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mikbone

Doctrine Fallout

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In our extended family chat group, I expressed my curmudgeon position on the most recent Official Church Announcement.

Boy, did it open a can of worms!  Some of the family are Utah residents who participated in the LDS Church early in their lives, including missionary service, Church-supported Colleges, Temple Marriage etc.  Anyway, one family quietly left the church and no longer choose to partake of any church activities (although they will show up to farewells, wedding receptions, etc).  From what I gather, they believe in Christ but no longer have faith in the leadership of the Church due to various reasons - word of wisdom, not believing in modern-day revelation (polygamy, priesthood racism, The Family:  A proclamation to the world, etc.).  And I get the sense that they feel persecuted by neighbors and family members because they left the church.   

Anyway, my brother's response was pretty harsh.

"Ok, so what I'm hearing is you guys no longer believe in prophets (as I no longer do).  I've said to my wife many times over the last 10 years that the leadership really never says anything that is relevant to today or ever come out and say anything that could hurt someone's feelings or go against political thoughts.  ...  So one of the very few times it happens, you guys say it is optional. ...  You either follow or don't.  I chose not to follow because I no longer believe in prophets."

I won't go over the rest of the conversation but my position was the following which I hope he respected.

I am a lowly human less than the dust of the earth.  If I had to rate my exactness with following the prophet (and thus God) it ain't all that good.   I asked my wife to help me with some of the following percentages just to have transparency.

Principle  -  Percentage of compliance

Thou shall not commit murder - 100%

Ten Commandments as listed in Exodus - 96%

Ten Commandments as explained by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount - 18% 

Home Teaching - 10-15%

Word of Wisdom - 95% ( 100% on EtOH, tobacco, coffee, tea.  But I'm on a Keto diet thus I'm out of compliance with the eat meat sparingly, and I'm overweight).

Temple Attendance - About once a year.  

COVID Announcement - 100% (I'm scheduled to get the vaccine, and wear the mask because I have been bullied into doing so by my employer.  And I know that social distancing is always a possibility), 5% (if following the spirit of the urging).

 

How much do I consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?  100%

Do I believe that the Prophet and Apostles are guided by the Lord our Savior?  100%

Do I realize that the General Authorities are men and thus less than the dust of the Earth - just like me and everybody else?  100%

 

I wish that my brother could return to the fold.  And that he would feel welcome.  

 

Edited by mikbone

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10 minutes ago, mikbone said:

In our extended family chat group, I expressed my curmudgeon position on the most recent Official Church Announcement.

Boy, did it open a can of worms!  Some of the family are Utah residents who participated in the LDS Church early in their lives, including missionary service and Church-supported Colleges etc.  Anyway, one family quietly left the church and no longer choose to partake of any church activities (although they will show up to farewells, wedding receptions, etc).  From what I gather, they believe in Christ but no longer have faith in the leadership of the Church due to various reasons - word of wisdom, not believing in modern-day revelation (polygamy, priesthood racism, The Family:  A proclamation to the world, etc.).  And I get the sense that they feel persecuted by neighbors and family members because they left the church.   

Anyway, my brother's response to me was pretty harsh.

"Ok, so what I'm hearing is you guys no longer believe in prophets (as I no longer do).  I've said to my wife many times over the last 10 years that the leadership really never says anything that is relevant to today or ever come out and say anything that could hurt someone's feelings or go against political thoughts.  ...  So one of the very few times it happens, you guys say it is optional. ...  You either follow or don't.  I chose not to follow because I no longer believe in prophets."

I won't go over the rest of the conversation but my position was the following which I hope he respected.

I am a lowly human less than the dust of the earth.  If I had to rate my exactness with following the prophet (and thus God) it ain't all that good.   I asked my wife to help me with some of the following percentages just to have transparency.

Principle  -  Percentage of compliance

Thou shall not commit murder - 100%

Ten Commandments as listed in Exodus - 96%

Ten Commandments as explained by Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount - 16% 

Home Teaching - 10-15%

Word of Wisdom - 95% ( 100% on EtOH, tobacco, coffee, tea.  But I'm on a Keto diet thus I'm out of compliance with the eat meat sparingly, and I'm overweight).

