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Friday, January 13, 2006

There might also be a chance for us

In my discussions here and elsewhere in the bloggernacle, I find some people who don't seem to have any hesitation at all about criticizing Church leaders (i.e. Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, Boyd K. Packer, and Russell M. Nelson) for their views on death before the fall and other creation and evolution issues.

I would like to address this tendency by using an example from the life of President Wilford Woodruff. In so doing, I'm hoping that my blogging friends can see why it so surprises me when they cavalierly critize the apostles and prophets. Please note, this is not a post about the Word of Wisdom, it is about accepting the teachings of imperfect Church leaders.

From the life of Wilford Woodruff

On April 4th, 1880, during the Jubilee General Conference of the Church, Elder Woodruff spoke in the Assembly Hall. He was 73 years of age at the time and had served as an Apostle for over 40 years. Among other things, he said

I have spent the last year of my life on a mission. I have been traveling with our southern brethren; spent some time in the temple; been through Arizona, where the brethren and sisters are living in the United Order. I will say that I have been pleased with my visit to the southern country. In many of our settlements the people are endeavoring to keep the commandments of God, uniting together according to the order of the kingdom of God; and I will say here that from my experience among them I am pleased with the result, I am pleased with the fruits manifested by the people, and you know we judge a tree by the fruit it bears. I made my home in Sunset when I was not traveling. The people there are living in the United Order, as also in Brigham City and St. Joseph, and while I was in those settlements I never heard an oath, I never saw a quarrel, I never saw any man or boy smoke a cigarette, or use an ounce of tobacco, or drink whiskey, or drink a cup of coffee or tea, except what I drank myself. The idea of drinking coffee where nobody else was drinking it was a very poor example, I thought, for an Apostle; I therefore took, instead of coffee, water and milk, and have felt a great deal better. The promise is that those who keep the Word of Wisdom "shall run and not be weary, shall walk and not faint," and I can say I have enjoyed much better health than before. (Conference Report, April 1880, 11.)


The Word of Wisdom, a principle with a promise

The Word of Wisdom was received by revelation through Joseph Smith, at Kirtland, Ohio, February 27, 1833. That was the same year Wilford Woodruff was baptized at the age of 26.

On January 3, 1837, Wilford Woodruff was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. Four months later, in a general meeting of the Church held May 28, 1837, the members “resolved unanimously that we will not fellowship any ordained member who will not, or does not observe the Word of Wisdom according to its literal meaning.” (See Gerry Avant, “Health Law Received One Hundred Fifty Years Ago,” Tambuli, Oct. 1983, 15.)

Wilford Woodruff was called to the Quorum of the Twelve on July 8, 1838 (see D&C 118:6), and ordained an Apostle on April 26, 1839. In 1851, President Brigham Young asked in general conference that the Saints covenant to keep the Word of Wisdom. His proposal was unanimously accepted and since that day, the revelation has been a binding commandment. (see Ezra Taft Benson, “A Principle with a Promise,” Ensign, May 1983, 53.) However, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism says before 1930 you didn't have to keep the Word of Wisdom to hold a temple recommend.

There is evidence that Church Presidents John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, and Heber J. Grant wanted to promote adherence to the Word of Wisdom as a precondition for entering LDS temples or holding office in any Church organization; and indeed, by 1930 abstinence from the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea had become an official requirement for those seeking temple recommends. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol 4, s.v. Word of Wisdom.)


I've found no evidence that Wilford Woodruff ever preached against obedience to the Word of Wisdom. In 1880, he announced publicly that he had only recently quit his coffee habit and he used that occasion to reiterate the promise given to those who keep the Word of Wisdom. Nine years later, in 1889, he was sustained President of the Church. The 2006 Wilford Woodruff manual, on page 31, quotes him saying, "It is the will of God ... that we should obey the Word of Wisdom."

The teachings of imperfect Church leaders

My point is this, when we see an apostle or prophet doing or saying something that appears to be unjustifiably wrong, that does not authorize us to disregard his apostolic and prophetic teachings.

