Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Doctrinal Absurdity of Prophetic Infallibility

I ended my June 6th post quoting D&C 112:10: "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers"

The implications of this scripture are staggering: What if a leader ISN'T humble? If that's the case, then he/she will have a tough time hearing the Lord over their own awesomeness, rendering the Lord incapable of leading them by the hand and answering their prayers.

The instant response by members is that regardless of what D&C 112:10 says, the Lord will NEVER allow the church president to lead us astray. It's a teaching even Pres. Nelson pointedly highlighted to a group of youngsters:


(This video is more my speed).



Members will also say that we always have Official Declaration 1, which was formally accepted as scripture and made binding upon the saints on October 6, 1890. AFTER Pres. Woodruff's announcement and President Snow's motion, we are given "Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto". There, we read,

"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty." 

Those statements were NOT included in the portion voted upon by the saints on October 6, 1890. [1]  It is NOT scripture. Like each section's headings, it's additional information providing context which the Church wants you to see.

_____________________________________________________________________________

(Added 7/15/21): If you look at the official publication of OD1, you'll see the following:

"I say to Israel, the Lord will never permit me nor any other man who stands as the President of this Church, to lead you astray. It Is not In the programme. It is not In the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray ffrom the oracles cf God and from their duty. God bless you. Amen." (Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, Vol. 23, No. 271, p. 2, column 6)


"I say to Israel" is a far cry from what we would expect from an Official Declaration ("Thus sayeth the Lord"). That's because these words are not the Lord's; they're Wilford Woodruff's...by his own admission.
____________________________________________________________________________

In all actuality, you will never find a scripture stating leaders are infallible. You WILL, however, find multiple scriptures stating that you shouldn't put your trust in man...

Should you put your trust in a man?


"It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." [2]

"Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost." [3] 

True to form, many true believing members will offer an exemption to these scriptures, saying that when a prophet speaks, he is doing so not as a man, but as God's messenger. Here's what several of the church's founding fathers said about this teaching:

"President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel-said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church-that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls-applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall-that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves." [4] 

"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 the 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, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually." [5] 

"Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a President; if you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support will be gone; but if we lean on God, He will never fail us. When men and women depend upon God alone and trust in Him alone, their faith will not be shaken if the highest in the Church should step aside". [6] 

The scriptures contain a curse on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm. [7] In fact, those who do "follow the prophet" and not the Lord will eventually find themselves consigned to telestial, not celestial, glory. [8] Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord. [9]   

As one fellow blogger stated,

"The phrase "follow the prophet" does not appear anywhere in scripture. It does not appear there because it is an institutional invention designed to reduce resistance to centralized church decision-making. It was implemented deliberately during the administration of David O. McKay. It is an idea which is altogether alien to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, what appears in the scriptures is a curse pronounced on those who follow man or put their trust in man's arm.  Nephi's final address warns the gentiles how vulnerable they are to this mistake, and how they will be cursed as a consequence. He offers hope, however, conditioned on repentance and return to following the Lord." [10] 

"Mormon" - A case study in contradictory prophets


One example of the ridiculousness of this teaching can be found in the current doctrine regarding usage of the world's newest four-letter word, "Mormon." 

In the April 1990 General Conference, then-Elder Russell M Nelson gave an address titled "Thus Shall My Church Be Called." [11] In it, he condemned the "too frequent use of the term 'Mormon Church.'"

Six months later, in the October 1990 General Conference, then-Pres. Gordon B Hinckley gave a rebuttal talk, titled "Mormon Should Mean 'More Good'". [12] It was a rather lengthy essay into why Elder Nelson's talk was making a mountain out of a molehill…much ado about nothing.

In between 2011 and 2018 (when Pres. Nelson assumed the church presidency), the church aggressively promoted its worldwide "I'm A Mormon" campaign. [13]  The campaign emphasized facts about LDS Church membership through cultural and racial diversity of individuals (especially Mormon celebrities) and tens of thousands of members profiled. 



