronically doing very bad things. I have to reject the latter type being conferred authority of God on earth. 

I cannot accept that God would require us to go along with chronic and harmful deceptions that Joseph Smith seemed to have done from his position as prophet.

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11 hours ago, JulieM said:

So one Prophet taught a doctrine (important enough to teach in the temple) that a later Prophet called false doctrine.  That’s so what.

This means what President Nelson is teaching could be called false doctrine in the future.  What happened to God being the same yesterday, today and forever?

Do you believe God’s doctrines change and become false?

I think you are giving examples of false expectations, particularly the one brought up in the OP. 

God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and so my response is still the same: So what?

What are God's doctrines, and which ones specifically underlie changes in doctrine presented according to His timing and dispensation on earth?

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Posted (edited)

Rather than fret about changing doctrines, and giving examples that suggest that one has built their house on sand, I look at 3 Nephi 11:31-40, talking about faith, repentance, baptism, receipt of the Holy Ghost, concluding:

"And who shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock: but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell shall stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them."

Rather than assume that it's obvious what a prophet is or should be, I troubled to gather 28 Biblical Tests for True and False Prophets.

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Biblical_Keys_for_Discerning_True_and_False_Prophets

Part of the study involved looking at the reasons Biblical peoples gave for rejecting true prophets.  It turned out that these boiled down to people saying, "It's not what I think," or "It's not what I desire."   What a person thinks should be so, their orthodoxy, is what they fear, the mental framework that shapes their thinking.  So there is a correspondence with the sacrifice of a broken heart (desires) and a contrite spirit (what they think).  It also turns out that the Biblical recommendations for what a person should do to see truth amount to a process that puts their fears and desires on the altar.  That is, to follow what the Bible recommends we do to see truth quite literally involves the sacrifice of what we think and what we desire.  When I put this together, I saw that anyone could have done it but no one had.  Why?  The answer is that if I decide to measure a prophet against what I personally think and what I personally desire, it's easier to control the answer.  If he does not measure up to what I think and what I want, how can he possibly be a prophet?  And that leads to "with what judgement ye judge, ye shall also be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."  (3 Nephi 14:2).

The admonition that "By their fruits shall ye know them" refers not to a subjective assessment of what I assume is good, but rather, our knowledge of the defining characteristics, as distinctive as figs compared to thistles, or grapes to thorns.  A beautiful thistle is not better here than even a bruised or wormy fig.  A perfect thorn is not better here than a grape that has been pecked by a bird. 

I notice that the guarantee on prophets in the D&C involves the word "expedience." And it turns out that will do.  The kind of thinking that produced the 14 Fundamentals is a human strategy for dealing with complexity.  In a human society, we will have such people.  They correspond to Position 2 of the Perry Scheme of Cognitive and Ethical Growth.  

Quote

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. 

Their existence is one reason why I find it useful to look up the word "sustain" in a good dictionary.  Meanings include, suffer, endure, allow, permit.   But rather then dwell on them, I look to the example of Joseph Smith who by precept and example urges me on to Position 9.  

Quote

POSITION 6. Commitment Foreseen.

 

FROM HERE ON THE PERSON WILL FEEL FRUSTRATION IN TOO-STRUCTURED OF AN ENVIRONMENT.

 

Now the person thinks he is alone in an uncertain world, making his own decisions, with no one to say he is right.  He makes choices aware of relativism and accepts that the agency to do so is within the individual. He sees that to move forward he must make commitments coming from within. He foresees the challenge of responsibility and feels he needs to get on with it.  He also senses that the first steps require arbitrary faith or willing suspension of disbelief.  He knows he needs to narrow his focus, center himself and become aware of internal, what could be called, spiritual strength.

 

He starts to see how he must be embracing and transcending of: certainty/doubt, focus/breadth, idealism/realism, tolerance/contempt, stability/flexibility. He senses need for affirmation and incorporation of existential or logical polarities. He senses need to hold polarities in tension in the interest of Truth.

