Dealing with Our Personal Dissent

For many Latter-day Saints, there will be times when we disagree with a Church leader or even with a Church policy. First, we must understand that this is natural and is an inherent consequence of allowing mortals into the Church. We do not believe in the infallibility of anybody or anything other than God, so even inspired prophets chosen by God are prone to mistakes, as are the rest of us in the Church who sometimes find that our own views and opinions are (surprise!) much superior to those of the Brethren or anyone else who disagrees with us. In fact, those who disagree with the Church on some issue may be right. They may understand something better and have more scholarly insights and more progressive views than those in charge. They real question is what to do next.

The natural man in us is always anxious to criticize and proclaim our moral superiority. After all, to bring about needed change, don’t we need to create awareness and public pressure to help enlighten the Church? Aren’t we doing God and the Church a favor by turning up the heat on human error, including antiquated perspectives and aging doctrines that need to be refreshed? Isn’t it all about spreading Truth?

I offer my experience that those who begin to publicly criticize the Church, even with good intentions, in many cases swiftly find themselves caught up in currents of hostility. They develop a mindset, enhanced with abundant social reinforcement, that increasingly looks down on the Church and its leaders. As they become more vocal in criticizing its leaders, past or present, the beauty and power of the Gospel becomes a faint echo drowned out by louder voices or, in some cases, war drums.

Step back and consider this: If the Restoration really took place, if God really did authorize living but fallible prophets in our day, what attitude would He expect us to take in light of apparent mortal error from His servants? Can there be any doubt that He would expect us to be patient, forgiving, lenient, and still supportive? Could He possibly be the inspiration behind snide remarks, name calling, anger, and public denouncements? Ponder the impact of our criticisms on those investigating the Church or on those struggling with the Gospel or, perhaps, on our own family members, especially children. Ponder the impact of campaigns of criticism on our own relationship with God. Is what we are doing really what He would ask of us? Is it the humble, loving, Christlike thing to do?

Consider the problematic case of Abraham. Yes, a great prophet, but also a mortal man with mortal issues. There are many unanswered questions and some moments that seem to justify harsh criticism, such as sending his concubine and child out into the desert without adequate supplies and other symptoms of the challenges of polygamy. Yet when his name comes up in the New Testament, it is with respect and deference. James writes that Abraham was called “the friend of God” (James 2:23). Christ speaks of him with respect. His problems are left between him and God and not made the subject of harsh criticism. Perhaps the same kind of respect, in spite of knowing of his mortal weaknesses, is something we should have for the Prophet Joseph Smith and others, including our own Thomas S. Monson, an amazing man but still a mortal. We might disagree with the Church and its current or past leaders on one or more issues important to us, but may we be very careful in how we express that criticism, if at all, that we may be acting the way God would have us act in building up His kingdom and advancing His purposes, and not our own proud will. I think each of us needs to be aware of the dangers of taking our differences too far and being too confident in our own wisdom, too sure of our own agenda, and too harsh or unforgiving in our attitudes when we think others have erred. Faith and patience may be more important in the long run than boldness and activism, even when we are right, and also when we, due to our own mortal weaknesses, are not.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

78 thoughts on “Dealing with Our Personal Dissent

  1. Jeff,
    I appreciate the sentiment of this article especially pointing out the risk of the Gospel becoming a faint echo as it is drowned out. That is not my intention however, it is well accepted even by many of the faithful that some of church history and doctrine is controversial and few argue when it is pointed out that correlation sweeps these issues under the rug sometimes spinning with gusto as in the portrayal of a monogamous Joseph! The internet is creating a power shift probably much more profound than the mass printing of Bibles that gave commoners access to reading and interrupting the gospel for themselves. These potentially testimony ending controversies are no longer conveniently tucked away in dusty old archives, today they just a mouse click away. Are the brethren oblivious to this? I think critism is generally healthy, let the church deal with these issues. The gospel and it's prophets should be strong enough to stand inspection in the light of day!

  2. Excellent article, Jeff.

    Didn't you use to have "The Cracked Planet" back in like 97 or something? I remember loving that site as well. Look forward to seeing more here.

  3. Hey Jeff, you'd be a great moderator over at mormon.reddit.com

    Please feel welcome to check it out and thank you for considering this invitation.

    You've got the kind of even temperament that would be a great asset over there.

  4. Wonderful post, Jeff – and the Gospel Doctrine teacher in my new ward (a former Bishop) said much the same thing at the beginning of his lesson.

