Mormonism and Secularism: Fiery Trials and Surprises

March 4, 2013 | 73 comments
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2013 03 04 where the conflict really liesOver the last two posts I’ve outlined a view that a religion is a system of beliefs and institutions that serves to help people find meaning and make sense of the world, and that in modernity a secular religion has emerged. (I used the “scientism”, but Alvin Plantinga uses “naturalism”, that’s probably better.) I also argued that all religions come in essentially two varieties. Authentic religion emphasizes the struggle to respond to life’s questions. Inauthentic religion promises relief from the struggle with easily attained answers. It effectively outsources our existential struggle: to an inerrant Bible, to an inerrant Church hierarchy, or to an inerrant march of scientific progress.

The two are related, but not because scientism (or any secular philosophy) must necessarily be inauthentic. That’s not the case. What is true, however, is that the very denial that scientism could be functionally equivalent to a religion makes it particularly susceptible to the tendency towards inauthenticity. What is additionally true is that when it comes to inauthentic religions, scientism has everyone else beat by a mile.

The more credible inauthentic religion is, the easier it is to accept. For people who grow up in a specific religious tradition (Mormon, Catholic, whatever) that becomes the fabric of their reality and it natural to accept until it is challenged by an external alternative. These days, religions do not tend to offer a whole lot of substantiation for their own claims when contrasted with the apparently clear and dramatic proofs of scientism. The Mormon model is “Read this book, pray about it, and see if you feel special.” The model of scientism is “Get turn-by-turn GPS directions on your cell phone and then thank a physicist.” There is generally enough whiz-bang to paper over the weak link between consumer electronics and spiritual guidance.

2013 03 04 Fire In The SkyI think Elna Baker’s story is poignantly illustrative. I hesitate to use any specific person as an example, but since she is a performer who has shared it with This American Life I’d like to treat it as a model without assuming that my conclusions are necessarily true of her individually. (I don’t think the full story of a person’s faith-struggle could be distilled into a short radio segment.) In a piece that deliberately juxtaposes the First Vision with an alien abduction, she describes her early childlike faith as a kid growing up Mormon in Snowflake, AZ:

When I was 14, I went on a church hiking trip, and they told us all to go into the woods like Joseph Smith did and pray. I found a quiet clearing, knelt down, and asked a kind of mushy combination of, “Is there really a God,” and “If there is, am I supposed to be a Mormon?” And I waited. And then the sun came through the clouds and warm light hit my face. I felt like someone was wrapping their arms around me and hugging me. My body rocked back and forth, and I knew it wasn’t me who was doing it.

But, as Elna describes, she subsequently loses her faith. This isn’t for lack of signs, however. As she relates:

The last big moment that I feel like was a spiritual experience that I had was probably three years ago, maybe four years ago, where I felt like it was getting so hard to believe for me. And I just was like, “You know, I want a sign again like the one I had when I was young. And I just want you tell me that you’re there, God.”

And I knelt down and I prayed and I asked this. And then I looked up at the sky and I was like, “The sky? That’s the sign?” Like, anyone can see this. This isn’t a sign. You just see a few stars. It’s New York– you see, like, maybe five stars. And just as I was saying, “This isn’t anything, this is just what’s always there,” one of the stars shot across the sky. And it was biggest shooting star I’d ever seen.

I still don’t know what to think of that moment. It was shocking. But as soon as it happened, I did the thing I do now– I started questioning. Was that meant for me? Or did I just happen to look up at the exact moment when a star shot across they sky? I had forgotten about that moment until I shared it with Ken, and it made me think, “Well, that’s an even bigger sign that what I experienced in the woods as a teenager, so really, I have had signs since then.” And that’s when I realized I don’t just want a sign, I want to be myself at 14 again– the kind of person who believes in signs.

Elna’s story, broadly viewed as “young, faithful Mormon moves away from home and loses ability to believe” is far from unique. It’s gotten significant enough that when Elder Jensen said we hadn’t seen a period of apostasy this bad since Kirtland, it made Reuters. Elder Jensen clarified his comment about a month later (“To say we are experiencing some Titanic-like wave of apostasy is inaccurate.”), but the phenomenon is real even if it is not “Titanic”.

If you ask conservative Mormon intellectuals the answer is pretty simple: we’ve failed to prepare our young people. By presenting a simplified and some would say sanitized version of our history during the Internet age we have seriously let them down. That is certainly true, but in a way it also misses the point. The problem is not just that we don’t tell our high school kids about the particular difficulties of peep stones or polygamy. It’s that we don’t tell them that religious discipleship is difficult by design.

What I’m really getting at is that the peril of inauthentic scientism is that it threatens Mormonism to the extent that Mormonism (as practiced) itself is inauthentic. Seen in this light, the departure of young Mormons for secularism might be a symptom rather than a problem. If so, the solution is not to repudiate scientism (which is not necessarily inauthentic, although it tends to be), but to take this as an opportunity to recognize inauthenticity within our own house.

The key element to inauthenticity, I believe, is the idea of outsourcing religious life. The key question, then, is what we expect to get out of involvement with an organized religion. Institutions are double-edged swords: there is a lot that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only capable of doing beacuse of its infrastructure. This includes things like welfare proejcts, but also the important message of grouping congregations together geographically (as opposed to letting members pick and choose their ward) and thus emphasizing the need to love who you’re with. But the existence of a canon (even an open one), the idea of tiered revelation, the practice of confessing serious sins to a bishop, and the hierchical nature of the leadership structure can all create a set of false expectations for our relationship to the Church. I’m not criticizing any of these things, but I think it’s important to realize that they can function as a tool or as an unnecessary crutch depending on how we view them. If you view home teaching assignments as a prompt build authentic friendships you’re doing it right. If you view it as a means to an end or an obligation to fulfill, you’re doing it wrong.

