Response to “Where’d Everybody Go?” by Pure Mormonism

Rock Waterman, author of the blog Pure Mormonism, is a name to be had for good and bad in the greater Mormon community. (His positions have been summarized nicely by John Dehlin here.) I can’t say I agree with Rock on everything, but he does make some points that are sound and resonate with me. Rock nailed a few points that require response in his latest article “Where’d Everybody Go?”:

I hear from members who are being threatened with discipline all the time, whether it’s a young mother admitting to giving her own child a blessing in her own home; or someone asking a simple question such as, “if the current President of the Church is said to be a prophet, seer, and revelator the same as Joseph Smith, why doesn’t he ever present revelations to the church the way Joseph Smith did?” (ref.)

To avoid repetition from my previous comments on prophecyless-prophets, let me focus on this point from Rock: the Mormon Church has set its heavy hand of top-down authority on its members, and through recent excommunication/discipline events (here, here, and here), it has established that variation from correlation is a bulls-eye for shaming and punishment. I believe this is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith had in mind, in Volume 5 of the History of the Church, when he said:

I did not like the old man being called up for erring in doctrine. It looks too much like the Methodist, and not like the Latter-day Saints. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be asked out of their church. I want the liberty of thinking and believing as I please. It feels so good not to be trammelled. It does not prove that a man is not a good man because he errs in doctrine. (ref)

How can Mormons in good conscious sit by and let their brothers and sisters get punished for that which Joseph Smith himself declared to be something which should not be done? Another reminder from Joseph Smith, this time from the Doctrine & Covenants:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the natureand disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. (ref)

Enough with this. Priesthood leaders have overstepped their boundaries. And the D&C is very clear what happens when Priesthood leader cross the line:

…but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. (ref.; emphasis added)

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