God’s Human Delivery System – Sustaining Living Prophets, Seers, and Revelators


The following is a slightly edited copy of remarks I gave in the sacrament meeting service of my LDS congregation today. Long time readers will recognize some parts that were adapted from previous essays.



Regarding personal testimony in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Uchtdorf, of the First Presidency of the church, has taught that even though each of our individual testimonies are unique and may be a little different from each other, there are five truths that a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include.

The five truths are:

  • That God lives and He is our loving Heavenly Father
  • That Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the World
  • That Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the Gospel of Jesus was Restored
  • And that the Book of Mormon of Mormon is the Word of God.
  • That current President of the Church, his Counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are Prophets, Seers, and Revelators in our day.

It is this fifth truth that is essential to a testimony of the Restore Gospel that I wish to address.

Sustaining the prophets and apostles has become increasingly difficult and controversial. It used to be that what was expected of good members of society aligned reasonably well with the teachings of the church.

But that is no longer true.

In the General Conference of April 1975, Ezra Taft Benson, who was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at that time, said thatpractically all objections that have ever been made against the Church by nonmembers and dissident members alike […] hinge on whether Joseph Smith and his successors were and are prophets of God receiving divine revelation.

In my experience, President Benson was right about this. Objections to the church almost always to boil down to whether or not the modern prophets are really receiving direction from God or not. Continue reading

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J. Max Wilson’s Reactionary Guide to Writing Constructive Comments on the Interwebs


I have often written blog posts that have proved particularly unpopular among some readers. A few years ago I wrote a post that resulted in some significant backlash. After spending too much time engaged in the resulting onslaught of negative comments and attacks, I wrote a manifesto entitled Bite the Wax Tadpole: A Manifesto for Internet Conversation and Debate in which I laid out the parameters for my engagement with commenters. I have no regrets about taking control of my own websites and social pages to cultivate an Internet-space in which I can promote and discuss the things I believe are true and important while still maintaining decent real-life priorities and perspective.

However, in the intervening years I have had plenty of complaints about my, admittedly, heavy-handed comment moderation. I understand how frustrating it can be to write a comment that simply disappears into the black-hole of moderation, never to be seen again. I have not communicated well my expectations for comments or why certain comments are published and others are not.

For some time I have been meaning to write a guide, of sorts, for commenters that will help them successfully navigate the rules of engagement for my web-spaces and participate in constructive discussion. Continue reading

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On the Folly of Demanding Demographic Diversity among the LDS Apostles

As you probably already know, three new apostles were called during the recent October 2015 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Apostles serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ and hold priesthood authority and keys to direct the work of God on the earth. Jesus directs his church through these living apostles and prophets. And as members of the church we believe these men are called by God through inspiration to the living prophet and president of the church.

Some members of the church, and not a few dissidents and former members, have expressed disappointment and feelings of hurt because the three new apostles do not come from diverse enough backgrounds to meet their contemporary concepts of Diversity. All three new apostles are white men, born in Utah. These disappointed members and critics wanted new apostles with backgrounds more representative of the diversity in church membership, which now has more members outside of the United States than in.

There has been plenty of commentary about this criticism, and I don’t want to rehash what has already been said. But I do want to step back and take a more abstract look at some of the problems with wanting the Lord to call apostles based on demographic diversity.

Diversity is a good thing. Each individual brings a unique package of experience, background, talents, and ideas that can contribute to building the Kingdom of God.

However, when considering diversity, it is important to recognize that we, as human beings, tend to draw arbitrary lines and to group people based on simplistic similarities. However we draw those lines, we unavoidably generalize, oversimplify, and reduce people from complex individuals into artificially uniform groups. Continue reading

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To Thine Own Self Be True – Authenticity vs Your Best Self


Many years ago, when I was a newly-called volunteer missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Thomas S. Monson, who at the time was the 2nd counselor in the First Presidency of the church, came to speak to us in the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah.

In his sermon, he told us that he was going to share with us the key to being a good missionary. According to the notes in my missionary journal, he said that the key was to “be yourself– but be your best self.” He emphasized that each of us was an individual, a child of God, and that God had endowed us individually with certain characteristics and attributes. “Be your best self every day.”

The advice to “be yourself– but be your best self” has stuck with me ever since and I have thought of it often.

In subsequent years, our society has developed a kind of obsession with what it labels “Authenticity.” The idea had already gained considerable mind-space in previous decades, but it seems that lately this idea of being “true to your authentic self” has become a kind of all-encompassing prime directive in our society. Continue reading

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Reasons to Oppose the Legalization of Recreational Drugs


In recent years it has become increasingly trendy to favor the legalization of recreational drugs. Proponents of drug legalization make some good arguments, citing both practical as well as increasingly popular libertarian philosophical reasons.

I am certainly sympathetic to many of those reasons. In particular I am supportive of efforts to restructure the laws to permit research into medical applications of marijuana and other drugs and to allow patients who can benefit from medical applications that are discovered to be treated under medical supervision.

I am also open to arguments advocating reforming laws related to the punishment for drug-possession related crimes.

That said, I am still firmly opposed to the legalization of recreational drugs.

In today’s zeitgeist I know that that is a very unpopular view, even among people who tend to agree with me on many other issues, but I believe it is correct. Continue reading

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