My Defense Before the High Council

32493_000_01_Title.qxdOne of my readers, Steve, asked, “I wondered what you would do if your stake president told you to quit blogging about Denver or you would be exed.” This is a fictional account, based on that very possible what-if scenario that could happen:

What if members were called to account for themselves in regards to the books they read and what they publish on their blogs? Oh, how I hope and pray that day never arrives. Isn’t that what George Orwell’s 1984 was all about?

Standing Before the High Council

“Thank you, President, for allowing me to take a moment to speak. I’ll make this brief. I know your time is precious and I don’t want to prolong this council any longer than necessary. I know we would all like to return home to our families.

“First, please allow me to express how much I love and appreciate each of you brethren. I hope you can feel that. Even if I am excommunicated tonight, I am grateful to have been able to know each of you and to have served with you.

I Have Received Sacred Experiences

“Many years ago, I had some sacred spiritual experiences that convinced me God lived, loved me and had a plan for my life. I have also felt the love of my Savior so many times since that I have a sure and certain witness He is guiding my life.

“In many ways, I have given my life to this church. I’ve said many times and I’ll say it again. I’m simply your typical, average member. I love this church and love the people in it. I love to serve. I’ve always accepted every calling extended to me.

The Approved Curriculum

“Like many of you, I grew up being taught the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in primary, Sunday school, Seminary, Institute and priesthood quorums. I have always appreciated my brethren and sisters. They were just like me – regular folks. They tried to teach the approved curriculum by the spirit of inspiration.

“Sometimes that process can be a contradiction in terms. What we find and teach from our authorized curriculum is not always exactly the way things happened. That’s OK. It’s faith-promoting and invites the spirit of the Lord to attend us. So what if we leave out some little part of the actual story that makes us look bad?

Some Things Are Embellished

“I always felt it was not worth bringing things up when I knew the teacher was not exactly sharing the perfect truth, meaning the story he or she was relating was later proven to be hearsay or something with a little extra added. We all know, if we have studied our history that some stories are embellished or parts left out.

“I’m sure you know what I mean. Think of Paul Dunn for a moment. He did a lot of good. But the fact remains he embellished some of his stories. Do I love him any less for doing so? No, of course not. He helped me develop faith in the Lord.

My Testimony of Joseph

“I grew up reading the Book of Mormon at my mother’s knee. I literally learned to read from the Book of Mormon when I was five years old. I love that book. I learned long ago it is scripture and contains the word of God.

“Over the years I have made an extensive study of the life of Joseph Smith from as many sources as possible. I have read the good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what I have read that claims otherwise, I know Joseph was a prophet.

“Because of my witness, I knew I would serve a mission, marry in the temple and do all I was asked to do over the years to help build up the church through home teaching, serving in callings, paying tithing and trying to be a good example to others.

Asked to Write About the Church

“Shortly before Elder Ballard invited the members of the church to become more involved in the conversations taking place on the Internet, I decided to start my own blog. For those who don’t know, a blog is a website where you keep adding new entries over time. The newest entries always appear at the top of the page.

“At first I simply wrote rebuttals to stuff out there that I knew were lies. I work on the Internet for a living. I read a lot of web pages. It’s my job. I got tired of all the stuff I read out there by those who had an axe to grind against the church.

Members Who Have Doubts

“After a while I noticed those who responded were mainly other members, and then only members responded to my blog posts. They wanted to argue with me. They wanted to show me where I was wrong and why I should think otherwise.

“I considered them naive. I could not believe they were duped by some of the stories out there on the Internet. Even worse, I could not believe they had not read or heard these things growing up. It seemed they wanted to shock me with some new revelation they spouted about how Joseph practiced polygamy or polyandry.

Inoculated at an Early Age

“What they didn’t know is I had a mother who taught me to read and who had a library full of controversial LDS books. She was a teacher. We did not grow up with a television. Reading was something my family did. I grew up with four sisters. We went to the library each Saturday and came home with a dozen books.

