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Contradiction among the Apostles


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On January 10 2016, Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to students at BYU Hawaii.  Among other teachings, he spoke about how the November 2015 handbook change (affecting same sex members and their children) came to be.  In summary, Elder Nelson indicates that the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles met and "wrestled at length to understand the Lord's will..."  They "met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer.  Elder Nelson indicates that each apostle felt a spiritual confirmation of the revelation that ensued.

https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2016/01/becoming-true-millennials?lang=eng

However, Greg Prince tells a different story.  He shares on an April 10, 2019 discussion with the Salt Lake Tribune Podcast Mormon Land that Tom Christofferson (Todd's brother) shared with him (on Thursday November 5, 2015) a different version of events around this 'November Policy.'  Namely, that November 3, 2015 was the first time that he (Todd Christofferson) had heard about this policy "and that it was presented to the 12 for an up or down vote without debate."  The policy was inserted into the Church Handbook of Instructions two days later on November 5.

https://www.listennotes.com/da/podcasts/mormon-land/the-lds-churchs-lgbtq-policy-8jVZITHa67c/

...

What am I to make of this contradiction between Elder Nelson's recounting of this decision and Elder Christofferson's?

To me, the implications are very disappointing and shaking my trust in men who lead the LDS Church.

Can we agree that someone in this group between Greg, Tom, Todd, or Russell is not telling the truth about how this decision was made?

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13 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

On January 10 2016, Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to students at BYU Hawaii.  Among other teachings, he spoke about how the November 2015 handbook change (affecting same sex members and their children) came to be.  In summary, Elder Nelson indicates that the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles met and "wrestled at length to understand the Lord's will..."  They "met repeatedly in the temple in fasting and prayer.  Elder Nelson indicates that each apostle felt a spiritual confirmation of the revelation that ensued.

https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/article/worldwide-devotionals/2016/01/becoming-true-millennials?lang=eng

However, Greg Prince tells a different story.  He shares on an April 10, 2019 discussion with the Salt Lake Tribune Podcast Mormon Land that Tom Christofferson (Todd's brother) shared with him (on Thursday November 5, 2015) a different version of events around this 'November Policy.'  Namely, that November 3, 2015 was the first time that he (Todd Christofferson) had heard about this policy "and that it was presented to the 12 for an up or down vote without debate."  The policy was inserted into the Church Handbook of Instructions two days later on November 5.

https://www.listennotes.com/da/podcasts/mormon-land/the-lds-churchs-lgbtq-policy-8jVZITHa67c/

...

What am I to make of this contradiction between Elder Nelson's recounting of this decision and Elder Christofferson's?

To me, the implications are very disappointing and shaking my trust in men who lead the LDS Church.

Can we agree that someone in this group between Greg, Tom, Todd, or Russell is not telling the truth about how this decision was made?

Correct me if I mis-read - but didn't your mention of the Christofferson version come from a second hand re-telling by Tom?  

 

If Tom shared his version of what he remembers his brother telling him, there is a lot of room for mis-remembering and/or mis-interpretation.  Whereas the first hand account from the prophet seems more weighty

Edited by Maestrophil
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24 minutes ago, Maestrophil said:

Correct me if I mis-read - but didn't your mention of the Christofferson version come from a second hand re-telling by Tom?  

 

If Tom shared his version of what he remembers his brother telling him, there is a lot of room for mis-remembering and/or mis-interpretation.  Whereas the first hand account from the prophet seems more weighty

Listen to the first five minutes of the podcast.

It hears to to me like Tom spoke with his brother Todd the morning of November 5, 2015 then spoke with Greg Prince that afternoon. If we’re looking at the foibles of memory over time, we’d need to accept that Elder Nelson’s later recounting in January 2016 is less accurate.

But accepting the earliest recorded versions of events is VERY problematic in Mormon history/theology (eg The First Vision).

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36 minutes ago, Calm said:

You are assuming Greg Prince understood accurately what Tom Christofferson accurately understood from his brother. 

If Elder Christofferson said this himself, that would be comparable to Pres Nelson. But through two more people, both with their own set of biases and assumptions, we shouldn’t be so certain imo. We don’t know how much was filled in or even altered by either listener. (though unintentionally imo, I don’t see any reason to not assume all are honorable men).

Corrections could have been made by either Christofferson, so that does put some weight towards it being accurate. However, there is also in my opinion the tradition of not responding to correct directly, so I don’t think that is enough to guarantee accuracy.

PS:  I feel the same way when I hear church leaders or members relaying what nonmembers or critics have said to them.  

So in your understanding it is Greg Prince - the one who has based his career on being as objective as he can as a historian - is the one who is mistaken or being untruthful about this?

I understand how the “telephone game” works, but going from “repeated” temple visits to Todd finding out about it two days before it was announced is a BIG leap in miscommunication.  I have a hard time seeing this as an innocent communications mistake.

