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MustardSeed

Callings given to imperfect human beings

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3 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

He was certainly a flawed man, and I think it is pretty reasonable from a spiritual and moral perspective to say that his institution of plural marriage was wrong, and it has caused great problems for the church and individuals in it. 

It may be "reasonable" for some, but I don't believe it was wrong at all.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

I could not disagree more. They are of one mind unified by love and purpose.

Christ does nothing except what he has seen the father do.

I agree.  It is the concept that the Father is above the Son and the doctrines defining the progression and differences that are interesting.

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10 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

It may be "reasonable" for some, but I don't believe it was wrong at all.

This is what I identify as inherently abusive about what he instituted: he required people to break their existing marital vows. He required people to break the law of the land. He required people to be dishonest, not just to investigators of the church, and not only to the public at large, but also to fellow church members. He used a sort of coercion when calling on people to join him in polygamy. 

These are all the markings and odors of bad fruit. Joseph Smith said and accomplished some marvelous things, however, he was abusive to his adherents. This is to be expected of human beings, at least, being flawed. But they are grave sins, and they are sins which require some serious repentence. I think one can trace the non-repentence of Joseph Smith to the more unhealthy aspects of Mormon policy and culture. Those unhealthy elements were passed on, because repentence did not happen.

What happens when imperfect leaders sin? What happens when they institutionalize sin? Well, the person will not heal without repentence, and neither will the institution.

The insistence that the leaders "will never lead the church astray," or that the church "does not apologize" are all predictable claims of leaders who have (an understandable, very human) hubris that can be corrected, if the desire is there.

Furthermore, what can we as members do to promote healing? Well, we can respect repentence of leaders and the institution and welcome it!  Why be willing to accept that they are imperfect, without expecting continual institional repentence ?

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4 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I'm not sure what your point is? I suppose you mean that complaints and criticisms of Joseph Smith are invalid?

Let me explain, then.

I tend to think that God will judge Joseph according to how well Joseph did what God's revealed will to him was.  Unlike some other people, I feel somewhat inhibited judging a prophet of God.  I'm not saying Joseph was a perfect man; far from it, he was subject to the same frailties and temptations we are all subject to.  And he probably didn't always respond to his trials in the best way possible.  So, if you can do better than he, congratulations!  But the race is not to the swift, as Paul says, and it's not even a race, it is a test to see how well you yourself will keep God's law when it comes down to the very end.

But to make my point clear, I was saying that a good proportion of what is discussed on this board has its roots in people flying apart (shattering like glass) over what a prophet of God has revealed.  It goes the gamut from grumbling over what words were used in General Conference, to complete freakout over doctrine and resigning membership.  And it has been going on from Joseph Smith's day to the present. 

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Let me explain, then.

I tend to think that God will judge Joseph according to how well Joseph did what God's revealed will to him was.  Unlike some other people, I feel somewhat inhibited judging a prophet of God.  I'm not saying Joseph was a perfect man; far from it, he was subject to the same frailties and temptations we are all subject to.  And he probably didn't always respond to his trials in the best way possible.  So, if you can do better than he, congratulations!  But the race is not to the swift, as Paul says, and it's not even a race, it is a test to see how well you yourself will keep God's law when it comes down to the very end.

But to make my point clear, I was saying that a good proportion of what is discussed on this board has its roots in people flying apart (shattering like glass) over what a prophet of God has revealed.  It goes the gamut from grumbling over what words were used in General Conference, to complete freakout over doctrine and resigning membership.  And it has been going on from Joseph Smith's day to the present. 

That is a strange imagery to use. Do you really think people "shatter like glass?" What falls apart, actually? I suppose you mean their testimonies of Joseph Smith or the church? 

 

Edited by Meadowchik

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27 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

These are all the markings and odors of bad fruit. Joseph Smith said and accomplished some marvelous things, however, he was abusive to his adherents. This is to be expected of human beings, at least, being flawed. But they are grave sins, and they are sins which require some serious repentence. I think one can trace the non-repentence of Joseph Smith to the more unhealthy aspects of Mormon policy and culture. Those unhealthy elements were passed on, because repentence did not happen.

