Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Theology, etc.

I listened to the radio interview of Nielsen suggested by JD in yesterday's comments and was surprised to hear how much I like Nielsen. I mean, I didn't dislike him before (despite my flippant post tone), but he really appeals to me for his insights, his quick concessions on certain points, and his humility. I wasn't expecting the humility. I had him down as more of a martyr whistle-blower, confident in his pious sacrifice. I like to believe he and I would be great friends if given the chance (not -L-, but the quite distinct real person who masquerades as -L- online).

But then, on the other hand, I think I pegged him pretty well yesterday. I think the root problem with his view is that he doesn't believe the leadership of the church really has much relationship to God's will. He tries to make a distinction between criticizing theology and criticizing the politics of the church, but God is just as much an expert on politics as he is on theology.

Nielsen made an interesting reference to Jewish friends who aren't big fans of Noah because of his unhesitating acceptance that God was going to destroy the world with a flood. They are bigger fans of Moses, who actually argued with God a little more as an advocate for Israel. I really like that thought. And I recognize (and I think I've said so) that leaders aren't micro-managed by God on every issue and that the specifics are often subject to the limitations of an individual's ability to implement guidance on that issue. But while Nielsen calls for greater transparency and information sharing on the part of all organizations (which I can whole-heartedly applaud in the context of management positions I've held in the past), he seems not to understand that the organization of God's church--including ranked leadership and a certain lack of divine transparency--was God's own design.

Do we know then that Hinckley hasn't gone to blows with God regarding gay marriage? Do we know that he doesn't have deeply loving and ambivalent feelings for how gays can find some measure of happiness, but that his efforts ultimately ended with God laying down the law? How can we ever be certain that an "open dialog" about moral issues is supposed to end if we don't accept the prophet's final word on the subject?

I repeat my conjecture that "moral reciprocity" has already had every consideration in the private debates among the brethren. And I tentatively think there is no subject that doesn't have relevance to theology, politics or otherwise. I think it's central to truly believing the LDS church to believe that prophets truly speak for God.

7 comments:

Chris (hurricane) said...

My only reaction is to repeat a line I wrote yesterday:

The position you are staking out is, essentially, that the Church's leadership can never really be wrong.

About anything, apparently.

Beck said...

For the vast majority of my 40+ years I've never questioned the "final word" of the prophet. I've never thought him infallible, but when the dialog was declared "final", I accepted that it was final. That doesn't mean I haven't sorted through things with my mind and personal revelation. I've trusted that superior wisdom than mine will prevail.

I must admit, however, that this issue with Nielsen and gay marriage has stretched my TRUST level in President Hinckley. I sincerely hope that the Prophet has "gone to blows with God regarding gay marriage". I sincerely hope that "he does have deeply loving feelings for how gays can find some measure of happiness, but that his efforts ultimately ended with God laying down the law." I sincerely hope that he's not so old and tired to keep up the wrestling match with God for the sake of this and all other causes worthy of the struggle to know "God's will".

-L- said...

Chris, not exactly, no. My position is that God can never be wrong. It's just foolish to try and distinguish what God says from what prophets say when representing God is central to the whole nature of their role.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about a time when a leader was wrong... and how I managed to escape unscathed (more or less).

santorio said...

doctrines and theology change. often these changes reflect forces and institutions outside the mainstream church [for example, masonic influences on the endowment]. the prophet is not a passive recipient of god's will; if we are to accept the pathway recommended to oliver cowdery, the prophet considers issues, comes up with a proposal and then seeks confirmation from god. in this consideration of issues, are the opinions of church members important? sure they are.

in the poliical sphere, i vote not because i think my individual vote is going to make a difference but because it is part of a social contract.

similarly, in the church i will make my opinions heard, not disrespectfully, but i will not remain silent. i was silent in the 60s and 70s when the church was facing civil rights issues. i have repented of that silence and will not be silent again.

and it's not just about 'gay rights' we are facing global environmental collapse and neither church leaders nor church membership have taken significant steps to address this very moral issue.

Chris (hurricane) said...

My position is that God can never be wrong. It's just foolish to try and distinguish what God says from what prophets say when representing God is central to the whole nature of their role.

In my opinion, it's dangerous NOT to try and make the distinction. But as I said, Mormons really do believe in prophetic infallibility, no matter how much they might try to claim otherwise.

David said...

I just remember an appearance that President Hickley made on Larry King Live in which he stated that he didn't understand homosexuality.

Samantha said...

I don't think anyone can understand it--unless they've experienced it. I compare it to men being able to understand the experience of childbirth--they know it happens, but have no clue what it's like. Some of the less informed ones even find the process a little repugnant.