There are 46 thoughts on “Sustaining the Brethren”.

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  6. This paper on Sustaining The Brethren by Duane Boyce is absolutely the best information I have ever read about this subject! I learned so much, especially in the footnotes. I always wondered how to reconcile some things said by President Brigham Young from the early days of the Church as well as some things written and said by Elder Bruce R. McConkie, with official Church policy, changes in the Church on important issues of our times, and seemingly contradictory statements by some of the brethren on various matters. This article which appeared in Meridian magazine today and which led me to here certainly cleared up many things in my mind about these matters. I loved some of the references given regarding the very real and personal witnesses of Christ given to the members of the First Presidency and the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve. And finally, I really appreciated the comments and reasons made about how and why the Lord (nor the leaders of the Church who represent Him) does not always reveal to us hard things all at once but gives us a chance to grow in our willingness to accept changes, new Church policies, new directions and instruction line upon line.
    I can only imagine the division that might occur in the Church and what other things might happen if the Lord wanted to completely gather out the wheat from the tares in a very literal way in preparation for the Second Coming. I wonder about the symbolism given in President Uchtdorf’s Conference talk about a girl named Eva having to go off to stay with her Aunt Rose for a time until things got better. I am still trying to understand that parable but I think this method of teaching goes along with what was taught in this article – we need to listen to the teaching and instruction, pray about it, ask the Lord what it means, wait for more instruction, pray some more, and eventually, hopefully we will get it and be more accepting of it because we will know for ourselves that it came from the Lord.
    I believe that more than any other time in earth’s history, we need to understand the process of revelation in our own lives and we need to follow and sustain the brethren in all things for our own safety and protection in the coming days and trials ahead.
    Thanks so very much for taking the time to write this article. Can you tell me more about your book coming out this year – what it is about generally and where to get a copy.

  7. What I learned about you and me and what I learned about God on June 8th of 1978.
    The first thing we learned is that that the apostles are living prophets, seers, and revelators. And that they too can repent of their past mistakes just like those who have gone before them, and those who will come after us. And so can we. Is that not what we learned?
    The most important thing we learned should have been the first thing we learned, that God is not a racist and that policy is not doctrine no matter what we heard or read in the Bible or the Book of Abraham. Is that not what we learned?
    We learned that there are better and less contentious ways to sustain our leaders and to love God and our neighbor as ourselves.
    And that Jesus is not the Rich Young Ruler in disguise we all so needed Him to be.
    And, of course, that we didn’t really need to wait around for God to reveal it all to us again. Is that not what we learned?
    The spirit of God is our spirit you see, the spirit of the children of God. It is the spirit of our common conscience. It is the spirit of our better selves and that even the best of us are sometimes just too busy being our lesser selves.
    That’s what we learned about you and me.
    I feel to celebrate. How about you?

  8. I am late to this discussion but I think I may have something useful to add. To quote Alma “the meaning of the word” can be helpful in understanding the issues involved. So: what does the verb “sustain” mean?
    The word “sustain” has at least three distinct senses that are relevant to us as Latter-day Saints. The first sense is “to uphold or support”. That is the sense we usually think of when we raise our hands, and it is undoubtedly a true sense.
    Another sense of “sustain” is to “nourish or feed”. We have an obligation to sustain each other spiritually, by nourishing each other with the good word of God. This obligation extends to nourishing our leaders.
    A third sense of the word “sustain” is to “suffer, endure or put up with”–as in “he sustained a blow to the head”. 🙂 This is also a relevant and important meaning of the word. I find great comfort in knowing this meaning when I am asked to sustain someone in my ward or stake who I am confident will require me to sustain them in that sense of the word.

  9. In ancient times the people followed a prophet. Whenever the people rebelled or took the prophet’s words out of context (the Pharisees and Sadducees), they failed. Ultimately their rebellion led to the death of Jesus Christ their Savior. Simply put, we can follow those divinely appointed by the Lord to help lead us. The only way to decipher who the Lord’s anointed are, is to study and pray. Studying the words of the Brethren will quickly reveal their divine role as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Lord will never lead you astray, just as the way these Prophets claim that He will not lead them astray.
    I have come to know on an intimate level that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is indeed led and guided by a man and presidency divinely called of Heavenly Father. Their teachings and revelations are meant to be a light and beacon for each human being searching for truth in this mist of darkness that we wade through each day in the world. Their teachings, accompanied by the Holy Scriptures, prayer, and faith will enlighten any with question in mind.
    Amen Brother Boyce.

