Several weeks ago, a friend mentioned in a conversation about the gospel that after this life we would know the truth about all things. It then occurred to me that a lot of people are going to be, or already have been, shocked by how wrong they were about their views of life, the universe, and, well, everything. And, in among everything, we have to include ideas about religion. The Buddha must have been shocked. Mohammed, Martin Luther, Calvin, John Wesley, and even, I think, Joseph Smith.
Of course some were probably more shocked than others. But, assuming our current conception of the gospel to be correct, all of these must have been surprised to some degree. Yes, I think Joseph Smith least of those above, but I suspect that even he found some truth to be unexpected. Was it something about polygamy? Or maybe his understanding of gender roles? I can’t say. And I admit that regarding Joseph Smith this is my own speculation. After all, I have no idea what ideas he believed were wrong in the eternal sense.
My point is not that Joseph Smith was wrong about things, but rather that we, Mormons, have been wrong in the past, and if we are correct now, then past members and leaders must have been surprised or shocked when they found out the truth. Those who taught and believed that race is a qualification for the priesthood were surprised after they entered the next life, weren’t they? Or perhaps those who believed that polygamy is a requirement for the celestial kingdom were likewise surprised, don’t you think? If it isn’t these, then probably it was something else. Like it or not, over time our conception of Gospel Truth has changed a bit. I think the core beliefs are the same—certainly the atonement of Christ, the plan of salvation and our belief in continuing revelation, and more.
If Mormons from the past were wrong about some things, then what will prevent us, today, from being wrong about some things? Regardless of what those things might be, isn’t it likely that we’re wrong about something? We do believe in continuing revelation, so we have to admit the possibility of change in the future, right? And we even believe that humanity, as well as each of us individually, is taught line upon line, precept upon precept, so in the future we should be taught new and important truths, right?
Somehow it seems like we aren’t always humble about doctrine. We readily turn simple ideas into rigid rules. Advice from general authorities is sometimes turned into cultural taboos instead of thoughtfully considered guidelines. Shouldn’t we ask ourselves from time to time, “is this really a core part of the gospel? Or could this simply be something that we’ve been asked to do for now, in this particular time and place?” And even when we have made our best guess about teachings, we should have the humility and patience to recognize that some part of it is probably wrong. We just don’t know which part.
One of the biggest disappointments I have in talking to those who leave the Church is how rigid they can be about doctrine—almost as much as some “true believers” can be about doctrine (which sometimes appears as a result in official Church publications). We are all so certain that we know “The Truth” about abortion or homosexuality or blacks and the priesthood or whatever position you might name today. As far as I can tell, our predecessors have been just as certain about everything from the trinity, transubstantiation, baptism, the resurrection, and other “heresies” that have arisen in Christianity to polygamy, race and the gathering in Mormonism.
Lest someone misunderstand, I am NOT suggesting that we should not follow the brethren. There are clearly things in the gospel that we should do now, but that are not eternal principles. The general authorities have been given the responsibility for determining what should be done today. They are the Lord’s anointed, and responsible for receiving revelation today. I AM suggesting that we should be humble about how we think about doctrine and patient with the pace of the Church toward perfection. I don’t know why it took so long for the Church to progress to the point where the priesthood ban could be overturned by revelation. But I do see that it took over a century for the correction to be made. Perhaps I should be willing to have patience to that degree, if necessary.
We should not expect perfection now. Nor should we expect that our beliefs and knowledge can be perfect in this life. And, we should be ready to accept the changes that will come, both in this life, and in the life to come.
What will be the changes? I don’t know. In my life I’ve seen large changes, like the removal of the priesthood ban, and I’ve seen small changes. And I’m trying to ready myself mentally for how the next life will be different from this one, and for how the truth will be different from what I, in my imperfection, think it is now. Do I have enough humility and patience to accept things as they are now, and also as they will be? I hope so.
How shocked will we be after this life?
Your friend’s opinion notwithstanding, I will be shocked if I get to the spirit world and suddenly know the truth of all things. Kind of makes the preaching to the spirits in prison superfluous, doesn’t it?
I agree with your general point that we don’t know as much as we think we know. But the only shock I expect (some) people to experience immediately upon death is that they still have a consciousness. I don’t think the mysteries of the gospel will be instantly obvious to us (much less the mysteries of quantum mechanics).
I don’t see it as shocked so much as a chance to say; “Oh! So THAT is how it goes.”
Non-Euclidian geometry did not cause me to lose faith in my third-grade math teacher. I was ready for further light and knowledge.
Why wait until we die? We’ve been promised we can know the truth of all things NOW by the Spirit of God. It is probably that same Spirit which teaches truth after death.
As long as we are humble, and walk in the Spirit, no surprise necessary. Just eagerness for further light and knowledge.
I’m not sure if I misunderstood what you wrote, but it seems you are implying the priesthood ban is one example of where somebody was “wrong.”
