The Testimony of Bill Reel, host of Mormon Discussion Podcast
First Vision: I have a testimony of the First Vision – I have a testimony of the 1832 account where Joseph in a visionary experience or dream like state had an experience with the divine, felt he had in vision seen the Lord, and felt forgiveness for his sins where no condemnation of other churches or creeds was received but rather his motives were personal and surrounded his own shortcomings. Anything beyond that I have severe doubts regarding.
Book of Mormon: I have a deep testimony of the Book of Mormon and hold it to be scripture…… though my developed perspective of it is as 19th century scripture. I deeply revere the book as scripture, though I believe it is a product of the 1800’s Joseph lived in. It is scripture to me in the exact same way that I see the Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, and the Bible though I join with my faith community in raising my hand in recognition that the Book of Mormon is unique to our community in some way and that the Book of Mormon is binding on me and my tribe along with other restoration scripture and the Holy Bible .
Scripture Generally: I believe almost all of scripture to be in the literal sense Fiction. The canonical experiences of Adam & Eve, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Job, Nephi, Alma, Moroni etc… to be highly embellished at best and complete fiction at worst. But never-the-less to provide chances to ponder, examples to inspire, paradoxes to wrestle with and thereby develop as a being, and again a space and setting to experience the divine. I do not take these stories literally but I do take them seriously.
Priesthood Power: I have a testimony of power of God. That in this world there is access to things spiritual and that everyone in the world regardless of race, religion, gender, beliefs, and behaviors has said access. In Mormonism we call this Priesthood but elsewhere it may go by another name. I have serious doubts of the narrative associated with how Mormonism obtained this Priesthood. In fact I can’t reconcile how a group gets something that has always existed and to which all have always had access. In spite of my doubts of the Mormon Priesthood narrative I do believe there are spiritual gifts found within Mormonism though not peculiar to Mormonism.
Priesthood Authority: In terms of “keys” and who has them…… I sustain the leaders of the Church meaning that I support them in their righteous actions and I also endure the hurt and harm at their hands. I go further to sustain them as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators. Not that God has chosen them to administer his word to me, but rather that I have permitted them to be a catalyst for me to obtain God’s word. That they are one tool in my tool box for discovering truth. I have raised my hand to permit them to lead the Church institution on my behalf as they as they do both right and wrong by me. I welcome and encourage God to inspire them to lead this earthly institution and honor the rituals that this religion has chosen to help me to have experiences with the divine. There is power in these rituals as with the rituals of any faith in that it creates a space and setting for both God and I to reach out simultaneously and for me to both see and tough the finger of the Lord. In as much as these rituals connect me to the divine and to develop, they are saving rituals.
Jesus: I have serious doubts and disbeliefs regarding the Historical Jesus and yet I have a deep love and sacred adoration of the Christ of Faith. To whether a Judean in the first century was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and rose on the third day…. I know not. What I do know the the Christ of Faith found in scripture is worthy of my emulation and my praise. The Christ of faith inspires me and calls me to be something better. I am completely satisfied in placing my trust and worship upon this figure and all he represents.
Personal Responsibility: The Christ of faith calls me to to “strengthen the feeble knees and to lift the hands that hang down”. To carry out that divine call I hope to be courageous and stand up and be a voice for those on the margins. This will have me raising a voice of concern, questioning, and dissent to any who hurt, harm, threaten, or marginalize regardless of whether they are found outside my tribe or within.
This is where I stand and what I believe on this day February 10th 2017 and I reserve the right for my journey to be fluid and to for me as a person to change and develop and grow.