Temple Attendance - About once a year.  

COVID Announcement - 100% (I'm scheduled to get the vaccine, and wear the mask because I have been bullied into doing so by my employer.  And I know that social distancing is always a possibility), 5% (if following the spirit of the urging).

 

How much do I consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?  100%

Do I believe that the Prophet and Apostles are guided by the Lord our Savior?  100%

Do I realize that the General Authorities are men and thus less than the dust of the Earth - just like me and everybody else?  100%

 

I wish that my brother could return to the fold.  And that he would feel welcome.  

 

I highly recommend this book, which reviews the cognitive modules we use in making these kinds of decisions, and how we might bridge the divides between otherwise good people..

41IZZuT17NL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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30 minutes ago, mikbone said:

Ok, so what I'm hearing is you guys no longer believe in prophets (as I no longer do)

Your brother is either creating a straw man out of desperation, or deeply misunderstood the gospel and that is why he left.

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https://rsc.byu.edu/vol-17-no-3-2016/doctrine-models-evaluate-types-sources-latter-day-saint-teachings

EED110C1-5735-4B18-AF67-F099519A641A.thumb.jpeg.c1fc4af653740acf854f0f4cea8479f5.jpeg

Shamelessly copied and pasted from the above article.

What percentage of the most recent official announcement do you perceive to be core, supportive, policy or esoteric?  Or is the question one of futility?

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12 hours ago, mikbone said:

Anyway, my brother's response was pretty harsh.

"Ok, so what I'm hearing is you guys no longer believe in prophets (as I no longer do).  I've said to my wife many times over the last 10 years that the leadership really never says anything that is relevant to today or ever come out and say anything that could hurt someone's feelings or go against political thoughts.  ...  So one of the very few times it happens, you guys say it is optional. ...  You either follow or don't.  I chose not to follow because I no longer believe in prophets."

Your brother seems like he's carrying some major hurt.  I doubt any answer here will truly help him- rather specifically resolve that decade+ of old hurt.  I just don't see that happening.  

But to answer the question nonetheless: vast majority of the time, things are indeed focused on Christ & the concepts of loving each other-- as they should be, those are the most important.  Sometimes there are specific situations where loving your neighbor does come to a specific call of action: such as the need for us all to fight this pandemic and take care of each other.  It's not a "I can do whatever I want and I'm not going to affect anyone else" situation.   Yes, there is that strong urging for covid cautious in scheduled programs (closing down Sacrament meetings, temples, etc) and individuals day to day (asking people to vaccinate, mask, social distance, etc).  

As to people struggling with this urging: yes some people do indeed struggle.  We're all human: some readily follow, some rationalize blatant blowing it off, some kind of in the middle, etc.  I'm not going to pretend that's not the case.  We're each supposed to study things out: think for yourself, look at leaders words, consult with the Lord, etc.  It never should be about just blindly following.  I personally do find that the covid-cautious route is wise and agree full heartedly here.  I also acknowledge that others have more internal conflict on this topic.  And my heart goes out to those people: I myself have struggled with other topics.  My heart is sympathetic and moved, though I still urge what I believe to be best (the covid-cautious route).  And I totally acknowledge whatever path you've taken on this and other issues.  

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I actually totally get what your brother is saying. I think he took it a little too far by equating it with not believing in prophets but the fact remains that the prophet has given counsel, not a commandment but also not just a suggestion but counsel, and we either accept it or reject it. Whatever our reasons may be at the end of the day those are the two choices available to us. Does it make us anti-prophet to not get the vaccine? No, but we ought to be honest enough with ourselves to admit we are rejecting his counsel.

And your brother's comment that "You either follow or don't" seems a bit rigid at first glance but I guess it depends on his perspective. If he is of the mentality that if you are going to do something you should be all in it might explain his current non-believing status. In theory that sounds like a good mentality except for the fact that the alternative is to be all out. 