 

He begins to maintain meaning, coherence, and value while conscious of their partial, limited, and contradictable nature. He begins to understand symbol as symbols and   acknowledges the time-place relativity of them. He begins to affirm and hold absolutes in symbols while still acknowledging them to be relativistic. He begins to embrace viewpoints in conflict with his own. Now the person has a field-independent learning style, has learned to scan for information, accepts that hierarchical and analytic notes are evidence of sharpening of cognition.  He is willing to take risks, is flexible, perceptive, broad, strategy-minded, and analytical.

 

The TRANSITION position between Position 6, "Commitment Foreseen", and position 7, "Commitments in Relativism developed" is as follows:

 

Besides the above, the person feels he is lost if he doesn't decide, that if he can once make one decision, everything else will be OK.

Eventually, here:

Quote

POSITION 9.  Commitments in Relativism further developed.

 

The person now has a developed sense of irony and can more easily embrace  other's viewpoints. He can accept life as just that "life", just the way IT is! Now he holds the commitments he makes in a condition of "PROVISIONAL ULTIMACY", meaning that for him what he chooses to be truth IS his truth, and he acts as if it is ultimate truth, but there is still a "provision" for change. He has no illusions about having "arrived" permanently on top of some heap, he is ready and knows he will have to retrace his journey over and over, but he has hope that he will do it each time more wisely. He is aware that he is developing his IDENTITY through Commitment. He can affirm the inseparable nature of the knower and the known--meaning he knows he as knower contributes to what he calls known. He helps weld a community by sharing realization of aloneness and gains  strength and intimacy through this shared vulnerability. He has discarded obedience in favor of his own agency, and he continues to select, judge, and build.

 

FWIW

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, JulieM said:

So, was Brigham Young acting and speaking as a Prophet when he taught his Adam God Doctrine?

Or was Spencer W. kimball speaking as a Prophet when he called it false doctrine?

Excellent question and a good example of why some members have issues regarding trusting or believing all that a Prophet teaches (especially with believing it was an actual revelation...such as the name change and the policy regarding gays).

And, the answers you got explain why:

13 hours ago, CV75 said:

Both Young and Kimball were both acting as prophets.

 

2 hours ago, mrmarklin said:

Neither 

 

1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

God's direction for the Church, instruction on how to proceed in a current situation can and should change.

 

45 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think you are giving examples of false expectations

 

So, we are back to listening to what a Prophet (and other leaders) teach, but then praying about it to know if it's revelation and true.  Is it just going to change soon or is it a doctrine that is forever?  And it seems we all agree that it's ok to disagree at times as long as we don't preach it publicly.

Edited by ALarson

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1 hour ago, ALarson said:

So, we are back to listening to what a Prophet (and other leaders) teach, but then praying about it to know if it's revelation and true.  Is it just going to change soon or is it a doctrine that is forever?  And it seems we all agree that it's ok to disagree at times as long as we don't preach it publicly.

While a convenient answer, I don't think it addresses the fundamental issue of holding to dysfunctional beliefs within a collapsing belief system (the one that fails to function well, whether intrinsically or in the hands of a challenged person). That the dysfunctional belief manifests as public apostasy is irrelevant. And it doesn't matter whether the doctrine, properly or improperly believed and prayed over, changes or stays the same forever.

ETA earlier post: I think dysfunctional beliefs can lead to a cascade failure of the belief system if the system itself is faulty or the individual is faulty. Otherwise checks, balances and corrective measures keep both the system and the individual thriving. A perfectly functional individual can still misapply a perfectly good system for reasons having nothing to do with erroneous beliefs when belief itself is not a priority. But try telling them that it is dysfunctional to believe that such-and-such a belief is unimportant... :)

Edited by CV75

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Posted (edited)
On 8/21/2019 at 7:58 AM, smac97 said:

Kevin Christensen recently posted these verses from D&C 1:

Kevin asks (rhetorically): "So, how should I react if I discover that various LDS leaders made errors in assertions about the New York Cumorah, or what ever else bothers you?  Should I shatter like glass if I run across something that counters my traditions?  (That happens to be Joseph Smith's apt metaphor in discussing an LDS weakness in dealing with information that counters their traditions.)  Or should I first examine my own eye for beams, and consider not what I did expect, but rather always be willing to ask 'What I should expect?'"

