Rating the performance of Our Apostles
Good in many areas.
Frightening in others.
Membership at 15 million
Two thirds have left the church
More are leaving EVERY DAY
We have a vast missionary force
Annual baptisms in the hundreds of thousands.
Baptisms per missionary has plummeted
Church growth rate has plummeted
I’m still in the church and active
My mother and all 5 siblings are out or very limited in activity
Many cherished friends have left
Here’s my take on why the church is in trouble. We are taught that obedience is the first law of heaven. When we openly disregard a plain and precious truth, given by Jesus in a very clear manner, what would we expect? Choose the wrong and the consequences will follow. And, they won’t be good ones.
One of the most beautiful parts of the restoration is the structure for the governance of the church. Unlike many other rules and standards, the Law of Common Consent is plainly taught in our scriptures. It is mentioned with clarity and frequency in the D&C. The purpose of this post is not to expound on CC. That will come soon.
This vital and important law establishes a counter-balance to the power, and the temptations of power, that surround the apostles. Today, the high leaders, as well as the general membership have relegated this Law & Commandment into irrelevancy.
The Blunt Edge
Sometimes bluntness is offensive or downright rude. But, I love my church and it’s founder, Jesus Christ, enough to be blunt. We as the membership as well as the apostles are thumbing our noses at an indispensable commandment. We are thumbing our noses at obedience. As a result, nobody really knows if we are following God’s will or not. We don’t know what policies or doctrines are of Christ.
Divine Plan of Church Governance
The Savior has specified how doctrine, policy, scripture, callings, and every other matter that affects the members, are to be established. Encapsulated in four simple steps, Christ’s plan bears witness of His great trust and love for EVERY member of His church.
1. The prophet is to listen to the people in all things.
2. The prophet and apostles present proposals to the people.
3. Whatever is accepted by the people is accepted by God.
4. Whatever is rejected by the people is rejected by God.
This is only happening with regards to callings. I recognize and sustain President Monson because he was confirmed by common consent. I accept the inclusion of the blacks in the priesthood, as it was confirmed by common consent. The exclusion of blacks was never confirmed by common consent. It was never the will of God.
Without common consent, we are left with a dictatorship. That is not in any way, shape, or form God’s plan. We are left to the inevitability of the errors of men, subject to being led astray, justifying doing things that are wrong just because a prophet said so.
It also leaves our prophets completely open to the temptations so common to men in authority. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. According to our scriptures “unrighteous dominion” almost always results when just a little authority is given. If the apostles have unfettered & unaccountable authority, what kind of risk does this pose to these very leaders? Let alone to the church?
Jesus knew His apostles and prophets would be imperfect men. His solution was to establish the Law of Common Consent. Disobedience to God’s law by the entire church is wreaking it’s havoc already. More havoc is to come.
Solution or Destruction
The solution to the problems in The Church of Jesus Christ is in plain view. We as members should demand that “all things MUST be done by common consent.” We as members must consider the policies & doctrines that have not been confirmed as God’s will and weigh-in on them.
This morning, I discussed this with my wife. She said that the challenge is that we are all so busy that we just let the apostles handle everything. Of course, she’s right. There’s the problem. We are so busy that we don’t care about our important place in the governance of God’s earthly kingdom.
This will ultimately result in the destruction of the LDS church. Maybe not complete destruction. But, the church has already been destroyed in the lives of two-thirds of the membership. The vast majority have already fled. More took flight during the time it took to write this article.
Where are the Good Men?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke
Where are the good men who will do something?
Where are the good men who will demand that we follow Jesus?
Where are the good men who will demand that the church obey the law of common consent?
Where are the good men who love the church enough to stay the course, so that His church changes course?
As I write, my eyes fill with tears. I try to hold back the sobs. The words I type are blurred as I cry. Can the church of my youth, the church of my adult years be saved? Can it be redeemed before it’s destroyed in my life and the lives of so many others?
66 thoughts on “The Only True Hope for the Only True Church”
I agree that “voice and common consent” has been essentially neutered but that has been the case since the “succession crisis” from my perspective. Another thought—how meaningful is “voice and common consent” on such matters a church finances when there is no transparency?
And have you seen this Petition? And if so your thoughts on it?
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Whoops here is the Petition:
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Common consent on finances is meaningless without transparency. I had not seen your petition but love the concept. My name has been added. What are your plans to submit?
Ultimately, I don’t think anything will happen to move the needle on common consent until opposing votes are common. Why should the leadership make any changes when they have voting support of 100% of the members?
Sam, thank you for adding your voice and support. This Petition is not about persuading the church leadership as much as it is about allowing members to make known their will. This is for some a first step is expressing their “voice in common” with others.
To use Malcolm Gladwell’s term/book there may come a time when there is a “tipping point” in taking back control of OUR church—it was never to be under the sole nor primary control of the traveling High Council aka Apostleship. I hope for the day when they become irrelevant to the governance of the church and its mission for as I see it and believe the Kingdom of God and the church are two separate things. The church is one means among many to create Kingdom Like People who will come from “north, south, east and west” and “more are the children of the desolate than the married wife”–or, in other words, they will come from all denominations into this kingdom including non-christian faiths for churches are simply a means to an end and never were meant to be the end.
