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

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16 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?

The only real controversial part of Brigham Young's doctrine was whether Adam in the garden who fell was God the Father, the literal father of Jesus and of his spirit. The rest is pretty much non-controversial. There lots of reasons to think that Brigham just got that element wrong but that the rest is all correct. While I don't think the two Adam theory explains Brigham's beliefs, it probably explains the doctrine and seeing it one can understand why he made that sort of mistake.

As for whether Kimball was speaking as prophet, it's sometimes hard to know. My personal view is that Kimball and McConkie thought it wrong, but out of reason and not a particular revelation. But I don't know. I don't think we always know when a prophet is a prophet except by testing what they say over time. (A guide the Old Testament offers to discerning when something is prophecy)

The two Adam theory I mentioned before simply treats Adam not as a single person but a title. This sort of name play is common and we know Jesus was called Adam by Paul for instance. (1 Cor 15:45) It's all complicated as well by the fact Brigham seems to tie Adam/God to the endowment. The main text of Adam/God was a lecture at the veil that was temporarily part of the temple ceremony in at least one place. Since Brigham is on record that much of the endowment is symbolic (say the rib) that ought give us some pause as well.

It's also worth noting that in some sermons, famously the April 17, 1870 one, Brigham seems to undermine the usual interpretation of Adam/God. "Some say, "we are the children of Adam and Eve." So we are, and they are the children of our Heavenly Father. We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of." (JD 13:311-312)

So while I understand why people refer to Adam/God with this issue, I think it's much more complicated than it appears at first glance. After all prophets are free to try and interpret their prophecies just the same as the rest of us. And it's not exactly clear what Brigham thinks is the inspired part. (IMO)

That's not to say we can't find better examples. The priesthood ban is probably a better example and one I think many people offer a "I don't know" to. 

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I think people frequently confuse having a burden of proof with de facto infallibility. They aren't the same thing. If people assume the prophet is correct unless strong evidence counter is there, that's not really anything like an infallibility claim.

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19 hours ago, rockpond said:

These statements from you seem contradictory to me.

 

Big time.

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13 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

The only real controversial part of Brigham Young's doctrine was whether Adam in the garden who fell was God the Father, the literal father of Jesus and of his spirit. The rest is pretty much non-controversial. There lots of reasons to think that Brigham just got that element wrong but that the rest is all correct. While I don't think the two Adam theory explains Brigham's beliefs, it probably explains the doctrine and seeing it one can understand why he made that sort of mistake.

As for whether Kimball was speaking as prophet, it's sometimes hard to know. My personal view is that Kimball and McConkie thought it wrong, but out of reason and not a particular revelation. But I don't know. I don't think we always know when a prophet is a prophet except by testing what they say over time. (A guide the Old Testament offers to discerning when something is prophecy)

The two Adam theory I mentioned before simply treats Adam not as a single person but a title. This sort of name play is common and we know Jesus was called Adam by Paul for instance. (1 Cor 15:45) It's all complicated as well by the fact Brigham seems to tie Adam/God to the endowment. The main text of Adam/God was a lecture at the veil that was temporarily part of the temple ceremony in at least one place. Since Brigham is on record that much of the endowment is symbolic (say the rib) that ought give us some pause as well.

It's also worth noting that in some sermons, famously the April 17, 1870 one, Brigham seems to undermine the usual interpretation of Adam/God. "Some say, "we are the children of Adam and Eve." So we are, and they are the children of our Heavenly Father. We are all the children of Adam and Eve, and they and we are the offspring of Him who dwells in the heavens, the highest Intelligence that dwells anywhere that we have any knowledge of." (JD 13:311-312)

So while I understand why people refer to Adam/God with this issue, I think it's much more complicated than it appears at first glance. After all prophets are free to try and interpret their prophecies just the same as the rest of us. And it's not exactly clear what Brigham thinks is the inspired part. (IMO)

That's not to say we can't find better examples. The priesthood ban is probably a better example and one I think many people offer a "I don't know" to. 

Best response!  Thank you for taking the time to write this all out.  You always give such thoughtful and considerate (and understanding) responses and it’s why you’re one of my favorites here 😊

I know the Adam God doctrine that was taught is complicated (and a topic for another thread), so I won’t pursue that here.

I think I was just trying to give an example of how we really can’t know when a Prophet is speaking as a man or speaking as a Prophet and even they disagree on that at times.  So, we really are back to not knowing and how we need to do our own studying and praying on any statement or topic.  And, I’m ok with that and accept and support it too.

