BOWbutton

This button is a resource to link those desiring baptism with those having authority to baptize. More information can be found here.

 

Transcripts

On the right column of this page there is a new section where you can link to the talks/papers I’ve given. The transcript of the Boise talk is available there now, as well.

Evil Speaking of Anointed

I was asked how I justify “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed” –a question I’ve already answered here, here, and here, among other places.

It would be better to read what I write than to presume something about me. If you’re interested enough to criticize, then why aren’t you interested enough to read what I’ve written so your criticism can be grounded in more than your imagination?

It used to take a hundred years for changes to come about. Now those same changes in understanding take about 5 to 7 years. A whole new understanding of the history of the church is coming. Just wait, and remember when it does, how very foolish the church’s reaction to Passing the Heavenly Gift was back in 2013.

I spoke with a member of my ward (leadership) the other day. He said he thought I’d gotten all the facts right in the book. He said the church can differ in interpretation, but no one can really argue with the facts.  

I kept all my covenants with both the Lord and the church. I would never have broken my covenants with the church. But the church has broken them. That will not change what covenants I have with the Lord. They will remain unbroken.

Sometime after Joseph’s death, there was one covenant the church changed. Instead of consecrating everything for the building up of Zion, the covenant was reworked to consecrate everything to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the establishment of Zion. That reworking of the covenant means that if the church doesn’t do it, then someone who honors the covenant with the church cannot. Or, alternatively, it means that when the church neglects to build Zion, then the church has broken the covenant and that relieves the other party of their obligation to consecrate to the church. I took the first view. I would not depart from that covenant, even though I’ve had more than one conversation with the Lord about it. Now I find the church has broken the covenant, relieved me of any further need to involve them in the matter, and allowed me to pursue this as a matter of faith. The irony of that is they broke the covenant on the day I was traveling to Boise to begin a year-long series of talks about Zion. I see the hand of God in that.

As soon as the Boise talk is transcribed I will post it/link to it here. I imagine that will be within the next two to three weeks.

Ten Points

Because of recent events I want to make ten points:

First, I disabled comments and then I stopped blogging as a sign of good faith to the stake president.

Second, I was and am able to a pass temple recommend interview. I can answer all the questions in the right way. I don’t pretend to “preside” over anyone. Even within my family, everyone is merely encouraged to believe and act consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But they must have their own testimony and are free to disbelieve or think freely. I hope my example persuades. Outside my family I have absolutely NO ambition to lead anyone, control anyone, or even be discussed (much less praised) by anyone. The presiding authorities are the only ones who are sustained by common consent and they are welcome to it. I don’t envy them, don’t want their positions, and don’t hope to be one of them.

Third, I have been expelled for writing a book. The book was not a “sin.” Therefore, what separated me from the church is not some shameful moral lapse, but writing history. It represents a good faith attempt to reconcile events with scripture. It was undertaken as an expression of faith, not rebellion. I feel no shame at having written it, and sincerely believe it to be a truthful account of how we wound up in our present condition. I do not believe I need to “repent” to be right with God. Throughout this whole ordeal, I have always been right with God.

Fourth, I am not trying to reform, revise or affect the church or management of the church. I don’t much care about that. What I’m interested in is exploring and finding truth. That requires openness and candor. I am not interested in threatening anyone or anything. If others feel threatened by that then I regret their reaction, but that is all it is: their reaction. Soon they will get over it and perhaps take some time to reflect on what I’m saying and maybe come to another view. If not, then perhaps they can support their view more persuasively and we can agree on things again.

Fifth, I am not and have never been a critic of the church. My focus is on history and doctrine. The church is irrelevant to the inquiry.