So, finances, transparency is the low lying fruit. The BOM tells us that we would pollute the holy church of God and how (Mormon 8: 35-39). Personally, this step led to the next step for me where I finally repented and began paying tithing for the first time in my life at age 57 (member whole life). Before then sure I paid gross to the Corporation of the President my whole life but I was contributing to the robbing of God because those funds were not being used for the poor primarily (very little in fact) and for sure it was not being given to God because it was not given to the “least” (Matthew 25–last several verses). So I began paying directly to those in need/charities that give nearly all to the least so finally I could with greater confidence respond in the temple recommend interview that I was a full tithe payer—not just a club membership payor.
So I see the Petition and such common acts as gaining collective confidence to move towards building His Kingdom rather than the false idolatry, i.e., leadership and church idolatry.
I do not expect “them” to change—they are guardians and have a sworn duty to the church and in real legal sense a fiduciary duty to that corporation and the many for profit entities upon which further dictate their allegiance. The Petition is about exposing the obvious and seeing that others see what we see that is so patently obvious The ‘church’ will not repent and Elder Oaks is correct “they” do not apologize but like life trained sycophants will defend the church at all costs.
No we will learn to move forward and independently and yes at some point I think the Petition might reach a tipping point and be “used” to make obvious to all that their “secret acts of darkness” will be revealed. For “save it be plain” it is not of God.
I has some private ideas about promoting the Petition which is the largest of its kind so far, but I have no illusion about it causing a change by those that sit on the chief seats/corporate boards—but it is not about them but ultimately about us
Wow Sam, this one caught be by surprise…..big time. Where did you get the figure of 2/3 have left the church? That seems like a lot more than I thought. Secondly, I plead total ignorance to the law of Common Consent. I will, however be reading up on it today. I know about sustaining the officers and callings in the church, that I understand. But, doesn’t the Lord say that he will do “nothing” unless it is through his prophets. And didn’t he also say that if the Prophet or Apostles began to lead us down the wrong road, he would “take” them. I thought that meant they would be expelled or die unexpectedly. Kinda’ like Paul Dunn when it was discovered that he told all those great stories….that weren’t true…so he was put on emeritus status and told he couldn’t speak in meetings anymore. Wasn’t Joseph Smith killed by a mod after the introduction of polygamy and we went for several years without a direct Prophet. Just a thought there…Dean says that’s crazy to think that that was the Lord’s punishment for the debacle that polygamy came to be. I believe we are in the last days without a doubt and what is going on is like the flood of Noah’s day. We have been told that we are going to lose many stalwart saints. Is the Lord cleaning house of those who do not accept his plan of happiness / salvation. Aren’t we being told by the Prophet to stop judging and love one another? Didn’t Elder Ballard just tell the CES instructors to start answering the people’s questions as honestly as they could? It breaks my heart to see all these people leaving the Church for whatever reasons. I have lost nieces and nephews on both sides of my family, but only one for the reasons that is so prevalent now such as Church History or LGBTQ rights. These are just some of my thoughts on this one. You are such a good man and I have so much love and respect for what you are trying to do to help those who have issues…we should all have issues. Your wife was absolutely right about how we are just so busy with our crazy lives that we just think the Prophet and Apostles are supposed to be doing everything and we just raise our hand and say good job. Years ago, a young man in my home ward, strayed a bit and was caught by the woman’s husband. He proceeded to beat him within an inch of his life. He was attended to by an LDS doctor who was also a member of the Ward and got all the details of what happened. The next Sunday , the Bishop stood up and called the young man to be the YM President. The doctor raised his hand in opposition. The Bishop quickly made a remark about not doing this calling this week but waiting until the next. Needless to say the young man was not called. The doctor was chastised for holding back from the Bishop this information and he reminded the Bishop that that was not his job. This is the only time in 67 years, 17 moves and 17 different wards and stakes, that I have ever seen anyone raise their hand in opposition. I have not raised my hand at all, but never in opposition. It makes me mad now that I could have.
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You covered a lot of ground in your comment. For the moment, I’ll just respond to a couple of issues you raise.
First, where did I get the estimate for church activity? The site quoted below is run by an active church member. All of his data is provided by the church itself.
“The majority of members on church records are inactive or less active. Approximately 30% of worldwide membership was active as of 2012, suggesting that 30% of members attended church regularly and followed most basic church teachings…The ten countries with the most members account for 79% of worldwide membership and experience an average member activity rate of 22%…” –Cumorah.com, Matt Martinich
You are not familiar with the Law of Common Consent. That is very common in the church and a big problem, in my eyes. After voting OPPOSED the first time, I had a 3 hour interview with the stake president. When I mentioned this Law, he was unfamiliar with it. That is not good. Here we have a vital commandment concerning church governance, yet the membership is kept in the dark. We have lesson after lesson after lesson on the same few topics. Never on our voting responsibilities.
