Elder Poelmans Conference Talk

This is an issue that has been doing the rounds in Mormon blogs and podcasts recently but I thought it would be interesting to discuss it here, following on from the theme of changes made in the Doctrine and Covenants I want to look at a case of very dramatic changes being made to a talk given at general conference in more recent years.

In 1984 Elder Poelmen of the quorum of the seventy gave a talk called the Gospel and the Church, the talk he originally gave is here.

And the Second part

To get the most out of this I would recommend watching these first but you will get the idea if not.

But anyway this talk was given by a member of the Quorum of the 70, one of the highest positions in the Mormon church you can get. This is a breath of fresh air to someone like me who struggles with the way the Mormon Church adds so much religion to what should be a simple relationship between humanity and Christ because he makes these excellent points.

  • 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine. However, there is a distinction between them which is significant and it is very important that this distinction be understood.
  • 2, Of equal importance is understanding the essential relationship between the gospel and the Church. Failure to distinguish between the two and to comprehend their proper relationship may lead to confusion and misplaced priorities with unrealistic and therefore failed expectations. This in turn may result in diminished benefits and blessings and, in extreme cases disaffections.
  • 3, Sometimes traditions, customs, social practices and personal preferences of individual Church members may, through repeated or common usage be misconstrued as Church procedures or policies. Occasionally, such traditions, customs and practices may even be regarded by some as eternal gospel principles. Under such circumstances those who do not conform to these cultural standards may mistakenly be regarded as unorthodox or even unworthy. In fact the eternal principles of the gospel and the divinely inspired Church do accommodate a broad spectrum of individual uniqueness and cultural diversity.

These are great points, while I do not personally see the Church in the way Poelman does I can still respect that he sees a distinction between the church and the gospel. For me although I go to a church I would consider as true and teaching good things I still completely see my salvation and eternal destiny coming from Christ and His gospel not from the church.

However, clearly the higher ups in the Mormon Church did not see this talk this way, as if you go to LDS.org you will see a very different talk.


Try reading this along with the videos above and you will see it is the same talk but somehow different. What happened is sometime after Poelman gave this talk, he was marched back to the conference centre and gave the same talk to a video without the audience giving the same talk again but with some changes. This is now the official version of this talk the LDS church shows people, not the original.

This link has all of the changes marked: http://www.lds-mormon.com/poelman.shtml

So consider the points I made earlier, here is what they now say on the official LDS site.

  • 1, Both the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are true and divine, and there is an essential relationship between them that is significant and very important.
  • 2, Understanding the proper relationship between the gospel and the Church will prevent confusion, misplaced priorities, and failed expectations and will lead to the realization of gospel goals through happy, fulfilling participation in the Church. Such understanding will avoid possible disaffection and will result in great personal blessings.
  • 3, The eternal principles of the gospel implemented through the divinely inspired Church apply to a wide variety of individuals in diverse cultures.

So while Poelman originally said hey guys don’t get too caught up with the Church, the Church has said hey guys keep it coming, keep participating the Church is what you need.

This shows possibly one of the main issues why Christians do not accept the Mormon church as Christian, because it says faith in Christ is not enough, you must have the church. Jesus said follow me, I am the way the Truth and the Life.

So I would be interested to know if Mormon members feel this has changed today since 1984, has the church started to accept that the gospel and the church are not one and the same or are they one thing? And does it bother you that your church will change things said in a public setting to millions and not even explain why?

For further info and discussion please check out this link, this is where much of my info came from and  does have believing Mormons involved with it.


Please leave a comment and say what you think.

Categorised in: LDS Church changing its material, Mormon Publicity

27 Responses »

  1. Hi Bobby
    I haven’t listened to the exact conference speech, so I cannot specifically comment on it, however, I am an ex-LDS Member and I have to say that people who give speeches in church, whether it be a talk on a Sunday, or, I would assume any one of the Quorum of the 70 or the 12, will have been instructed through other talks given by Bishopric or even the Prophet to include their Testimony of the Church and Joseph Smith as well as Christ in order to emphasize that a belief in just Christ is not enough, you need to attend Church regularly in order to receive blessings an to take full part in Church life will help you to take out ordinances at the Temple, fulfil callings, find that eternal partner and have an eternally sealed family etc. So everything becomes linked and it’s almost like holding people to ransom-i.e. if they were to ever stray a little in the opposite direction they may not get all their eternal blessings and that could be their fault, their loss. I do think it’s wrong to temper someone’s words, who may have been spiritually prompted to speak in this way-are the Church editing his spiritual insight and thoughts, quite probably!! Why?!! I think that is due to holding onto some mistaken belief that if people suddenly felt a bit more relaxed about the idea of the most important thing being loving Christ and thy neighbour, maybe awkward questions would be asked somewhere about all that extra doctrine.
    I still have many LDS friends that I dearly love and many of them do indeed treat the Church like that member of the Quorum of the 70 and do just kind of leave the other stuff behind; they just sort of know that it’s there, but to them it isn’t as important as being a good Christian and of course they still believe in Joseph Smith as a Prophet, but many of them do not fully understand the Church in its entirety and would never leave when all the people they love are still strong Members and I do understand that. The Church does advocate family and they would not want to break that up, but sometimes in all that stress I do think they lose what Elder Poelman was discussing-the essence of being a Christian-I often felt stressed at Church because things like sealings become complicated for part-member families as mine was, as does Temple attendance-only those recommend worthy attend-If I had married in a Temple only my Mother could have attended, not my Father, nor my Brother, his Partner, any of my In-Laws or extended family-that to me is divisive and not conducive to following the “Love on Another” mantra you get in the LDS Church, that only really seems to be fulfilled outside of it-any Church where you need to become a Member, I would now give a wide berth to. I want my Family forever in Christ and Heavenly Father’s love and I think he would want us to be happy all together.