Fast forward 28 loooong years of Pres. Nelson privately fuming over the public humiliation that Pres. Hinckley inflicted on him. In the October 2018 General Conference, now-President Nelson said that "To remove the Lord's name from the Lord's Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior's name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us-even His Atonement." [14]  

That's a pretty extraordinary statement considering every one of Pres. Nelson's predecessors, lots of Mormon celebrities and church members not only proudly used the word "Mormon", but the church also spent millions and millions of dollars promoting it. Consequently, Pres. Nelson wasted no time in not only nullifying Pres. Hinckley's pro-Mormon enthusiasm, but also classifying its usage by all the aforementioned members as a "victory for Satan." 

Hence, the "Mormon Tabernacle Choir" became the ever-memorable "Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square," and 89 years of name identification evaporated, just like that. That 2014 documentary, "Meet the Mormons" and the abbreviation "LDS"? On the outs.


Here is another video of various prophets and apostles handing Satan a victory:



Now that Pres. Nelson has successfully thrown every one of his predecessors, several of his fellow Q15 members  and tens of thousands of lay church members under the bus (all believing they were doing the right thing), we are now told that those efforts were not only wrong, but were also a victory for Satan?

Why are we told this now?

This situation begs for dozens of questions. Here are a few just off the top of my head:
  • Who was right and who was wrong? Pres. Hinckley/Monson (and their predecessors), or Pres. Nelson?
  • If Pres. Hinckley/Monson (and their predecessors) were in the wrong, then:
    • Why did they encourage we members to score tons of victories for Satan?
    • Why didn't God tell these prior prophets that all of us were scoring victories for Satan?
  • If Pres. Nelson is wrong, then what are the implications of the church's continuing to preach that prophets can never lead us astray? 
  • If we have prophets contradicting each other, then how you can you trust what a prophet says is from God?
  • If one of these prophets was incorrect, then how could a true prophet be so wrong about so many important things?

When "Follow the Prophet" was actually a test of a lying prophet


This "Nelson vs all the other church presidents" feud isn't the only one in recorded history.

Ever heard of Hananiah? Keep reading (this is good). 

Lehi abandoned the doomed city of Jerusalem in the first year of Zedekiah’s eleven-year reign.  At that time, to an unrepentant people, divine prophets appeared to be harbingers of doom, while false prophets were perceived as emissaries of peace and mercy. Jeremiah, for example, wrote to the captives in Babylonia telling them to build homes, plant gardens, and marry off their children so that they would grow during the long years of captivity. The prophet Hananiah, on the other hand, promised in the name of the Lord that within two years, God would bring them all back to their homes in Palestine. [15] While Jeremiah cried war (sword, spear, and fire), other prophets (like Hananiah) pacified the sinful people with “Peace, peace!” [16]

This catalyzed a show-down between Hananiah and Jeremiah, with one prophet telling the truth, and the other making "this people to trust in a lie":

"Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the Lord,
Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so: the Lord perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the Lord's house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.
Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie."  [17]

Did you see that? Hananiah -- a "prophet" -- was making the people "trust in a lie."

Proof positive that prophets can indeed "lead you astray." It CAN BE in the programme. It CAN BE in the mind of God. And if a prophet attempts that, the Lord MAY NOT remove him out of his place. 

Pick your favorite contradictory doctrine (as endorsed by differing prophets)


Hananiah isn't the only one who went astray. Aaron was a prophet. Go read about how he endorsed the golden calf. His mentor and brother, Moses, disobeyed God and split the rock. Both led Israel astray. Yet neither were removed from their places. 

Brigham Young denied blacks the priesthood. Spencer W. Kimball authored Official Declaration 2. Both said their contradictory actions were approved by God. Neither was immediately removed for their beliefs and teachings. Who was right? (And don't tell me God changed His mind or succumbed to societal pressure). 

The fact is, there are dozens of teachings/doctrines where Prophet A and Prophet B disagreed with each other. And some of those doctrines (like polygamy, interracial marriage, Adam-God doctrine, divorce and more) affected both the temporal AND eternal lives of many people.