Here is a link to lds.org regarding common consent: https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual/sections-21-29/section-26-the-law-of-common-consent?lang=eng
Especially note this paragraph: “Not only are Church officers sustained by common consent, but this same principle operates for policies, major decisions, acceptance of new scripture, and other things that affect the lives of the Saints (see D&C 26:2).”
Thanks Sam, I read with great interest the lesson you linked. I am confused, however. Does this mean that we should be running the Church as a democracy….majority rules? Or is the vote of opposition strictly a symbol, much like we have thought of sustaining.
Janice, Sam has replied to a couple of your points; I’ll reply to another. You ask, “And didn’t [the Lord] also say that if the Prophet or Apostles began to lead us down the wrong road, he would “take” them?” No, the Lord didn’t say that, but Wilford Woodruff said something very similar to that in a speech he gave to help convince the Saints that they should support the Manifesto. Ironically, at the same time he was saying that, he and other Church leaders (including several apostles) were secretly continuing to take plural wives or authorize others to take plural wives. So was he leading the Church astray by issuing the Manifesto or was he leading it astray by countenancing continued plural marriages? Whichever it was, the Lord did not take him. And wasn’t Brigham Young and nearly every other Church president and apostle right up to the 1970s leading the Church astray by maintaining that Black people were denied the priesthood either because they were the seed of Cain or because they had been less valiant in the pre-existence? Of course they were. But the Lord didn’t take them. He let us sort it out in our own good time. And shame on us for taking so long. I think the Lord expects us to exercise our own consciences and make our own supplications to determine whether some rule or policy or supposed “doctrine” is of him or not. The current exclusionary policy concerning gay couples and their children does not ring true to me. You may see it differently. But I hope we all as Church members will not just lean back in our armchairs and be comfortable in saying, “The brethren will not lead us astray, so I don’t have to make my own decision on this.”
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It can be redeemed of it steps away from its occultic teachings pertaining to the divine nature of man and the human nature of God, and embraces true Christianity, in which God is God from eternity to eternity. In other words, when it begins to worship the true and living God, and ceases to worship an exalted man, it will be redeemed.
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No, sadly – I do not think it can be saved. The Church today (and the vast majority of it’s leaders) sicken me with their pompousity, self – righteousness and “rock star like” lifestyles and behaviors. I (like so many others – and the number is growing exponentially) look right past The Church: and to Christ only. I love your blog and your spirit, Sam.
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I am curious as to where you have observed Church authorities living “rock star like” lives. The only time I see them they are in suits and ties and are talking to people about good things they should be doing. With the exception of the LGBTQ children’s ruling (still working on trying to understand the Christianity behind that one). I think this is hate on your part and you are looking for any little thing you think is wrong and blowing it way out of proportion. I feel sorry for you and hope you find that Christ like love you have looked past the Church to find.
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Certainly not hate Janice -but disgust, yes. While I’m really not encouraging you to go “to far down the rabbit hole” in your search for truth and what is fact – that journey is not for the faint hearted at all – please don’t presume to preach to me: you don’t know my heart at all.
Rather, look to where many of these men live – their private enclaves in Midway, their living “stipends” which President Hinckley spoke about. (For heaven’s sake – Mission President s are given 6 figure “stipends”) and the way they are chauffeured, worshipped and cow-towed to. Check out the real-estate deals some are provided as new temples are announced…and on and on. Now, before you get lathered up and condemn me as some vicious apostate – please know that I’ve worked for some of these men and I have first hand experience: not heresay. Note: next July 24th – make sure you check out President Monson’s $800,000.00 Audi which he is chauffeured in.
This is why I look to Christ only.
Anyway, God Bless you on your journey. I have no animosity towards you.
Have you been a Mission President? Do you understand what their stipends have to cover for the three years they give of their lives. They leave their homes and businesses and families to baby sit hundreds of boys who have left home for the first time. They get no vacations during that time. The money the church provides is used to provide a roof over their heads, food , cars for the mission and every other of life’s expenses. They provide much out of their own pockets. They have to account for every penny they spend. This is a bad example because I know what those stipends are used for and it differs depending on where they are sent. Temple Presidents are provided a home/apt to live in during their service. They must be within 5 minutes of the Temple for emergency situations. As for President Monsons car, an Audi equipped with bullet proof glass is far from a rock stars car. Many of the Apostles have lived in there family homes. Midway, Utah is not my idea of a high end SLC suburb. I just don’t think you know as much as you profess to know. I was not preaching to you , but giving an opinion on something I felt was misleading to those who may believe you were right.
Good luck with that perspective when you appear before the judgment bar of Jesus Christ.
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I call the first two “good” points into question and doubt they’re accurate. Would like to see objective figure.
And for those who left, you do realize that the mantra “choose the right, let the consequences follow” was the justification for leaving, right?
My entire family of eight left because we all felt it was the right thing to do. The churches hate filled anti-LGBT stance is just too toxic to continue with. We don’t regret our decision, we don’t feel bad or hollow about it. Quite the opposite.
We all feel that it was the morally good and upstanding choice to leave a corrupted church. Clearly we arent the only ones who feel this way either. It’s the hate filled anti-black stance repeating itself against a different minority.