  10. Thank You for your powerful point of view.
    A quote from a talk by Elder Anderson
    we should not ascribe the label of doctrine to teachings that have not been confirmed and repeated often by many of the Church’s leaders. He said, “There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many.” The church is not led by just one watchman on the tower, but by fifteen prophets, seers, and revelators who work in counsel together
    I voted twice for President Obama. I did not agree with him on every issue. But I did on most issues. I felt those issues that I agreed with the President were important enough to support him.
    The Brethren are defending the Church. They need our support. They are also promoting all that is good about the Church. We need to build our own strengths based on the Savior and his teachings..
    This may require us to see our testimony in a different light than how we view the Church. We may not agree with every issue the Church is facing and how it is addressed. If our testimony is strong we should support the brethren.

  11. This article has been on my mind a lot since General Conference, when a few individuals attending conference chose to yell out their dissenting votes when asked to sustain the prophet, his counselors, and the quorum of the twelve. This article is clearly of great importance for our day.
    We do not sustain the brethren because of political opinions or social affiliations. If we truly believe that our church is of, and led by a perfect God, then it becomes natural to sustain our imperfect leaders. Whether we give a sustaining vote or not indicates more about our relationship with our Father in Heaven than it does of our opinions of the men He has called. Withholding a sustaining vote is an effective way to tell our Heavenly Father that you do not trust Him or His judgement. If one can’t trust God to, then it is hardly surprising that they would struggle to trust anyone else.
    Trust and faith in our God and our Savior will lead to trust and faith in church leaders. If we are firm in the knowledge that God loves His children and His greatest motivation to bring us back to Him (Moses 1:39) then we can be firm that the brethren are the men He has chosen to help His means come to pass. We cannot return to our Father in Heaven without the guidance and counsel of the brethren.
    I love the Lord and though my life is not without questions, I have found that when I focus on the Lord first and foremost, everything works out and works together the way it should. When questions or disagreements arise on issues, I would hope that we all turn to our Father in Heaven and regain our assurance that He is in the Heavens and that He is over all. With that confidence we will be able to withstand the trials and persecutions that come to all those who are valiant in the faith.

  12. I loved this article. What a blessing it is to have a prophet living among us today, as well as 14 other men whom we sustain as “prophets, seers, and revelators”. No one claims that these men are perfect, but they are Special Witnesses and are called by God. Who else on the earth holds that distinction? If He trusts them, I would be well advised to do so also.

  13. In my experience, I have learned that Heavenly Father wants us to follow the direction of our leaders because He has called them to their position. Often times having faith requires acting without a sure knowledge of the results or reason. As mortals we tend to believe that we know better, therefore we choose to judge and criticize our leaders when Heavenly Father is asking us to trust Him by trusting them. We should never put worldly thoughts above the opportunity to sustain and obey those called by the Lord to help and guide us.
    Sustaining our leaders is more than simply raising your right hand when you are asked to do so. We pray for our leaders because we sustain them and want them to be as close to the Spirit as humanly possible, allowing them to receive guidance that we need.
    We are not required to sustain our leaders for them to be called into their position. In fact, they are called by the Lord and our sustaining is an acknowledgment within ourselves that we will help that individual fulfill their responsibilities. This understanding has helped me to realize the importance of thinking about, and praying for, my leaders. I feel truly blessed for the knowledge that my Father in Heaven has called men to lead and guide me in the direction He would have me go. There aren’t many aspects of my life that I can trust with my whole heart, but I know that I can trust Heavenly Father to keep His Church organized and lead by the right people.