What happens when a church president transgresses? Let's consult the D&C.


We also have D&C 107:82-84:

"And inasmuch as a President of the High Priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church, who shall be assisted by twelve counselors of the High Priesthood;
And their decision upon his head shall be an end of controversy concerning him.
Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God, that all things may be done in order and in solemnity before him, according to truth and righteousness." 

Why would the Lord include that in the scriptures unless it was necessary? As a matter of fact, the Common Council of the Church was convened in 1844 when members excommunicated Sidney Rigdon in absentia.

So the scriptures contain instances when prophets led people astray. They also contain provisions for when a Church President is out of line. And history shows that prophets can contradict each other on significant doctrines affecting many lives.

It's logical to assume that prophetic infallibility is not the Lord's way. Members of the church get very uncomfortable with this view because it makes them feel vulnerable. Like….you know…you need to be personally accountable for your salvation.



It's very comforting to feel that everything a church authority teaches is straight from the mouth of God.

It makes a person feel relief that they don't have to discern the words - and this is precisely why this teaching is so readily embraced.

Once a person understands that they have to discern the words of their leaders, it puts them in a position of having to answer for themselves for their salvation.

And THAT is the Lord's way.

SOURCES

1.  Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2/
2.  Psalm 118:8
3.  2 Nephi 28:31
4.  Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 237-38
5.  Brigham Young, JD 9:150
6.  George Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, Deseret Weekly, 43:322, Mar 7, 1891
7.  2 Nephi 4: 34; 2 Nephi 28: 31; D&C 1: 19
8.  D&C 76: 98-101
9.  2 Nephi 28: 31-32
10.  http://barerecord.blogspot.com/2018/04/443-spine-tingling-thrill-to-be-in-his.html
11.  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1990/04/thus-shall-my-church-be-called?lang=eng
12.  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1990/10/mormon-should-mean-more-good?lang=eng
13.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_a_Mormon
14.  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2018/10/the-correct-name-of-the-church?lang=eng
15.  Jeremiah 28:1–4; 29:1, 4–7
16.  Jeremiah 6:13–14, 22–29
17.  Jeremiah 28: 5-9, 15. Emphasis mine.

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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tithe Payers: Look What You Just Bought!

After many years of paying tithing, I think you and I just may have justification for a free trip and hotel stay in Maui.

You see, after having paid many thousands of dollars over the years to the church in the form of tithing, I feel I'm entitled to my free vacay. That's because the church recently spent $100 million to purchase a hotel in Maui.


By Janis L. Magin  –  Senior Editor, Pacific Business News
Jun 15, 2021, 8:16pm EDT
An affiliate of the Utah-based real estate arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has purchased the Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea hotel for just under $100 million, according to public records.

75 Wailea Ike Drive LLC, an affiliate of Laie-based Hawaii Reserves Inc. and Salt Lake City-based Property Reserve, closed on the acquisition of the 200-room limited-service hotel on 6.4 acres mauka of the Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, on March 19 for $99.3 million.

The seller was Piilani Hotels LLC, an affiliate of R.D. Olson Development and Joseph Martelli Real Estate Investments Inc., which developed the all-suite hotel in Wailea that was completed and opened in 2016.

R.D. Olson had acquired the land from Alexander & Baldwin in 2014 for $10.6 million and spent an undisclosed amount to build the hotel, which remained open to airline and cruise crews last year during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was the second limited-service hotel on Maui for the developer, whose affiliate R.D. Olson Construction also built the 138-room Courtyard by Marriott near Kauhului Airport that opened in 2012.

R.D. Olson Construction also recently completed Maui’s first AC Hotel by Marriott in Wailea, a four-story, 100-room hotel built on 3.7 acres just makai of the Residence Inn in Waliea that R.D. Olson bought from A&B in 2017 for $3.6 million. The hotel opened on May 21.

R.D. Olson Development recently closed on the purchase of 6.3 acres at Maui Business Park in Kahului for $10.9 million for a second hotel near the airport.

