Recently we have had two excellent posts, one written by Kelly Andersen (click here to read) and the other written by Chris Brewer (click here to read) that addressed the issue of how, as a Mormon culture, we tend to deify our leaders. This along with the hagiographies that Deseret Book produces can lead members of the Church to unrealistic expectations of our leaders. When such high expectations are not met, often members will find themselves outside the fold.
It recently came to my attention that the LDS News Room released a summary of Elder Holland’s most recent General Conference talk which redacted the portion that spoke explicitly of the fallibility of our leaders. Ugh… I have heard many times from the ex-Mormon community that the Church will sometimes “speak out of both sides of its mouth”. That is, it will give two different messages and by doing so, allow itself an escape route by saying, “No, we actually said this or that at one time.” Specifically, this redacted form of Elder Holland’s talk, allows members to hold to the leader-worship that is soooo prevalent in our LDS culture. Shame on the News Room. Shame on you. You have just given fuel to the ex-Mo’s.
The transcript and video of Elder Holland’s original General Conference talk is as follows (click here to go to his talk):
“Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.
So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fullness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.
News Room high-light says (to read entire article, click here):
“Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please do not hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood and resolved…. And remember in this world everyone is to walk by faith.”
Elder Holland encouraged members to be patient and kind with human frailty — their own as well that of others. “Except in the case of his only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with,” he said. “That must be terribly frustrating to Him but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work.”
The highlights are totally striped of any mention of church leaders and the process of revelation, or asking church members to have patience with leaders.