What I Want From General Conference

I cannot predict what will come up in Conference, but I can tell you what I will attend hoping to hear.  I am hoping to hear something from the Brethren about the importance of participating in national elections because I cannot see the point.  I am hoping to hear something about the morality of attacking Iraq which was no threat to us nor to its neighbors.  I am hoping for some guidance on the topics of US national sovereignty and illegal immigration.  I would like to be reassured that there is no secret Gadianton Band running things in Washington, D.C.  I am hoping to hear a strong denunciation of abortion and the sin of voting the pro-choice position.  I would like to have the Church position cleared up on the philosophy behind so-called “victimless crimes.”  I want to hear a reaffirmation of the Church committment to the Constitution and warnings about current threats to it.  I would like to hear Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie quoted as authority on doctrine and the scriptures, or at least something reassuring me that our leaders still believe the same things they did when those men were alive.  I would like to hear another denunciation of those who are proud because of their money or learning and set themselves above the prophets.  I would like to hear it reaffirmed that it is official Church doctrine that there really was a Lehi colony in ancient America and that the Book of Mormon is not merely an “inspired” fiction of purely 19th century origins.  I would also like it cleared up whether the priesthood ban on blacks holding the priesthood before 1978 was God-made or man-made.  And I don’t think it will happen, but I wish The Family: A Proclamation to the World would be added to our standard works with a sustaining vote of the Church membership in General Conference.

Bottom line:  I would like to receive assurance that I am attending a Mormon religious meeting, and not just another traditional Christian meeting.  I just hate it when I receive in General Conference only what I could have heard in any Protestant church before I joined the Church.  I like my religion hard-core.  That is why I became a Mormon.  That is why I knew it was true.  All the Jesus-loves-me-this-I-know-for-the-Bible-tells-me-so stuff I can get anywhere.  I go to General Conference for the truth that goes beyond that.

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10 Responses to What I Want From General Conference

  1. dexterb says:

    Is it the church’s job to present the meat? I don’t think so, or they would have done it. That’s the job of the Spirit. Which requires extra effort on our part. No effort + lotsa meat = shallow testimony. Indeed, Elder McConkie certainly laid it on the line, and his approach ruffled many feathers in the anti community (who can’t take the meat anyway). So we have to enjoy the “style” differences between church leaders. Perhaps I see things in a different light–plus I don’t dwell on the “glory days” as my friends tend to do. I just don’t see the “dumbing down” you espouse. Can you elaborate specifically?

  2. I think that the Church needs to present both the milk and the meat to Church members so that they can learn at whatever level is appropriate for them. If I went to the public library, as I often do, and the only books available were from the Children’s Annex which is downstairs in our local library, I would quickly stop going to the library. Fortunately, there is a little something for everyone and I can choose reading that is appropriate for my reading, comprehension, and interest level. Anything too far over my head is utterly boring. Anything that is too far beneath my level is equally boring.

    If the Church in 1962 when I first started investigating the LDS faith had been as generic in its presentation of Christianity as is generally the case today, I never would have joined the Church. Why? Because I would not have recognized it as much different from the mild form of Baptist Protestantism that I already had and was completely unsatisfied with. Why prefer one brand of more or less generic Christianity over another?

    Any good teacher will tell you that material must be presented to the pupil on the level at which he learns. If the material is too easy, it is a big yawn. If it is too hard, it is completely incomprehensible. Therefore, anything that is being taught to a wide spectrum of people has to be taught on many different levels so that the learner can find one that is appropriate for him.

    If the Church presents the gospel only to the lowest common denominator, then it is making the same big mistake that is made by network television. In an effort to appeal to the masses, it will overlook the needs of many for whom such elementary instruction is inappropriate, not because it is false, but because it does not add to the light and knowledge of the learner.

    We need to follow the example of Jesus Christ when we teach the gospel. We need to teach on many levels so that those with “ears to hear” can learn right along with those who need more elementary instruction.

    Of course, I’m sure that our Church leaders are already doing this to the best of their ability. And they may find better ways yet to do it. How to make the gospel meaningful to the new investigator while still retaining the interest of someone who has already mastered the fundamentals must be a real challenge.

    Still, the dumbing down of the gospel during recent years is really quite distressing to me. I will patiently wait upon the Lord to correct the situation. I have great faith that he will.

  3. dexterb says:

    I once read a quote by the late W. Cleon Skousen that we should only teach the milk; the meat of the gospel deals with the strong doctrines and even the mysteries that most people are generally unprepared for. Of course, the meat is what energizes and spurs on study and feasting for me. Yet in a kindler, gentler way the milk accomplishes the same thing. It is true we can be saved and even receive exaltation with only the milk.