Since it’s not even possible to know our own motivations all of the time, it’s clearly impossible to try and determine who is authentically religious and who is not. We shouldn’t even try. (It will also vary for a given individual based on time and cirucmstance.) But both the size and nature of those departing the faith today indicate to me that we have an authenticity problem, broadly speaking. When New Order Mormons seek to maintain their cultural ties with genuine nostalgia and love they are turning the old “leave the Church, but can’t leave it alone” phrase on its head. These are not angry apostates from Mormonism, they are converts to a new faith who still look back with fondness on the old. I have friends and family who have converted to Mormonism from other faiths, and they often treasure their traditions and heritage despite embracing the Restored Gospel, often incorporating elements of the old with the new. The only difference is that, for those Mormonism who convert to scientism, they don’t even recognize the religious nature of their new conviction, and so they see no reason not to continue to identify with the old.

The question of religious authenticity in Mormonism could easily fill a post all its own, but another way to phrase the key question is this: do we do things for their intrinsic worth or as a means to an end? Do we follow commandments out of fear of consequences or because they are the right things to do? Inauthentically following the Church of Jesus Christ can still make you a better person insofar as you are following a set of rules that are designed to emphasize restraint, virtue, and service. Sometimes we rely on selfish motivations to do the right thing when we want to do what’s right but can’t summon enough righteous desire. (I call this doing the right thing for the wrong reasons for the right reason.) Inauthenticity, like sin, is omnipresent and we can’t pretend otherwise.

But the world has changed. Prior to the rise of scientism, Mormonism grew steadily and was generally a force for good in the world and in the lives of its adherents. That’s not enough anymore. For Mormonism to continue to thrive admidst the rising tide of scientism we will need to be able focus more intently on authenticity. This means both addressing the paradigm shift of secular relgions head-on and also understanding that our own discipleship is meant to be full of joy, but also suffering and work, and that a full religious life is not one that is devoid of tragedy, sin, or doubt. Only then will we not be surprised by the “fiery trials” which–so different in the 21st century than the 1st–continue to surprise.

[Note - I accidentally published a working draft instead of the final draft of this post earlier today. It garnered 2 comments before I was notified of my mistake. I unpublished the post, copy-pasted in my final draft wording, and then re-published it. I apologize for the confusion.]

73 Responses to Mormonism and Secularism: Fiery Trials and Surprises

  1. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Wow.

    So let me see if I understand this. Authentic means the acceptance of struggle and inauthentic means acceptance of easily obtained answers.

    Do you agree that the Sunday school services of the LDS church are pretty thoroughly inauthentic?

    I allow allow you your definitions of authentic and inauthentic but I need to be convinced that the authentic is to be preferred to the inauthentic. You are trading on the standard meaning of authentic in your definition.

    If we substitute the neutral terms “Type A religion” for easy answers and “Type B” religion for struggle with life’s questions. Why exactly is type B to be preferred?

    Maybe its not, I may be reading more preference into your post than is there.

    Here is another approach. What do you think of the following? Authentic religion is religion with miracles and a sense of being a chosen people. Inauthentic religion is religion without miracles and a lock of positive differentiation from other people.

    Is it possible that mormon youth are doubting because the find the church inauthentic because it is lacking in miracles and a lacks the feeling of a chosen people?

  2. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that a
    miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.

    So if my teenage son asks me, “where be the miracles, pops?” it seems I have a few options in response which do you prefer I give.

    1. Miracles are inside, are spiritual, are given after our trial or some other less “whiz-bang” meaning of the miraculous.

    2. Um, we pretty much lack the faith, but, hey, if you’ve got faith the angels stand at the ready.

    3. Miracles happen every day just ask Siri or Obama supporters.

    4. Just wait for the big apocalypse, then you’ll see some big time miracles.

    This is not primarily a rhetorical question; its a real, practical urgent one.

  3. ji on March 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I think the testimonies I heard yesterday in my ward’s sacrament meeting were typical for many and aspirational for some — yes, there were “I now” statements, and the Holy Ghost bore witness of those statements. A normal Latter-day Saint testimony meeting is VERY authentic religion. A Latter-day Saint exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ is VERY authentic religion.

    Truth almost always has two sides, it seems to me, and one always errs when he or she looks only at one side. For example, it is TRUE that we should follow our leaders — it is also TRUE that each of us needs to find our own answers — truth is found in the appropriate balancing of these two sides.

  4. ji on March 4, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Oops — “…I know statements…”

  5. Nathaniel Givens on March 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Just wanted to let the folks in the comments know that the original version of this post was actually a rough draft. I briefly unpublished it, copied in the updatd draft, and then republished. The first 1/2 of the article was basically unchanged, but the wording in the second 1/2 changed considerably.

    I apologize for that.

  6. Michael H. on March 4, 2013 at 11:31 am

    In my opinion, you’re missing a few key jumps in reasoning, but I think you’re spot on in where you’re going and where you end up.

    The problem I would identify with your “inauthentic religion” (which I would call “fundamentalism”) is that is prescribes a single, one-size-fits-all epistemology. If you learn by faith, you only learn by faith; if by the inerrant Bible, only by the inerrant Bible; if by empirical science, only by empirical science. If you hold this opinion, the even partial acceptance of another epistemological framework deconstructs your entire worldview and leads to a deconversion.

    The greatest lie of fundamentalism, though, is that we never can limit ourselves to one epistemology, one source of knowledge. We never do. That’s why “naturalists” -ones who accept a scientific epistemology- have moral values; science doesn’t provide them, but they intuit them from elsewhere. It’s the major flaw with most (unreflective) science fundamentalists these days: they pledge to one epistemology, but derive moral values from humanism. It’s really a science/humanist blend, but if you recognize that statements like “it’s good to be happy” and “don’t harm people” don’t find their root in science, that endangers the venture.

  7. Dave on March 4, 2013 at 11:44 am

    You wrote:

    The problem is not just that we don’t tell our high school kids about the particular difficulties of peep stones or polygamy. It’s that we don’t tell them that religious discipleship is difficult by design.

