Opposition Votes in LDS General Conference – The Vote Has Been Noted

Meme from: “When dissenters yell in LDS conference” https://twitter.com/blakeoakey/status/584448780189081600

Apparently the opposition votes you heard in LDS General Conference were by only 5 only 7 individuals, but they managed to yell loud enough to be heard in the broadcast. This was part of an organized effort by a group coordinating via the internet to secure tickets to the conference specifically to express opposition.

In the group’s written statements they express their belief that the apostles are insulated from the kinds of concerns and criticisms these people have. So one of the goals of this organized effort seems to have been to get an audience with an apostle. In past decades those voting in opposition were directed to meet with an apostle or other general authority. It must have been quite a blow when President Uchtdorf directed them to meet with their stake presidents and not a general authority, which is the procedure they were trying to circumvent in the first place.

My suggestion is that as members we not be too harsh on these dissenting members. They are misguided and faithless, but they are still our brothers and sisters and hopefully they can be brought back to believe that the church is truly guided by Jesus through his living prophets. They exercised their right to dissent and their vote was noted.

Enjoy the rest of conference!

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LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson on Disagreeing with the Church about Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday, March 13th, Elder  D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was interviewed by Daniel Woodruff of KUTV News regarding the passage of Utah’s Anti-discrimination and Religious Freedom Law, SB296, which the LDS Church supported.

In the last few days since then you’ve probably seen brief quotes or heard soundbites from the interview in the news or on social media.

KUTV has posted the full 16 minute interview on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XybDk3CEoHg

I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the portions of the interview that I find most interesting and important. I think you’ll find the greater context and nuance of Elder Christofferson’s words helpful. Continue reading

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Judging in the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890

In Sunday School, we recently read the New Testament account of Jesus giving his famous Sermon on the Mount. The content of this part of the Bible is so familiar to many people, and has infused so much of western civilization, that it can be easy to consume the words as a collection of  stand-alone aphorisms and soundbites. But there is a complexity and tension there that deserves more careful consideration.

A quick observation about one such complexity:

In chapter 7 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes his well known declaration about Judging: Continue reading

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New Liberal Mormon Folklore – The Nephites Left Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecies out of the Scriptures

Samuel-the-Lamanite

As I have mentioned before,  self-styled “Intellectual” and Liberal Mormons are just as susceptible to proof-texting, unexamined cultural constructs, and their their own set of folklore as anyone else.

In the Book of Mormon account of the visit of Jesus to the descendants of Lehi in the New World, after his resurrection from the dead, the scriptures recount that Jesus reviewed the scriptural records kept by the prophet Nephi.

During the last few years, I have periodically encountered members of the church who have imposed a reading on that portion of the Book of Mormon that goes something like this: Continue reading

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Getting It Wrong: How Not to Save LDS Youth in a Secular Age

lehis-dream_1440x9601-vision-tree-of-life-lds

For those of you who may not already know, during the last few months there has been a bit of an intellectual brawl going on among a handful of influential Mormon academics. The most recent verbal scuffles have revolved around significant changes at BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, formerly known as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS).

I may make some observations about the Maxwell Institute controversies in a future post, but today I have some thoughts related to a specific essay by one of the contributors to the recent debates:

Brother David Bokovoy is a brilliant young professor of languages and literature with a speciality in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. On December 26th, he published a blog post entitled “How to Save LDS Youth in a Secular Age“.

He begins his essay relating an experience in which he attended a presentation for those involved in teaching LDS youth.

According to Bokovoy’s account, drawing upon the 2nd epistle of Peter in the New Testament as his text, the presenter encouraged the teachers to help the students “avoid the cunningly devised fables that often appear online and instead rely upon the prophets of Jesus Christ, who like Peter himself, are witnesses of Christ’s divinity”. The presentation concluded by citing two LDS historians who had asserted that they had “never learned anything in their studies that had ever caused them to have doubts that Joseph Smith was a true prophet”.

At the end of the presentation, Brother Bokovoy engaged with the presenter to express an alternative, dissenting approach:

I’m not convinced that when LDS youth face challenges due to information they’ve learned through the internet that in most instances they’re struggling with ‘fables.’ What they’re mostly struggling with are fact; facts like Joseph Smith really did marry very young women and other men’s wives, or that Brigham Young was married to as many as 55 women, or that biblical scholars universally recognize that the author of 2 Peter wasn’t, in fact, Peter, an eyewitness to Jesus’ life and teachings.

Instead of worrying about fables, I believe that we need to do a better job helping our students process challenging facts into their religious convictions. I believe we need to alter our approach and stop giving students the impression that there is never any good reason to doubt or question their faith. Instead, we need to help students incorporate questioning as a meaningful contribution to a spiritual journey. We need to stop creating the crisis.

Now, I actually agree with some of what Brother Bokovoy is saying here. We do need to help youth and young adults incorporate challenging facts in ways that are consistent with faith. But there are some very troubling things about Bokovoy’s assertions that deserve more careful analysis and consideration by faithful members and scholars. Continue reading

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