I happened to fall into a conversation within the past eighteen months, in person (face-to-face), with someone who has had the opportunity to talk directly with the top leadership of the Church about issues of instruction and ministry. I didn't know this about the person when we started to talk. (I'm being intentionally vague, so as to not give away any detail about this person or their situation. I don't want any particular detail to influence anyone's judgment of what was said, since I believe what was said was completely accurate and the speaker totally trustworthy - but more detail might bias some people. I simply will say that this person is not a "church leader" of any kind.)
I want to share a few things I was told in our conversation:
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency understand that their words in General Conference
normally are generalized and not new - or profound in a new way,
speaking generally. This is because they do not want to be
misunderstood - as much by the membership of the Church as by
non-members. They are aware of how much their words tend to be heard
subjectively and how much they tend to get distorted once they leave
their mouths - again, by people inside and outside the Church.
2) They almost all value an ecumenical approach
to religion and religious conversation over a confrontational approach -
even though they almost all believe what they believe very strongly.
They all believe there is good, and even great outside the LDS Church - and even things that are unique and
worthy of emulation and adoption, outside the LDS Church - and they all
lament the lack of charity in the way many members speak to and about other
people. Some of their most recent talks have been a
direct address to this concern - but they tend to value teaching and
testifying over pronouncements of command from the pulpit (again, given
how many members tend to turn even non-command into command).
They almost all want multiple voices to be heard in church, as long as
those voices are respectful and not disruptive or harmful. They don't
all share similar views about many things; they are open with each other
and in council about those differences; they practice the council model
and wish the membership would listen more when they ask them to
practice that model, as well. (in a nutshell, listening to others
before reaching decisions and conclusions)
4) A lower percentage of 70's understand all of the above, and that rule extends naturally down the leadership chain.
Edith Russell: Associate Editor
30 minutes ago