Two Perspectives

Or Why I Frequently Disagree With Other Mormons.

14492469I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in disagreements with other Mormons. And I’ve found this really all boils down to a difference in perspective. There are two type of perspectives I wish to discuss. These are what I call the Looking Back and Looking Forward perspectives.

For someone with a Looking Back perspective they look at where they are now and reconcile the past with that. What this means is a Mormon will start from what the know today; and believing that to be correct, will regard past decisions as necessary to get us where we are. Their understanding comes from the now and looking back into the past.

Someone with a Looking Forward perspective looks from the past and reconciles the past as it flowed into the future. From this perspective a Mormon will believe some point in the past was correct, and as time flowed any decisions may have been good or bad depending on if they maintained the integrity of that past. Where we are now might not be correct if past decisions are found to be in error.

Let’s look at some examples:

  Looking Back Looking Forward
Pioneers God wanted the Pioneers to travel across the plains to establish Salt Lake City so the Gospel could flourish and go to all the earth. The Saints were cast out of Nauvoo because they failed to listen to God’s commandments. We are currently under condemnation.
President of the Church There is a clear line of succession traced back to Joseph Smith. There was no clear successor after Joseph’s death. Modern leaders are probably not true successors.
Section 89 (Word of Wisdom)  The Word of Wisdom is now a commandment and we are forbidden from drinking alcohol. Section 89 says it is not a commandment and allows wine for the sacrament and mild barley based drinks.
Church Administration Bishops are to lead congregations, Priests bless the sacrament, teachers hold the doors, and Deacons pass the sacrament. Bishops are to oversee the temporal needs, while Elders are spiritual leaders. Priest may only administer sacrament if and elder in not present. Neither teachers nor deacons may administer the sacrament.


Those are just a few examples. But I think you get my meaning. Now I’ll give you a practical example. Just recently I was conversing with another Mormon and he stated that a sacrament I participated in was not real because it was not authorized by a Bishop. I asked where it is stated that a bishop must authorize a sacrament. The other member said it was in the handbook. Yes, but the handbook is not scripture, I replied. This member said, No, but it was authorized by the Prophet.

Do you see the two perspectives here? Get into any discussion with an L-DS Mormon and it will inevitably come down to the President of the Church. Do you believe Thomas S. Monson to be a prophet? In other words, do you believe that where we are now is correct? Because if where we are now is correct, then it doesn’t matter how things used to be.

Whereas my perspective in the discussion was that the past was correct and any changes from that were incorrect. So from my perspective it doesn’t matter if President Monson authorized the handbook or not, because if that Handbook contradicts God’s revelations, it is not true.

For many the Looking Back perspective works; and if it works for you, that’s great. But it doesn’t work for me. Why? Because, no offense, it doesn’t seem rational. Time does not flow backward, it flows forward. Past events were not done with our current arbitrary position in mind as the inevitable goal.

Let’s say that 100 years ago at point A God revealed that we should paint our doors black. Then 50 years ago at Point B someone said, hey we don’t have any black paint, let’s use grey. Then today at point C someone says God wants all our doors to be grey. Yes I know it’s a silly example but bear with me.

Someone Looking Back would say, yes God originally wanted our doors black, but it was changed and now He wants our doors grey.

Someone Looking Forward would say our current practice is wrong. God still wants our doors black, because he never told us he wanted them grey, that was just something somebody used in an extraneous circumstance.

Both of these perspectives require that some point be viewed as correct. To me it makes more sense to look at the past because we can more easily examine it. The Lord said the saints would be cast out if they didn’t finished the Nauvoo Temple in time. They didn’t and they were. We can look at history and see it unfolding. The Looking Back perspective requires us to assume that whatever we are taught today is true. There really is no other basis than he said, she said. To me it seems a very weak foundation to have.

This is the big difference that seems to be the root of all my disagreements with other Mormons. Because it always seems to boil down to, “Do you believe President Monson is a Prophet or not?” I’m not sure how to really address this, because no matter what the answer it shuts the discussion down.

So, which perspective do you espouse? What point do you view as correct? What are the advantages of your perspective?

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6 Responses to Two Perspectives

  1. MC says:

    I think you make a good point about how illogical it is to think that all of the changes in church practices over the years have been correct. I understand why people hold this view, because that’s what we’re taught at church. However it’s a dangerous notion to think that all of the changed teachings, doctrines, practices, and even ordinances are automatically approved by the Lord because they come from the first presidency and the twelve. This is especially dangerous when changes directly contradict previous teachings and even revelations from God.

    We all accept the fact that that the primitive church fell into apostasy not long after it was established by Christ himself. Even during the lifetimes of the ancient apostles the apostasy was already beginning to take a firm hold. Following there deaths the church quickly fell into a complete and utter apostasy. All of the saving ordinances and doctrines were changed. For example baptism was changed from immersion to sprinkling. In his book “The Great Apostasy” James E. Talmage does an excellent job of documenting all of the changes. We all accept the fact that these unauthorized changes rendered the saving ordinances null and void and were a sign of the church being in apostasy. However we take a very different position when it comes to changed teachings, doctrines, practices, and ordinances that have occurred in the church from the days of Joseph Smith until the present day.

    It is a fact that many things have been changed over the years, including saving ordinances. No where is this more evident that in the Temple. Joseph revealed the method for administering the ordinances in the Temple and declared that they were not to be changed. With the exception of baptisms for the dead every single Temple ordinance has been changed. Initially these changes were minor, but since 1990 the Temple ordinances have all been significantly changed. For example, in 2005 the washing and anointing was completely changed. The clothing worn was changed, the wording of the blessings was changed, the workers no longer touch certain parts of the body as they’re blessed (now hands are only placed on the head), and most notably the garment is no longer placed upon the person (the person puts it on themselves before entering the washing area). There is no reason reason for making these changes except to make them more convenient and comfortable. How is this any different than baptism being changed from immersion to sprinkling nearly two thousand years ago? There is no difference. It’s the same thing. In both cases much symbolism was lost by making the change. How can we say that the baptism change rendered it null and void and yet support the change to the washing and anointing?