Kevin's comments are in response to other comments made by California Boy, who is describing "a total collapse of faith in the trustworthyness of the Church and its leaders" for some members.  CB invokes, by way of illustration, various comments made about the location of the Hill Cumorah.

To the extent CB has a point (and he does), I think there is an implicit assumption in that "total collapse," a key ingredient that is common to most or all such faith crises: prophetic infallibility.

Without such an assumption/expectation/requirement, members of the Church seem to do just fine in accepting and living the Gospel.

But if and when such an assumption/expectation/requirement is present, it can lead to a "cascade failure" of the individual's belief system.

Thoughts?  

Also, I am sure this observation has been made elsewhere.  Can anyone point me in the right direction?  Where have you seen it before?  I would like to consider other perspectives on it.

Thanks,

-Smac

I'm going to take a stab at bringing it back to the questions and points in the OP, after some discussion, in a way of summing up as I see it.  

No one, not one member now or in the past, would ever say the prophet is infallible...that feels quite apparent after this discussion.  That is to say each and everyone, even those who leave, do not, or did not in the case of those who leave, accept prophetic infallibility.  It does appear, though, and it seems most agree, many believers act as though the prophet is infallible.  Smac seems to think most or all who experience a faith crises would say the prophet is infallible, or at least act as if he is even if he/she denies infallibility.  

Interestingly on page 4 Smac responds to me with this:

Quote
  •  

So, to your point: "Disagreeing with Nelson that it's God's will to not use the nickname Mormon is not criticizing Nelson at all."

Is this an issue of fact, or of opinion?  Well, from a religious perspective, it's more a matter of "fact."  Pres. Nelson didn't present the "course correction" as his personal preference.  He said "I did this because the Lord impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He decreed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

And this: 

Quote

Others wondered why, with all that’s going on in the world, it was necessary to emphasize something so “inconsequential.” And some said it couldn’t be done, so why even try? Let me explain why we care so deeply about this issue. But first let me state what this effort is not:

  • It is not a name change.
  • It is not rebranding.
  • It is not cosmetic.
  • It is not a whim.
  • And it is not inconsequential.

Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord. Joseph Smith did not name the Church restored through him; neither did Mormon. It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Here Pres. Nelson is quoting D&C 115:4.

So we have the presiding high priest, apparently functioning in that capacity, invoking what has been "impressed upon {his} mind," and quoting canonized scripture.

So Pres. Nelson is declaring X, and doing so in a big way.  It's not a whim.  it's not cosmetic.  It's not inconsequential.  It's based on explicit instruction in canonized scripture.

So if John Q. Churchmember (who is under covenant) comes along as says "Meh, it's not God's will to use the formal name of the Church," then others are in something of a conundrum.  Pres. Nelson has declared X, and John Q has declared Not X.  Not X is innately adverse to X.  It's not just a difference of opinion, I think.  It's a matter of which is right: Pres. Nelson or John Q.  X or Not X.  Both can't be right about this.

As I have made covenants in the Church, I submit to the jurisdiction of the leaders of the Church.  That is a necessary component of sustaining them, of discipleship, of pursuing a "unity of the faith" per Ephesians 4, and so on.  The Lord's house is one of order.  Someone has to be in charge.  And although we each have huge amounts of agency, I think we also need to acknowledge the (righteously exercised) authority of the Presiding High Priest.  He has jurisdiction on this matter.  It is his call, and not John Q's opinion, that carries the day.

