djinwa wrote: ↑
Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:43 pm
I gave the quote on race as only one example of many that are causing problems when people have access to information.
Another example - you could also discuss how Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, including with teenage girls.
In each of these many cases, you can make all sorts of excuses, but the fact is, it smells bad to many who once had no access to that info.
But as for this whole notion that the gospel is perfect but our leaders are not:
So you're telling me that God tells our leaders what we need to know, and then they tell us wrong, and then we are supposed to figure out what is right? Why not cut out the middle man?
And what keeps every cult and scam artist in the world from claiming the same divine inspiration? So what if they are wrong, it came from God?
I thought we had The Truth, but if you can't tell it from any other group out there, how do missionaries convince people to buy it?
It is easy for us to feel it is the truth, because most of us were taught that from our youth, and have great social pressure to believe. I've seen people shunned for stopping belief, and have seen relatives issued divorce papers from their wives for stopping church attendance. And we call that "Free Agency". So how do you know if you really believe, or are just under threat of rejection if you don't?
You can call them excuses, and I admit I am an apologist. But that is because those coming with flaming arrows against the Church are not exactly coming from an objective perspective.
For example, you list teenage wives as though it were some kind of deplorable act, but exclude the context that people were often married in the 1800s by the time they were just teenagers. Is that an excuse? No, it is a fact that is ignored when trying to besmirch the character of Joseph Smith. It was not so shunned as enemies of the Church try and paint it now. Kids grew up faster then, had more responsibilities, and were expected to act as adults much sooner, probably in part due to their short life expectancy, than kids of today. Also a fact ignored is that though some later tried to claim they were Joseph's offspring from polygamist wives, none of those children shared Joseph's DNA. To date, there has not been one child from one of Joseph's former polygamist wives that shared his DNA. That is probably because he only started practicing polygamy near his death, and even then, he was in hiding much of the time. Recall, he tried to practice polygamy as commanded early on, with disastrous results, and so put it off until right before his death.
You seem to have misunderstood what I was saying about imperfections seeping in. I did not say that God's leaders always get it wrong, like you imply by saying "God tells our leaders what they need to know, and then they tell us wrong." You set up a strawman argument. In fact, I said they get it right way more often then they let their imperfections seep in. What would you call it when Bruce R. McConkie and Brigham Young both opined that Blacks would never receive the priesthood...and then the Lord revealed to His prophet that all worthy males should receive the Priesthood? Were those things that God told our leaders that we needed to know? Obviously not. They shared their mistaken opinions and speculative doctrine, due to an imperfect understanding, which was later stripped away by revelation. Elder McConkie, humbled by the experience, as much as admitted so. Does that mean we should not, then, listen to the Prophets and Apostles? Of course not. We should listen to them and heed their counsel in how we live our lives. When clarification is needed, the Lord will provide it at the right time.
And all cults and scam artists do claim that they have received revelation from God. We know that the Holy Ghost can tell us whether they are divinely appointed, and there are several other clues to look to...whether what they are claiming matches God's method of revelation, organization, and order, etc.
I understand your last paragraph to say that some only believe because of pressure, and I guess you are saying that having more information hurts them. I agree that it hurts some people. However, I happen to believe that sunshine is the best antiseptic. We can't hide from the past, nor should we try. If anything, being forced to deal with some inconvenient aspects of Church history should force people to dig deeper for a testimony. I admit that I personally have known some who fell away because of Joseph using a seer stone for translation because they always understood that he used the Urim and Thummim for the whole translation and thought the Church was hiding that fact. As a basis for this, the person relied on an artists' rendering of Joseph using the Urim and Thummin.
The problem with that is, 1. Moroni calls them translators, not the Urim and Thummim. That is what the saints referred to them as, referencing back to the Old Testament. 2. They also called Joseph's seer stone a Urim and Thummim...in essence, any physical aide used for translation. 3. Joseph did use the Jaredite translators (commonly thought of as the Urim and Thummim by the saints) before the 116 pages were lost. The angel Moroni took them and the Gold Plates when Joseph's power to translate was removed. 4. There is no evidence that Joseph was ever given the Jaredite translators again--probably a personal tragedy for him because He seemed more impressed with them than the plates--he said when you looked into them you could see anything. Journal accounts of the translation process after it resumed only speak of the seer stone, though often called the Urim and Thummin. The description is of placing it in a hat and reading words that lighted up on the Stone...interesting, read about Gazelem in the Book of Mormon. 5. The introduction to the Book of Mormon never says it was translated by the Urim and Thummin...instead it says the gift and power of God (At some point Joseph no longer needed any physical aid to translate it). So most likely, this person's false understanding of how the Book of Mormon was translated came from Sunday school teachers who were ignorant, or loose with terms, not from any official Church position. In fact, Elder Nelson gave a talk in General Conference that talked about the seer stone in the 1990s. Of course, mentioning all of this was to no avail to the person who fell away. So, yes I agree that sometimes, more information can cause some to stumble. I don't see that as a problem though.
If people do not get a spiritual witness to start with the right assumptions, then they will very likely stumble. A testimony built on peer pressure or false understandings of Church History will never stand up to the trials of life. Many of these things I mentioned above were news to me when I investigated them as well. But it never bothered me because my testimony comes from the Holy Ghost. As such, I always start with the assumption that the Church is true, Joseph was a prophet, and we are led by a modern day prophet because the Holy Ghost has so witnessed it to me. So if there is anything inconvenient or at odds with how I believe things should have been, those things have a way of resolving themselves with time and patience. And I always remember the refrain in the Old Testament that God's ways are not my ways. I once struggled with a question that went to the heart of my testimony for nine years. But I would not give up until I had a witness at least equal to the ones I have had telling me it is true, that told me otherwise. Finally an answer came to me on how I could answer that question. What a relief it was!
We know there will be a sifting and great trials in the last days. Sometimes that sifting comes because people get caught up in the world. Sometimes that sifting can just be wrapping your arms around REAL Church History...not what we mistakenly believed about Church History. The point is, our detractors are going to try to use what seems odd by today's standards against us. To me, it is better to be completely open and face the issues head on rather than try to ignore them. Perhaps that more information requires members to get a testimony with deeper roots to withstand the storms coming ahead. But I take comfort in the fact that the Holy Ghost has witnessed the truth to me, and that most of the Saints who lived at the time these things happened remained faithful and bore powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. Obviously, what they saw and experienced seemed either divine, or were things they were comfortable with based on the context of their times, even if we don't understand it all right now.