Saturday, June 21, 2014
"Not numbered among the people of Christ"
I have been debating for some time whether or not to weigh in on the current conversation going on in the media and also on Mormon blogs regarding the call to Church discipline of Kate Kelly, founder of Ordain Women (OW), and of John Dehlin from mormonstories.org. I feel it's now appropriate to publish my thoughts after taking a step back and reading more about these Church members.
I respect the desire of both of these members to create a dialogue for issues that are not openly addressed within formal Church settings. Let me explain what I mean by this. Most Church members are only around each other on Sundays and perhaps occasionally throughout the week in formal settings. We participate in guided discussions in Sunday school and during our Priesthood, Relief Society, and auxiliary meetings.
As a consequence there really isn't room for discussion for topics like priesthood ordination of women, the mishaps and errors of the early Saints and even obscure Church doctrine. (That's also why there is a large number of Mormon blogs and websites!) Regardless of whether or not these should be issues I am grateful that there are members who are willing to ask questions online and through group discussions. I invite you to read and follow the numerous blogs out there that address such issues.
However, I do believe that the call to Church discipline for Kate Kelly and John Dehlin is justified. Here's why.
Sister Kelly claims she is being excommunicated by the Church for simply asking questions and for seeking revelation. (Kate Kelly in The Guardian)
I disagree that she is being disciplined for simply asking questions and seeking revelation. The Church holds dearly the concept of divine revelation, especially the personal kind. (After all, the restoration of the Church began because of the questions posed by then 14 year old Joseph Smith to our Heavenly Father.)
What the Church does not allow is when our questioning leaves others with a weakened testimony, mocks Church appointed leaders, or makes people leave the Church. I invite you to visit the OW Facebook page to read some of the comments posted there as examples of this. Search Kate Kelly on Google and you'll find numerous articles where she disregards and mocks Church council (most notably OW's protests the last few years during General Conference).
John Dehlin as well has claimed not to understand why he is facing possible excommunication. However, he has expressed disdain for Church leaders and their authority through an online interview as well as within his own personal website. He states to no longer believe in the fundamental beliefs of the LDS Church.
I am not surprised he is facing Church discipline when he has through the written word already left the Church. The Church council will merely place into effect what he has already done.
The fact that these members have been called to a Church disciplinary council has made me reflect on my current testimony of the Church. I'll be honest I need to work on it, and I am doing so.
I believe at this time we must also ask ourselves the following questions. What if I were to be called to a Church disciplinary council conducted by the Savior? How would I be judged by him? Would I be found having a devoted life of consecration and discipleship for the Lord? Would I be found guilty of straying from sound doctrine and teachings? Has my life and membership in the Church led others to Christ or away from Him?
As well we must make sure that our salvation is dependent on one man only, Jesus Christ. We read in 1 Timothy 2:5 (KJV) "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus". Although it is great to read and listen to teachers and mentors (including our own general authorities and even living prophet) we must make sure that our testimonies are founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ and no one else. We must avoid being "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men". (Ephesians 4:14, KJV)
We must also have firm testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.,. Through his life, teachings and martyrdom we can learn how to draw closer to the Savior. A firm testimony of his divine ministry is a mark of true discipleship and humility in our walk with Christ.
I am currently doing my best to develop a deeper testimony of Jesus Christ through the reading of the Book of Mormon and meaningful prayer with my Heavenly Father. In regards to Joseph Smith I am reading 'Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith' by Joseph Fielding Smith. It's a great read and I my testimony of his ministry is being strengthened.
I invite you as well to look for ways to have your relationship with Jesus Christ become even more meaningful. This the only way that we can assure we are on "the way which leadeth unto life". (Matthew 7:14, KJV)
* (Blog post title taken from Moroni 6:4)