My plan for this post was to spend some time looking at the January Ensign (Official Mormon) magazine. However it seems that a recent CES (young adults) devotional by “President Dieter F. Uchtdorf,” (Second Councillor in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church, pictured above) has raised a bit of discussion, particularly in relation to the issue of people leaving the Mormon Church due to the historical issues they are coming across, often on the internet.
So I am going to instead give some of my views on this talk, with a little reference to the recent Ensign Magazine too.
One of our commenter’s CJ, recently commented this as a response to Chris Ralphs recent article asking for an answer to issues he raises from the first Presidency.
President Uchtdorf answered all of Chris’s concerns (and anyone else questioning church history and honesty) very clearly in the recent CES devotional speech. For the complete response you have to watch the entire video. http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/watch/ces-devotionals/2013/01?lang=eng&vid=2093631404001If you can’t accept this as the First Presidency’s response to anyone demanding “the truth” from the brethren, then no one can help you.
So I thought why not, and watched it. I would recommend anyone reading this to do the same if possible so what I say will then make more sense, and so I hopefully wont be accused of misquoting etc, however let me know if you feel I have done this.
So the first thing that President Uchtdorf said that interested me was this:
“Because of your righteous desires and commitment to follow the Savior, the future of this church looks bright”.
This kind of reminds me of the whole issue of the LDS view of the Apostasy, and why it happened compared to what I see as the Biblical teaching on the success of the Church. Basically meaning that in LDS terms the success of the Church is dependant on the faithfulness and goodness of its members. If they are on track, the church is on track, if they are not, they could have problems, look at this in the Bible.
Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
This is a confident prayer, what basis does Paul have to know that this will be the case? We see something of this further on in Ephesians.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
We see something here of Paul’s basis for praying with such confidence that He might get glory in the Church throughout ALL ages. This confidence is because its Christ that nurtures and loves the church and cleanses it with the washing of water by the word. Jesus is the one that makes the Church successful not the people in it. Its easy to find many faults with the Mormon Church, the Christian Church, any organization with people in it and if the success of the Church depended on the people within it I do not think we would ever see a Church like this described in Ephesians 5. However Jesus said this:
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
So firstly I would say this talk starts on the foundation that this Church President Uchtdorf is speaking too, is a man centred man reliant Church, hence we see this talk go the way that it goes.
Moving on the rest of this talk is completely devoted to creating a separation between the faithful good people that stay with the church, and the contentious bad people that openly question it, and ultimately leave.
He says this at around 22:30 on the video:
“Never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information, some of it true, some of it false, and much of it partially true. Consequently never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error.”
This is a fair point, one that could be made in any religious Church or movement, however at around 32 minutes in the video we see where this is really going.
“We have an adversary, the devil who has as roaring lion walketh about seeking who he may devour. Satan is the great deceiver, the accuser of the brethren, the Father of all lies.”
Then at around 33m
“For those who already embrace the truth, his primary strategy is to spread the seeds of doubt. For example he has caused many members of the church to stumble when they discover information about the church that seems to contradict what they had learned previously, if you experience such a moment remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything, at any time and every place.”
This is the issue we heard from Marlin Jenson a year and a half or so ago in saying that Since the days of Joseph Smith the LDS Church has never had a time of Apostasy like it is now, largely down to google (Paraphrase) see that live interview and my thoughts on it here. Its clear that this is still an issue and that we see this as a tool of the devil in using this information about the Mormon Church, he then goes on to say that this happens for everything, see what he says after that.
“You will find even those who still claim they have evidence that the earth is flat, that the moon is a hologram, looks like it a little but, and that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet.”
The issues of people saying that the Mormon Church is false, based on the information they are finding on-line is compared to people who say that the earth is flat, the moon is a hologram and that movie stars are aliens, all I can say is WOW this absolutely amazes me. What we are seeing here in this talk is nothing short of damage control. This is President Uchtdorf demonizing the information and the people that present it that lead to people leaving the Mormon Church, thats all this talk is, we saw above CJ saying that this talk will answer all of Chris Ralph’s concerns, nothing could be further from the truth.
It goes on.