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7 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I think people frequently confuse having a burden of proof with de facto infallibility. They aren't the same thing. If people assume the prophet is correct unless strong evidence counter is there, that's not really anything like an infallibility claim.

Yes, this was what I was trying to ask Cinepro about.  I think that a lot of members misunderstand what it means for a prophet to be fallible.  

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2 hours ago, ALarson said:

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....

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".  

You may reply to my posts with platitudes about the freedom to think, pray, and disagree when my comments have gone past that, but I’d like to see you stay on topic and comment on the relationship between personal belief system collapse and the freedom to believe, pray and disagree in dysfunctional ways. Or specific to the OP, what constitutes a functional view of Church leaders’ tendency to make mistakes and errors. Avoiding the topic may or may not be a symptom but is certainly not a comment.

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On 8/21/2019 at 11:52 AM, smac97 said:

"as a disembodied, hyper-rational process?"From an interview with the author of the above book:

Is this accurate?  Does he portray the loss of religion "as a disembodied, hyper-rational process?"

What does "hyper-rational" mean in this context?

Thanks,

-Smac

This question in the interview isn't worded that well.

What Brooks was saying was that the loss of religion "as a disembodied, hyper-rational process" is the perspective of other religion scholars.  Instead what he argued was the opposite perspective and that the loss of religion was a hyper-emotional experience and that ignoring the body made it "harder for scholars to understand ex-Mormons, for whom sexuality has to be completely redefined."

Does this make sense?

All the best,

Bob

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

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

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

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.”

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).

No.  Please re-read what I said here:

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

Again, no.

Publicly or privately?

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

As a general proposition, yes.  

Yes.

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.

To not publicly oppose, yes.

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

Not so.

More or less.

Not sure about this characterization.

Yes.

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:

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":

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:

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.

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

Also, see 1 Corinthians 13 (emphases added):

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

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

You seem to have all of this figured out.  I wonder though how the practical application of all of this works in your mind.  Let me ask you a simple question.  

if you were gay and you went to church leaders to ask them what you should do, and they told you that if you just marry a woman, you will become straight and no long be gay.  You ask them if this is their opinion and they say no, it is the will of God.  What would you do?  

Remember the implications of what this decision will mean in your life. Use your above rational to show me what points would lead you to the right decision.

 

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2 minutes ago, california boy said:

You seem to have all of this figured out.  I wonder though how the practical application of all of this works in your mind.  Let me ask you a simple question.  

if you were gay and you went to church leaders to ask them what you should do, and they told you that if you just marry a woman, you will become straight and no long be gay.  You ask them if this is their opinion and they say no, it is the will of God.  What would you do?  

Remember the implications of what this decision will mean in your life. Use your above rational to show me what points would lead you to the right decision.

 

I know you didn't ask me but if it were me in such a situation, I'd pray about it.  We are all entitled to personal revelation for our own lives so that seems like an obvious answer to me, especially considering that the ward leaders would be proclaiming that something is the will of God (marrying will cause a person to become straight) that is not in the standard works or taught by the GAs.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, JulieM said:

I think I was just trying to give an example of how we really can’t know when a Prophet is speaking as a man or speaking as a Prophet and even they disagree on that at times.  So, we really are back to not knowing and how we need to do our own studying and praying on any statement or topic.  And, I’m ok with that and accept and support it too.

Yes, I agree.  I'm also ok with that and as you stated, I do see more and more members realizing the importance of doing their own pondering, studying, research and then praying about it.  That's a good thing too, IMO.

And as I just posted:

Quote

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...

I just hope they remember the "prayer" part of the process. 👍

 

Edited by ALarson
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17 minutes ago, Coop said:

This question in the interview isn't worded that well.

What Brooks was saying was that the loss of religion "as a disembodied, hyper-rational process" is the perspective of other religion scholars.  Instead what he argued was the opposite perspective and that the loss of religion was a hyper-emotional experience and that ignoring the body made it "harder for scholars to understand ex-Mormons, for whom sexuality has to be completely redefined."

Does this make sense?

All the best,

Bob

That makes a lot more sense. 

Thanks,

-Smac

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12 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Or specific to the OP, what constitutes a functional view of Church leaders’ tendency to make mistakes and errors.

I like this encapsulation of the OP so I'm going to respond as well (and I think that @ALarson is addressing the OP in his comments).