  2. Wow, wow, WOW!!! I find it incredible in this day and age, even though it was 1984, that re-doing speeches to please a church is allowed!! If I was a Mormon, I’d be banging down doors to get answers to all the questions this story raises!!!
    I’d go along with Helens excellent point: “Why?!! I think that is due to holding onto some mistaken belief that if people suddenly felt a bit more relaxed about the idea of the most important thing being loving Christ and thy neighbour, maybe awkward questions would be asked somewhere about all that extra doctrine.” This is the obvious reason.

  3. Wow is right Simon. I never knew this sort of thing was being done, even through 40 years as a Mormon. I highly doubt most practicing Mormons are aware of it either. I think one of the biggest problems for Bobby’s blog and others like it, is the fact that Mormons are discouraged from reading anything that isn’t “church approved.” For the entire first year of questions and research, I refused to look at anything that wasn’t church approved. I love that this information is out there, but I’m afraid that the people who need it most won’t even dare look at it.😦

  4. I totally know where Kate is coming from, as an ex-LDS member, when I was a Mormon you were always discouraged from scouring information too deeply and relying on the Missionaries or Church Leaders for guidance, of course many moons ago no one had such a thing as internet access, mobile phones, web pages, email etc, now this is a communication highway so of course people will look. My Husband always comments that savvy investigators will just google stuff when the missionaries have left people’s homes and of course many will, so if the Church isn’t honest it will shoot itself in the foot because many people will of course find out what they want to know. I don’t see the problem in just being honest, people feel more betrayed if the Missionaries then go back and the investigator then says “well, why didn’t you tell me about (this) when you came by the other day?” and that leads to mistrust and that isn’t a good way to start any relationship, especially what I would consider a vitally important one with the Saviour. I would add a proviso, you do need to be careful, some websites may not be peddling the truth to start worth, so the Church could in fact really help its Members here by offering full and frank knowledge. It seems that on many occasions they rely on people’s ignorance in order to avoid the awkward questions.

  5. This is pretty old news.


    As Peggy explains in this article, the facts are not nearly so ominous as some have tried to make them out to be. After Elder Poelman gave his talk, apostles who regularly deal with fundamentalist groups were concerned that his remarks could be misconstrued to suggest that those fully versed in and committed to the Gospel do not need the Church. (Fundamentalists are of course not a part of the Church itself.) So Elder Poelman rewrote the talk with those concerns in mind, and then retaped it in the Tabernacle so that the revised version could be included in the tapes that were sent to leaders in foreign countries.

    • Old news it may be James but the issue for me is that its something that members would have no way of knowing about it unless they went to the “Anti-Mormon” sites, which the membership im sure are not encouraged to do.

      But instead any non suspecting member or investogator coming across this on lds.org would think this was the original talk as said at the time, it seems that the lds apologetic notion of leaders not being infallible and are in fact human is not an image the church wants to present, otherwise it would be honest and open about this change and not re,record the talk giving the false impression that it was recorded at the time.

    • James,
      I’m curious, the Fundamentalist groups consider the LDS church apostate, why would they even care what an apostate church thinks? They have their own prophet, apostles, 70’s etc… with their own beliefs and opinions.

  6. James,
    There’s nothing on the link you provided. I’m fine with your explanation, but honestly, why doesn’t the LDS Church use full disclosure then? Let everyone know that the “official” version of this talk has been modified from it’s original version? Giving the reason for the modification would also be nice. The fact that the changes made to the talk changes the meaning isn’t helpful either. This is such a problem for me. Where is the honesty?