  14. The question about blacks holding the Priesthood and whether it was a mistake seems to be missing the point, actually. The real question is why would the Lord restrict the Priesthood at all? It is rather extraordinary, in fact, that right now any worthy male can receive the Priesthood; for this is the first time in history to get that privilege. In Adam and Enoch’s day, there were several races unable to receive it. The Priesthood appears to have been limited to Abraham’s seed; and after Jethro no one other than a Jew seems to have been eligible. The Lamanites didn’t have it; and I don’t believe the Jaredites had it either.
    That’s not even counting the millions who had, as far as we know, no knowledge of God or Christ at all.
    Until Peter was commanded to spread to the Gentiles, only Jews were eligible. And as for the “Gentiles,” before the Apostasy who knows if the gospel was available to everyone? The Lord has seen fit to restrict the blessings of His Gospel to a very select few in this life; for reasons no one knows.
    We talk about the ban on blacks, but let’s face it: practically speaking, the only race to have the Priesthood before the ban was lifted were white Anglo-Saxons. There weren’t too many Asians as members; and the church was only starting to spread in Latin America. While Blacks may have been explicitly restricted; everyone else was effectively banned too.
    Only after the Lord lifted the restriction did the Church explode into these areas of the world. And even now, if you are Chinese; you do not get the Gospel unless you live outside of China itself.
    The point is that the Church can’t be accused of racism until someone figures out why the Lord hasn’t pronounced the Gospel to everyone like He did to the Nephites after His crucifixion. And that’s a question well above my pay grade.

  15. This article has strengthened my testimony that the Brethren are who they claim to be –special witnesses of the Lord. I know this because the Spirit has taught me this truth over and over again. I am grateful for living prophets, seers, and revelators.
    This article reminds me how important the Holy Ghost is to my faith; without the teachings and comfort of the Spirit I am limited to my ways, which can never bring me joy. I know this because I have been down that road far too often.
    I realize it is important to study the doctrine out in my mind, and I do, as much as necessary to positively impact my relationship with the Lord; however, I have never found peace in lawyering the questions that surface. I don’t need to because The Spirit has given me more than enough spiritual evidence to satisfy my hunger for truth.
    I love the Lord. I love the Brethren. I love the Plan of Happiness.

  16. Amazing article. Just in time for conference. Brother Boyce has clearly labored diligently and presented well thought out ideas. My love for the Bretheren has increased. Thank you Brother Boyce!

  17. Since this article places a strong emphasis on the ability to trust statements from a unified Fist Presidency (rather than individuals), I’d be interested in the author’s opinion on the 1949 First Presidency statement that the priesthood ban was a doctrine, not a policy, and due to premortal misconduct.

    • Relevant to the 1949 statement, I would guess the first response would be this: the promises we have about First Presidency statements is NOT that they are always correct in every particular. The promise is that such statements will not lead the church astray to the detriment of our salvation, and/or “permanently damage the work”. The church is still growing, still saving souls, and still possesses the true doctrine and keys that lead to salvation! Even if you completely disagree with all the points I’ll make below, this one, the most important one, still stands: it didn’t destroy the work.
      So my second response, hinted at in the article above, would be this: that 1949 statement and the 1979 Manifesto are not as contradictory as people are claiming here. For one thing, in this statement the First Presidency insists that the ban is from God. Well, we don’t know how the ban was begun, but we do know that at the very least God did not want it overturned at that time, and kept it going long past when prophets were asking him to change it; Brother Boyce quotes President McCay, President Hinckley, and Elder Oaks on that point. And the subsequent Manifesto did NOT say the ban had been wrong, only that it was lifted.
      Related to that point, the 1949 statement also said explicitly, twice, that the ban would at some point be lifted. So the Manifesto agrees with it on that point as well.
      Of course, all the talk about “curse of blackness” and rejecting the priesthood is utterly cringe-inducing to read today. I want to make this point about that: None of that is in the text written by that First Presidency; it is all in a quote by Brigham Young. Obviously they thought it was on to something or they wouldn’t have used it, I don’t mean to minimize that point. But it is significant that they do not say they agree, they merely say that many prophets (all of whom would have been speaking as individuals, by the way) offered possible reasons, and then they quote one, with no further commentary of any kind.
      I also think Elder Oaks claimed he did not EVER believe any of the explanations given for the ban, even though he was certainly familiar with the 1949 statement; he evidently agreed with me that the Young quote was not meant to be taken as authoritative.

  18. Considering the length of this essay, I am wondering how much of a problem exists in Church culture with “not following the brethren?” And more specifically, in what context are they to be followed?
    Following the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in spiritual matters is vitally important. But that is something different than the usual refrain I hear in church, “Follow the Brethren no matter what, they will never lead you astray.” This sort of absolutism is bound to cause problems among many who see that there have been many errors in the past (polygamy, priesthood bans, united order, etc.).
    One “follows the Brethren” under their stewardship of spiritual counsel and keeping the commandments. But one’s ultimate allegiance must be to the truth and to god, and there is no man or group of men that can or should tell you every step to take on that path.

