Wednesday, August 20, 2014

History, Hearsay and Heresy, Conclusion:
Hastening What Work?


Wo unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope; That say: Let him make speed, hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it.
—2 Nephi 15:18-19

In this series, we've examined a sampling of the unbeliefs that are damning us. They take the form of false doctrines, false quotations, and mythical stories designed to promote "faith." And yet, rather than learning from the past, we seem intent on continuing the problem and amplifying it. This concluding post in the series will examine the making of a modern, Mormon myth.


Consider this:

We testify fervently and often that we KNOW the current President of the church is a prophet of God. We also like to throw in even more literal titles like "the Lord's mouthpiece on earth" or "the Lord's anointed." We teach this church is founded upon revelation, run by revelation, and currently receiving revelation. We're certain of it because we KNOW it (not merely believe it) with every fiber of our being (whatever that means.)

We up the ante with our Ninth Article of Faith, canonized as scripture: 

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
And yet, nothing new has been revealed in a very, very long time. The prophet doesn't actually prophesy, publish revelations, or claim to deliver any message he got directly from God. He mostly tells stories about himself and his good works, reads us poetry and thoughts from philosophers, quotes scripture, reminisces about the past, and encourages Christian living through positive platitudes. In the face of a world exploding in unprecedented wickedness and crumbling to chaos, God's mouthpiece tells us...well...pretty much the same thing he's told us the last umpteen times we heard him speak. God, evidently, has not much else to say.

Now I completely support President Monson's right to receive revelation for the church. He has our collective common consent, and the unequivocal right to preside over the church. Whatever keys the church has, he holds them. That's not my point. I sustain him in his office and pray for him to be inspired and guided, to receive the revelatory guidance we so desperately need.


My point is that we have received no new prophecy, revelation, vision, or word from heaven in a very long time. 


Faced with the cognitive dissonance of viewing the obvious gulf between the Joseph Smith definition of prophet and the Thomas Monson definition of "prophet," we deal with it in the way our Mormon culture has taught us to. 


We invent myths. 


We're so desperate for genuine revelation, for the "great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God," for proof that our leaders are, in fact, in direct contact with heaven, that we ascribe heavenly sources to the most mundane of acts. In other words, we INVENT revelation where there is none. This obvious fact shouldn't come as a surprise, as we've already discussed in this series how we're perfectly comfortable with inventing history, inventing doctrine, and even inventing miracles to satiate our need for the divine. 


We're not above putting the words in our leaders' mouths that God didn't put there. We'll even ascribe our invented words to God Himself if necessary. And soon, we'll believe we have ourselves some bone-a-fide revelation, a cause we can get behind, a testimony of it to share, and lots and lots of meetings to discuss, explain, and encourage the myth. Oh, we do like to keep busy and distracted.


It's fascinating to watch, much like a train wreck in slow motion, only even more tragic. 

Allow me to illustrate:

A curious problem began to percolate in the church around the year 2002. That's the year the First Presidency "raised the bar" for missionary qualification, and began excluding otherwise willing and repentant young people from missionary service due to past transgression. The predictable result was that the number of missionaries in the field began plummeting from a high mark of 61,638 in 2002 to 51,067 just 2 years later. That's a drop of over 10,000 missionaries, nearly 20% of the missionary force, in 2 years--as more willing prospective missionaries were turned away and told they didn't qualify and would never qualify to serve the Lord.


The missionary numbers continued falling, when measured as a percentage of church membership. See below.




To make matters worse, convert baptisms were falling and church growth was faltering as well:







This was, as you can plainly see, not good for the church's image of vibrant and continuous growth. Drastic steps were in order, and drastic steps were taken. 

As it turns out, the point at which many young prospective missionaries, the male ones anyhow, "fell off the wagon" was that crucial year between high school graduation and the magical mission age of 19. That was the year most young men spent away from their home, parents, ward, and the influences they had grown up with. Many did just great, but sadly, many did not. They made mistakes that would forever preclude them from missionary service, no matter their desire to repent. (Remember, the bar has been raised!)


And so it was, in October, 2012, ten years after the missionary implosion, President Monson surprised the church by announcing the change in mission age. At the time, he didn't announce it as revelation--quite the contrary, he outlined that the church had been successfully testing this age change in certain missions and areas of the world for years, so it was decided to roll it out worldwide. He specifically called it a "policy" and not a "revelation."

Similarly, at the official press conference that followed this announcement, the age change was called a "change in policy" that was arrived at after testing in a few, select countries. Revelation was not mentioned. Nobody ever claimed God was behind this. 

Well, as you know, the age change policy opened up an overwhelming flood of new missionary applications as more young men, and MANY more young women opted to serve at the new earlier, and much more convenient, age. The missionary ranks quickly swelled, and the church had to scramble to provide training and places for these missionaries to labor.

Soon, the massive growth in missionary numbers became the topic of much conversation, from the ward level, all the way to top leadership. Something was changing! Something was happening! And somebody noticed a scripture they thought applied!