    Two scriptural passages come to mind:

    1) "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" – which applies to how we talk about others, not just what we do in other ways to them.

    2) Charity as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – especially the aspect of long-suffering kindness.

    I am not successful all the time, and sometimes I fail spectacularly, but I try hard to keep these things in mind as I comment in any public setting – in person or online.

  5. Jeff, this was a wonderful post. I think we need to be very careful before we criticize and judge the leadership of the Church. Of course, they are not perfect, and we should not expect them to be. I can't imagine if other people expected me to be perfect all the time. I am sure President Monson (and co) must have very thick skin.

  6. Thank you for the post. Two thoughts come to mind. One, Jesus lived what he taught about loving God with all His might, mind,and strength. Two, Neal Maxwell taught what he tried so hard to live, that the only true gift we can give to God is our own free will.

  7. I agree that we should deal with difference of opinion in productive ways.

    Here is an experience related to my current feelings: I worked with a women who spoke incessantly about her ex-fiancé that had chosen not to marry her. Over the course of several years, it became obvious to everyone but her that the relationship was no longer really a relationship and that at this point it existed only in her head.

    This experience is related to our church. Our church leaders send an annual letter telling members not to contact them and that no response will be forthcoming if they do. That should be the starting point for most people—to realize that even though our church leaders are real people, our relationship with them is imaginary—I know who they are, but they don't know who I am. I can see carefully orchestrated talks beamed by satellite. But I am never interacting with them. For me, it is not worth forming an opinion or getting riled up about people that I will never meet. The system guarantees that I have zero say in who my leaders are or what they will say or do. Being LDS means accepting that in a way that is not psychologically damaging.

    So we should figure out the most healthy and moral way to function in a system that does not want feedback. Anger is counterproductive, because the phone is off the hook and our relationship with the brethren only exists in our heads. Just as my co-worker could only hurt herself, it is the same for us. We can only hurt ourselves because we are not really in a relationship.

    Please note that I am not saying that the fact that the phone is off the hook means the church is bad or that our leaders are bad. We have our own testimonies to rely on to feel comfortable that God has called these men to lead the church. And we should obtain charity for them and everyone else.

  8. I appreciate the original posting and also Paul2's thoughts.

    As a follow-on to Paul2, it is important to remember that each of us is supposed to labor in our own calling — this is God's way and his instruction to us — so my duty is to magnify my calling (calling really means more than current assignment) — to bloom where I'm planted — and to allow others to magnify their callings.

    There is great beauty in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I rejoice in that beauty.

  9. Paul 2,
    If all church leaders followed their policy, that may work, but when we have members of the 12 reading letters members have written them (a la Elder Oaks), it makes me question the "reasoning" that "they don't want my feedback."

  10. Thanks for the post Jeff. My faith has struggled a bit recently from some decisions coming out of the higher ups in the church. For example, the whole "it's cool to be a Mormon" campaign really bothers me – whatever happened to "we're a peculiar people"? Suddenly it seems we're all about blending in. The current stance on illegal immigration where it seems to have become exempt from "honoring and sustaining the law" has also confused me a bit.

    None of this changes my testimony that this is God's church run by -MEN- with weaknesses. This is nothing new, the original three witnesses (who SAW an angel and the plates) left the church over Smith's decision-making. The important thing is that, the fundamentals are still true, Joseph Smith was God's Prophet and, though stumbles will come and go, the church and the work will go forward , ultimately doing far more good than bad.

  11. We have local leadership that basically is put in place to assist the prophet and apostles, if we have questions we seek out answers thru the local leadership, and if we still have problems then it is passed along to the higher officers in the church. If everyone was allowed to comment or complain or question the brethren and expect a direct response those few men would be more burdened than they are now. That is why we have the church broken up into wards/branches and stakes/districts, Just put yourself in there shoes for a minute would you want every member of this church worrying you because they fail to trully read, ponder and pray to the Lord and seek his counsel thru the Holy Spirit? The church is true and yes those men have weaknesses but if we honor and respect them the Lord will never lead us astray. I myself have questions but I have the fore thought to not burden those men with my simple minded questions, but I try to diligently study and ponder and pray listening for that still small voice to guide me to the truth and it does.

  12. I agree that we need to be careful in our criticism, or rather, disagreements with the brethren and church but we should not be silent. If we cannot speak openly then what kind of relationship do we have? None.

    My main disagreement is how the brethren portray themselves as infallible, or, at least that is how the general membership views them. They then don't think for themselves and what BY or JS said, they're minds are darkened and God isn't their master but men are.