    • Just a brief aside: The three things you list as errors, polygamy, priesthood ban, and united order, were all *practices* of the church. The doctrine in each case didn’t change when the policy changed. It is still true, as stated in Jacob 7, that God sometimes requires polygamy but most of the time commands monogamy; going from one form of marriage to the other is a change of practice, not doctrine. It is still true that God decides upon whom to bestow the power of the priesthood, and that His decision changes over time, as in Peter’s time first banning Gentiles from the priesthood and then granting it to them. And it is still true that the saints of God should be willing to sacrifice all their property for the gospel’s sake, but that they are rarely able to live that way so the Lord rarely commands it. From that way of looking at it, they’re not “errors” at all, just changes.
      More important, I think there’s no question, as you point out, that our devotion and worship are for God alone and not for any man or group of men. I guess I would only point out, that to the extent that the Lord has told us that “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same”, then it is our devotion to Him that requires us to follow the prophets.

      • Lia & Chris I hope this statement from the First Presidency adds to the discussion.
        First Presidency statement (President George Albert Smith)
        August 17, 1949
        The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”
        President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
        The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.
        The First Presidency

    • I believe the article was pretty clear as to ‘what context the Bretheren are to be followed’.
      You are also making the assumption that polygamy and people being excluded from the priesthood were mistakes made by the Bretheren that were later corrected. It took Joseph Smith upwards of 10 years to fully live the principle of ‘plural families’ after it had been revealed to him. And it was only after an angel with a sword appeared to him coming straight from the presence of the Lord and commanded him to begin following it lest he be destroyed. Clearly this was a directive of the Lord and the mistake would have been if Joseph had not implemented it.
      I also think that the references in Duane’s article regarding extending the priesthood to the Blacks made it pretty clear that this too was under direct commandment of the Lord. So if your views are that these directives did not come from the Lord but were simply mistakes made by prophets that were later corrected by different prophets, then you’ve got a whole different problem.
      You are correct in that one man or Group of men shouldn’t have to tell us everything to do. The Lord himself said that men are not to be commanded in all things. But it is clear from this article as referenced by the many testimonies born by prophets and apostles that God is at the head of this church and leads it directly through personal, regular association with the Bretheren. And if this is true (as I know it is) then it would be wise for us to heed their counsel.
      “President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
      An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be.”

      • I agree with the message and spirit of this article. I also appreciate the author deliberating upon what is a binding statement of the Church and what is not.
        Lia, to distinguish between doctrine and practice might be splitting hairs. I agree, there is often a difference though, so the distinction should be made.
        Aside from the article, and on this topic, I have noticed a strong trend in my Mormon culture of people making statements of following the prophet or brethren no matter what. I was simply pointing out that not only is this NOT Mormon doctrine, it is repugnant to Mormon doctrine.
        If you want to strengthen the faith of the rising Latter Day Saints, it is wholly appropriate to introduce some ambiguity and paradox in your teachings (age appropriate of course). The problem is, most adults do not tolerate ambiguity or paradox, and therefore find discussions of the messiness of Church history wrong. But I have always found that this is due to a lack of their faith and not mine.
        Whatever the revelation on polygamy, Joseph married many women without Emma’s knowledge (or most of the saints for that matter), he married a 14 year old, and of the first 11 wives, 9 of them were already married to living husbands (polyandry). If these things do not raise red flags and cause you to question, than I admit, you and I have a different standard of faith. But doubt and questioning and critical introspection is not contrary to faith, it is its foundations.
        The thing is, if you bring these things up many people in the Church will immediately shut the discussion down, and I find this contrary to a strong and vibrant culture. I am not saying these things should be brought up in Gospel Doctrine mind you, but perhpas on occasion, and when appropriate, sometimes they should. There are too many people who would say that there is never an appropriate time to bring these up. I have met them. And this is contrary to my faith.
        I only mention this because we have set up a dynamic in Mormon culture that is anathema to the gospel. We have preached a very faith promoting, two dimensional historical narrative which is appropriate for primary children, but not so for young or old adults. This kind of historical fundamentalism has caused many in the Church to leave, for they grow up and encounter the real messiness of history and feel betrayed. Meanwhile, the fundamentalists of the faith accuse them of not being faithful, despite the fact that they are the ones who set up this dynamic. I wonder who the Lord will be displeased with?
        I do not think the author of this article was addressing this point, nor did he have to. I am simply making the point that it is inappropriate to teach the infallibility of the prophet, “Brethren,” or priesthood order. And further, it is wholly appropriate, at times, to discuss some of the messy things in Mormon history, and even the “shadow” side of some of our faith promoting doctrines. But in our culture doing this is seen as a taboo. I am grateful that the Church has started to release some essays addressing these topics. While they are baby steps, and sometimes a little to innocuous for me, I believe this is moving in the right direction.