I call this out to point out something that I've always struggled with in the Church (and now out of it).  Something declared to be revelation from God by a prophet, according to the above is not a matter of opinion.  That is to say, Nelson could not possibly claim a revelation from God if it is not really a revelation from God.  It's not possible Nelson had mistaken some other impression and called it a revelation.  And a member, who is under covenant, has no room to say Nelson's claimed revelation is not really revelation, according to the above.  The obvious problem with this line of reasoning, it seems to me, is in effect the members, if they hold something similar to the way Smac describes it, view the leaders as infallible.  There seems no difference to me to say a leader is infallible on his revelations, than to say we simply can't disagree with and must follow any claimed revelation by a leader.  So the claim that leaders are not infallible seems only a claim in word only, because in effect the practice is to treat claimed revelation as infallible.  

Additionally, when asked what specifically has Nelson said or done that Smac disagrees with.  Smac responds with a long line of quotations from leaders that suggest a member can't, or should not without condemnation, criticize a leader.  Yet, Smac agress disagreeing with a leader's claimed revelation is not criticizing that leader.  So it appears there is pressure on members to at least treat leaders as infallible--that is to say members will be condemned if that member expresses his/her disagreement with a leader's claimed revelation.  Or at the very least, if anyone does disagree with a leader's claimed revelation and is under covenant not to say so, and will be summarily condemned if he/she does, then the impression for all other members is that the leaders can't make mistakes in revelation because there is no room to express one's own feelings or one's own welfare of his/her soul.  

Another recent example to consider is the claimed 2015 revelation to change the church policy regarding LGBT.  You will recall a leader, Nelson, claimed that the policy change came by revelation.  Some short time later, after quite a bit of push back, the leaders claimed revelation that took the policy out of the handbook, even if the policy is still in effect, it was claimed to no longer be in effect.  You will also recall the change to the initial change in Nov 2015.  Just after the revelation was had and the change was put into the handbook, many questions and concerns were raised.  The leaders in effect changed some elements of the policy, adding certain qualifications.  As it is, if God is behind these revelations, one must wonder what in the world God is thinking and doing.  But sadly that's the kind of up and down, back and forth, wishy washy and dare I say taffy puller God is.  Right?  wrong?  

 

Edited by stemelbow

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12 minutes ago, CV75 said:

While a convenient answer, I don't think it addresses the fundamental issue of holding to dysfunctional beliefs within a collapsing belief system (the one that fails to function well, whether intrinsically or in the hands of a challenged person).

You may call it a "convenient answer", but it's still what is taking place with many members today.  I think we will see even more of this type of thinking in the younger generations.  They question everything and especially have strong beliefs and opinion regarding social issues.  It will be interesting to watch....

 

13 minutes ago, CV75 said:

And it doesn't matter whether the doctrine, properly or improperly believed and prayed over, changes or stays the same forever.

Only in that members realize that a statement today may change tomorrow.  So another reason members feel it's ok to disagree with our leaders at times and follow their own inspiration for their themselves or their families.  The most recent example is the policy change that occurred so quickly after the initial policy was called a "revelation".  

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8 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I'm going to take a stab at bringing it back to the questions and points in the OP, after some discussion, in a way of summing up as I see it.  

No one, not one member now or in the past, would ever say the prophet is infallible...that feels quite apparent after this discussion.  That is to say each and everyone, even those who leave, do not, or did not in the case of those who leave, accept prophetic infallibility.  It does appear, though, and it seems most agree, many believers act as though the prophet is infallible.  Smac seems to think most or all who experience a faith crises would say the prophet is infallible, or at least act as if he is even if he/she denies infallibility.  

Interestingly on page 4 Smac responds to me with this:

I call this out to point out something that I've always struggled with in the Church (and now out of it).  Something declared to be revelation from God by a prophet, according to the above is not a matter of opinion.  That is to say, Nelson could not possibly claim a revelation from God if it is not really a revelation from God.  It's not possible Nelson had mistaken some other impression and called it a revelation.  And a member, who is under covenant, has no room to say Nelson's claimed revelation is not really revelation, according to the above.  The obvious problem with this line of reasoning, it seems to me, is in effect the members, if they hold something similar to the way Smac describes it, view the leaders as infallible.  There seems no difference to me to say a leader is infallible on his revelations, than to say we simply can't disagree with and must follow any claimed revelation by a leader.  So the claim that leaders are not infallible seems only a claim in word only, because in effect the practice is to treat claimed revelation as infallible.  