Hawaii Reserves owns at least one other hotel in Hawaii — the Laie Courtyard by Marriott hotel next to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

The AC Hotel by Marriott Maui Wailea opened on May 21 next door to the Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea.

Wow, check this place out!


Please go here to check out the hotel your tithing dollars invested in: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnmmc-wailea-beach-resort-marriott-maui/

You'll notice that the Marriott Maui Wailea has lots of room options. For example, the "Garden View Room Guest room, 1 King or 2 Queen" (https://www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-rooms/details/hnmmc-wailea-beach-resort-marriott-maui/terr/) goes for about $1,400 a night. How about the other rooms? I'll save you some time; most cost a lot more.


Here's the dining area:


I can just see Jesus, the beggars, the lepers and other social outcasts feeling right at home here. Talk about the perfect spot to eat, drink and be merry!


"And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:16-21)


"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Boy does this open up a multitude of questions!

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:

  • According to the church (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/tithing?lang=eng), "Tithing funds are always used for the Lord’s purposes—to build and maintain temples and meetinghouses, to sustain missionary work, to educate Church members, and to carry on the work of the Lord throughout the world." For which of these purposes is the hotel to be used for:. 
    • Building and maintaining temples? (Unless it'll be converted into a temple, doubtful) 
    • Sustaining missionary work? (Very doubtful that it will become the Hawaii MTC)
    • Educating church members? (Unless it's surfing lessons, no)
    • Carrying on the work of the Lord throughout the world? (Also very doubtful)
  • With those stated purposes of tithing money not applicable, then why does the Church need a 200-room limited-service hotel on 6.4 acres of Maui?
  • If it's for investment purposes, then how does the church's investment strategy align with Matthew 6:19-21 (above)?
  • Who will be staying at the hotel?
  • In order for the hotel to be Marriott branded, the church is going to have to pay hefty licensing fees. To whom will these fees be paid? Are they members of the church?
  • With bishops telling ward leaders that budget allocations are based on "sacred funds," what is to be said to those wards struggling to get decent budget funds?
  • It seems like we just went through a pandemic. There were / are a lot of people hurting around the world that could have used some help. What are we to say to those who are unemployed these days and even struggling to pay rent/mortgage, food and astronomical health care costs?
  • What is the scriptural justification for purchasing hotels?
  • Who do I contact for my free vacay? I wonder what they would say if I call the hotel (808-879-1922)?
  • Is there no more need for schools, hospitals, water wells, homeless shelters, womens and childrens shelters, etc?

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

President Nelson: A Leader to Worship

Idolatry 101

The first two of the Ten Commandments the Lord gave the children of Israel were "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," and "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth."  [1]

The term idolatry usually refers to the worship of a graven image, or an imagined, unseen deity. But idolatry may also exist on many levels: some worship a different deity, other humans, material possessions or achievements. In essence, idolatry is worshipping anything instead of God. It's substituting something in front of, or even in, God's place.

The Old Testament contains seemingly innumerable instances in which the Lord's prophets -- including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel -- denounced idolatry.   [2] The Lord constantly warned Israel against idolatry. Yet Israel disobeyed, and was led into captivity.   [3]

We, too, are of the house of Israel. Ten Commandments are just as applicable today as they were for the ancient Israelites. The message is crystal clear to all, throughout history: Go after a different god, or worship someone or something ahead of God, and you, too, will reap the whirlwind. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- should come between you and God.

Yet interestingly enough, idolatry seems to have dropped off the Lord's radar, because He's not talking about it anymore. "Idolatry" has been mentioned 194 times in general conferences and discourses stretching back to the 1850s. But as we can see in the chart below, it hasn't been mentioned at all lately -- not since Elder Christofferson brought it up in the April 2012 General Conference. 


Wow! That's pretty soothing news! Just when I thought people had hit the zenith in their idolatry, it's not a problem (or at least a topic worth noting) anymore.

Latter-Day Idolatry? Nothing to see Here!