    I don’t see the problem in just being honest, people feel more betrayed if the Missionaries then go back and the investigator then says “well, why didn’t you tell me about (this) when you came by the other day?” and that leads to mistrust and that isn’t a good way to start any relationship, especially what I would consider a vitally important one with the Saviour.

    I agree! I don’t think that I would still be a Mormon if the Church was completely honest with it’s history and doctrines because too much of it is in direct contradiction to the Bible, but I would at least have more respect and not feel as if my whole life has been based on a lie.

  7. I’m just curious as to how many talks and things have been “modified” for the poor souls who just aren’t smart enough (in the church’s opinion) to handle it?

  8. The irony of the mormon eldership trying to cover up the fact that theyre not perfect is so massive here!!! But I think there are two serious issues that need answering, and not swept under the carpet as ‘old news’.
    The first is Bobbys point – it seems that they were relying on the church in general not finding out about the ‘re-edit’, other wise they would have made it known at the time.
    Secondly, the issue of what it was changed to is HUGE!! Bobby has put some great links on the post, which show how different the re-edited version is to the original. Its clearly directed to put the gospel on an equal footing with the mormon church!! Like I said before – answers needed!!

  9. I’m very glad you posted this talk, Bobby. This pretty squarely hits on some problems that I’ve been noting for quite some time, now.

    First, I must point out that I have some fear of anything I say that doesn’t *sound* like a “stalwart bulwark of defense” being pounced upon, misinterpreted, and wrongly used as a weapon by what one may well consider to be the packs of ravenous wolves that often call themselves anti-Mormons or whatever term may pass for something similar in modern Christian culture. As many non-Mormans probably don’t even suspect, this is a problem for you, non-Mormon Christians, as well as for me. If every statement is used in such a way, whenever possible, even the most honest and forthright Mormons (or any other individuals, for that matter) will, without necessarily meaning to, become defensive. This will make your assumed “job”–that of exposing hidden truths about Mormonism–a whole lot harder. This problem is also evident in the substance of the changes made to this talk.

    The basic message of the original talk is that principles always trump laws, procedures, and even doctrines. In my estimation, and to the best of my knowledge, this is true. In a perfect world–that is, one in which the Church membership universally had good sense enough to clearly see the underlying principles for themselves–there would be no reason whatsoever to “hedge” the points of this talk, even as much as the speaker originally did. Essentially, in a world where people have enough sense to both know and properly execute the principles of the gospel with little or no precise instruction (“laws” or “procedures” and the like), the speaker could do well to simply come out and say it: “You know what to do, and have the good sense enough to interpret the rules according the the divine spirit thereof; do what you know is right. Make exceptions wherever you see fit, since you have the good sense to know what exceptions to make, and where to draw the appropriate lines.” Unfortunately, the people of this world most certainly DO NOT have any such good sense, generally speaking, and the people of the Church are no different. After all, they are drawn out of the general population of the world, and are heavily influenced by the same–even those who are “born into the Church” (a contradictory phrase on many levels, but that’s a subject for another time). The severely, exasperatingly imperfect nature of the world’s mortal population makes any such statement deeply irresponsible for any person in authority to make.

    Can you imagine what would happen if the police force of a large city publicly made such a statement? Chaos. Crime. Anarchy. Even murder. Few cities are as large as the population of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and even though this would not so much result in criminal “interpretations” of the “law,” it would certainly lead to ungodly ones. The simple fact is that the Lord’s statement in D&C 58:26:

    “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.”

    is, and has always been, much more of an ideal than a reality. We, as foolish mortals, absolutely do need unwavering commandments and procedures to keep us from doing the worst of the foolish things to which we are predisposed. To anybody with sufficient (arguably inhuman) good sense with regard to the commands to “love God” and “love our neighbor,” the Ten Commandments would be totally unnecessary. As Jesus taught, they are merely extensions of those first two and greatest commandments.

    Unfortunately, the leadership of the Church has to deal with spiritual incompetence, just as does the captain of a police force.

    So far as I can tell, the essence of Elder Poelman’s original talk was absolutely correct in a doctrinal sense, and remains so, even in light of the Church’s current teachings and redactions. The people (in general) are just too darn irresponsible, in a spiritual sense, to make good use of its teachings. In a very real sense, it invited the people of the Church to make exceptions to established rules and procedures. In my humble opinion, this is quite justified, as without a firm grasp on the principles behind such rules, and an according willingness to change the rules in order to ensure that the principles are properly adhered to, the rules themselves are basically worthless in all but the most rudimentary sense of keeping basic spiritual and social order. They still serve a worthy function–that of keeping our people–foolish notions or not–as close to the straight-and-narrow as they’re going to get until they gain a better understanding of why the rules exist–but that function is really just a tide-over until people gain a better sense of the way things are supposed to be (both spiritually and practically)–so that such rules will, eventually, no longer be necessary.

