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The Folk Prophet

The decline of declaring repentance

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I check into The Standard of Liberty website every now and again just to check things out. The latest blog post they had just fascinated me.

 

I should preamble this link by explicitly pointing out that I do not agree with everything said, nor do I agree with the full stance they have on this site (more on that later).

 

Here's the post:

 

http://standardoflibertyblog.blogspot.com/2015/07/stranger-than-fiction-at-deseret-book.html

 

This led to another post here on FairMormon:

 

http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/publications/a-slippery-slope-that-limits-the-atonement

 

Now I don't mean to debate the reality of whether homosexuality can be changed or not (though if such a debate does ensue...I've never been one to shirk from thread jacks). What I find interesting is the point made in the SOL blog:

 

If you are not yet convinced these vices have been embraced by Mormons, go to a 6-minute video somebody at the LDS Church made in 2014 called Overcoming Pornography. Watch and listen with discernment. The words sin and repentance and the like are completely missing. Same with mormonsandgays.org. No sin. No repentance. Just a stiff challenge, a harmless condition, an innate identity. We're supposed to feel really bad for these people and not think about what they actually lust after and think about and do. Somehow these particular people don't have agency like the rest of us. They aren't accountable like the rest of us. They are just victims apparently. It might make you wonder what other sins are secretly being tolerated, excused, embraced, and will be published as perfectly acceptable, even as harmless, wholesome, and righteous. 

 

Like I said, I do not agree with everything said. I watched the video Overcoming Pornography and felt it was very useful, powerful, and spiritual. I think using it as an example of this problem is in poor taste.

 

But the point remains. What happened to declaring repentance?

 

It strikes me that in today's world that any implication that we need to repent becomes automatically labelled as judgmental and abusive and unfair. And this philosophy has bled into a great portion of the church. Deseret Book (as pointed out, a separate entity from "the church", but tacitly viewed as one and the same to most lay members) carries literature that sustains this idea and rejects literature that explicitly cries for change?

 

I find this fascinating.

 

Anyhow, if anyone is interested, read the blog and book review links, see if the same fascinating thoughts occur, or what-have-you, respond, debate, threadjack, etc.  There's a lot potentially to discuss. I may post further thoughts concerning the blog and book review independently as well.

 

As to the SOL website, I used to find myself almost 100% in sync with their thinking and approach, (except that sometimes I thought that maybe they worded things too harshly...which if you know me...that's pretty harsh...but then I'd go back and forth and think, no...it should be worded that strongly...or should it?...etc...), but then in the last year or so they have moved into some rhetoric that is critical of the church and it's leaders. Whereas I understand the question that could be asked (why isn't the church drawing a stronger line in the sand on these matters?, etc.?), when that turns from a question to a criticism then one who is conservative can be just as guilty of speaking evil of the Lord's anointed and on the clear road to apostasy as one who is liberal and doing so. Naughty, naughty SOL.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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But the point remains. What happened to declaring repentance?

 

Could it be because of our culture and also because of the availablity of technology?
 
Years ago I worked as a flight attendant and was talking with a few other flight attendants and often our conversations got pretty deep. When I mentioned that I felt a certain behavior was sin I offended many of them. One of them proceeded to tell me all the inappropriate things she could do to me and asked me if I thought that was sin. I kind of felt like my effort to share my beliefs had backfired. I just don't think the approach used thousands of years ago works in this day and age. 
 
I think of a man I give a ride to every Sunday who used to be homeless and addicted to narcotics. Perhaps he would not have responded to the gospel if my friend would have yelled at him and called him a bum and told him to get a job rather then pulling over while cycling (spandex and all..lol) and had a conversation with him followed by inviting him to hear the gospel.
 
I would say our Missionaires are crying repentance in a modern way, rather then judgeing and chastising people, they are doing so by showing an example and then showing the way to those that are willing to hear.  
 
Back in the day the Prophets cried and yelled because they would not be heard otherwise, now days we broadcast our message. Everytime I hear our General Conference I feel chastened but also encouraged to do better.
 
Anyway..those are just some thoughts. I think it's a great quesiton though.

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I just don't think the approach used thousands of years ago works in this day and age. 

 

Did it work thousands of years ago? How many prophets were stoned, burned, tarred and tortured?

 

if my friend would have yelled at him and called him a bum and told him to get a job 

 

I don't think this was ever appropriate. Nor do I feel that followers of Christ, even thousands of years ago, were ever un-Christ-like.