Which leads me to a devotional address given four days ago -- June 8, 2021 -- by Sister Michelle D. Craig (Young Women General Presidency First Counselor) at BYU-Hawaii. [4]  On the surface, her topic -- "The Lurking Danger of Spiritual Complacency" -- is definitely appropriate for these days (IMHO, anyone who equates Sun Tzu's teachings with spiritual warfare gets some bonus points).

Unfortunately, none of the Lord's brilliant spiritual warfare strategies and tactics (as often mentioned in the scriptures) were referred to in her talk. Not. One.

She did quote two scriptures, but neither were from the Lord. And she did quote President Nelson -- twice. So, the tally in this talk on spiritual warfare: Nelson 2, Jesus 0.

She does warn how the devil is trying to set you up away from the church president. But there is no mention of a divide between you and the Lord.  The focus is on the devil dividing you away from the church president:


"Satan wants to create a wedge between you and the living prophet, to use any means or issue to undermine confidence in Him and thereby deprive us of the peace and power that comes from following His counsel," she said.

I think you would agree with me that idolatry could be likened as a wedge in between you and God. But now, church-owned publications (like the Church News, which published this article) and church leaders are taking the spotlight off the Lord and onto a mortal, in direct contravention to all the Lord has said about idolatry. In fact, to underscore this point, the Church News is now referring to the Church President with capitalization -- in this case, capital H for "His" AND "Him." Right up there with divinity.

Editing errors? Or a new era? 

My vote is "Neither." This isn't the first time the church has subtly reinforced this message that "It's OK to have leaders in between you and God." 

Ironically, Elder Andersen said in the April 2018 General Conference, "A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior." Yet 11 months later, guess who was doing what in Rome? (I have no idea why Elder Andersen would be standing there grinning as his words are being crushed to powder. Would you?)


This elevation of the 15 -- to a status where it is perfectly natural to expect them to stand in between you and Jesus -- is strictly reinforced. Over the decades, it has become part of rock-solid LDS culture to stand when a leader enters, stay sitting as long as the leader sits, then stand until he has exited the chapel.


This behavior is reinforced by church leaders at all levels of the church. 

Some may say these actions are voluntary, and for some, that's probably true. But (1) that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do and (2) leaders reinforce this behavior anyway. Here is Elder Joni L Koch of the Seventy instructing members to stand upon Elder Gary L. Stevenson's entrance into a chapel:


Members don't equate this stand up / stay sitting / pay extraordinary deference to its leaders as hero worship; they think they are only being respectful to the calling. Yet respect shouldn't mean singling out one person, giving them preferential treatment and ignoring everyone else. It means treating everyone - everyone! - kindly and respectfully.

My bet: Someday soon, it'll be acceptable to bear testimony of the Brethren instead of the Lord. 

Far-fetched? Nope. Here's a portion of an email one member received:


And of course, lest we forget an apostle's birthday…



So much for this scripture:

"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." [5]

Think this is limited to the Brethren? Think again.

Another member informed me that their stake center has a wall with 8x10 framed professional photos of all the stake presidents over the years. This mirrors my own experiences, where high council rooms devoted many square feet of wall space to the 15 brethren. The Lord? He got an 11x17 picture in the far corner.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory [inordinate pride in oneself or one's achievements; excessive vanity]; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." [6]

"for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."  [7]

"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." [8]

I shouldn't have to say this, but please…please do the opposite: Come unto Jesus.


QUESTIONS

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:

  • Where are the examples of this type of treatment being lavished upon Christ's original apostles in the New Testament?
  • As a member, are you encouraging vainglory, highly esteeming and even exalting others? Are you perpetuating these beliefs in others, including your children?
  • How do you define "Cult of Personality"? [9]
  • How do you feel about associating with those who continually idolize church leaders?
  • Where is the simple servant-oriented, Christ-based leadership supposedly restored by Joseph Smith?