On the other hand if he is stating that there is a difference between falling short in our efforts to do what we know we ought to be doing and outright rejecting it, I would agree. The Lord can work with someone who at least is trying. But you can't steer a parked car.

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On 8/23/2021 at 11:43 AM, mikbone said:

"Ok, so what I'm hearing is you guys no longer believe in prophets (as I no longer do).  I've said to my wife many times over the last 10 years that the leadership really never says anything that is relevant to today or ever come out and say anything that could hurt someone's feelings or go against political thoughts.  ...  So one of the very few times it happens, you guys say it is optional. ...  You either follow or don't.  I chose not to follow because I no longer believe in prophets."

I cannot see how to reconcile my thinking beyond this as well. The difference being that I do believe. So I follow.

However, I think there's an inherent implication in what the First Presidency message has urged that there are exceptions. And I believe President Nelson would be the first to recommend to someone who had underlying health reasons, spiritual promptings, or the like to not get vaccinated for Covid. What I worry about is how many seem to have neither of these things but are merely swayed strongly by the politics and conspiracies' of it all. I am one of those, actually (though not to the extent some are). But I do not believe such to be a good reason to disregard prophetic council. Therefore I am getting the vaccination, despite my strong reservations.

I might add that I'd come to this conclusion before the latest First Presidency letter.

Basically, to me, it is exactly this simple. You either follow, or you don't.

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On 8/23/2021 at 4:03 PM, mikbone said:

https://rsc.byu.edu/vol-17-no-3-2016/doctrine-models-evaluate-types-sources-latter-day-saint-teachings

EED110C1-5735-4B18-AF67-F099519A641A.thumb.jpeg.c1fc4af653740acf854f0f4cea8479f5.jpeg

Shamelessly copied and pasted from the above article.

What percentage of the most recent official announcement do you perceive to be core, supportive, policy or esoteric?  Or is the question one of futility?

I don't believe the most recent statement to be doctrine of any kind. It has no direct bearing on salvation one way or the other whether one masks or vaccinates (and following the guidance of government and health authorities varies greatly by area), but it does make a difference if one follows the 1st Presidency's counsel. Prophetic counsel can simply be specific to a situation or individual without being canonized into any doctrinal umbrella. Consider counsel given to a leper to bathe in the River Jordan or other such acts (that were likely not necessary, but either bolstered faith or tested obedience) and yet they were never taught as something that others needed to do for healing, salvation, or anything else. However, these instances do showcase the outpouring of blessings available to those who follow the prophet, even in matters not tied to doctrinal teaching.

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On 8/24/2021 at 4:44 PM, The Folk Prophet said:

Basically, to me, it is exactly this simple. You either follow, or you don't.

@mikbone I believe that one source of confusion for your brother is when the issue is boiled down to the basic statement above. The question is follow what? Let's condense the two statements down to the possible "what" portions:

January 12th 2021

In word and deed, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported vaccinations for generations. As a prominent component of our humanitarian efforts, the Church has funded, distributed and administered life-saving vaccines throughout the world. Vaccinations have helped curb or eliminate devastating communicable diseases, such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, smallpox and measles. Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life.

As this pandemic spread across the world, the Church immediately canceled meetings, closed temples, and restricted other activities because of our desire to be good global citizens and do our part to fight the pandemic.

Now, COVID-19 vaccines that many have worked, prayed, and fasted for are being developed, and some are being provided. Under the guidelines issued by local health officials, vaccinations were first offered to health care workers, first responders, and other high-priority recipients. Because of their age, Senior Church leaders over 70 now welcome the opportunity to be vaccinated.

As appropriate opportunities become available, the Church urges its members, employees and missionaries to be good global citizens and help quell the pandemic by safeguarding themselves and others through immunization. Individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination. In making that determination, we recommend that, where possible, they counsel with a competent medical professional about their personal circumstances and needs.

_________

August 12th 2021

We find ourselves fighting a war against the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants, an unrelenting pandemic. We want to do all we can to limit the spread of these viruses. We know that protection from the diseases they cause can only be achieved by immunizing a very high percentage of the population.

