Tuesday, April 07, 2009

All's Well in Zion VS Dissension and Murmuring - the Right(?) to Question

The devil is prophesied to use several tricks in the latter days, in order to keep mankind from gaining eternal life. Among these tricks one is particularly centred at church members.

"And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell." 2 Nephi 28:21

Naturally no one uses this exact term. But many times I find members saying that all is well in the church (Zion). Any question or challenge to the way things are running is frowned upon by some. Words such as "dissension" and "murmuring" are used to suggest the person having a desire for improvement is off with the devil.

Now we all know that dissension isn't good. And just winging isn't good either. Neither of these things are likely to create a better situation. But is all critique negative? If so Jesus Christ would stand accused of being negative and of the devil. As would Isaiah, Abinadi, and the list is almost endless.

Modern day prophets have often spoken of the positive things that are happening in the church. But the prophets also speak of the improvements we need to make as individuals. This isn't an "all's well" preaching. Yet mentioning the problems doesn't make them guilty of dissension or murmuring against us, either.

D&C 121:34-40 warns us that leaders in the church will make errors, and that all won't be well. So is God guilty of murmuring against church leaders? Sensible examination is important. And questioning of decisions that a person can't accept isn't dissension away from God either. I have questioned God and his decisions; and he took no offence. Neither did he propose that I had no right to question. Neither did he propose that I was off with the devil for questioning.

Abraham questioned God's decision and posed that surely he would do the right thing in regard destroying Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:23-25). Is this dissension? Murmuring? The Lord didn't take offence at it. In fact he fully answered all his questions.

So is all well in the church? Obviously not. God gave the word of wisdom directed at the "weak and weakest of Saints". Has he added to it since because of advancement of the Saints? No. In fact he had to turn part of it into a commandment - a backward step. Then there is tithing. Another Law of Moses concept we still are called upon to practice - though let me state that great blessings come from obeying the Law of Moses.

Then we have bishops etc leaving their families to take the chief seats in the synagogues, also contrary to Christ's statement against this (Matt 23:6). Obviously if a person is speaking or conducting the meeting it is logical to be there. I can also see that for general (or stake) conferences, to get the idea of church structure, every six months.

The Book of Mormon presents that God inspired (Protestant(?)) reformers to question. And where would we be without it?

So is saying, "hey, what's going on?" murmuring and dissension?

I believe that sensible questioning is our responsibility. If we start leaving the church because of it, then we are off line. But I believe in the right to question.

15 comments:

Anthony E. Larson said...

Touchy subject, right? You are correct to point out this failing among church members. Perhaps some will hear you, but only a few. I've had to deal with this issue ever since I became a nonfiction author of books for Latter-day Saints 30 years ago. Any perspective or teaching that isn't a precise echo of what's heard from the pulpit is looked upon with suspicion, even if it can be substantiated with the words of Joseph Smith. You don't even have to question. Simply diverge from mainstream thought, even slightly, and you will immediately be seen as a pariah. This is not constructive because even correct ideas are often rejected in such an environment. It's not healthy - spiritually or intellectually. This failing is strikingly evident to outsiders who are keen observers. Harold Bloom, author of "The Great American Religion" wrote: "Joseph Smith was a religious genius ... His followers, for at least a century now, have backtracked from his radical newness to a public stance sometimes difficult to distinguish from Protestantism." I must ask: Wasn't it Protestantism that Joseph was told to eschew? Have we drifted so far that we once again resemble what we were warned to avoid? (Oops. I'm questioning again.) Apparently Bloom thinks so. (pp.80-81.) "... there has been a falling away from his teaching and his example in the Mormon Church and people of the last century or so. An enormous religious imagination has been compromised (though not betrayed) by its descendants, even if one gets very little sense of any Mormon consciousness of that departure from Smith during a visit to Salt Lake City." (p. 86.) Is Bloom right? Do we really not get it? (Sorry. I just had another lapse.) "The Mormonism of the last hundred years and of today ... is only a compromise with gentile America rather than being the authentic vision of Joseph Smith." (p. 106.) "... for a century now, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been edging away from Joseph Smith's extraordinary spiritual originality ..." (p. 112.) "... Joseph Smith, Jr., and Brigham Young, charismatic expressionists and passionate prophets, might not flourish in contemporary Utah." I can see this, even though I support the church and am an active member. But, I'm prone to "questioning," so who can take me seriously? (grin)

Doug Towers said...

Anthony

Interesting points.

I once asked in regard this problem of the backward slide of doctrine. The Spirit informed me that God has done this deliberately to expand the church geographically (water it down to spread it out). Thus the church spreads to find those ready for the full truth.

As long as the truth gets out in Scripture and in temple ordinances, the Holy Spirit can do the rest to those listening. And we never know who those are or when in their lives anyone will find it.

So while it is sad, we need not let it get us down too much. As usual, God is working on it.

kh said...

Doug,

It's been a long time, but I am glad to go back through some of your older posts to comment. There are some websites from LDS authors who use the JST of Isaiah 49:19-23 in the appendix has to do with someone coming along in the last days to correct what Bloom in Larson's comments had to say about the drifting away from Joseph's doctrines when originally received from God. Any ideas?

kh said...