YES! That explains it! The Lord is hastening his work!

Never mind that the scripture in question was pulled out of context--actually spoken by the Lord when telling a group of High Priests who had been on missions to stay home. But that's OK. It fit the bill and provided an important way to tie the missionary explosion to a "prophecy." 

Incidentally, the only other time this scripture reared its head in General Conference was when Elder Nelson quoted it in 1990, saying that the time of the hastening was THEN. Oops. 

Well, in the next General Conference after the age change, a Seventy tied "hastening" to the "work of salvation." And Elder Nelson tied the wave of new missionaries to "hastening the work" and "answering the Prophet's call."

Then in the following General Conference, now a year after the announcement, four general authorities spoke on hastening the work. But none did so with quite the aplomb of Elder Gifford Nielsen of the Seventy, who titled his talk, Hastening the Lord's Game Plan, and said the following:
All over the world, stakes, districts, and missions are experiencing a new level of energy, as the Savior’s declaration to Joseph Smith in 1832 is being fulfilled: “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73). Brothers and sisters, that time is now! I feel it, and I’m sure you do also. 
(Do you find it confusing that Elder Nielsen contradicted Elder Nelson? But I digress)
By now, as you can see, the story had legs. The theme was popping up everywhere--in leadership broadcasts, in ward and stake meetings, in every stake conference, in testimonies on fast Sunday, and even on its own website. Heck, my ward did a whole-weeekend-long activity for youth based on the hastening theme.

Over and over we heard that President Monson told us it's time to hasten the work. I was actually assigned to teach the topic to my Elder's Quorum earlier this year, so I set about tracking down the original quote from President Monson about hastening the work. I wanted to read to my brethren the call from the prophet himself.

Except he never said it.

I went through every General Conference address, and every other speaking gig President Monson did since the age change, and I couldn't find even a single instance of him speaking of hastening the work. Not one.

And yet, in the April, 2014 General Conference, no fewer than FIVE speakers spoke on the "hastening," often tying it in some way to President Monson, and thus putting words he never said, squarely in his mouth.

Incidentally, President Monson has since written about hastening the work. It was in a First Presidency Message in the Ensign in June of this year. And it was about family history work. Confused? Predictably, the message has been adjusted and we are now hearing about hastening the work of salvation--among the living and the dead. No problem. 

Meanwhile, I've also been hearing increasing references to President Monson's revelation to change the mission age. Bam! We've got revelation! We've got a cause we can get behind! Whatever's going on, we're gonna HASTEN it baby!

So let's review:
  1. The church changed a policy in 2002, with disastrous consequences for missionary work
  2. In 2012, the church changed another policy, resulting in many more missionaries
  3. The resulting growth in the missionary force was tied to a scripture that didn't apply
  4. Excitement grew around the new explanation for the growth
  5. The whole thing was then pinned on President Monson as his idea
  6. And thus it became revelation
If you ask a typical Latter-day Saint to tell you what is the most recent revelation the church has received, I can almost guarantee you'll get told some flavor of the change in mission age or hastening the work. 

But the age change was NEVER presented as revelation! And the hastening NEVER came from President Monson! Nevertheless, we've invented a myth that does a good job of doing what myths do--
  • It provides us comfort that our leaders are in touch with God, so we don't have to be. 
  • It gives us evidence that we're on the Lord's team and enjoying his favor because we have an increasing number we can count and measure. We take this as proof of the Lord's favor.
  • It convinces us we're witnessing miracles when we are not.
  • It keeps us from having to awaken and arise to confront the awful prophecies about us, issued by the ancient prophets who saw us. 
  • It persuades us we are doing something important and meaningful in a world that is crumbling around us.
  • It keeps us comfortably asleep.
This one will be an interesting one to watch develop. On the one hand, our desire for the divine means we will likely continue to embellish this myth to make it even more miraculous, particularly in the face of the troubles that lie ahead. We'll call just about anything a revelation, just so we can claim revelation.

But on the other hand, a number of unintended consequences are beginning to take the shine off the "hastening." Convert baptisms are not up, despite the massive growth in missionary numbers. The primary missionary growth has come from sisters, not the elders originally targeted by the change. Missionaries are spread so thick in some areas that they have almost nothing to do. (In my area of Idaho, we're nearing one companionship per ward, in an area that's already 20% LDS) This means that the missionaries can personally contact every non-member in their area in about 3 days. And activity rates are very high, so there's little to do on the activation front either. The missionaries beg for service opportunities, and they are, literally, thrilled if you'll let them mow your lawn.

Faced with boredom, immaturity, lack of experience away from home, and few baptisms, increasing numbers of missionaries are calling it quits and coming home early. A missionary serving in my brother's ward has seen three companions leave early so far. He's been out ten months.

