Years ago, in a Stake Priesthood meeting, our Stake President told of being called to give a blessing to a dying woman in the hospital. He felt prompted by the spirit (and also I’m sure by the medical prognosis) to not say in his bless that she would be healed, but he blessed her to pass peacefully and quickly. Well, she didn’t, she made a full recovery, and was in fact alive at the telling of this story in the Stake meeting! This added a very human factor to our Stake President, even more so with him being a surgeon!
Contrast this to Elder Holland’s General Conference talk about feeling prompted to take the wrong fork in the road. Instead of teaching us that a future Apostle could misinterpret the spirit, and get it wrong, he taught (through twisted logic) that the Lord actually blessed him and his father by giving them wrong directions!
Recent events have again brought this inability of our church leaders to admit they make a mistakes to the forefront.
Instead of just admitting that the direction missionaries had received from leaders was wrong about challenging members to baptism in the first discussion, Elder Ballard said church leaders don’t know where this practices started.
Packer’s 1976 Oct Conference talk about little factories and how there is “no mismatching of bodies and spirits, boys are to be men, masculine and manly men….” recently disappeared from the church’s web site . No apology for admitting this is wrong, or asking for forgiveness for all the pain this caused our LBGTQ members.
Then there is is the Policy of Exclusion (POX). Implemented by revelation, and then reversed (by revelation?) 3 years later.
All these errors, mistakes, or whatever you want to call them, highlight a growing problem for the church. Although church leaders have never claimed infallibility, by never admitting to a specific mistake they have fostered an aura of infallibility. They admit to being fallible, and even once admitted that they make mistakes in general terms , but never a specific mistake. Wouldn’t it be refreshing for one of our General Authorities to get up in Conference (like my Stake President did in Stake Priesthood meeting) and admit that they blew it on a specific policy, that they misinterpreted the spirit, and they are now correcting that mistake! This would create more realistic expectations among members for their own spiritual promptings, and also help members cope with mistakes made by their local leaders.
So where does this leave us? Do they think they are fooling us by never admitting mistakes? Are they afraid that by admitting to a mistake, we as a membership will start to question all their directions? Is there a way for them to “save face” when they make a mistake, and still admit to errors? What are your thoughts?
 You can see the name of the talk at lds.org (as of the day of this post) on the web site, but click it and see what happens
 “To be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Come, Join with Us,” Oct 2013 Saturday Morning session of Conference
Among all of the reasons I have lost faith in the church over the last few years or so, this is the biggest – lack of trust in top leadership.
I don‘t see how they can admit mistakes and save face without shattering the intended illusion that they are literally (not metaphorically or spiritually) led by God/Jesus through direct revelation, ie that God is speaking with them face to face, as the seminary scripture says.
And if top leadership is just working with thoughts and feelings like the rest of us, what make them and the Church so special or true?
Yes recent teaching from Pres. Nelson admits the revelatory process is based on thoughts/feelings, ie just an inspired but normal human process, but for most my life the Church taught/implied there was something more literal going on.
The leadership seems to lurch from crisis to crisis. They react to events, but don’t seem to have a coherent strategic plan. The Boat we’re supposed to stay in seems to be careening down the river without anyone at the helm. Even the positive changes under Pres. Nelson, which might fall under the general theme of reforming and streamlining LDS Church operations, is more of a backward-looking program (doing stuff that should have been done the last ten or twenty years, sort of a backlog of needed changes) rather than a forward-looking strategic initiative. Until they can put the fight against gay marriage and homosexuality in the rear view mirror (they haven’t yet), things likely won’t change.
I think institutional repentance requires the same steps as individual repentance. Recognition of the error, Confession of sin and an apology, godly sorrow, changed behavior, and replacement of sinful behavior with righteous one. The church has not apologized for a whole list of wrong choices we made starting with polygamy.
In one of those submarine shows, it was either with Mathew McConaughey or Harrison Ford, the captain told the crew that he was just doing the best he could and did not really know what they should do. His first mate pulled him aside and told him that people do not like to follow a wishy-washy leader. He said “The captain always knows what to do and never to say that again”. I believe there is a similar sentiment amongst the brethren. Don’t show weakness, don’t apologize, act as though they are certain of the decisions they are making., etc…They know exactly how many times Jesus came down and spoke with them face to face last year, yet they are perfectly content to let the general membership assume that it is happening on a regular basis.
