Just two weeks ago, Matt Jones was released as an LDS bishop. How he came to be someone who might be called to that position includes a fun and twisting story. Beginning as somewhat of a precocious youth (an “idiot” in Matt’s telling about this period, along with examples!), he didn’t take Mormonism too seriously. But with goodly parents who knew how to guide without crushing his fun-loving nature, he eventually made it to a mission, which he loved, marriage to the wonderful Kristie Jones (whom everyone loves!), schooling, and then a successful business career. But soon enough, life brought forth stresses and disappointments, and certain nagging church questions he had as a missionary and genuinely thoughtful began to take center stage a bit more. He details some of these in this interview, but also shares an extremely powerful spiritual experience that left him unable to ever deny (or forget) that there is a powerful God who knows him intimately. You’ll never guess what led to it! It’s wonderful.
As the conversation continues, we learn about where he “was” in his faith journey when the call came for him to serve as the bishop of the Bothell Ward in Bothell, Washington, and how he approached his service there. (Hint: He was an amazing bishop who urged ward members to focus on the right things: love, kindness, trust, faith, God’s desire to be in relationship with us, etc. rather than meeting troubles primarily through our minds or with fears about being judged harshly.) Toward the end of the conversation, Matt shares about another wonderful spiritual experience he had just recently.
All in all, this is a great, fun (and, at times, funny) and rich conversation with a truly delightful person. We know you’ll enjoy spending time with Matt Jones in your ears! And we bet he’ll find a way into your heart, as well.
Matt’s Famous Chili Dogs website
David Brisbin, The Fifth Way: A Western Journey to the Hebrew Heart of Jesus (2014)
Colorado Faith Forums website. Learn about its annual symposium, 15 September 2018, Parker, Colorado
Information about and registration for Mormon Matters Retreat, October 12-14, Salt Lake City
What was the name of the book about Jesus from an eastern perspective?
Thanks for asking about the book! It is called, The Fifth Way: A Western Journey to the Hidden Heart of Jesus, by David Brisbin.
Thanks to your query, I have just added it to the Mormon Matters Bookshelf page and the links in the episode writeup. If you’d like to explore this book more, click on it above.
Thanks for the shout-out! Visiting Matt’s ward, seeing him living large, meeting Billy, and having such a real and vulnerable fireside in Matt & Kristie’s home was one of my favorite memories. Matt, you truly have a gift for being Christlike. I’m a better person for having gotten to know you.
I wish I was too. Come down and visit Kim. I’d love to meet you!
You are one of my favorite people. Next year, let’s meet Dan for lunch at Sunstone.
I was struck by your perspective regarding the difficulties some have with change in doctrines or practices; equating such changes to evidence that God changes. Do either of you feel scriptures such as Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 hinder people’s ability to handle change or deal with fallibility in church leaders? I get hung up on it all the time and can’t wrap my head around it. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Many things are now excused as fallibility and folklore. It has been hard for me to overcome angry feelings toward being led to believe stuff that makes no sense. Growing up in the church it just feels like I was asked to accept, without questioning, anything a prophet said.
Nathan, you raise a question that perplexed me many years ago. In my view, the key to understanding D&C 1:38 is to focus on the beginning clause: What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken..” Our job (and the job of the prophets) is to strive to understand the Lord’s will. Even prophets can miss the mark. For example, Brigham Young cautioned against blindly following our church leaders:
“What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” Brigham Young, (12 January 1862) Journal of Discourses 9:150
Here is a link to a webpage that highlights several other statements by prophets and apostles encouraging us to take responsibility for determining the truth: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mormonism_and_church_leadership/Authoritarianism/Quotes#Brigham_Young_.281862.29:_.22I_am_more_afraid_that_this_people_have_so_much_confidence_in_their_leaders_that_they_will_not_inquire_for_themselves_of_God_whether_they_are_led_by_Him.22
Dave, Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your attempt to provide an answer to my question and consider it a form of service. I don’t completely know your motives but I believe they were sincere in their desire to help me rather than to primarily defend the church. Please forgive me for being suspicious. I will record your words and ponder them. Hopefully, my heart will soften in time and I can take truth out of your advice and believe better.
Some of the answers you referred me to make me feel bad in that they put the blame on me. This is a common feeling I get at church. My lack of testimony or my doubt questions are my fault for not studying enough, praying enough or being wicked. I have sometimes felt I am a “Laman” and worry I won’t escape it. I have no memory of a Moroni 10:3-5 experience and that hurts.
I expect the church to be honest. I feel a portion of my tendencies toward perfectionism are due to the church and its teachings. I don’t think it is bad of me to question why church leader’s words fade into fallibility and folklore with time when they were once held up as doctrine. The church doesn’t always give us a lot of time to gain a testimony of its changes, policies or teachings. I guess the “doctrine teachings” are taught more frequently and over a longer periods whereas the crazier stuff fades slowly away.
Is Pres. Uchtdorf the only one that can acknowledge openly that the church or its leaders have not always been honest?
I often “know” I am a bad person. The church has done a good job convincing me of that over several decades. I guess it is one of the teachings I believe the most. How lame is that. I wish I knew how to feel God’s love better. My heart is angry. I hope I can recover and that my heart can sing with joy in the gospel.
I wish I could submit the question that started this thread to the Face to Face event with Elder Cook. I, however, am an adult. I used to be the future of the church but my questions are not a priority now. I respect them focusing on the youth and young adults. I agree they are a high priority. However, it hurts that the church doesn’t let adults submit questions through LDS accounts. I hope they will one day. I continue to search for answers. Sometimes I find answers but it sure seems to take a long time. I thought I would “know” by now. It hurts to feel so strongly I will never “know”.