You’re calling Joseph Smith to repentance over events that happened almost 200 years ago, which you were not a witness to?  

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1 hour ago, ksfisher said:

You’re calling Joseph Smith to repentance over events that happened almost 200 years ago, which you were not a witness to?  

I am recognizing the fruit. I was taught many things about Joseph Smith in the church since my birth, from his own childhood to visions to the church found. We were to use that information to understand the man, so why not use more of the information? So, yes, inasmuch as the church seeks to praise him for his works that bless it today, it's equally fair and good to identify the harm he caused. Avoiding that just perpetuates the harm.

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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I agree.  It is the concept that the Father is above the Son and the doctrines defining the progression and differences that are interesting.

Fathers will always have more experience than Sons.

Imagine someone on a step ladder a few rungs up, on an elevator. Somebody presses a button to go to the higher floor

While everyone on the elevator progresses up, the person on the ladder will still be higher than anyone else.  No one will ever be able to catch him ;)

 

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2 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I am recognizing the fruit. I was taught many things about Joseph Smith in the church since my birth, from his own childhood to visions to the church found. We were to use that information to understand the man, so why not use more of the information? So, yes, inasmuch as the church seeks to praise him for his works that bless it today, it's equally fair and good to identify the harm he caused. Avoiding that just perpetuates the harm.

No one worries about Mozart's life, they judge him by his life's work.

That's true of any great artist or philosopher or writer.

No one is perfect and that's the whole point of believing that prophets are not infallible.  No one is perfect.

Like a great composer we should listen to their music, their personal lives are simply a footnote.

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

No one worries about Mozart's life, they judge him by his life's work.

That's true of any great artist or philosopher or writer.

No one is perfect and that's the whole point of believing that prophets are not infallible.  No one is perfect.

Like a great composer we should listen to their music, their personal lives are simply a footnote.

I am also addressing his (Joseph Smith's) "music" and its generationally-harmful reverberations.

Edited by Meadowchik

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3 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

That is a strange imagery to use. Do you really think people "shatter like glass?" What falls apart, actually? I suppose you mean their testimonies of Joseph Smith or the church? 

 

Did you understand those words to be taken literally?  It's a figure of speech.  And it wasn't mine.  In case you missed it, I was using Joseph Smith's words, which I will repeat here for clarity:

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand.  I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen ."

Now, you have not literally, but figuratively, flown to pieces like glass over the issue of plural marriage.  Your words: "...his institution of plural marriage was wrong, and it has caused great problems for the church and individuals in it."  Is it overstating it to say that you have flown to pieces like glass over this matter?  The doctrine of plural marriage is canonized scripture, and it is clearly claimed to have been received from God, and the Church has never repudiated it.  It remains a doctrine of the Church, though because the Lord commanded that its practice cease, it is not practiced at this time.  But the time may come when it is again commanded to be practiced.  And if that day comes, I would expect plenty of membership resignations to follow.

I remember David Bokovoy, who used to post here. He was a strong advocate for the Church and its doctrines, until, like Joseph Smith said, he figuratively flew apart like glass because the Church confirmed by policy that same-sex marriage was an apostate practice.  He will surely not be the last who cannot "stand the fire at all."

What falls apart?  Their testimonies of course.  This is not the first time this has happened, you know.  When Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, see the Gospel of John chapter 6, this happened:

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus aknew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

In other words, they flew to pieces like glass as soon as something came that was contrary to their traditions.  They could not "stand the fire at all."  And so it continues in our day.

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4 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I could not disagree more. They are of one mind unified by love and purpose.

Christ does nothing except what he has seen the father do.

My point in differentiating the father from the son in this post is that Jesus as an individual is running the church without the same omniscience his father has.  Jesus does not need to be commanded in all things and so he makes decisions of his own, not much different than Jesus himself supporting imperfect mortals in their decisions when making callings or church policy.