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The good men are being cast out for speaking up.
The good men are being stripped of their divine agency, and disregarded.
The good men try to speak their voice, as given by honest direction in the spirit, in hopes of helping the church be what it should be.
And in doing so?
The good men are silenced.
Good men are trying, but those with the power aren’t listening.
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I disagree with you on this one. I find that those who have started groups to oppose are not the “good” ones at all. They are stirring the pot so to speak for their own causes. They aren’t thinking of the Church as a whole. The “good ones” are rolling up their sleeves and doing the work while the dissenters are busy fighting for their individual needs and the needs of those who agree with them. Sam Young is an anomaly for sure. He genuinely cares for all people and has taken up what he believes is for the good of the church as a whole. That is why I listen to and I read what he says. He is not in this for himself.
Janice, I wish you were right. While there are “dissenters” stirring the pot, the majority of those seeking for reform within the church are those like Sam. They understand the scriptures, and the purpose of God’s laws and commandments within them. The law of common consent being a perfect example.
It is these good men that are silenced. They are the ones that roll up their sleeves and get to work, seeking Christ all the while.
And they are the ones cast out for speaking what is written in the scriptures.
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And from what I can tell, the greater the investment (family) and commitment (time), the greater the anger. And that’s not even including tithing!
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Both the BOM and the D&C speak explicitly that to be a member of this church is to accept Jesus, commit to follow Him and his example and be baptized and that any “more or less cometh of evil.” The “more” that has been superimposed is the “pollution” and “sinning against the gospel” that the BOM warns us gentiles would do with the church once we try to control each other—such as “drink coffee and no eternal family for you” or “pay tithing to the corporate church or no access to temple and saving ordinances. Sure teach these but to make use compulsion/fear and barrier to saving ordinances “cometh of evil” in that it is contrary to DC 121 where only persuasion and not compulsion or fear should be employed.
Then as to doctrine/teachings the ‘more that cometh of evil” is a whole boat load of cultural accretions—particularly the “doctrine” of the church where the ultimate bait and switch occurred in the temple rite where at the end we are asked to pledge allegiance to what? The “CHURCH” and God is our witness rather than pledging allegiance to God and the church is our witness which is the true order. In so doing our church itself is no longer the means to the end but the end itself and that Idolatry is as pernicious as the leadership idolatry we placed in the apostleship…when they were to only be traveling High Council testifying of Christ and not “scripture” as they have supposed.
So for me yes I have invested a lifetime and intend to remain a member but I will not be silent for in so doing I am not being loyal to my faith community.
I am not suffering from a “faith crisis” but I am wiling to exercise patience while our church undergoes its “truth crisis” which is coming home to roost since it chose to protect the “church” and “leaders’ rather than the truth for generations
I say stay in the church until asked to leave but speak truth to power and exercise “voice and common consent” even if those who feel a need to protect “church” and “leaders” over truth seek to condemn you and cast you out.
that is why I created the Petition in the second comment above and also this Petition which is another low lying fruit that should be embraced
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Unfortunately, Ron, there is no way common consent can work with the Church organized the way it is now. There is only one “member”… the president. And thus there is only one vote. What everyone calls member is really a volunteer, because there are no voting rights at all that a typical group might have for someone who calls themselves LDS.
And by the way, to be considered “active,” you need only come to any meeting once a quarter. So out of the 30 percent who are claimed active, there is even a smaller (probably another 10% of the total 15 million) who are pulling the numbers up. The bottom line… they may tout that they are 15 million members strong, but the truth is that there are probably only 2 or 3 million showing up to church every week.
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The address is misspelt on your comment on ‘The Only True Hope ……….’
I guessed it was missing an ‘n’ which was accepted : )
For what it’s worth, Brigham Young speaks to the point that your wife made.
Some may say, “Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am.” I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, “If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,” this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right. When you are inspired by the Holy Ghost you can understandingly say that you are satisfied; and that is the only power that should cause you to exclaim that you are satisfied, for without that you do not know whether you should be satisfied or not. You may say that you are satisfied and believe that all is right, and your confidence may be almost unbounded in the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ, but if you asked God, in the name of Jesus, and received knowledge for yourself, through the Holy Spirit, would it not strengthen your faith? It would.
– Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p. 45
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I appreciate the words of Brigham Young that you cited. This was the way I was taught 57 years ago when I joined the church. My question , now, arises in when am I supposed to get the opportunity to pray about a decision made by the Brethren, and let my feelings be known. It seems to be an oxymoron. I am torn on this idea that I am supposed to sustain the Brethren and their Aostleship on the one hand and yet I am also supposed to raise my hand in opposition if I don’t agree with a policy change made by them.
I think the fact that you have a hard time thinking of doing both is one of Sam’s main points. If you do believe that these are men (not perfect men) and called of God – you can do both. You can love your spouse while you call them out on bad behavior.
Sam – I agree with your post.
