Thursday, August 31, 2017

Revisiting the Succession Crisis in agreeing to a G&S

Editorial Note added 9/26/2017:
When I wrote this post, I did so on the understanding I had at the time, which was understanding in part of a much bigger picture. I think it's important to acknowledge this, instead of hunkering down on this, below, being the only answer. I do believe "the new way forward" (which was devised and explained after this post was originally written) is also inspired by God. I do believe this new way is meant to reach those who were not edified or participants in the first governing principles. I believe the first would have been acceptable to God had we all agreed to it, and I wrote the post below in the hope that this could still be possible. But now that it seems that ship has long sailed, I believe this new endeavor is meant to allow the edifying of the hearts and minds of those who have not had that opportunity yet, along with those who already have. I think this could be a great opportunity of learning and growth for this people. Of course, the risks are scary, and I understand why some of us are afraid to try. The potential for failure is real! But we definitely fail if we don't climb that mountain.

I'm on day 38 out of a 40 day fast. That won't mean anything to you, but it has meant a lot to me. It has helped me look on the Guide and Standard issues with greater focus.  I've been praying and trying to understand it often lately.

Below you will find my current understanding.

Contemplating the current accepted Guide and Standard, and a recently completed one that is being proposed have brought to my mind the succession crisis after Joseph and Hyrum's deaths. From the preface of Preserving the Restoration:

The restoration is God's call to action and offer to renew His direct contact with mankind. The response during Joseph's day was less than adequate. The restoration was founded on revelation, but when Joseph and Hyrum were martyred no one suggested revelation could solve the succession crisis. Instead the crowd in Nauvoo voted, the quorum of the twelve received the majority of the votes, and the most successful version of the restoration, LDS Mormonism, has perpetuated itself by voting to install the leadership continuously ever since. 
The leadership of LDS Mormonism has increasingly ignored and replaced the commandments and relations given through Joseph. Today, members fall in line as church leaders provide their commandments and revelations given through Joseph. Today, members fall in line as church leaders provide their commandments and direction. The result is an increasingly altered form, varying greatly from the original. Gordon B. Hinckley institutionalized a public relations based management style for LDS Mormonism. The opinion polling and focus group testing for decisions and campaigns have increasingly taken hold until now, LDS Mormonism is changing at a stunning pace, reflecting shifting public opinions. The LDS Mormon tradition now repudiates its history, curtails its curriculum, and discards essential elements of its earlier belief system to be more popular. From pages vii-viii
We could consider ourselves at a similar point. Denver has been instructed to not participate. And we are commanded to come to mutual agreement on a statement of principles and to adopt it. We, like the early Mormons, have to figure this situation out on our own. Can we come to be of one mind in this matter without revelation? It is possible we can by a process of elimination (which is what is proposed for the most recent Guide and Standard), but it is likely the outcome will not be pleasing to God.

I really don't mean any offense to anyone by stating this.

I have read the most recent attempt at a Guide and Standard that has collectively been created, and agreed upon by a group. I found that it is really well done. It is succinct, well-worded, polished, offers scriptural wisdom, and uses scriptural principles that are general enough that perhaps it can get a consensus of agreement that we all believe these things. We can do it that way...

Or we can ask for revelation in the matter, which would require all of us to receive confirmation of that revelation from the Lord.

The early church's whole course was affected by the standard they chose to guide them in the succession crisis, and the choice they made. I wonder if this will be true for us like-minded individuals as well.

I'm writing this out, despite the never ending misgivings that I could ever persuade anyone to change his/her mind. I realize I just can't. How in the world are we supposed to persuade someone of what is revelation or inspiration, except by appealing to God in the matter? Let me be clear, I am not invoking the name of the Lord in this. He will answer how He will. What I will do is give you my own spiritual witness and understanding, knowing that if any of it is correct, I don't have to convince anyone. It is enough that God can confirm or correct us as I have been requesting Him to do for me, and what has led me to writing this. I believe He will speak the truth of this matter to the minds of all those to come to Him for an answer.

I don't know Jeff Savage. I have never met the man. But I believe he was given revelation from God for the Guide and Standard. I have received what I believe is a spiritual witness of this, and despite requesting correction on this of the Lord, have seemed to receive confirmation instead. That doesn't mean it was/is perfect. I believe what came to him was filtered through the language of his mind. I believe that the mistakes that are there, are man's (no offense Jeff!), and not God's, though the source for the material is God. If we look at the material with kindness and with wisdom of word, the kinks can be smoothed out while preserving what God has given to us. I believe if we do this, the outcome will be pleasing to God.

What I see us having right now, is a battle between revelation and stagnation. A battle between the wisdom of God and our own wisdom. I believe that if we choose true revelation, we will be allowing ourselves room to grow. I believe that if we do not, we may be limiting ourselves and others. Without revelation from God there is no being of one heart in righteousness, though we may be of one heart in virtuous principles (Isn't there a quote somewhere about righteousness being able to kick virtue's ass?).

I think those who participated in creating the newest version needed to do that for themselves. They needed to exercise their own understanding and wisdom in fulfilling a requirement of God, so they could have a basis of comparison. Because they did, we all now have the opportunity again to look at both, compare, and inquire of the Lord in what would be pleasing to Him. I'm not sure when this new version will be available for everyone to review. Maybe it is already, and I just missed it.

I do think that any G&S that we accept should necessarily include these clarifications from the bottom of page 8 of The Answer and Covenant:

And again, the husband is to hold priesthood to baptize and bless the sacrament of bread and wine in the home, and the husband and wife are to bless their children together. For the husband to use authority to administer outward ordinances outside his own family, his wife must sustain him. I have told you that to remove authority to use priesthood outside a man’s family requires a unanimous decision by twelve women. A council of twelve women must be convened either in the man’s home fellowship among those who are acquainted with his daily walk, or in private at a general conference also including among the twelve women from the conference those who are acquainted with his daily walk, so that no injustice results. Reinstatement of the man’s authority must be considered by the same council of twelve women when the man petitions for the decision to be rescinded, and requires seven of the twelve to agree upon his reinstatement, which can occur at any time. During the period of suspension, nothing affects the man’s duties and responsibility in his own family.
If the Lord thought these worth mentioning while He appears to be on the topic of a statement of principles, we should value them as worth including.

Finally, if I am still in error after all this, I will correct it, as we all must be willing to do. It wouldn't be my first time. I really do hope we can avoid making the same errors that led to failure before. Let us take our conflicts contritely before the Lord and discover what is truly pleasing to Him.

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