Last Lemming (1), I agree. I should have factored that into the post. I don’t think its an immediate thing at all.
But I think the overall idea is valid — once we learn the truth, many will be surprised.
SilverRain (3), you may be right. But somehow I don’t think we’ll learn it all before we die, and, I’d bet we’re going to be surprised because we don’t know to ask about everything.
Brian (4), no comment [GRIN].
If you follow the progression OT > NT > BoM > Sealed Portion, or Judaism > Christianity > Mormonism > Sealed Portion (Mormonism Plus?) I think the evidence suggests humankind is being evolved toward enlightenment in a series of stair stepped metaphors, each new paradigm shedding additional light on the one(s) before thereby superseding and obsoleting parts of them while making other parts more clear. So at any given time we are both right and wrong and our rightness and wrongness is largely irrelevant as long as we are evolving as a people towards light. But given humankind’s obvious wide spread selfishness (capitalism for instance is the greatest economic system because it is efficiently greed based)I doubt we are very close to the final lesson and it will be very difficult to comprehend these higher lessons while remaining materialistic.
“How shocked will we be after this life?”
Knock down, drop dead, How The Hell Did I Ever Believe That, amount of shocked! . . .
@1 I don’t know for sure but I doubt we will die and then all of sudden know the answers to everything, didn’t Joseph Smith something like we will have a long ways to go after we die in terms of our exaltation. I look at what happens next as basic guidelines and not necessarily sequential order, but having never died I don’t know for sure! ha!
Whizz bang — see comments 1 and 5
When Jeddy Grant reported his NDE to Heber C. Kimball, he commented, “Why it was just as Brigham has told us many times.” And that, I think, goes back to Brigham’s experience at Winter Quarters, when he saw Joseph Smith, and experienced a great many other things, many of which did surprise him.
On the other hand, at the 1999 IANDS conference in Salt Lake City, I heard a wonderful account by a young woman who reported that, coming from background where she was taught to behave morally because it was ethical to do so, and that their religion was for this life, when she found herself in an afterlife, her first thought was “I Hate being wrong!”
Perhaps we will come to understand that the only thing that was ever important is to love God and love other people. The rest is all footnotes.
I can’t speak for the role this kind of thinking plays in your own piety. But for most of us, this kind of thinking is a mistake. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Trying to deal with future trials, especially ones that you can’t even predict or know, is usually best a distraction from the task of gospel-living in the present. Cultivating faith, obedience, and humility now will be enough to deal with lurches in your understanding later.
****MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
I am delighted to hear that your patient’s age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be called up for military service. We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.
Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy’s will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say “Thy will be done”, and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross but only of the things he is afraid of.
Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and let him try to practise fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is usually helped by this direct action.
Why wait for change? You wonder why it took so long to correct the ban on blacks and the priesthood. Isn’t it because it took so long for the attitudes in the church’s leadership to change? If there had been more of an outcry about the ban, don’t you think that the brethren would have come to the revelation much sooner? I don’t want to focus on the ban but the process of change in the church. Should we agitate for change in the church or can we only sit and pray?
oops! thanks for the catch! I too hate being wrong, not really but I like to know what is true rather then what isn’t!
Adam, I feel like you have misread the post and put an emphasis on preparing for the next life over this one that wasn’t intended.
Ben, I think a lot depends on when and the circumstances you face. IMO, in the 1890s efforts on the question of the priesthood ban would have been futile. In the 1960s,otoh, they might have had some traction. And, always, knowing what exactly to do and how to do it is of vital importance. Even in the 1960s, I think that public protest by church members would have been counterproductive.
But, that is all speculative, and leading outside of the topic.
One of the things I wonder is exactly when the ‘veil’ will be lifted. It seems it is not after death, but at/near the judgement/resurrection. If that is the case, one of the shocks might be just how similar the spirit world is to our own.
Of course, having lost a sibling when I was in high school, I’ve wanted to know far more about the spirit world than the restoration scriptures provide. It in itself is to me one of the bigger mysteries.
A story I was told in Seminary by the CES rep in the area–he had an uncle (if I recall) who was visited by his father after he died. He asked his father at one point, so what is death like? The answer: it’s as natural as walking through a doorway. This may fall into the mormon lore category, but I know the CES guy was a trustworthy man and in fact one of the most deeply spiritual teachers I ever had. In any case, the answer is comforting to me.
I am looking forward to the pleasant surprises. I have known a lot of church members with various physical and mental conditions. I often think what a joy it will be to see them without those issues.
Certainly a lot of surprises there as well.
Not to be contrary(if my wife read this she’d say that’s a lie), but I don’t anticipate many surprises when I start learning stuff after death. Why? Because of experiences that I’ve had in mortality where I learned a particular truth in a more complete way or learned something I hadn’t expected. How do many non-members react when learning about continuing revelation, multiple witnesses, eternal families, and a pluralistic post-mortal existence? It just makes sense and feels good, like all truth does.