    The problem with either of these solutions, teaching better history or insisting on more intense discipleship, is that they are likely to be unpopular. And popularity (numerical growth and retention) is a primary, perhaps the primary, goal of LDS leadership.

  8. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Dave,

    I don’t think its a goal just of the leadership, I think its a goal of the parents. Most LDS parents are invested in the retention of their children in the faith.

    I think the decreasing number of children per family has accentuated the perceived need for need for a less strict religion. If you have 6to 10 children and half stay in the faith still have substantial growth and you can maintain a narrative of “the faithful” remain in the church.

    If you have 2 or 3 children and you lose half, your religious community is dead. The tipping point of less restrictive views in the church maps nicely onto the retention rate times the number of children being less than 2.

  9. Glenn Thigpen on March 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I am not followingthe authentic/inauthentic logic very well. But the comment about “It’s that we don’t tell them that religious discipleship is difficult by design” I think is pretty insightful. Gaining a testimony is not a one shot affair for most. It is a progression. However we do not gain a real testimony by just going to church faithfully and accepting callibgs faithfully. We gain that testimony by continually pushing the boundaries of the testimonies and knowledge that we currently have continually praying with “real intent” that our testimonies grow. And that is something that every child needs to learn as they grow up in the church and that every convert needs to learn before they are baptized. Of course that is my opinion.

    Glenn

  10. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Michael H. I liked your comment about multiple sources of knowledge and agree that the science doesn’t provide values to scientists.

    However, in order to be coherent, we would need to have one ultimate source of belief (or combination of beliefs) per topic or moral situation. Ultimately one does act.

    I would like to hear more about how you see the contribution of various sources of morality for young LDS people contributing to their beliefs. On the margin, is there a shift going on, and if so, to what.

    For example, the topic of the day – sexual orientation – how do young LDS people give weight to scriptural sources, religious tradition, social tradition, social science research, popular culture, views of peers, formal education, formal church statements, etc.

    Which influences are ascending and which descending in relevance and in which areas?

  11. Cameron N on March 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Dave, I’d challenge your idea that popularity is the goal of church leadership and also that retention and growth are related to it.

  12. Trevor on March 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    As one who’s spent the last several years seeking that “authenticity”, I find there’s a pervasive cultural/institutional resistance against those whose authenticity is outside the box. I’m told I’m a cafeteria Mormon who only picks at the hors d’oeuvres. Usually this tension only happens in the presence of “fundamentalist” Mormonism, i.e. the one true way to be a Mormon.

    I think we really need to open up room for more individualized, personalized Mormonism. This needs to happen from the top all the way down to the bottom. Like the speech Greg Prince gave which has come to be known as the “manifesto for change”. [http://trevorprice.net/2012/03/03/greg-prince-what-remains-for-you-to-do/]

  13. Cameron N on March 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Trevor, in my experience the community you seek already exists in the church. There is almost infinite room for individualized, personalized Mormonism – you only have to agree and act upon a dozen or so pillars of belief and covenant, and beyond that be yourself and share your talents and gifts and perspective.

  14. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Cameron,

    Is there such infinite room that any of us doubt what people are taking about when they say “one true way to be mormon”?

    If there really is the room you speak of why are relatively few people exemplifying it? I don’t think white shirts and clean-shaven faces are part of the 12 pillars, but if you think your input will be given the same weight if you say it with a pony tail and a floral shirt, I think you are overstating the case.

    I second Trevor’s point that there are many mansions in heaven and they don’t all need to look the same.

  15. Nathaniel Givens on March 4, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Mtnmarty-

    If we substitute the neutral terms “Type A religion” for easy answers and “Type B” religion for struggle with life’s questions. Why exactly is type B to be preferred?

    I believe that the purpose of mortal life is growth, and I believe that growth comes through struggle. That is the root of my preference of authenticity.

    Here is another approach. What do you think of the following? Authentic religion is religion with miracles and a sense of being a chosen people. Inauthentic religion is religion without miracles and a lock of positive differentiation from other people.

    I think those could be useful categories, but I’m not sure why we would apply the term “authentic” to them. The way I use the term is not intended to be merely pejorative (e.g. “authentic” = “the genuine article”) but rather descriptive: authentic religion is authentic in that it is honest about incorporating truth claims deeply and not just at the surface. The contrast between Locke’s claim that beliefs are best deduced by behavior on the one hand (authenticity), and “symbolic beliefs” on the other (inauthenticity). Authenticity entails beliefs for their own sake, inauthenticity involves the use of beliefs as a means to an end: belief in what is comforting or belief as a social signal, etc.

    So if my teenage son asks me, “where be the miracles, pops?” it seems I have a few options in response which do you prefer I give.

    I believe in real and literal miracles. I believe in visions, dreams, and angels. I believe in healing of the sick. I have witnessed some of these things for myself. I have also failed to witness them when I desperately wanted one.

    So my response is not found on your list. It is first, that miracles are real, and second that therein lies the real painful dilemma, since despite the power to act God generally does not. I will certainly write about that too, one day.

  16. Nathaniel Givens on March 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Dave-

    The problem with either of these solutions, teaching better history or insisting on more intense discipleship, is that they are likely to be unpopular. And popularity (numerical growth and retention) is a primary, perhaps the primary, goal of LDS leadership.

    For me the bigger problem has nothing to do with what the leaders do or do not want, or what attitudes they may or may not have, but with the assumption by so many Mormons that such things matter.

    Our leaders are just folks. Period. They are not paragons of theology, spirituality, or any other virtue. To place our expectations for the Church on their shoulders seems unfair both to our hopes and also to them.

  17. Nathaniel Givens on March 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Mtnmarty-

    Oops, I missed one other point to which I wanted to respond directly.