 

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Did you understand those words to be taken literally?  It's a figure of speech.  And it wasn't mine.  In case you missed it, I was using Joseph Smith's words, which I will repeat here for clarity:

“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle. Even the Saints are slow to understand.  I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen ."

Now, you have not literally, but figuratively, flown to pieces like glass over the issue of plural marriage.  Your words: "...his institution of plural marriage was wrong, and it has caused great problems for the church and individuals in it."  Is it overstating it to say that you have flown to pieces like glass over this matter?  The doctrine of plural marriage is canonized scripture, and it is clearly claimed to have been received from God, and the Church has never repudiated it.  It remains a doctrine of the Church, though because the Lord commanded that its practice cease, it is not practiced at this time.  But the time may come when it is again commanded to be practiced.  And if that day comes, I would expect plenty of membership resignations to follow.

I remember David Bokovoy, who used to post here. He was a strong advocate for the Church and its doctrines, until, like Joseph Smith said, he figuratively flew apart like glass because the Church confirmed by policy that same-sex marriage was an apostate practice.  He will surely not be the last who cannot "stand the fire at all."

What falls apart?  Their testimonies of course.  This is not the first time this has happened, you know.  When Jesus taught that He was the bread of life, see the Gospel of John chapter 6, this happened:

60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus aknew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

In other words, they flew to pieces like glass as soon as something came that was contrary to their traditions.  They could not "stand the fire at all."  And so it continues in our day.

Of course I understand that it's figurative, but I prefer to clarify your meaning.

I think you and Joseph Smith are overstating and also mischaracterising, essentially engaging in a defensive reaction against valid concerns and criticisms. I think that over time, that prevailing harm often goes in two directions: people either recognise the mistake and correct it, or they double down and enshrine and codify it, especially institutional mistakes. That's the case here, if you consider law-bre aking, deceptions, and spiritual coercion unacceptable to God.

Question: if you can accept that leaders are imperfect, can you also agree to the need for repentance by leaders and the church institution?

Edited by Meadowchik

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Of course I understand that it's figurative, but I prefer to clarify your meaning.

Well, it didn't sound like it.

Quote

I think you and Joseph Smith are overstating and also mischaracterising, essentially engaging in a defensive reaction against valid concerns and criticisms. I think that over time, that prevailing harm often goes in two directions: people either recognise the mistake and correct it, or they double down and enshrine and codify it, especially institutional mistakes. That's the case here, if you consider law-bre aking, deceptions, and spiritual coercion unacceptable to God.

Did the mother of Moses worry about lawbreaking when she hid her baby?

I agree that laws should be obeyed for the good of society.  But if you want to say that the laws of men take precedence over the laws of God, then I have a problem with it.  So much of our current system of law is based on the Law of God that we sometimes get confused between authorities.  The Lord commanded Nephi to slay Laban.  Laban was probably one of those charged with enforcing the law in Jerusalem, and killing him was most certainly against the law. Especially under the circumstances.  Was Nephi a law-breaker, then?  Of course he was.  Was he however justified in breaking the law?  Yes, he was, because it was man's law, and God's law takes precedence.

I believe that God commanded Joseph Smith to practice plural marriage.  You believe otherwise.  Fine, that's your right.  But if God commanded the practice of plural marriage in the face of man's law to the contrary, then Joseph would have been breaking God's law to obey man's.  Would that be right for him to do?  I say not.  You're entitled to differ, and even to say that God commanded no such thing.  But if God had commanded it, which I request you concede briefly for the sake of argument, should Joseph have disobeyed God?

Quote

Question: if you can accept that leaders are imperfect, can you also agree to the need for repentance by leaders and the church institution?

Yes, where repentance is necessary.  That an institution needs to repent, however, I find to be problematic.  Institutions have no will, and cannot sin.  Their leaders and functionaries do have will, however, and should repent where necessary.  