We may be in for a minor surprise or two, but I don’t anticipate anything major.
While reading Rough Stone Rolling, I have been impressed with the telling of the transitions that Joseph went through. How wonderful it was to learn that he went line upon line and not a quantum leap. Hopefully that same understanding will allow me to see the Church (not the Gospel) as growing in the same manner and be more understanding of the Brethern and the way they do things. Then, when I get to the other side (if it’s the right side) I can be amazed at the big picture, and the way things really are.
Then again, perhaps we’ll all be like Moses and be saying to ourselves, “_______,which thing I never had supposed.”
Adam, I feel like you have misread the post and put an emphasis on preparing for the next life over this one that wasn’t intended.
Kent, great point on timing and maybe I better find another place to continue my thoughts on change in the church. As for being surprised in the next life, I get the feeling that it’s going to be such a continuance of what we already know that it won’t seem like such a big deal after all.
If an out-of-body experience is similar to death, religious doctrine (Mormon included) is but a dumbed down distant metaphor for ego-less concepts that are effortlessly shared and explored in a deeply intimate connectedness approaching oneness who’s comfort is beyond compare. The threshold is easy and inviting to cross and the experience totally blissful as almost no thought is given to those left behind or to returning, not out of selfishness rather out of understanding that all is well as it is.
Ben: ” As for being surprised in the next life, I get the feeling that it’s going to be such a continuance of what we already know that it won’t seem like such a big deal after all.”
I agree. But that continuance will lead to a knowledge of things that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man” at present.
Perhaps some of the first things that will astonish us during our “continuance” will be the unfolding of (our rather facile notions of) God’s justice and mercy. We really don’t fathom the depths of God’s condescension. Nor do we really grasp the nature of his justice — especially as it upholds mercy.
. No I don’t think the people of other faiths or believes will be seriously suprised with what they find after death. I am sure that a all loving all knowing God can arrange for us all to feel comfortable and welcomed into the next step of our eternal progression. I also feel that we will continue to learn step by step the truth of all things. And we all have alot to learn even those who sound superior about their spiritual knowledge.
Good point that those who become disaffected from the church organization often carry with them a continuing sense of the absolute just like many of the more rigid LDS members. I often hear many ex-Mormons say that their discovery of the “truth,” meaning the grittier details of church history, led them to reject the LDS church.
“Should we agitate for change in the church or can we only sit and pray?”
Ben (14) raises an important question. I really think that many changes that occur in the LDS church are largely a result of the interplay between the membership and the leadership. The leadership’s ability to maintain a strong church is partially contingent upon its ability to persuade the membership to comply. If the leadership gets the sense that major changes in the attitudes and beliefs of the core membership (the peripheral membership doesn’t matter as much), it may be willing more willing to conform accordingly. I think that the change on policy regarding the blacks in 1978 was undoubtedly a product of pressure from the bottom-up to change, and there appears to be a great amount of evidence to substantiate such a notion. However, the fact that the core membership and many key leaders desired change and pressured the Q12/FP to do so does not counter to the belief that Pres. Kimball received a revelation. Bottom-up pressure can exist alongside revelation. And revelation is something that can neither be proven nor disproved.
But to answer the question as to whether or not we should “agitate” for change: I think that we should establish our sense of the truth independently, through our own inquiry and interpretive frameworks, rather than merely unquestioningly accept whatever anyone says as truth. This, to me, appears to be church doctrine. We are to search, ponder, and pray to find out for ourselves. Sometimes we may come to a belief, which we hold with deep conviction, of something that differs from the standard policy or doctrine of the LDS church. This occurred with many members regarding the blacks and priesthood before the 1978 revelation. We should continue testing the believe, but not compromise it simply because it is different from other conclusions that others have reached, but only because we were persuaded to believe otherwise.
If there is sentience and sociality in a human-like form after death I will be so overwhelmed and shocked and happy that my hopes and beliefs had some merit to them that I seriously will not care about any other “surprises”. Hope Hope Hope.
“It then occurred to me that a lot of people are going to be, or already have been, shocked by how wrong they were about their views of life, the universe, and, well, everything.” I completely agree.
If we wake up after death and there is life, we will no longer need faith. As 30 says, if we are, then I expect to be recieved in love, as many expect. After that it will be exciting to see what is important.
I’ve found myself deeply surprised and repeatedly shaken to my core and forced to shed all kinds of encumbering ideas in this life. I expect that process will continue into the next.
Clearly I worded things incorrectly. I don’t mean that we will be surprised or shocked in the sense of stunned. I mean in the sense of surprised that the truth is different than we thought. I agree we will learn truth over time. But I think when we do learn the truth, we will be surprised and shocked, in a sense, that what we thought in this life is so wrong.
Of course we will be received in love and we will be excited to learn the truth and what is important. But when we look back at what we thought is true in this life, we will often be shocked at the difference, I think.