Sixth, I spent time with my stake president on Saturday, at his home. Delivered a copy of the Boise talk, which he said he would listen to. Last evening my wife and I talked with my bishop. Today I was with one of the stake counselors, then with another bishopric member. I have said to all of them that I would be willing to talk with anyone in my ward or stake who is troubled and help them get over any ill feelings. I have none. If someone locally is upset then they can talk with me and I will gladly help them realize they still belong in church. That’s where I’ll be – just not this Sunday, because I don’t attend Stake Conference anyway. But next Sacrament Meeting I’ll be there. All of these local leaders said they would refer upset folks to my blog so they can read about what they (local leaders) aren’t supposed to give details about. They thought the blog would be helpful.

Seventh, I’m an odd sort of “apostate” who entertains no ill will against the church. I’m not sure that what I’ve done can reasonably be called “apostasy.” In matters of doctrine, we are not supposed to have “faith” in anyone or anything other than Christ. I readily admit I don’t have, never have had, and have not advocated faith in the church. But I don’t think that matters. What matters is faith in Christ. Take a look at Christ’s doctrine at the end of 3 Ne. 11: 32-40. You’ll notice that “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.” I testify of Christ and seek to establish His doctrine. My book says nothing to contradict His doctrine. So when I’m accused of violating “the doctrine of the church” I have to say: So? That doesn’t matter anyway, or if it does it “cometh of evil.”

Eighth, you forfeit priesthood when you sin. You forfeit it when you exercise control or compulsion or dominion over others in unrighteousness. You forfeit it when you use it to gratify your pride or to serve your vain ambition, a proposition which is facilitated by having some office or standing which allows you to assert that “by virtue of the priesthood” you are entitled to be followed. You forfeit priesthood when you depart from His doctrine and seek to establish your own priestcraft, but do not seek to establish Zion. But you do not forfeit priesthood when you talk about Christ, testify of His doctrine, and follow the Spirit despite those who may abuse you. Nor do you forfeit priesthood when you look charitably on the mistakes of others. Nor do you do so when you have no office, nor any standing in a priestly office which is used to demand others follow you. When you testify of Christ and tell others to follow Him, there can be no force, order, panel, critic or organization that can affect your priesthood. Indeed, if they wrongly attempt to do so, then “amen to the priesthood or the authority” of those making the attempt.

Ninth, there have been changes in heaven and on earth recently. I’ve done all I have done in obedience to our Lord. Things will unfold and everybody will have a more fulsome understanding of things. Be patient. Be believing. Do not despair as God’s work unfolds.

Tenth, you don’t know me by reading what I write. I very much try to keep myself out of these discussions. I truly believe I am irrelevant, therefore I make an effort to remain outside the material. What little I disclose is to give context. At the beginning I wanted to remain anonymous or use a pseudonym. The problem with that is the message must be identifiable with someone who can be evaluated, known to exist, and can be tried. It was unavoidable. I must be known. For that reason alone I have let myself be identified. I wish it were otherwise. Privacy would be preferable.

Clarification

My wife and I dropped by to visit with President Hunt at his home today. Neither he nor I like the present circumstances. We had a pleasant discussion.

He clarified to me that the comment, “What makes you think the church wants that kind of people?” was not intended by him to mean they weren’t welcome. Rather it was meant that their attitude, if it arose from Passing the Heavenly Gift, was an attitude that wasn’t necessarily helpful. I told him I would make that clarification.

We discussed many interesting things, and parted as we were before – friends and fellow sojourners in this troubling world.

Flavor of the Month

I notice there’s a lot of blog activity for the moment. That doesn’t fool me. I’m the “flavor of the month” to folks and that will soon pass. But while I have your attention let me say this to whoever is stopping by because you think this is a temporary amusement, outrage, vindication or car wreck:

I really do believe in the religion I’ve accepted. I live it faithfully and joyfully. There’s a lot of stupidity parading as enlightenment in the congregations of the “Saints” and I’ve never rebelled against that. People have always been allowed to believe as they want, and to preach things I don’t believe or accept without any opposition from me. I have been a “low maintainence” Mormon and I’m not looking for a fight.

