Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Manufacturing Noitalever

As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:9


Some time ago, I wrote about the mission-age-change related “Hastening the Work” emphasis of the LDS church, and how it came to be called revelation, even though the LDS prophet never said it. As I pointed out in that post, the process worked exactly in reverse. There was first a trial run, followed by a policy change, then explanations and clarifications, and ultimately the pronouncement that it was revelation.

But good precedent existed for this backward process. For example, when the ban was lifted on black men receiving priesthood, what started as a policy change, mandated by social, financial and political expediency, ended up being called revelation, though there never was a revelation. (If there was, please tell me where I can find it. I realize Official Declaration 2 says there was one, but the actual revelation has never been offered.) Those who were present describe a decision-making process, not a revelation.

A “revelation” requires something to be revealed. And while it’s possible to claim a policy change “reveals” a new direction in policy, I’d reply that my breakfast order “reveals” what I want for breakfast. It’s technically true, but devoid of any real meaning or new understanding.

The priesthood ban has been lifted, but no clarification has ever been offered to explain over a hundred years of LDS prophets and apostles declaring doctrines now regarded as false. In this case, the silence on the subject is the most revealing part of all.

New Revelation

This brings us to President Nelson’s declaration on Sunday—that the recent policy change denying baptism to children of gay parents, was actually not just a policy change, but the result of a revelation to President Monson. (As was the missionary age change, noted President Nelson.)

Of course, no revelation has been offered to the membership of the church on this matter. No explanation of why the LDS church is now contradicting the Doctrine of Christ has been provided by the Lord or the prophet. The last pronouncement I’m aware of was given by the Lord Himself:
Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. (3 Nephi 11:23)  
I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. (3 Nephi 11:32-33)
Note the requirements preceding baptism include faith and repentance. No more, no less. 

The Lord, in explaining His Doctrine, also insisted it must never be changed by men:
And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them. (3 Nephi 11:40)
Backward Revelation

So here’s the point. LDS revelation now seems to be operating in reverse. Rather than the prophet receiving a message from God and presenting it to the church, we instead see policy changes secretly implemented, then discovered, protested, explained, and eventually declared revelation well after the fact. Or, as one Facebook commenter put it:
I find it interesting that we now find out this was a revelation received by Monson, which was declared by Nelson, after being “clarified” by Church PR, after being explained by Christofferson, after being published by an apostate, after being leaked by an anonymous source, after being published in a document most most members cant see. 
Gods work is mysterious indeed.
It seems this backward revelation is coming from the wrong end of this process. I thought that only happened to Balaam.

But Why?

Well, since you asked, let me lay out what I think is happening. 

  1. There’s only one doctrine left in the LDS church: “Follow the Prophet.” Everything else, including scripture, must bow to this prime directive.

  2. This prime directive is held sacrosanct at all costs because it is the only means by which current leaders can maintain control. Do not question them; they cannot lead you astray. Or so they tell us. Sit down, shut up, stay in the boat.

  3. Polling shows this doctrine has been received very well by LDS membership. The vast majority of church members will gladly surrender their own thinking the moment they’re told the prophet thinks differently (see proof below).

  4. Therefore, if the LDS church makes a controversial policy decision, the best way to instantly shore up member support and quell controversy is to declare the decision was actually a revelation. BAM! End of discussion. Got it?
Here are a couple of examples of the above:

When the LDS church was reconsidering its support of scouting last August, a professional poll showed 63% of active church members were against scouting. But once the church announced its intent to stay with scouting, a new poll showed that among the same demographic, 81% were in favor of scouting. Thats a massive swing. In fact that’s an absolutely unheard-of swing! To go from 63% against, to 81% in favor, in less than a month, demonstrates just how powerful LDS leadership is in forming the opinions of active members.

Similarly, though polling suggests that only around 10% of LDS church members favor ordaining women to the priesthood, that number goes up to 77% who would favor it if the prophet said so. 

It's a Lever

In other words, LDS thought is not shaped by scripture, study, reason, understanding, or even personal revelation. One item trumps all these. Propose any idea, then pull the revelation lever, and the membership robotically falls in line. Period. 

It doesnt matter if the revelation comes precisely backward, starting as a policy change, then morphing through explanations and PR claims until its finally called “revelation” to rally acceptance and maintain control. Come to think of it, the whole process makes more sense when you spell revelation backward: 

NOITALEVER... No, it(s) a lever. 

Politicians lie, scramble, scheme and agitate just to move a poll a point or two. They would kill for this sort of power over thought, by simply pulling a lever. It's leverage, you see.