Edited by Stargazer
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On 8/22/2019 at 11:17 AM, MustardSeed said:

Are human imperfections proof that callings are not made through revelation? 

Given the fact that there are not many perfect humans currently living on this planet, who do you suggest God call to work with him?

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37 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Well, it didn't sound like it.

Did the mother of Moses worry about lawbreaking when she hid her baby?

I agree that laws should be obeyed for the good of society.  But if you want to say that the laws of men take precedence over the laws of God, then I have a problem with it.  So much of our current system of law is based on the Law of God that we sometimes get confused between authorities.  The Lord commanded Nephi to slay Laban.  Laban was probably one of those charged with enforcing the law in Jerusalem, and killing him was most certainly against the law. Especially under the circumstances.  Was Nephi a law-breaker, then?  Of course he was.  Was he however justified in breaking the law?  Yes, he was, because it was man's law, and God's law takes precedence.

I believe that God commanded Joseph Smith to practice plural marriage.  You believe otherwise.  Fine, that's your right.  But if God commanded the practice of plural marriage in the face of man's law to the contrary, then Joseph would have been breaking God's law to obey man's.  Would that be right for him to do?  I say not.  You're entitled to differ, and even to say that God commanded no such thing.  But if God had commanded it, which I request you concede briefly for the sake of argument, should Joseph have disobeyed God?

Yes, where repentance is necessary.  That an institution needs to repent, however, I find to be problematic.  Institutions have no will, and cannot sin.  Their leaders and functionaries do have will, however, and should repent where necessary.  

I also referred you to the deceptions and the coercive nature, in addition to law-breaking. 

If you can attribute them to a necessary part of breaking lesser laws to obey God's, are there any deal-breakers for you, factors over which you would refuse obedience to the prophet? If so, what are they?

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1 hour ago, echelon said:

My point in differentiating the father from the son in this post is that Jesus as an individual is running the church without the same omniscience his father has.  Jesus does not need to be commanded in all things and so he makes decisions of his own, not much different than Jesus himself supporting imperfect mortals in their decisions when making callings or church policy.

 

Omniscience in the traditional Christian sense does not fit with our doctrine, but that is probably a discussion for another day.

The entire notion is somewhat confused and not clearly definable and besides our Godhead is immanent and not transcendent. He is able to interact with his children. He organizes existing matter and does not create matter. A God who progresses must be immanent.

As I said that is a topic for another day.

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4 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I also referred you to the deceptions and the coercive nature, in addition to law-breaking. 

If you can attribute them to a necessary part of breaking lesser laws to obey God's, are there any deal-breakers for you, factors over which you would refuse obedience to the prophet? If so, what are they?

I would refuse to obey the prophet on any item about which I did not have a testimony

We are not required to drink the Kool-Aid on anyone's say so. Prophets are fallible beings as we all are.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I also referred you to the deceptions and the coercive nature, in addition to law-breaking. 

You can refer me to all you want. Do I have to pontificate on every point you raise?  🙂  You actually don't seem to responding to what I'm writing.  I'm giving your chapter and verse and logical explanations for my beliefs.  You're ignoring it all, and then you ask me about things I haven't addressed yet.  That I'm pretty sure you won't respond to, either.  I don't see any reason to play whack-a-mole with you.

But just to play along, if one finds it necessary to break man's law in order to obey God's law, then deception is probably necessary.  I invite you to consider the conundrum that some Dutch people faced when they were hiding Jews in their attics.  Go and admit to the authorities that the Jews were there, or deceive the authorities and say nothing at all.

As for the coercive plural marriage incidents where Joseph told his marital candidate about the matter, he essentially told them to get God's OK.  And to the best of my recollection, at least two of the women involved prayed about it and were visited by angels telling them that it was the will of God.  If you don't believe that this happened, fine, but you weren't there.

1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

If you can attribute them to a necessary part of breaking lesser laws to obey God's, are there any deal-breakers for you, factors over which you would refuse obedience to the prophet? If so, what are they?

I can't tell you until it happens.

