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289: Institutional Overreaching – A Better Framework

People are constantly trying to figure out how they can be in Mormonism while trying to reconcile where they stand versus where the Institution stands.  In spite of the fact that the Church has always struggled to define itself, it’s history, it’s theology, and even the Word of God when it isn’t; we still seem to try to mesh our lives with the standards and interpretations it has declared.  This seems like a fruitless endeavor.  If the Church can not define itself or God’s doctrine and theology correctly then it is a moving target that we are trying to mesh our lives with.  There is a better framework.  This requires us to begin deciphering what is actually the Word of God and more importantly what parts of the Word of God is binding on us by the rules God has set within the Church.  Once we realize the very small box of things that God seems to have stated directly and that GOd and the Church have imposed on us as binding and that we have accepted by common consent as binding we realize just how much in the Church isn’t binding.  Once we do that the Tent of Mormonism gets really big and makes way more room for diversity and almost entirely squashes most of the things we believe imposes conformity and causes us moral tension…… most things.


17 thoughts on “289: Institutional Overreaching – A Better Framework”

  1. Something isn’t right here. I can’t download this. My iPhone can’t seem to download it. And I can’t even play it on the web site.

  2. Bill,
    Any plans to breakdown what you think the basic teachings of Jesus would be without all the extras. Maybe another episode. I would like to hear your thoughts,

    1. Love others. Be committed and trustworthy. Seek to comfort and lift up those who are hurt and on the margins. Seek to prevent abuse and hurt. Lean into life and development. Outer authorities are great and essential when young but lean into developing your inner authority. Trust in beauty and goodness and not in the arm of flesh.

  3. I have to be honest. I find it pretty useless to hold to a framework that allows you to dismiss 99% of what Church leaders teach/preach. If a Church has such a poor track record, then the energy needed to sort out the 1% just has no value. I can listen to Brene Brown or go to the local Christian Church and get a higher success rate.

    Mormonism lost me. And that is on them.

    1. I guess in a way what you are saying is that we should all be cafeteria Mormons, agreeing with that which we find agreeable, and wrestling with the Lord for our own personal witness with that which we don’t agree with… revisiting from time to time to make sure we are not deluded least we ere off in the wrong direction by over trusting the Church as an institution.

      Great advice that comes to me 20 years late. Although I’m not sure that 20 years ago I would have been able to accept that advice as I was willing to die for Christ and His institution.

      However, you will find that the church nowadays always steers clears of any of the controversial topics and we hardly address them if at all making the church of little relevance until we confront head on such topics.

      It’s sound advice Bill, and seems like the church is headed in that direction, but you are way ahead of the curve. With about 75% of our youth going inactive by the age of 21 then there may not be a church around strong enough to make that transition.

      Could you make a podcast focusing on youth activity and how to correct that from your perspective? Perhaps we need to ask around what can the Church and youth do to remain active.

      1. David, Cafeteria Mormonism IS what the leaders do best and consistently – they command what they choose to and ignore what they don’t like or choose to not hear from Christ…
        Follow Them and their pickings and choosings,
        not Jesus?

  4. You mentioned we could believe what is canonized, and we are not obligated to believe [or sustain] what is not canonized.

    Too bad the leadership doesn’t agree with this. If I recall an interview with D. Michael Quinn, he was Exed for insubordination. Obedience is, according to LDS teachings, the 1st rule of heaven. BUT, that doesn’t mean obedience to God in those teachings–it means to your leaders. Hence, what the leaders say becomes the rule, whether they claim it as a revelation or not.

    Its a two-edged sword (and I mean that in a bad way). On one hand, for example, you sign your own temple-recommend. On the other hand, you have 2 leaders who must as well. Do they have to sign it?…are they compelled?…if they decide not to and are told they have to by a higher authority and refuse, its likely action will be taken against them in some way or another. They also get told what to do and better do it OR ELSE. Only when you get up there in the higher levels is there autonomy, and I wonder how much there is at that level as well.

    The whole system feeds off its own dysfunction. What is ironic is the church claims “agency” is what the entire program is about, and they themselves infringe on agency all over the place.

    What a messed up culture!

  5. MormonHistoryPodcast

    One thing that people are concluding with the Essays is that the Church is saying that the Priesthood Ban wasn’t doctrine.

    That actually isn’t what it is saying. It is carefully worded including the title.

    “Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.”

    It is saying that the “many theories advanced” is not official doctrine. Such as being less valiant in the pre-existence etc.