The Lord's work cannot be hastened. When he commences the gathering, it will not be in haste. The scriptures warn us not to hope the Lord will hasten his work, because we should be in no hurry to encounter the coming destruction. 

Why-oh-why don't we read the scriptures?

By inventing this myth and calling it revelation, we're doing exactly what's been done by past generations, ancient and modern. We're putting misleading words in the prophet's mouth, based on our own false beliefs, then claiming they came from God. Joseph Smith preached on Ezekiel 14 both early and late in his ministry. I believe this is why.

It's misleading, it's dishonest, it will damn us. We should stop.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is wondrous and amazing. It is stimulating and exciting. If you find it boring and stale, you should stop relying on others to spoon-feed you the same worn-out, warmed-over garbage we get in our manuals, and start seeking the Lord for yourself. The opportunities before us are incredible beyond words. 

If we spend our time and attention studying the truth, there's no time for, and certainly no need for, faith-promoting rumors, falsehoods for history, hearsay for prophecy, and heresy for doctrine. 

The truth is infinitely better than the myths. The knowledge of God is the only thing that will satisfy our yearning souls. 

If you must hasten something, hasten your efforts to know Him.


********

Postscript January 13, 2016: Not surprisingly, Elder Russel M. Nelson has officially declared, over 3 years after the fact, that the missionary age change came as a result of a revelation to President Monson. I've written about it here.

46 comments:

  1. I just attended my first day of Education week at BYU on Tuesday and was told by one of the instructors that 60% of returned missionaries leave the Church. He said they estimate that 20% will eventually return but that still means around 50% leave and never come back. My instructor said he was stunned when he was told those numbers by a General Authority.

    I, on the other hand, was not surprised.

    How ironic! If you want your child to stay active in the Church, then you shouldn't be sending him or her on a mission. The odds are against you. And I say this from experience. My own son's mission was a disaster.

    Bruce

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    1. I'd say that statistic is about right. My mission was from '97 to '99 and I'm facebook friends with most of the missionaries I knew at that time. About half of them are no longer active in the Church.

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  2. Excellent post.

    This sort of nonsense (the effect you write about, not your post) is what happens when people are given a belief map and then go about actively seeking to create reasons why that belief map must be correct.

    A better approach, one endorsed by Joseph Smith himself, is to go about seeking truth, and make the inevitable (and painful) adjustments as you go: "“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft..."

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  3. You are on the high road to Apostasy (intentionally capitalized), my friend.

    You are looking at Mormonism too closely, and you obviously care, a lot. Those two things will inevitably lead to the ultimate and foregone conclusion the church is simply not what it claims to be.

    Don't believe me? Keep studying, keep searching and keep caring. It only leads to one place. The church can only survive as long as the members put their heads down, pay no heed to the warning bells around them, and do as they are told. You're obviously not following the required mantra.

    God speed, good buddy.

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    1. Hi George, if that is the required mantra for members of the church then it is being inspired by Satan (capital S) and not the Lord (capital L ;)) and his servants.
      I don't think any of God's servants are saying "All is Well in Zion." That is Satan's inspired mantra (2 Ne 28: 19-24) They always speak of growth and seeking the Lord. Nothing new there. I'm a member and I've gotten the message. I seek the Lord every day and try my best to serve him. The church is the vehicle by which we have been given opportunities to serve. Those that are found in loving service will be those still standing at the last day. That has been demonstrated quite well in the life of our current prophet. He shares that message beautifully. That is the message and the mantra of the Lord. That is the covenanted "mantra" that we serve and give our all to building up the kingdom of God and not tearing it down. Until the Lord removes his name from the church it is His and I've covenanted to support and sustain the guys he chooses to lead it. They aren't perfect, but they are all he's got and he deals...
      So should we! We all need to consider ourselves fools before God, because we are. These people don't want to be worshiped. If anyone is doing that, we should stop it.

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  4. the church is going to implode if it keeps all this up

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  5. A remarkable a timely post. Well done! I'm sharing this far and wide.

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    1. I'm not surprised...anything you can find to give the church a black eye you publish "far and wide". Anything that is uplifting and (True) is omitted from your blog.

      Friar Tuck

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  6. Monson will announce any day now that every worthy young woman should be a missionary.

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  7. It's really quite astonishing how many of these "myths' really exist. I remember a prominent leader stating one time that things we read on the internet is like reading things written on bathroom wall.

    Unfortunately for the church, it isn't the lies on the "bathroom wall" that deter others from investigating the church, it is the unacknowledged truths that do the most harm.

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  8. Well said, Adrian. In the face of self-generated hoorah for the Church, its leaders and programs, your increased loyalty to Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon is striking. There are a handful of folks who believe as you do being shown the door from the claimed big tent of Mormonism. Do you find receptive hearts among your circle of influence? Good strength to you.

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  9. Your entire thesis is flawed.

    You assume that policy does not equal revelation.