The conduct of the church reminds me that “the wicked flee when no man pursues.” (Prov. 28: 28.) I’m not after them and never have been. There are a lot of problems with our history that can’t be explained with the “traditional narrative.” I’ve looked into this fearlessly, and honestly tried to reconcile the many corners we have turned since the death of Joseph. The book that got me into trouble was written to help those who are similarly befuddled by what we had as opposed to what we have. The book has actually helped people. It wasn’t advertised. I recommended it to a tiny handful of people.

In the narrative I propose, the framework is taken from scripture and prophecy. It is reassuring. We aren’t in a mess solely because we were irresponsible, but are here because God foresaw it, planned for it, told us it was going to happen, and now wants us to wake up to it. There’s still time. And that time is precious and ought to be spent doing something other than arguing over the “flavor of the month.”

The church excommunicated me, but now it’s time to move on. I suspect, however, they will fire up the machinery to deal further with me. Before all that kicks in, let me assure you that whatever goes on I am content, even happy with life and with my 40 years in Mormonism. I will be pressing forward in faith, believing that you matter, I matter and our love for one another matters.

I don’t matter. But God does, prophecy does, your soul does and God’s potential involvement with you matters a lot. That is something you can engage in without any need to ever look at another flavor of the month.

So be of good cheer. And don’t believe all you are going to read about me. If you want to really know what I think, read what I say. Better still spend your time learning how to relate to God and how He actually does relate to you. Even those who are bitter about your Mormon experience and now distrust God Himself. The fact is that much of what has broken your heart did not originate with Him. It was always an abuse inflicted by men.

So hang in there. Christ is cheerful. You be cheerful too.

My Sympathy

Elder Russel M. Nelson presides over the Strengthening the Members Committee. His wife has created a great deal of controversy with a children’s book she has written. Some active LDS psychologists have denounced the book as “child abuse” and used very unkind terms against both the book and her.

I wanted to express my sympathy for Elder Nelson and his wife. I know what it is like to have written a book with the intent to help others, only then to become the object of public criticism. I hope there is no church action taken against her.

Yesterday

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of my baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I marked my gratitude by giving a talk in Boise, Idaho. On my way to the meeting, at 10:30 yesterday morning, President Hunt called to tell me I’d been excommunicated. He emailed me on Monday and asked if we would like to come to the stake center that night (with the children) to hear and discuss the outcome. I replied as follows:

“President Hunt,

For clarification, we weren’t of the conviction that the children should be at the disciplinary counsel to hear the “outcome.” We had already discussed that at length in our family beforehand. We all were prepared for any outcome. What we are absolutely certain of was that they should be allowed to see the process as it took place.

In our discussions with them we talked of the Spirit that attends a disciplinary council. We discussed the format and the procedure. We reviewed the scriptures and what they say about disciplinary councils. We were certain this would offer them an opportunity to hear from people who disagree with their father and hear how other people interpret the scriptures and how they relate to the history of the church. We were looking forward to the opportunity for them to see the scriptures used by me and then by the members of the high council testify of gospel truths. The Spirit witnessed to Stephanie this would be a faith promoting meeting for them to attend. The outcome was a non-issue.

In any event, again we would like to thank you for your service. We know this has been difficult and bear no resentment for you or anyone involved.  I am saddened, even ashamed that there wasn’t an open process which allowed my children to have this important opportunity.  I’ve prized the underlying principles of the gospel which involve persuasion, knowledge, meekness and avoid control, compulsion and dominion.  I wanted my children to witness this glorious process in which men of good faith and belief come together to work through an important disagreement.  I had wanted them to behold the Spirit leading to unity. Inasmuch as the kids are scattered, (Kylee went back to school this morning at 4 a.m., Benjamin and Kalisa live hours away and can’t return because of work commitments), we see no need to meet to discuss the outcome. Please send the letter announcing my excommunication so we can end this tragic ordeal.