One lesson to learn is that LDS leadership can easily change a wide variety of church policies, teachings, or even doctrines. They can contradict scripture, past leaders, even themselves...and the active membership will unthinkingly fall in line, supporting and defending whatever they’re told to. This is worth noting and remembering. 

When the prophet directly contradicts the words of Christ in scripture, we all have the opportunity to show who we worship.

LDS church leaders tell us it’s impossible for them to lead us astray. Therefore, by definition, everything they say or do is correct, and the de facto will of God, even when later church leaders tell us that earlier church leaders were wrong. In the end, when everything is revelation, nothing is. The lever only works as long as people dont pay attention or think.

A much better, and certainly safer approach, is for each of us to learn to hear the Lords voice for ourselves. Then it wont matter what men and institutions tell us. Ultimately, He is the only source of truth. 
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
How Far will YOU Follow?

This all begs the question of just how far true believers will go in following the prophet, when every pronouncement is unquestioningly accepted as revelation. To potentially answer this question, we need look no further than the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS church. 

***Warning: Graphic Content Follows *** 

The following is not family friendly or pleasant. But it is true and worth understanding.

As you may be aware, Warren Jeffs, the prophet of the FLDS church, is currently serving a life prison sentence for having sex with children as young as 12, whom he called his wives. But despite his incarceration, he still pronounces “revelation” and controls his congregation from prison, through his brother, Lyle Jeffs. 

Warren has made a number of strange pronouncements since being imprisoned, but perhaps the strangest is that members of the FLDS church are no longer allowed to have sex, even within marriage. If married spouses have sexual relations, even once, they will be excommunicated. 


Sexual privilege is now reserved for certain inner-circle men Jeffs calls “seed bearers who have reluctantly shouldered the sacred responsibility of impregnating all the FLDS women. Only the chosen seed may reproduce. 


Further, Jeffs has required that other men, who are not chosen “seed bearers must hold their wifes hands while the chosen man spreads his seed. 


In laymans terms, the 
“prophet” has banned husbands from intimate relations with their own wives, instead requiring those husbands to hold their wives hands and watch while their wives are raped by another man or men. The prophet alone dictates the adultery. Thus saith the Lord, through his prophet, after all. 

I hate even having to point out something so repulsive and offensive to God. But remember, these are Saints who claim to believe the same scriptures you do, who accept Joseph Smith and his successors as prophets, who worship in a temple, and who follow the prophet in the same way LDS people do. They consider that their very salvation hangs on obeying this man, just as LDS leaders teach about themselves.


How far would you follow the prophet?



Is this Criticism?

One final thought. Ive been asked why I refuse to simply leave the LDS church alone and go on my way. Some assume I am an enemy of the church, or that I get some sort of pleasure from publishing criticism. This is not the case.

I write about tragedy in an attempt to help us avoid it. 

How can we ever become godly if we dont know scripture? If we lack understanding and refuse to study? If we cannot reason? If we fail to think? 

How can we ever exercise agency if we immediately surrender it to whatever PR announcement results from corporate polling, or gets leaked from a secret manual? 

How will we ever come to know God if we unflinchingly fall in line behind every false pronouncement made by another mortal? 

These things matter. Faith in Christ and personal revelation matter. The words of Christ in scripture matter. He never told us to unthinkingly, blindly, follow a man. Doing so leads to damnation, and too many good people are blinded by this subtle craftiness. (D&C 123:12)

As Ive explained in the past, the building is burning. But I dont care about the building. Im trying to reach the people inside.


And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him. And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.


And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord...



—1 Nephi 8:5-8

20 comments:

  1. Fantastic picture of elder Perry and elder Nelson! How true, how true.....We blindly follow. Christ requires so much more. We only need to trust in Him, hear His voice, repent, understand His scriptures, sacrifice, and obey....not blindly follow. I choose Christ, for he is mighty to save. I choose The Book or Mormon. I choose life etenal, that we might choose Him, the only living God.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you!

    I listened to the talk hoping to get some real understanding and insight into the policy. I certainly got that for sure. I watched the "Trump Card" played at the end of the talk with a message on the back. "Gotcha!"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting that you should choose to use that scripture to close this piece, given "Elder" Holland's interpretation of that verse in his conference talk on angels. I think it sums up your point quite nicely.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another well written piece Adrian, Thanks again Friend

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here is a 5 minute YouTube video of the FLDS Zion Ranch. Nothing scary to see, I promise. In fact, you will notice what a delight they are. They are well mannered, innocent, religious, the whole nine yards. What IS scary, however, is how many things about the FLDS resemble the LDS Church. For example, they have the best morals and manners. They both have prophets hanging up in their homes and classes. They're extremely hard workers. Etc. Etc.