    You assume that raising the bar in 2002 was disastrous to missionary work, when the church has still been growing, just not at the rates seen in previous decades. Perhaps retention has improved in that time? Perhaps more RMs are remaining in the church? Perhaps there is less sin in God's missionaries. Perhaps this is a good thing...

    You assume that the age change policy was not revelation.

    You assume that D&C 88:73 was directed to the missionaries who were called to stay home..........read it again and again until you realize that it says, "I will hasten my work in ITS TIME"-- which means, NOT in 1832 or 1833, whenever that exact verse was revealed.

    Interestingly, the verses of scripture preceding v73 have a lot to say about the way the modern church is led....as a voice in the wilderness....by the Spirit......we must sanctify ourselves so that we can hear......we must not let our minds be idle (blog pontifications).....

    The whole thing was then pinned on President Monson as his idea.........um, maybe it was his idea and he didn't want to say? We don't know. Do we need a "thus saith the Lord" to believe that hastening the work is a good idea, that we are not the hasteners of whom Isaiah speaks?

    The problem with you, Rock Waterman and other modern day -ites is you find it all too easy to attack and find fault with church leadership, much the same way as the small flocks did in the early ancient church. Guess what happened to them? They destroyed it. The apostles didn't destroy it. The flock did. That's the guide given to us as to how the devil works best.

    Fortunately, there are those who are AUTHORIZED to lead the church and I believe God sanctions them and seals in heaven what is done on earth, be it through revelation, policy, whatever. It happens quietly. It happens slowly. It happens powerfully. It happens without the signs people like you seek. But by their fruits you shall know them.

    I like some of what you say. We can always improve. But the bottom line is that me, you, Rock, Denver, et al, have no authority!

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    1. Josh,

      Thank you for your reply. You obviously care about this a great deal, as we all should.

      I assume the age change policy was not revelation because nobody we sustain as prophet, seer and revelator ever said it was revelation. They said the opposite. Joseph Smith said a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such. If that's the case, we can either:

      1. Assume everything the prophet ever says or does is revelation, in which case we have some pretty big problems with our history and doctrine; or

      2. Trust the prophet to tell us what is revelation, as Joseph Smith did continually. If the prophet says it's a policy change, I believe him. And I believe he is perfectly capable of telling the church when a revelation has been received.

      If we assume everything the prophet says or does is revelation, we not only get ourselves in some severe historical trouble, but we also head down a dangerous road Joseph and Brigham warned us about by not going to the Lord for ourselves.

      Elder Uchtdorf said the leaders make mistakes. It's OK. We're all mortal and we should allow each other the latitude to err.

      I'm glad we agree that we as members can improve. That's the point, isn't it?

      Godspeed, brother. Thanks again for caring enough to comment.

      Adrian

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    2. Josh, whomever you are, I love your comment. Adrian, I love you and your family. I think working on your tone and your writing style would help. I have been guilty of arrogance in tone and in my heart so I know it when I see it. Confirmational bias is our test for this day. The scriptures can confirm any bias we hold that is not true. We can wrest them and warp them any way we please, but it doesn't mean we are right or that we should share our conclusions. It is up to each of us to ponder our hearts and the path of our feet. Maybe you could say that and leave it at that! Of course you can say anything you like, it is your blog! Haha! Just beware of Pride!
      I just had a great conversation with your sister in law. She happens to be my VT. Love her! Anyway, she explained a bit more, but I still don't feel good inside about what you are doing. I'll check my own biases and my own heart, but I'm pretty sure what Josh is saying here is correct. Is it truly inspiration from the right source to share these thoughts of yours in such a public manner? The Lord sees so much more than we mortals can see. We are all he has got though so he deals with it!
      What really is the point for you? Are you saying the whole church went off course after Joseph Smith? What is the point to this article besides the obvious and already stated one over and over by our leaders that we must seek our own light? Keep seeking, but don't let a root of bitterness grow where love and light should be. That always leads to the fruit of rebellion. Go in Peace, Brother!

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    3. Josh, love your comment. I too am tired of these false prophets that think to "steady the ark" without any mandate or calling from the Lord. They are simply rogues that have gone off on their own, and are interpreting scripture to their own liking. Waterman keeps spouting off D+C 10:67, trying to say that that one, small scripture delivered at the beginning of the book defines what the church is.

      Friar Tuck

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    4. Hi Friar Tuck,

      Thanks for commenting. I think it's worth being a bit careful about assuming we know who has a mandate or calling from the Lord. The Lord calls, empowers, and speaks to whom he will, regardless of church office. Scripture is abundantly clear on this point.

      As for the D&C 10 scripture, here is what it says:

      67 Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.

      68 Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

      The Lord makes it clear who he considers part of his church, and also makes it clear that any other definition is not valid. So yes, one small scripture, from the Lord's mouth, defines his church. If you say otherwise, you are "against" him. It couldn't be more clear.

      I'm amazed at the lengths to which people will go to claim the Lord didn't say what he said, or didn't mean what he said. I think it's safer to assume he speaks in plain meanings and means what he says, regardless of what we may think about it.