“I mainly read science fiction, but I also read a lot of history, especially from my mother’s library – LDS history. Mother was a Gospel Doctrine teacher and she loved to research her subjects. I think I read No Man Knows My History when I was in seminary. I was probably only fourteen or fifteen years old at the time.

“For those who may not know, the author of that controversial book was President McKay’s niece. She was excommunicated for writing that book. I first learned of polygamy from Fawn Brodie, and more to the point, of Joseph’s polygamy. There are seminary students in our stake today who know absolutely nothing about polygamy or that we ever practiced it as a church, especially in Joseph’s time.

Sympathizing with an Apostate

“I stand before you today accused of sympathizing with an individual whose teachings are contrary to the official story of our church history as found in our curriculum. I can’t believe it has come to this. Are we now willing to discipline our own church members simply for what they read? I can see the importance of writing uplifting material, but not everything in our church history is uplifting.

“I have always made it a point to teach ONLY authorized material from the official curriculum when I am asked to teach or speak in church. However, this is my private blog, in which I quote what others have said about the church. I offer my opinion and sometimes additional insights that come to me as I write about them.

Encourage Others to Remain Faithful

“If I were publishing things in my blog that advocated members to leave the church then I could understand the reason for this council. I don’t encourage others to teach the things I write in my book reviews. I always reassure my readers they should teach only what is found in our official curriculum. That is what the Brethren have asked us to do and I sustain that decision. Milk before meat, right?

“My whole blog is about LDS-related book reviews and specifically books that deal with the doctrines of the Last Days – the Coming of the Lord and how it will happen. That’s all I write about and nothing more. I comment a lot on Denver Snuffer’s books because he has written so much in this area. His writings are controversial, especially now that he is probably about to be excommunicated.

My Testimony and Conclusion

“That’s all I wanted to say. I love this church. I know it is authorized by the Lord to preach the gospel, to perform the ordinances of salvation, to print the scriptures, to collect tithing and to build temples. I am happy to be a part of the work. I hope to contribute until the return of the Lord. I believe my blog helps some people who struggle come to grips with some of the more difficult parts of our history.

“I will do as this council directs. Specifically president, if you ask me to take my blog down or at least to stop publishing or reporting on what Denver Snuffers says as he conducts his lectures over the next year, I will do so. But I can’t believe we would let it come to such a thing – controlling the lives of our members like that.”

Can the Church Control Bloggers?

And that is the end of my imaginary defense I would offer if I were called in to defend myself for writing about Denver Snuffer and his teachings. By the way, I ran this by my wife. She thought it was funny and said I was being overly dramatic but I don’t think so. I’ve read of bloggers being asked to stop writing certain things about the church, haven’t you? There just seems to be something wrong with that.

Comments

What do you think? Could something like this possibly happen today? I know LDS members excommunicated for publishing books, but am not sure I know of any specifically disciplined for what they write in their blogs. Could it happen? Are you aware of any such occurrences?
Tom Irvine said…
Doctrine & Covenants 9

8. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9. But if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Tom Irvine said…
Doctrine & Covenants 9:8-9 should be the litmus test that each blogger performs on his own work.

This is the method that I used after a mid-level COB official directed me to remove my Hebrew translation of The Book of Mormon from my website. But I recevied a strong answer from the Holy Ghost to press forward even before I could formulate a plan to submit to the Lord.

And the Lord later directed my attention to 1 Kings 13, wherein the "man of God from Judah" was slain by a lion after disobeying the Lord by instead following another who claimed to have authority over his travels.

* * *

Twice, I have had to lay my membership record on an altar. Each time the Lord has provided a ram in the thicket.
mmmmm1234 said…
Nice!
Lee said…
To be LDS means you are to be a subject to those men that have authority over you, you can either get with the program or get kicked out completely. The more you resist this the more you will cause yourself stress. Sweet is the peace the gospel brings, James 1:5, God is better to deal with, just make sure you do what He tells you and let Him take care of the details. It will all work out. :-)
Annalea said…
I'm sad that we have leaders today that believe they have stewardship over our thoughts, the things we write and talk about, etc. Sometimes it feels like we each have to live our faith in the church according to the beliefs of our leaders (whether immediate or further removed), or stand in risk of losing membership.