    However, in order to be coherent, we would need to have one ultimate source of belief (or combination of beliefs) per topic or moral situation. Ultimately one does act.

    I think this is definitively incorrect. That one must act is true, but that this requires a single, ultimate source of believe is absolutely not. Practically speaking this is obvious, since a lot of human action is not particularly well-reasoned at all and thus has no real source, let alone one ultimate source. But even in terms of ideals, there is no reason to suspect that there is One True Source (not even on a topical basis), and rather every reason to suspect that Neurath was right:

    We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. Where a beam is taken away a new one must at once be put there, and for this the rest of the ship is used as support. In this way, by using the old beams and driftwood the ship can be shaped entirely anew, but only by gradual reconstruction.

    I would go ever farther and say that not only need their not be one ulimate source, but that to ever embrace one is by definition to embrace epistemic closure. It’s not only unnecessary, but intellectually stagnating.

  18. Eric Facer on March 4, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    When church leaders, sometimes in frustration, tell the membership to just conform, to sit at the prescribed distance from the gospel camp fire, in can have the effect of promoting intolerance for those who are different, who see the world in an uncorrelated way.

    I smiled when I read Cameron’s observation about the “12 pillars of fundamental beliefs,” and that most everything beyond those basic precepts is pretty much up to the individual. I believe his description applies with equal force to virtually all Christian denominations in the world and the vast majority of those denominations subscribe to pretty much to the same pillars of faith that we do, at least insofar as personal and moral conduct are concerned.

  19. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    NG,

    Thanks for the response. It was helpful. I’m more of a quietist mormon myself so I think one can believe authentically that it is deeply meaningful to let go of struggle.

    I am impressed with your less than common combination of literal belief in miracles with not much belief in leaders as paragons of virtue or spirituality (or even revelation?).

    Very Joseph Smith of you I might add. Maybe you will restore a useful anti-clericalism to the faith. Amen, Brother.

  20. Eric Facer on March 4, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Nathaniel, with respect to your point in #16, I think you are pretty much spot on. However, the phenomenon you describe–unrealistic member expectations regarding church leaders–is not likely to change because, at the risk of over generalizing, this would require members to actively and constantly use their agency, think for themselves, and not believe that quoting a General Authority is sufficient to settlement any argument. It has been my experience that most devote members of our church (and most other faiths, for that matter) are uncomfortable asking questions and would prefer not to think about difficult theological, historical or moral issues. And to a significant degree, that attitude, either wittingly or unwittingly, is encouraged by the leadership. Thus, while I believe your analysis of our present situation is accurate, there is no basis for believing it will change.

  21. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    and

    This seems just to be admitting we aren’t coherent. I would take Neurath one further and say we’re not really sailors, we’re fish, so to heck with the beams.

  22. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    For 21 above refer to your comments in 17 above.

  23. log on March 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I would go ever farther and say that not only need their not be one ulimate source, but that to ever embrace one is by definition to embrace epistemic closure. It’s not only unnecessary, but intellectually stagnating.

    And yet…

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-jn/2.20,27?lang=eng#19
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/john/14.26?lang=eng#25
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/75.10?lang=eng#9
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/moses/6.61?lang=eng#60

    I testify it is not only necessary (John 3:5), but spiritually liberating, for this is the liberty wherewith Jesus Christ makes us free (D&C 88:86).

  24. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Eric,

    The reason to believe that things will change is that the pace of information exchange has accelerated. it is tougher to hide from change. One example, if one wants missionaries in many countries and those countries are subject to increased transparency and change, everyone’s agency will be challenged to keep up.

  25. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Log,

    What if the truth the comforter brings is relativism…I didn’t think you’d buy that one.

  26. log on March 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Mtnmarty,

    Repent, cry mightily to receive, and find out for yourself what the Comforter brings. I can only tell you it is beyond your wildest imaginations, which is why it is described as unspeakable (indescribable) in the scriptures.

    http://crymightily.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-baptism-by-fire.html

    Even though I have there used words to describe it, the words will make no sense unless and until one has likewise received.

  27. Trevor on March 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    The problem* with allowing every individual to rely purely on the Holy Ghost is that “we see through a glass darkly”, and so the Spirit could testify of the exact same unadulterated truth to 100 people, and each person would understand it slightly (or very) differently. I think that’s fine, but I am unable to find much if any rhetoric in Conference talks or official publications that will back me up.

    *Whether this is a problem is in the eye of the beholder

  28. Eric Facer on March 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Mtnmarty, that’s a fair point. I hope you are right.

    There is little doubt that the Church was caught unawares by the Internet—the way it has facilitated the dissemination of information about Church history and doctrines and the questions that information has provoked. How it responds will have a profound impact on the Church’s future.

    All of this is disconcerting to many, but I find it endlessly fascinating.

  29. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Log,

    Thanks for advice. I repent and am comforted but, I admit, my cries are often less than mighty.

  30. Steve Smith on March 4, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Loved the post. I’m all for the stressing of authentic religion within the LDS church as opposed to the inoculation approach (which has been the traditional approach of the apologists). But the encouragement of authentic religion comes with some risk. The LDS institution serves to determine the criteria of what constitutes “true” belief and “moral” behavior. If it relaxes these criteria the competition over what the “true” and the “moral” are supposed to be within the LDS church will increase. The institution likes to provide nicely packaged answers to complex questions, and it likes its members to simply accept those and regurgitate them, for its own survival. The LDS institution relies on the concept of an ancient Book of Mormon, for instance. Without such a concept, Mormonism would lose its distinction. Hence while I like the NOM community, and even regard myself to be an NOM, I doubt that the church could ever regard them to be legitimate Mormons, since they typically reject many of the key tenets that make Mormonism distinct, such as an ancient Book of Mormon. Consequently it may be somewhat of an oxymoron to have “authentic Mormonism,” at least in the way that you appear to be meaning the word authentic, or perhaps it the ability for authentic religion to be able to coincide with Mormonism has its limitations, since Mormonism in and of itself is defined by its institutional dictation of what’s true and moral.

