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Monday, April 3, 2017

403: THE GOOD, BAD AND UGLY - APRIL 2017 GENERAL CONFERENCE


THE GOOD:

The Talk given by Elder Dale G Renland.

He began his talk by quoting from the Lectures on Faith. It was the first time I think that has been done since they were removed the LDS Scriptures in 1921. He focused on Jesus Christ and the importance of Repentance. He said that in our lifelong quest to follow Jesus Christ, His example of kindness to those who sin is particularly instructive. We, who are sinners, must, like the Savior, reach out to others with compassion and love.

One interesting quote from his talk,  which I wonder if he was talking specifically to his associates:
"Church Leaders can not alter God's commandments or doctrine, contrary to His will, to be convenient or popular."
I also liked D Todd Christopherson's talk on the importance of our duty to warn our neighbor. The motivation for raising the warning voice is love—love of God and love of fellowman. To warn is to care.


THE BAD  (LESS THAN GOOD).

Out of the 32 talks that were given this past weekend at General Conference and the 10 prayers that were said,  ONLY ONE WOMAN SPOKE and ONLY ONE WOMAN gave a prayer.  I would think at the very least there would be representation from someone in the Primary Presidency, the Young Women's Organization, as well as from the Relief Society Presidency.  (even if there was a change in the organization this conference)

Another observation I noticed, instead of being told that we should work towards having the Church come out from condemnation as well as individually work out our salvation with fear and trembing (Phillippians 2:2:13), We were reassured, and were given the Lord's loving approval for what we have done. Excerpt from this talk:
"My beloved brethren of the priesthood, my purpose today is to both reassure you and to invigorate you in your priesthood service... I pray that I may be able to convey  the Lord's loving approval of what you already have done and offer you an encouraging glimpse of what you may yet achieve as a holder of His Holy Priesthood."
We were also told that following a man is equivalent to following Christ from this talk:
"When we follow our living prophet President Thomas S. Monson, we look up to Jesus Christ"
Other interesting statements:
"Because the Book of Mormon is true, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lords' Church on the Earth today"
another one from this talk.
"Joseph Smith received the keys of the Priesthood which have been passed on to President Thomas S Monson who exercises them today. I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. "
and this:
"President Monson, you are indeed the  Lord's Prophet."

AND THE UGLY: (A LESS THAN PRETTY OBSERVATION)

I went to the LDS Stake Center on Saturday night to watch  Priesthood Session with my father. We arrived about 10 minutes before it started. I noticed that the Stake Presidency was sitting on the stand. The lights were dimmed and we sat down and watched the live preliminary satellite broadcast feed on the large projection screen in the chapel. About five minutes before the session started. The Stake Presidency stood up and signaled to the rest of us in attendance to stand up as President Monson enter into the Conference Center in Downtown Salt Lake. We were not even present and in a remote chapel, yet we were expected to stand up in reverence as we watched our prophet walk in and take his red seat in the Conference Center.  As soon President Monson sat down, and after the Stake Presidency sat down. the rest of us could then sit. However, looking on the bright side, at least we didn't have to extend our right arm outward and slightly upward.

I would be interesting in finding out if this is becoming a common practice in other stakes.  This adoration and reverence for leadership needs to stop. I think it might be offensive to the Lord and is a form of idolatry.

The word idolatry means, at least according to the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.” In other words, if we replace the word veneration with its own definition, we come up with this definition of idolatry: excessive attachment or the highest degree of respect and reverence; a feeling or sentiment excited by the dignity and superiority of a person, or by the sacredness of his character, or that which borders on adoration. This idea of granting certain offices or people a perceived superiority takes on even more meaning if we consider these words by Hugh Nibley: “The moment I even think of my priesthood as a status symbol or a mark of superiority, it becomes a mere hollow pretense. At the slightest hint to gloating or self-congratulation the priesthood holder is instantly and automatically unfrocked.” (“Best Possible Test,” CWHN 12:536.)