    Thus, many admonitions that started off as suggestions, such as the Word of Wisdom, found in D&C 89, only became Church “law” because people failed to mitigate their own free will with good sense. A little-known fact in the Church is that certain parts of the Word of Wisdom, such as the requirement to abstain from drinking alcohol, exist only because the people have failed to moderate the use of such substances, thus causing more problems than even the arguably asinine practice of “commanding [the people of the Church] in all things.” Other parts of the Word of Wisdom are, so far as I can tell, less optional in the sense of physical health (such as not smoking tobacco), but were originally subjected to the theoretical good sense of Church members until it was proven that such sense was insufficient to allow them to adequately govern themselves.

    And so, the leaders of the Church are left with an unenviable dilemma: allow this talk, which plainly tells the Church members to use their own good judgment in determining how, and even whether to obey the laws set forth by the Church, even though that judgment has proven quite inadequate; or redact this talk, removing some important, and even essential truths in the process, simply for the sake of keeping the foolish notions of the basically irresponsible masses from sending them into a spiral of prideful disobedience to rules set forth by those with (very arguably) better judgment. Obviously, they (the leadership) chose the latter.

    While I can’t agree with the idea of keeping any truths, whatsoever from public view, I can’t reasonably disagree with their decision, being as familiar as I am with the unwise disposition of the general membership of the Church (even if they are, arguably, in many cases, wiser than many non-members–by no means a blanket statement, of course).

    I have seen first-hand, to my perpetual disgust, how easily rules can become culture norms, which in turn become far stronger in belief and enforcement than the rules themselves, and far-and-beyond more prominent and well-enforced than the principles that governed those rules to begin with. Many (probably most) people outside the Church tend towards interpreting these cultural norms–now effectively rules in their own right–as literal commandments, doctrines, and even principles of the Church, and interpreted the veracity/validity of the Church according to the questionable validities of these cultural norms. Under close scrutiny–such as is to be expected from those outside the Church, looking in–these norms are shown (rightly) to be unjustified, and thus the Church is assumed to be unjustified. Perhaps surprisingly, this is just as, or perhaps even more common amongst the ranks of those who, for one reason or another, have been disenfranchised from the Church, and who are almost always quite bitter about the injustices and malpractices of Church members who were acting under what they assumed to be principle-dictated laws/rules of the Church–but which were actually nothing more than an intensely enforced cultural norm. Thus, former members fight tooth-and-nail to disprove the truthfulness of the Church, based on the norms that they, themselves believe to be law and principle.

    Essentially, it is nothing more than the logical “straw man” fallacy, in which a person vehemently argues against a point that was never actually made, but which, in this case, is genuinely and internally assumed to be the original point argued. This mistake is seldom realized and admitted for the fallacy it is, since the disenfranchised persons rarely have seen any real and significant evidence to justify the change in perspective needed to prove to themselves that they’ve been arguing against social convention, rather than laws, doctrines, and principles. After all, such social conventions are often much more pervasive in practice than any laws, and are generally enforced just as well, although not always (but sadly, often enough) by those in authority.

    This blurring between convention, law, doctrine, and principle, and the spiritual foolishness that causes it–in my (humble) opinion–is the most real and deadly threat to the Mormon Church today, and perhaps has always been so. Every time I spend any time with the Latter-Day Saints–my friends and religious compatriots–I see people adopting and vehemently enforcing social conventions as if they were the Lord’s own Gospel without even a blink of an eye to indicate that they even suspect that such conventions are not justified. Such conventions include the widespread assumption that every good Mormon is, and must be registered with the American Republican political party, and quite loyal thereto–notwithstanding any principles and Gospel laws (such as those involving the support of the poor, sick, and elderly, and the strong Gospel necessity to provide absolute, unconditional, and pure love to ALL people, regardless of ANY factors, whatsoever) that might indicate that they should do otherwise. They listen to bigots like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for their doctrinal instruction, rather than the often plainly contradictory teachings of our Lord, Jesus, and then have the ignorant audacity to claim, with all the mental force of a zealot, that what these riot-and-brutality-inciting bigots teach is in accordance to the principles of the Prince of Peace, himself. As much as I might dearly like to believe that these Church members are simply bad people who believe in what they do out of malice, greed, or contempt for their fellow humans, and smack them repeatedly upside their heads, accordingly, I can’t help but know that they, too are simply victims of social convention that has grown into a force as strong and hard as any law. Still, this does not make the Church untrue.