“Sometimes bluntness is offensive” – or so it is seen within the church. I have heard it said that nobody does passive-aggressive better than Mormons. After hearing it a few years ago, I can’t say that we are the absolute best (or would that be worst?) at this, but we are fairly consistent and it is almost part of our native tongue almost – at east in the US.
I just listened this AM to a podcast on mormontransitions with Gregory Prince on. He wrote a great book (on my oh so tall “to read” pile in my home office) on “David O. McKay- the rise of american mormonism”. He asked his assistant (I think he said she wasn’t a Mormon) after the book was done, “what do you think about it?” Her response was “David McKay is a hero to me” and then she added, “and power corrupts.” I have been in many bishoprics and stake callings and I can say I don’t like what I constantly catch myself feeling when in those positions. I don’t have a great sense of self-worth and I can imagine someone that is not self-reflective and believes that SINCE they are the stake president, the Lord will not allow them to make mistakes. If anybody is saying they made a mistake, it is clearly an issue of the accuser not having the spirit – end of discussion.
I do agree with your wife in that many are so busy they to some extent “outsource moral questions to the top church leaders”, or in other words – abdicating our moral choices to leaders without us thinking or asking God.
I have come to wonder if the November 5th policy change was allowed by God – not because he would agree with it, but because the church has a HUGE issue with leadership worship where they assume 100% confidence and obedience to the leaders will get them into celestial kingdom. I think he is hoping that some like Sam that this policy should feel like a slap in the face. Maybe God is trying to make them think twice about this policy as it should make them feel uneasy. Maybe God WANTS each person in the church to ask HIM (God) if it is what he intends – and maybe come to the realization that they as individuals need to have first and foremost a relationship with Christ. You just won’t get that kind of “whoa – wait, that does not feel right” reaction to President Hinkley’s “6-B’s talk.”
This could be a bit of a way to keep us from becoming as bound up by our leaders as the FLDS church is. I could see if the current trends are unchecked, we could be heading that way. If the church keeps shedding members that are unwilling to say (in other words) “the leaders are perfect”, then what is left is a bunch of people that are 110% behind “the leaders are perfect” (and the rest of the world is going to hell! So there! na na na na na)
This is one of the few blog posts I’ve read that have stayed with me for a few days. Very insightful post.
I feel as though the LDS church is in something of a “quagmire of contradictions” right now; it is not orthodox as it has doctrinally changed radically since 1830, and it is hardly progressive as it doubles down on policies that are apparently wildly unpopular with swaths of the younger generation.
I think you have a fantastic idea. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “what’s unique about the church isn’t good, and what’s good about the church isn’t unique.” Bringing back and solidifying common consent seems like it would make the church unique in a good way; after all, if personal revelation is real, then shouldn’t the weight of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of latter-day saints on a particular issue matter? Is the LDS church really so sure of its few decision-makers at the top that it’s willing to disregard the potential revelations of its ordinary members – is it particularly sure of this position in light of having to make retractions of ‘doctrines’ from prophets like Brigham Young?
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Sam, I re-read this original post and have to mightily disagree with something you wrote. In the Articles of Faith, it is written that we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely Apostles, Prophets,pastors, teachers….etc. We also believe in revelation. In the NT it says that the Lord will reveal his will through his servants, the Prophets. I can find no where in the scriptures where the church was organized according to your 4 points of Church Governance. Where did you get that? I can not remember the Church ever being governed in that way. It really all boils down to whether we accept the Prophet and the Apostles as God’s mouthpiece on the earth today or we don’t. I don’t agree with the latest policy change regarding the children of LGBTQ individuals. I also believe that the financial doings of the church should be made public. These are my problems. I still sustain the Prophet and Apostles.There is not a doubt in my mind that they govern this Church with the hand of the Lord. If I have a problem….it is my problem and I should go to the scriptures and find the answer. I then pray about it and get my personal revelation from the Lord. I agree that the Brethren should be more open with their answers to what ever is bothering sincere individuals seeking answers. Maybe an 800 number or an email address to accept these questions. But to open , yet another blog on the internet for every anti Mormon person to unload their views ( it gets to be to easy as I have personally done this myself) is the wrong way to meet these needs. I appreciate that you let people say what they want to say without too much in rebuttal. This tells me that you are sincerely concerned for those who don’t have a voice. But that’s not what I am reading here. I am reading anti Mormon rhetoric. This type of forum also introduces to people who have never heard of some of the rhetoric, new things that naïve people would never think of on their own. It would break my heart to see any action being taken against you because of your concerns and questions because I think I know where your heart is. Please reconsider the path you are on. The church will never be a Democracy and you and every one has the right to not sustain something they have not received personal revelation on. But to advise people to do this is asking for trouble. I once told a Stake President that if he didn’t take a certain action against someone who had broken their Priesthood and Temple Covenants, that I would have to re-think my testimony. I believe that the same punishment should be doled out to all who break those serious covenants. A Stake High Council, as you well know, makes that decision based upon their feelings after sincere prayer. I have to accept that because I sustained them as individuals called of God to that position. We have the right to personal revelation as I know that you know. If things don’t go the way we think they should go, then this is our problem. Sorry I am rambling. But I just had to say something regarding what I thought was misinformation on the 4 points you mentioned. The Best to You and may God Bless your wonderful family. When we move back to Texas, I am going to have to have a sit down talk with you….cuz I hate computers.
