The most recent buzz among post Mormons is a recording of an apologetic “rescue” meeting in Boise Idaho.
It harkens back to the “Swedish Rescue” event of 2010 when Elder Marlin K. Jensen (LDS Church Historian) and Richard E. Turley, Jr. (Assistant Church Historian) attempted to stop the hemoraging of LDS members who were exiting the church after discovering its difficult past. Apostasy within the LDS Church seemed to impact Sweden heavily in 2010, including several high-ranking LDS leaders such as former seventy Hans H. Mattsson. In 2013 John Dehlin interviewed Hans Mattson on his Mormon Stories podcast.
Back to Boise.
This time the locals got an apostle, Dallin H Oaks. He was joined by Richard E. Turley, Jr. who also presented at the Swedish meeting.
Both are lawyers by profession, not academic theologians or even historians. If you choose to listen to it you’ll find the whole things comes down to a couple of questions:
“Who’s on the Lord’s side?” (Answer: THEY ARE!)
“How you feel about current leadership?” (Not, how do you feel about Jesus or God, but how do you feel about some some guys named Tommy, Henry, Dallin, Boyd and Neil)
“You can follow false prophets or you can follow true prophets.” (Oaks and his buddies are, of course, the true ones … because they said so.)
Two lawyers gave it their best shot… and I’m still left with reasonable doubt.
Several thoughts come to mind immediately regarding this meeting … by their definitions of apostasy and authority, Alma the Younger, Abinidi, Samuel the Lamanite, Paul & Jesus Christ would have been apostates rather than prophets. They basically claim that those who are in authority are at any given time are right. Except that’s not how Christian or even Mormon history has actually played out. Sometimes those in authority were wrong and it took a renegade to point it out.
Their perspective also only works if you are already Mormon. If I were Catholic and listened to their arguments, I would conclude that I should stay faithful to the Pope and not listen to every missionary that knocks on my door.
In fact all LDS arguments to the non LDS public sounds like this:
“Each religion should be free to propagate itself among present and future generations, so long as it does not use coercive or fraudulent means. Its practices should not interfere with the peace of society. Each religion has a right to present its message in an orderly way to all who are interested. How can we have freedom of religion if we are not free to compare honestly, to choose wisely, and to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience? While searching for the truth, we must be free to change our mind—even to change our religion—in response to new information and inspiration. Freedom to change one’s religion has been emphasized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. One’s religion is not imposed by others. It is not predetermined. It is a very personal and sacred choice, nestled at the very core of human dignity.” (Freedom to Do and to Be, Russell M. Nelson, International Scientific and Practical Conference “Religious Freedom: Transition and Globalization”, Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, 27 May 2004)http://www.lds.org/newsroom/voice/display/0,18255,5004-1-121,00.html
But inside, to its own members the song plays out differently. It’s more like, “You’re already here. The time for comparing, and honest inquiry is over.”
And the final question I just can’t seem to get a faithful LDS answer to… Oaks claims that the Lord has clearly instructed him and his colleagues not to speak publicly of spiritual manifestation even though they are “special witnesses.”
When? Where? And how did the Lord ever say this?
He twists the “Pearl before Swine” parable to mean something else entirely (it clearly does NOT say to never speak of special experiences, but to just be careful to whom).
This leaves me baffled as to why a “witness” refuses to witness…unless of course there’s no THERE there.
What’s the most sacred event to ever occur in LDS or even Christian theology? I’d venture to say “The Atonement.” And yet THAT we’re supposed to shout from the rooftops! I can’t think of any scriptural instance when sacred = keep your mouth shut. The only reasonable explanation for them not witness of experiences more special than mine is that they’re non-existent….or embarrassing.
One thing is for sure, this meeting was not intending to help doubting members stay. In the Swedish meeting, for example, the doubting members were strongly advised to leave or to stay and shut up. This Boise meeting was held to calm the nerves of the general membership who really don’t think too much in the first place. These sheep are the only ones who will swallow the half-answers and admonitions to just follow the present leadership. You see they’re already pre-disposed supposed to believe that LDS fruit is any better than non-LDS fruit. But to someone who questions… they’ll question that claim too.
Two lawyers met in the Boise woods and if I were you I’d follow the path least traveled… out the door.