I hope we won’t be shocked at what we find there, but rather at what we came to believe here. I tend to think of dying as waking up from a long, deep sleep, where the dream world quickly fades and the reality of how things really are once again comes to our senses. After all, we’ve been there (and presumably spent more time there than here, in whatever time means) before.
My feeling is that one of the greatest shocks will be how much people have changed in the years since their death. If Joseph evolved so much in his 38 years of mortality (see RSR) then how much more so in the 160+ years since his death? If that’s true for Joseph, imagine Socrates with a few thousand years to change. We really have no idea how people will be. We may very well feel like infants again after death “births” us into the afterlife.
I think the most overwhelming shock will be how much better it all is than we ever could have hoped. Closely followed by wonder at how we could ever possibly have forgotten everything that came before mortality.
I disagree that Joseph Smith would have been even the least bit shocked. He, more than anyone else, spent his entire life receiving new knowlege and abandoning old ideas. For him, that was natural and expected. I believe he would have been expecting no less after his death.
I will be shocked if I find my jr. high school PE teacher there.
I didn’t like that at all. I felt very uncomfortable listening to this guy reference the idea of Church leaders (and/or members) being “wrong” about various doctrinal points and correcting them over time.
This guy doesn’t get it at all.
The ban on blacks holding the Priesthood wasn’t wrong AT ALL. Wrong? How can a dictate from Jesus Christ through his prophets be wrong? During that period of time in the church’s history, for whatever reason, Jesus found it best to withhold the Priesthood from blacks. Ok. So what? So that means that in the ’70s when Jesus decided to allow blacks to hold the Priesthood that before that he was wrong and after that he was right? That makes no sense. Are we to believe that the eye-for-an-eye law and animal sacrifices to make restitution for sin under the Mosaic law were wrong? Of course not. We have been taught plainly, simply, and crystal clearly that those people at that time in the world’s history were commanded to live those laws (and those types of laws) because Jesus knew that was what they needed most at that time–that is the short term plan that fit perfectly with his long-term plan.
In fact, by this blogger’s logic, you’d have to say that nearly everything in the scriptures and revelations and gospel teachings since Adam (other than the very few absolutely unchanged core truths) have been wrong, and WILL BE wrong, until all truth and knowledge are revealed to us in the eternities to come. That’s foolishness, of course.
If tomorrow Jesus revealed to the prophet (and it was communicated to the Stake Pres) that everyone in the Anytown Ward must gather in Anytown and live in Anytown for the rest of their days, does that mean that before that revelation everyone living in Othertown had been doing it “wrong”? Duh. What about the mass gathering of the Saints in the early days of the restored church? Were they “wrong” when they still lived in Ireland and England and Germany etc and they were “corrected” when the edict came out that they were to gather with the Saints in America? That’s foolishness. It was the right TIME for the gathering, so living in the their separate countries before the gathering was the RIGHT thing at that time, and living together with the Saints was the RIGHT thing at that time, and these days creating Zion in whatever place we may be spread throughout the globe is the RIGHT thing for THIS time. To call one wrong and one right doesn’t follow logic or reason at all.
And you can say the same thing about polygamy or any other doctrine you want. This blogger seems not to believe that Christ’s church is actively and directly led by Christ himself. Yes, there are imperfect people serving Christ in his church, but that doesn’t mean he would let “wrong” doctrine be dictated to the general populous of the church. I wholeheartedly disagree with this guy, and I don’t think his testimony is founded on the right things–I don’t think he has built his house upon a rock.
So to cap it off (or frost the cake, or however you want to put it), I won’t be surprised in the least when we get to the next life and find out that a whole bunch of stuff we had been taught or asked or commanded to do during MY lifetime on Earth turns out to be different in eternal world to come. In fact, I EXPECT it to be. Will core eternal principles be different? No. Will the specific application of those eternal principles to each of us be different at different times in our lives or at different times in the world’s history and progression? Absolutely. We expect different things from children as we do from teens, and different things from teens as we do adults, etc. That doesn’t make our expectations of the children “wrong” because those expectations eventually change, it just means that those were the best things to expect of a child during childhood years, and so on.
Oh, and one more thing, I don’t believe he’s even right on his initial premise that people will be surprised about anything on the other side. We are living today under a veil of forgetfulness. We have NO memory at all of our lives before this. If we did, our faith couldn’t be tested–it’s a necessary part of this life, but this life ONLY. In the next life we aren’t going to proceed into the eternities within the veil, with no recollection of the past… We will have the veil lifted and we will remember ALL things that happened before, and everything we had been commanded to do here on Earth–regardless how odd or hard to understand they were while we here–will suddenly make perfect sense. Like one responder to this blog said, it will be an “Ah ha!” or an “Oh yeah, now I remember!” period of awakening to truths and perspectives we used to know.
It won’t be surprise at all.