On the other hand, I blame a lot of this on the membership and the culture. A lot of people are perfectly content letting other people tell them how to think and act. It’s super sweet if that person claims to speak for God, then all you have to do is follow them and you are just fine.
They are in a tough spot and there predecessors have painted these guys in a corner on this issue. If I were advising them, I would tell them to stick to the script. The ones who already believe they are infallible have either left or already have reconciled the situation in their minds. The other ones are happy believing they are led by living prophets with special access to Jesus. There are plenty examples out there for these sorts to change their views (blacks and temple entrance, polygamy, pox switcharoo, recent temple changes), and yet they willingly continue to believe that way. Why ruin it for them?
I think this sort of thing is a natural byproduct of a deeply held belief that the church is True (capital T truth). It a rational answer to the question, “How could the True church make a mistake?” and perhaps an inability to draw lines of distinction between the church, the leaders of the church, and deity.
It’s one of the largest reasons I find it so very difficult to remain active. If my opinion differs from current teachings or policies I’m viewed as being wrong by default. Members know the church is True, I’m saying something slightly different, I get mercilessly shot down by an appeal to authority. It’s happened so often that I no longer feel like church is a safe place to express myself. If I don’t get to have a voice, will the church ever be something that can minister to me? If I don’t get to have a voice, can I ever be in a place to minister to someone at church? If I can’t be ministered to and I can’t minister, what am I doing at church?
While I do believe this to be an unintentional, natural byproduct of extreme levels of confidence in one’s beliefs, I also feel like it fosters abuse within the church culture. Abuse that often results when a person (or group) believes themselves to always be in the right and to always look outward when assigning blame.
For example, when someone studies church history and finds information that shakes their faith. As a culture we don’t do a good job of validating that person’s feelings. As a culture we’re quicker to find fault in the person. The information wasn’t hidden, the person should have known it all along. The person had a testimony in the wrong thing. The person didn’t have a strong enough testimony. The person is lazy. The person wants to sin. The information is untrue.
I think it has less to do with finding fault in others and more to do with protecting a deeply held belief that the church is True, even to the point where it creates collateral damage.
I’d like to not be guilty of doing the same, but I’m human, it happens. Uchtdorf’s, “Lord, is it I?” comes to mind. Still, perfect is the enemy of good, and I’d love to see the culture learn to let go of some of that need for a perfect church to make a little room for a good church.
Zach, from an objective point of view and as a bystander you are 100% correct.
However, what about those who they really harmed. No apology ? Accepted causalities . ? Where is God in this conversation ?
Again, it shows they run the church like a business and not a Church. Or is this a war and casualties and fatalities are accepted ???
The psychological harm they have caused to Thousands (even Millions) is appalling. In all good conscious how do they sleep at night and then give more talks on the same ?
You can NOT blame it on the culture….the leadership created and sustained the culture. What is the purpose of a leader, if they are not leading ?
It is easier for those who have less cultural ties to the church to walk away. For us with generations of members in the family tree (now 198 years for myself), it is not just church….it is (or was) your whole identity. If possible, I wish I would have never been born into that Church or culture.
The 9000 series has a perfect operational record.
It’s a new trope…
TBM: Of course Church leaders have made and do make mistakes, no one is perfect.
Non-TBM Mormon: I agree with you, what mistakes are you specifcally referring to?
TBM: uh… oh… we don’t believe they are perfect.
Non-TBM: I agree, I think Temple/Priesthood Ban was a mistake. Do you?
TBM: uh… no. I think we can’t understand the mind of God on these things.
Non-TBM: So it sounds like you believe they are infallible based on the fact that you can’t reference even a single example of mistakes being made by Church leaders, what evidence do you have to support the assertion that they aren’t perfect?
TBM: you are anti-Mormon.
I can’t believe that Jesus didn’t apologize for telling the apostles to exclude Gentiles and Samaritans, especially when only a year later, He reversed that decision. No apology! Not even to the Samaritan woman he compared to a dog.
I can’t imagine living with the kind of cynicism that it takes to ignore the valuable lesson taught by Elder Holland.