Then how should we react when we see faults in our leaders? I like the following observations made by Elder Dallin H. Oaks regarding the imperfections of mortal men who are called to lead in the kingdom (see Ensign, Feb. 1987, 72):

President Brigham Young described ... a circumstance in which he felt “a want of confidence” in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s financial management. After entertaining such thoughts for a short time, President Young saw that they could cause him to lose confidence in the Prophet and ultimately to question God as well. President Young concluded:

“Though I admitted in my feelings and knew all the time that Joseph was a human being and subject to err, still it was none of my business to look after his faults. ... He was called of God; God dictated him, and if He had a mind to leave him to himself and let him commit an error, that was no business of mine. ... He was God’s servant, and not mine.” (Journal of Discourses, 4:297.)

Elder Lorenzo Snow also observed some “imperfections” in Joseph Smith, but he also reached a positive conclusion about the Prophet:

“I thanked God that He would put upon a man who had those imperfections the power and authority He placed upon him ... for I knew that I myself had weakness, and I thought there was a chance for me.” (Quoted by Elder Neal A. Maxwell in Ensign, Nov. 1984, p. 10.)


Criticism of Church leaders

In the October 1972 General Conference, when he was sustained as President of the Twelve, President Spencer W. Kimball said (quoting President George Q. Cannon):

“The men who hold the Priesthood are but mortal men: they are fallible men.... [No one knows that better than they themselves.] No human being that ever trod this earth was free from sin, excepting the Son of God....”

This is true concerning all of the brethren, I am sure.

“Nevertheless, God has chosen these men. He has singled them out,... but He has selected them, and He has placed upon them the authority of the Holy Priesthood, and they have become His representatives in the earth. He places them as shepherds over the flock of Christ, and as watchmen upon the walls of Zion. And He holds them to a strict accountability ... for the authority which He has given to them, and in the day of the Lord Jesus they will have to stand and be judged for the manner in which they have exercised this authority. If they have exercised it wrongfully and against the interests of His work and the salvation of His people, woe unto them in the day of the Lord Jesus! He will judge them....” (Gospel Truth, p. 276.)

This same early apostle tells us that the Lord gives the authority to judge and condemn only to the regularly constituted councils of the Church and not to man generally; “and those who lift their voices ... against the authority of the Holy Priesthood ... will go down to hell, unless they repent.” (Ibid.)

It was President Wilford Woodruff who, in his closing years, made this statement: “I ask my Heavenly Father to pour out his spirit upon me, as his servant, that in my advanced age, and during the few days I have to spend here in the flesh, I may be led by his inspiration. I say to Israel, 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 program. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so he will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from his oracles of God and from their duty....” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff [Bookcraft, 1969], pp. 212–13.)

This should give us deep assurance. (Spencer W. Kimball, “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 35; italics added; bracketed comments in the original.)


The emphasized sentences in the above quotation were spoken by President Woodruff in the October 1890 General Conference while serving as Church President. They are also found on page 199 in the 2006 Wilford Woodruff manual and included with OD–1 in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Conclusion

I believe we should avoid speaking against the authority of the Holy Priesthood. I believe we can overlook imperfections in our leaders, leaving judgment to the regularly constituted councils of the Church or to God. I believe we should thank God that He would put upon men who have imperfections the power and authority He has placed upon them, because we ourselves have imperfections and that means there might also be a chance for us.

30 Comments:

Blogger RoastedTomatoes said...

Gary, these are interesting comments. They would apply equally well, of course, to the myriad statements by general authorities since the days of Joseph Smith that imply the truth of the continental geography for the Book of Mormon. Many within the church have, of course, backed away from that geography on the basis that genetic, anthropological, archaeological, and geographic evidence seem to disprove it. Yet on the basis of your remarks, I would conclude that you side with tradition and the statements of leadership against the empirical evidence on this point. Is that correct?

At any rate, these sorts of issues where we're required to choose between our best understanding of the world and instructions from our leaders certainly do pose interesting dilemmas for faithful Saints. Your solution of obedience regardless of seeming irrationality is obviously a solution that many would find satisfying.

1/13/2006 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jared* said...

Gary,

That's an interesting story about Wilford Woodruff.

Perhaps a better analogy is the Church's practice on blacks and the priesthood. Many years before the 1978 revelation there were people who felt the policy had a poor foundation in doctrine, history, and reasoning.