    No where does it say the ban in and of itself is not doctrinal. If so, they would have to take the Declaration 2 out of D&C which says:

    “Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood…”

    “…He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority…”

    So it was God’s plan to deny it and to restore it after promising at some point it would be.

    We just don’t know why it was banned in the first place.

  6. Bill,

    Will the real Bill Reel please step forward? Just when I think that you’re really getting things about faith journeys and situating your authority within yourself and less ethnocentric thinking I listen to a podcast like this and it shows me just how stuck in stage three you still are. And I just recently listened to your interview with Dan Wotherspoon and it was so good, but the thinking you demonstrate in episode 289 is so black and white stage three thinking that I almost think there are two different Bill Reels out there. I was absolutely shocked as I listened to this episode. Let me mention a couple things that I’m hoping you can sincerely consider, either that or reveal to the community that you are actually playing the part of two different Bill Reels.

    #1 What is binding – I really hate it when you use this word. I’m not sure where you got it from and why you like to use it so much to express how it informs your relationship to Mormonism. I would think that a stage four or five thinker would no longer feel bound by anything from their faith community, yet here you are talking about what is binding and what isn’t binding.

    Mormons have scriptural canon and we have the principle of common consent. These are valuable concepts that express the way that members relate to each other in the context of the Mormon community. Our scripture in the standard works represents the top position within a hierarchy of ideas that we give privilege too. But that doesn’t mean the words in those scriptures can’t be interpreted very differently by different individuals. As I’m sure you are aware there are countless different means of understanding and interpretation.

    If you feel “bound” by certain interpretations or certain statements by church leaders and their interpretations that is because you are stuck in stage three and you are placing authority externally in the figure of that church leader. You know this, why are you even talking about why certain statements and interpretations of church leaders are binding on the members of the church? This kind of thinking is so stage three. In stage four you reject the old external authorities and you question everything. I think you need a solid dose of stage four, because I can’t even imagine how you can use words like binding to talk about how some church authority thinks and that you believe that you are personally bound by anything a church leader says. Get a grip on your authority, and quit giving that privilege to church authorities. You are the authority for your thinking, for your interpretations of scripture, for your journey and relationship with God, quit deferring to church leaders and quit thinking you’re bound. Give yourself the freedom to let go.

    #2 – First person voice in scripture – Bill, I was in complete shock about how you articulated your view of scriptural statements in the first person voice of God. I’ve heard you make similar statements in the past, and I am a regular listener and contributor to your efforts, however, I’ve never heard you express these ideas so clearly and I’m concerned by what I heard. You talk about how we need to have a different view of what a prophet is, quoting Patrick Mason, yet somehow you are stuck in a very naïve view of what a prophet is still.

    When you read scriptures that use first person voice, do you honestly think you’re reading the first person voice of God? As if God wrote those words or dictated those words directly to a scribe in their language. How do you think God works with prophets? Do you think there is some kind of actual pure source of God language that is represented in the scriptures whenever those scriptures are written in the first person voice of God. It sounded to me from a few of the statements that you made that you think there exist actual statements that purely reflect the mind and will of God in some very undefiled way. Is this really what you’ve come to believe after all the research you’ve done over the years?

    How do you believe this happens? Is this similar to how Hollywood might depict a spiritual medium having a séance and when the spirit takes over the medium their voice changes and we know that a spirit from the other world is somehow in control of the actual words spoken through that medium. Is that how God works with prophets? Are they some device that God uses to communicate with when they are possessed by the spirit?

    Do any of the words of any scripture ever written in the history of human kind actually reflect the pure mind and will of God? How do you know? How do you know what is filtered and what is combined with the thinking of humans? You seem to have some kind of ability to distinguish between these undefiled words of God from the ones tainted with mortal thinking. How in the world can you know what is divine and what is human?

    I would argue that everything ever written in first person God speech is just a rhetorical device that author is using. First person language doesn’t mean that God spoke those words any more than third person language does. All these words are just the writings of humans and we don’t have any of God’s words in the scriptures because God does not work this way. Now, I would also say that I personally believe that there are elements that are inspirational and valuable to society found in the scriptures. What is valuable needs to me a matter of consideration and reflection and is contextual to the circumstances we live in. But none of the words are “God’s first person voice”, that is not how I define a prophet, and I would propose to you that this kind of view of a prophet and of scripture is a very stage three perspective.