    I have respect for the brethren and other church leaders, but I also disagree with many of their positions. I view them more as prophets with a small p, which all of us who have a testimony of Christ and share it with others are.

  13. Anonymous-12:15 PM, April 30, 2012,

    Honoring and sustaining the law is a misinterpretation that many have, including church leaders and the brethren about what that means. The law, according to God, is God's law. Man's laws need not be adhered to. Sometimes we adhere to those so-called "laws" because it is expedient but not requisite. If it were so then we would be trampling on many of the saints in the scriptures that refused to follow man's laws.

    Immigration is man's law. We find, that when people are righteous, the borders are open and free trade is abundant (per the BoM). It is a sign of a wicked generation that the borders are becoming more and more closed.

  14. Jon,

    I have to disagree with you about your statement of the misinterpretation of AoF 12:

    "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

    The subject of the Article of Faith is not about being subject to God (although we are) and therefore the law being referenced here is not God's law but man's law.

    Steve

  15. Steve,

    So are you saying that the revolutionaries shouldn't have rebelled against Britain? Are you saying Abinadi shouldn't have spoke against the King, or that Alma shouldn't have secretly taught the gospel and baptized people?

    There's a lot of people that have written on this subject that are much smarter than I am. I believe one of the podcasts on LDS Liberty talked about it, or at least referenced it, sorry I don't have a link to the podcast.

    Here's an article on the Law of the Land:
    http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-is-law-of-land.html

    You can believe what you want I suppose, but I find it difficult to use one verse and ignore all the rest.

    I suppose that is why we tend to criticize others so much, we tend to look at one aspect and ignore the rest and grasping to that one aspect. I do it also, so I not trying to criticize, just trying to point out why we may gravitate to extremes and then find fault.

    Take it as you will.

  16. Sounds to me like the "law" that is referred to is that law which protects us in our inalienable rights; thus the laws of men which are, at least in this country, constitutional.

    Doctrine and Covenants 134:5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.

  17. @Steve,

    God's laws, or natural law, etc, are "constitutional," but not necessarily in the US Constitution. So, if the US Constitution has constitutional laws, or rather, God's laws, then yes, we should obey them, but when the government goes against God's law, or constitutional laws, or natural law, then we have no obligation to follow these so-called "laws."

    Didn't I say that before?

    "Sounds to me like the "law" that is referred to is that law which protects us in our inalienable rights; thus the laws of men which are, at least in this country, constitutional."

    That's what I'm saying, man, that we only need to obey law that protects our inalienable rights, that's called God's law, etc.

  18. Jon,

    The other anonymous is not me. I will always sign with my name even though I post anonymously. I guess others can sign with my name too. I guess those are the perils of posting anonymously.

    You quoted Article of Faith verse 12. I was only pointing out that Article of Faith 12 does refer to man's laws (inspired or not). You said that AofF 12 is often misinterpreted. I only pointed out that it is actually pretty clear. You then assumed that I believe we should not advocate for our freedom. I said nothing of the sort. My only subject was AofF 12 which is pretty clear in what it states, that is all. I do think that is more to consider than what is in that verse.

    Steve

  19. Like Benjamin Franklin, the older I get, the less I am disposed to trust my own judgment. I try to take that into consideration whenever I develop some kind of disagreement with church leaders.

    I very much appreciate the part of the post about dissent. I have a deep sadness in my heart for a friend that followed the path from disagreement to hostility to rebellion. He has reaped the whirlwind in his life when he had so much potential to do good. Even though years have passed, I still pray for him.

    I do not think that it is necessary or even healthy to silently simmer with opinions that differ from those of church leadership. However, I do believe that it is important that any approach be carefully worked out with the Lord to ensure that it is free of pride, resentment, and rebellion, while being replete with charity and mercy.

  20. I believe that the question in the temple worthiness interview refers specifically to the laws of man (country, government, etc). Otherwise, why ask the other questions about chastity, word of wisdom, etc?

    In the case of the church and immigration, I don't think they are doing anything but advising people to enter the country the right way (lawfully). However, in God's eyes, I believe that this transgression is less severe than many other more serious sins and therefore not going to withhold you from entering the temple.

  21. Paul 2,

    In thinking about your comments regarding our relationship with the brethren, I found myself trying to remember anywhere that we are encouraged to have such a relationship. I couldn't think of any such statements. There are only a few relationships I can think of that we are encouraged to nurture. The most basic ones are with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. After that, our spouse and children come to mind, as well as any other family members. Anything else is extra.