To limit exposure to these viruses, we urge the use of face masks in public meetings whenever social distancing is not possible. To provide personal protection from such severe infections, we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.

We can win this war if everyone will follow the wise and thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders. Please know of our sincere love and great concern for all of God’s children.

___________________

Now let's analyze the action words "urge" and "recommend". Is this a mandate, or a command to "follow"? No, not in the strict sense. I think you could possibly classify it as an "instruction", but if you call the Church office building and ask that question you will be given a clear statement that there is no requirement for members to be vaccinated. They will refer you back to the portion in red above. So per the statements and church instruction:

#1 - The Church is not responsible for your health care, you are.

#2: - If people choose to be vaccinated it should not be because President Russell M. Nelson was vaccinated, it's because you read his urging and recommendation, and you discussed the matter with your spouse (which was mentioned in the original release letter reporting), sought competent medical advice, and determined what was correct for your "personal circumstances and needs".

Everything else is pride loudly proclaiming "I'm more righteous than you because I don't need to be commanded in all things!"

IMHO, there would have been no reason to add the language "In making that determination ..," to the original statement if it was pre-determined what the "correct" outcome should be.

The bottom line to me is that everyone who considered the issue carefully, and reached a personal decision to either be vaccinated or not, has followed the Prophet. So when you brother says "Your either follow or don't" I believe he is mistaken in what we were actually supposed to do.

Joseph Smith still had an occasional beer or wine after the Word of Wisdom was revealed, because it was not yet a requirement of the Church to follow. That doesn't shock me, but it does sometimes shock other people until they understand the Spirit in which the Word of Wisdom was given. It wasn't black or white.

I firmly believe that I have followed the counsel given, and I am at complete spiritual peace with my determination to be vaccinated once the Covaxin or Novavax vaccines are available in the United States. Until that time, I mask, I wash, I respect others - and I have not infected a single individual (if the antibody tests are reasonably accurate) - which is more than many vaccinated people can say. At some point I'm sure I will get Covid, and when I do I will isolate. I feel that I am doing my part. I don't know your brother, but I think most people can see the issue in a broader perspective if given the chance.

I share your hope that your brother might feel God's love once again and return to the safety and peace of the True Shepherd's fold.

Curiosity question: Of your family members who are currently inactive, do any of them still believe in the doctrine that they are sons and daughters of God? I find that this specific doctrine seems to have a particular holding power among many who have left Church activity.

Edited by clwnuke
grammar

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43 minutes ago, clwnuke said:

I share your hope that your brother might feel God's love once again and return to the safety and peace of the True Shepherd's fold.

Curiosity question: Of your family members who are currently inactive, do any of them still believe in the doctrine that they are sons and daughters of God? I find that this specific doctrine seems to have a particular holding power among many who have left Church activity.

Yup still believe in God and the Atonement.  It would take a mighty change of heart and a large helping of humble pie to get my brother back in the fold though.

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1 minute ago, mikbone said:

Yup still believe in God and the Atonement.  It would take a mighty change of heart and a large helping of humble pie to get my brother back in the fold though.

I have a dear older brother who I pray for also. Humble is the most healthy kind of pie in the long run for all of us.

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In this world - including our time and place in history - I have discovered in my own lifetime that my particular views have changed as has my understanding of various doctrines.   For example I was raised with the notion that G-d created the earth about 6,000 years ago and that all the species of living things were each created and commanded to reproduce after their own kind.  I was taught that believing in evolution of species was evil and would destroy one's covenants and belief in the true and living G-d.  

Beginning at the age of about 8 years old I began to recognize miracles, such as the power of prayer and the influence of G-d in my life.  During my 14 year (which is at the age of 13 because the theory of counting number begins at 1 rather than 0) I read the Book of Mormon and had a profound experience (in some ways similar to young Joseph Smith) such that I knew the Book of Mormon to be inspired and a divine gift - though I really did not know detail doctrines taught in the Book of Mormon.   From then on I began to be influenced by my late great grand father that I came to understand was watching over me until I received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was married in the temple.   This influence along with the Gift of the Holy Ghost - I consider to be the greatest miracle thus far in my life that has guided me to marriage and family.