    Elder Poelman is stating the same, albeit in an oblique manner befitting of any diplomat. The Church, with all its conventions, rules, laws, and even doctrines is not, never has been, and never will be synonymous with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sure, the leaders of this Church receive revelations from the Lord Jesus and, within the bounds of their own human foolishness and imperfections, and those of their listeners, disseminate those revelations as best they can to the congregation at large; but they are still, as you, Billy, and others, have pointed out at length, only mortals, human, and frail in mind and reason, as well as in body. No matter how good their intentions, they never can, due to nothing more than their own human frailties and imperfections, relate those revelations as purely as could the Lord God himself, if he were to do so directly to the people of the Church–and this is by design.

    Were it not for the innate human frailties and imperfections of our Church leaders, there would be no need to get both revelation, and clarification to revelation already given directly from the Lord God, himself. We, the members of the Church, as well as any who would know the truthfulness of the same Church, could rely exclusively upon the words of our leaders, and would never have reason to know what real revelation is, first hand. We, ourselves, would be left alone, with the frailties and imperfections of our own logic and reasoning–pitiful as they may be–to determine how to find salvation and exaltation–a task that we, mortal, imperfect, unreasonable, illogical, prideful, etc. beings would be–and indeed are–utterly unqualified for. Disaster would be the only fruits of the merciful plan of our God, who wanted all of his children–not just those with good reasoning skills and enough good information to support them–to be eternally happy and to find everlasting peace with their loving father–God, himself. Without the literal need for us to ask Him, ourselves, for clarification and revelation to correct and fill in the gaps of what is passed down to us by imperfect prophets and revelators–including those in scripture, since they, surely, were not perfect either–we would be almost left to our own pathetic devices, and therefore almost bereft of hope in terms of actually attaining to eternal happiness.

    Thus we come back to the problem of redacting the afore-mentioned speech. People aren’t doing what they need to; they aren’t receiving revelation for themselves, but are rather relying entirely, or almost so, on the words of their fellow humans–both their authoritative leaders, as well as their peers who play major roles in determining how such words will be interpreted and practiced, as per social convention–and neglect to ask God for themselves whether such rules, procedures, conventions, and even doctrines are being interpreted and implemented according to the will of God, rather than the minds of their fellow mortals. They aren’t thinking for themselves, and more devastatingly are not asking for themselves of the one person who could tell them the complete, unadulterated truth, in a way that individually makes sense to them–God. Were it not for this spiritual ineptitude, such redactions would be entirely unnecessary except in cases of literal errors made by the speaker(s). As it stands, the people of the Church would be destroyed by such truths, and so their revelation must be held in stasis until the general congregation shows itself to be more spiritual wise, and therefore able to correctly process the admonition to think for themselves, and re-interpret the rules as they see fit.

    The above is given, of course, in light of the deeper principles and doctrines as held by the LDS Church–not by convention, which is malleable and sways with the wind of mortal foolishness; but by that which was established before such foolishness had any time to take hold in the form of convention. I’m well aware that many (probably most) of you who are reading this blog don’t agree with those doctrines and principles, so I’m inviting you now to save your effort and “breath,” and save your objections to them for another time, in another thread. Besides, I know, as probably does everybody else here, what your objections are, since they’ve been repeatedly stated both on this blog and on the Internet at large. I am much more interested in knowing what you think of the information I’ve presented (at unfortunate length, it appears), above.

    I hope I’ve made enough sense in this writing for a constructive discussion to proceed therefrom.


  10. Dane,
    Goodness, what utter confusion. I’m not too sure what point you are trying to make. I think the thing about this talk that bothers most of us is the fact that it was changed and people are led to believe that it’s the original. It’s dishonest. One thing that you said did jump out at me though. You said:

    The basic message of the original talk is that principles always trump laws, procedures, and even doctrines. In my estimation, and to the best of my knowledge, this is true.

    If this were “honestly” true, you sir, would be a practicing polygamist.

    • Hi Dane I would agree with Kate that you seem to say a lot but not really say much, however I understand your disclaimer that while you are not 100% happy with everything the church does you still believe its true, I cant imagine the people who comment on this blog using that against you, I will copy the latest comment I have made on the Mormon Dialogue forum as it sums up my thoughts.

      I think the main issue for me here is not the fact that the church changed this talk, as much as myself and others appreciate the points made in the original the LDS church and im sure many other churches worldwide have the right to correct what they see as something incorrect taught from the front so that the right message is being put across.

      However the way this has been done in such a quiet secretive way so that as ever the average (non internet searching) LDS member today will most likely have no idea of this and many issues discussed on here. If they happen to look up the October 1984 General conference and have a listen they will as far as they are aware be listening to what was taught at the conference. This is not the case.

      LDS Apologists rightly point out to the Anti-Mormon crowd again and again that their leaders are human and make mistakes, I respect this point and know its true in any organization no matter how inspired, however it seems to me the LDS church does not want to communicate that message so rather than say look guys mistakes were made here is how we deal with it feel free to use this model in your ward its just secretly covered up.