You really think through the issues. That’s great. One of the things I enjoy about my blog and other social web communities is that we get to discuss. That is totally lacking at church, unfortunately. There, it’s milk before meat. We never get past the milk. Milk is for children. Paul said, “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” So, thank you for participating in the discussion. Your viewpoint is informative and important. I consider you a first rate adult. Now, let me respond to some on your points.
1) “We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church.” Absolutely. Jesus has organized our church with Apostle’s at the head. I support that.
2) “The Lord will reveal his will through the prophet.” I agree with that, too. However, how do we know when a prophet is speaking as a man or actually pronouncing divine revelation? There are plenty of clear examples when they were speaking only as men. Our current apostles have now “disavowed” and “condemned” doctrine and policy that were preached by previous prophets and apostles for over 125 years. So, how do we know if the current apostles’ words are of man or of God. Jesus has given us a divine gauge for determining whether policy, doctrine, scripture, callings, etc. comes from Him. It’s called the Law of Common Consent.
3) “The Lord will reveal His will through the prophet.” He has revealed His will regarding the governance of the church. It’s called the Law of Common Consent. This Law was even ratified by common consent. The D&C has been put up for a sustaining vote of the people, a long time ago. So, here we have the will of the Lord, revealed through a prophet, and accepted by common consent. I think it’s imperative that we follow the will of the Lord. How do we know that the Law of common consent, which is mentioned 3 times in the D&C, isn’t just the word’s of a man? Because it followed the two step process designed by the Savior. First it was presented by a prophet. Second, it was sustained by the common consent of the people.
4) “You can’t remember the church being run by common consent.” Yeah, that’s a huge problem. A commandment & law that we cannot even remember the last time it was obeyed. It pains me to have to write that about my own church. I have made a temple covenant to obey God’s law and his commandments. I find it difficult to keep my temple covenants when my very church is flouting the will of the Lord revealed through His prophet, the very first prophet, Joseph Smith.
5) My 4 points of church governance. Soon, I’m going to write a blog post that details scriptures from the bible, Book of Mormon and D&C that outline common consent.
6) “It boils down to accepting the prophets and apostles as God’s mouthpiece on earth.” I agree. The very first mouthpiece, Joseph Smith, received multiple revelations saying that “all things MUST be done by common consent in the church.” These revelations have been canonized as holy scripture. And……accepted by the church by common consent. Why are we not following Joseph’s revelations that are in plain view in the scriptures?
7) The latest LGBT policy. You disagree with it. I disagree with it. Many people do. A policy like this should clearly fall under the “All things MUST be done” clause of the law of common consent. The only way that we can know if it is the will of God is to follow His commandment issued through Joseph Smith. Put it up for a vote of common consent. If it is sustained, then we have followed the proper governance procedures for the restored church. As it stand now, we have established an important policy by DISOBEYING God’s law.
8) “It would break my heart to see any action being taken against you because of your concerns and questions because I think I know where your heart is. Please reconsider the path you are on.” Thank you for your concern. It means a lot to me.
My commitment is to follow Jesus Christ. If the apostles follow Him, I’ll follow them. If they don’t follow Him, I’ll follow Jesus rather than the apostles. Jesus is my Savior, not His good, but imperfect spokesmen. The Law of Common Consent is the law of God for our church, revealed by our founding prophet.
I have made a covenant in the temple to obey the law of God and His commandments. How can I walk out of the temple and flat out disregard the law of common consent? For me, that would be tantamount to mocking the God with whom I’ve made these sacred promises, promises to obey His law. I did not make my covenants with the apostles. My promises are with God. I’m accountable to Him only. I don’t want to arrive at the judgment bar and be asked by my Savior, “Why did you dismiss and ignore my law of common consent? Why did you mock me by being apathetic about the covenants you made in the temple? Why were you not valiant in your testimony of me?
How would I answer those questions? Maybe this: Well, my Lord, the culture of the church scorned me for attempting to live your law. Or this: I might have been disciplined by church leaders for attempting to live up to my covenants.
Bottom Iine, I intend to obey this law. If someone takes action against me because I’ve chosen to value my temple covenants, so be it. I’ll go before my Savior with a clear conscience. I have been told by some that my path of voting opposed over the gay policy will result in my excommunication. I hope it won’t. I can’t imagine that it could. The night before I voted OPPOSED in the stake conference, I asked Patty, “Honey, if I were to be excommunicated because of my actions, how would you feel.” Her response, “The church would be wrong. You would walk away with your integrity intact.”
Finally, Elder Bruce McConkie: “The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake—our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men.” I take my temple covenants serious. If I have to sacrifice my reputation, good name and even my church membership, in order to keep my covenants with God, I am willing.
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Hi Sam, I totally agree with Patty. I look forward to reading your 4 point understanding of common consent. I have told you that I am ignorant when it comes to this principle. I cannot see how this works in a world wide church. We aren’t a democracy. We can’t be a democracy. I can still oppose something I don’t think is right. But, do I not sustain the GA’s because I don’t agree with one decision they have made. I guess I am missing something.
