Saturday, January 29, 2011

Epilogue --

  I got a reply back from my stake president, and it looks like I'm not going to a church court after all.

  It would be inappropropriate to quote the letter without permission, but I'll summarize as best I can.  I really disagree with some of his points, which I'll address later.

  He apologizes that my spiritual needs are not being met by the LDS church and that I felt I needed to join another church.  Based on an interview we had a few years ago he expresses understanding that I have concerns.

  Just disagreeing with the leaders or mere loss of belief is not generally a reason for having to hold a church court.  Generally when people decide the church is no longer right for you, the right thing to do is to resign.  He doesn't encourage that, but if I really feel the church is inconsistent with my beliefs and I'm unlikely to return, it's the best thing.  A simple signed letter to my bishop will do the job.

  Remaining a member of the LDS church causes others to need to seek me out.  My baptismal and temple covenants still remain in force.  This may not be what I want, but if I want to keep contact and would welcome attempts to reach out I can keep my membership in the LDS church, regardless of whether or not I am active.

  Church discipline is reserved for situations where members openly defy the LDS church, such as publishing articles against the doctrines or leaders or attempting to lead others to adopt incorrect doctrines or leave the church.  He doesn't feel this is what I'm doing, nor what he expects me to do.

  This situation is my choice and he has no wish to force me, except he would want to keep my fellowship in what he firmly believes to be the church of Jesus Christ in its fullest form.

  Regardless of what I decide, he wants to remain my friend and welcomes any opportunity to discuss my beliefs and spiritual journey. 

  He signs the note,

  "Your brother in Christ,  H____ M______, Stake President"


Paul said...

“My baptismal and temple covenants still remain in force.”

Is that what he said? Did he elaborate on that a bit more?

This seems odd to me because a covenant is something you promise to do, correct? I can understand someone just being inactive, e.g., never showing up because of loss of interest, and things of that nature, and especially when the church authorities don’t really know what that person’s stance is with regard to his or her membership. However, when someone adamantly declares they no longer believe in the church and have actually joined another one, how could LDS covenants, especially temple ones, remain in force?

Seems odd to me.

Anonymous said...

You have to understand this SP. Maxwell does what he wants regardless of what the LDS Church might offhandedly say. He says it is his stake and unless he sees conclusive written evidence for something he'll do what he wants.

Paul said...

“Maxwell does what he wants regardless of what the LDS Church might offhandedly say. He says it is his stake...”

This is exactly what led to my increasing disaffection with the LDS church, i.e., “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Fine, but when ‘voices’ started contradicting or running the show differently than one another, I started wondering whose church is this, really? It was a slow, slippery slope from the church of Jesus Christ, to the church of Joseph Smith, to the church of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, to the church of any ol’ stake president who has the power to decide whether I can remain a member or not in God’s kingdom and one, true church.

Baptism, reputation, ‘friendships’, thousands of hours of service, thousands and thousands of dollars in contributions, all for not if declared by the voice of a servant based upon his own preferred flavor of what membership in Christ’s church is.

Bob Dixon said...

I believe he would consider them to remain in force because covenants are a binding agreement. When I sign loan documents, I'm still obligated to pay off the loan even if I decide the loan company isn't "true", don't want to pay it, etc. My feelings don't matter. I entered into a legally binding agreement for which I am accountable, whether I like it or not.

The whole thing about covenants is extremely suspect to me, because I was not informed of these covenants ahead of time, had no opportunity to study, ask questions, etc. I had no opportunity to evaluate the agreement I was making.

The LDS church realistically extracted promises under false pretenses, because the true nature of the institution was concealed. JS's polygamy, lies to Emma, Council of Fifty, etc. Because of this I don't really consider any such covenants binding. I was sold a bill of goods that was a hollow shell concealing something very different.

Bob Dixon said...

Agreed on the arbitrariness of it. The church is all about the power of the leaders and not fairness or consideration of the people in it. This kind of authoritarianism totally invalidates any "authority" they might claim.

The Ubiquitous said...

You know --- it isn't about you. It's about truth. Specifically, Truth. Authority is necessary, and I'm sorry you're leaving authority in principle, but truth requires some kind of authority. That's one thing the Mormon faith gets right. (There is not much other truth to Mormon doctrine, founded as it is on the absurdly unprovable apostasy.)

Speaking as a Catholic, I have no problem rolling my eyes at the apostasy hypothesis, but a lot of people react very badly to the proposition that God promising that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church it means ... well, pretty much that. If there was no apostasy, the last 500 years of Protestantism, speaking as cacophany, was a sham. That means we're left with a bunch of communities that are very, very Catholic, and you know what that means.

Take a look at the Catholic Church. Note how this isn't personal testimony about how good it feels. This is a list of verifiable facts.

It ain't all roses over here, let me tell you. But at least it doesn't require you to believe that the Body of Christ died when Christ actively willed the opposite.

Bob Dixon said...

Just wanted to thank Ubiquitous for the nice comment. I enjoyed the video. Debating the doctrinal issues I'm sure we have is probably not that valuable, but I appreciated the comment.

vblogger said...

I commented back in February 2007 and haven't followed your blog until just now--when I've read through several historical posts.

Thank you for sharing your journey. I can relate and especially know people who share some of your sentiments.

What I find fascinating is your detailed and passionate positive description of the Book of Mormon as an inspired book, and yet your frustration with the institutional church. Also your conviction that the Book of Mormon isn't historical or that it doesn't reinforce the current LDS Church.

A couple of thoughts:
--you seem very interested in research and study. Have you seen this collection of research on the historicity of the Book of Mormon:

--Somewhere you mention the lack of travel of the LDS church president and quorum of the 12. I don't know where you got your information, but these people travel extensively--President Packer recently said he had traveled 2.5 million miles. President Hinckley travelled almost continually, and most of the seventy are travelling most weekends. These people are intensely involved in and aware of the international Church.

--Finally--I share your concern about the spirituality and entertainment factor in Sacrament meetings. Perhaps through your scouting experience you remember the importance of the boys learning by doing. I've come to realize this is an important benefit of the Sacrament meeting and all the other Church callings--we're learning by doing, and doing it VERY imperfectly--not nearly as well as a professional preacher or choir would.

Finally--I share your concern about spending more time ministering to people and less time maintaining "programs." I find President Monson a tremendous living example of that and I think you're right on.

Best wishes in your journey and thanks for sharing it for others!