  31. Steve Smith on March 4, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Sorry that last sentence is supposed to read “Consequently it may be somewhat of an oxymoron to have ‘authentic Mormonism’…or perhaps authentic religion can only exist within Mormonism with limitations….”

  32. Mtnmarty on March 4, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Steve,

    I think you make a good point but you may be overplaying your hand by not looking at a sufficiently long period of change.

    You are defining Mormonism, (or rather stating that the core of the LDS church) as institutional simplicity and top down regulation of belief.

    I think this both over-simplified and historically limited to the last few decades. Do you really want to defend “the Articles of Faith” (the book version) or the journal of discourses or even the series “Out of the Best Books” from the sixties as simple to regurgitate?

    If the Church can be post-Joseph Smith and Post-Polygamy and Post-Return to Zion and Post-American and Post-Ban on Diet Coke, why can’t it be Post-top down simplistic dogma?

    There are some in my family who want to be post-Ancient Scripture because they believe the core of Mormonism is Self-Improvement through Sunday Congregating, Monday – Family Night, Tuesday- Relief Society, Wednesday – Scouts, Thursday – Sports, Saturday – Dances and start it all over again. In each of these areas, with the possible exception of Sunday Services the dogma has become less dogmatic.

    The institution may have started to believe that dogma was the core of the church, when the association with ward members may have been the core and if all the members believe the same, the association may begin to be pointless.

    But even granting that the institution is core, what is stopping them from expanding the product range? In other words, BYU and BYU-Idaho cater to a specific segment of the church population and there is a custom dogma (Honor Code) for that segment that doesn’t apply elsewhere. Why can’t the church add a NOM type service that meets on a different day or time and is much relaxed in its strictness of doctrine. Is this that different from the substance abuse meetings that are effectively “Mormon AA”?

    I take Prophet at his word that he wants people back and that may mean that they come back to a different church program than they left.

    I mean, seriously, what do organ music and choir hymns, have to do with ancient scripture? Aren’t they both beams that us Mormon-sailors as Nathaniel said of us that can be replaced?

    The CES is not core to the church, it has next to nothing to do with the Ward which was the core of the church.

    The real challenge is replacing the ward now that people are no longer limiting association to geographical boundaries in such a way.

    Why can’t the church have NOM interest-based wards that replace geographic ones? I may join the transhumanist one or the film society ward.

    The church is young and the change in that short period has been tremendous.

    The Future is Futuristic!

  33. Howard on March 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Religon is the mortalization of spiituality packaged and distributed as a propriatary product. It is the thinly disguised illusion of spirituality brokered for a price to those who haven’t considered the difference. The path to authentic spirituality is being tutored by the Spirit. If you are of the Spirit you are not under the law. If you are of the Spirit you are beyond the church.

  34. log on March 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    If you are of the Spirit you are beyond the church.

    If you are beyond the church, you are not of the Spirit.

    Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church (D&C 10:67)

  35. Howard on March 4, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Different church log, not the mortal LDS church!

  36. ji on March 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Thanks, log — Behold, this is my doctrine — whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Salvation is in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Lord commands us to gather together as a church for the benefit of ourselves and our fellow Saints. Salvation comes by receiving those whom the Lord sends — if I reject them, then I necessarily reject Christ, and I only receive Christ by receiving those he sends. Imperfect as some of the people in the Church are, and maybe imperfect as the organization itself is, I appreciate the pattern in John 6:66-69. Where else can I go?

  37. Cameron N on March 5, 2013 at 12:27 am

    Howard has graduated to the church of the Firstborn, or he’s a trolling transfigured Nephite, methinks.

  38. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Ji,
    Thank you for your testimony but the scripture reads: Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.

    So it’s not a very good idea to add to this, is it Ji? His church is defined by repentance and coming unto him – NOTHING MORE, no mention of missionaries, temple recommend, tithing or home teaching! So this cannot be the church you and log are talking about!

  39. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 12:41 am

    Cameron N,
    That’s funny but I don’t take the BoM literally! So maybe not.

  40. log on March 5, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Different church log, not the mortal LDS church!

    Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4)

    And I do appreciate the distinction, but the Church of the Firstborn is a subset of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you cannot know who is a member of that Church save by revelation. And even then it’s a crap shoot, as Joseph found out (D&C 10:37). So you are well advised to treat The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as though it were the Kingdom of God.

    http://crymightily.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-practical-meaning-of-consecration.html

  41. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 7:52 am

    Thanks for your advice but I think you have it backwards the LDS church is a mortal church and the Church of the Firstborn a spiritual church. First comes spiritual, second temporal so the LDS church must be a subset of the Church of the Firstborn! In any case I’ll take walking in the Spirit any day over your boring 3 hour block.

  42. Cameron on March 5, 2013 at 11:05 am

    The Spirit can turn anything boring exciting and invigorating to me, no matter how many times I’ve heard it. I think Elder Scott spoke about that a few years ago how he had 2 amazing spiritual experiences, one with a good church setting, one in a less ideal one.

  43. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Yes, I agree Cameron but it is possible to go well beyond prospecting the block for a spiritual nugget or three or having the meaning of a few verses manifested while you’re there. The Mosaci minuta and temporal activity of the church often gets in the way of being still and knowing God.

  44. log on March 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    So, what prevents you from going into the wilderness and pulling and Enos, Howard?

    Who benefits from your sniping and griping about the Church?