My thoughts on a functional view of Church leaders' tendency to make mistakes (and when I use the term Leaders in this post, I'll be referring to our 15 prophets, seers, and revelators):

We should teach that the Leaders have made and do/will make mistakes.  And that these mistakes are not just losing their temper when they stub their toe or having an impure thought but that mistakes are made in teachings, in doctrine, and in policy.  That the idea of continuing revelation is that we continue to receive further light and knowledge to not only restore what was lost in the apostasy but to bring us to a full and complete understanding of the gospel and the plan of salvation.

Since teaching that principle is only half the issue, we also need to show that we believe it through our actions.  We need to work to create a culture where a church member can politely disagree with a Leader without having their recommend threatened, being released from their calling, ostracized, or marginalized.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, bluebell said:

There isn’t any difference, but that’s not what I’m asking about. 

What I’m asking about is believing that someone can make a mistake (in a specific job or calling—we’re not talking about just being human in normal everyday life), but that it’s not a usual occurrence or necessarily something that we can point out when it has/does happen.

Does that still count as believing the person is fallible?

 

No.

When people talk about fallible religious leaders, it doesn't mean that they might theoretically get something wrong, or that they might get something wrong that a future religious leaders corrects 50 years from now.  If that is what is meant, then they are describing infallible leaders.

Having a fallible leader means they can make a mistake right now, and we can figure out if they are making a mistake.  I would even include that we can say they are making a mistake after we have figured it out, although that would take the conversation away from the question of actual "fallibility" and more to the question of whether the leaders have created a fantasy world of make believe that they are forcing all the followers to pretend to support.

Having a fallible leader doesn't mean that you don't support them.  I believe President Nelson is totally wrong about the whole name change thing.  But I'm not going to stand up and yell in Conference about it.  I'll sustain him in his mistaken idea that Satan cares whether we call ourselves "Mormon" or not.  I think Presidents Hinckley and Monson were correct on this and that President Nelson is wrong.

That's what having "fallible" leaders means.  It means you recognize they can be wrong right now, and that you can say they were wrong and it doesn't mean you are opposing them.

 

Having fallible leaders also means that they themselves can recognize they're wrong.  For example, the whole 11/15 policy about kids with homosexual parents not being able to get baptized.  They obviously recognized they were wrong about that.  Many, many people (both members and non-members) knew they were wrong about that the moment they heard it, but it took a few years for the leaders to figure it out and fix it.  Now that raises the question of whether or not leaders need to actually acknowledge their mistakes, but that's yet another conversation.

Edited by cinepro
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, california boy said:

You seem to have all of this figured out.  

I don't know that I would go that far.

But I do claim to have given these matters a lot of study and thought.

Quote

I wonder though how the practical application of all of this works in your mind.  Let me ask you a simple question.  

if you were gay

I don't really accept "gay" as a noun.  It's not an intrinsic state of being.  So let's say "If you were sexually attracted to members of your own gender..."

Quote

and you went to church leaders to ask them what you should do, and they told you that if you just marry a woman, you will become straight and no long be gay.  

I really doubt I would receive such counsel.

Quote

You ask them if this is their opinion and they say no, it is the will of God.  What would you do?

I have expressed my thought process here:

Quote

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. 

Hope this helps.

Quote

Remember the implications of what this decision will mean in your life. Use your above rational to show me what points would lead you to the right decision.

See above.

Elder Corbridge's remarks from earlier this year also help:

Quote

Primary Questions and Secondary Questions

Begin by answering the primary questions. There are primary questions and there are secondary questions. Answer the primary questions first. Not all questions are equal and not all truths are equal. The primary questions are the most important. Everything else is subordinate. There are only a few primary questions. I will mention four of them.

1. Is there a God who is our Father?
2. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?
3. Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
4. Is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the kingdom of God on the earth?

By contrast, the secondary questions are unending. They include questions about Church history, polygamy, people of African descent and the priesthood, women and the priesthood, how the Book of Mormon was translated, the Pearl of Great Price, DNA and the Book of Mormon, gay marriage, the different accounts of the First Vision, and on and on.

If you answer the primary questions, the secondary questions get answered too, or they pale in significance and you can deal with things you understand and things you don’t and things you agree with and things you don’t without jumping ship altogether.

Does God exist?  Is He the father of our spirits?  Did He craft the Plan of Salvation?  Did He send His Son to be our Savior and Redeemer?  Is the Restored Gospel what it claims to be?  

I really want to get the answers to these questions right.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

That's not to say we can't find better examples. The priesthood ban is probably a better example and one I think many people offer a "I don't know" to. 