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    5. So it's as simple as that? The church does not also consist of the priesthood offices, temples and ordinances, buildings, and all the other revelations that were given to Joseph Smith to flesh out that simple scripture? I strongly disagree with you...that scripture is a metaphor just like when Jesus said he would gather us under his wings like a chicken gathers her chicks. If what you are saying is true, then Mormonism is no different than any other mainstream Christian sect, and we do not need the priesthood, or temples.

      Friar Tuck

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    6. Yes, Friar Tuck. I realize it doesn't match your mental map of the definition of "church." Perhaps you need to toss out your mental map, consider yourself a fool before God, and start as a little child to read and believe what Christ actually said.

      Christ did not say it is an organization, offices, buildings, manuals, activities, budgets, meetings, dress code, schedule, hierarchy, conference, list of ordinances, temple, or any of the dozens of other things we tend to associate with the word "church."

      The Lord recognizes as his church the body of people who repent and come unto him.

      So we ought to be anxiously searching to understand what it means to repent, and what it means to come unto him. These are the vital and important issues. (Hint: These do not mean what the map in our heads says either. Time to start fresh.)

      Christ listed two items. Then he said that anyone who declares more than these is against him. Why declare more than these?

      On a related note, it's very important to understand what the scriptures call "The Doctrine of Christ." 3 Nephi 11 and 2 Nephi 31-32 clearly spell it out. This is another situation where we have declared much more than the Lord has authorized.

      It is by learning and obeying the doctrine of Christ that we come unto Christ. Everything else is just fluff and distraction.

      It's possible to spend a lifetime of effort and activity in the long list of church programs and offices, and never repent or come unto Christ. Sadly, this is more common than we care to admit.

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  10. Hmmm...I get your point here. But, something feels really off to me. Before I read the scriptures each day, I ask for a message from the Lord just for me. He tells me where to go in the scriptures and we have a conversation about it. It's wonderful and I love, love, love the scriptures. I feel that I am growing up unto the Lord. I feel closer to him each day and it makes me want to seek after the good the true and the beautiful in every one and everything. I feel to hasten the work in my own circle and spread the light I have far and wide in loving service to my fellow bros and sisters. As a 42 year old woman, this is what is expected of me. It is a natural process in the maturation of true gospel living. We all have our own time tables for growing up and seeing things as they are and as they really will be. I do not see how criticizing our prophet will help anything or anyone. Your post reeks of arrogance. For my thoughts are not your thoughts and my ways are not your ways saith the Lord. Who the hell are you to know the mind and will of the Lord as given to his chosen prophets? Maybe there is great purpose in the way and manner of their speaking. Maybe and I think this is what you are saying in part, there is a test here for us to get the light on our own. You are walking a treacherous line my friend. Take heed and beware for the devil desireth to have thee that he may sift thee as wheat. God Bless!

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  11. Suzanne,

    I'm so glad to hear you are going to the Lord and seeking his word. That's wonderful! And you are exactly right, we all must do all we can in our own circles to promote truth and the cause of Christ. Time is short and it's so important we get our errand from Him, then have the courage to do as he asks. It's not always easy, but then again I don't believe the gospel is supposed to be easy.

    I'm sorry if I come across as arrogant. That is certainly not my intent, though admittedly I have a great deal to improve in my writing style. I only to seek to do what is asked of me, no matter how difficult it is, or how much criticism it causes me. As you say, there's a test here for each of us to seek the light on our own.

    Keep seeking the light, Suzanne. I will to. God bless you on your journey.

    Adrian

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  12. God, creator of everything, does not need a man to speak to you. Religions, and the men who run them, are the blind leading the blind.

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  13. And we can remember that if 10 million people decide to leave the Church, it's their own responsability, not the Prophet's. You can't evaluate the "prophetic quality" of the President through numbers. According to this, Noah wasn't a good prophet (8 converts only... during 700 years!!). I think we can be confused about the principle of responsability. We can be projecting our own failures on the President.

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  14. Another thing: God sends angels, special visits, miracles, or voices only when it's necessary. He will not do anythying you can do by yourself. Do you think Abraham or Paul or Peter talked with the Lord once a month, or even once a year?? Do you think they didn't make mistakes in administration policies??

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  15. If God sends angels or does miracles or speaks to the people directly only when necessarily, then how do you explain so many instances in The Book of Mormon? Was their life so much different than someone today? What about the scriptures that Adrian quoted in his earliest posts about certain signs shall (not could or might) follow them that believe? Was that only true in a pre information technology world?

    Have we allowed knowledge to replace faith? If these things are not happening today it is because faith no longer exists. Read this blog from start to finish and see what it is he is referring to. Have you been taught to expect these types of experiences or that they are exceptions to the rule? Maybe it's time to check what causes this unbelief.