  45. log on March 5, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    *an Enos…

  46. Jax on March 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Nathaniel,

    Your using the word “authentic”… couldn’t you use the word “converted” and mean about the same thing. I.e. People who are converted do their hometeaching for the friendship and teaching moments. People who aren’t converted do it for the check mark next to their name…

    MtnMarty: I tell my kids about miracles that happen to me all the time. Stories of how angels have helped my farm animals, how my life has been protected, about revelation coming in the time of need, about guidance to say the appropriate thing: and also about ignoring those opportunities and projects fail, about relationships injured, etc. I have a pretty constant flow of examples of how doing the right things bring miracles and doing the wrong ones bring heartache. Some miracles are inside/spiritual things – but not always; we shouldn’t lack faith; we shouldn’t have to point to Siri or Obama supporters for examples (we should have our own); and we shouldn’t have to wait for them. When our kids ask “where are the miracles” we should point them out!

  47. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Everyone with an open mind benefits from challanging discussion regardless of the side they are on!

    I’ve already been to the wilderness log, LDS blogging is one of my post wilderness callings.

  48. Jax on March 5, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    anyone familiar with the hymn that used to be in the old hymn book called, “Though in the Outward Church Below” ??

    Though in the outward church below
    both wheat and tares together grow
    Ere long will Jesus weed the crop
    And pluck the tares in anger up

    Will it relieve their horros there
    to recollect their stations here;
    how much they heard,
    how much they knew,
    how much among the wheat they grew?

    No this will aggravate their case,
    they perish under means of grace
    to them the word of life and faith
    became an instrument of death

    We seem alike when thus we meet,
    Strangers might think we all were wheat;
    But to the Lord’s allsearching eyes,
    Each heart appears without disguise

    The tares are spared for various ends,
    Some for the sake of praying friends:
    Others the Lord, against their will,
    Employs his counsels to fulfil.

    But though they grow so tall and strong,
    His plan will not require them long:
    In harvest, when he saves his own,
    The tares shall into hell be thrown

    Oh! awful thought, and is it so?
    Must all mankind the harvest know?
    Is every man a wheat or tare?
    Me, for that harvest, Lord, prepare.
    For soon the reaping time will come,
    And angels shout the harvest home.

    This used to be sung in our sacrament meetings, recognizing that the LDS church does not incorporate the Church of the Firstborn. There are tares among us, and YOU DON’T KNOW WHO THEY ARE, even if you think that so-and-so is surely a tare…

  49. log on March 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    In your view, does griping and sniping constitute challenging discussion? Explain how someone may benefit from your griping and sniping. I just can’t see the benefit. Indeed, one might begin to think you have the spirit of contention, but maybe I’m overly literal.

  50. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Griping and sniping are your words and they come after loosing a proof text of your choosing. Instead why not consider the content my first comment an answer to your current challange of me.

  51. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    Jax,

    Thanks for your examples. they are great and I have similar ones I share with my children.

    That said, how do you discuss the “miracles” that Monsanto brings with genetic modifications of plants. Are these from God?

    My reason for asking is that there are two ways to interpret what you have said. One is personal – my faith brings me miracles sufficient to my needs and I’d liek to share that with my children. The other is whether you try to convince your children that the miracles in their life will be greater as a faithful LDS adherent than if they are not. On that score, I more hard-pressed to offer evidence other than personal anecdotes.

  52. log on March 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Griping and sniping are your words and they come after loosing [sic] a proof text of your choosing.

    I rest my case.

  53. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Sorry log, I’m blogging from a phone while skiing! Have a nice day.

  54. log on March 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Where are the miracles?

    “Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

    “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do.”

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

    “If ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.”

    “There was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.”

    “And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth—that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God. And wo unto them who shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins, and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God; and I speak it according to the words of Christ; and I lie not.”

    “Repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

    “If ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.”

    “Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.”

    Therefore, if miracles are missing, repent, come unto Christ, and be the miracle worker. The world is short on saints, and long on complainers.

  55. Steve Smith on March 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Mtnmarty,

    “If the Church can be post-Joseph Smith and Post-Polygamy and Post-Return to Zion and Post-American and Post-Ban on Diet Coke, why can’t it be Post-top down simplistic dogma?”

    Yes the LDS church was remarkably able to survive its forced removal from Missouri, JS’s death, and the policy change on polygamy, and it was also able to expand around the world (is that what you mean by post-American?). But at no point in history has the LDS church ever renounced its central doctrinal claims of prophetic revelation and the Book of Mormon as being the record of ancient peoples’ witness of Jesus Christ; two claims that are the church’s raison d’etre. Were it to do so, I dare say that would eventually spell the end of Mormonism.

    Sure, the church can tolerate some diversity within its ranks over doctrinal understandings, but at some point–for the sake of its own survival–it has to draw lines and create boundaries over what represent a true believer/member in good standing. Also the church relies on its core membership. They’re the ones willing to make large sacrifices of time, resources, and talent for the sake of the church. The church built this core through its adherence to doctrinal/policy rigor. If it relaxes its doctrinal/policy stances too much, it risks alienating this core.

    “Why can’t the church add a NOM type service that meets on a different day or time and is much relaxed in its strictness of doctrine. Is this that different from the substance abuse meetings that are effectively “Mormon AA”?”

    It certainly sounds nice, and I’m definitely sympathetic towards the idea, but it wouldn’t work for a number of reasons. The NOMs are too diverse. They’re only united by their doubts about major doctrinal/policy-related issues. Second, the it would create even more divisions among the members. The rank and file would scoff at such a creation, and would treat the members of NOM ward scornfully, as if they thought themselves to be too good for the regular ward. The purpose of Mormon AA is to orient those who struggle with substance abuse to recovery and reintegration into the Mormon community. But an NOM ward would simply be a source of confusion and corrosive division.

  56. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Nice rebuttal log! Now I get it! :)

  57. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Steve,

    First, odds are you are probably right. Institutions don’t change their core that often.

    However, its less likely, but possible, that you are very wrong.

    Here are some things to consider.

    You claim revelation as a core principle, but it doctrinal and practical terms the church hasn’t had much revelation in 40 years. I think part of the problem with the youth is that there has been so little revelation lately. Would it be that much of a change to drop this reason to exist? I mean Nathaniel in his comments on the post said “our leaders are just folks. Period.”