At around the 43rd Minute he says this:
“All who seek to know the truth, who study it out in their minds and ask with a sincere heart with real intent with faith in Christ will know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost. And there is this additional unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, available to all who qualify by baptism and living worthy of His constant companionship.”
So we see its the genuine people with real intent that seek to know Mormonism, or the truth as how he puts it here. So what about those that are questioning? He goes on to say.
“Some however do not seek for truth, so much as they strive for contention, they do not sincerely seek to learn, rather they decide to dispute, to show off their supposed learning and thus cause contention. They ignore or reject the council of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, foolish and unlearned questions avoid knowing that they do generate contention. As disciples of Jesus Christ we know that such contention is completely inconsistent with the Spirit upon who we depend in our search for truth.”
So its those that are not sincerely seeking to learn are those that question the Church, and those that conclude that it is false that are the contentious ones. No longer is it just how you ask the questions but the questioning at all that is contentious. Those that are true disciples quietly accept what is being said. This is absolute scaremongering, seeking to make questioning the church and speaking out about issues you find a sign of unrighteousness and therefore people to be avoided.
I think this is the council from Paul to Timothy that is being spoken of here.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
Is this really a warning against questioning the truthfulness of an organization?
Later at around 46 minutes in he says spare no efforts in your search for the truth, and goes on to say “The Lord has great confidence in you, He trusts you.” Again we finish where we started, in that the hope of the Church is found in the people listening, not in the great God that will see His church come in victory.
Interestingly in the latest Ensign Magazine there is an article called Faith and Intellect we see this from a girl who does her research about Mormon Church history.
In this spirit and with some mentored guidance, I pursued my desire to learn more about Church history. As I studied histories written by renowned scholars who were also believing Latter-day Saints,……..
No Anti-Mormon trash, she checked out only the best Faithful Mormon Sourced material she could find, she goes on later to say.
Realizations such as these have helped me to understand that although I will probably always have some unresolved questions, these intellectual issues are no longer central concerns for me. I have had too many experiences that have convinced me that the gospel of Jesus Christ is real and worthwhile. Even during times when I have wrestled with serious doubts, I have experienced firsthand the fruits of the Spirit as I have kept the commandments and served in the Church. These experiences have confirmed my faith. As Alma says, “Is not this real?” (Alma 32:35).
Just before the end she says:
I still think that it is healthy to ask questions and to pursue answers. However, not having all the answers no longer troubles me. This is because I have chosen to value above all other experiences the many times when I have seen the blessings of the Spirit at work in my life and in the lives of others.
This is what the Mormon Church wants, and needs if in reality it is to survive, its people who as the saying goes, pay, pray and obey. Not people who question and raise hard issues, history has shown repeatedly that these people are removed from the Church and are demonized as contentious tools of Satan.
So for me the talk given by President Uchtdorf I feel can be summed up by these points.
- You are all a great set of righteous people and because of this the Church will do well.
- There is lots of information out there but unless it comes from us, its not reliable.
- Showing the falsehoods of Mormonism is akin to believing the world is flat, that the moon is a hologram or even that movie stars are really aliens from another world.
- Satan is the one that causes people to openly question the church, these people are only seeking contention and are to be avoided.
- The truly sincere righteous people know that the Church is true.
- God trusts you that you will stay righteous, the Church depends on it.
Am I wrong? This is in no way, shape or form even marginally deals with the issues Chris Ralph and others are raising, it only serves to show that people like him are contentious horrible people being used by the devil.
My question is this, if the Church is so honest and true, why do we repeatedly see pictures like this put out by the LDS Church?
When every witness to this process says the plates weren’t there, Joseph put his head in his hat, looking at the seer stone he had unsuccessfully tried to find buried treasure with.
Chris Ralph said in one of his earlier posts that it was watching the adult cartoon South Park that introduced him to the truth of how this happened, why did he not find it out in his church that he had been a part of for years?
People will say your no different Bobby your faith has its problems in the past etc, however ask yourself this, are my church leaders kicking people out of my church for questioning its truthfulness? Are my church leaders giving talks like this warning them against people who openly question Christianity? Far from it.
This talk and Ensign article do nothing but tell the faithful to stay exactly where they are. As Ezra Taft Benson said in the 14 Fundamentals of following the Prophet
14. The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.