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  16. I'm searching for truth no matter where I find it. However, your article on the surface seems to lead the reader to believe that for some reason those in the COB aren't leading with revelation.

    I'm not sure about you but I've never prayed over a policy change.

    With that in mind why did President Monson in his address where he announced the age change say,

    "As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve."

    Sounds like revelation or inspiration to me.

    What I hate about these types of blogs is that there's always a personal axe to grind. Never subjection used on the posts.

    There's no middle ground.

    You have the TBM never acknowledging that there are errors in our history or doctrinal teaching today.

    Then you have the wolves in sheep clothing trying to pose as a member of the flock only to lead them into "forbidden paths" (1 Ne. 8:28).

    I've yet to come across anyone that is willing to call it both. Does it have to be an either or?

    I'm not saying that it's a bit odd that the the theme of Hastening the Work is being tied to President Monson when he never once mentioned the term or scripture in his remarks on that subject.

    If a certain piece of information doesn't support your argument, leave it out. I'd rather have you omit something than intentionally try to mislead by bending the facts.

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  17. Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for this comment. It's a perfect illustration of what I'm talking about.

    President Monson said he prayerfully pondered. He did not say he received a revelation in answer to that prayer.

    I prayerfully ponder many things, and I'm sure you do to. Sometimes I receive answers about those things, and sometimes the Lord leaves me to study, search, and ponder more.

    But I know when I get an answer. I can tell anyone who asks which decisions I've made myself, and which I have made in obedience to personal revelation.

    Saying "I prayed about it" is not the same thing as saying "the Lord has directed me to do this."

    If President Monson received revelation about the age change, he certainly didn't say so. He said he prayed. And yet, you're taking the position that this means he received revelation. In other words, you're putting words in his mouth that he didn't say. And this is exactly what I mean in this post.

    Please understand, I'm not being critical of you at all; so no need to take offense. I'm merely pointing out what is part of our groupthink. It's something we all do without realizing it. We WANT our leaders to receive revelation, so we take any opportunity we can to say they are.

    It's not helped by the ambiguous or misleading statements that are made for us to run with.

    Rather than saying we've "prayerfully pondered" this decision, isn't it just as easy to say, "I've asked and the Lord has revealed to me that it's his will for young men to be eligible to serve at 18 and sisters at 19."--NOW it’s a revelation.

    Just as easy to say, but a VERY different statement.

    Perhaps in another post I'll give some examples of this sort of ambiguous statement that is commonly made by church leaders who won't come right out and say what they mean, but will make statements designed to lead us to believe they have said something they have not.

    God is direct about revelation. Joseph Smith was direct about revelation. Why should it be ambiguous, and why should WE say the prophet has received a revelation when HE isn't willing to say so? He IS the prophet, after all. It's well within his rights to receive revelation for the church. Why not say so? Why hide it? Should revelation to the church be secret?

    I believe it is very risky for us to start claiming things in the name of the prophet that he doesn’t claim.

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  18. "The Lord cannot always be known by the thunder of His voice, by the display of His glory or by the manifestation of His power, and those that are the most anxious to see these things, are the least prepared to meet them, and were the Lord to manifest His powers as He did to the children of Israel, such characters would be the first to say, 'Let not the Lord speak any more, lest we His people die.'" -Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 247

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  19. I think the post is excellent, truthful, written with clarity, non-judgmental and direct. I see no pride or ill- will behind it. It is a message I wish I had written. Well done. I agree with it completely.
    Toby

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    1. So do I. The post was well written and true.

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  20. "And yet, in the April, 2014 General Conference, no fewer than FIVE general authorities spoke on the "hastening," nearly always tying it in some way to President Monson. They put the words he never said, squarely in his mouth."

    Not seeing these "hastening" words being tied to Pres. Monson at all from April 2014 conference, much less being put "squarely in his mouth." Can you provide the 5 references/examples? Presumably at least 4 of the 5 examples will do this unless I misunderstand what you mean by "nearly all."

    In my quick search of the April 2014 conference, I found only 5 total talks that even mentioned "hasten" in one form or another. Four by "general authorities" and one by Sister Burton (Pres. of Relief Society), who may not be considered a "general authority" by all of your readers. This seems to be a far cry from "no fewer than FIVE" as you claim. You even YELLED it!

    Don't have time to check all you claim in this blog, but it's a bit disheartening to have the first thing I briefly check come out differently than you claim. Hope you can tell me what I missed.

    I've read your whole blog and find it quite interesting. I'll find it much less interesting if there are misstatements.

    Thanks. Bill.

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    1. Dear Bill,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to check my references and to comment. I’m humbled and inspired that you find this important topic worthwhile, as I do.

      To answer your question, here are the references, verbatim, from all 5 talks, together with my comments. I'll have to split it into two comments, due to size:


      LINDA K. BURTON
      Relief Society General President

      "Together, as sisters and in unity with living prophets, seers, and revelators with restored priesthood keys, we can walk as one, as disciples, as servants with willing hearts and hands to hasten the work of salvation."