Never-the-less I have learned that every sole has agency to decide for themselves if they will covenant with G-d and endure their covenants.   All of my children have struggled with their covenants and two have decided to turn away from their covenants (for now).   Sadly I have observed many turn away from their covenants - for all kinds and varieties of reasons.  In all cases this turning from covenants has included moral indiscretions (rebellion against the Law of Chasity and the Word of Wisdom).   Though doctrines are often cited I have pondered why these two laws and principles are so decisive. 

As a missionary, I had a personal conversation with Elder Legrand Richards.  I talked about a good minister I knew the had a testimony of the Book of Mormon but believed he must watch over his flock rather than be Baptized.  Brother Richards look me in the eye and told me the only reason people are not involved with the Church is because of sin.  This is why new members must be baptized for the remission of sins.  

I have come to understand that sin not only separates us from our covenants and communion with G-d - but it prevents us from recognizing the many and profound miracles that are taking place in these Last-days.  The reason that apostates do not believe G-d's prophets is not because of doctrine nor is it their understanding of doctrines - it is because they transgress divine laws, they refuse the sacred ordinances and break their everlasting covenants.  It is my personal observation that no one is part in and out of the Church - ether they make and keep covenants of they eventually fall away into various mists of darkness's.   All of this we are told of and warned of in scripture.

I am of the mind that the greatest purpose of the covenant Saints of this present day and time is to call this generation to repentance - through gentleness, meekness and loved unfeigned.   I personally struggle with this and tend to speak without such cautions.   Because I am concerned that the time is drawing near when the wicked (those that will not make or keep covenants with G-d) will be destroyed.  And that only the righteous (those that make and keep covenants with G-d) will be spared.   As I listen to the conference talks - it seems that doctrines are hardly spoken of at all but all that speak at Conference seem to call us to return to making and keeping our covenants - especially concerning the covenants associated with the sacrament and Sabbath Day (which is pretty much all of the sacred covenants of salvation).

 

The Traveler

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@Traveler It is interesting how different things look in the macro picture than in the micro. As I look back on all the good men and women that I served with on my mission, and reflect on how so many of them are wandering in the wilderness today due to the issues you mention above, it makes the whole vaccine judgement issue look quite trivial.

Edited by clwnuke
grammar

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On 8/23/2021 at 10:56 AM, CV75 said:

I highly recommend this book, which reviews the cognitive modules we use in making these kinds of decisions, and how we might bridge the divides between otherwise good people..

41IZZuT17NL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Just about to finish the audiobook that he self narrated.

I liked quite a few of the studies and data that he quoted.

He is probably the first person that I have listed to who is a complete and total atheist though…

Social Psychologist - what a crazy field of study.

He probably could have used the terms elephant and rider as well as 90% chimp and 10% bee a few hundred more times though.

It wasn’t time wasted but don’t think it will help.

Thanks for the suggestion.

 

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3 hours ago, mikbone said:

Just about to finish the audiobook that he self narrated.

I liked quite a few of the studies and data that he quoted.

He is probably the first person that I have listed to who is a complete and total atheist though…

Social Psychologist - what a crazy field of study.

He probably could have used the terms elephant and rider as well as 90% chimp and 10% bee a few hundred more times though.

It wasn’t time wasted but don’t think it will help.

Thanks for the suggestion.

 

You are welcome. But it might help if you can acknowledge to your brother, and help him understand,  that you are only human, and have not yet fully integrated your moral foundations with your spiritual foundation. The same is true for any other member of the Church and the leadership. The most enduring (and I think the only valid) force to remain with the Church, whether you agree with the Brethren or not on the finer points, is the testimony that Christ lives and restored His Church, and that you agree with them on that point. Science (no matter who discovered or theorized what) is only a tool, and in the hands of faithful can yield a great deal of good. Pure testimony rules the day, though.

To help him feel less persecuted, I would spend more time with him and hearing his new views. But let him know that you are interested in the positive things he has found, not the negative things he feels prompted him to leave.

Edited by CV75

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