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Duane Boyce received his academic training in psychology, philosophy, and the clinical treatment of families. He received a PhD from Brigham Young University and conducted his postdoctoral study in developmental psychology at Harvard University. He was a member of the Moral Studies Group at Brigham Young University (BYU) and served on the faculty there before becoming vice president of a steel company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a founding partner of the Arbinger Institute, a worldwide management consulting and educational firm, and is the coauthor of four books. He has published academic essays on scriptural topics in BYU Studies, The FARMS Review, Religious Educator, and the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture. He is also the author of the book, Even Unto Bloodshed: A Latter-day Saint Perspective on War (Kofford, 2015). Among other callings, he has served as a bishop and a stake president. He is the author of an article in The Interpreter entitled, “Sustaining the Brethren.”
Questions addressed in this interview:
In your article you call sustaining the brethren a “vital topic.” What about sustaining the brethren is vital?
This is a part of the making and keeping of sacred covenants within the church. Is there a distinction between sustaining the brethren, and sustaining our local leaders as it relates to these covenants?
When we raise our right arm to the square, is that a sort of covenant renewal? Almost sacramental in that regard?
Your article sets up an interesting paradigm where you discuss the differences between God’s character and humankind’s character and the vast differences that currently rest in chasm between the two. Could you please lay out that foundation for the rest of our discussion on sustaining the brethren?
For some this may sound a little like a forwarding of the “sheep” mentality, we should just do what they leaders tell us because God is telling them, and God is smarter, therefore let’s just be sheep to what they say. I don’t think that is what you are saying, but I can see how that position would be the conclusion some could come to with this paradigm. How would you respond to that position?
When it comes to sustaining the brethren, what is the difference (as you see it) between following the words of the combined Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, as opposed to statements made by individuals within those council’s?
I want to now address some common criticisms that come up with respect to sustaining the brethren, and have you offer a few approaches to these criticisms:
There are waves of discord, disagreement, or discontent that seem to crash against the Church at different times and in slightly different ways. One that I have observed over the past five to seven years or so, is the idea that is clothed in the notion that the general church membership has a role or a place to be an advocate of systemic change to doctrines or practices in the church—and that this perspective allows a person to remain in a faithful position. How does that reconcile with the concepts that you present in your article on sustaining the brethren? Can one be an advocate for systemic change, and sustain the brethren at the same time?
There is a quote that you give from Elder Dallin H. Oaks that I love. It is an interesting perspective because critics of this idea of sustaining brethren at all, or even those who find it difficult to place their faith in the hands of leaders, forget that we are all operating in mortal capacities. The quote reads: “Revelations from God … are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us into actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening … the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of His Spirit.” How does this quote lay a solid foundation for sustaining the brethren while also giving room for their mortal fallibility?
Sustaining the brethren seems to be a great deal about the issue of trust. We are placing our trust in individuals who are hopefully placing their trust in God. Because we are dealing with eternal salvation, this trust is not an issue that should be taken lightly. So, how then do you, in your article make recommendations on how to navigate this issue moving forward?
Duane Boyce is the author of an article in The Interpreter entitled, “Sustaining the Brethren” as well as the book, Even Unto Bloodshed: A Latter-day Saint Perspective on War (Kofford, 2015).