I would distinguish between disagreeing with a Church leader on something versus claiming that their leadership is displeasing to God, or that they lack or are misusing their authority. I don't think anybody (in the circle we run in) has done the latter, but maybe I missed an example.

As for disagreement, on any given topic--but especially on science topics--quotations from General Authorities are bound to come up. In order to have any meaningful discussion, we have to decide what to do with those quotations. We must necessarily examine their immediate and larger context and reasoning.

Perhaps it is in the phrasing, but I don't see why giving reasons for disagreement automatically constitutes criticism. Thank goodness Church leaders now stay mostly out of politics!

1/14/2006 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

There's a new book out that gives all the official statements from the Church on evolution:

http://www.koffordbooks.com/mormevol.shtml

DesNews article:

http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635177399,00.html

1/19/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike, if you look at the Table of Contents, you'll see immediately that the book Mormonism and Evolution: the Authoritative LDS Statements is just the BYU Evolution Packet, plus a generous amount of Evenson/Jeffery spin. In the process of carefully explaining why the evolution packet is authoratative, they effectively discount the remainder of their own book.

By the way, the book was announced this morning by Jared at LDS Science Review, so I had already bought and read it. Other than a few glaring omissions, there isn't much that all of us haven't seen already seen. But, thanks for the link.

1/19/2006 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Gary,

My beef w/ the likes of BKP goes way beyond his shameful use of evolution as a boogey man (which IMHO is not an honest mistake). Jesus warned us of false prophets. Some apostles have fallen and will continue to fall into this camp. I think the personal weakness of an Apostle, as in the example you bring up, is a completely different matter. We all recognize that apostles need redemption, just like the rest of us.

Steve EM

[Note: This comment was originally posted by Steve EM 1/21/2006 02:39:37 PM. This is an edited version of Steve's original comment.]

1/21/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Steve,

Please review my comment policies and try to stick with the subject of No Death Before the Fall.

Otherwise, I can only say that I respect your right to disagree with Elder Packer and with me.

Thanks for your willingness to comment.

1/21/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

Well Gary, it's your site and you're free to edit or delete comments as you see fit. I point out however, that my comment was spot-on the topic you posted, as is clearly evident from the part you left up. I also note that you deleted the part of my comment that put the entirety of it in compliance with your policy: the part that expressed respect for those who could parse between a leader's false and inspired teachings after I have written-off the same individual as a dangerous loose cannon and false prophet whom I choose to ignore. In short, I have no axe to grind here and don't seek to bring others to my point of view about some of the more extreme apostles. In response to your post I posited my thoughts, that's all.

1/22/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Gary: "...the book Mormonism and Evolution: the Authoritative LDS Statements is just the BYU Evolution Packet, plus a generous amount of Evenson/Jeffery spin."

Are you claiming that the use of the same statements on your web site is devoid of "Shapiro spin"?

1/22/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger jeff g said...

If simply pointing out when an authority which was pulled into a discussion in order to settle a matter is wrong amounts to full blown criticism of church leaders and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed then I want out right here and now. Joseph Smith constantly preached against this absurd idea (of course this was usually not in the context of others disagreeing with him but hey) saying that it was nothing less than oppression of the mind.

If somebody can't handle their authority being called into question then they shouldn't bring this authority into the conversation. It's not like the evolutionists are the ones who are constantly appealing to the brethren to make their case, right?

If what they say is untouchable, then lets not touch it at all. We can't have it both ways.

1/23/2006 01:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Jeffrey said, "If somebody can't handle their authority being called into question then they shouldn't bring this authority into the conversation." And therein lies a big difference between you and me. I don't call authorities into question. Period. That's the point of this post. But thanks for your comment.

1/24/2006 02:46:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

"I don't call authorities into question. Period."

If this isn't the infallibility which Joseph fought so hard to discredit I don't know what is.

I would also be curious to know if you really don't call authoritative statements such as Talmage about evolution, Brigham about Adam-God or McConkie's version of African-american pre-existence into question at least in your mind. If Apostles can instruct us to question these things, and they have, should we follow their advice or should we not follow their inspired council? Again, another catch-22.

Do not interpret my examples as critizing the brethren in any way. Simply saying that a church leader was wrong on a particular point does not amount to full blown criticism of them, only of their view on that particular matter.