        • John L., I agree with a lot of what you say here. It’s not productive to have a faith or a faith culture that can’t tolerate discussion of difficult issues; “blind” unthinking faith isn’t vibrant and won’t sustain us. But I am convinced that a living, questioning, vibrant, fearless faith will lead us exactly to, not away from, the conclusions presented here: that sustaining the brethren is the right way to go. Not because they’re always perfect or even always right (the promise that their leadership won’t lead to the “permanent injury of the work” is a pretty weak promise, really) but because they’re more right than we are.

  19. I loved this – every bit. I laughed out loud at the saying “If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.” And I said my silent “amen” when I read about changes not being equivalent to correction. Everything was spelled out so very clearly. Thank you so much!

  20. Joseph Smith gave the sealing keys to the twelve and not to the other members the first presidency (Rigdon & Law). Apparently someone had the notion that the twelve would be better able lead the church.

    • So … We have a notable exception. Now correct me if I misapprehend, but the issuance of the First and Second Manifestos was by the First Presidency, and in spite of apparent opposition and disunity by the Q12–

      • “I think I understand from this article that binding doctrinal announcements are those sanctioned by the First Presidency in unison. If so, when and where did Presidents Sidney Rigdon and William Law line up in support and implementation of Celestial Marriage in its fullness as presented in Section 132”
        I think that Roger has a point that needs to be seriously discussed and evaluated and not brushed aside.
        If the article that has been presented is to be taken seriously, we need to be willing to scrutinize the suppositions that have been offered by Brother Boyce.
        After all, the church is currently experiencing a higher level of criticism regarding, among other things, our changing doctrines, than perhaps ever before.
        Some people criticize us for changing doctrine and we as a church need to do some serious collective soul searching to see if a portion of the criticisms about doctrinal evolution are valid.
        I think his examples are valid and very interesting food for thought. We can continue creatively finding reasons that any example that one might present, represents a unique situation that merits an exemption clause, from the rather rigid protocol provided in this article, or we can quit being fearful and be honest with ourselves.
        I believe there are countless examples of what Roger is suggesting that could be given. The history of this church is full of them.
        What about all of the doctrinal declarations made by first presidencies that were later contradicted and changed by later first presidencies.
        Does doctrine change over time?
        I am not speaking about church policy. I can see how that may need to change with time and circumstances; I am talking about the raw doctrines that pertain to the Gospel.
        I believe that the concept of “progressive revelation” originally had to do with “continuous revelation” and the belief that the Lord’s church enjoys continuing revelations that remain consistent with previous revelations, and that all new revelations are congruent and harmonious with the past revelations, generally providing additional details and clarifications to past revelations.
        Sadly, I think that for many Saints, the term “Progressively revelation” has come to mean “Revisionist Revelation”, or the belief that past doctrines that were presented by a past First Presidency as being true, can legitimately be overturned and revised by the current First Presidency.
        The concept boggles my mind.
        It is as if our only valid collective reality as a church is our present state and that nothing that has ever happened or been taught in the past matters.
        It is as if the past does not have any relevancy to us in validating our claim of being the true church and enjoying continuous revelations from our modern prophets.
        I have a son with Downs Syndrome. When I play hide and seek with him, he simply covers his eyes because he thinks that if he can’t see me, I can’t see him. He is oblivious to the broader context. This is how this current doctrine of progressive revelation feels to me. I think we need to quit covering our eyes with regard to the changes in doctrine between the past and the present.
        I am not sure how people justify this without employing some kind of relativism that is not congruent with the word of God and the unchanging doctrine of his gospel.
        Joseph once said that that the way one can discern that an angel is bad, is “by his contradicting a former revelation”
        Apparently angels are required to be consistent with past doctrine when they deliver a doctrinal message.
        Wouldn’t that apply to the a First Presidency that has originally proclaimed a doctrine that eventually needs to be overturned by a future First Presidency, or by a current First Presidency that is altering the true doctrine that had been proclaimed by a past First Presidency.
        Why do we hold the angels feet to the fire but not our mortal leaders?
        Here is another example to add to the two Roger has submitted-
        In 1835 a series of lectures called the Lectures on Faith were submitted by the First Presidency of the Church to be canonized in the Doctrine and covenants.
        They were literally the “Doctrine” part of the “Doctrine and Covenants” and they were sustained as the doctrine of the church.
        In 1921, the doctrine being taught in the church had changed so radically that the lectures in the D&C were becoming disruptive and causing continuous questions from the members of the church.
        At that time, the First Presidency of the Church took them out of the Doctrine and Covenants claiming that the lectures-
        “were never presented to nor accepted by the Church as being otherwise than theological lectures or lessons”.
        The implication was, “gosh, we are not quite sure how these lectures made their way into our scriptures, but we have determined that they should not have been put in them because they have never been accepted by the Church as anything other than theological lectures.”
        Never mind the fact that the claim that the lectures had never been accepted by the church as official doctrine was erroneous.
        Never mind the fact that the lectures had been canonized and sustained for many decades.
        Never mind the fact that there had been 5 previous First Presidencies that sustained the Lectures on Faith as the accepted, canonized doctrine of the Church
        Nevertheless, in 1931, The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith determined that those Lectures that had been prepared by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were no longer acceptable as official doctrine.
        I appreciate Roger for bringing up something that is obviously a sensitive issue and that needs to be discussed.
        If this comment should get published, I fully expect someone to now explain to me why this example, like the ones that Roger provided, represents a unique situation that does not violate the very black and white protocol of accepting truth that has been presented by brother Boyce.

