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Grace Kelly – she was beautiful….really!

Tautology is a repetitive use of phrases or words which have similar meanings. In simple words, it is expressing the same thing, an idea or saying two or more times. The word tautology is derived from the Greek word “tauto” (the same) and “logos” (a word or an idea). A grammatical tautology means when an idea is repeated within a phrase, sentence or paragraph to give an impression that the writer is providing extra information.

Examples are:

Added Bonus

The Gobi is a very dry desert

They hiked to the summit at the top of the mountain

I went there personally

Really beautiful

AND (dare I say it…)

Exact Obedience

The phrase “exact obedience” appears in the 2005 (Original and still current) version of Preach My Gospel. [1]

Obedience is an important part of the Gospel. Christ spoke of the relationship between love and obedience, “If ye love me, keep my commandments”. He also spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in relation to their appearance of being obedient in the absence of any substance behind it (Matthew 23).

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Questionable doctrine seems so true on Pinterest

I have spoken before about the relationship between obedience and blessings (see here). I believe there to be a broad cultural misconception in the church about the relationship between obedience and blessings. Specifically, that D&C 130 DOES NOT state that being obedient causes blessings to occur. It merely says that when we obtain a blessing from God it is due to being obedient. That is very different.

I believe this misconception is part of the reason why we place such a high degree of importance on obedience. Obedience = blessings. Lots of blessings is good. A quote from the lds.org website recent blog article by Sean Johnson entitled “Why I quit phoning it in on Sunday’s” highlights this point, “And the blessings, as usual, outweigh any sacrifices we might make—a reminder that the Sabbath was made for woman and man, a true gift and expression of love from a kind and caring Father”. In other words, if we stop using our iPads on Sunday we not only get blessings, but they are, in some mathematical way I don’t understand, greater to – or “outweigh” the act of putting them down for a few hours.

But now we have an even higher road to travel. Being obedient is not enough. EXACT OBEDIENCE is now what is required. And the promise – not just blessings….wait for it…..MIRACLES!!!

President Nelson made this comment at a presentation to world wide MTC’s in 2013.

“Obedience brings success; exact obedience brings miracles,”

And I came across this on a missionary’s  blog. This was in relation to her committing some investigators to be baptised:

“As a District, commit to 100% obedience (already doing, but there’s always room for improvement), and each night he’d (Zone Leader) call for a percentage of how obedient each companionship was for the day. The percentage was not for him, but was an accounting (chapter 8, Preach My Gospel). We all agreed. Challenge accepted”.

For me, this type of comment highlights the problems with this type of thinking:

  1. You can apparently do better than 100%
  2. Calling a leader and telling them each night how obedient you have been is somehow a good idea
  3. That obedience is reducible to a number or a percentage

My experience is that this is still contained within the missionary system of the church.  I haven’t heard anyone apart from missionaries use this particular language. My fear is though it will morph into a church wide good idea. There is a great attraction to believe that we have such a great degree of control over what happens to us in our lives and how obedience somehow is the controlling factor. It goes towards the practical application of DAB’s recent comments regarding teaching in the home.

The concept of “exact obedience” inherently reduces our gospel experience to a measurable series of external actions. No room for who you are, no room for mistakes, no room for anything less than 100% (because apparently you can do better than that) and no room for individual differences.

I had an old friend of mine post recently on Facebook a quote that essentially said that you are always 100% responsible for every choice you make, that you are 100% able to make whatever decision you want etc etc etc. I think this style of “You are a complete free agent” thinking supports this type of “exact obedience” mantra. [2]

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for doing the right thing. I’m all for trying really hard. I just don’t think preaching “exact obedience” is the way to achieve that. I don’t think that is what the Master Teacher ever taught. In fact, I believe he taught against the idea.

Questions:

  1. What are your thoughts on the concept of exact obedience?
  2. Have you heard it discussed outside missionary circles?
  3. How do you reconcile a person being exactly obedient with another persons use of agency?
  4. When was the last 24 hour period where you were exactly obedient?

[1] That’s the earliest reference to this phrase that I can see. Anyone know more???

[2] the exact phrase was “Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make”. If that was the case there would be a lot more happy people in the world. All it would take is a choice….simple…  Blaming your past is one thing, making decisions (sometimes subconsciously) based upon the past is another thing. Assuming we are not products – in some way- of our parents, past, experience etc – to me is just garbage.