SOURCES

1.  Exodus 20:3-4
2.  Isaiah 44:6-10; Jeremiah 2; 3:6; 5:7; Ezekiel 6:2-9; 8:6-17; 14
3.  Jeremiah 5:19
4.  https://www.thechurchnews.com/living-faith/2021-06-09/sister-michelle-craig-byu-hawaii-avoid-spiritual-complacency-215695
5.  2 Nephi 25:26
6.  Philippians 2:3
7.  Luke 16:15
8.  Luke 14:11
9.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult_of_personality

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

President Nelson: A "Most Perfect, Inspired, Unflawed Leader"?

The last question of my last post asked, "Just who the heck is running Deseret Books?" Answer: That'd be Sheri Dew. And it's undeniable that Sheri Dew and President Nelson's wife, Wendy, are best friends.


"the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leader on earth"

It's perhaps this close proximity to the church's top leader that led Sheri Dew to give Pres. Nelson the highest possible praise. In a 2021 BYU Women's Conference Keynote Address, she said the following regarding the church's top leaders:


"They may not be perfect. They are, after all, still human. But they are the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leaders on earth"

It goes without saying that the most perfect leaders have an overabundance of many different traits: They are focused, fearless, highly organized, motivational/inspirational and tend to get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time.

They are also humble. In an October 9, 2018 Wall Street Journal article (as quoted in the church's "Music and the Spoken Word"), Sue Shellenbarger stated, "At first, that may seem to contradict conventional wisdom-that a good leader is dynamic, dominating, and bold. But it's been found that people who work for humble bosses exhibit better teamwork and perform at higher levels. Not surprisingly, when a leader listens to the perspective of others and constantly seeks to learn and improve, the people who follow that leader are likely to do the same. That doesn't mean leaders should be passive or indifferent. On the contrary, as one expert observed: "Humble leaders can also be highly competitive and ambitious. But they tend to avoid the spotlight and give credit to their teams." As a result, some employers today are making humility one of the key qualities they look for in applicants, even for entry-level positions. Humility, they have found, will help their organization thrive and achieve its goals." [1] 

Undoubtedly, the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leaders emulate the behaviors of the Savior.

"In order to lead as Jesus led, we are faced with many challenges. One of the first steps in meeting these challenges is to realize that Christ is a model of correct leadership; and to the extent that we study the scriptures, the record of his life and his teachings, they become case studies of divine leadership." [2] 

The Lord endorsed this methodology when he said,

"Therefore, what manner of men [and women] ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." [3] 

As we well know, the Lord is the ultimate exemplar in all good things. Two of those characteristics are meekness and humility:

"for I am meek and lowly in heart." [4] 

So, we too - including and especially "the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leaders" - should also be meek and humble, just as Jesus was:

"So, in matters little or large, if our emulation of the Lord is to be serious, we must do more than note and passively admire Jesus' meekness. We must simulate his meekness, remembering that he passed through "all these things," which gave Him, too, needed experiences." [5] 

Let's take a look at some of President Nelson's actions and see if he is truly one of "the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leaders on earth."

Picture Perfect Humility?

In April 2019, Deseret Book published a biography (written by Sheri Dew) of Pres. Nelson. A humble person would have insisted that the display of their books be modest and humble. Instead, this is what people saw when they entered Deseret Books:


If you ever walk into Pres. Nelson's office, you'll see a picture of…himself (plus the others in the First Presidency).


(I'm still looking for that picture of Christ on his wall).

It's clear that Pres. Nelson likes pictures of the First Presidency. Here is a photo of him handing a picture of himself (actually, the First Presidency) to New Zealand Prime Minister (and ex church member) Jacinda Ardern (click here for the video):



He also handed out the same photo while visiting the single mom in Africa (click here for the video). What a guy!


A Celebration of Idolism

One of the definitions of the word idol is "an object of extreme devotion" [6]  The term is most often used today when referencing movie stars and other famous people.

I believe Pres. Nelson has wanted us to honor and respect him for many years. In his October, 2015 General Conference talk where he welcomed Elders Rasband, Stevenson, and Renlund to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he said, "I will always be grateful for the life-changing influence she [his deceased wife, Dantzel] had on me in all aspects of my life, including my pioneering efforts in open-heart surgery." [7] 

It's also appropriate to use in describing Pres. Nelson's 95th birthday celebration at the Conference Center on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 (click here for the video).


