UNDERSTANDING

INTRODUCTION

Many who criticize church leaders do so without taking the time to reflect on the perspective that the leaders have and how it is formed. This essay addresses the text based perspective. Anyone who wishes to engage in criticism of the brethren, and expects to accomplish more than just irritating people, needs to be aware of this perspective. After all, in a religious community, it is fair to expect that some of the people, at least those who lead, will have had their attitudes shaped and affected by the religious texts used by that community.

The two sets of texts I will excerpt from are the Scriptures accepted by the LDS community and semi-authoritative writings commonly used by LDS authorities.

SCRIPTURES

Titus 3:2-3 To speak evil of no man, ... For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

D&C 121:17 (cf 19-20) But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves.

D&C 10:63 ... that there may not be so much contention ... do err, for they do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them.

D&C 112:9 Thy voice shall be a rebuke unto the transgressor ...

Alma 41:1 ... some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing ...

See also D&C 1:3, Titus 1:15, Revelation 12:10.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no man [or woman] deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey those that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

See also 1 John 2:9, 1 John 4:19-20, 1 Peter 2:1, James 4:11, Romans 1:28-32, Romans 12:16, 1 Timothy 5:1,17.


TEXTS (Excerpts from Priesthood manuals excerpting other material)

"Do not be too anxious to be too smart, to manage and manipulate, and to put things right; but pray for those that God has placed in the different offices of the church that they may be enabled to perform their several duties. The Lord will sustain his servants and give them his Holy Spirit and the light of revelation." Search These Commandments, 209 to 210. Note 1 Cor. 12:14-28; D&C 84:108-110.

"Every man should be willing to be presided over; and he is not fit to preside over others until he can submit sufficiently to the presidency of his brethren." Seek to Obtain My Word, 13.

"This is a time when there are many clever people who are not willing to listen to the humble prophets of the Lord." Seek to Obtain My Word, 89. Note 2 Peter 2:10

"...not because they are perfect ... with all their human frailties ... the Lord has called them and the Lord works through them to accomplish his purposes." Seek to Obtain My Word, 61.

Finally, remember Joseph Smith's sermon on how to tell if someone is one the high road to apostacy.


CONCLUSION

In order to engage in any "creative" criticism or academic analysis of the LDS system that does more than irritate those who are discussed, the critic should be aware of, and avoid falling into, the patterns laid out in the noted texts.

Anyone who fails to work within the textual limits (and takes an approach that can be characterized within the texts) betrays a basic ignorance of the system criticized that probably should disqualify them from being considered a responsible (or even intelligent) critic of that system. Consider 2 Timothy 3:17; Revelation 3:17, 19-22; D&C 124:84; Hebrews 12:5-7.

Not that one should expect that most critics expect to be responsible, intelligent or constructive ...

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