I think the experience of the brother of Jared applies to this one too. Are the other prophets condemned because they did not see what he did, and did not teach what he did? Was he amiss by doing something the omniscient Lord did not expect? Is the Lord contradicting Himself by not allowing the brother of Jared to teach the truth and instead seal it up for a future dispensation? Yes, one can say the Lord was just playing along with His questions, wanted the brother of Jared to see what he saw all along, and set things up to lead to that exchange, but then are the other prophets condemned because they weren't chosen for the same game?

Of course we don't know anything for sure, but perhaps the lifting of the ban was the same dynamic as seeing the Lord's finger. Which earlier prophets were wrong, or need to be chastised and forgiven, for not seeing it?

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2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I don't know that I would go that far.

But I do claim to have given these matters a lot of study and thought.

I don't really accept "gay" as a noun.  It's not an intrinsic state of being.  So let's say "If you were sexually attracted to members of your own gender..."

Whatever.  For a Church that strongly wants to be called a certain way, that is obviously not a two way street of respect.

 

2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I really doubt I would receive such counsel.

And yet I did.

2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I have expressed my thought process here:

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. 

Hope this helps.

See above.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yeah well, I had a very similar thought process when I followed that counsel along with thousands of other gay men.  I gave them a presumption of good faith.  I gave them the benefit of a doubt.  We are still seeing the fallout of such thinking.  In other words, I think your thinking on this issue can lead to so much sadness, heartache, and unhappiness that I would never, ever, again make the assumptions you now still make.

When the actual testing of your theory goes into the reality of decisions made giving the assumptions you advocate, what follows is so tragic, your assumptions need to be rethought.  I stand as a witness against everything you are advocating.  If this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is severely flawed.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

I know.  I'm sticking with my initial answer.  Sure.  But it's hardly in play for all faith crises.  And, I think there's a pretty good case to be made that there is extensive pressure and messaging to support those who accept a tacit expectation of infallibility, as I've laid out and will continue to clarify here.  

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

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

I think many good things have been said on this.  Infallible may be the wrong word.  But I will add it does seem apparent for all or nearly all faith crises there is some degree of mistrust for the leaders--as in people tend not to trust that they are actually speaking for God.  

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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.”

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).

No.  Please re-read what I said here:

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

Alright.  So there is within all of what has been said the notion that an individual has to pray and feel inspired to know whether the prophet's claimed revelation is from God or not.  Of course there's plenty of subjectivity going on there and it appears the issue still remains as a result.  If someone disagrees with a claimed revelation from President Nelson that person has no room to offer his/her concern that it is not from God without some possible condemnation for criticizing leaders, or so it appears?  

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Again, no.

Publicly or privately?

What's the point of privately offering one's opinion?  I mean we can all do that, of course.  Are you saying someone can't offer his/her opinion publicly, but can privately?  I suppose that's the exact issue I'm raising.  If there is no room to publicly criticize the revelation of a prophet (not the prophet himself just his revelation) then I don't know how members are to see reasoning to question the prophet's revelation.  

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

As a general proposition, yes.  

Yes.

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.

Ok...well as I said infallibility may not be the best word.  But it appears to me if those who find reason to disagree with a prophet's revelation are unable or voluntarily unwilling to explain his/her disagreement then it appears that only adds to the assumption of infallibility, at least tacitly assumed, by some as you put it.  And with that it's no wonder why people seem to place too much emphasis and trust in leader's words.  For one, they can't really publicly express their disagreement (at least not with potential or actual condemnation) and for two they only hear from every other member agreement with the revelation.  

I will add from experience the pressure to get in line is really quite strong.   

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

To not publicly oppose, yes.

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

Not so.

More or less.

Not sure about this characterization.

Yes.

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:

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":

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).

Well that's nice and if a member goes through the above process and declares the prophet and apostles are wrong on this topic?  Does such an one risk some form of condemnation for publicly declaring as much?  Of course such a risk stands.  And that there defines nicely the reason why members often tacitly view the prophets as infallible--without, likely, ever really wanting to use the word infallible.  

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

I previously wrote:

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.

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

Also, see 1 Corinthians 13 (emphases added):

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

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."  

Well that's fine, but just know these little principles don't work for everyone. 

1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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

I've never seen anyone take a "you do one thing I dislike and I'm outta here" approach.  I don't know what that would even be.  Most people from what I've seen who experience anything near what is termed a faith crisis, endure many troubling things for years before, if ever, they say they are outta here.  

I would suggest there are a lot of problems with your approach as described here (the approach you use as guiding principles, if you will).  But that is beside the point.  