I am not the least bit worried about the Church. Jesus Christ leads this Church through his prophet on the earth. The kingdom of God will continue to grow until the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Day in and day out, the prophet receives revelation on every decision that is made regarding the church, including when to build a temple and where to build it. The prophet does not have to bring those decisions before the entire Church membership to get their “consent.”
Not once in this post or anywhere else on this blog do you exhort people to read the Book of Mormon. So, I will say it. People need to read the Book of Mormon from beginning to end, and it is something they need to keep doing throughout their lives.
People need to humble themselves and pray every day. People need to serve God and stop thinking they know better than Jesus Christ’s chosen servants.
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Thank you Anthony for saying , in a few words, what I was trying to say in half a page. We can disagree but when it comes down to it, we either believe in Christ’s organization or we don’t. It is our decision. We either believe in the Plan of Salvation, or we don’t. If something is hindering that eternal progression , it’s weeded out. I look at these days as that cleansing period. We can listen to our leaders and agree or disagree. If we disagree, the problem is with us, not with them. We just need to be sure that our relationship with Jesus Christ is well and good. If we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that someone in authority over us has broken his/her covenants, then I believe we have an obligation to report this to the Bishop. From then on, it is no longer our problem.
Janice – I don’t want to get in a bash over this, but to put it bluntly – I would like some respect that someone saying, “not all is well in Zion.” This is partially because this is causing people to leave the church. I see Sam expressing honest questions that don’t seem to be answered. The standard church answer is to say that Sam has the issue. Now there are certainly critics of the church that are intent on taking down the church. That is different and maybe it is hard to see the difference. But it seems that usually rather than answering the question, the tables are turned and shame is applied to the questioner by accusing him/her of being unrighteous.
So let me ask you a question. Was it improper for the apostle Orson Prat to consistently disagree (even in the same General Conference) with Brigham Young and his other 11 apostles on the Adam God theory (that is now vehemently denied as false doctrine even though Brigham Young had it added to the endowment ceremony for decades)?
What about letters written to Spencer W. Kimball from Dr. Lowery Nelson saying that the church had it wrong on blacks? That was certainly “opposition”. President Kimball had a copy of this letter that he wrote and underlined items. His Son says that it made President Kimball really think about the issue, which was the catalyst for the change in the policy.
I am not asking that you change your beliefs. I want to respect them. It is one thing to say, “I believe that for me I will assume if I disagree with the church leadership that I must be in error.” It seems to me this is judging others. Leave that up to God. It is another thing to say that others are in conflict with God when they are expressing a feeling that what they see in the church is not of God. Should our allegiance be primarily to God and Christ, or to the church organization?
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I don’t know what you think you read in my posting, but let me assure you that you totally missed what I was trying to say. I was trying to say “common consent” will not work in the church today, because we are just too big. The church is not a democracy and never can be. That doesn’t mean we aren’t suppose to oppose something we don’t feel right about. I just don’t see what purpose it serves to have yet another site to bash the church and its leadership. You mentioned two instances of opposition that are exactly what I have said is the way to oppose. Write letters. Explain yourself. You may be directed to your stake president. Then on to an area authority. But at least you are getting your voice heard by someone in authority. Facebook only opens the topic up to Mormon Bashers. I know Sam and know his heart. He is an amazingly kind and spiritual man with an equally amazing wife. I know that he is hurting with what he sees is going on with family and friends (many are my friends as well). I know his heart was/is in the right place when he started this blog. But, I think his blog has turned into a place to bash the leaders and gospel beliefs by those who think they know what the scriptures really say. Our relationship with God is personal and should be personal. We have the promise of personal revelation if we pray with a sincere heart. Sam is doing this to give a voice to those who don’t feel they are being heard. It has developed into a Mormon bashing area like hundreds of sites alreading flooding the Internet. Everything that has been said has been said elsewhere. I chose to follow the leadership of the church. I may not agree with them all the time, but when I don’t , I go to my Priesthood leader and let them know. What happens then is now on his shoulders and he will be held responsible for what he does with what I have said to him. My responsibility is to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ and to testify of the Plan of Salvation. Christ established the church with its present organization.
Ok. I may have been reacting to a few of your lines and not taking all that you have said. Sometimes a back and forth comments on a blog is NOT the best way to have a conversation. So please accept my apology for overstepping.
But to the point on your clarification, I too have gone to by bishop and stake president. I get responses like “well most gay people don’t stick around in our church, so the November policy isn’t a big deal.” Then I look at people that are deeply hurting over this and youth committing suicide and I can’t just wash my hands and say, “well that is up to the leaders and God.” I am honestly worried I will get to the judgement bar and be asked, “did you fight for what I was telling you in your heart you needed to do?” So what do I do to make sure my hands are clean and I can be at peace when I die?
Anthony F., it is because I have read, and re read, and re read the Book of Mormon that I AM worried about the church. The church today does not follow what is written within its keystone.