Great post! I’ve thought all those same thoughts many times. I’m surprised, yet not surprised at the same time that some people didn’t get what you are saying and responded negatively. I think they will be the most shocked :-)
The mere fact that total consensus doesn’t even exist in the comments section of this post suggests that at least one among this group is going to be a bit surprised after this life.
Steve G, I’m sorry that I seem to be on the wrong side of your views. But I’m really surprised that you are referring to me as “this guy.” Really?
I didn’t realize until I was in my 20s that people thought any differently about life after death than I did. I had always assumed that it would be like “walking through a door” and that I’d continue to learn line upon line as I have done so far in this life. I believe/hope that the mental limits of my mortal brain/memory will be lifted and that I’ll be able to comprehend faster than I do now.
If I’m going to be creating worlds of my own, don’t I need to know the fundamentals of quantum mechanics, physics, etc? How can I govern laws of nature if I do not know them? KWIM?
It was disconcerting to me to find just how many people think we’ll die and just *know* everything. That’s just not how anything with Heavenly Father has ever been.
Nicely put. And I really liked this post, Kent.
If we believe the scripture about the narrow path and strait gate and the few that enter there, then we might be shocked. So I am deeply interested in how God is going to sort all of this out. Is this a big ocean liner or a little ferry? I alternate between these thoughts.
I have come to the conclusion, as I have often stated, that we are here to learn the unteachable. There are things which no teacher can teach, otherwise why would we need to tramp through this experience if God could teach us? So, if we have learned the unteachable we will not be shocked. If we have not, then we will not really recognize what we are missing. And maybe reincarnation is a choice.
So, when you reach that further shore, everyone there who has made it through the narrow gate will recognize that you have learned what you needed to learn, too, and greet you with love and acceptance. No shock there. I keep my eyes open for learning the unteachable. It is sort of like enlightenment, if you have it you cannot teach it to anyone else except by koan. Go figure.
But frankly, I think we have no idea. I just want to see my beloved’s face as I saw her in my dream.
if the church is not to be judged by its present doctrines, what are we to judge it by?
Steve G, you certainly have a strong sense of the absolute. But are you saying that mortal finite minds have managed to immaculately transmit God’s eternal truth to everyone? Are church leaders both past and present unquestionably infallible in both word and deed? I kind of get that sense from you.
The Real Shocks We Will Face/Find Out After This Life:
10. The Hostess factories in the celestial kingdom are still cranking out Twinkies like they’re going out of style.
9. More monkeys there than I would have imagined.
8. There really is a rock and roll heaven.
7. Every conspiracy theory anyone ever suggested was actually true!
6. More women were secretly sealed to Porter Rockwell than Joseph Smith because women really do like bad boys.
5. Wow, it’s true, not a single hair on my head was lost.
4. The prettiest women on the other side are the ones referred to here as “sweet spirits”. Guys all look about the same.
3. The earth actually is just 6,000 years old and Adam and Eve shared the garden with dinosaurs.
2. It’s exciting to know that the celestial kingdom is not just a vast blanket of shining white. Everyone wears vibrant colors like many of the women in India and other parts of Asia do.
1. You can eat or drink anything you want and not get chunky!!
Oh, and for me, I just try to do the right things in life and let the afterlife play out as it will.
I really don’t understand the hostility in your statement. Obviously you don’t understand the point that Kent was trying to make in his initial post. That being noted, how do you explain absolute contradictions by various LDS authorities that contradict each other over fundamental doctrines? More than that the understanding that none of us are perfect and that anyone can get things wrong, even important things, is a fundamental reason(maybe the main reason)myself and many others are still active in the church.
I have to say that I found your sense of absolutism so offensive and ignorant that I cannot post any more or I will sound as angry as you.
Having a ‘shock after this life,’ would not necessarily entail that the revelation you have been given in life was wrong. It could just be that it was simplified or that it was incomplete.
Steve G makes a good point. In addition to ‘feeling’ natural, the removed veil will also catalyze our understanding of things as they really are. I don’t think most people would be shocked to find their knowledge was simplified or incomplete. I could be wrong though.
Was it David O. McKay who said that when we pass through the veil the thing that will surprise us most is how well we know and recognize the Father? I’ve heard Pres. Eyring quote it but don’t remember the original source.
Kent (43) the whole “this guy” phrase really rubbed me wrong too. I thought it was a good post.
When I get to heaven,
I will likely see,
many people’s presence,
that will be a shock to me me.
But I will not point a finger,
I will not dare to stare,
for likely there’ll be many,
surprised to see ME there.
Steve-Would the veil be lifted for non=members in the hereafter? Don’t they still have to go one faith so the veil wouldn’t be lifted for them?
It would be easy missionary work to convert all if everyone had their
jill – Yeah, I didn’t mean to open that can of worms, but I agree with you wholeheartedly and I didn’t mean that last paragraph to sound like it did.
