Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Which Way Do You Face?", Lynn G. Robbins, Oct 2014

You can find this talk here.


  • Based on just the abstract at the beginning, this sounded great, but the first thing he does is incorrectly equate following the president of the Church to loving God. God and the president of the church are not the same person. One is omnipotent and cannot lie; the other is a mortal man. We're commanded not to trust in the arm of flesh, so we can't immediately assume that honoring one is honoring the other.
    • 2 Nephi 28:31 "Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost."
    • We absolutely must not assume everything any human says is spoken by the power of the Holy Ghost.
      • We often assume that anything that makes us emotional or feel a thrill must be the Holy Ghost, though to be clear, I'm not claiming we're taught that by the Church, officially. A little reflection proves that must be a silly idea (I felt one of those thrills the other night at the rodeo because the riders looked really neat). Until we have a good idea what is and isn't the Holy Ghost, it would be especially unwise to assume a particular person is somehow always speaking by the Holy Ghost.
  • His example of the missionary who won't turn in his companion reminds me of a recent push noticed among missionaries, for "exact obedience." Charles has had this going on in his mission, and reports that he has lots better success following the Holy Ghost instead, and that in his opinion, the two aren't always in agreement. I get that from a letter I just sent, wherein he volunteered the information; it didn't come from, for instance, me prodding him.
    • I'm not sure encouraging missionaries to squeal on each other is proper. Matthew 5:23-24 says "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." I can't find it right off (somewhere in section 42, 102, or 107 I'd bet), but the idea of the church disciplinary process is that when someone offends you, talk to them privately, and if that doesn't fix it, involve the bishop. Running immediately to the mission president isn't part of that program.
  • This topic of fearing God more than man is important. It's part of why Karlyn has done what she has done -- because it's important to show God you'll do what He wants, even if it's going to bother close friends, people in authority, family members, etc.
  • I can't help but find this talk duplicitous, because he's encouraging people to speak truth to power, while at the same time I can list lots of people who have been excommunicated for doing exactly that. The scriptural example of Christ preaching to the church leaders of His day seems decidedly a propos.
    • His accusation against Nephite churches of "dumbing down" the doctrine is also duplicitous. Dumbing down the gospel has been the widely recognized effect of the correlation program, to the extent that it seems we're only receiving the "lesser portion of the word" and will one day find we "know nothing concerning [God's] mysteries." (Alma 12:10-11) It used to be that members of the church studied doctrine, but today we're encouraged not to stray beyond the safe harbor of the manual, which itself has had all hint of nuance or complexity redacted.
    • Of course, it's possible Elder Robbins is preaching this message in the hope that Church leadership will take the lesson to heart and stop doing the dumbing down and unjust excommunicating for which it has become famous. If that's the case, may the Lord bless him in his effort.
  • Taken alone, his last paragraph is magnificent. Karlyn's leaving the Church has taught me to be more straightforward with those in authority, or in other words, I'm now less liable to "cower or fawn at the feet of intimidation." I'm very grateful for that.

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