This episode is the second part of a co-released (with Gina Colvin and A Thoughtful Faith podcast) podcast discussion with Patrick Mason and Boyd Petersen based upon ideas contained in Patrick’s book, Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt. Whereas Part 1 covered discussion points found primarily in the book’s first five chapters, this episode centers on themes and arguments in Chapters 6 through 10.
In this episode, the discussion centers primarily upon God’s call that we “give heed” to the words of his prophet, and by extension all others called to be prophets, seers, and revelators, but to do it “in patience and faith” (D&C 21:5). In other words, God knew ahead of time that he was calling fallible human beings to these important roles, and that our interactions and wrestles with their words and teachings would require our great patience. The panel discusses this instruction, as well as the wider definition and scope of the term “prophet,” and whether all prophets have the same calling and function in the same way. They also discuss a choice (perhaps unconscious and certainly understandable) members of the church have made to “defend” prophets against charges of their weaknesses and fallibility rather than admit, as scripture overwhelmingly suggests is the case, these occasional lapses of character or ability to receive clear direction from God. Would we have chosen this second route, how different might this church be–and how helpful to our faith and ability to listen to their counsel and decisions had we not placed them upon such a high pedestal.
The discussion also focuses a great deal upon “how” to press forward (and why it is important to press forward) in church community even when it is very difficult. In the book, Patrick holds up the examples of Claudia and Richard Bushman, Lowell Bennion, and Eugene England as examples of those who engage Mormonism faithfully while maintaining their own independence when it comes to discerning God’s will in their lives and where they believe it tells them to focus. England is discussed the most, especially how his entire way of being within the Church was based upon his understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, interacting with leaders and others in ways Jesus taught.
An excellent section of the discussion also looks closely at two types of interaction styles when it comes to challenging the status quo within Mormonism (and in most every struggle for change): the gradualist approach (seeking to work carefully and in styles mostly understood by the group) vs. more revolutionary-minded efforts (designed to bring about change very quickly). Both ways are given their due, including the moral burdens those who work in these ways must each bear.
This is an excellent and spirited podcast addressing core issues in today’s Mormonism. Please listen carefully and share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Patrick Q. Mason, Planted: Faith and Belonging in an Age of Doubt (Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2015)
Boyd Jay Petersen, Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family (Greg Kofford Books, 2013)
I really enjoyed this podcast, thank you all for taking the time to discuss these things in an open-minded and engaging way. I especially liked the quote at the end clarifying the reasons and purpose of staying engaged with the church. I’ve been struggling for months with so much, but these things you discuss and unravel for us really do help the hopeful.
Great podcast. Thanks Dan, Gina, Patrick and Boyd. I’m currently reading “Planted,” and finding it useful.
Boy, it sure is difficult sometimes to find a place in the church community/culture (and I grew up in UT–but not currently living in UT). Most certainly UT Mormon culture sometimes serves as an underpinning to policies.
I do think ward/leadership lottery can make it harder or easier–harder for my family at this point in life. We’ve had church leader(s) categorically say their job is to follow/obey the direction of the “higher-ups” and if the direction is wrong, then the sin will be laid on those giving the direction.
I struggle with when/how/if to voice my own thoughts at church. Mostly I just keep them to myself. I’m already on the fringe and worry I will just create more distance between myself and ward members.
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No Dan, there is no good news for faith. How can you continue to hold out hope when the Apostle who is slated to have the longest run as prophet says stuff like this:
Did you listen to the episode? Almost all of it was about being independent in one’s spirituality from whatever church leaders say, as those change from person to person and over time as the church continues to engage the wider culture (they can’t and won’t resist it forever, especially when the fruits of new thinking show themselves as good). His remarks only hold together within a hermetically sealed deductive argument. Change the things plugged in at the top, and change a piece or two in the “from this we knows” as he works his way to the conclusion that same-sex marriage thwarts the Plan of Salvation, it all falls apart. As science and more church members engage on this issue, leaders will be called to reconsider just how “certain” we are about the specifics of God’s plan, about eternal gender essentialism, etc. With a broader theory, arguments like his will show their weaknesses more and more, even to the “usually enthralled be every leader’s word” crowd.
How is anything Bednar said anywhere close to “fostering and nurturing a discipleship in Jesus Christ” as one of the panelists said as a justification for continuing to follow the prophet despite them being fallible. Let’s be honest, what Bednar said was way beyond being “fallible”. What Bednar said is the exact kind of rhetoric that could lead gay lds members to kill themselves. It’s not just being fallible, it is being totally unchristlike while representing yourself as personally representing Christ.
Can you even get more wrong than saying, “there are no homosexual members of the church”? Dan, with the recent statements made by the church and the clearly insane position of Bednar, who will be around a long time……do you honestly expect to see gay members treated equally in the church in your lifetime?
I have a lot of respect for you Dan. It is rare that someone so intelligent can also have such a big heart. I just have to wonder, at some point, do you even have a breaking point?
What I would really like is one of the panelists to listen to Elder Bednar’s statement and respond. I would love to see their rationalization set upon a real life example.
I had a friend send me the link to the Bednar “no homosexual members” clip. When I went to watch the video clip I was expecting the worst, but when I listened to the whole thing I walked away with a different perspective than my friend. I’ll try and make it quick, here are my thoughts.
Without any mental gymnastics, I interpreted his comments to mean that we should not think as members of our church as gay or straight, but we should all unify in the knowledge that we are children of a loving god. I’m pretty sure that Elder Bednar is very aware of open and closet gays in our church.
I did not appreciate how he changes the question that was asked, to fit his worldview. Elder Bednars comments discredit or hinder, a disenfranchised group, to decide what they would prefer to call themselves. He does not even give them the respect to allow them to identify as gay.
Dear BROTHERS and SISTERS of the World, Can WE fully appreciate how Our Heavenly Father councils all of US into following righteous living characteristics that HE has so lovingly prepared for HIS children, and how HE feels about the influence that Satan so vigorously endorse through different behavior? Our Heavenly Fathers Plan will not be thwarted in any way but WE as members of the Church need to Accept and Succor all types of behavior….as only a Loving and Merciful Heavenly Father would. Do WE also appreciate how difficult a subject this is to monitor by the General Authorities of the Church. I gravitate toward an equal understanding of this issue with empathetic equality, but, after all is said and done Our Heavenly Father works through his Servants to reach amicable outcomes, and God will not be mocked.