1/24/2006 04:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike Parker: Are you suggesting I've missed or ignored something taught by the apostles and prophets (First Presidency and Twelve) about no death before the fall during the past thirty-six years? Or are you saying it's "spin" to let the teachings of the most recent thirty-six years clarify the teachings of the previous thirty-six years? Define Shapiro spin.

By the way, Mike, did you just not see my comment about Duane Jeffery's 2004 Sunstone article?

1/24/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve EM said...

Following up on Jeffery’s comments, am I missing something on this "evil speaking of the Lord's anointed"? I don’t see how that can possibly mean what most seem to imply here in the Bloggernacle, or why then did Jesus warn us to beware of false prophets? If someone claims or implies prophetic authority, we’ve been warned to question what they preach and make a judgment about them and their message. If we found an authenticated gospel of Judas, it seems many here in the Nacle would feel bound to canonize it rather than dismiss it as the writings of a false prophet.

Related to this, it is a fact that the church continuously improves because my laundry list of complaints is so much shorter than it was decades ago. We have a long and healthy tradition of reforming past errors. Ergo, somebody in high standing screwed up at some point and somebody else later questioned and fixed the mistake. And in the LDS tradition, virtually always w/o a candid acknowledgement of the original error, but I guess that’s better than no reform at all. Hence my expression “orthodoxy always leads to apostasy”, as w/o periodic reform, the inevitable mistakes become entrenched and the apostasy institutionalized.

1/24/2006 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Are you suggesting I've missed or ignored something taught by the apostles and prophets (First Presidency and Twelve) about no death before the fall during the past thirty-six years? Or are you saying it's "spin" to let the teachings of the most recent thirty-six years clarify the teachings of the previous thirty-six years? Define Shapiro spin.

The fact is that we have several statements from the brethren on this subject that can be considered authoritative, and people of faith, intelligence, and honesty have come to different conclusions after reading the same statements. For you to claim that Jeffrey is putting "spin" on these statements implies that you are simply stating the facts, devoid of any spin. This is simply not the case — you just interpret ("spin", if you will) the same statements toward your conclusion, just as he interprets them toward his.

If Church leaders were clearly and indisputably opposed to evolution, pre-Adamites, and pre-Fall death, all they would have to do is issue a clear statement to that effect. But they haven't, and that action speaks volumes — as in, "We don't know because there's been no revelation about it, so we aren't going to formally advocate in the absence of revealed truth."


By the way, Mike, did you just not see my comment about Duane Jeffery's 2004 Sunstone article?

Yes, I saw it. I happen to agree with the Jeffrey quote you provided. The extent of the Flood has not been a subject of modern revelation ("Lord, how much of the earth was covered by the Flood?" "The entire globe, my son."), and therefore we are left to our own understanding. The presumption among most Mormons has been — and largely remains — a global flood, based on the traditional interpretations of scripture that we inherited from early American and British Protestantism.

1/24/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike Parker, Do I understand you correctly? There are statements from the Twelve/First Presidency during the past thirty-six years that can be read as teaching death before Adam?

If so, please share. If not, I'll accept that you think everything on my blog and web site is just spin.

p.s. Thanks for responding to my question about Duane Jeffery's 2004 Sunstone article.

1/24/2006 07:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Steve, President Ezra Taft Benson had some advice that makes sense to me within the context of your complaints about false prophets. He said, "We will be given a chance to choose between conflicting counsel given by some. That's why we must learn—and the sooner we learn, the better—to keep our eye on the Prophet, the President of the Church." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 139.)

With that counsel in mind, how do you feel about the no death before the fall teachings of Church Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith (1972 version), Harold B. Lee (2002 version), and Wilford Woodruff (2006 version)?

1/24/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Do I understand you correctly? There are statements from the Twelve/First Presidency during the past thirty-six years that can be read as teaching death before Adam?

Gary: I read and re-read my last post and I honestly cannot see how you could conclude that I was making such an argument. You either misread me, or are distorting what I wrote.


P.S.: Have you read the entry on "Gospel Hobbies" in McConkie's Mormon Doctrine?