I meant what I testified to last night.  – Denver”

The paperwork will arrive sometime later. It was certainly symmetrical to have the news given exactly on the 40th anniversary of the occasion. Almost like a sign, really.


I saw another sign yesterday. A dove was waiting for me on the lawn at work. She didn’t stir as I walked by her. But she did take note of me (and I of her).

Boise was a wonderful experience. Beautiful day. Great occasion. Joyful day, and gave me an opportunity to talk about the faith I very much believe in and will continue to practice.

The next talk will be in Idaho Falls. There are stake presidents there “warning” people in the church to not listen to me. They are preaching fear.

Christ instructed us not to fear. (D&C 68: 6.) Fear is the motivation of hell itself. (Moses 1: 20.)  If you are fearful, then don’t attend the talks. 

I rejoice in liberty, because freedom to believe in Christ is liberty itself. (2 Cor. 3: 17.)

I am grateful to the LDS Church for providing to me the instructions, ordinances and scriptures. I believe the faith which was restored through Joseph. That hasn’t, indeed can’t, be taken away from me.

Don’t Know

I know a decision was made. They must deliver a letter. I have not yet received it.

During our hour long discussion, the stake president admitted to my children he got a call during one of his meetings with me from one of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy. He was instructed to “stand down” while the Seventy and one of the Twelve read Passing the Heavenly Gift. Then he (the stake president) did nothing further until he was told to proceed. I asserted that if he believed I was really “apostate” he would never have stood down. For that reason it was him merely following commands from higher up, and not a local matter.

Before last night’s meeting I told the stake president I was bringing my children. He knew that and said nothing beforehand to suggest they would be excluded. We were very surprised he refused to allow them to enter. I was excluded from the High Council room unless the children stayed behind.  I asked to be allowed to just make a statement to the council while my children listened, he refused to permit that.

My wife reviewed the Church Handbook of Instructions. She explained to President Hunt that the book is silent, and does not bar children from attending. He admitted that was true but it was his decision to forbid them. My wife said it was my court and I ought to be allowed to have them with me. He replied it wasn’t my court, but the church’s.

Roy: Yes I lived down the street and remember you and your brothers. But you didn’t leave an email address.

Boise tomorrow, 6:30.

Last Night’s Family Home Evening – Don’t call me.

We have Family Home Evening on Sundays. I try to teach a meaningful lesson each week. Last night the lesson was on Church Disciplinary Councils. After a discussion at home, I went with my family to the stake building to participate in an actual council.

The notice from the stake mentions “the spiritual demise of [me] and [my] family.” My wife prayed about this and was of the strongest of convictions that the family needed to be at the council. I agreed with her. Therefore, my children were all there to silently observe. The stake leaders were afforded the opportunity to reclaim my children as they dealt with the charge that  publishing a book constitutes “apostasy” requiring discipline.

We spent an hour in the hallway, outside the High Council room, discussing the stake president’s refusal to allow my children to attend. My wife was welcome, my children were not. My wife explained that she had made it a subject of prayer, and in answer to prayer wanted them to be there. The stake president refused. He said it would be “a circus” to permit it. My children, all in Sunday dress, each explained they were only there to observe and there would be nothing disruptive from them.

I explained my fear that if anything happened behind closed doors, my children could always entertain doubts about the content of the council and charges raised. I told the stake presidency (the councilors came out and joined us in the hallway) that there are always rumors and those who will insist that a council was “really” about something else; immorality, dishonesty, or some serious moral transgression. The stake president clarified it was only about a book. I said I was worthy of a Temple Recommend, and he agreed. It was only about a book.

We talked for an hour in the hallway and ended with me bearing my testimony to the children, pointing to President Hunt and telling them (my children) that I sustained him, pointing to my Bishop and telling them I sustained him.

The door to the High Council room was open. I assume they overheard the discussion. It was a little after 8:00 when we left.

I think it was a good Home Evening. When we returned home we had a lively discussion about the scriptures and revelation. It ended with a peanut butter pie.