    Take the Book of Mormon, is it really that central to what the core adherents are all about. I just don’t see that the differences between the bible, the BOM, the D&C and conference talks are that great.

    Here’s a short list Word or Wisdom – no, Temple ceremony – no, Fast and testimony meeting – no, serving missions – no, tithing – no, priesthood authority – no, food storage – no, proclamation on the family – no.

    How hard is it to restructure Sunday school and seminary away from scripture to something else?

    I know its a long shot but I’m trying to convince you that Mormon theology is “thin” and mormon sociology is “thick”.

    Now that does bring me to the biggest reason that I think you are right. For 40 years, the church has become more and more reliant on “traditionalists”. Let’s be frank, a young Joseph just wouldn’t make much headway in the current church. Say he found the lost 116 pages and they start with “Once upon a time…”

  58. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    log

    I ain’t complainin’ I’m working a miracle on you!

  59. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Steve,

    No fair making ad hominem arguments FOR your position by posting as log.

    :)

  60. Steve Smith on March 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    “Take the Book of Mormon, is it really that central to what the core adherents are all about?”

    Core adherents, a resounding yes. When is the last fast and testimony meeting you’ve been to? However thin Mormon theology might be, it is at the root of Mormon sociology and is what is holding it together. There is no Mormonism without the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. In fact JS could not have succeeded in establishing a religion without the BOM. Sure, religions may undergo some changes and reformating from time to time, but if they undergo too much change, or are too relaxed in defining the criteria of believing and belonging, they cease to be a recognizable and cohesive entity. Sure you can change the curricula of seminary or Sunday School a bit. And the church appears to be in the process of doing that, as exemplified by recent changes in the chapter headings of the D&C. But they aren’t going to change their fundamental doctrinal stances: JS received revelation from God, prophets continue to receive revelation from God (even if there haven’t been any revelatory declarations in a while), and the BOM is an ancient record that is a second testament of Jesus Christ. If they change that, Mormonism will eventually whither away.

    You seem to think that Mormonism has some sort of eternal essence to it that can exist without the institution. The institution created Mormonism, it perpetuated it, protects its future, and Mormonism cannot exist without it. This thick Mormon sociology that you’re imagining would cease to be Mormon (meaning it would just either assimilate to other surrounding cultural/religious trends or forge a different collective identity) without the institution and its core doctrines/policies that hold everything together.

  61. Steve Smith on March 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I’m not posting as log.

  62. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    I’ll take your word for it.

    But…you wrote “When is the last fast and testimony meeting you’ve been to?”

    You are seem to be admitting that RECENT f&T meetings are different from ones I may have attended less recently. That means that testimonies are changing or else it wouldn’t be relevant.

    Now, I admit that the testimonies I hear are mainly 5 and 6th generation mormons in SLC proper so that may skew them to be passed more family to family rather pulpit to congregation.

    Again, as a matter of probability I agree with you, but the BOM is still just 1/4th of the curriculum.

    What about modern revelation? Do you agree with me on that one, or is it not as interesting to you.

    Thanks for your comments. I’ve commented a lot, but that’s just because I only visit here every year or so and like to engage when I’m passing by.

  63. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Steve,

    I meant I’ll take your word for it about the BOM being core. The post about log was a snide joke that I need to repent of or risk running afoul of the comment policy.

  64. Howard on March 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    The church is having a lot of trouble coming clean on it’s core issues because: The BoM historicity is indefensible. The Joseph Smith story is explainable but requires admitting Joseph was a shaman which requires explaining, ligitimizing and defending at least Joseph’s brand of shamanism while parsing and disavowing others.

  65. log on March 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    The core of “Mormonism” is the Spirit of God like a fire burning in our hearts through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, the visions and blessings of old returning, and angels visiting the earth.

    Anything else is not “Mormonism” but a religion which has the sad happenstance of having the form of “Mormonism” but denying its power.

    It seems to me not many people are interested in The Real Thing anymore, but are quite interested in decorating their balconies in the great and spacious building, where they may join their sophisticated fellows in pointing the finger of scorn at the saints of God.

  66. log on March 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

    Pollutions – that is actually a dirty word. You might check Webster’s 1828 dictionary, definition 4, which I am pretty sure was meant.

    Hypocrites – people who proclaim or pretend to a belief they do not have, whose covenants are feigned.

    Teachers – those who hold themselves up to be lights unto the children of men.

    Selling yourself – you trade your souls for power, authority, popularity, peer approval, or property.

    That which will canker – those things listed above rot your heart like smokeless tobacco rots the mouths of many of its consumers.

    Polluted the holy church of God – you have defiled The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by your presence.

    Take upon you the name of Christ – receive the Holy Ghost (Alma 34:38) through repentance and mighty faith in the Savior, and being cleansed by fire from heaven (3 Nephi 27:20).

    Endless happiness / misery which never dies – the rewards which await one in the afterlife.

    The praise of the world – the approval of your peers and those whose status you covet and whose ranks you wish to join.

  67. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Log,

    You say that it seems to you that not many people are interested in The Real Thing anymore. Are you referring to not many people including those happy in the church or just that not many of the people not in the church want to join in and that some in the church are not happy in it?

    I think I agree with you, particularly if The Real Thing includes the belief that the sin that we most need to repent of is not loving our neighbor as ourselves.

  68. Steve Smith on March 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Mtnmarty, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure that I follow your points; they seem a bit random. Perhaps it would be worthwhile for you to reiterate your central point and tell me exactly where you disagree with me.

    But from what I understand, you take issue with my claiming that the institution makes and defines Mormonism and are trying to claim that there are multiple Mormonisms that exist in Mormon society. Yes of course there are variations among the Mormons over belief and lifestyle-related issues. But what links them together under the rubric of Mormonism? The LDS church. So I don’t see my and your views are mutually exclusive.