        • I’m not sure that Roger’s original thoughts on Section 132 & polygamy with Rigdon & Law are inconsistent when you consider how the counsels and quorums that preside over the church operate today.
          Brother Boyce reinforced the idea that the presiding counsel of the church is the first presidency. My understanding is that upon the death of the president of the church that counsel is dissolved and the burden of leadership and the authority falls upon the twelve.
          If Joseph Smith knew that his time on earth was limited it follows that the keys of the kingdom, and also the specific doctrines and practices that came from Section 132 and other revelations would be left with the twelve and not with the first presidency.
          The presiding counsel of the church had the authority to change the practices of the church when the manifestos were given. President Woodruff had not passed away and the first presidency presided.
          I’m not sure that it is the doctrine that changes over time. It may be that our understanding of doctrine changes.
          The Lord has to work within our own culture, context & understanding when revealing instructions. Recognizing our personal and collective limitations means that our understanding of doctrine may not always as clear to us as He would like it to be. Because we are imperfect, it sometimes takes a substantial amount of individual and collective patience to get things right. We also have to deal with the fact that the Lord’s timetable may not match up with what we want.
          The Lord knows our limitations and has advised that we will continue to learn and grow line by line and precept by precept. The principle of individual and collective continuing revelation allows the purposes of God to roll forth despite our limitations.
          I’m not sure how to address Lectures on Faith example.

