Repentance is an interesting concept with God in the mix. Does God take an active role in the process, and hear every request for forgiveness, and then clicks a checkbox on some sort of quantum super computer to record if He forgives you? Or does He take a passive role and the asking from the sinner is purely for self edification?
No matter where you fall on the scale of God’s involvement, the next question is what should you repent of. If you have a bad thought against the driver that cut you off on the way home from work, wishing him an early transmission failure (on the freeway at 4:30pm) and the fleas of a thousand camels to infest their armpits, do you need to repent of that thought specifically, or does an all encompassing “forgive me of my sins today” work?
Should we just repent of the big stuff? But then who defines what is big?
Joseph Smith seems to imply that you only needed to bother God with the big stuff when he said:
“Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God.”History of the Church, 3:379; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on June 27, 1839, in Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards.
Now nobody is perfect, so everybody is going to do something bad everyday. But Joseph indicated that daily repentance is NOT what God wants.
Contrast this to our current Prophet’s counsel on repentance from a 2019 conference address.
Experience the strengthening power of daily repentance—of doing and being a little better each day.
Daily repentance is the pathway to purity, and purity brings power.2019 General Conference, Priesthood session
I’ve tried to think of a way to harmonize these two points of view, and cannot find a way. I thought maybe Joseph was talking about major sins, since he used the word “transgression”. But then I’ve heard church members say that Adam and Eve committed a transgression in the garden, not a sin, and transgressions are not as bad as sins.
Can you come up with a way to harmonize these two statements?
The only conclusion I came up with is Elder Benson and his 14 fundamentals in following the prophet:
Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.
“Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” Tambuli, June 1981, 3.
So there you have it. Bishop Bill is setting up a dead prophet against a living prophet. The living Prophet wins, and you must now and for evermore beware of Bishop Bill’s posts!