Friday, October 30, 2015

"Stay in the Boat and Hold On!" By Elder M. Russell Ballard

Find this talk here.

  • Brigham Young's examples of the Old Ship Zion come without any evidence to prove the truth of Brigham's claims. He seems to have felt it self-evident that the Church is the only way to avoid getting "drowned", and "[safely] into the harbor", and assures us that "you need not be concerned," but there's nothing to back up those claims. "We are on the old ship Zion ... [God] is at the helm and will stay there" is equivalent to chanting "All is well" unless supported by actual evidence.
  • Alma's question about continuing to feel a change of heart is important. It's a sign of having received the baptism of fire.
  • The difference between "experienced river guides" and Church leaders is that river guides show evidence (the scriptures call this "fruits") to back up their claims of being worth following. The scriptures ensure us that prophets and apostles will bear certain fruits, and modern Church leaders generally haven't done that. Christ even used his fruits to prove who he was to John's disciples, rather than making claims.
  • This is ludicrous. Elder Ballard quotes himself, as evidence that his leadership is infallible: "Keep the eyes of the mission on the leaders of the Church. … We will not and … cannot lead [you] astray." This is heretical, non-scriptural doctrine, which encourages idolatry and spiritual laziness.
    • It gets worse. He told the mission presidents to whom he first delivered that quote to "teach your missionaries to focus their eyes on us" No, we should follow Christ, not man. The scriptures are clear on that point.
    • Apparently, though, those who refuse to accept Ballard's heresy "leave the Old Ship Zion—they fall away; they apostatize."
  • "Our local Church leaders, like seasoned river guides, have been tutored by life’s experiences; have been trained and mentored by apostles and prophets and other officers of the Church; and, most important, have been tutored by the Lord Himself." This would be wonderful if they actually had been tutored by the Lord Himself, but most local Church leaders regularly admit they have not. This becomes obvious sometimes, like when our bishop determined that my wife and I were comparable to Ron and Dan Lafferty, convicted double murders, because we felt God had given us instructions the bishop didn't agree with.
  • "When you thoughtfully consider our lives and ministry, you will most likely agree that we see and experience the world in ways few others do. You will realize that we live less in a ‘bubble’ than most people" This is more of Ballard vaunting himself, claiming he can't lead us astray and is free of the commoner's problem of bias and provincialism. This is the same Elder Ballard who demonstrated his brilliant and unbiased grasp of life by gracelessly instructing an audience of young single adults that the women among them should wear a little lipstick so as not to look like boys.
  • "We need to become like the sons of Mosiah, who 'waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth.' We can become men and women 'of a sound understanding.' This can be accomplished only by our 'search[ing] the scriptures diligently, that [we] might know the word of God.'" Yes. Absolutely. It helps a lot in that process if you quit accepting the idea that any particular source must always be perfectly true.
  • "In addition to developing the habit of personal scripture reading, we need to be like the sons of Mosiah and give ourselves 'to much prayer, and fasting.'" This is also absolutely true.
  • He speaks of people he's known who leave "the boat" and of whom many "have lost their focus on the central truths of the gospel." It would help those of the Church who seek to address the flood of members leaving the ranks if they would admit that there are many who leave who have not lost that focus.
  • "If we keep our focus on the Lord, we are promised a blessing beyond comparison." Ok, but are we supposed to focus on the Lord, or on the leaders of the Church? Earlier, he says he taught mission presidents to teach their missionaries to "focus their eyes on us". Which is it?
    • As for me and my house, we'll choose the Lord.
  • "Members are always free to ask such questions and earnestly seek greater understanding" If this is true, quit excommunicating people for asking questions.
  • "The important questions focus on what matters most—Heavenly Father’s plan and the Savior’s Atonement." Again, are we to focus on the atonement, or on Church leaders?
  • "we will seek you, find you, minister to you, and pull you safely back onto the Old Ship Zion" This hasn't been my experience, but perhaps that's because I'm not convinced the "Old Ship Zion" is safe.

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