    They can be seen here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHmRfOZqoMA

    Somewhere out there is the whole video, but I can't find it. I remember specifically Oprah interviewing a group of teenage girls about marriage. She asked something a long the lines of "what if you don't love this man or know him well enough?" One girl replied with something like "Well, we trust that our parents know us well enough to make the right decision." It's insane how blind they are, yet, there is no difference between them and us.

    Let us all strive for Jesus who is our only "sure" hope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "What IS scary, however, is how many things about the FLDS resemble the LDS Church."

      Jeff, I'd say it is even scarier to consider how much more the LDS church resembled the FLDS back during the presidency of Brigham Young and other early presidents; teachings like plural marriage and blood atonement.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for adding clarity on a subject that has caused much controversy. It's truly appalling just how twisted all of this is becoming.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 2 Samuel 6:3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.

    2 Samuel 6:6 And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.

    2 Samuel 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The point of this post is not to steady the ark (the LDS church), but to point out that the oxen are shaking it, and you better not let it fall on you.

      Delete
    2. @The Host: This story is yet another example of where we LDS fail to read our scriptures, choosing instead to hearken to the traditions of our fathers.

      If you'll kindly pull out 2 Samuel 6 again, you'll notice how David took men with him to collect the ark, rather than allowing Abinadab and his sons to bring it to him. That was a great mistake, since it ought never to have been put upon a cart, old or new. It was to be borne upon men's shoulders, and carried by Levites only, and those of the family of Kohath (Exodus 25:12-14; Numbers 7:9), using the poles prescribed.

      Uzziah, then, died because he followed the prophet. And David WAS a prophet-king of the best kind (until his mistake...why didn't the Lord kill him before Bathsheba...? Oh, right, agency. Wasn't that the point of the whole war in heaven...) Uzziah's death is on King David's shoulders for not obeying the Lord.

      We see this same story in 1 Kings 13, where a "man of God" follows a TRUE prophet's voice to his death. This life's a test--will we follow God? Or will we "put our trust in the arm of flesh"?

      Delete
  8. Understanding my comments are anecdotal, I will submit that my observations are that while people pay homage to the concept of "following the prophet," most of them rarely do so from the idea of the prophet speaking for God. Many of them see it as organizational loyalty. In other words, many probably don't think God said to not baptize the kids of gays, but because the Brethren made the policy/revelation, and they love the Church, it's easier to just be loyal and not worry about it. It IS easy to be loyal to the Church! The people in the Church are great! Even the leaders have the best of intentions, but that may be part of the test of mortality, to see what we will sacrifice in order to hear the voice of God.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your description of the backwards process of revelation reminded me of the recent flowchart over on the Nearing Kolob blog showing causality among the parties and events. Love how he depicted God's actual part in the whole sequence... http://www.nearingkolob.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/revelation1.png

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks again Adrian for your fabulous articles that keep our eyes open to the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Adrian. A great verse that correlates with
    1 Nephi 8:5-8.

    John 8:12

    EricDL

    ReplyDelete
  12. @The Host – You have missed the mark. There are only a handful of individuals who are capable of attempting to steady the ark, and Adrian isn’t one of them. To make an attempt at steadying the ark, you have to be like Uzzah in the Old Testament – an appointed officer who is in close enough proximity to touch the ark. The ark is the law of God (D&C 42:59-60). The law is above the officers, and only a few officers are in a position to touch or fiddle with it.

    In 1874, Brigham Young tried to steady the ark by twisting the Section 89 into a mandatory worthiness metric. He was not satisfied with the Word of Wisdom being an invitation without constraint or compulsion (D&C 89:2). He went beyond the Lord’s law, and attempted to impose his own will upon the Saints. He bumped the law, corrupted it, tried to “steady it”, because he felt it was lacking.

    That uninspired policy change has contributed to an immense self-righteousness and arrogance among the Saints. We consider ourselves to be cleaner and more righteous than others due to our obedience to an allegedly mandatory prohibition of such-and-such. This is the precisely the kind of attitude that the Lord despised and came into conflict with when he came to earth as a commoner.

    Many of the policies in the Church Handbook are attempts by high level officers to steady the ark. The policies don't originate from revelation; they are pharisaical, well-intentioned, but misguided.