I agree with pretty much everything in every comment. For me, it ultimately can down to the Q15 constantly implying/insisting that the ONLY way I could come unto God is through them. Conference talks, Christmas e-mails from the Church, all the correlated lessons – listen to us and we’ll show the way. And any notion or inspiration you might have that’s different – well, you’re doing it wrong.
I had a personal revelatory experience where I felt very clearly God saying “You are accountable to me” to my plea “I don’t want to be out of step with the Brethren.”
Of course, the leadership would never disagree with that – but the practice is very different.
I’m much happier and less conflicted with those marching orders.
I agree Bill. Thank goodness we have the scriptures, where the mistakes of the prophets are preserved forever, so that “we can learn to be wiser than [they] have been”. (Mormon 9:31). Moroni even says we are supposed to thank God for revealing their mistakes to us, so that we can learn from them, without condemning them.
I am with Eugene. Top of my list of issues I have with the church is trusting the leadership. Church history has some dark spots, but I find it more bothersome that leaders have (and continue) to feel they need to whitewash or altogether ignore these issues. They don’t seem to trust me to be an adult, which to me tells me they know these issues are real problems.
It seemed to me that in Jana Riess’ “The Next Mormons” that she commented that millennial’s really wanted vulnerable leaders as they generally value vulnerability. If I remembered that correctly, that doesn’t bode well as we go into the future. I didn’t seem to get a direct hit when searching for this, but I did get a hit that it was related.
“The NMS asked respondents to select which characteristics made general authorities “more effective leaders” in their eyes, and offered two pairs of traits to choose from: strength and confidence or authenticity and vulnerability. Six in ten Mormons said they prefer LDS leaders to project strength and confidence, while four in ten chose authenticity and vulnerability.”
Riess, Jana. The Next Mormons (p. 193). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
So not everyone wants leaders that are open about issues, such as being wrong. But it is a tight race that I think will change in just another decade.
@chinoblanco – GREAT MOVIE and great parallel. Is there an unplug option?
Jesus didn’t apologize to the gentiles? For what? I hate this comparison. The gentiles did not want to become Jews. If they did, there was a path to conversion, but it meant keeping the Jewish law and no one was beating down the door to become a Jew. They were a hated people that were always in bondage. The gentiles that converted to Christianity after the death of Christ did not first have to become Jews and then become Christians, they just converted to Christianity. The bad thing about that is, according to our beliefs, everyone who converted to Christianity after it was taken to the gentiles, outside the first few years, were actually converting to the whore of all the earth with no priesthood authority nor living prophets. Furthermore, I hate to be ticky tacky, but I believe it was a Canaanite woman he compared to a dog.
Faith: It is very ironic to me that the church teaches about “the one”, but is more than willing to throw thousands under the bus. The sad reality is that there is no organization under the sun that can meet everyone’s needs, so you aim for the middle and those on the outskirts get steamrolled. To be honest, if there is a God, and he has any control over the human condition, his statistics aren’t much better. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.
I do blame people that won’t think for themselves even if they are conditioned not to. Especially with all the information that is available today. Most people can read. Most people have been educated. Most people have access to the internet. The excuses are running out.
I believe that even if people spew out the rhetoric of prophet worship at church, most people are much more secular than they let on. Just for example, if their child is dying and they can either have a blessing from Elder Holland or just an average doctor look at their child, 99% would choose the doctor.
Applying the latter-day malcontent philosophy to the ancient church, you haven’t addressed the issue. Why didn’t Jesus just remove the requirement to convert to Judaism? The fact is, if you accept Jesus as Lord, then you accept a Lord who appears to change His mind, sometimes shortly after giving the instruction in the first place. To assume that it is a mistake and one that demands an apology requires at least as much arrogance as pretending to not make mistakes.
And yes, pointing out that I mislabeled the Canaanite woman as a Samaritan was a mistake on my part. I don’t think it changes the analysis as all.