 

But what did they do to Christ Himself? And why?

 

Clearly what is and is not Christlike has been twisted quite a bit. And that is, admittedly, a difficult thing to balance. But, there can be no question - Christ declared repentance - and sometimes even in harsh tones.

 

Did it "work"? Did the Pharisees all convert?

 

No.

 

Is there more to the command to declare repentance than it working?

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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I think our membership is weak. It seems doctrine is rarely taught and much of what I see leaves a lot of grey area for the church membership as a whole. That said, I don't question the brethren because I am sure there is a reason that they are addressing these type of issues in this manner.

 

Milk before meat and love before repentance would seem the direction the brethren are directing us. 

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Maybe our message will be more direct when we are ripe for destruction. When I think of all the prophets "crying repentance" it was usually before the the people were destroyed. 

 

I think of how the Savior reacted to the women caught in adultery, he did not condemn her but said go and sin no more. He didn't stone her, and so I would say that the Savior set an example and changed the way we cry repentance.

 

The Savior seemed to be the harshest when he dealt with the Pharisee not when he was dealing with sinners. 

 

But, again I would say we are declaring repentance. Our missionary effort is exactly that. 

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 love before repentance would seem the direction the brethren are directing us. 

 

I'm not sure this is correct. Nor do I believe the brethren would agree. But I do agree that this is the message that is being received.

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Milk before meat and love before repentance would seem the direction the brethren are directing us. 

 

"Milk before meat" is always, in every case, a good gospel standard. In almost every case, those who think themselves past the sweet, nourishing milk of the gospel and in need of the challenging and substantial meat are those who most desperately need the milk and who choke on the meat.

 

"Love before repentance" is Satanic. As TFP wrote, I do agree that that is the perception of many, but I do not for a moment believe it is the intent of the prophets.

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"Milk before meat" is always, in every case, a good gospel standard. In almost every case, those who think themselves past the sweet, nourishing milk of the gospel and in need of the challenging and substantial meat are those who most desperately need the milk and who choke on the meat.

 

"Love before repentance" is Satanic. As TFP wrote, I do agree that that is the perception of many, but I do not for a moment believe it is the intent of the prophets.

 

Right. But the question then must be asked. Why? Surely the prophets/apostles are aware that this is perception of many. So the question: Why aren't they explicitly fixing that perception by adding (or having added) clear statements to their essays, posts, PR statements, etc.?

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But, again I would say we are declaring repentance. Our missionary effort is exactly that. 

 

I agree with this.

 

For the sake of discussion. What about the message coming across, etc., to the member? After all, after the missionaries are done, that's who their investigators become.

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The Savior seemed to be the harshest when he dealt with the Pharisee not when he was dealing with sinners. 

 

Um...the Pharisees were sinners...which is why he dealt harshest with them.

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I think of how the Savior reacted to the women caught in adultery, he did not condemn her but said go and sin no more. He didn't stone her, and so I would say that the Savior set an example and changed the way we cry repentance.

 

Sorry to reply to this in 3 different posts. I just keep having thoughts.

 

If the Savior changed the way we declare repentance, then how does this relate to the way we declare repentance having changed over the past few decades so dramatically?

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Right. But the question then must be asked. Why? Surely the prophets/apostles are aware that this is perception of many. So the question: Why aren't they explicitly fixing that perception by adding (or having added) clear statements to their essays, posts, PR statements, etc.?

 

Their words are true. Those who misapprehend their words are, in essence, wresting them. That is their prerogative, and their problem. The time may come when the prophets will use language designed so that the listeners cannot misunderstand, but until then, all those with ears can still hear.

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I guess I'm a minority. I just perused mormonandgays.org While it didn't repeat the phrase "You are a sinner" a million times it quite tactly points out that sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful, and that marriage is between a man and a woman.


Exactly what is your takeaway from that if it is not that homosexuality is sinful? I'm sorry that a focus on the healing power of the atonement isn't direct enough for some people I guess. I'm sorry that a site dedicated to helping individuals who struggle with SSA to live within the boundaries of their covenants doesn't declare loudly enough for some what is sin. I think they've gotten that message loud and clear. They understand that the behavior isn't condoned.