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5 minutes ago, california boy said:
Quote

I don't really accept "gay" as a noun.  It's not an intrinsic state of being.  So let's say "If you were sexually attracted to members of your own gender..."

Whatever.  

It's an important point.  For me, anyway.

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

For a Church that strongly wants to be called a certain way, that is obviously not a two way street of respect.

Huh?

5 minutes ago, california boy said:
Quote

I really doubt I would receive such counsel.

And yet I did.

I can't really speak to that.

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

Yeah well, I had a very similar thought process when I followed that counsel along with thousands of other gay men.  I gave them a presumption of good faith.  I gave them the benefit of a doubt.  

But that's not all I said:

Quote

We do not unthinkingly accept just any statement.  We are supposed to analyze and {evaluate} and determine for ourselves 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 weigh it against the Standard Works.  And most of all, to pray about it. 

So yes, there's a presumption of good faith, and a benefit of the doubt.  That benefit of the doubt is a rebuttable one.

But there is also a duty "to analyze and {evaluate} and determine for ourselves the inspiration of our leaders."  "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. "

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

We are still seeing the fallout of such thinking.  In other words, I think your thinking on this issue can lead to so much sadness, heartache, and unhappiness that I would never, ever, again make the assumptions you now still make.

You are stripping my remarks of most of their substance.  I invite you to reconsider them.

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

When the actual testing of your theory goes into the reality of decisions made giving the assumptions you advocate, what follows is so tragic, your assumptions need to be rethought.

That is my assumptions are rebuttable.  

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

I stand as a witness against everything you are advocating.

Surely not.  You disagree with the proposition that we should "analyze and {evaluate} and determine for ourselves the inspiration of our leaders"?

You "stand ... against" the proposition that "f 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 weigh it against the Standard Works.  And most of all, to pray about it"?

5 minutes ago, california boy said:

If this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is severely flawed.

"If."

Thanks,

-Smac

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The use of the word "infallible" here is a bit of a caricature of the situation. I don't think any Mormon believes the leaders are literally infallible. And the idea of being "basically infallible" or 99% infallible is nonsensical--like the idea of being "basically pregnant" or 99% pregnant.

The real issue is whether the leaders are trustworthy. From a recent New Era article we are told, "Your bishop or branch president is a true servant of the Lord. You can rely on him for guidance as you seek inspiration from the Holy Ghost and the scriptures. You must understand that the bishop is there to help and that he is led by God."

This article isn't teaching that the bishop is infallible. It is teaching that we should trust Bishops because they are in fact led by God. Should we trust the Church as much as it asks us to? That is the real question.

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11 minutes ago, california boy said:

Whatever.  For a Church that strongly wants to be called a certain way, that is obviously not a two way street of respect.

 

And yet I did.

Yeah well, I had a very similar thought process when I followed that counsel along with thousands of other gay men.  I gave them a presumption of good faith.  I gave them the benefit of a doubt.  We are still seeing the fallout of such thinking.  In other words, I think your thinking on this issue can lead to so much sadness, heartache, and unhappiness that I would never, ever, again make the assumptions you now still make.

When the actual testing of your theory goes into the reality of decisions made giving the assumptions you advocate, what follows is so tragic, your assumptions need to be rethought.  I stand as a witness against everything you are advocating.  If this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then it is severely flawed.

Just this past Saturday we had a GA (Elder Kevin Hathaway) at a meeting presided over by President Oaks tell parents that "We don't say, for example, that a person is gay.  We say that a person struggles with same gender attraction."

Given this ongoing instruction from our leaders we, as members of the church, should not be surprised in the least when our gay and lesbian young adults enter into opposite sex marriages.  It's a natural outcome of our teachings.

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3 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

 

I've never seen anyone take a "you do one thing I dislike and I'm outta here" approach.  I don't know what that would even be.  Most people from what I've seen who experience anything near what is termed a faith crisis, endure many troubling things for years before, if ever, they say they are outta here.  

I would suggest there are a lot of problems with your approach as described here (the approach you use as guiding principles, if you will).  But that is beside the point.  

Agreed, a binary framing of it oversimplifies.

As much as I try to describe faith transitions in simpler terms, I think a thousand things had to change to make mine happen. 

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45 minutes ago, rockpond said:

I like this encapsulation of the OP so I'm going to respond as well (and I think that @ALarson is addressing the OP in his comments).