    I have known of some "tender mercies" that have been given through the efforts of others to myself and my family, but I recognize them as having come from the Lord through those who seek to serve Him. I likewise serve in large part because I seek the spirit of the Lord in my life, and it comes more easily when in the service of others. Serving others does not slways result in the development a lasting relationship, though it certainly can (as often happens through home and visiting teaching for example).

    People are fallible and inconsistent. If we rely on the actions of others to secure our happiness, we will often be disappointed. As a member of the bishopric in our ward, I try to do what I can to help others, but I sincerely hope their testimonies and happiness aren't built in any way on my puny efforts.

    The only relationship we should really count on is the one we should develop with God. It is through that relationship that we can find peace and understanding, as well as the capacity to live, forgive, and serve others in the best ways.

  22. Howard,

    Your suggestion that the Church "deal with" the controversial issues of its past is misguided. What do you think would be the result of some "official" discourse on them? What are you hoping for? Can you think of anything they could say that would strengthen your testimony or those of anyone else?

    I could just as easily ask, "Why hasn't there been an official declaration on how, exactly, the Book of Mormon was translated beyond the sketchy details that were given us by Joseph Smith?"

    I don't ask that because I would be missing the point of the BoM. There are even things within the BoM that could (and apparently do) give some pause. Not until we do as Moroni directs will we hope to begin to understand its importance and value to mankind.

    Life is way to short to dwell on the shortcomings of others, or on some judgment we may make about them especially when there is no way we will ever have enough facts to be able to make one accurately.

    We would do better to concentrate on our own understanding of and degree of obedience to what we know is right (which changes with increased understanding), and leave justice and judgement to the Lord.

  23. A few quotations that I think are especially beneficial in this conversation:

    "The kind of doubt which is spiritually dangerous does not relate to questions so much as to answers….We all have unanswered questions. Seeking and questioning, periods of doubt, in an effort to find answers, are part of the process of discovery. The kind of doubt which is spiritually dangerous does not relate to questions so much as to answers. For that and other reasons, it is my conviction that a full knowledge…must await further discovery, further revelation…"
    Boyd K. Packer – "Law and the Light" BoM symposium, BYU Oct 30, 1988

    "To hold a private opinion on such matters is one thing, but when one undertakes to publish his views to discredit the work of a prophet, it is a very serious matter."
    Ezra Taft Benson – This Nation Shall Endure, 26-27

    Larry King: "Are people ever thrown out of your church?"
    Gordon B. Hinckley: "Yes"
    Larry King: "For?"
    Gordon B. Hinckley: "Doing what they shouldn't do, preaching false doctrine, speaking out publicly. They can carry all the opinion they wish within their heads, so to speak, but if they begin to try to persuade others, then they may be called in to a disciplinary council. We don't excommunicate many, but we do some."
    Larry King Live Interview, Sep 8, 1998

    and most importantly (to me):
    "O Hyde said to O Pratt, my opinion is not worth as much to me as my fellowship in this Church."
    Wilford Woodruff journal, Jan 27, 1860

  24. Tim,

    So what happens when it is the leaders that are teaching false doctrines, will they be excommunicated? According to BY and other prophets, the church has been in apostasy for quite some time now. The scriptures also talk about it false leaders in the church and leaders leading people astray. Why is it only top down and not bottom up?

    I think we should respect others, those in leadership and those not. But I also think that we should be able to voice our opinions on the matter, if we can't voice our opinions then I would question if this is truly God's church. I think God would want us to discuss things so we can come closer to truth, in the end that is what I seek, truth, not belief, but truth.

  25. The two scriptures that come to mind when I read your post were, "He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone…" (John 8:7) and "…why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matt. 7:3).
    Its so true that it puts you on a VERY dangerous path to publicly criticize the Church and its divinely called leaders. I think this problem comes more often as a result of criticizing local leaders, bishops, stake presidents, etc. We know these men intimately in many cases, and of course are well aware of their faults and short comings and weaknesses. It is therefore especially important for us to remember that they are divinely called of God and respect them as such, even as they are mortal and falible.

  26. Jon,
    Brigham Young did not say the Church was in apostasy, he did feel that members of the church were in apostasy, hence the reformation of 1855, but there is quite a difference between the church as a whole vs a collective body of members.

    As to your Q – what if leaders are teaching false doctrine? Let me ask, whose place is it to correct them? Do you think it is yours? If so, you are mistaken, hence the point of most of my quotes. You are free to disagree, but you are not free to "steady the ark" as it were, without preparing to have church-related consequences.