Edited by SouthernMo
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8 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

So in your understanding it is Greg Prince - the one who has based his career on being as objective as he can as a historian - is the one who is mistaken or being untruthful about this?

She is merely making the point that anytime two people communicate, their is a chance for misunderstanding. The more we play telephone, the more garbled the message. I personally feel Elder Nelson’s telling is too neat, tidy and self serving (not saying he is lying, but I think we all have a tendency to clean up our stories and fit them to our audience to a certain degree), but Greg Prince’s recollection, while informative is not definitive. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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8 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

So in your understanding it is Greg Prince - the one who has based his career on being as objective as he can as a historian - is the one who is mistaken or being untruthful about this?

Seems like the one who should be accountable would be the leaker if the information. If the information is accurate, how many confidences were broken?

Edited by Bernard Gui
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2 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Seems like the one who should be accountable would be the leaker if the information 

Maybe. We can certainly discuss what information is considered private, but it does not negate the premise of the OP.

Do you consider Todd the leaker because he spoke with his brother?  Or Tom the leaker because he spoke with Greg?  Or Greg the leaker because he spoke with the SL Tribune?  At what point was the information known to be confidential?

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23 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

She is merely making the point that anytime two people communicate, their is a chance for misunderstanding. The more we play telephone, the more garbled the message. I personally feel Elder Nelson’s telling is too neat, tidy and self serving (not saying he is lying, but I think we all have a tendency to clean up our stories and fit them to our audience to a certain degree), but Greg Prince’s recollection, while informative is not definitive. 

This is a great answer for me, thank you...

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Quote

What am I to make of this contradiction between Elder Nelson's recounting of this decision and Elder Christofferson's?

The baptism policy has been in place a very long time, long before Elder Christopherson was ordained an apostle.   In Nov 2015 the only thing the Church did is apply it to children of parents in same sex marriage, and use the word apostate referring to members who married the opposite sex.  (I get that neither of these is a small thing, I'm just saying it is impossible to think that whatever took place in Nov 2015 was the first and only time, Apostles could have done exactly what Pres. Nelson described.)

Further, I would be surprised if the Apostles haven't all been wrestling with these issues since the Church first intervened in the HI referendum so many years ago.

I think what we make of in such cases is that if Pres Nelson lied (what the OP is implying)  then God will hold him accountable.   Far more likely that if ever Elder Christopherson and Pres Nelson were figuring out a minute to minute timeline for whatever happened, the differing statements will be reconciled.

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3 minutes ago, webbles said:

Reading Elder Nelson's talk, I would say that they both actually are in agreement.  Here's the full paragraph where he talks about the decision:

According to Elder Nelson, the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles discussed, debated, considered, fasted, and prayed about "countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios".  But when President Monson "declare[d] the mind of the Lord and the will of the Lord", they accepted it.  That last part (where President Monson declared the mind of the Lord) sounds extremely similar to having it "presented to the 12 for an up or down vote without debate".  Also, as to why Elder Christofferson hadn't heard of the policy could easily be explained by the fact that they had talked about "countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios".  He might not have been part of the talks that mentioned this particular scenario.

So, here's how the timeline would go:

1. The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles start to discuss how to handle the children of same-sex couples.

2. Elder Nelson (later President Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) is in some discussions while Elder Christofferson is in others.  They probably have similar discussions as well.

    a. Most likely all of them talk about the issues that are addressed in both the 2015 policy change and the 2019 policy change.

3. President Monson receives the mind and will of the Lord on how to address it in 2015

4. This is presented to the 12 in an up or down vote

5. All 12 vote yes on it.  President Nelson felt a spiritual confirmation and believes that the other 11 received it as well.

 

You may be right here.

But, we’d have to accept that all of the prayer and fasting and discussion over countless permutations over the issue happened without Elder Christofferson’s knowledge. Keep in mind he is the only apostle I know of who has an openly gay brother.

In your scenario, The First Presidency (who were led by a Monson with dementia) either forgot to ever invite Todd to these fasts and prayers and discussions in the temple, or they excluded him on purpose.

If they excluded him on purpose, what would that say about the unity of the apostles?  At a minimum, wouldn’t an organization who struggles with this difficult issue want input from someone who is close to the issue by family links?

Then, in your scenario, you’d also have to accept that somehow, it was Todd Christofferson who held the discussion with Michael Otterson the next day (November 6) to explain the decision.

In your scenario or the one that Greg Prince describes, Todd is then assigned to communicate the reasons behind the  revelation in an interview with Otterson.  Why him?

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1 hour ago, SouthernMo said:

What am I to make of this contradiction between Elder Nelson's recounting of this decision and Elder Christofferson's?

Honest humans have a hard enough time telling the same story the same way twice.  If Joseph's multiple accounts of the first vision isn't troubling you, why on earth would this?  Someone who was there makes a claim.  Greg Prince tells a story from Tom Christofferson telling a story from someone else who was there.  The accounts appear to differ in some areas. This is humans doing their human thing.  It's not like both statements went through a correlation committee before being released to the public.