My thoughts on a functional view of Church leaders' tendency to make mistakes (and when I use the term Leaders in this post, I'll be referring to our 15 prophets, seers, and revelators):

We should teach that the Leaders have made and do/will make mistakes.  And that these mistakes are not just losing their temper when they stub their toe or having an impure thought but that mistakes are made in teachings, in doctrine, and in policy.  That the idea of continuing revelation is that we continue to receive further light and knowledge to not only restore what was lost in the apostasy but to bring us to a full and complete understanding of the gospel and the plan of salvation.

Since teaching that principle is only half the issue, we also need to show that we believe it through our actions.  We need to work to create a culture where a church member can politely disagree with a Leader without having their recommend threatened, being released from their calling, ostracized, or marginalized.

My answer is a bit simpler: A functional view is that they make mistakes.

Applying this to your focal points, an absence of revelation is not a mistake. The lack of a specific revelation from general Church leaders may provoke in someone a sense of disagreement or importunity, depending on his expectations and judgement, which is what the OP is covering. Personal revelation is typically accompanied with the inspiration to share, or not to share as with the brother of Jared.

Now un-Christlike behavior in withholding recommends and callings and ostracizing and marginalizing members of the flock are exceptions for our cultural mores, and there are plenty of means for the offended to obtain redress through the system. In my mind these go beyond and are worse than mistakes in teachings, doctrine and policy.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, california boy said:

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.  

You asked. I answered. 

Sorry you don’t like the answer. 🙄

But both additions to the D&C happened in my lifetime. 

Edited by mrmarklin
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1 hour ago, cinepro said:

No.

When people talk about fallible religious leaders, it doesn't mean that they might theoretically get something wrong, or that they might get something wrong that a future religious leaders corrects 50 years from now.  If that is what is meant, then they are describing infallible leaders.

That's not what I'm asking about though.

Quote

Having a fallible leader means they can make a mistake right now, and we can figure out if they are making a mistake

I agree with the first part, not sure about the second.  I think it's likely correct, but what I question is that it's a part of the definition of being fallible.  

Quote

I would even include that we can say they are making a mistake after we have figured it out, although that would take the conversation away from the question of actual "fallibility" and more to the question of whether the leaders have created a fantasy world of make believe that they are forcing all the followers to pretend to support.

High five on the snarkiness, but it's not really relevant to anything I said.

Quote

Having a fallible leader doesn't mean that you don't support them.

No argument there.

Quote

  I believe President Nelson is totally wrong about the whole name change thing.  But I'm not going to stand up and yell in Conference about it.  I'll sustain him in his mistaken idea that Satan cares whether we call ourselves "Mormon" or not.  I think Presidents Hinckley and Monson were correct on this and that President Nelson is wrong.

Ok.

Quote

That's what having "fallible" leaders means.  It means you recognize they can be wrong right now, and that you can say they were wrong and it doesn't mean you are opposing them.

No disagreement.

Quote

Having fallible leaders also means that they themselves can recognize they're wrong.  For example, the whole 11/15 policy about kids with homosexual parents not being able to get baptized.  They obviously recognized they were wrong about that.  Many, many people (both members and non-members) knew they were wrong about that the moment they heard it, but it took a few years for the leaders to figure it out and fix it.  Now that raises the question of whether or not leaders need to actually acknowledge their mistakes, but that's yet another conversation.

None of this actually answered my question, so I probably didn't ask it very well.

You told Smac that the only way he could prove that he actually believed that the leaders were fallible was to provide current examples of Pres. Nelson being wrong.  You implied that if he couldn't do that, then that means that he doesn't actually believe the prophet is fallible in application.

My question was, is that a fair/reasonable/accurate litmus test for whether or not someone believes the prophet is fallible?  Like Clarke said "If people assume the prophet is correct unless strong evidence counter is there, that's not really anything like an infallibility claim."

Someone doesn't have to have a list of five things the current prophet has been/is wrong about to show they believe he is fallible.  

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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

The use of the word "infallible" here is a bit of a caricature of the situation. I don't think any Mormon believes the leaders are literally infallible. And the idea of being "basically infallible" or 99% infallible is nonsensical--like the idea of being "basically pregnant" or 99% pregnant.

The real issue is whether the leaders are trustworthy. From a recent New Era article we are told, "Your bishop or branch president is a true servant of the Lord. You can rely on him for guidance as you seek inspiration from the Holy Ghost and the scriptures. You must understand that the bishop is there to help and that he is led by God."

This article isn't teaching that the bishop is infallible. It is teaching that we should trust Bishops because they are in fact led by God. Should we trust the Church as much as it asks us to? That is the real question.

Perfectly said.

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