Doug,
One more item, unrelated. The Holy Spirit of Promise filling a person and testifying to them that they will have eternal life. The ratifying seal, that assurance with the words,"(name of the person)(my son or my daughter) Thou shall be exalted. thou shall have eteranl life." I understand that the hands laid upon the head by the presiding authority in the temple and then formally sealed up to eternal life would follow such a revelation from the Holy Ghost, even decades later. What say you?

Doug Towers said...

kh

Sorry about the delay. I've been in hospital and am just out for day leave. Will get to it.

kh said...

Hey Doug,

I hope you are feeling much better now. Any thoughts on my questions?

Thanks
KH

Doug Towers said...

kh

Sorry for the delay. I thought I'd already posted the response. I'm still not 100% with it.

Isaiah is about as clear as mud, to my non-Israelite mind. Even the Israelites didn't understand it; so it would appear from reading Nephi. Only by revelation can prophesies be understood. Holy men of God wrote them as they were moved up by the Holy Ghost. And we must become holy people of God to understand them. One day the Spirit might decide that I should understand them, and draw me to them. But that hasn't happened yet. I've heard and read a lot of well presented interpretations of scripture texts. Yet these are so often very questionable on past dates or come out clearly as false in time. So I'd advise personal revelation only on those.

And

I'm not quite sure I have followed what you are saying in regard your second question. Are you presenting the temple president as having some automatic right to additional revelation on who will get eternal life? And are you asking the length for which promises from the Holy Ghost may stand?

kh said...

Thank you for replying to my questions, doug. My second question is how does the Holy Spirit of Promise work? Is it when a person is ready in the eyes of God for the Holy Ghost filling that person and while filled with the Spirit have the Savior say to that person calling them by name son or daughter " Thou shalt be exalted. Thou shalt have eternal life" or does it require the one who is anointed and appointed (President of the church) to place that seal of eternal life on the person?

KH said...

Follow up question. The Second Comforter is, as I understand it, to be taken where the Savior is through the veil that seperates us from His presence (i.e. the endowment cermony in the temple teaches us that) and then as D & C 50:26 be ordained of God personally and be ordained to the order of the Only Begotten Son. Then being a member of the Church of the Firstborn have the Savior and the Father come to that person on an ongoing basis as well as having angels administer to that person so blessed. The Savior would then at that first meeting ask that person as He did the Nephite twelve,"What would you have me do when I return unto the Father?" That is our real endowment or gift from Christ. Is that correct?

kh said...

Glad to have you "back in the saddle again." I hope that you are on your way to a full recovery.

Doug Towers said...

kh

The Holy Spirit of Promise works through the Holy Ghost. A person may be inspired to tell someone else of their revelation, but the church position of the person stating it makes no difference.

Doug Towers said...

kh

Those things you have said in regard the Second Comforter are true.

I would add that this ordaining by God doesn't necessarily require a hands on ordination.

Also I would add that when we are in communication with Jesus Christ it will be for a purpose in the first place (in our case). Therefore he would be answering that which was requested.

The endowment session in the temple is an endowment of knowledge where, in symbolic form, God delivers a hidden message (hidden in the symbols).

It only becomes an endowment when we come to understand and apply the message. To understand the modern temple we must turn back to the ancient temple, to see that what was stated only lightly portrayed the true message.

The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is contained in 3rd Nephi and the book of Matthew. Study it. Ponder it. And let the Spirit guide you to understand it, and the temple endowment will be revealed to you.

kh said...

Hi Doug,

Another question if I may. I read that in D & C 128:21 and D & C 27:12 that Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery Elders and Apostles as well as bestowing upon both of them the keys of the kingdom as well as the keys of the dispensation of the fulness of times. I was wondering about verse 21 in D & C 128 the voice of God in old Father Whitmer's home in early June 1829. You mentioned and so does the Book of Mormon Christ speaking to someone and conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood by his voice as he did in 3 Nephi 18:37 to the twelve disciples without the laying on of hands, especially to the Order of the Son of God. Thus the voice of God alone can bestow the authority. Did God do this in early June of 1829 in the chamber of old Father Whitmer's home and then a few days later Peter, James, and John simply ordained Joseph and Oliver? No where does it specifically state that the three Apostles "conferred" the Priesthood in either scripture. I can't find anywhere in Joseph's writings that he said they did. Do you have any record of what God said in Old Father Whitmer's home in early June 1829 prior to the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

kh said...

let me restate something. Peter, James and John did not ordain Joseph and Oliver elders that they did to each other after common consent on April 6th, 1830.

kh said...

Doug,

I answered my own questions. I got out the History of the Church and found that Christ answered their prayer and commanded Joseph to ordain Oliver and Elder and Oliver to ordain Joseph and Elder but they were to delay those ordinations until after common consent on April 6th 1830. God must have conferred the Mechizedek Priesthood by his voice alone upon them or He would not have commanded them in the first place. God never commands someone to do something unless he first gives that person the authority to do what he has commanded them. Joseph states that He and Oliver were praying to receive the Higher Priesthood and to "our unspeakable satisfaction, did realize the truth of the Savior's promise,"Ask and it shall be given..etc" Only receiving the Mechizedek Priesthood - the object of their desire and prayer would produce such a satisfaction. Though it is taught that Peter, James and John conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver it clearly seems that Christ himself by his voice did that.