But I can tell you that if Congress passes a law requiring me to do something against God's law, I'm going to disobey it.  I'm not a slave.

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12 hours ago, Stargazer said:

You can refer me to all you want. Do I have to pontificate on every point you raise?  🙂  You actually don't seem to responding to what I'm writing.  I'm giving your chapter and verse and logical explanations for my beliefs.  You're ignoring it all, and then you ask me about things I haven't addressed yet.  That I'm pretty sure you won't respond to, either.  I don't see any reason to play whack-a-mole with you.

But just to play along, if one finds it necessary to break man's law in order to obey God's law, then deception is probably necessary.  I invite you to consider the conundrum that some Dutch people faced when they were hiding Jews in their attics.  Go and admit to the authorities that the Jews were there, or deceive the authorities and say nothing at all.

As for the coercive plural marriage incidents where Joseph told his marital candidate about the matter, he essentially told them to get God's OK.  And to the best of my recollection, at least two of the women involved prayed about it and were visited by angels telling them that it was the will of God.  If you don't believe that this happened, fine, but you weren't there.

I can't tell you until it happens.

But I can tell you that if Congress passes a law requiring me to do something against God's law, I'm going to disobey it.  I'm not a slave.

Well I didn't want to just focus on law-breaking, because obviously there are situations where it seems appropriate, and that is why I did not list it on its own in the first place. So I am not asking you to play whack-a-mole, I am asking you to not cherry-pick one element of the concern. The whole picture, as near as one can get to it, is what has been important to me, over time: As a teen, I heard of the lying and the polygamy and felt there must be more to the story, and I continued faithfully. It just so happens that "more to the story," once I was able to comprehend more of it, makes the authority of Joseph Smith "shatter like glass."  

The coercive incidents are more like, "This is the right answer, and you'll be blessed if you follow me, cursed if you don't, but go ahead and pray to God to get the right answer, too, which I have just defined for you." It's an incredibly dangerous attitude for someone in power. That amount of pressure can be understandably insurmountable for a young female, surrounded by familial and religious pressures.

The law-breaking and deceptions resulted in spouses being betrayed and marital vows broken. The pattern eventually resulted in European investigators being assured that the Mormons were not engaging in polygamy, before they left to join them in the states.

So, it does not look quite like the stories of women hiding babies from murderers or Christians hiding Jews from Nazis.

 

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14 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

I would refuse to obey the prophet on any item about which I did not have a testimony

We are not required to drink the Kool-Aid on anyone's say so. Prophets are fallible beings as we all are.

Great. So, when prophets sin and then institutionalize that sin, shouldn't we expect repentence? Doing so seems much more in line with your (relatively radical) point of view. In order to function that way as a church, it would seem that leaders would need, in addition to the space to be imperfect, the ability to openly repent for institutional harm. 

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5 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

Great. So, when prophets sin and then institutionalize that sin, shouldn't we expect repentence? Doing so seems much more in line with your (relatively radical) point of view. In order to function that way as a church, it would seem that leaders would need, in addition to the space to be imperfect, the ability to openly repent for institutional harm. 

You are still operating on the assumption polygamy is sin.  It isn't.  Christ was without sin and I am convinced from the evidence available that he lived polygamy.

Wicked men corrupting a practice are not "fruits" of said practice.

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2 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

You are still operating on the assumption polygamy is sin.  It isn't.  Christ was without sin and I am convinced from the evidence available that he lived polygamy.

Wicked men corrupting a practice are not "fruits" of said practice.

Um, so disagreement about polygamy aside, are you saying that men do not sin as prophets and the church institution does not sin?

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6 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Um, so disagreement about polygamy aside, are you saying that men do not sin as prophets and the church institution does not sin?

Sin as in error, sure.  Sin as in breaking God's laws and commandments, a firm maybe.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Sin as in error, sure.  Sin as in breaking God's laws and commandments, a firm maybe.

I don’t think either could be possible, nor do I expect that of any institution or person. 

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