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I guess I'm a minority. I just perused mormonandgays.org While it didn't repeat the phrase "You are a sinner" a million times it quite tactly points out that sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful, and that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Exactly what is your takeaway from that if it is not that homosexuality is sinful? I'm sorry that a focus on the healing power of the atonement isn't direct enough for some people I guess. I'm sorry that a site dedicated to helping individuals who struggle with SSA to live within the boundaries of their covenants doesn't declare loudly enough for some what is sin. I think they've gotten that message loud and clear. They understand that the behavior isn't condoned.

 

Did you read, per chance, the book review (2nd link)? I think the argument is fairly clearly set therein that for some, at least, the declaration of repentance and what it actually means is, indeed, not loud enough. Not when the conclusion being ultimately drawn is that the choice is to either live in misery, live in sin, or kill oneself.

 

For repentance, after all, means change. And, yes, the declaration that you can change in this matter is not loud enough. I think that is the obvious takeaway.

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Our leaders find themselves in a situation designed to make it impossible for them to win. Their response is to use as much kindness and charity as possible in calling people to repentance. Clearly, some think that's not hard-line enough, while many others howl that it's much too hard-line.

 

Personally, I don't think there is one single "right" way of approaching the issue. I sustain my God-ordained leaders, not because they are perfect, but because they are ordained of God. Whether their approach to this or any other particular issue matches mine is utterly irrelevant.

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Did you read, per chance, the book review (2nd link)? I think the argument is fairly clearly set therein that for some, at least, the declaration of repentance and what it actually means is, indeed, not loud enough. Not when the conclusion being ultimately drawn is that the choice is to either live in misery, live in sin, or kill oneself.

 

For repentance, after all, means change. And, yes, the declaration that you can change in this matter is not loud enough. I think that is the obvious takeaway.

Then I am sorry these people lack critical thinking skills and reading comprehension. I will have to look at the links later, I have to run to work. Ok, drive. I'm not running. It's 102 outside and my work is like 6 miles away. That would be crazy.

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Then I am sorry these people lack critical thinking skills and reading comprehension. I will have to look at the links later

 

Maybe you should look at the links before drawing conclusions.

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Their words are true. Those who misapprehend their words are, in essence, wresting them. That is their prerogative, and their problem. The time may come when the prophets will use language designed so that the listeners cannot misunderstand, but until then, all those with ears can still hear.

 

Personally, I don't think there is one single "right" way of approaching the issue. I sustain my God-ordained leaders, not because they are perfect, but because they are ordained of God. Whether their approach to this or any other particular issue matches mine is utterly irrelevant.

 

Per your first statement (which I agree with) as related to your second, I hope it is not coming across that by raising the question that I feel very differently than you on the second statement.

 

The point of the discussion is, in my opinion, two-fold. First, to consider how we should be thinking an acting (which is relevant to whether it matches theirs in some ways). Second, as a study of wherein the problem actually stems from.

 

What I mean by this: If the leaders are intentionally allowing the distorted view, then we must trust, as implied by Bytor, that they are doing it for a good reason (this is my primary opinion). If, on the other hand, the leaders are being clear, but misread (more akin to your first statement quoted above), then it behooves us all, perhaps, to do our best to correct that false read.

 

At any rate, I do not think the issue is simple, or should be approached as if it is. There are difficulties and complexities that have developed in the past decade that are severe challenges to us all. The point is to discuss this and learn.

 

An example, for example ( ;)) of the complexity of the issue. If the leaders are intentionally approaching things in a way that allows for distortion, do we follow suit in the raising of our own children? Or do we teach our children what we believe to be concrete truth even when it is at odds with what seems to be being said on mormonsandgays.org?

 

I sustain my leaders and whatever course led them to develop, allow, and even repeat statements like "The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions...." but the reality is that I find both of these ideas extremely oversimplified, if not downright inaccurate.

 

So how do I respond? Sure...party line in church...repeat the simple idea and leave it be. But in deeper conversations...how does one respond? Because, surely, SOME choice is involved in the development of such attraction for some people, and, surely, SOME parts and aspects of 'attraction' are sinful.

 

And yet, by even believing this, I am put in the awkward position of disagreeing with my church leaders -- something I have never, ever had to face in my life until the last few years.