    As far as church leaders being excommunicated – Amasa Lyman lost faith in the efficacy of the atonement and he was excommunicated. It wasn't the members' responsibility to perform the excommunication, rather it was the Lord's anointed ones.

    Why is it top-down, not bottom-up? Read your scriptures and find even one precedent where the bottom-up approach is acceptable with the Lord. Why is it that way? Because this isn't a church of democracy, it is a church of revelation, and as JS stated, "I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them…" TPJS, 21

    You believe you should be able to voice your opinions. I agree that you are entitled to your opinions, but we aren't talking about American liberties here, we are talking about the Kingdom of God on earth, an institution that you, presumably, belong to. It isn't your right to belong to the church, it is your opportunity, as it is mine, and our membership is dependent upon recognizing that the Lord calls mortals to lead us, irrespective of their shortcomings. It's not our right to call out those shortcomings, but to focus upon our own. If you have a contrary opinion, it's your right to take it to the Lord, not to critize those whom He has called. Would it be any different if somebody an online forum called you out for not performing your calling according to their expectations, than it is for you or anybody else to call out the Lord's prophets and apostles in a public forum?

    I agree, that God does want us to discuss matters to discover truth, but where there is a lack of revelation, Elder Packer's guidance in being reluctant to settle into conclusions is key. Otherwise, we are relying upon the arm of flesh.

    Those of us who have been to the temple have also covenanted with God that we will not speak evil of His anointed. This is a covenant I take very seriously.

    At Sidney Rigdon's membership trial, John Taylor said:
    "Some people talk as though they considered these things very little matters; but it was for a transgression of this kind that satan and his angels were cast out of heaven, and it is those very principles that have destroyed the church in every age of the world. It was not for drunkenness, theft nor any other act of immorality that satan was hurled from heaven, but for resisting authority, and trying to subvert the order of God."

    I'm not trying to be an extremist, and say that we shouldn't ever speak our mind. What I am saying, is that for us to publicly ridicule the Lord's anointed is a serious matter, and probably in violation of covenants, and changes in church policies, programs, etc., are not by the voice of the people. If you are uncomfortable with the current situation of the church, take it to the Lord, and leave it with Him.

    "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place…" Wilford Woodruff – Oct 6, 1890

  27. Jon,
    Brigham Young did not say the Church was in apostasy, he did feel that members of the church were in apostasy, hence the reformation of 1855, but there is quite a difference between the church as a whole vs a collective body of members.

    As to your Q – what if leaders are teaching false doctrine? Let me ask, whose place is it to correct them? Do you think it is yours? If so, you are mistaken, hence the point of most of my quotes. You are free to disagree, but you are not free to "steady the ark" as it were, without preparing to have church-related consequences.

    As far as church leaders being excommunicated – Amasa Lyman lost faith in the efficacy of the atonement and he was excommunicated. It wasn't the members' responsibility to perform the excommunication, rather it was the Lord's anointed ones.

    Why is it top-down, not bottom-up? Read your scriptures and find even one precedent where the bottom-up approach is acceptable with the Lord. Why is it that way? Because this isn't a church of democracy, it is a church of revelation, and as JS stated, "I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them…" TPJS, 21

    You believe you should be able to voice your opinions. I agree that you are entitled to your opinions, but we aren't talking about American liberties here, we are talking about the Kingdom of God on earth, an institution that you, presumably, belong to. It isn't your right to belong to the church, it is your opportunity, as it is mine, and our membership is dependent upon recognizing that the Lord calls mortals to lead us, irrespective of their shortcomings. It's not our right to call out those shortcomings, but to focus upon our own. If you have a contrary opinion, it's your right to take it to the Lord, not to critize those whom He has called. Would it be any different if somebody an online forum called you out for not performing your calling according to their expectations, than it is for you or anybody else to call out the Lord's prophets and apostles in a public forum?

    I agree, that God does want us to discuss matters to discover truth, but where there is a lack of revelation, Elder Packer's guidance in being reluctant to settle into conclusions is key. Otherwise, we are relying upon the arm of flesh.

    Those of us who have been to the temple have also covenanted with God that we will not speak evil of His anointed. This is a covenant I take very seriously.

    At Sidney Rigdon's membership trial, John Taylor said:
    "Some people talk as though they considered these things very little matters; but it was for a transgression of this kind that satan and his angels were cast out of heaven, and it is those very principles that have destroyed the church in every age of the world. It was not for drunkenness, theft nor any other act of immorality that satan was hurled from heaven, but for resisting authority, and trying to subvert the order of God."