    I’m giving you this advice because I value your work and I hope you don’t take my comments as overly critical. All the best to you on your journey. Thanks

  7. Very good again, Bill. You keep nailing the bogus refined down forged or counterfeited or refined “Word of Wisdom,” which in it’s commanded form is not Wisdom at all (verse 2).

    As just 4-don’ts, commanded and constrained, against God’s will, it becomes a mockery and thus a curse for defying and defiling the words of Christ which it was intended to be, loving advice to seek and learn, to become more wise and healthy.

    Bill, maybe you have not knocked it quite hard enough since it “today’s WoW” has become that mockery to god’s wholesome foods and wholesome medicines which learned men/doctors can never compete with? Instead we now worship only 4-Don’ts, and fake foods and medicines, and the horses they rode up on = doctors, AMA, FDA, CDC, bliding us to God’s wholesome medicines.

    Have we become blind to God’s vast forest of wholesome health and wisdom, by 4 sacred trees which have become the false sentinels of all ordinances and eternal blessings. Chase these “money changer” guardians from the temple?

    Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and the prophets of the 1800’s all refused lots of pressure from saints and other leaders to make the WoW into a commandment, against verse 2. As a commandment the WoW could certainly go a long way to help improve or fix some of the worst societal ills, communities and homes. But, they warned that making it a commandment would “become a stumbling block to the saints,” as it surely has, as warned/prophesied: We now judge, shun, cast people out, punish them and withhold the Saving Ordinances and Blessings of the Gospel and Heaven, as only the Pharisees would, all on just 4 refined don’ts that have little to do with Christ’s Wholesome Words of Wisdom.

    The wholesome meaning (still right there in print) is to avoid the refined and synthesized foods and medicines of Gadiantons coming our way in the last days, and their flood is upon us (central warning in verse 4 – “thus saith the Lord.”).

    JS & BY repeatedly warned the saints to not use the chemical and surgery doctors but to use foods and herbs for health and healing, even before priesthood blessings. Why are we not hearing any of this today?
    Do we hear, “Follow the doctor, follow the doctor… don’t go astray?” It seems Lehi and nephi recieved a similar warning in their dream, right up front: 1 Nephi 8:5-10 (Follow Christ first, no intermediary, He said, over and over in enough ways for us to get it.)

    It is a travesty and blasphemy to command or constrain, coerce, shame, guilt punish and force the “WoW” to save others (the other brother’s plan) either in it synthesized and refined 4-don’ts counterfeit form or in its wholesome form of THOUSANDS of NON-commanded, NON-constrained Do’s and Don’ts.
    D&C 89:2,4,7,8,10,11,18-21 All four don’ts plus pot can be used properly for important healing which no drug or their doctors can do (right in the wholesome WoW – verses 7,8 is just a taste of that – proper use is natural and healing – improper use is harmful).

    If we don’t get it, we won’t get the promises, which most do not. Look at all the sick around us in church and who can’t attend, not getting these PROMISES. They “keep the WoW” religiously! Why no promises kept by God? Or, is the problem with whom they are really following?

    But it is not for me to judge them, other than for them smugly judging others, in their own hypocrisy, of pharisees, as Jesus said, as they get sicker and sicker for lack of wisdom.
    By their fruits…

  8. I do not value common consent. Why would it matter if members of the church accepted something in the 1830s with common consent. Why should I be obligated to accept it?

    Why give such deference to the word of God?

    Do you have problems with Jesus bragging about the destruction he causes before he visits them in America?

  9. Dear Bill,

    Thank you for the research, heart, and time you put into your podcasts. I have learned so much from those efforts you put forth on a regular basis. Thank you so much.

    This podcast was painful to listen to. Cog dis!

    You used what has to be my least favorite word in the entire english language, or most hated word, whichever way you think would most properly fit into this sentence; and that word is ‘ALLOW’.

    Gosh I hate that word!!!!!!

    Who can say to another one of God’s creations, who has come of age, that which is allowed and that which is not allowed? Who has the wisdom to say that? Who has the wisdom to make any idea/principle allowable to an adult? Yes, children need limits until they can withstand the natural consequences of their decisions.

    Just sorely disappointed that the word ‘allow’ is used in context of personal decision-making towards consenting adults.

    Otherwise, your podcasts have been enjoyable and eye-opening.

  10. Dear Bill,

    I found an amazing podcast that perhaps you could listen to in order to clear up your thinking:

    169: The Inner Authority

    I found this podcast to be very helpful in determining which principles I adhere to and which I can discard.

    Thank you very much for producing this wonderful message about the influence of the Holy Ghost in our lives.

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