 

It's confusing, traumatizing, and hurtful in many ways and I, frankly, do not know how to deal with it.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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Here are some random, scattered, and occasionally mutually-contradictory thoughts that have come to mind as I reviewed this thread:

 

1.  I am very familiar with the addiction recovery program that the Church uses for porn addicts, being a recovering porn user myself.  I'm well aware that there are lots of folks who would get bogged down about whether porn use is truly an "addiction".  Frankly:  I don't care.  No one can honestly and objectively review the Church's 12-step-based addiction recovery program without recognizing the pivotal role that the fall, the atonement, repentance, and individual accountability play in that process.  Go to an ARP meeting sometime, if you don't believe me--we are not a bunch of people who sit around bemoaning our "victim" status; we are people who hold ourselves and each other accountable and look to Christ's saving power to help us become better men and to abandon sins that we have, on our own, tried unsuccessfully to abandon for years or sometimes even decades. 

 

2.  Maybe, at some point in human history, you could tell a person to quit sinning, and they'd just stop it.  But I rather suspect that that day, if it ever existed, is largely over.  Future church growth, methinks, will come primarily through warm-fuzzy-type social contacts with existing members (including missionaries, whose community service and general engagement in their assigned areas will need to be stepped up dramatically); not through preaching (hellfire-damnation or otherwise) or other traditional missionary techniques.

 

3.  Yes, earlier prophets fearlessly condemned the generations around them--and they got killed by the political powers that existed, and the church drifted into apostasy.  Our dispensation has been promised it will not drift into apostasy, and our leaders seem to be studiously avoiding having the politically powerful get too mad at us.  Coincidence?  If, as some suggest, Jesus could specifically instruct Peter to deny Him in order to save Peter's own neck--could the current Church leadership be getting instructions in a similar vein?

 

4.  Based on my own experience--if you want to cut someone to the very center, you don't have to use particularly harsh rhetoric.  All you need to do is speak the truth with love.  The Spirit then comes in--and if you ain't living right, it will beat the living daylights out of you.  (See 1 Nephi 16:2.  See also--pretty much any Conference talk from Elder Scott.)

 

5.  For the sake of soothing TFP's soul, here's some vintage Mark E. Petersen:

 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Future church growth, methinks, will come primarily through warm-fuzzy-type social contacts with existing members (including missionaries, whose community service and general engagement in their assigned areas will need to be stepped up dramatically);

 

I do not believe this. Truth tastes good to the humble soul. And humble souls still abound. Truth will never taste good to the prideful, regardless of warm-fuzzy lion-saving* sentiments. (*I couldn't resist...sorry).

 

3.  Yes, earlier prophets fearlessly condemned the generations around them--and they got killed by the political powers that existed, and the church drifted into apostasy.  Our dispensation has been promised it will not drift into apostasy, and our leaders seem to be studiously avoiding having the politically powerful get too mad at us.  Coincidence?  If, as some suggest, Jesus could specifically instruct Peter to deny Him in order to save Peter's own neck--could the current Church leadership be getting instructions in a similar vein?

 

I also do not find this to be true. I find the teachings and expressions by our church leaders are just as fearless, just as true, as they have ever been. And they are just as hated. What I find to be changed is more in press releases, websites, etc. (This with the one, small exception where the late L. Tom Perry quoted the position from mormonsandgays.org...which, as I said...well..... I sustain them to say what they need to regardless of my confusion on the matter!)

 

When I watch General Conference, I find that although some of overall expression is with a softer tone, the words are the same as they have always been. It is other venues that seem slightly off to me.

 

4.  Based on my own experience--if you want to cut someone to the very center, you don't have to use particularly harsh rhetoric.  All you need to do is speak the truth with love.  The Spirit then comes in--and if you ain't living right, it will beat the living daylights out of you.  (See 1 Nephi 16:2.  See also--pretty much any Conference talk from Elder Scott.)

 

This comment seems to directly contradict some of your previous ideas. I know you confessed to that already. But still. Are you a lawyer or not? ;)

 

5.  For the sake of soothing TFP's soul, here's some vintage Mark E. Petersen:

 

I may have slightly overstated the trauma for the sake of effect.

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I also do not find this to be true. I find the teachings and expressions by our church leaders are just as fearless, just as true, as they have ever been. And they are just as hated. What I find to be changed is more in press releases, websites, etc. (This with the one, small exception where the late L. Tom Perry quoted the position from mormonsandgays.org...which, as I said...well..... I sustain them to say what they need to regardless of my confusion on the matter!)