It only makes sense that the veil will be lifted from our minds after all of God’s children have had the opportunity to be taught the Gospel…i.e. had the chance to demonstrate and act on their faith, or demonstrate their lack of faith. It makes sense to me that in the temporary spirit world between this life and the final judgement day minds will still be handicapped by the veil and our true colors will show through in faith, or not.
To several of you who replied…
In reality, my post was a response to this blog that I emailed to a friend, and after emailing it to him, I decided to post it. When I wrote the email to him I didn’t take the time to go back to the blog to get another look at Kent Larsen’s name, and I just referred to him as “this guy” out of convenience. Didn’t realize that posting it that way would be taken badly. I’m sorry.
Another thing I’m sorry for is that often when I get passionate about something, I get frustrated at not being able to get my thoughts and emotions out into words effectively (or succinctly) and my passion and frustration are often mistaken for anger and offense. For that, I too apologize.
But the main thing I want to rebut (rather than specific points on which Kent wrote or specific points on which I wrote) is the overall tone of this blog. That’s the thing that got under my skin. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s true and living gospel restored to the earth. It is infallible. Period. Yes, it’s “staffed” with fallible people, and so the great importance of having the guidance of the Holy Ghost in each of our own personal lives. But the overall sense in Kent’s blog is one of negativity, and a rather worldly view of a very eternal gospel. Any time I hear someone criticizing the Lord’s anointed or speaking of them in any negative sense, I get itchy. Does that mean I think they are infallible? No. But I raise my hand over and over to sustain the prophet, his presidency, the apostles, etc., and while I understand they aren’t perfect, I think it does a great disservice to speak so negatively about them (present, or past leaders).
And part-and-parcel to that is stating that official church policies are “wrong”. Sense of absolutism? Let’s examine… I’m the one saying that we should NOT judge official church policies and determine that this one is right and that one is wrong, or that current ones are better than previous ones. Kent is the one deciding that he his sense of right and wrong is sufficient to apply those labels to church policies. I dare not go there. That is more presumptuous and more absolutist than anything I said in my post. As I clearly explained…The Law of Moses was the right thing before Christ came to the earth in the meridian of time, and then nullifying and doing away with the Law of Moses from Christ’s ministry on through the end of the world was the right thing for that time. Does that make the Law of Moses “wrong”? It’s absolutist to call past practices “wrong” and newer ones “right”, or “better”, or “progressive”, or “up to date”, or any other comparative adjectives.
Let’s just try while we apply our intellectual minds, our reason, and our logic to be positive, supportive, faithful, and trusting in the Lord’s anointed. Not as blind followers, but as followers who put our faith and trust first, and our own doubts and judgments second.
I am passionate about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives. I know there is a living prophet on the earth today who speaks in behalf of Christ and leads Christ’s church the way Christ wants it to be lead. And I know that Christ’s past prophets did the same. The Church is not a democracy, it doesn’t give in to pressure or persuasion of its members or of the world. The Church is Christ’s, and Christ’s alone…and the Church will change, or do away with, or modify, or replace it’s general policies when and if Christ himself wants it to. Period. I hope that isn’t misconstrued as absolutism, or as being offensive or ignorant. I can’t imagine how anyone could think that.
I AM passionate about my Savior, and about His Church (both today, and throughout the various periods in the world’s history) as a vehicle and an aid to help bring souls back to Heavenly Father. And as I stated above, when I am extremely passionate about something, my fingers often type faster than my brain, and I often lose the perspective of how others may interpret my words. I sincerely apologize to those who I offended or rubbed wrong; It wasn’t my intention. And I appreciate that these subjects matter so much to everyone who read and/or posted here.
Steve G (56) wrote:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s true and living gospel restored to the earth. It is infallible.”
I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with anything doctrine that suggests that the organization of the Church never makes errors. We are told that the structure and authority of the Church is perfect, but I don’t believe that the actions and decisions of the Church are “infallible.” Can you point to me any scripture that says as much?
“the overall sense in Kent’s blog is one of negativity, and a rather worldly view of a very eternal gospel.”
First, let’s get terms correct. I wrote a blog post. I didn’t write a blog. The blog is the entire site, which is written by (to date) more than 30 different people with a wide variety of beliefs.
Second, I’d really appreciate you showing me where exactly I expressed “negativity” about the Church, or for that matter a “worldly view” of the gospel, whatever that means. I have a very deep belief in the gospel. I too raise my hand to sustain the brethren, both churchwide and in my local ward and stake. I am active in the Church, I teach seminary, am active in my high priest’s quorum, regularly teaching lessons with the same kind of ideas that I express here. I am sure that if my teaching was “negative” or expressed a “worldly view” the bishop, stake president or my high priest group leader would have at least stopped me from teaching.
“And part-and-parcel to that is stating that official church policies are “wrong”.”