    As for modern revelation: again, I’m not sure what your point is exactly. But sure, there hasn’t been any claim of revelation by the LDS church leadership in some time. Nonetheless the vast majority of the core membership (fn1) believes revelation to be God’s words made manifest to select individuals with authority (i.e. the prophets), and that the key tenets of the church were made manifest by revelation not merely by someone’s interpretation. The concept of revelation remains extremely important to the institution and the core membership, even if there hasn’t been any recent claim of revelation. We frequently hear “we know by revelation, x, y, and z.”

    fn1: By core membership I mean the regular church-goers who carry out church functions at local, regional, and worldwide levels. And I don’t think that we really need to take a poll among them to figure out belief trends among them. There is little doubt that this core membership is rather united in its acceptance of the LDS church’s central tenets, in spite of perhaps some minor variations in worldviews, approaches, and insignificant doctrinal/policy matters.

  69. Mtnmarty on March 5, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Steve,

    I’ll recap. You hold that

    1. The LDS institution serves to determine the criteria of what constitutes “true” belief and “moral” behavior.

    2. The institution likes to provide nicely packaged answers to complex questions, and it likes its members to simply accept those and regurgitate them, for its own survival.

    3. The LDS institution relies on the concept of an ancient Book of Mormon, for instance.

    4. Mormonism in and of itself is defined by its institutional dictation of what’s true and moral.

    So your point, I guess is that an institutional religion can’t be authentic because the institution is providing the moral code.

    I am taking issue with point 2 by saying that at various times the institution has offered sophisticated, nuanced, adaptable and even contradictory positions. One of my “random” examples would be the multi-level kingdoms in the world to come. We have outer darkness, the 2 T-kingdoms and the Celestial kingdom and possibly others. Now there is some move to simplification with more talk of the Celestial kingdoms and not a lot about the others. I offer all the random detail as support for how things are not simple at all in the moral code of the church. Take the “discouragement” of tattoos. I mean what status does that have in the theology? Is it a sin to get one that needs to be repented of? (Maybe log can give me a BOM cite about it).

    So, I say the church moral code never was, is not now, and never will be simple.

    Further, I take issue with point 3 that you have overstated the reliance of the LDS Church on the Book of Mormon. This is a matter of degree, but what about the whole period of time that the Church tried like crazy not to be referred to as the “Mormon” church. What was that all about? It was not a repudiation of the Book of Mormon but it seemed to be an attempt to broaden the interpretation of the BOM to link it closer to Christianity as more traditionally conceived in the mind of the public.

    So, the point of my many random facts about the church was to show that the LDS institution could modify its moral code to put less emphasis on the historical import of the Book of Mormon.

    Lastly, I offer an alternative to your point 4. I would propose that given the centrality of agency(or is it Free Agency) and eternal progression in the theology, the church could put authenticity at its core rather than a pre-packaged moral code.

    Isn’t this the point of talking about a testimony and personal witness of Christ? Frequently, the membership is advised to seek local answers to local questions rather than seeking answers from higher up the institution. Aren’t these trying to make the church authentic?

    OK, that’s the recap. But I can’t resist one additional random comment. You say in fn1 “And I don’t think that we really need to take a poll among them to figure out belief trends among them.”

    Sexual mores are a key distinguishing feature of secular versus religious values. They are core. Can you really say with any degree of accuracy what percentage of “core” LDS members would say the following statements are accurate

    1. Homosexuality is a sin.
    2. Homosexuality is unnatural.
    3. Homosexuality is a perversion.
    4. Homosexuality is a threat.
    5. Homosexuality has a genetic basis.
    6. Homosexuals should be given legal protection from discrimination.

    I use this as an example, not because it is of particular interest to me, but because it as an example of an area where I think there is considerable change in core understanding of morality and truth.

    Be generous in interpreting my comments, it is a bit hard to systematically convince someone that life is random.

  70. log on March 5, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    You say that it seems to you that not many people are interested in The Real Thing anymore. Are you referring to not many people including those happy in the church or just that not many of the people not in the church want to join in and that some in the church are not happy in it?

    Both. We are satisfied with our careers, our properties, our hobbies, our passions, our little intellectual niches, and so forth; we really can’t be bothered to give that stuff up to experience The Real Thing.

    I think I agree with you, particularly if The Real Thing includes the belief that the sin that we most need to repent of is not loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    If one can keep that commandment, one is perfect. The Real Thing incorporates this: http://crymightily.blogspot.com/2013/02/be-ye-therefore-perfect.html

  71. Steve Smith on March 5, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    “the church could put authenticity at its core rather than a pre-packaged moral code.”

    You seem like you want to treat Mormonism as more of a philosophy than a religion. While I certainly sympathize with you and would like it to be that way, I am here to say that Mormonism is incompatible with philosophy and therefore incompatible with religious authenticity. For Mormonism is a religion, and religions are inherently different from philosophies in that they uphold traditions. By contrast, philosophies are based on a method of reasoning and innovation and continually question the validity of traditions. Sure, some traditions instituted by Joseph Smith may have changed or disappeared, but other traditions have remained since they were first instituted. And it is those traditions that defined Mormonism then and continue to define it now. Authentic religion can only be experienced through philosophical inquiry, which is not bound by the confines of tradition.

  72. Mtnmarty on March 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Steve, thanks so much for responding its great fun to engage with you. While I see your point, I am here to say that Mormonism, at its core, is philosophy confirmed by divine revelation.

    The core of Mormonism is the first vision and the direct appeal to God for wisdom and the questioning of preachers. The glory of God is intelligence, in other words light and truth.

    Jesus is the Word, the Spirit of Truth. How is that not philosophy?

    That is Mormonism, institutions be damned.

  73. Mtnmarty on March 6, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Log,

    Amen, brother, amen. Thank you for reminding me of what is really important. I’m not perfect yet, but I love your faith and your charity.

WELCOME

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