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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3 minutes ago, rpn said:

Far more likely that if ever Elder Christopherson and Pres Nelson were figuring out a minute to minute timeline for whatever happened, the differing statements will be reconciled.

Maybe.

It is difficult to be in a church where I will NEVER get an answer or an explanation (timeline) as to what happened.

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3 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Honest humans have a hard enough time telling the same story the same way twice.  If Joseph's multiple accounts of the first vision isn't troubling you, why on earth would this?  Someone who was there makes a claim.  Greg Prince tells a story from Tom Christofferson telling a story from someone else who was there.  The accounts appear to differ in some areas. This is humans doing their human thing.  It's not like both statements went through a correlation committee before being released to the public.

True - but Russell’s and Greg’s narratives are very, very different, and communicated between two people. So it’s hard for me to shrug my shoulders and say “oopsies, just a communication issue as we play the ‘telephone game.’”

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3 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

You may be right here.

But, we’d have to accept that all of the prayer and fasting and discussion over countless permutations over the issue happened without Elder Christofferson’s knowledge. Keep in mind he is the only apostle I know of who has an openly gay brother.

In your scenario, The First Presidency (who were led by a Monson with dementia) either forgot to ever invite Todd to these fasts and prayers and discussions in the temple, or they excluded him on purpose.

If they excluded him on purpose, what would that say about the unity of the apostles?  At a minimum, wouldn’t an organization who struggles with this difficult issue want input from someone who is close to the issue by family links?

Then, in your scenario, you’d also have to accept that somehow, it was Todd Christofferson who held the discussion with Michael Otterson the next day (November 6) to explain the decision.

In your scenario or the one that Greg Prince describes, Todd is then assigned to communicate the reasons behind the  revelation in an interview with Otterson.  Why him?

Except that my scenario doesn't have Elder Christofferson not knowing about the discussions.  Didn't you see my #2 as well as my statement "Also, as to why Elder Christofferson hadn't heard of the policy could easily be explained by the fact that they had talked about "countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios""?

They discussed "countless permutations and combinations".  I doubt they discussed all of them as a full quorum.  Most likely, they had smaller committees that talked about different ones.  In the story from Tom Christofferson, does it say that the up and down vote was the first time Elder Christofferson heard about any discussion?  Or just that it was the first time he heard about this specific policy?  If the later, than my scenario fits pretty well and doesn't malign anyone of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve.  No one has to have ulterior motives.

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4 minutes ago, webbles said:

Except that my scenario doesn't have Elder Christofferson not knowing about the discussions.  Didn't you see my #2 as well as my statement "Also, as to why Elder Christofferson hadn't heard of the policy could easily be explained by the fact that they had talked about "countless permutations and combinations of possible scenarios""?

They discussed "countless permutations and combinations".  I doubt they discussed all of them as a full quorum.  Most likely, they had smaller committees that talked about different ones.  In the story from Tom Christofferson, does it say that the up and down vote was the first time Elder Christofferson heard about any discussion?  Or just that it was the first time he heard about this specific policy?  If the later, than my scenario fits pretty well and doesn't malign anyone of the First Presidency or the Quorum of the Twelve.  No one has to have ulterior motives.

Yes - I misread your scenario. Thanks for clarifying.

Perhaps. But my reading of what Elder Nelson describes indicates that they all spoke at length about it. No committees were mentioned. Maybe @Calm and @SeekingUnderstanding‘s is correct that Elder Nelson’s Version is portrayed as too neat and tidy.

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9 minutes ago, carbon dioxide said:

It is difficult if you want to make it so.  Perhaps some above have given an answer that comes fairly close to what happened. 

Are you suggesting prayer is a way that others above have gotten definitive answers on the timeline of events?

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12 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Mr Prince is a dentist who became a pathologist and who then founded a biotech company.

I was going to say I have two friends of whom one is a dentist and the other is a Pathologist in Michigan now, neither are what anyone would call history buffs

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13 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Yes - I misread your scenario. Thanks for clarifying.

Perhaps. But my reading of what Elder Nelson describes indicates that they all spoke at length about it. No committees were mentioned. Maybe @Calm and @SeekingUnderstanding‘s is correct that Elder Nelson’s Version is portrayed as too neat and tidy.

I believe the normal workflow for the Quorum of the Twelve is to break up into committees and to discuss things in smaller groups.  If that is how things work, than President Nelson wouldn't have realized that he needed to clarify that as it is the norm for him.  I guess I'm used to people not explaining things or glossing over details when they tell things.

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10 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

Good point!  I’d still consider him someone who tries to be accurate in his history work.

I have no evidence one way or the other. As one who holds a PhD in history, 'accuracy' would not be the first of my concerns when assessing the work of a hobbyist historian.

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