Hmmm. Perhaps the problem is what sense of wrong you mean. The priesthood ban is perhaps a good example. I recognize that the ban was church policy, but, please tell me, what do you think the eternities are like? Is there a priesthood ban there? Is there a ban there for those who lived from 1850+ to 1978? Will those who prior to 1978 preached that the priesthood ban was an integral part of the gospel (instead of an inexplicable commandment) conclude when they reach the next life that they were wrong? or that they were right? Even if the ban was what the Lord wanted in this life, if it is NOT what the Lord wants in the next life, won’t the leaders who preached that it is have to come to the conclusion that they were wrong? As I understand it, Bruce R. McConkie, when asked about his own preaching before 1978 regarding the priesthood ban, said that he had been “wrong!”
In general, when I talked about being wrong, I’m NOT suggesting anything about what has happened in this life, but rather how each of us will think when we reach the next life. I am certain that I will discover, when I reach the next life, that much of my thinking now is wrong. And I believe that many of our leaders will discover the same (likely because it never even occurred to them to ask the Lord what was right or wrong on a particular question.)
“I’m the one saying that we should NOT judge official church policies and determine that this one is right and that one is wrong, or that current ones are better than previous ones.”
I am NOT suggesting that we judge official church policies of today as right or wrong. If you read the op closely, you will see that I did NOT suggest as much. I was also deliberately vague about past policies (perhaps with the exception of the priesthood ban). I do not know which of those past policies were right or wrong. But the Church has turned 180 degrees on several issues (polygamy, priesthood ban, etc.) which policy, in the eternities, is right and which is wrong?
“Kent is the one deciding that he his sense of right and wrong is sufficient to apply those labels to church policies.”
I think you should re-read my original post. I said no such thing. I merely suggested that each of us, including past Church leaders, are going to realize in the next life that some of what we believed to be part of the gospel in this life is in error.
Please re-read what I wrote. I DID NOT decide on any particular sense of right or wrong. I DO NOT claim to know in any absolute sense what is right or wrong beyond what the scriptures and prophets teach us.
“It’s absolutist to call past practices “wrong” and newer ones “right”, or “better”, or “progressive”, or “up to date”, or any other comparative adjectives.”
I did not do so.
* * *
In the end it seems clear to me that you didn’t read the post carefully, Steve G. Instead, you took my suggestion that even a prophet might realize that some details of his thinking weren’t absolutely true in the eternities as a criticism of prophets and a suggestion that the Church is wrong somehow.
I reject your analysis. You are simply wrong about what I said.
Steve G (56): I imagine you are a pretty good guy generally, but are you familiar with the old story about the kids who went to see a parade, saw the passing water truck spray water on the road to settle the dust, and then went home completely unaware that the parade hadn’t even started yet? Your swooping from out of who-knows-where into the comment section of this blog post with long and ill-advised rebukes of the author remind me a bit of those kids. You seem to have taken a cursory glance at the post and then offered a swift final judgment that borders on self-righteousness. At the same time you seem to be unaware of an awful lot of faithful scholarship that addresses the complexity of some of the topics to which you so quickly offer your own thoughts as unassailable explanations. Kent is right, even Elder McConkie instructed CES instructors to “forget” what he, Brigham Young, George Q. Cannon and others had taught concerning the priesthood ban. Thus my guess is that a few people passing the veil pre-1978 were a bit surprised to find the truth of things to be a bit different from what they had been taught in mortality.
Passion and zeal the gospel can be good and you definitely have it. But as Hugh Nibley suggested, zeal without knowledge can be less than edifying. It can be destructive. Perhaps a little more controlled and informed application of your zeal is in order?
Here we go…
I didn’t say the organization of the Church is infallible, I said Christ’s Gospel is.
“Blog”, “post”, whatever…sorry. I’m not a writer by trade (or by hobby), and I’m not a blogger.
I won’t take the time to point out every nuance of negativity in your post, because the whole thing is predominantly negative. One example, if I may, is “We are all so certain that we know “The Truth” about abortion or homosexuality”. Really Kent? Homosexuality? Ok. So there’s some place within all of God’s creation where it’s okay for men to marry men and women to marry women? I mean really Kent… No. And yes, on that (and some) doctrinal principles, I’m absolutely sure. It has been revealed to us not as a particular principle we are to abide by for now and at this time, but rather it has been revealed as an eternal absolute. “The Family – A Proclamation to the World: WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” Not sure how that could be any clearer.
So by you even suggesting the possibility that the Church’s present views on homosexuality may (could possibly) one day be revealed to be “wrong” is negative. It paints the Church in a negative light. I wishy-washy light. It gives readers (especially non-members or weaker members I think) the sense that they can’t (or shouldn’t) embrace the Gospel the way that Christ really wants us all to because (I’m paraphrasing here) “who knows which of the current teachings are actually true or will still be around tomorrow?” It’s negative Kent.
I was born in 1970, and I remember as a child hearing about the Priesthood not being extended to Blacks. Even at that young age I never thought that was that and Blacks never would be extended the Priesthood…even at that young age I recognized that that was the direction of Christ through his prophets AT THAT TIME and FOR HIS OWN PURPOSES.