      This goes right back to Mormon history with the many strange to outright deceptive things Brigham Young and Joseph Smith were said to have done, none of this is ever communicated by the church these guys are portrayed as near perfect if not perfect inspired prophets, even in the last general conference we have the 14 fundimentals which are as powerful as any statements by Brigham young saying things like all my words are scripture.

      This to me is another case of the church saying something different to the apologists, the apologists say they were correcting what might cause misinterpretation, or its not that big a deal etcetc, the church says……. NOTHING. Just keep following the prophet.

  11. OK, I made myself go back and read Dane’s post again. I just want to say that I left the church, not because of the people, I love my family and friends and I don’t think that they are the least bit stupid for their beliefs. I think they have been misled by men and believe with all their hearts that they are following a true and living prophet. How I wish they would follow Christ instead. I left the church because I found dishonesty among the leaders (past and present) and I took Brigham Young’s challenge to compare the LDS religion with the Bible to see if it won’t line up. I left the church because I found the true and living Christ of the Bible. The “Traditional Christ of the Bible” that President Hinckley himself said he doesn’t believe in. I don’t call myself Anti Mormon either. I don’t understand that. How is Mormon doctrine and Mormon history “Anti Mormon??” How is it any different for the mormon missionaries to come into my home and tell me Christianity is an abomination to the Lord? Or that the doctrines of Christianity are all wrong in God’s eyes. Or the pamphlet sent to me from the first presidency after I sent in my resignation letter, which was basically spiritual blackmail. Is that not “Anti Christian?” We all have to find our own way and I choose to follow the “traditional Christ of the Bible.” Please don’t make generalizations about people who leave the LDS church. Not all of us have been “disenfranchised from the Church” in the way that you are suggesting and some of us aren’t “fighting tooth-and-nail to disprove the truthfulness of the Church, based on the norms that they, themselves believe to be law and principle.” I would dare say that most of us are fighting for Christ.

    fight tooth-and-nail to disprove the truthfulness of the Church, based on the norms that they, themselves believe to be law and principle.

  12. My points seem to have been overlooked due to the largeness of the text. It wasn’t exactly something I could just state without thorough justification (at least in my opinion), so I took the time and effort to explain it–at length. Here’s a summary:

    1) In effect, any person who is against the Mormon Church, even from the standpoint of historical data, is anti (meaning against) Mormon (the LDS Church). I do not mean to say that this is necessarily done in a malicious fashion (although it often is); it’s simply a manner of thinking whereby a person works to “disprove” the Church or “expose” it in an uncomplimentary manner. Malicious or not–right or not, this is being “against” (anti-) the Church.

    Kate, there are some points that I made that you seem to have misunderstood the intention of. (1) I use the term, “disenfranchised” to mean any person who was once part of the Church, who is no longer a part of that church. It does not denote any particular malice or wrong thinking; simply that a person has left it or been otherwise removed from it, for whatever reason.

    It has been my experience with both my friends, acquaintances, and others whom I’ve observed that this disenfranchisement tends to cause those individuals a significant degree of emotional distress, usually in the form of bitterness. Tends to–not always, and not with all people, but in many cases. This is, indeed, a generalization, but not an irrational one, since I don’t use it to apply a statement to literally ALL such persons; I freely admit that exceptions exist. Unless I explicitly say that exceptions DO NOT exist, then I would have a person reading my writings believe that exceptions indeed DO exist. I hope that this will remove some of this repeated confusion in the future.

    2) I see the point being made: the Church leadership changed the talk and did not say so. They made it seem to the casual observer that they did not change it. I have not argued against this point, and I would appreciate it if we did not continue to argue about a point that we agree upon. Doing so is a waste of time and energy.

    3) If the Church leadership had made it clear to the casual observer that the talk HAD been changed, their reasons for changing it would have been defeated and rendered impotent. See below.

    4) The reason that the Church leadership redacted that talk, as far as I can tell, is because the general membership could not understand it–so much not, that it was going to do more harm than good to the very people for which it was intended–the general membership of the Church and those thinking of joining. Please note, Bobby, that I, personally, never said that this is not a big deal; it is a HUGE deal! This is an embodiment of the general membership of the Church being unwilling and/or unable (usually both) to accept the truths being presented, in such a way that the truths themselves, presented to such an audience, became a liability! It’s truly a bad omen for the Church, but not in the way that those on this blog have assumed. It means that–for at least that moment–the Church, as a delivery system for the Lord’s Gospel, was failing in its mission because of the unruly (in a spiritual sense) nature of its parishioners.