    The actual words of God are often parsimonious. He reveals correct principles, and expects us to govern ourselves. There is an immense temptation for high level officers to go beyond those principles, to “one-up” God with their private interpretations of the law, and to apply specific rules to general principles. This is often motivated by good intentions, but the outcome is evil. At its core is the human weakness of wanting to exert control or dominion over our fellow man (D&C 121:39-46), a weakness that is so deep that we fall to it without realizing we are doing anything wrong.

    As humans, we crave specific details about things, and so when high level officers give us detail, and assert it is from God, we are tempted to believe them without running the matter to ground for ourselves, and doing the hard work it takes to get confirmatory revelation from the Source. We love being commanded in all things – and the reward of a slothful servant awaits us if we don’t break out of this trap.

    If you are worried about people trying to steady the ark (i.e., corrupting or messing around with the law of God), you need to focus your gaze toward the red cushy seats, and not to the city wall, where Samuel the Lamanite-type messengers are pleading with everyone to stop abusing the law of God.

    I’m not suggesting that the law is frozen. The Lord can give new revelations whenever he wants, to expand the law or clarify it. What I am suggesting is that it is possible for the appointed gate keepers to be so out of touch with God’s will that the official canon becomes impure and corrupted.

    In conclusion: the “ark” is NOT the First Presidency. The ark is the law of God. Has the ark in our time been messed with, bumped around, and inappropriately tinkered with? Damn right it has, but not by Adrian or anyone like him. It’s the gate keepers who are closest to the ark – those who have the power to change the official doctrines and polices. They have touched things that shouldn’t be touched, and have left legacy mistakes in place that cry out to be fixed. It is the disastrous Sanhedrin scenario all over again, just as Joseph Smith warned was possible, if the Saints were to neglect their duties and rely on mortal officers for their salvation.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see anything tying Joseph Smith to the quote at the top of the post. John Taylor was the editor at the time, and the quoted article looks like just an ordinary editorial written by him.

    It's in issue 7 here, in the article "To the Elders Abroad":

    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/NCMP1820-1846/id/8375i

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good catch, Bob. Thank you for pointing that out. I've removed that quote and replaced it with something else. Meanwhile, for the curious, here it is:

      "If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an imposter... Try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach, or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them; cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches."
      —Times & Seasons, 5:490-491, April, 1, 1844

      Delete
  14. Is it really backwards?

    In the article you linked to about the process SWK went through to help each of the 12 come to the same conclusion was very loving. Yet, he knew as early as March what the mind of the Lord was on the matter.

    If the Lord was patient with SWK in allowing the 12 to come to their own conclusions on the matter, why would not TSM do the same? Was he not a part of that process then?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you for this post. It has given me a lot to think about. I was especially enlightened by the detailed information regarding the lifting of the Priesthood ban. I would like to add that I had just finished my sophomore year of high school when these events occurred. Not to be boastful, but to leave my testimony of what occurred in my heart at that time. I grew up knowing very few minorities and especially black Americans. Despite the lack of ethnic diversity in my environment, during the fall of 1977, I began to pray to God to ask him to lift the ban. When I fasted, that's what I fasted for. I had come to the conclusion, on my own, after reading scriptures and working out the ridiculousness of the situation.

    So when the announcement was made, it struck me, at that time, God was personally answering my prayers. Now I smile at my presumptions, because at that time I was unaware of the fervent prayers from believing African peoples in Africa and South American and Blacks in the USA. However it was the beginnings of a testimony that God does answer prayers and one needs to have an open mind and to seek and be humble.

    The thought struck me, now as an middle age woman, that what the 12 experienced is really no different that what I have experienced at times seeking and answer from God after much prayer, fasting, and pondering the scriptures. It struck me that these "men of God" were so unaccustomed to the process that brought about inspiration, let alone revelation, this pivotal moment in history had such an unique impact on them. Also if they had been humble and teachable in 1978 and acquainted with D&C 124, especially verses:
    31 But I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me; and during this time your baptisms shall be acceptable unto me.

    32 But behold, at the end of this appointment your baptisms for your dead shall not be acceptable unto me; and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God.

    45 And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place.

    48 For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.

    " 50 And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God."

    the 12 might have changed the course of history, realizing that 1978 was the middle of the 3rd (1960) to the 4th ( 2000) generations. The 12 had an opportunity to repent of the pride and idolatry of their beliefs. If the 12 had continued to seek the Lord, fervently asking for revelation in regards to other false "doctrines or policies" wound up in the gospel of Christ, our situation might be very different now.

    Thank you for giving me so much to ponder.

    ReplyDelete