I’m staying on this one topic of Blacks and the Priesthood only because time is limited and because it so perfectly illustrates my point. Please open your mind and consider what I’ve been trying frustratingly to say through all of this. YOU consider the ban on Blacks holding the Priesthood before 1978 as “wrong”, and that it was “corrected” after that. I’m afraid you and some other responders have missed (or chosen to miss) my primary point from the beginning. This is it:
Individual Church leaders will make errors. Every day, in fact. But this is the Lord’s church and He will not allow big errors–major doctrinal errors–to be communicated officially to the worldwide membership and to persist for years (or decades) without being caught and corrected promptly. Something as big as banning Blacks from holding the Priesthood prior to 1978 wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t the human error of a fallible leader. It was by the direction of the Lord. And when the Lord decided it was the right time to lift the ban, then that’s what happened.
I have already admitted in several aspects that my posts were probably misunderstood to a degree and that I could stand to do a much better job of putting what’s in my heart into text. And I have to admit that I may have come away from reading your post with a very different feel than you intended it to have. I would appreciate if you could admit some of the same kinds of things.
Whether you intended it or not, whether it’s really how you feel or not, your post definitely undermines IN AT LEAST SOME OF OUR MINDS the credibility of Christ’s restored Gospel in these latter days and of the present Church leadership. I know the First Presidency is fallible in some things, in relatively small things. I absolutely do NOT believe that the First Presidency is fallible in major, significant, core doctrine that they preach to the entire world. This is Christ’s church, and I am only spending significant amounts of my time here trying to defend Christ and the leaders that HE put in place to be His mouthpiece in these days.
If by some extraordinary application of mercy and grace I am blessed to be in the Celestial Kingdom some future day in the eternities, I will NOT be surprised at ANYONE I see there. The guy at work who hates me and does everything he can to make many peoples’ lives hell…I won’t be surprised to see him there. Criminals, apostates, homosexuals (meaning those who chose homosexual during their earth life)…whatever…NONE of that will cause me to be surprised, and I’m confident that there will be no revelation of eternal doctrine that causes me to look back on our earth life in the latter days and think “gee, I guess the Church was wrong.”
Again, to end this on a positive note, I am very appreciative that these topics are important enough to everyone who posted here that they spent the time reading, thinking, and responding. Thank you all.
And I sincerely apologize that in my efforts to do good here I have instead brought the spirit of contention to some. I had/have only the best of intentions…I care ONLY for the ultimate salvation and fullness of joy of as many of God’s children as possible. I felt prompted to contribute, but I’m sorry if I’ve done more harm than good.
Steve G. (59)
I’m not sure how the mere suggestion that what is considered a doctrine today might not be considered a doctrine in the eternities is “negative.” How? How is observing that something might change negative?
Perhaps you are simply uncomfortable with the idea of continuing revelation, where things change?
I agree that the statement in the Proclamation on the Family is clear. However, it is also at odds with what the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have said in the past (esp. pre 1890). Which one is right, Steve?
I asked the question I asked not because I think that the Church’s position on homosexuality is wrong, but because it is a current issue, like the priesthood ban, that is controversial. I don’t know what will happen. I don’t claim to know what is “right” on that issue, and so I follow the brethren until I know better. I’m sure that when I need to know, I’ll be able to get revelation or at least inspiration to guide me.
I was born a decade before you. I DO remember being taught that the priesthood ban was eternal. General Authorities taught that as doctrine, NOT as something temporary. I think your experience is simply too limited in this respect. General Authorities taught as eternal doctrine the priesthood ban, polygamy, the importance of your race, Isrealitism and a host of other things that we don’t teach as doctrine now. That’s OK. We believe in continuing revelation.
I have no idea what would undermine “IN AT LEAST SOME OF YOUR MINDS” the credibility of the gospel. I do admit that it is possible that what I wrote has been misunderstood. I think its clear, but apparently not everyone understands things the way I do. No problem. But I don’t admit that any reasonable reading of my post will undermine the credibility of the gospel, UNLESS you are so rigid in how you perceive the gospel that you can’t admit that things have and do and will change. I don’t know how changes will happen in the future, but I think they will change. And, I’m certain that what the eternal truths are will be different from what we understand today to some degree and in some doctrine somewhere. I DO NOT claim to know which one.
And I’m sure that you also will be surprised when you get to the celestial kingdom, at some detail of doctrine that you are SURE today is eternal and which is not. [As for being surprised to see individuals, I have no opinion. That is something others spoke of, not me. I have no opinion on that.]
And, to end this too on a positive note, I expect to be positively surprised about the gospel truths that I’m taught there. What those will be, I have no idea. But I’m looking forward to that day and to better understanding the truth as I progress through the eternities, if I am so worthy.
Since I think we’ve run the course of comments on this post, I’m closing it to further comments.