1/25/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

On a related note, Gary, you advertise a document on your website by the title of "A Major Defect in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism article about Evolution."

What would you say if I told you that the EoM article wasn't actually written by William E. Evenson, but by Gordon B. Hinckley?

1/25/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike Parker,

I've posted some remarks here about your last two comments.

1/25/2006 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Thanks, Gary. Two follow-up questions for clarification:

1) Do you believe that every talk given by a member of the First Presidency or the Twelve given in General Conference speaks for and states the position of the Church in an official capacity?

2) When a (strictly hypothetical) individual goes to effort to create a website and a blog using the acronym of a particular, and not entirely central, LDS doctrine, the purpose of which is to passionately defend his or her own interpretation of said doctrine, an interpretation about which there is considerable debate among faithful Mormons, is that not a pretty good example of, to use Joseph F. Smith's words, "placing ... one [principle] unduly in front, hiding and dimming all others"? Would the use of these sites to accuse those who come to a different conclusion of employing "spin" not be an example of, "judg[ing] and condemn[ing] their brethren ... who are not so zealous in the one particular direction of their pet theory as they are"?

Just for clarification, mind you.

1/26/2006 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Re 1) President Benson's instruction on this point is timeless: "For the next six months your conference edition of the Ensign should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently. As my dear friend and brother [President] Harold B. Lee said, we should let these conference addresses 'be the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day.' " (Ensign, May 1988, p. 84; as quoted by John E. Fowler, in Ensign, Nov. 1992, 79.)

Why did he say, "For the next six months"? Because Gen. 22:12 trumps Gen. 22:2, and the next General Conference will take precedence. That doesn't mean we only ever have one valid General Conference Ensign, it means we read them starting with the most recent one and working back.

Re 2) Didn't I just say, "You win. I'm all spin." Give it up with the "spin" whining already. You have no idea what goes on in my life and what principles guide it. By your logic, every LDS book is a Gospel Hobby if it gives precedence to any one principle, and especially if it has the audacity to discuss anything besides Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the Laying on of Hands. Wait, that doesn't work, because the three grand pillars of eternity are the Creation, the Fall of Adam, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Oops, there I go again, pardon the spin.

1/26/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger jeff g said...

Personally, I do think that the first two of those 3 pillars are grossly exaggerated in both content and application. While its definitely necessary that God played some part in the creative process and that we are at this point in need of salvation and therefore "fallen" in comparison with what we hope for, to require a full blown, literal fall and creation seems a little fanatic in my opinion.

These comments are not directed at anybody in particular. Only trying to contribute something to the exchange.

1/26/2006 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Thank you for your response, Gary. I think I'm beginning to understand your point of view a little better.

Perhaps you can indulge me a little further. Certainly the talks given in General Conference are important, and we ignore them at our own peril. But do you believe that Presidents Benson and Lee were claiming that those addresses establish the doctrine of the Church? Or is it more likely that they are exhortations based on the established doctrine of the Church?

If the former, please explain how you would harmonize your interpretation of Benson and Lee with the following statements of previous Church leaders:

"The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine."
* * *
"It is not sufficient to quote sayings purported to come from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young upon matters of doctrine. Our own people also need instruction and correction in respect of this. It is common to hear some of our older brethren say, 'But I heard Brother Joseph myself say so,' or 'Brother Brigham preached it; I heard him.' But that is not the question. The question is has God said it? Was the prophet speaking officially? ... As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren, the same principle holds. They do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is — What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine." — B. H. Roberts, sermon delivered 10 July 1921 in Salt Lake Tabernacle; Deseret News (23 July 1921) 4:7.

"If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth." — Harold B. Lee, The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24–26, 1973, 69.

"It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they speak and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don't care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, "Well, that is his own idea!" And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard works (I think that is why we call them "standard"—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false; regardless of the position of the man who says it." — Harold B. Lee, "The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator," Address to Seminary and Institute of Religion Faculty, BYU, 8 July 1964.

