Today’s guest post is by Jared. When I started blogging in 2007 my objective was to write about the doctrine of Christ as it is taught in the Book of Mormon and by church leaders. As time as gone on, I realize that there are not many LDS who search the internet with the intent of learning about the first principles of the Gospel (the doctrine of Christ). It appears that most LDS are interested in other things than doctrine. To verify this go to the high traffic blogs and look at what they offer.
The Bloggernacle Gathers All Kinds
I read many blogs, including those written by former Mormons who have left the church and now can’t leave the church alone. Why do I read these blogs? Because I am interested in all things pertaining to the LDS church. I’ve known for many years about the controversial teachings, history, and faith destroying material that is creating so much difficulty in the present day. I first learned of them in the early 1970′s. I’ve had a long time to think about it.
The Latest Difficulty
President Monson has been summoned to appear in a London court for fraud. A former Bishop and Stake President from England has worked tirelessly to bring this about. He claims that President Monson is perpetuating a fraud to make money from tithing paid by church members.
Disaffected Church Members are Rising Up
In October General Conference, President Uchtdorf gave the first talk in conference I am aware of that addressed the current disaffection of church members. He said:
“Some struggle with unanswered questions about things that have been done or said in the past. We openly acknowledge that in nearly 200 years of Church history—along with an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events—there have been some things said and done that could cause people to question…I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.”
We Live In Fallen Telestial World
President Uchtdorf brought up two seeming unrelated topics that I would like to explore: 1) “an uninterrupted line of inspired, honorable, and divine events”, 2) “some things said and done that could cause people to question”.
If every decision, everything ever written, everything ever said by the apostles and prophets from Joseph Smith to the present day were exactly what the Savior would have decided, written, and said it would be contrary to the laws of a fallen telestial world.
The laws of a fallen telestial world requires that there be “opposition in all things”. This means, as President Uchtdorf pointed out, that apostles and prophets make mistakes, they have agency. That said, the faithful know that the Lord is at the head of this church and will lead the church to accomplish the Savior’s purposes.
Decisions Determine Destiny
Each member of the church will decide for themselves how they will respond to the things that have been said and done that cause people to question their faith. Some will remain faithful, others will leave the church. Each will then follow their decision and determine their own destiny.
It is important for faithful members to not judge those who leave the church as being offended, lazy, or sinful. President Uchtdorf made that clear when he said, “it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations…this Church… honors personal agency…we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.”
I fully expect to see a continued exodus of church members; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the exodus include some General Authorities.
Questions and Miracles
LDS church history includes things that have been said and done that bring up difficult questions, but along side the questions are a legacy of miracles, reports of divine intervention. Miracles are not limited to church leaders. Average LDS often testify of divine intervention.
If there were wondrous miracles without difficult questions then there wouldn’t be opposition. And that just isn’t possible in a fallen telestial world.
I’ll provide an example of a difficult question and a miracle from church history to illustrate this pattern. In fact, it may be the most difficult question of all according to some critics and observers.
From Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Bushman writes:
“Nothing confuses the picture of Joseph Smith’s character more than these plural marriages.”
“Was he a blackguard covering his lusts with religious pretensions, or a prophet doggedly adhering to instructions from heaven, or something in between?”
There are many ways to evaluate this part of LDS history. For myself, the more I study plural marriage the less I’m concerned about it. But the real clincher for me is the testimony I’ve been given about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. My testimony easily trumps all the difficult questions including those surrounding plural marriage.
I’ll leave the question of plural marriage for my readers to deal with in their own way. There is one account I’ll focus on. It is from the life of Mary Elizabeth Lightner, one of Joseph Smith’s plural wives. I hope you will read each link. BYU Address 1905 and her autobiography.
When Joseph Smith told her about plural marriage she said she wouldn’t believe it without a witness. Joseph told her she would have a witness, she did, and angel appear to her.
There you have it. A difficult question along side a miracle.
When it comes to miracles, some church members experience miracles to help them deal with the challenges of life, including difficult questions. Other church members are required to believe on the testimony of those who testify of miracles (D&C 46:13-14).
With all this said, I invite you to follow this link where I testify of the miracles the Lord has given me as a gift. I share a few sacred experiences from my life with the hope it will prove a blessing to others.
Some fault me for sharing sacred experiences in the bloggernacle. I reply that I consider this is as a gift from God that “all may be benefited” (D&C 46:9).
Three question to consider:
- Does the abundance of the manifestation of the Spirit found in the history of the LDS church help balance the difficult questions that critics rise?
- What is the single most difficult question critics raise against the LDS church?
- What manifestation of the Spirit found in church history has most influenced you?