Additionally, when asked what specifically has Nelson said or done that Smac disagrees with.  Smac responds with a long line of quotations from leaders that suggest a member can't, or should not without condemnation, criticize a leader.  Yet, Smac agress disagreeing with a leader's claimed revelation is not criticizing that leader.  So it appears there is pressure on members to at least treat leaders as infallible--that is to say members will be condemned if that member expresses his/her disagreement with a leader's claimed revelation.  Or at the very least, if anyone does disagree with a leader's claimed revelation and is under covenant not to say so, and will be summarily condemned if he/she does, then the impression for all other members is that the leaders can't make mistakes in revelation because there is no room to express one's own feelings or one's own welfare of his/her soul.  

Another recent example to consider is the claimed 2015 revelation to change the church policy regarding LGBT.  You will recall a leader, Nelson, claimed that the policy change came by revelation.  Some short time later, after quite a bit of push back, the leaders claimed revelation that took the policy out of the handbook, even if the policy is still in effect, it was claimed to no longer be in effect.  You will also recall the change to the initial change in Nov 2015.  Just after the revelation was had and the change was put into the handbook, many questions and concerns were raised.  The leaders in effect changed some elements of the policy, adding certain qualifications.  As it is, if God is behind these revelations, one must wonder what in the world God is thinking and doing.  But sadly that's the kind of up and down, back and forth, wishy washy and dare I say taffy puller God is.  Right?  wrong?  

 

I agree with your summation.

@smac97 is touting the church's believe in prophetic fallibility but then describing how we, as members, should act as if he is infallible because of our covenants.

And, @Ahab says that the man holding the calling of prophet is fallible but whenever he is acting as prophet then he is infallible.

 

If church members have too high an expectation of the prophet, we should work to fix whatever it is in our culture and teachings that is creating that expectation.

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3 hours ago, mrmarklin said:

I can think of at least two instances. The canonization of Smith’s 1918 revelation about the Spirit World and the 1978 revelation to make the priesthood available to all male Church members. 

Clearly our modern prophets lead the church with inspiration. But are they infallible?  No. Most decisions are good ones, however. 

Wow.  This says a lot.  You had to go back 100 years to find a dream that was finally canonized.  And the other, correcting an error that happened over 150 years ago that every prophet supported as a revelation from God since BY.  I don't know what to say.  

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1 hour ago, stemelbow said:

No one, not one member now or in the past, would ever say the prophet is infallible...that feels quite apparent after this discussion. 

Agreed.  The OP, though, asks if a tacit expectation of infallibility is nevertheless in play in (some) faith crises.

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That is to say each and everyone, even those who leave, do not, or did not in the case of those who leave, accept prophetic infallibility. 

I'm not sure that's correct.  I think such an expectation can and does exist, though tacitly.

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It does appear, though, and it seems most agree, many believers act as though the prophet is infallible.

I think some who leave, perhaps even many, also "act as though the prophet is infallible."

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Smac seems to think most or all who experience a faith crises would say the prophet is infallible, or at least act as if he is even if he/she denies infallibility.

There’s an old saying: “Catholics say the pope is infallible but don’t really believe it; Mormons say the prophet is fallible but don’t really believe it.”

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I call this out to point out something that I've always struggled with in the Church (and now out of it).  Something declared to be revelation from God by a prophet, according to the above is not a matter of opinion. 

Not quite.  You had said: "Disagreeing with Nelson that it's God's will to not use the nickname Mormon is not criticizing Nelson at all."  I responded: "That's a bit more of a judgment call."  You then asked for clarification: "Why?  I had you agreeing.  But on this there's some question?  Curious why you think so."