I think the reason why Elder Uchtdorf has been the only one to come out and say that leaders have made mistakes is because he’s from a culture that has practiced admitting group blame. He gave a talk in 2015 that has stuck with me. One point that he made is that he, his wife, their children, and grandchildren all grew up in German schools learning about the Holocaust. “I had learned about the Holocaust and Auschwitz all my life. In Germany, this is not something that is talked about once every few years. It is addressed regularly. Harriet and I, our children, and our grandchildren all attended German schools that ensured we understood the cruelty and inhumanity that happened during this time.” So first, they were made aware of the history and taught it repeatedly. Second, Uchtdorf recognized that atrocities were committed by his people even though he had not been personally involved. “Although I was only a small child during the war, I still recognize that the actions of my people affected me and the entire world. They left an inexpressible sorrow and an inextinguishable agony that is still felt to this day throughout the world.”
I think those are two valuable lessons: (1) we need to be exposed to the history often, even if details cast us in an unfavorable light; and (2) we need to take ownership of the impact our people have made (both positive and negative).
Those are difficult lessons. We had a discussion in Sunday School recently about the priesthood ban. I live in a conservative and elderly ward. Didn’t you know? Church leaders did not have a single racist bone in their bodies – no-one wanted this but God had his reasons for it. There was no toleration for implying this may have been a man-made policy.
Part of the difficulty in our Church is that we’re still sorting out the myth from the fact – what is the real history? Because the Brethren like to present a united front, we don’t get the backstory of things like the POX or the debates on the priesthood ban. We have to work off of hints and rumors. Or wait decades (or centuries) for historians to dig up crumbs.
The other difficulty, of course, is that in our culture anything negative is the fault of individuals, NEVER the institution itself. So we never have to take any group ownership in something negative that one (or more) of our members (or leaders) have done.
“If their child is dying and they can either have a blessing from Elder Holland or just an average doctor look at their child, 99% would choose the doctor.” From personal experience: all the doctor will do is look at your kid and say their is nothing he can do then send you a bill so he can vacation in Europe. I’ll take the blessing from Elder Holland every time. I guess I’m in the 1%.
“All these errors, mistakes, or whatever you want to call them, highlight a growing problem for the church.”
Maybe. Some problems grow, some shrink.
“…and they are now correcting that mistake!”
By making another one, then another one, and so on, ad infinitum.
“So where does this leave us?”
There is no “us”. Where it leaves you is where you wish to be left. Where it leaves me is where I have always been; I exercise some faith, I perform some study, I pray, I commit or not on my own decision. I am satisified that the policy of exclusion served a purpose; was carefully chosen and as carefully unchosen when the balance of considerations had changed.
An example is polygamy. Whether its implementation, or later abandonment, was a mistake seems not to have objective existence; a thing is by itself just a “thing”, it requires a judge to decide whether that thing was a “mistake”. The judgment that matters (in my opinion) is God’s judgment; not yours, not mine, and appears at least partly situational.
According to David Whitmer in a 1887 account (far-removed from the actual event, but still relevant) Joseph Smith suggested after a failed attempt to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon in Kingston, Canada that his revelation to do such came from the devil. Other church leaders have talked of how the devil can inspire and give revelation (i.e., Dallin H. Oaks in his Fall 2010 Conference talk Two Lines of Communication acknowledged that people claiming revelation and inspiration to do and say things not in line with the current LDS church leaders might be receiving revelation, but from Satan, and not God). So should leaders do as Joseph Smith may have done and admit when revelations to them may have come from Satan? Might they entertain the idea that the so-called revelation for the PoX was Satan-inspired and not God-inspired, especially since they reversed this only 3 and 1/2 years later?
President Uchtdorf has not been the only one to acknowledge mistakes. But by acknowledging there existence by members and leaders generally, he went further than some.
Though in the context of minimizing them, in 1996 President Hinckley also acknowledged there had been mistakes: “I have known this Church from the ground up, inside and out, over a very, very long period of time. I am 85 years of age now and I’ve lived with it all my life and I think I know how it functions. I think I know the attitude of our people. Now, there will be a blip here, a blip there, a mistake here, a mistake there. But by and large the work is wonderful, and vast good is being accomplished, and the welfare of women and children is as seriously considered as is the welfare of the men in this Church, if not more so.”
Elder McConkie acknowledged mistakes in 1978: “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”
I suspect there have also been others.
I do wish they would own up to mistakes more specifically.
This is where I have had to come to a clear distinction between the church and the Gospel. I believe the Gospel to be true, including teaching such as eternal progression, theosis, etc.. I believe the church is a tool to help us live the laws of the Gospel. With apologies to Eugene England, I don’t believe the church is as true as the Gospel. I expect plenty of mistakes from the church. In fact, I like the fact that we are changing course and trying new things.