(Interesting pose there)

Even if we assume that no tithing money was used for this event on his behalf, without his direction or involvement, wouldn't a true disciple of Christ have prevented such an event from happening, or called for its cancellation?

Pres. Nelson's Monument to...Himself (using granite from the SLC Temple)

Perhaps one of the most telling indicators of a person's humility is how they want future generations to consider them. 

One indicator may the number of temples which have been announced. In all, Pres. Hinckley dedicated or rededicated 92 different temples, 70 of them as president of the church. [8]  As of this date, President Nelson has announced 70 temples. [9] Having the legacy of having built the most temples would certainly be a feather in Pres. Nelson's cap. 

Unfortunately, there is no way to verify the importance of this metric to Pres. Nelson. So, there may be another way to ascertain his self-importance.

Unknown to most people is the fact that Pres. Nelson has already had his gravestone made and erected. It resides in the Salt Lake Cemetery. Here's how to find it:

  1. Click here to open up Google Maps. It will take you to the Salt Lake Cemetery, 200 N St E, Salt Lake City, UT, 84103: 
  2. At the bottom left of the map, click on the Satellite view option.
  3. Pan the map so that you can see Terrace Hills Dr at the top center. 
  4. You'll want the map to resemble this image:


Do you see where I've placed a red circle around the Uintah Dr label? Go to that area. You'll be looking for this monument:


Now, you may be wondering how you'll find this gravestone amidst all the others in the area. It's easy: (1) it's probably the only 8 foot tall gravestone there and (2) it's probably the only one in that area which is facing south (almost all others are facing east, the direction the Lord will return from). 

Here is a comparison of it relative to Pres. Nelson and his wife (Pres. Nelson is reportedly 6 feet tall): [10] 


Interestingly, the 8-foot tall gravestone was built using granite taken from the Salt Lake Temple. 


"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." [11]

"And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." [12]

"Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers" [13]


QUESTIONS

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:

  • Should we follow leaders, especially those who are one of "the most perfect, inspired, unflawed leaders on earth"?
  • If we are to "follow the prophet," should we not be handing out pictures of ourselves to others?
  • If one is not humble, will the Lord thy God lead them by the hand and give them answers to their prayers?
  • Why would one take something that was dedicated to the Lord in order to honor themselves? How is not a defilement of the temple?
  • Pres. Nelson's headstone is facing south, while all others are facing east (from which the Lord will return). 
    • Is he wanting to stand out from everyone else? 
    • Why is the headstone not facing east like everyone else?

SOURCES

1.  Music and the Spoken Word, "The Strength to Be Humble," June 13, 2019; https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/music-and-the-spoken-word-the-strength-to-be-humble?lang=eng
2.  N Eldon Tanner, "Leading as the Savior Led," First Presidency Message, Liahona, January, 1978; https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/liahona/1978/01/leading-as-the-savior-led?lang=eng
3.  3 Nephi 27:27
4.  Matthew 11:29
5.  Neal A Maxwell, "Meekness-A Dimension of True Discipleship," address given at a BYU fourteen-stake fireside, September 5, 1982; https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1983/03/meekness-a-dimension-of-true-discipleship?lang=eng
6.  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idol
7.  "A Plea to My Sisters," https://abn.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/a-plea-to-my-sisters?lang=eng
8.  "Chronological Temple List | ChurchofJesusChristTemples.org". churchofjesuschristtemples.org.) President Nelson has announced 70 temples during his tenure. (https://www.thechurchnews.com/temples/2021-04-18/69-temples-status-president-nelson-announced-three-years-210278
9.  https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2021/04/04/where-new-latter-day/; does not include Ephraim UT temple.
10.  https://mddailyrecord.com/russell-m-nelson-net-worth-girlfriend-wife-kids-height-weight-age-gay-bio-2021-2022-2023
11.  Philippians 2:3
12.  Matthew 23:12
13.  D&C 112:10

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