I started to clarify, but ended up making a somewhat different point (the one above).

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That is to say, Nelson could not possibly claim a revelation from God if it is not really a revelation from God. 

No.  Please re-read what I said here:

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We do not unthinkingly accept just any statement.  We are supposed to analyze and evluation and determine for ourselfs the inspiration of our leaders.  I think we should operate from a position of faith.  I also think we should give the Brethren the benefit of the doubt.  That is, I think we should generally "decide that you will believe someone, even though you are not sure that what the person is saying is true."  I think such a presumption would be a healthy thing.  I also think such a presumption would be subsequently vindicated almost all of the time. 

...

So my rule of thumb is to give a presumption of good faith to the Brethren.  To give them the benefit of the doubt.  To assume that what they are saying is in accordance with the Standard Works, and with the Spirit.  Again, I think such a presumption would be subsequently vindicated almost all of the time.  

However, although I give the Brethren the benefit of the doubt, this is - in legal vernacular - a rebuttable presumption.  That is, I leave open the possibility that a leader in the Church may, in the words of President Smith above, issue remarks which "do not square with the revelations."  That he may say "something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works."  That he may say "something that contradicts what is found in the standard works."  We must leave that possibility open, because our leaders have told us that it is a possibility.  So if a leader in the Church says something that I feel may be problematic, I feel obligated to test it.  To think about it.  To study it.  To discuss it with those whom I find trustworthy.  To weight it against the Standard Works.  And most of all, to pray about it. 

This approach is very, very different from the one you are attributing to me.

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It's not possible Nelson had mistaken some other impression and called it a revelation. 

Again, no.

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And a member, who is under covenant, has no room to say Nelson's claimed revelation is not really revelation, according to the above. 

Publicly or privately?

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The obvious problem with this line of reasoning, it seems to me, is in effect the members, if they hold something similar to the way Smac describes it, view the leaders as infallible. 

You seem to have fundamentally misunderstood my position.  That may be partially my fault, and if so, I apologize.  I am clarifying now.

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Additionally, when asked what specifically has Nelson said or done that Smac disagrees with.  Smac responds with a long line of quotations from leaders that suggest a member can't, or should not without condemnation, criticize a leader. 

As a general proposition, yes.  

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Yet, Smac agress disagreeing with a leader's claimed revelation is not criticizing that leader. 

Yes.

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So it appears there is pressure on members to at least treat leaders as infallible--that is to say members will be condemned if that member expresses his/her disagreement with a leader's claimed revelation. 

No, I don't think so.  I reject the notion that abstaining from public criticism of the leaders of the Church is tantamount to attributing infallibility to them.  That is a huge leap in logic and reasoning, one I have not made, and one which I reject.

Again, I'm not willing to publicly air my disagreements with my wife, either.  That doesn't mean I believe she is infallible.

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Or at the very least, if anyone does disagree with a leader's claimed revelation and is under covenant not to say so,

To not publicly oppose, yes.

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and will be summarily condemned if he/she does,

Meh.  Nobody is saying that.  You're just making that up.

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then the impression for all other members is that the leaders can't make mistakes in revelation because there is no room to express one's own feelings or one's own welfare of his/her soul.

Not so.

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Another recent example to consider is the claimed 2015 revelation to change the church policy regarding LGBT.  You will recall a leader, Nelson, claimed that the policy change came by revelation.

More or less.

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Some short time later, after quite a bit of push back, the leaders claimed revelation that took the policy out of the handbook, even if the policy is still in effect, it was claimed to no longer be in effect. 

Not sure about this characterization.

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You will also recall the change to the initial change in Nov 2015.  Just after the revelation was had and the change was put into the handbook, many questions and concerns were raised.  The leaders in effect changed some elements of the policy, adding certain qualifications. 

Yes.

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As it is, if God is behind these revelations, one must wonder what in the world God is thinking and doing.

That depends, I suppose, on how one thinks the prophetic mantle works.