      You are correct. She is not a general authority. She is a general officer. Perhaps this distinction is worth noting, but only if we’re willing to discount her words, given over the pulpit at General Conference, as somehow less important than her male counterparts. I don’t believe you or I would do such a thing.

      By tying this hastening to living prophets, seers, revelators, and keys, I hold that is most certainly a reference to President Monson, who holds all the keys.

      ELDER QUENTIN L. COOK
      Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

      "What a great time to be alive. This is the last dispensation, and we can feel the hastening of the work of salvation in every area where a saving ordinance is involved."

      ———

      "When then-Elder Monson delivered those dedicatory remarks on June 20, 1964, there were only 12 operating temples. During the period President Monson has served in the senior councils of the Church, 130 of our 142 operating temples have had their initial dedication. It is nothing short of miraculous to see the hastening of the work of salvation in our day."

      ———-

      "Family history technology has also advanced dramatically. President Howard W. Hunter declared in November 1994: “We have begun using information technology to hasten the sacred work of providing ordinances for the deceased. The role of technology … has been accelerated by the Lord himself. … However, we stand only on the threshold of what we can do with these tools.”

      "In the 19 years since this prophetic statement, the acceleration of technology is almost unbelievable."

      ———

      "The leadership of the Church has issued a clarion call to the rising generation to lead the way in the use of technology to experience the spirit of Elijah, to search out their ancestors, and to perform temple ordinances for them.(26) Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by you young people."

      26.  See First Presidency letter, Oct. 8, 2012; see also David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 24–27; R. Scott Lloyd, “‘Find Our Cousins’: Apostle [Neil L. Andersen] Counsels LDS Youth at RootsTech Conference,” Church News, Feb. 16, 2014, 8–9.

      ———

      "For those who are looking for more fruitful use of the Sabbath day for the family as a whole, the hastening of this work is fertile ground."

      As you can see, Elder Cook makes a number of references to hastening the work. In paragraph 2, he uses President Monson’s name. In paragraph 5, he ties it to the “Leadership of the Church," in the form of a letter from the First Presidency, referenced in footnote 26.

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    2. RANDALL L. RIDD
      Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency

      "The divine purpose of technology is to hasten the work of salvation. As members of the choice generation, you understand technology. Use it to accelerate your progress toward perfection. Because you have been given much, you too must give (see “Because I Have Been Given Much,” Hymns, no. 219). The Lord expects you to use these great tools to take His work to the next level, to share the gospel in ways that are beyond my generation’s wildest imagination."

      Elder Ridd ties it directly to the Lord. Granted, this is not a direct reference to President Monson, unless we were to stretch it to say if it came from the Lord to the church, it came through President Monson. Most members would make this connection. Some would not.

      PRESIDENT HENRY B. EYRING
      First Counselor in the First Presidency

      "I know of a branch president who almost every day brings people to the missionaries for them to teach. Just a few months ago he was not yet a member of the Church. Now there are missionaries teaching and a branch growing in numbers and strength because of him. But more than that, he is a light to others who will open their mouths and so hasten the Lord’s gathering of the children of Heavenly Father."

      Elder Eyring does not tie the hastening to President Monson, but he is a member of, and speaks for, the First Presidency.


      ELDER M. RUSSELL BALLARD
      Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

      "As President Thomas S. Monson has said, “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him.”(5)

      "It is my testimony that as we work together, seeking the one, inviting, and following up with trust and faith, the Lord will smile upon us and hundreds of thousands of God’s children will find purpose and peace in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. May the Lord bless all of us in our efforts to hasten the work of salvation, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

      Elder Ballard calls President Monson by name, and quotes him, tying his quote to hastening the work.

      OK, so there are the quotes and the relevant information. I’ll leave it to the reader to judge whether

      a) there is a dominant theme of hastening the work, mentioned by five different speakers, and

      b) whether that theme is tied to President Monson.

      The connection looks pretty strong to me.

      However, I think you also make a good point, that I may be over-emphasizing the connection. Therefore I will edit the text of the blog post to be more clear. I agree with you that it’s important to state it correctly and clearly.

      Thanks for bringing this up, and for reading my poor scratchings.

      —Adrian

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  21. Adrian,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Looks like you and I found the same talks.

