Friday, June 15, 2012

An Intellectual, Historical Explanation of Why I Can Accept Our Modern Prophets

There are other, more spiritual reasons why I accept modern prophets, but the following are some more objective, intellectual, historical reasons that work for me:

1) I have some limited experience with them that others haven't had, albeit in my case through my mother - who was one of Pres. McKay's secretaries many years ago. They really are amazing people.

2) I have a strong belief that THEY believe they are prophets, seers and revelators - and that means a lot to me, since it means they truly are striving to hear the voice of God in their lives and their callings.

3) I don't expect them to be perfect or infallible, so I don't hold them to that standard - but I think they "get it right" FAR more often than they get it wrong.

4) I believe adamantly that there isn't a "bad person" among them - that, if it is possible for there to be prophets on the earth, these are the kind of people they would be.

5) I believe, to a large degree, that prophets are as prophets are sustained and supported - that the expectations and hopes and dedication of the membership actually helps in a real way.

6) I can read the Bible and Book of Mormon -- and accept unmarried, Christian-killing, sexist-teachings accepting Paul -- and quick-tempered Peter -- and burn-up-the-competition Elijah -- and dysfunctional family father Lehi -- and perhaps bi-polar Nephi -- and (how can I describe him charitably . . . other than stupid for love or lust) Samson as prophets -- (as well as Muhammed and perhaps Jethro [not an Israelite from whom Moses received the Priesthood] and many others outside of Mormonism) -- so I certainly can accept our current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.


Howard said...

Thank you for sharing your testimony. Amazing in what way? What visions have they seen?

Papa D said...

Amazing in lots of ways.

I don't know if they've seen the type of visions I think you mean, and, honestly, I don't care about that. I'm not a "visionary man", in the classic sense of that term, but I've had a few moments of flashing insight that are visionary for me. Knowing what I do about them, I believe they have had those type of experiences, at least, and I'm pretty sure they've had more than I - both in number and depth.

Our scriptures describe the type of visions I think you mean with prophets about every hundred years or more, with short eras of increased visionary activity. That fits our modern times exactly, and I think we do our current leaders a grave disservice if we expect all (or even, at times, any of them) to be exceptions to our scriptural norm.

Howard said...

Respectfully, "Amazing in lots of ways." describes almost nothing.

Papa D said...

I know, Howard - but, respectfully (and I say that sincerely), I chose to keep it that way because, continuing the focus of this post, I didn't think you'd accept non-spiritual things as "amazing" for those we call prophets and apostles. I thought you'd see those sorts of things as mundane and quite ordinary (or, at least, not extra-ordinary or amazing) - and I just don't want to derail the actual focus of the post by arguing about the level of amazing-ness of non-spiritual, non-visionary, non-prophetic, non-apostolic things.

Howard said...

So they're amazing in non-spiritual mundane ways?

Papa D said...

See, I told you. *huge grin*

My focus in this post is "intellectual, historical" - not "spiritual". You and I have very different, oft-articulated expectations of prophets and apostles, so I'll leave it at "amazing in lots of ways" and understand that we disagree on what constitutes "amazing" for them. *smaller smile, but still a genuine smile*

Howard said...

*smile* My goal is simply to deconflate them with the great Prophets so that people begin to see there is a difference between Joseph's gifts and those of the ordained, sustained and inspired administrators we enjoy today.

Papa D said...

Are you willing to grant that same difference between yourself and many common members in Joseph's time?

Howard said...

No! Personally I walk in the Spirit and have enjoyed many spiritual experiences equivalent in magnitude to what the early saints reported. This often expressed idea that the Spirit speaks much softer today makes no sense to me at all and appears to be a self fulfilling prophecy, where little is expected little is received! My basic argument is the Spirit IS available today at those magnitudes and it disappoints me to see more people outside the church taking advantage of this than members.

Papa D said...

I'm truly curious:

Have you shared the details of those experiences widely - with lots of people - those you know and those you don't? Have you spoken of them in detail from the chapel pulpit in talks?

Papa D said...

"My basic argument is the Spirit IS available today at those magnitudes and it disappoints me to see more people outside the church taking advantage of this than members."

I guess our life experiences are very different. I agree with the first part of your statement above, but I haven't seen a lack of the Spirit among lots and lots and lots of members.

Certain "charismatic gifts" I would term manifestations of emotionalism? Yes, I see less of that in the Church now. (and I acknowledge it might be due to my skepticism of much of that as being truly spiritual in nature) Manifestations of the Spirit in many other ways? I see lots of that.

Howard said...

No. The High Council knows much of my story due to my return to church after excommunication. But I was encouraged by my Bishop not to speak of these experiences from the pulpit so I haven't. I was encouraged to use Mormon speak when I do talk about them elsewhere in church but that tends to obscure the experience into a vanilla one size fits most kind of description. The most I've shared at church in has been in Priesthood and in High Priests group and when I do it blows 'em away! I've also shared some of it on the Bloggernacle without much response from members.

When I share with non-member mystics who are on a spiritual path they share back in both kind and magnitude.

The church retains authority but has lost much of God's power beginning with Joseph's death and continuing quickly down hill after Brigham. But God's power in all of it's glory remains available to many who seek it via. personal enlightenment and remains elusive to those who don't.

Howard said...

Those who are recently enlightened radiate a lot of energy and this is contagious to those around them. I suspect this was the case with Joseph so early saints received spiritual gifts and witnessed "miracles" without having to do much but believe and be near Joseph or others who had this energy. So after a generation or so this died down. But enlightenment is still available to many who seek it.

Papa D said...

Frankly, I am in a similar situation in many cases (minus the excommunication and knowing I've shared some things since I started blogging that I hadn't previously) with regard to sharing the details of some of my experiences - and I suspect, based on my own discussions over the years, there are many more members than you realize who have incredibly strong experiences but don't share the details publicly.

In some ways, that is regrettable, but in other ways, I am OK with it - especially the counterfeit emotionalism I have witnessed inside and outside the Church.

I also agree with your observation about the contagious nature of some things - but I would add that those things span the spectrum as well, including "spiritual experiences" and "emotional experiences". Sometimes, they are the same thing; sometimes, they are not.

Finally, I really do believe that "to some is given to believe (in faith not having seen, as opposed to knowing by experience)" - so I am less inclined to push extra-ordinary experiences on good, sincere, righteous, dedicated, faithful, open-to-manifestations people (inside and outside the Church) whom I have seen crushed when they don't occur. (and I mean truly and deeply crushed and shattered)

Perhaps, I simply tend to categorize things as extra-ordinary that you experience and, therefore, classify as ordinary - or, at least, classify as available to all.

Howard said...

Well we seem to agree on most of this including the counterfeit emotionalism, but counterfeit exists elsewhere in members too, posers who pretend to live the gospel but don't, posers who like to talk with a Utah accent or primary voice, etc.

The point is we need to seek enlightenment or it won't be found at least until the next Jesus or Joseph arrives and when he does will the church recognize and accept him? I doubt it! Do they recognize and accept our experiences?

It would be wonderful if the search for enlightenment were lead by the brethren and shared from the podium at General Conference but if they did it would really upset succession as some would find it and others wouldn't!

A spiritual renaissance is currently taking place on earth and like the parable of the ten virgins, the church may well be left behind!

Howard said...

Seeking enlightenment, seeking to improve our spirit to spirit communication skills is synonymous with seeking to improve our relationship with God. In addition having those skills at death will help reduce the sting of death.