Perhaps an illustration can help: God also knew that His people would live in an era where substance abuse is rampant.  And yet the Word of Wisdom says nothing about marijuana, or cocaine, or meth, or heroin, or GHB, and so on.  Why weren't any of these things mentioned in the Bible or Book of Mormon?  Or why haven't we received a canonized revelation about these substances?

The answer, I think, may be understood by applying the principles explained by Elder Bednar in two books, "Increase in Learning" and "Act in Doctrine."  This article summarizes things this way:

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What are Doctrines, Principles & Applications?

A few days ago, I was discussing a particular study method with a friend and one step in the process was: “identifying and understanding doctrines and principles”. So as I commonly do, I asked myself “so what’s the difference between a doctrine and a principle”. The more I thought about it, I realized that I didn’t have a clear definition for either in my mind.

I decided to go back to a book that a friend gave me for Christmas called  “Act in Doctrine” by David A. Bednar. On pages xiv-xv in the Preface he defines what doctrines and principles are and then notes a third essential element: Applications. I’ve boiled down his descriptions into the following simplified versions:

  • Doctrines: eternal truths revealed by God.
  • Principles: doctrinally based guidelines for the exercise of agency.
  • Applications: actions we take in response to doctrines and principles.

Elder Bednar points out that “Our tendency as members of the Church is to focus on applications. But as we learn to ask ourselves, ‘What doctrines and principles, if understood, would help with this challenge?’ we come to realize that the answers always are in the doctrines and principles of the gospel” (pg. xv)

Doctrines answer the question of “why” and Elder Bednar suggests that the doctrine of the Atonement explains why Jesus is our advocate with the Father. He writes that principles answer the question of “what”; some examples are repentance, baptism, service, charity, etc. Applications answer the question of “how”, and provide the specifics of how something needs to be done. While the Church does teach applications, like in the case of ordinances and administrative duties, etc., it is necessary that many applications are individually personalized to us by the Spirit.

Here's a graphic that goes along with the above article:

doctrines-principles-applications-760x48

To further illustrate here is  an excerpt from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism entry on "Doctrine":

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MEANING OF DOCTRINE. The word "doctrine" in the scriptures means "a teaching" as well as "that which is taught." Most often in the Church it refers to the teachings or doctrine of Jesus Christ, understood in a rather specific sense. Scripturally, then, the term "doctrine" means the core message of Jesus Christ-that Jesus is the Messiah, the Redeemer. All other teachings are subordinate to those by which all people "know how to come unto Christ and be saved"-that is, to the "points of doctrine," such as faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. At one time, stressing the preeminence and foundational nature of this message, Jesus taught, "And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock" (3 Ne. 11:40).

For me, I think the Word of Wisdom is "doctrine."  The "principles" we glean from the Word of Wisdom pertain to healthy living, abstaining from certain specified things (coffee, tea, tobacco), and so on.  The "application" of the Word of Wisdom will proscribe things like heroin and cocaine, because using such substances cannot be squared with either the "principles" or the "doctrine" arising from the Word of Wisdom.

Is pornography specifically prohibited in scripture?  No, but using it cannot be squared with the Law of Chastity (any more than using heroin can be squared with the Word of Wisdom).  Plus it has been specifically and emphatically and repeatedly condemned by modern prophets and apostles.  So the "application" of the Law of Chastity to the viewing of pornography is fairly clear-cut, even though we're speaking of principally of "application" (of a "principle" gleaned from a "doctrine").

As pertaining to the issue of homosexual conduct and/or same-sex marriage, I think there are "doctrines" in play, such as the Law of Chastity and various concepts pertaining to the nature and purpose of marriage.  From these we can/should/must glean "principles," and then develop appropriate "applications."