Mary Ann, writing some very interesting thoughts, says
“Uchtdorf recognized that atrocities were committed by his people even though he had not been personally involved.”
His people? He decided that their sins were his sins; a thing that Mormons ought to expressly disclaim. “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (or German transgressions or anyone elses transgressions). And maybe a caution on what exactly is a transgression, although little doubt remains as to (some) Germans’ transgressions leading up to and including World War 2.
I remember internalizing some Mormon Memes as a teenager freshly joined to the church. I felt like a victim of persecutions of Mormons even though not one scrap of it intersects with my own heritage. I felt it was my duty to “go to Missouri” even thought I had never left Missouri and neither had any of my ancestors. There is nothing for me to go back TO. These meme was so pervasive that one of the presidents of the church explained that the gathering of Saints meant, henceforth, where ever you happen to be.
On a more sinister level, I wanted revenge! How can that be? Most of my ancestors hadn’t even arrived in the States. Who shall I punish? No one living had anything to do with those persecutions. These feelings were real and strong in this teenager. They were also unjustified.
But, there it is, human nature. Empathy, sympathy, glory seeking; not sure which. Make right all wrongs! With me deciding what is right and wrong of course. Beams and motes.
Michael 2, you seem to be missing the spirit of reconciliation. Think of descendants of both perpetrators and victims meeting together to dedicate the Mountain Meadows Monument. Think of the state of Missouri rescinding the extermination order in 1976, or the state of Illinois issuing an official apology to the Church in 2004 (which President Hinckley graciously received). These symbolic acts not only validate the existence of those injustices, but also signal a determination to avoid making the same mistakes. They show that we remember and are learning from our past.
Dsc, what’s your point? That Jesus was wrong in condemning the Gentiles and Samaritans (for the sake of argument, I am assuming that you are correct, even though I think that there are various ways to interpret Jesus’s views on the Samaritans and Gentiles)? Or that Jesus was right in condemning them and then later changing his mind and that the racism and homophobia of past church leaders were right in their respective times? Also, are you comparing the leaders to Jesus? If so, does that make them infallibles (since Jesus is viewed to be infallible according to common LDS teachings) unworthy of any criticism whatsoever and that the ones who ask them for apologies for being wrong are always in the wrong?
I often sense a doublethink from many of the TBMs on the issue of fallibility. They want to be able to proclaim that they believe the leaders to be fallible (so as to avoid accusations of blind obedience and hero worship), but then in the same breath demand that they be treated as infallibles, immune from any words that could conceivably be interpreted as criticism and disagreement. What is it TBMs? Are the guys fallible or not? If they’re fallible, why the offended reactions over calling leaders out on obvious homophobia?
My point is that a sudden change does not mean that the original policy was wrong. I assume that there are good reasons that Jesus told the apostles to not preach to the Gentiles and Samaritans. I have some ideas as to what they are, but they each have logical holes, so I can’t stand 100% by any of them, but because I accept Jesus as God and Savior, I trust that He knows better than me.
That doesn’t mean that any given Church policy is right; I just don’t think that a sudden shift “proves” that it was originally wrong. Church leaders are fallible. I personally view past policies on race as based on the prejudices of members and leaders. I’m attacking the poor logic of “the fact that a policy was reversed proves it was a mistake in the first place.”
Your reply contains an assumption that I don’t think is justified: that by telling the Apostles to exclude them, that He was condemning them. I don’t think that’s true.
(As a side note, I find the term “TBM” to be derogatory, and request that if you wish to have a respectful conversation, you ought to refrain from using it.)
Mods, can we get me off of automatic moderation?
Dsc, you’re seem to be comparing the leaders to Jesus. It is one thing to see Jesus as infallible and refuse to disagree with Jesus’s reported speech on that basis. Jesus is after all considered to be a member of the godhead. But you say that the church leaders are fallible and then proceed to deny the obvious. Reversing a policy that you went as far as claiming to be based on revelation made only 3 years earlier is a tacit acknowledgement that that policy was misguided and the revelation was misinterpreted. That would appear to be the most parsimonious explanation. I can’t help but think that what motivates your refusal to call the PoX wrong or at least acknowledge that the leaders see it as am incorrect policy and a mistake of their own is a strong inclination on your part to treat the leaders as infallibles. It is a doublethink on your part.
