Wednesday, June 20, 2012

...the tone that matters

Not too long ago a FB friend of mine made some comments about the Church's involvement with the City Creek Center, mainly negative comments about how the Church has decided to manage its funds. I never really knew the guy that well, being just a coworker of his at a law firm that I worked at for a few months, but I felt like I should say something to him about the tone of the comments that he was making regarding the Church.

He has voiced a number of concerns about same sex marriage, mostly, and recently about this real estate development project. I wrote him a message so as to not make it a public debate, but I guess that is kind of the path that he has decided to take with all of his concerns. Here are a few of his comments to me:

As I read your thoughtful response, I couldn't help but think "that sounds just like me two years ago." Please don't mistake that as some chiding superiority. I'm just pretty sure that I understand where you're coming from, because I used to feel the same way. I used to focus my thinking on how the Church operates through the lens of "the Church and its leaders are always led by God, therefore there must always be a wise/prudent/divine purpose for its seemingly errant decisions."

For me, that perspective came from a lifetime of hearing Mormon mantras such as "the prophet will never lead the Church astray," "follow the brethren," and "the Church is perfect," etc.

I simply can't follow that philosophy any more. I know for a fact that the GA's, prophets, apostles, or whoever CAN lead the Church astray. They DO make mistakes -- sometimes horrible mistakes that cause a great deal of harm. Now, that doesn't change my relationship to God or the Gospel, but it certainly changes the way I view and examine the Church as a institution. I can elaborate on that point further if you'd like, but suffice it to say that I think to invest blind faith/trust/obedience in any institution led by fallible men is akin to putting your trust "in the arm of flesh." 

What really disturbs me is not so much that he has some skeptical thoughts about the Church, because doubts can creep up every now and then for the most faithful members, but its the tone and attitude of his message that I find so unnerving. 

There is certain ground where faithful members shouldn't ever want to tread and I think this line of thinking happens to be one of those areas. It's an attitude where one believes that he knows what's best, or that he has the mind of God, where he feels that his leaders do not. It's one thing to have doubts and concerns about certain doctrines or practices, but it's quite another to be voicing those in such a way as to cast doubt on the leadership and institution of the Church itself. This kind of dangerous attitude is reflected as much in the doubting of the leadership of the Church as it is in the reluctance to accept callings and assignments given by local leaders. This kind of person can accept the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, in the Bible and other prophets and prophetic works of the past, but finds it a struggle to embrace the living Church and its inspired leaders of the present.

Credulity in the mistaken principles can be a dangerous thing. It can lead to an impassioned hypocrisy that is misguided at best and wholly damning at worst, but when its founded in truth, meekly seeking the mind and will of God, it is something that helps turn the sinner into a saint.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Agreed. It's this sort of attitude that will lead even the best astray. I decided long ago, after having my first of many personal confirmations that the prophet, though human, truly knows what is best for the church and for me. I made a promise to myself that I would try my very best to always follow his counsel and do what he says... even if I don't necessarily understand or agree. It is through him and the other apostles that we can navigate our way through this world where good is called evil and evil is called good. I truly belief that if we follow the prophet, we will not be led astray. Yes, they are human men and if we look we will find faults in them... but when on the errand of God, they speak and do His will.

Thanks for sharing your views. Jared and I both enjoy reading your blog.