    An example may be in order:

    Imagine going on worldwide television and stating that the promises given to the Israelites for the event that they should reject the Messiah has come true, including:
    (A) Being scattered throughout the world;
    (B) Having their name become a hiss and a by-word amongst all nations;
    (C) Being subjected to unspeakable terrors and horrible, torturous torment, both throughout their history, and in the last days (as in the holocaust);
    (D) …and so forth…
    Do you think that the modern Jews (they being the only tribe of Israel to remain as a more-or-less discreet and identifiable entity) would take this well? Do you think that the non-Jews living with them, who subscribe to a basically Christian set of doctrines would universally behave with kindness and compassionate restraint towards their Jewish neighbors? We know quite well that this kind of statement would not turn out well on any front–even though it’s written in the scriptures of both Jew and Christian, alike (right along with important bits about treating people how you want to be treated). This kind of statement (repeated many times) was a major instigator of the bloody, and utterly ungodly holocaust! Even the makers of the movie, The Passion of the Christ had the good sense not to include the bit about the Jews saying that the blood of Jesus be upon their heads and those of their children. Such a statement, no matter how true, would not have ended well.

    5) Kate, as stated in the original talk (which I agree with), procedures, laws, and even doctrines change to meet the changing needs of the people for whom they are intended; principles, however, do not. Polygamy (or more specifically polygyny–not that the distinction matters much in this conversation) is a law and procedure whose usefulness basically vanished during the untoward treatment of Mormons in the 19th century, and was accordingly done away with in order to better secure the rights and freedoms already enjoyed by non-Mormons at that time. As a practice and law, it absolutely is subject to change, and is therefore not advisable (or even allowable) for any practicing Mormon at this time. Your statement that I would be a practicing polygamist, should I actually believe that principles always trump doctrines, laws, etc. is therefore false.

    I realize that the subject of polygamy/polygyny is a hot topic among anti-Mormons (see definition above if you need clarification for the term), so I kindly ask that you keep in mind what topic we are currently discussing, and refrain from reacting to its “scent of blood” like the wolves described in a previous post. It can be discussed at another time if you wish.


    To summarize, the main point I was/am trying to make is that the Church leadership was doing damage control amongst an unruly crowd who would not have reacted properly to the truths being presented, and who still aren’t really ready for them. This is not a “minor” issue, but the behavior, however one might object to it, was necessary to avoid a lot of harm being done by those truths. You may have heard the Mormon doctrines concerning “milk before meat.” That cuts both ways.

  13. Dane,

    5) Kate, as stated in the original talk (which I agree with), procedures, laws, and even doctrines change to meet the changing needs of the people for whom they are
    intended; principles, however, do not. Polygamy (or more specifically polygyny–not that the distinction matters much in this conversation) is a law and procedure whose usefulness basically vanished during the untoward treatment of Mormons in the 19th century, and was accordingly done away with in order to better secure the rights and freedoms already enjoyed by non-Mormons at that time. As a practice and law, it absolutely is subject to change, and is therefore not advisable (or even allowable) for any practicing Mormon at this time. Your statement that I would be a practicing polygamist, should I actually believe that principles always trump doctrines, laws, etc. is therefore false.

    “The same God that has thus far dictated me and directed me and strengthened me in this work, gave me this revelation and commandment on celestial and plural marriage, and the same God commanded me to obey it. He said to me that unless I accepted it, and introduced it, and practiced it, I, together with my people would be damned and cut off from this time henceforth. We have got to observe it. It is an ETERNAL PRINCIPLE and was given by way of commandment and not by way of instruction.”
    – Prophet Joseph Smith, Contributor, Vol. 5, p. 259

    “When that PRINCIPLE was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith … he did not falter, although it was not until an angel of God, with a drawn sword, stood before him; and commanded that he should enter into the practice of that PRINCIPLE, or he should be utterly destroyed, or rejected, that he moved forward to reveal and establish that doctrine.”
    – Prophet Joseph F. Smith, “Plural Marriage for the Righteous Only-Obedience Imperative-Blessings Resulting”, Journal of Discourses, Vol.20, p.28 – p.29

    You said that “principles” always trump laws, procedures, and even doctrines. In my estimation, and to the best of my knowledge, this is true.

    It seems that polygamy is an”ETERNAL PRINCIPLE.” That’s why I said you would be a practicing polygamist if that statement were true.

  14. Kate,
    Ah, I see your point. The question is, then, why would that principle not be observed?

    The most reasonable explanation (in my view) is that some principles are more important than others. The operative one, in this case, would be the ability to survive in relative peace and safety so that the Mormons could fulfill their mission to spread the Gospel, rather than constantly being on the run from angry mobs and tyrants (such as Governor Boggs of Missouri, a contemporary who ordered that all Mormons be exterminated). It would seem that without the freedom to operate, then the other principles–more important ones, such as those that must be practiced by every person, rather than just a few–would never truly see the light of day. It follows, then, that if/when the freedom once again exists to practice polygyny without such oppression from others, then that principle will once again be observed. As I understand it, this has always been a temporary arrangement. (Again, the reasons and/or justification/lack thereof for this practice and principle can be discussed at another time if desired.)

