Friday, January 1, 2016


What's the role of the Church for someone who's waking up to our awful situation? In the disappointment and disillusionment, it's easy to throw it all away. From my point of view, I believe it would be a mistake. In my mind, at this point there is (at least for me) no better place for service and further development into truth and light. So I stick with it and try to help other members focus on Jesus Christ. One of the main challenges for helping people come to Jesus is the Church that is standing in our way. We need to get the Church out of the way, without getting rid of the chances for love, compassion, service, insight, forgiveness and humility that it offers. How we do this is an individual task, but I will share a few thoughts that might help you on your way to a reconciliation.

Elsewhere, I wrote about "Breaking up with the Church" and getting back together with it. That post is still relevant, and hard to live by. It's so easy for me to look down upon others and consider them proud for not wanting to open their eyes and sit in spiritual darkness. But, the Lord tells me that I won't be better off with this attitude. So, I realize that I'm no closer to salvation than anyone else. It's clear that if I don't have Jesus, I have nothing.

Stages of faith and the Church

I recently heard about the suggestion that one ward's theme for next year should be "the Church has the truth". While this is partly true, it's still disconcerting that the Church is allowed to take a front seat in the quest for truth. How has the Church been raised to such preeminence and become such a focus of faith and trust. Part of the answer may be expressed by James Fowler in his 1981 book  "Stages of Faith".

The first four stages (there are six stages altogether) are summarized in this way:
Stage 1:
This is the stage of preschool children in which fantasy and reality often get mixed together. However, during this stage, our most basic ideas about God are usually picked up from our parents and/or society. 
Stage 2:
When children become school-age, they start understanding the world in more logical ways. They generally accept the stories told to them by their faith community but tend to understand them in very literal ways. [A few people remain in this stage through adulthood.] 
Stage 3:
Most people move on to this stage as teenagers. At this point, their life has grown to include several different social circles and there is a need to pull it all together. When this happens, a person usually adopts some sort of all-encompassing belief system. However, at this stage, people tend to have a hard time seeing outside their box and don't recognize that they are "inside" a belief system. At this stage, authority is usually placed in individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs. [This is the stage in which many people remain.] 
Stage 4:
This is the tough stage, often begun in young adulthood, when people start seeing outside the box and realizing that there are other "boxes". They begin to critically examine their beliefs on their own and often become disillusioned with their former faith. Ironically, the Stage 3 people usually think that Stage 4 people have become "backsliders" when in reality they have actually moved forward.
We live in an interesting period of time when those who take the step from stage 3 to stage 4 can share their insights, their struggles and their new testimony. This provides a challenge for those still in stage 3, and for the Church itself, while it also comforts and creates community for those going through the same kind of transition.

Any institution with a sense of self-preservation is afraid of people taking their power back.  Institutions gets their right to exist through its members who place authority in the institution and its leaders. Therefore, the Church has to be aware of and oppose members efforts to take back authority from the Church and its leaders.

From this perspective, it's understandable that Dallin Oaks, during the Boise Rescue, taught the following:
“In determining on who’s on the Lord’s side on these latter-days, there are two major questions. First, for most non-Mormons, and for some Mormons, the key question is how they feel about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. For most Mormons, the key question on who’s on the Lord’s side is how they feel about the church’s current prophetic leadership. If those feelings are sufficiently negative, they take members into what we call apostasy."
It's detrimental to the institutional Church that members question the validity and the authority of its leaders. How can they control us and maintain the fidelity of the organisation, when we don't do what they say or when we question the direction they are leading the Church, what they are teaching and what they do with tithing funds.

A side note: Some say that we can never question what the leaders do, giving the reason that we've covenanted to not speak evil of the Lord's anointed. It's true that we should avoid speaking evil of anyone. The question needs to be asked: is questioning the same as 'speaking evil of' and have these men (and women) really been anointed by the Lord? (If they have, they sure keep it a secret.) Answer: Of course questioning someone's actions and motives isn't the same thing as speaking evil of them. Claiming otherwise could easily be seen as a domination technique.

Those who equate the "current prophetic leadership" with God himself, believe that Dallin Oaks is speaking the truth and nothing but the truth. I believe that Dallin Oaks is teaching false doctrine (at least in the quote above. ) And this should be clear for everyone who have read the scriptures and understand that, those who came to meet God for real never settled with following a prophet, but rather sought to be one themselves. God wants to raise up a people full of prophets, whereas the Church wants us to follow one. A true prophet wants no followers, for his role is to point people to the Son of God. And only Him should we follow.

Throughout my years in the Church, I haven't felt encouraged to strive for stage 4 in my spiritual development. Now, when I'm there, it's hard to handle. It's true as it was written, "the Stage 3 people usually think that Stage 4 people have become "backsliders" when in reality they have actually moved forward."

What is the Church, and can it be led astray?

For many members of the Church, it's very important that the Church is true. They point to the words of the Lord in D&C 1 ("the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth"; v. 30) and take courage that the Church will never be led astray. We've talked about this belief and made a solid case that the leader's aren't to be trusted (unless their words square with the scriptures and God's will for you). But, this belief that the Church can't be led astray is still somewhat true.

First of, we need to redefine the meaning of the Church. As I've used it, it means the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. But that is the organisation, the corporate church. The real church, the one that can't be led astray, is defined by Jesus. He said:
"Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. " (D&C 10:67)
The church of Christ are comprised of people who have come to Him, no one else. These people are everywhere and of no specific denomination. Instead, they are a group with a common denominator - they worship and love God above everything else and are not involved in idolatry (especially the  worship of the institution to which they might belong and the leaders thereof).

Membership in an organization doesn't equate membership in His church. And the Church of Christ is the church that cannot be led astray, for the members thereof follow no one but Jesus. Despite this, they are cautioned about the arising of "false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant." (JST Matt. 24:22) We are also taught how not to be deceived: " whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived" (v. 37)

God has never bound himself to perform his work and his glory through only one group of people (see D&C 49:8 and Alma 29:8). I guess it's a consequence of human nature, that each of the groups employed in the work of God, would like to consider themselves the only true and living group of believers. In my view, that's an attitude filled with pride. It's one that you'd hear from a Rameumptom in your local chapel.

Conclusion: What if the Church were to be true?

It doesn't matter if the Church is true, unless you also are true. If the Church is true and you are not, then damned be you. If the Church isn't true, and you aren't true, the damned be both of you. Against this backdrop, what is most important: your standing before God or the truthfulness of the Church?


  1. I had a dream this morning that relates to this. I especially love and appreciate the last paragraph in this post. Thank you, your sister in Christ-Sally

    1. Sally! The more I think about it all, the less all the historic "facts" mean. I believe in the message of the scriptures, and then the most important thing is to internalize that message and work to meet the divine within and without myself! Since I can only testify to what I've experienced, the religious/spiritual experience becomes my main focus. But this shift is a process, and I'm working my way through it.

  2. I am full of questions. Mostly the validity of the Corporate Church, it's authority or lack thereof. relating to the 2 Priesthood

    1. Dave, I'm not sure if I have any answers, but feel free to post questions here or send me and e-mail (