    It’s obvious from this change and many others that the church today is in a state of apostasy, either mostly or entirely. There is no other logical conclusion.

    Having said that I disagree with a few things from the list you put together. The biggest being in regards to the Nauvoo Temple and the trek westward. I don’t think we are justified in saying that the church was rejected along with their dead for failing to COMPLETELY finish the Nauvoo Temple. The saints finished the baptismal font in the basement of the Temple and it was dedicated by Joseph Smith himself. The saints then stopped performing their baptisms for the dead in the river and moved it to the House dedicated unto the Lord for that purpose as required in D&C 124. Though the interior was not fully finished the rest of the Temple was dedicated by Brigham Young and the other Temple ordinances were performed therein prior to the trek west. The saints were driven from the Temple by their enemies and thus were unable to finish the interior. They hoped to return one day and finish it. Satan hindered the work, but that doesn’t mean the Lord holds those saints responsible. A strong argument can be made that they met the requirements to not be rejected as a church. I believe the real apostasy happened gradually over time after the saints got to Utah, just like in the primitive church two thousand years ago

  2. whereiszion says:

    God personally reveals his will to individuals, when, where, why, and how He wants. He told me, in just such a revelation, that it is contrary to his ideas about reliable communications to give instructions to individuals through other men. He simply doesn’t need to do that. And such a system is so flawed in practice that it just doesn’t work. Besides, He doesn’t care for the game of “gossip” any more than the rest of us…unless it’s all in fun. In just such a fashion, God revealed His will one day through Joseph Smith, Jr., and said the Churches were bullshit, but said (significantly) nothing about any intent to establish any kind of Church later on (possibly, because of the “all Churches are bullshit” rule that He had just made very clear). But Joseph took this perfectly ordinary, God-initiated communication to mean more than it really did…and eventually began to do things on his own initiative rather than welcome any God-talk again. (Joseph’s early accounts of this seems to make this point very clear, don’t they?) Then we see Joseph eventually getting involved with other agents, such as some guy he called Moroni (or was it Nephi? There seems to be some confusion about that)…and the simple process God might have employed to continue to instruct this promising young man in his life development were gone, gone, gone. Everything after that demonstrates a desperate attempt on Joseph’s part to correct this simple failure to communicate, but he still doesn’t have his ears on or his eye on the ball; and any kind of real “sacred grove” experience eludes him after that. Interestingly, he wasn’t not creative enough to do anything, or set up anything, on his own, except promote a “church” organization and “book” of so-called scripture that pretty much resembles the bullshit churches, and supporting books of rules and creeds, that he was originally warned against—an organization, and flawed foundational literature, that flounder much like a loose cannons, and an organization that has descended from his uninspired creativity to be what we have today. Just another church that is the brain child of an extraordinary, but flawed, self-deceiving young man…and the opportunists that followed in his footsteps. (Notice how much the Mormon Church today resembles more and more all the other bullshit churches of failed Christianity that Joseph was warned not to pay any attention to? And how much the Book of Mormon reads like the failed Biblical literature that has been hoodwinking honest people for umpteen years? And how much the men that fraudulently claim to be talking for God come off like every other talking-head in the world of folks that constantly try to tell others what God has told them to tell you and me to do?)

    • whereiszion says:

      …a couple of typos in the above…and one misstated word: God didn’t reveal his word “through” Joseph. God revealed his word “to”…Joseph. But, just as in a game of “gossip” these words got mixed up. Sorry…(remember: what is said here is in no way binding on any body else. If you want your own intelligence on these matters, just go to the source…

  3. Great post, Zomarah. It’s been a while since we’ve heard from you.

    You generate a lot of interesting responses from people. Sometimes I like to read old comment sections of yours. I much enjoy the spiteful readers that tell you to follow the prophet or leave the church…they simply fascinate me. How interesting it would be to live and think that way. I think it really does come down to which of these two perspectives we have.

    I think anyone with a genuine desire to know the truth won’t take long to gather that the LDS church has gone amiss. however, everyone differs on the HOW, and exactly WHY this happened. I myself do believe that the church was rejected by God in 1841, and that polygamy and the masonic endowment was a result of this. I believe Brigham Young and all his successors are false prophets.

    You asked an interesting question– what is the advantage to having my perspective.

    I think the only advantage is that I will be able to recognize true prophets when they are called to the earth, instead of fooling myself into believing that prophets are already here, leading the LDS church.


  4. Winston Smith says:

    I just came across a fascinating book on Amazon called “Strange Things among Us” that details not only some of the changes in the church, but how these things can serve to bless us if we discern properly. It was a good read and really changed my perspective – instead of being upset with these things, it encouraged me to gain strength and encouragement from it, knowing that it is all a part of His work and His strange work. Recommended to those who are struggling with how to deal with these things, or even those who are students of scripture. I feel much more at peace dealing with these things with an eternal perspective.

  5. Jefferson Madison says:

    Continual revelations. Continually corrected revelations. Isn’t a bona-fide ‘Correct Revelation’ in order once in a while? I think an eternal God would not be so fickle as to not know his own mind from one generation to the next. Are there any everlasting principles, immutable laws, or timeless truths to be found? Have these changed simply because people drive SUVs instead of mule carts?

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