          • “I’m not sure how to address Lectures on Faith example.”
            I appreciate your integrity and honesty in responding to my example Tucker.
            The reason I feel it is a rather profound example is because when Joseph, Sidney and the entire First Presidency introduced the Lectures, they proclaimed that the Lectures were “embracing the import doctrine of salvation”.
            They also stated, over their signatures, that “We do not present this little volume with any other expectation than that we are to be called to answer to every principle advanced in that day when the secrets of all hearts will be revealed, and the reward of every man’s labor be given him”.
            Whew!
            They were quite sober about the significance of what they were teaching and the fact that they would be held accountable for it.
            Those lectures were written at the culmination of the revelatory sweet spot of Joseph’s ministry, having just received over 100 revelations in a 5 1/2 year period that would be canonized, compared to only about 20 canonized revelations that came during the following decade.
            Joseph and Sidney had previously beheld the glory of the Son on the right hand of the Father and received of his fulness as they experienced a vision which taught them many things about the nature and character of the Father and the Son and the plan of salvation.
            Is it a stretch to assume that Joseph and Sidney knew what they were talking about when they wrote Lectures on Faith and canonized it?
            Is it a stretch to assume that perhaps they knew just a little bit more about the true doctrine of Christ and the nature of God than President Joseph F. Smith and his associates?
            Despite the decision by Joseph F. Smith to extract the Doctrine from the Doctrine and Covenants, Bruce R. McConkie would make the following statement about the Lectures many years later:
            “It is without question the most excellent summary of revealed and eternal truth relative to the Godhead that is now extant in mortal language . . . . To spiritually illiterate persons, it may seem hard and confusing; to those whose souls are aflame with heavenly light, it is a nearly perfect summary of those things which must be believed to gain salvation”
            If by any chance Joseph and Sidney did understand what they were talking about, then we have some serious doctrinal issues regarding some false doctrines that are currently taught in the church.
            For instance, the Holy Ghost is not a personage; rather it is the Mind of God.
            And the Father is not a personage of flesh and bones but rather He is a personage of spirit, differing from the Son, who the Father created as a personage of tabernacle, despite the later insertions into the Doctrine and Covenants by Brigham Young.
            According to these lectures, it is impossible to exercise faith unto salvation unless one has the “correct idea of [Gods] character, perfections and attributes”
            What if the character, perfections and attributes of God taught by Joseph and Sidney were the correct ones and the Doctrines of Brigham Young that later infiltrated the church after Joseph’s death are the erroneous ones?
            Would that present a problem?
            Is that something that we should be concerned about?
            If so, the problem was caused by the false notion that as long as a change in doctrine was presented by a unified first presidency and sustained by the Twelve it should blindly be accepted.
            I find that supposition rather disturbing and problematic.
            Just sayin..

        • “President Hinckley bore this witness: “God is weaving His tapestry according to His own grand design. All flesh is in His hands. It is not our prerogative to counsel Him. It is our responsibility and our opportunity to be at peace in our minds and in our hearts, and to know that He is God, that this is His work, and that He will not permit it to fail. We have no need to fear. We have no need to worry.”
          I am not an academic nor do I come close to what one would call a gospel intellect. But to say we should do some serious soul searching regarding the ‘validity of the criticisms that our doctrines are changing’ in my mind implies a belief that church doctrines originate from the minds of men. This is not true! It comes straight from the Lord through his prophets. And if it comes straight from the Lord, why would we even need to give a second thought regarding these types of criticisms?
          “We might glimpse only a fraction of all the ways in which sequence and timing play a role in God’s actions, and nothing at all of the “whys,” … it would seem important not to suppose that all change is attributable to mortal caprice — much less to mortal error or to either divine or mortal correction of past errors.”
          Do we plan on going back to the Lord after thinking about it and saying ‘Hey Lord, you’re changing doctrine too much down here and it’s bugging some people so can we slow it down a bit and be a little more consistent?’ A 4 year old child has more wisdom and perspective concerning the realities and truths of this world than we do of the eternities. Who cares why one first presidency canonized the Lectures on Faith while another did not? The church is true! The Lord “is closer to us than you have any idea.”
          After you die, you can ask the Lord why he allowed it to happened this way. As for me, when that day comes, I probably still won’t care. 🙂

        • D&C 132 was not a revelation and commandment binding upon on the Saints, as a people, until Brigham Young’s presidency.

  21. Interesting notions…
    I think I understand from this article that binding doctrinal announcements are those sanctioned by the First Presidency in unison. If so, when and where did Presidents Sidney Rigdon and William Law line up in support and implementation of Celestial Marriage in its fullness as presented in Section 132?

    • I didn’t quite read it that way…It seems to me the point of the article is that the combined First Presidency will not lead the church astray, not that every single thing we believe to be true doctrine must have a specific First Presidency endorsement.

    • Roger, the fulness of the law of celestial marriage as described in D&C 132 didn’t become binding on the Saints as a people until Brigham Young’s presidency. Before then, if I am not mistaken, it was only binding on individuals to whom it had been revealed and commanded through proper authority (ie. Joseph Smith)

    • I agree that
      “it drains the ban of revelatory significance, makes it something that just grew up and, in time, had to be eliminated.”

      • I agree that Duane’s article is needed, timely and even uplifting. I wonder however if Duane was a little quick in his analysis that the priesthood ban was simply a matter of “divine timing” fn 71. The Church’s 2013 essay on the Priesthood ban seemed to argue that the origin of the ban was based more on racial attitudes of the time than revelation. Historian Richard Bushman indicated that the essay “drains the ban of revelatory significance, makes it something that just grew up and, in time, had to be eliminated”. 1978 statements must be read in light of 2013 and later statements.

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