A House of Order, a House of God: Recycled Challenges to the Legitimacy of the Church
by Cassandra Hedelius
(This is from a presentation given at the 2015 FairMormon Conference)
I. Introduction to Mormon Gnosticism
Apologetics is a very broad field and different topics can involve extremely different audiences. My topic today is a little delicate, because the audience I hope to reach is a certain group of members of the church, good and faithful and well-meaning members, who believe in God, believe in Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet, and have no problem with most of the doctrines and truth claims of the Restoration. You may now wonder why on earth I’m even up here. The unfortunate reality is that even for such a faithful person, there’s still the possibility of spiritual danger. One particular spiritual threat is gaining strength among some church members, particularly via the internet. What we’re seeing is a modern spin on an old song–that the church has lost its way, church leaders are not inspired or in favor with God, so God has raised up new leaders outside the church hierarchy whose visions and teachings are important for us to follow. It is likely you know someone who finds this narrative persuasive, or at least intriguing, even if you don’t know that they do. It is also possible that you and I have some seemingly harmless beliefs that can lead to this danger.
There is an interesting central tension in our faith. On the one hand, we believe that everyone can—and should—receive personal revelation from the Holy Ghost. On the other hand, God calls prophets to receive essential revelations that are binding on each of us church members. On the other one hand, Christ said many times to ask, seek, and knock, and promised He will answer. On the other other hand, Christ said that answers come in His own time, not automatically like putting a quarter in a pop machine. On the other other one hand, He wants us to come unto him with all our hearts, which is intensely personal and can be done without help or participation from anyone else. On the other other other hand, Christ commands us to receive ordinances which by definition require another ordained person to administer them to us, leaving us helpless if no such person is available. To boil it down: there’s a tension between religion as practiced on an individual level, and the many ways access to religion is mediated through the church organization. [Read more…] about Come, Follow Me Week 18 – Doctrine & Covenants 45