So how should we apply these principles to homosexual conduct and/or same-sex marriage?  If a Latter-day Saint, acting with sincerity and in good faith, with a desire to discern and understand and submit to the will of God, studies the scriptures and the messages of modern prophets and apostles, I think he/she will be able to develop "applications" based on "principles" gleaned from "doctrine."  And when this process is complete, I think such a person will find himself/herself standing with the Brethren on this issue, and also understand the "applications" and "principles" they have developed and implemented to those within their stewardship (which is to say, the entirety of the Church).

I previously wrote:

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As pertaining to the issues of homosexual conduct and same-sex marriage, I think the Brethren are presently substantially correct in doctrine, in principle, and in application.  I also believe that the counsel we have received from them, including procedural elements such as the changes to the CHI, are in accordance with the mind and will of God.  

I wrote that 2.5 years ago, in early 2016.  That the Brethren have changed their "Application" of "Principles" derived from "Doctrine" doesn't really change much for me.

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But sadly that's the kind of up and down, back and forth, wishy washy and dare I say taffy puller God is.  Right?  wrong?  

Wrong, IMO.  Joseph Smith said (emphasis added):

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Let us here observe that three things are necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.

First, the idea that he actually exists;

Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes;

Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which one is pursuing is according to His will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive. But with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Also, see 1 Corinthians 13 (emphases added):

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8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

And, more recently, D&C 1 (emphases added):

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24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; 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.
25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.

When things seem to go sideways in terms of my perspective on the Church, these items often come to mind.  They remind me of a few things:

1. God is perfect.  That is axiomatic.  So I cannot attribute error or malice arbitrariness or other character defects to Him (such as "that's the kind of up and down, back and forth, wishy washy and dare I say taffy puller God is").  If there is something off, it's got to be attributable to some other part of the system.  A human part (or parts).  Most often the me-myself-and-I part.

2. When evaluating the words and actions of prophets and apostles, all sorts of things in play here.  Context matters.  A lot.  Historical context.  Social/cultural context.  Scriptural context.  Gospel context.  So does accuracy in conveyed information.  So do my personal life experiences, as well as the importance of properly characterizing those experiences as finite, blinkered, and not altogether accurate (rather than definitive, perfected and utterly, pristinely correct).  It is likely that they know a lot of things that I don't.  And, of course, it's possible for them to make mistakes ("in their weakness," "inasmuch as they erred," etc.).  And it's also possible for them to have not erred per se, but to nevertheless change course.  

3. We "see through a glass, darkly."  I am reluctant to presume that my personal opinion is superior to that of the Brethren, particularly on an issue affecting the entirety of the Church.  And even if I do think that I am "right" and they are "wrong," I would not say so publicly.  I would instead voice my concerns in accordance with the counsel provided by Elder Oaks here.

4. Christ preached a gospel that was not going to be popular in the minds of an increasingly wicked world.  He knew that.  But He preached it anyway.  I think He knew beforehand that His message would alienate many people, including some otherwise good and decent people.  But He preached anyway.  I think He did so because those who were ready for His message needed to hear it, and needed to be gathered out of the World.  Perhaps this is why He said: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."  Perhaps this is why He also said (several times, actually) : "Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore give heed unto my words."  Christ also said: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."  Christ also said "For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me."  

My dad and I were talking about these things a while back, some of which have been described as the "dark sayings of Jesus."  My dad noted that some people focus on the "sweetness and light" sayings of the Savior, which is probably fine - unless that focus is exclusionary.  Christ had warnings for us, after all.  Such as this: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."  And this: "The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil."   And this: "Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail."   And this: "For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory."

I'm really not into a binary approach to construing these things.  I think Latter-day Saints need to give the Brethren some breathing room to sort these things out.  A "you do one thing I dislike and I'm outta here!" approach essentially gurantees a "cascade failure" in terms of an individual's relationship to the Lord's Church (and is, I think, a manifestation of a tacit expectation of infallibility).

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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50 minutes ago, rockpond said:

 

Smac is touting the church's believe in prophetic fallibility but then describing how we, as members, should act as if he is infallible because of our covenants.

No, I am not.

Thanks,

-Smac

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