I’m sorry you don’t like the term TBM. I don’t mean it as an insult, but I will refrain from using it with you. It is a little odd, though, that you would insist on political correctness in relation to Mormons when you have railed against other forms of political correctness in the past. I guess it goes to show that people mostly concern themselves with proper terms and speech when it comes to their own but not so much in relation to other groups.
” Are they afraid that by admitting to a mistake, we as a membership will start to question all their directions?” Bullseye.
John W writes some things but DSC says pretty much what I would have. There’s an assumption that a change implicates a prior mistake; which is sometimes the case if you have adequate information, a lot more than appears to exist. I believe that many social changes are not correcting prior mistakes but instead are making new ones; mistakes whose consequences will not be obvious for many years.
But DSC does not address your question about the infallibility of Jesus.
Jesus was infallible in the sense that he defines what is right; it makes no semantic sense to ASK if Jesus was right because he is the source of rightness in the first place. He cannot be in error, because error is determined by a judge, and he *is* the judge.
Now it may be that you have a different judge in mind in which case right and wrong is defined by this authority that you respect and choose as the source of information as to right and wrong. That’s a bit like two popes excommunicating each other. Which one was right? Well, both or neither; obviously it depends on who you ask there is no objectively cosmic way to know. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Schism
“I often sense a doublethink from many of the TBMs on the issue of fallibility. They want to be able to proclaim that they believe the leaders to be fallible (so as to avoid accusations of blind obedience and hero worship), but then in the same breath demand that they be treated as infallibles,”
That is, I think, a misrepresentation. Honoring a contract has nothing to do with fallibility. When I joined the church, I made a contract; careful attention to the Sacrament blessings reveal the essence of that contract. It doesn’t matter whether God himself is “fallible”; what matters (to me) is my honor in obeying the terms of the contract. If the contract itself changes then I am no longer bound to the new one. If the church changes a fundamental, I do not need to leave the church, it has already left me.
Church president decides boys can have priesthood at the age of 12. Is that right or wrong? The question is meaningless. You can like it, you can dislike it, but it cannot be wrong because Church is the declarer of such things.
Mistake happens if a leader violates the contract. and it is not his place to change the terms of the contract.
“Wherefore I, the Lord, command and revoke, as it seemeth me good. . . .” (D&C 56:4.) An example was God’s intention to destroy Ninevah, but then changed his mind, or so it seems. Or Genesis 6:6 where God repents of having made mankind. https://biblehub
I have also compared this to a ship at sea. Your choice is to board the ship, or not, but once underway your choices are somewhat limited. Where the captain goes, so do the people; and if the captain makes an error in navigation and the ship ends up grounded on a reef it is not the fault of the passengers. In the Navy almost nothing justifies mutiny because it leads to chaos (anarchy) BUT in rare cases lower-ranked persons can stop the Captain: “Belay that order” is authorized if obedience to that order will cause immediate irreparable harm to the ship or a sailor. You’d better be absolutely correct and able to prove it as otherwise its subordination at best and mutiny at worst.
To apply this metaphor to the church, it is the duty of the quorum of 12 to say “belay that order!” to the president of the church if he issues something with immediate and irreparable harm. But he’s still the captain, and whoever challenges him might not survive the challenge and had better be willing to put his career and liberty on the line.
Your choice is limited to staying on board and supporting the captain or getting off at the next port-of-call. If you stay on board and do NOT support the captain, or worse activate against the captain, that’s mutiny.
“Reversing a policy that you went as far as claiming to be based on revelation made only 3 years earlier is a tacit acknowledgement that that policy was misguided and the revelation was misinterpreted.” This is precisely the notion I’m arguing against. Premise: Jesus made no mistakes. Premise: Jesus reversed a policy excluding certain people shortly after instituting said policy (“sudden policy reversal”). Conclusion: Jesus’ sudden policy reversal was not a mistake. Conclusion: Not all sudden policy reversals are mistakes.
That is the extent of my argument. Is it possible it was a mistake? Absolutely. But “sudden policy reversal” is not conclusive (or even good) evidence for that position.