    Bill

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  22. Perhaps this is why Pres Monson Fox not call it a revelation:
    “There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. [Gives an example].. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation.“
    (Joseph Smith, TPJS, pp. 214-215(emphasis added))
    It is just a policy change, and can therefore be changed again if needs be, without contradicting a revelation.
    This is from a good blogpost about this topic.http://zomarah.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/follow-the-prophet-dont-go-astray/

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  23. Haha, stupid auto correct. ...Pres Monson did not call it... Not calling the prophet a fox. :)

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  24. Great posts! You are part of this great storm in Ezekial 13:
    Using the NIV version, which really makes things clearer, Ezekiel chapter 13 has the Lord, through Ezekiel, prophesy against the prophets of Israel. “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” [vs. 3] They say, “The Lord declares,” when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. [vs. 6]
    Then the Lord says, My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations….Because they lead my people astray, saying “Peace,” when there is no peace. [All is well in Zion] and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash. [vs. 9 – 10. Yep, that is what they have done with Church history, and the goings on at the Church Office Building]
    Therefore, tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones, hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?” [vs. 11-12. In other words, what about all the things you have been telling us all throughout the years or not telling us!]
    Then the Lord says, “In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones, and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury.” [vs. 13. Aren’t Denver Snuffer, Rock Waterman, you and others these instruments in the hand of the Lord to tear down their flimsy wall?] “I will tear down thy wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. [vs. 14. That is what is happening – the storm is getting back to the foundation of the Church and destroying the whitewashed flimsy walls] When it falls, you will be destroyed in it, and you will know that I am the Lord.” [They are being “destroyed” by the truth, by exposing the foundation]
    So I will spend my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declared the Soverign Lord.” [vs. 15-16]

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  25. Wow! If the previous comment isn't the philosophies of men mingled with scripture, then I don't know what is! You take a reinterpreted version of the Bible and throw in your own interpretation of each verse? Adrian, you said we need to take D&C 43 in context, and yet you post a comment that is from a book that was clearly written about Jerusalem, without correction? I understand that we cannot rely on the arm of flesh. I understand that we call things revelation that are not revelation. I understand that prophets are men, and therefore fallible. But the above comment seems blasphemous to me. Are you saying that false prophets are leading the Church? Because if you are, just come right out and say it, please.

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  26. I meant Section 112, not 43, sorry.

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    1. I don't edit comments. There are certainly many varying viewpoints, and comments posted here with which I disagree, but there have only been two that were so patently offensive that I declined to post them (both were attacks on Joseph Smith). I try to allow all viewpoints as much as possible because we can all learn from various viewpoints, even those with which we disagree.

      I found the comment to be worthwhile, particularly in the idea that we have, indeed, whitewashed certain parts of our history. I took the thrust of the comment to be that the Lord will tear down falsehoods, rather than to be an attack on church leaders.

      I do not believe that false prophets are leading the church. Keep in mind, the point of my original post is that we, as members, tend to act the role of false prophets ourselves by putting words in our prophets' mouths.

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    2. Thank you for the clarification. I wouldn't expect you to edit comments. By correction I meant a follow up comment.

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  27. Adrian:

    I'm 'late to the game' here, but I found this post excellent. Like many others, I've heard the "hastening the work" mantra over and over, but I didn't know the original source. I find it to be just another slogan like SWK's "Do It!" was in the 70's. Thanks again for your great analysis.

    Rollo Tomasi

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  28. I stand in an interesting position. I recently (we're talking like within 4 months here...) came home from my mission (from Salt Lake City, Utah of all places) and my mind, heart and eyes have all been opened to these things. I made a little "scripture chain" to what the Lord meant by "His work" (What really is His work? Moses 1:39- What is His Glory?, what is Eternal life?- D&C 93:36 and John 17:3 respectively), and I loved what you typed at the end there. So with this perspective in mind, and with my recent experience of coming home from that place, from my mission, I would like to share some of my thoughts concerning the matter:
    When this "announcement" came out while I was on my mission, it was received very well among the forces already out. It was exciting to hear about younger people coming (although I was quite envious of their position to get their missions over with at an earlier age than myself). But we as a mission were beyond excited. This meant more baptisms, more work, more young, energy filled people to do with whom we could now do more work. Shortly after this announcement and the tying of the "hastening of the work" to the world-wide broadcast in June 2013- we experience a "drought". Now being home I have returned to my mission area, and have spoken with my mission president. The numbers remain the same.
    Anyway, I thought I would share a personal experience with this announcement, and to let you know firsthand, that before this announcement was made, we experienced tremendous success in that mission. Then that announcement came and the "stats" dropped significantly. Thanks for bringing this up. I love all of this.

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  29. Adrian,

    I hope you do not share the fate of other bloggers, like Rock Waterman. His incessant complaining about the church has caused every nut-job anti Mormon around to gravitate to his comment section. He also recommends books by people that he, himself, has not read, and that contain outrageous and weird doctrines. You seem like a decent, and humble fellow. Good Luck.

    Friar Tuck

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  30. I just got out of a stake leadership training meeting taught by a member of the Seventy. He described deliberations among the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve on how best to hasten the work and address religious drift in the church. Their solution? To re-emphasize the holiness of the sabbath so we'll be more inclined to hear the direction of the Holy Ghost. A great idea! Whatever you call it, if it hastens our willingness to repent and draw closer to Jesus Christ it's a good step forward. For those still in the church, expect to hear a lot about honoring the sabbath in the coming months.

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