    I just woke up, and am feeling more than a bit hazy, so please don’t scrutinize this post too much. :-)

  15. Dane,
    OK, I’ll cut you a break this time:) I won’t “scrutinize” too much. I’ll just say that your explanations are just like mormonism…..wishy-washy:) I like to have something a bit more “solid” and reliable now days.

  16. Kate,
    That’s understandable. The religion is, as you know, very complex, and relies very heavily on nuances to influence how things should be done and interpreted. I can understand, however, the need or preference for something more “solid,” and I respect that. Even though I can’t exactly say that any aspect of Christianity (Mormon or not) is entirely concrete, as there are enough different and contradictory interpretations of the same books (those of the Bible) that literally hundreds (or possibly more, depending on definition) of Christian varieties exist (often varying greatly in even one congregation), I can appreciate that traditional Christianity (in its various forms) is simpler than Mormonism by quite a bit. I certainly don’t fault you for choosing the simpler option, despite whatever doctrinal disagreements we may have.

    Have a good day. :-)


    (P.S. I’m again writing shortly after waking up…)

    • Dane,
      I think the “simpler” thing for me is to follow Christ and only Christ. It’s true when I say that Jesus is enough for me. Hope you’re feeling better.:)

      • Dane,
        This comment has been bothering me and I’d like to clear some things up. I get really irritated when someone leaves the LDS church and mormom members think they know the reason. It has to be that they have either sinned horribly, or someone has offended them or they just can’t live the gospel of mormonism because it’s too hard, or they chose “the simpler option” of Christianity. Do you think that just maybe I went out and bought a King James Bible (not affiliated with the LDS) and asked the Lord to take me where he wanted me to go? Show me who he truly is? Teach me the truth that is him??? Because that is what I did. I didn’t know the true and living God as a mormon. Mormonism can’t even figure out who God is. The Book of Mormon teaches three in one (like Christianity), then Joseph Smith says “Wait! There are millions of gods and you can be one too! Then along comes Brigham Young and he says “No, wait, Adam is God and the only God with which we have to do.” Then he dies and again it’s ” Wait! Joseph was right and we can all be gods! What utter confusion! God himself says he’s not the author of confusion. Mormons always say that the church is perfect but the people are not. The reason I left is because of the church, not the people and I found the true and living Christ. He’s not the Christ of mormonism. He’s not my spirit brother. He’s found in the Bible, not the Book of Abraham or the Book of Mormon. Check it out! :)

  17. I’d like to make the point that one of the following happened: 1. Joseph Smith was being deceived about plural marriage being an eternal principle. 2. Joseph Smith intentionally deceived the church about it being an eternal principle. Or 3. Joseph’s words were altered by those who came after him who taught that it was an eternal principle.

    Want the eternal principle on plural marriage that the Book of Mormon teaches? Plural marriage, in any form, as an abomination to the unchanging God who has never nor will he ever grant an exception in any form. Jacob 2:30 is not talking about “authorized” plural marriage, it’s talking about the righteous seed that the Lord is wanting to raise up in the Americas hearkening to their own desires (“these things” – plural marriage) because they weren’t obeying the commandments.

  18. Hi Dave!,
    Personally, I believe it was number 2!

  19. Kate,
    I’m glad you shared your story about why you left the LDS Church. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, as I think we should be true to what is in our hearts; if Mormonism is not in your heart, and more traditional Christianity is, then you should go with more traditional Christianity. I don’t blame you for it, and in fact I applaud you for being so honest with yourself. I don’t think that any faith is justified if you only think you *should* embrace it; you must do it for your own reasons. That is more pure than any individual religion ever can be, in my opinion. That being said, I have known quite a lot of people who have left the Church for lesser reasons, just as I have known people to join it for the wrong reasons. When I make a generalization about anything, I mean it as just that–generally; there are always plenty of exceptions.

    Unfortunately, I fear that we have gotten off-topic (for this thread, specifically) with talk of polygamy. It is a valid issue to discuss on this blog, or so I believe, but as far as I can tell, it’s not valid (i.e. on-topic) for this particular topic. I would prefer to discuss the matter at hand, or else move on to another thread.

  20. Dane.
    Well actually I wasn’t really talking about polygamy, I was using it as an example of “principles” which this thread is about. You are the one who went off on a tangent about the practice of polygamy.:) But it is time to move on. Maybe Bobby is close to having another subject for us to discuss.


  1. Getting some “Fair” attention. | Mormonism Investigated UK

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