When have I railed against other forms of political correctness? I try to make it a policy to call people by the names they prefer. Hence, I criticized Dave B. for his confusing use of “TJ” to refer to Jehovah’s witnesses.
I think one of Dsc’s points is important and a lot of bloggernacle regulars don’t seem to be internalizing it. Most mainstream members do NOT view the sudden reversal of the POX as any admission of failure, just as they do NOT view the 1978 revelation as proof that the priesthood ban was man-made. Greggg’s comment was spot on. This is part of that fallibility paradox highlighted in the post – we can claim church leaders are fallible, but we are not supposed to proclaim that any particular act on their part is or was a mistake. That’s being disloyal.
I agree with Mary Ann’s comments completely. The problem is that church culture is always hierarchical. The lower ranking person is always to blame, always in the wrong. That’s obviously ridiculous when you look at it, but that’s how it works. As people say in business, crap rolls downhill.
Come on Angela and Mary Ann, I would rather worship a rock than a God who blessed us with a revelation then changed his mind three years later and issues another revelation. There is no way that most members feel that way. They might not fess up that is was a mistake, because they don’t want to answer the questions that follow, but in their heads they can’t believe that both were revelations. I hate to ask, but do you feel that both were revelations Dsc? Not allowing blacks to enter the temple, be endowed with power, receive necessary saving ordinances, and be sealed with their families for eternity (I’m using this language instead of the “priesthood ban” these days), well that one is a bit more complicated, still a mistake, but just more complicated.
Regarding the PoX, I think the more likely scenario is that most loyal members just didn’t give a hoot about either revelation and have not spent 5 seconds processing either one of them.
I think Greggg is right if his hypothetical conversation happened in a church setting, but when you pull them aside and ask detailed questions of what they really believe, I have to believe that most do not buy into infallibility in any way.
Just like the word preside now has a complete different meaning for members, I think President Nelson is doing wonders in changing the definition of the word revelation, prophet, and special witness. I also believe he knows what he is doing and it is intentional.
You’re right, Mary Ann. Dsc gives us an important example of what a good number in the pews seem to think about the leaders. I feel like I have had the conversation about fallibility dozens of times on the bloggernacle and it keeps playing out the same with the more conservative believers. The leaders are fallibles since they are mere mortals, but pointing out any major issue of disagreement is seen as disloyal and therefore wrong. In other words, it is OK to say that they are fallible and make mistakes, but we are to treat them as basically infallibles whose words and insight on morality are far superior to what anyone could ever generate, and to point out any large mistakes is a wrong in and of itself. When I ask conservative believers what examples they give for the current leaders being wrong (sometimes they’ll claim that past leaders are wrong, as does Dsc), the most they’ll admit is trifling matters, such as mispronouncing a name in a talk or getting something wrong about a fact in a field that is not their expertise. They never admit that they were wrong about a doctrinal matter or about LGBTQs. We are always wrong to derive any sense about larger moral questions, such as sexual orientation, that does not square with the leaders’. It is as if on these questions, the current leaders are demigods, incapable of mistakes or even contradictions.
“revelation for the PoX was Satan-inspired”
It was lawyer inspired, so that might just be saying the same thing.
DSC is right. The short term reversal of a policy doesn‘t necessarily mean the policy was wrong. But the PoX was indeed very wrong from day one – painfully, obviously so, and not because of the reversal. Hard for me to understand how someone would disagree.
Although very Ex-Mormon myself, my very TBM mom taught me good lessons about the true gospel. GA’s do not hold any more authority or power than anyone else; she liked some talks of theirs and some she did not. Mom said her prayers were as strong or stronger and more effective than any man, GA or not. When Mom put your name on the prayer roll in the temple, it was as strong as any so-called priesthood blessing. Seeking out a sealing from a GA who you were related to was ridiculous, she thought. Bro. Hansen in the ward who works as a sealer in the Manti temple was just as good, if not better than, than your cousin, the GA. On the other hand, my TBM sparring partner, thinks GA’s are “more better” (translated from reformed Egyptian as Mormon) than regular leadership, the lower leadership, and practically worships the GA’s. He even maintains our friendship he said because Elder Oaks encouraged him to do so in a recent conference he attended. Well, shoot, that makes the friendship seem somewhat contrived!