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)