If teachings and expressions are just as fearless as in former times what then of Elder Packer's statement a few years ago in General Conference when talking of homosexuality he said, "Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father." Then after some outcry from the LBGT community they modified the statement by changing one word and removing a sentence so it then read, "Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father" (GC "Cleansing the Inner Vessel" Oct. 2010).

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If teachings and expressions are just as fearless as in former times what then of Elder Packer's statement a few years ago in General Conference when talking of homosexuality he said, "Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father." Then after some outcry from the LBGT community they modified the statement by changing one word and removing a sentence so it then read, "Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father" (GC "Cleansing the Inner Vessel" Oct. 2010).

 

I'm not quite sure what the point here is. I remember the clamor. Substantially, the message didn't change. The core point remains fairly fully the same. Not born with it. Can overcome it. The claim by some that this was some sort of victory is actually pretty pathetic, methinks.

 

Is a tendency somehow worse than a temptation?

 

Seriously. Don't get it.

 

Is using the word temptation fearful? Or are you implying that because he made the change due to "some outcry" that he was fearful. If you believe that I don't think you knew Bro. Packer very well. The man was anything but fearful. If his response was in kind to the "outcry" then it wasn't because of fear, it was because he, legitimately, felt he could clarify his meaning and communicate better with it.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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I'm not quite sure what the point here is. I remember the clamor. Substantially, the message didn't change. The core point remains fairly fully the same. Not born with it. Can overcome it. The claim by some that this was some sort of victory is actually pretty pathetic, methinks.

 

Is a tendency somehow worse than a temptation?

 

Seriously. Don't get it.

 

Is using the word temptation fearful? Of are you implying that because he made the change due to "some outcry" that he was fearful. If you believe that I don't think you knew Bro. Packer very well. The man was anything but fearful. If his response was in kind to the "outcry" then it wasn't because of fear, it was because he, legitimately, felt he could clarify his meaning and communicate better with it.

I'm not trying to imply anything. I'm simply asking what you believed caused the change of wording. You say that primarily press releases, websites, etc have changed, but what about changes in conference talks? You disagree that the leaders of the church are receiving direction from the Lord to change, then why is such a change as I have given made? 

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I'm not trying to imply anything.

 

Sure you are. You're implying that the wording change has any meaning or bearing on the discussion. I do not believe it has. You're also implying (or, rather, directly saying): "If teachings and expressions are just as fearless as in former times...", making a statement within the question that the change in wording is not fearless. I also, as stated, disagree with that.

 

 You say that primarily press releases, websites, etc have changed, but what about changes in conference talks? 

 

If you're under the impression that I have seen no "changes" at all then you are misreading me and mistaken. What I am saying I don't believe has changed is the straightforward truths spoken in conference. Not that tone or speech styles or the like have not changed. Clearly they have. Times change. Communication methods change. But the prophets and apostles still speak the plain truth in conference. Do you disagree?

 

 

You disagree that the leaders of the church are receiving direction from the Lord to change

 

I didn't say that or anything even close to it. I am not privy to all the directions the Lord is giving to the church leaders.

 

then why is such a change as I have given made? 

 

This is just a nonsense question and the church already said exactly why the change was made.

 

"The Monday following every General Conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker's intent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent." 

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Sure you are. You're implying that the wording change has any meaning or bearing on the discussion. I do not believe it has. You're also implying (or, rather, directly saying): "If teachings and expressions are just as fearless as in former times...", making a statement within the question that the change in wording is not fearless. I also, as stated, disagree with that.

 

 

If you're under the impression that I have seen no "changes" at all then you are misreading me and mistaken. What I am saying I don't believe has changed is the straightforward truths spoken in conference. Not that tone or speech styles or the like have not changed. Clearly they have. Times change. Communication methods change. But the prophets and apostles still speak the plain truth in conference. Do you disagree?

 

I didn't say that or anything even close to it. I am not privy to all the directions the Lord is giving to the church leaders.

 

This is just a nonsense question and the church already said exactly why the change was made.

 

"The Monday following every General Conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker's intent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent." 

FP, It is hard to have a discussion with you because you jump to conclusions and believe I am implying things I am not. I ask a question and you assume I think the prophets and apostles are fearful or that I don't understand Elder Packer.

 

All I'm trying to point out is that your position seems tenuous. You believe that in general conference communication methods have changed but not the content. That appears to me to be a difficult line to hold. 

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