I can't help but thing that Joseph Smith would not allow for such idolatry. It is reported in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith  a report of a sermon that he gave when Joseph expounded the meaning of the fourteenth chapter of Ezekial in the Old Testament,

“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel – said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the prophet, hence were darkened in their minds – in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.”
(The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-238).

The idolatry evidenced in Ezekiel 14 was that the people went to the prophet for their knowledge of God, not to God himself. They set up a stumbling block, a mediator for THE mediator (our Lord and Savior). That is to say that instead of approaching God through prayer, supplication, fasting or whatever method, for knowledge of Him and his Son, we tend to approach a man. No matter how inspired that man may be, the gospel is an individual gospel meant for “the one.” That one, to me, is me. That one, to you, is you. As mentioned above, it is an imperative duty we have to seek an individual relationship and connection with God and when we do not undertake to fulfill that duty our minds must become “darkened.”

6 comments:

  1. The amount of "prophet worship" in the church has really gotten out-of-hand.

    It's one of the things that makes some non-members claim we're a cult. We seem to worship a man, rather than God.

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  2. In your last two paragraphs, the first is a quote from Joseph Smith -(The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 237-238). But the last paragraph is your own words. It is not clear and it appears that you are suggesting that both paragraphs came from Joseph Smith.

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  3. I was in a local Stake Center chapel for priesthood and everyone got silent or shh'd people and then stood when President Monson entered the room. I didn't catch if it took any prompting by any local leadership. If I recall correctly a year or so ago it did require local leadership prompting for all to stand. It's a cultural expectation now. Local leaders encourage it. I intentionally did not stand, and my 16 year old nephew followed my lead and we both felt the glare of those around us. The discomfort of being the only two people in the entire room not standing was awkward to say the least. Once my nephew convinced me to stand due to the enormous social discomfort, it was just about time to sit back down.

    I remember in the MTC they said to stand when the Prophet enters the room. Also remember BYU speeches saying to do so.

    An odd juxtaposition when this behavior is compared to prophets in scripture who were often cast out and stoned, sometimes put to death. By their audiences. Now we have suits and ties, honorary degrees conferred, catered meals, 6 figure living allowances, trust fund access, chauffeured cars, private security, free healthcare, and the audience stands in emotional reverence.

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  4. A friend of mine called me today. He told me that he went to the BYU Marriott Center to watch the Priesthood Session last Saturday. He said my experience at our stake center was not unique but also happened there in Provo at the Marriott Center with thousands and thousands in attendance. He said that the presiding Priesthood Leaders were the first to stand up and just like "the wave" at football game, everyone also stood up. All due to watching President Monson on television entering a building that they were not even at. Once they saw President Monson sit down, then everyone else sat down.

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  5. If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church no different than any other church, now, with really no power and since God's hand has withdrawn from the organization/institution itself (not the individual) why do people who know this still participate in the conferences? I'm more curious than anything. It's a hollow organization, and as my brother recently stated it's a "Non-prophet organization" (my family thinks he should do a meme on that).
    Definitely a for profit organization, regardless of what they say.
    I can hardly watch or listen to conference anymore because it all feels empty to me, even if there are a couple of good messages. I really really doubt that most of the Brethren or GA's write their own talks. They hardly even have time to study the scriptures at least it was that way some 30-40 years ago, maybe they have improved in that area. Of course Nelson did demonstrate recently in an article on LDS Living how he's studying the scriptures so I could be wrong about them in that area.
    The fact that the LDS church reverences Monson like that is no different than the Catholics reverencing the Pope.
    This whole thing is just very sad. The great and spacious building will soon fall. There is no foundation of faith in Christ there.
    There is only one man worthy of all adoration and worship, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So 'Come Let Us Adore Him' and no one else.

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  6. For some reason I read this month's First Presidency message (Sept 2017), allegedly written by Thomas S. Monson. When referring to past Church presidents Thomas knew personally he writes, "These are great men who never wavered, never faltered, and never failed."

    "Never failed."

    And people wonder why Mormonism is viewed as a cult.

    Strange days.

    ReplyDelete