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Waiting for the Brethren to ….

In the Book of Numbers, we are told that the reason the children of Israel had to wander in the Wilderness was because of a lack of faith in God.  While Moses had led them out of Egypt, many wanted to return to Egypt instead of conquer the promised land of Canaan, the land God promised to Abraham.  God had promised them that they could take the land of Canaan and it was to be their promised land.  Israel sent 12 spies to see if the land was ready, but 10 of these men sent “an evil report” saying there was no hope of driving the men out of the land, despite the Lord’s promises.  In response, God told Israel that they would wander for 40 years, until the older generation had died off.  If God’s people won’t follow him, does he simply wait until the older generation dies off?  Does God work by attrition?

Many people thought Wilford Woodruff was wrong for issuing the Manifesto, which ended the official practice of polygamy.  Many wondered if Woodruff was leading the church astray.  In response Woodruff declared:

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

Tying this back to the first paragraph, does God remove obstacles, even a prophet of God, if he does not follow His will?

In 1969, Michael Quinn tells of a vote among the Twelve apostles to rescind the ban on black church members from priesthood and temple ordinances.  The vote was unanimous; however, Harold B. Lee was not present for the original vote.   Upon his return, he had convinced the quorum to re-vote, and overturned the previously unanimous decision.  President David O. McKay died shortly after the vote in January 1970, replaced by Joseph Fielding Smith, who served a short time until July 1972.  Harold B. Lee took over as prophet, serving less than 18 months before his death.  Three prophets died in 3 years.  Did God take these men out, in order to pave the way for President Kimball, a man more open to the promptings of the spirit?

Are we like the children of Israel, no longer walking by faith, trusting in God? In a recent comment at Wheat and Tares, one commenter didn’t desire any new revelations to be canonized, and felt that if the prophet were to come up with a new revelation, it would “betray his God and do what avowed opponents of the Church want.”  Yet Joseph Smith didn’t seem to have a problem with people requesting revelations, and didn’t brand them as “avowed opponents of the Church.”  As I stated in that post,

*The intro to D&C 4:7 says “The things of God must be sought after.”

*D&C 5: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris.

*D&C 8: Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery [because Oliver …] desired to be endowed with the gift of translation.

*D&C 9: Oliver is admonished to be patient and is urged to be content to write, for the time being, at the dictation of the translator, rather than to attempt to translate.

*D&C 89: Revelation given because Emma complained about tobacco.

I’m sure I could come up with more.

Apparently some think D&C 4:7 says “Don’t ask, and ye shall receive. Don’t knock, and it shall be opened to you anyway. Amen.”

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If we want revelation, we have to desire it. Apparently some don’t want revelation.

JI’s response that we shouldn’t ask the leaders for revelation sounded like this to me she doesn’t really want revelation.  Or perhaps, to put it more charitably, JI doesn’t want the church to be perceived as giving into public pressure.  Once again, Joseph didn’t have a problem in looking like he was caving in to pressure.  As I said in another comment

But, like Emma, I see nothing wrong with asking the Prophet to seek guidance on an issue. I mean if you think about it, Emma being pissed off because she had to clean up tobacco spit seems much more trivial than seeking equality for women with regards to priesthood.

Yet Joseph asked anyway, over a trivial matter and got a groundbreaking revelation. And even when prompted, God didn’t always say yes to the request. As noted above, Oliver wanted to translate but was denied, and there was a lesson to us all in that.

Asking for guidance on female ordination might give a revelation similar to Oliver’s answer, and we shouldn’t be seen as unrighteous for making the request. Do you view Oliver as unrighteous in his request? Of not, why do you have a double standard for asking for revelation?

You sound suspiciously like the Book of Mormon. ‘a D&C! A D&C! We already have a D&C as need no more D&C!’

I fear that like the ancient children of Israel, we are no longer being led by God.  We have prophets that tell us to quit asking for revelation.  Is this because they aren’t really prophets, but are simply administrators?  Loyal members, such as JI, think asking for such revelations is sign-seeking.

[JI] “God still speaks to man. But he doesn’t give signs to satisfy the demands of men.”

[MH] YES HE DOES! I’ve given examples of Emma, Oliver, and Martin (and could find more. This isn’t sign seeking, it is earnest faith. Unless you feel comfortable calling Oliver, Emma, and Martin sign-seekers. Please stop with the double-standard!