I'm so glad that the Lord of Hosts is in charge. I trust Him completely to guide and protect those who have found and faithfully follow Him.
rick taylor said…
the Men that have responsiebilty over me are my file leaders bishop stake president and those that direct them. other then that i have no one else i need answer to except the Lord and if it doesn't go againest the Lord then i will try and do what will not cause a problem
SteveF said…
I think it's clear you're not an apostate, Tim. So I don't think this imaginary situation would realistically ever happen in your situation.
Robert said…
Feel better now!
Tom Irvine said…
Tim,

As far as I know, you have invented to a new, introspective form of literary device -- the "How would I defend myself before the high council" genre. I think this is very therapeutic and enlightening. I think that other "uncorrelates," gadflies, and misfits like myself should follow your example. By the way, I learned a new words today: Expugn. As in Avraham Gileadi's excommunication was expugned as if it never happened.

http://avrahamgileaditestimony.blogspot.com/

Tom
latterdayseeker said…
I think you mean expunge. Expugn means to attack and overcome someone, not something Gileadi is likely to engage in. :-)
tomirvine999 said…
Spelling correction accepted.
tomirvine999 said…
My soul is strained that the LDS church remains so Ephraim-centric, with some from Manasseh. I prayerfully look forward to the time that the Jews, Sons of Aaron, and the Levites bring forth their offerings and claim their priesthood leadership rights. (Doctrine & Covenants Sections 13 & 107:13-16)

From the Institute manual:

Isaiah 2:3. “Out of Zion Shall Go Forth the Law . . . the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem”

President Joseph Fielding Smith gave the following explanation of this prophetic statement of Isaiah:

“We are informed in the revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, that the city of Zion and the New Jerusalem is one and the same. [D&C 28:9; 42:9; 45:66–67; 57:2; 58:7.] . . .

“Jerusalem of old, after the Jews have been cleansed and sanctified from all their sin, shall become a holy city where the Lord shall dwell and from whence he shall send forth his word unto all people. Likewise, on this continent, the city of Zion, New Jerusalem, shall be build, and from it the law of God shall also go forth. There will be no conflict, for each city shall be headquarters for the Redeemer of the world, and from each he shall send forth his proclamations as occasion may require. Jerusalem shall be the gathering place of Judah and his fellows of the house of Israel, and Zion shall be the gathering place of Ephraim and his fellows, upon whose heads shall be conferred ‘the richer blessings.’ . . .

“These two cities, one in the land of Zion and one in Palestine, are to become capitals for the kingdom of God during the millennium.

* * *

Ephraim can claim the birthright. But only Judah can claim the lineage of the Messiah.

The great under-appreciated, under-taught purpose of baptism is to unite people with the House of Israel (3 Nephi 30:2)

I have NO intention of teaching seminars along the Wasatch front or anywhere else; but if I did, I would teach that the mantle of leadership authority will pass from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Greater House of Israel, circa the onset of the millennium. And that we should prepare accordingly by embracing our Hebraic roots. (Yes, I am an uncorrelate.)
Betty said…
Hugh Nibley cites Joseph Smith, who even today is the main object of attack. Joseph places the responsibility to find out the truth squarely on our own shoulders: "Search the scriptures—search . . . and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you; . . . you will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation" (TPJS, 11—12). Brigham, too, delineates personal responsibility: "I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray" (JD 6:100). Nibley explores Alma's struggle with dissenters—"the same shall ye not receive into my church" (Mosiah 26:28)—and further explains: "Excommunication was the limit of their authority and is the only power to punish which the Church has ever had. It is not the same power of excommunication claimed by the Roman church, where excommunication means the same as damnation. It is for God alone to judge and pronounce a sentence of eternal salvation or damnation"

I thought this was truly applicable to this discussion and that truly the decision on excommunication is in God's hands. Don't you?

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