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There is no book on this planet that indicts our current gentile church we LDS created than the BOM. The BOM tells us that we would “sin against the gospel” (3 Nephi 16) and that we would pollute the Holy Church of God” and tells us explicitly how we would do it (Mormon 8:35-39). Moreover, we gentiles have added layers and layers of the “more that cometh of evil” to this church including the two most pernicious stumbling blocks aka 1) Leadership idolatry i.e., “they will never lead us astray” and 2) church idolatry–the church was never to be worshipped or have us pledge allegiance to “it”–it was only meant to be the means to leading us to Christ and not the end in and of itself.
“Never being led astray”???
There is a way a church can never be led astray and the answer is found in Sam’s post, i.e., checks and balances of “voice and common consent”
A church that believes it can never be led astray will be led astray, while a church and its members that believe they CAN be led astray will not be led astray. We have chosen the former and the folly of us gentiles have been made manifest. Our day is waning.
As Lehi learned in his dream if you follow men dressed in “white robes” they will lead you to a dead end but if we call directly on God we will find Him—no mediators and no gatekeepers
Dear Happy Hubby,
“So what do I do to make sure my hands are clean?” What an interesting question. I observe people taking several paths to achieve clean hands.
1) Support the apostles whether they are right or wrong. Of course, the leaders teach that this is the proper way to have clean hands.
2) Some wash their hands of the church and leave.
3) Some disagree with the gay policy, stay silent and don’t worry about their hands.
4) A few of us clean our hands by lifting them up at conference.
One of my points is that I want to not judge those that pick 1, 2, 3, or 4. I think that #3 is probably the most morally weak choice. But the church CULTURE is very non-confrontational. Most members now have not seen the apostles arm wrestling over issues. They have turned very inward in their deliberations and generally won’t say anything until everyone is on board. That leaves so many members assuming they are all 100% of the same mind and that makes it hard to ever say, “I am not sure the emperor has no clothes.” It seems so taboo. So I have a bit of sympathy for those that pick #3. Our minds are not made to stay in that state of cognitive dissonance. Someone in that state will have their mind frantically trying to figure out how to make sense of the situation.
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Well, Happy, I’m trying not to judge either. Sometimes it’s quite a trial. There are people that would be critical of any one of these hand washing routines. Often highly critical. I’m OK with whatever someone picks. They are intelligent thoughtful people. They will make the proper decision that works best for them and their family. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”…and His Law of Common Consent. Well….I can’t choose for my family. But, as for me….
Ok Sam, I will admit and have that I am not a scriptorian. However, I am pretty sure that Christ never established the law of common consent or said anything about it while he lived on the earth. Nor do I find anything like it in the Book of Mormon. If, in fact, Joseph Smith , translated the Book from ancient records which are supposed to be the most correct book, then where is the law of common consent in that Book. And, if Joseph revealed the law as the Lord’s mouthpiece, he also revealed polygamy as the Lord’s mouthpiece. I mention this for those (not you) who seem to want to pick and choose when Joseph was speaking for the Lord and when he just made it up. The same goes for the First Vision, the Gold Plates, etc. you and others have said that your testimony is in the teachings of Christ and not in the organization of the church. If that is true, then Christ’s church as established by him did not include a vote on what he preached. I still believe that I have the right to oppose something I believe is wrong. However, I am then under obligation to the Lord to go home from that meeting and sincerely fast and pray about my opposition. If I believe that I am right to have those feelings, then I am obligated to tell my Priesthood Authority that I don’t agree. I still sustain those who made the decision as Prophets, seers, and revelatory. It becomes my issue that I will have take up with the Lord at the judgement. I think of it as ” one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.” I will not nor can not judge the truthfulness of the gospel as a whole on one thing that I may not agree with. With that said, I would really hope that at some point the Prophet will explain the children oF LGBTQ decision. However, polygamy was really never explained.
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Hello Sam, I cant express the gratitude I feel to our Saviour in directing you to an understanding of the power of common consent in reclaiming and preserving the purity of the church. It’s incredibly simple and simply incredible. Like you and many others I felt powerless to be of any real effect in helping the Good Ship Zion to get back on course. I was in a faith crisis,demoralised, confused, isolated and helpless, it seemed, to retain my membership in the church which seemed in danger of sinking. All those negative feelings have been replaced by the knowledge of how the ship Zion can be steadied again. That you will be prospered in what you have been called to do I don’t doubt.God bless
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Today is my birthday. Your comment is the best birthday present I’ve received. Like you, the gorgeous commandment or common consent has reinvigorated my membership. It makes me feel even more valued and loved by the Savior. I’m so glad that you have caught the vision of how the Good Ship Zion can be righted.
May God bless you, my friend.
This might be a fitting quote to add to those already cited.
“Let the majority of the people turn away from the Holy Commandments which the Lord has delivered to us, and cease to hold the balance of power in the church, and we may expect the judgements of God to come upon us”
I have seen the figure of 70% used in reference to now inactive members.
Keep on keeping on Sam
(Brigham Young Journal of Discourses 10.335)
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Great quote. Thanks Margaret.