    I'm not trying to be an extremist, and say that we shouldn't ever speak our mind. What I am saying, is that for us to publicly ridicule the Lord's anointed is a serious matter, and probably in violation of covenants, and changes in church policies, programs, etc., are not by the voice of the people. If you are uncomfortable with the current situation of the church, take it to the Lord, and leave it with Him.

    "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place…" Wilford Woodruff – Oct 6, 1890

  28. Tim,

    As to the apostasy. I was referring to things that he and other presidents of the church have said referring to, if such and such happens then the church will have fallen into apostasy. Then those things happen and no one owns up to them. Don't ask me to tell you what those quotes are because I've read them over quite a span of time and don't recall where they are, I'm sure you could easily google it and find it for yourself if you are interested.

    If I disagree with church leaders it is my place to disagree with them and speak my disagreement if I deem it important enough to voice it. It is not my place to criticize them, as in saying that they are bad people. But I can, and will say that I disagree with them or their decisions.

    I know we are all human, so it is not wise to judge others harshly for their actions, since we can equally be judged poorly for our actions. But I'm OK with people disagree with my view points just as I'm OK with disagreeing with leadership opinions.

    The scriptures talk about the whole church's leadership becoming corrupt and the Lord continued to allow this corruption, are we to follow corrupt leaders? I'm not saying that the LDS church is corrupt, but I am saying, if all of Israel worships at the feet of the golden calf, I'll choose to serve the Lord, not mammon.

    Bottom up. Let's see, the spirit needs to talk to and confirm with everyone individually. Alma left King Noah and the priests (AKA the corrupted church) to start his own. I'm sure there are plenty more examples to be had. Yes, we should give deference to those leaders who are doing their best, but we need not worship them and believe that everything that comes from their lips is from God, I believe the scriptures call this priest craft.

    As for your next paragraph, yes, it is a private organization and the leaders can choose who belongs to it. But those decisions need to be confirmed by the HG, if not it is man who takes those actions, not God and they have no effect. The church isn't what saves us, it is Jesus only, the church is only a tool that can become corrupted, as described in the scriptures. And, yes, I can disagree publicly. If the leaders choose to throw me out, it is their choice, but it has no bearing on my salvation if God doesn't agree with those choices.

    There is a difference between speaking evil of someone and disagreeing with saying and stating as such. I think we might agree more on this than you think, or maybe not – I don't know your mind.

    Changes in church policy are supposed to be more of thing for all members to vote on and in the early church were voted on, the church has become much more authoritarian than it used to be. The LDS church has gone to one extreme and the RLDS church has gone to the other, the true point probably lies more in the middle.

    That last quote is probably one of the worst statements that was ever said, since it leaves so many to leave their agency and to stop thinking for themselves, causing peoples minds to be darkened (as said by Joseph Smith).

  29. The last paragraph should read, I believe the statement by Wilford Woodruff to be incorrect, or, if not incorrect, misinterpreted. What's another way to look at that statement? There's two other ways.

    1) The president won't lead the church astray because the members would receive the HG and reject bad advice.

    2) The president won't lead the church astray because the members will reject Christ themselves and so will lead themselves astray.

    Also, I think it would be important to understand what is defined by "astray."

    If causing men to not receive salvation, then what of the blacks, where they not stopped from going to the temple for saving ordinances? McKay called the actions of the church not letting the blacks get the priesthood a "policy" not revelation or anything from God. Is this not leading people astray and causing them to not receive salvation?

    No, Woodruff could have just been speaking as a man, not as a prophet when he said that. History and the scriptures have shown differently than what that quote states.

  30. I sure agree with you on this, and I have read Boyd Petersen (son-in-law of Hugh Nibley) say that this is one of the things he learned from Nibley–"if you disagree with church policy, keep quiet."

    There are several examples I could cite where Hugh disagreed with Church policy. But when he could not argue forcefully for the Church, he kept his mouth shut. During the debate over blacks and the priesthood, Hugh evidently disagreed with the policy. Nevertheless, he never voiced those beliefs until after the priesthood ban was lifted.12 I once asked him about something that might be seen as heretical today but which was not in the nineteenth century, and he responded, “I never think about that.” Then he paused and restated, “Well, I think about it, but I never talk about it.” This may seem cowardly to some, but clearly Hugh was able to do more for the Church by remaining loyal and quiet; he would have lost that ability had he come out in open opposition to the Church’s position." (What I learned about Life, the Church, and the Cosmos from Hugh Nibley)