“Some of the hardest questions come when what we believe is challenged by changing cultural fashions or by new information, sometimes misinformation, that critics of the Church confront us with. At such times, it may seem that our doctrinal or historical foundations are not as solid as we thought. We may be tempted to question the truths we’ve taken for granted and the spiritual experiences that have formed our faith.
What do we do when doubt seeps into our hearts? Are there really answers to those hard questions?
Yes, there are. In fact, all the answers—all the right answers—depend on the answer to just one question: do I trust God above everyone else?” (The Answer to All the Hard Questions, Ensign 2014)
There is a lot to say about this article, I will just say this:
While they boil “the answer” down to a single question: “Do I trust God above everyone else?”….what I think they mean to say is, “Do I trust LDS priesthood authority above everyone else?” Because in their mind, obeying God = obeying LDS priesthood authority. The problem is that (when we have been given all the information) — so many of us have been disappointed time, and time again by LDS priesthood authority. For about 184 years now (and counting). But they act as if their record is spotless.
For me, the essential question that I believe we all should be asking ourselves in 2014 (as LDS church members) is:
* (For those who still believe in God) — “Do I trust my own ability to discern God’s will for me and my family?”
* (For those who don’t believe in God) — “Do I trust my own reason/instincts/intuition/inspiration/emotion, along with those whom I love and trust, to discern what is right/best for me and my family?”
To me, this is perhaps the most insidious and damaging thing about 21st century LDS authority. After almost two centuries of often egregiously disappointing behaviors, LDS church leaders still expect church members to equate the church’s will with God’s will. So damaging. And so disappointing. We deserve better. You deserve better.
Advice is fine. Suggestions…ok. But please stop insulting (and damaging) us by perpetuating the idea that you speak for God. You don’t. You do your best…and sometimes your best is helpful, and sometimes it is very, very damaging. And so it is more important than ever that we learn to discern for ourselves what is good…and what is not good…given our particular contexts and situations.
Instead of more articles like this….what we need is an article…and a conference talk….that says, “You know what? We’re really, really sorry for all of the pain and suffering we have caused people who trusted us. And we promise that we’ll try to do better. And to be honest, we can learn from you as much as you can learn from us.”
And what we need less of, is articles like this.
There is a nail, the top of it is called the "head". You, sir, hit it square!
I responded to initial TBM responses to your original blog without reading the article myself. I decided to read the article and make comments in MS Word format, similar to how an instructor might comment on a paper one submits in an undergraduate program. I feel you concisely and succinctly made your point, and you chose one point out of many to make. At first I thought, “why is Dehlin picking this small battle out of an article that would barely get noticed otherwise?” We all pick and choose the battles we fight and I now feel that I understand a little bit better, as it touches on many aspects of where the corporate church has chosen to take the wrong road, as it were.
I returned to the church as a celibate gay Latter-day Saint after twenty-five years of excommunication, because of personal revelation obtained via prayer. I had no intention f ever returning, but could not be a hypocrite and deny that God had answered my prayer and called me to return to church. I trust God absolutely, and believe in continual revelation that instills change in policy.
Hey there Wilum,
Very brave, sir.
“To me, this is perhaps the most insidious and damaging thing about 21st century LDS authority. After almost two centuries of often egregiously disappointing behaviors, LDS church leaders still expect church members to equate the church’s will with God’s will. So damaging. And so disappointing. We deserve better. You deserve better. Advice is fine. Suggestions…ok. But please stop insulting (and damaging) us by perpetuating the idea that you speak for God. You don’t.” John Dehlin, 2014 blog post.
There is a lot to say about this post. But I will just say this: at the same time you claim to seek God’s will, you reject the prophets through whom He speaks – and by doing so, ignore a God-speaks-through-prophet pattern dating back to the beginning. This would be your personal and God-given choice to make, and I wouldn’t have any comment were this choice private. But by this post and others like it, you’re actively trying to take people with you.
You make (and are trying to induce others to make) the same mistake many have made in the past: letting disappointment/hurt feelings justify your decision to reject a prophet. From Naaman in 2 Kings 5, to the heckler in Alma 21:4-11, to Thomas B Marsh.
You don’t need me to rehearse the logic chain that connects the Book of Mormon to the prophetic authority of President Monson. But at least pay attention to the words of Christ in Ether 4:10 and DC 124:45-46, and Mormon in 3 Nephi 28:34.
People with weakened faith look to you as a teacher. All of us are to one extent or another. So it is wise for all of us to remember Elder Holland’s counsel: “It won’t help anyone if we go over the edge with them, explaining through the roar of the falls all the way down that we really did know the Church was true and that the keys of the priesthood really were lodged there but we just didn’t want to stifle anyone’s freedom to think otherwise.” April 2003 GC.
To the extent you’ve gained disciples, please lead them to where the keys of the priesthood are lodged. That the prophets are mortal and flawed does not change the fact that when they speak unanimously and publicly, they declare the very word of God. They’re the kinds of prophets we can’t reject without rejecting Christ.