Going back to Pres Woodruff’s remarks–do we simply wait for attrition?  Do we wait for God to remove the leaders who aren’t seeking revelation to simply die off, as God did with the Children of Israel, before we can enter the Promised Land of Revelation?  Is this how God works?

I mean I’ve got a big problem with female ordination, and the new policy on children of gay parents.  I’m afraid we’re being led by leaders who aren’t Pres Kimballs, but are like the spies of ancient Israel, afraid to act despite a church supposedly led by modern revelation.

I think it’s important to remember that God doesn’t always say yes to what we want.  Oliver Cowdery wanted to translate.  Martin Harris wanted to show the manuscript to others and was denied 3 times.  I want revelation, even if, like Oliver, it is the opposite of what I want.  If we are really led by a prophet, it shouldn’t be seen as sinful to ask for the prophet for a revelation on the important issues of the day.  The Community of Christ far outpaces us in modern revelations.  Comments?

 

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8 comments on “Waiting for the Brethren to ….

  1. Based upon my experience, most do not want to think deeply about contradictions or the ramifications of things being different from their preconceived biases. This isn’t unique to religion.

    The comparison of us to Israel is apt. Which of our leaders (or anyone in the church, for that matter) teach us to avoid the problem of Israel (D&C 84:19-25)? Unless we are seeing the face of God the Father **while in the flesh**, perhaps we don’t have the higher priesthood. Like Israel, we’ve asked a man (president/prophet) to do that for us, so perhaps we’re suffering the same consequences. And what happens when our leaders don’t even think it possible? Then perhaps we, too, are wandering if the wilderness of apostasy.

  2. More probably it is the lack of faith among the membership in general that is holding the church back and not in the General Authorities.

  3. Yes, I think the membership is lacking faith, as evidenced in this poll showing that most members don’t want any new scriptures canonized. See http://www.wheatandtares.org/21799/in-or-out-weekend-poll/

    My mission president used to say “When a fish goes bad, it goes bad at the head.” He meant that if a district or zone was struggling, it was because of bad leadership. If the members are faithless, it is because the leaders are not directing us to be faithful. Joseph Smith had no problem being asked for revelation, and receiving it. Since then, the leaders have continually tamped down expectations of revelation. So yes, the members are faithless, because the leaders are.

    It’s a shame. Paul told us to “covet to prophesy.” We don’t even desire these gifts any more. We don’t even believe the 9th article of faith anymore.

    …and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    We believe this in the abstract, but not in reality.

  4. I don’t think you can use the Wheat & Tares poll as evidence that the general membership doesn’t want new revelation. Most of the items asked about weren’t really akin to what we consider revelation. Also most of the items listed are from years ago. Why bother canonizing these items (like Woodruff’s founding father vision or Snow’s temple vision of the Savior) now?

  5. The way is open for anyone to receive revelations. The real question is: Can the Lord trust you with it.

  6. MTodd, while I agree with you that W&T is not a representative sample (and generally skews more liberal than conservative), it appears to me that both liberal and conservative members are in agreement that there is not need for new canonized revelation. I was a bit surprised at the poll results.

    “most of the items listed are from years ago. ”

    I agree, but Joseph F Smith’s vision from 1918 wasn’t canonized for 60 years (1976)! And the Book of Abraham wasn’t canonized until after Brigham Young died (approx 1870s.) D&C 132 wasn’t published until 1853, despite contents being known as early as 1831, and it wasn’t written down until 1843. And the visit of Elijah wasn’t published until 1870, despite having happened in 1836. We now view that vision as essential to temple work.

    So it isn’t that unusual to wait some time, and I think there could be some important pieces of doctrine in those revelations if we were able to see them.

  7. Interesting. I didn’t know the JFSmith vision took 60 years to canonize.

    I think part of the problem is the areas where some members would like a revelation (think women ordination, LGBT issues) are matters where most members are OK with the status quo. Wouldn’t it be great though if we could get more revelation about the nature of God or what the next life will be like? Instead we just get recycled “This is what the 1st vision teaches” lessons.

  8. Could it be that most members don’t want new revelations canonized because there are already too many inconsistencies in the old ones?

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