1/26/2006 10:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike Parker,

The four standard works are binding upon the Latter-day Saints: "From the days of the first dispensation it has been the practice of the Lord’s people to make selections from the scriptural utterances of those who are appointed to lead the Church and to publish these selections as formal and official scripture. All inspired sayings and writings are true and are and should be accepted and believed by all who call themselves Saints. But the revelations, visions, prophecies, and narrations selected and published for official use are thereby made binding upon the people in a particular and special sense. They become part of the standard works of the Church. They become the standards, the measuring rods, by which doctrine and procedure are determined." (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, Aug. 1976, 7.)

Only "official" doctrine is binding and I've acknowledged over and over (here, here, and here, for example) that no death before the fall is not "official" doctrine.

1/26/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Blogger Mike Parker said...

Now we're getting somewhere.

So if "no death before the fall is not 'official' doctrine," as you say (and I heartily agree), then is there room for honest disagreement among intelligent people of good faith on this issue?

Can I believe there was death before the fall and still get a temple recommend? Be called to a leadership position? Get into the celestial kingdom?

If "yes" to the above, why does this subject matter to you so much?

In other words, I'm trying to understand the passion that drives you on this single issue. You don't, to the best of my knowledge, maintain blogs on "caffeinated drinks are against the Word of Wisdom" (cdaatwow.blogger.com) or "there were no neutrals in the preexistence" (twnnitp.typepad.com).

1/26/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger cayblood said...

Gary, Mike's comments about NDBF having become a gospel hobby to you are spot on. Your prevarication only serves to affirm the conclusion most of us have tentatively reached that this has become somewhat of an obsession to you. One can quibble over the details, but I think that most people would agree that your interest on NDBF is much more pronounced than your opinions on other gospel topics.

1/26/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Q: "Mike's comments about NDBF having become a gospel hobby to you are spot on."

A: I think of my posts as chapters in a book, published on the web instead of on paper. So, were Stephens and Meldrum riding a hobby horse when they wrote Evolution and Mormonism? And what about Evenson and Jeffery and Mormonism and Evolution?

I don't think any of the four was "judg[ing] and condemn[ing] their brethren ... who are not so zealous in the one particular direction of their pet theory as they are." And your personal attack on me is very much out of order.

Q: "why does this subject matter to you so much?"

A: Why does any author write a book? My motivations were clearly outlined last summer.


Anyway, thank you both for visiting my blog and sharing your views. Just be warned that, in the future, I plan to better enforce my comment policies, and that means no more personal attacks.

1/26/2006 08:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Mike Parker, please send me an email (r.gary.shapiro@usa.net).

Steve EM, ditto.

1/27/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jared* said...

How could there be so much fire over here--and I didn't see smoke?

1/27/2006 08:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Gary said...

Gary, thanks for the links. And Pres Benson's counsel certainly seems sound, in that, in the event of different view points between apostles on matters critical to the church at large, it makes sense that the most experienced apostle (the Pres of the Church) would be in the best position to receive inspiration to resolve the matter or to rule the matter inconsequential to the church and its mission of bringing people to Christ. I don’t think that means the Pres of the Church can’t ever lead the church down the wrong path, either by error or intentionally, but the vast majority of the time, the Church Pres will be on the money.

That said, you’re probably not surprised to hear that I’m not a JFSII fan. But you may be surprised to hear the guy lost me long before I gave any serious thought to the how of creation and species replacement. For background, I found Jesus the way a lot of people do. A few years after my entire family joined the LDS church (as a young teen), I fell into some common sins and felt the real burden of G-ds judgment that children are shielded from and the wicked learn to ignore. In spite of a misguided Bishop, that burden lead me to really finding Jesus and his gift of redemption and protection from the judgment. I read all sorts of church things that had completely bored me before that. When I read JFSII’s interpretation of the parable of the labors and found he entirely missed the point, JFSII may have been the first to make my list of big fakes to be ignored. [...] the anti-evolution stuff only later confirmed my suspicions.

Now to the links, so far I've only had time to check the first link and have to take immediate issue with: "Because it is inconceivable that the First Presidency would publish that which it had not approved...........". Well, it has happened at least once in my lifetime. [Note: The specific example given was deleted, with Steve's permission, as not suitable for a family friendly site.]

I'll check out the other links soon, but I think you’ve already lost me on this.

Steve EM

[This comment was originally posted by Steve EM 1/25/2006 10:47:56 AM.]

1/28/2006 04:54:00 PM  

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