    I have friends who describe the same feeling that the manuals are “whitewashed” teachings of the prophets (like Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young manuals, etc). The question is asked when (if) a Ezra Taft Benson PH/RS manual emerges, what will it contain–what will it NOT contain. Difficult to answer, but at least it will contain what is necessary–the milk. Items that all of us need to continually treasure up. If we have meat all the time we’ll wither, never being content. We need that consistent helping of milk.

    Does that seem reasonable?

  4. God moves in mysterious ways. Perhaps it is his desire that the Church become wishy-washy, generic and mainstream at this point in its history. It may be serving his purposes for reasons we cannot imagine. I know that President Hinckley is leading the Church in the way the Lord wants him to because the Holy Ghost has assured me of that. I don’t like it, but then I don’t like a lot of the things the Lord does. I’ll wait patiently for him to either straighten things out or to give me greater light and knowledge about his reasons. I know that the Lord can raise up men like Joseph Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie whenever he wants to. I’ll just have to be patient until he does. In the meantime, if I don’t get much spiritual food at Church, I can always get it at home on my knees and immersed in the scriptures. Home is supposed to be the center of our religious life anyway.

  5. Tony says:

    I’m a long time member; enough with the milk already…I’ve spoken about this problem with a couple of friends now and we are in cautious agreement that the doctrine, especially as it is taught in meetings and the official church nagazines, is being dumbed down. I struggle with going to conference because I can almost predict what is going to be said. President Monson will resurrect some story about an elderly lady that he used to vist and tie it into a gospel principle. How many elderly woman does he know?

    I believe the church is in a crisis as it attempts to become mainstream. I’m a memeber of this church because it is so radically different than all the other churches. It taught doctrine that’s unique. Yes our Jesus Christ is different than other churches…President Hinckley needs to come out and reaffirm our belief that God was once a man like us…That Jesus Christ was baptized and married to fulfill ALL righteousness…I would like to get a definative ruling on the Joseph Smith Papyra (Book of Abraham) and if we need to cut it loose then let it be… And I would like to get a clarification of Dallin Oak’s talk last conference when he spoke of other scripture coming forth…Our track record with new scripture has been terrible, so what does he really mean (Salamander Letters, Kinderhook Plates, Book of Abraham)…If we want the world to embrace the Book of Mormon as scripture then when is the church going to make a definative statement and embrace the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi, and other Gospels etc…Let’s start with fully implementing the use of the Josph Smith translation. I would also like to see honesty in the reporting of membership numbers…

    And one other thing. I would like the current leaders to confirm that whatever previous prophets spoke while in the calling of prophet and president of the church was true. I no longer want to hear the excuse from apoligist that “Oh they were speaking as a man when they said that, not as a prophet.” If this is the case can I pick and choose when President Hinckley is saying things as a prophet or just as a man?

    Now that would be a great conference. Retention of members will get harder and harder as our teachings mirror more and more the teachings of mainstrem christianity. It’s our difference that made this church what it was.

  6. Dexterb says:

    I kinda feel the same way as John. I like the strong doctrine as given by McConkie and Pres Benson. It’s interesting to contrast the leadership styles of different men called of God to lead his people.

    I experience the same effect in my ward. As the bishop I take a much different approach to things than the previous bishops. That’s the beauty of church government, they accomplish what I cannot and vice-versa. I think the same holds true for our prophets.

    As I’ve scanned thru years of conference material from the 1850s up until current, it appears the mix is similar. Some speakers were quite blunt, others were story tellers weaving a tapestry that reaches different people. For our current leaders, I love it when someone like Elder Bednar or Holland and even Oaks deliver it direct and to the point.

  7. Jettboy says:

    Did you hear Pres. Hinkley at Priesthood session? I think he touched on some of those issues without getting political. As for quoting Pres J.Fielding Smith and Elder McConkie, I don’t think they ever were quoted in General Conference more than any other prophet and Apostle. I also agree that the LDS Church is trying hard to become a World Religion apart from just U.S. considerations and therefore concentrate on general sins.

    I believe, after all is said and done, that there are serious plain old “traditional and general Christian” moral concerns that are threatened. How can you teach the deeper doctrines of the spirit when the very basics are not followed? I do have sympathy for your wishes, but see problems that are much more serious in today’s society in and outside the LDS Church.

  8. a random John says:

    John,

    You’re a bit early on the April Fools, but I laughed all the same.

  9. Well, then how about in stake conference? I just want to hear something from somebody in authority that will help me live my life. I thought that is what prophets were for. Saints in years past have certainly enjoyed this kind of guidance. And I don't believe the Lord has abandoned us. Do you?

  10. Judy Jones says:

    The Church is Worldwide now. There a lot of people that don’t remember before 1978. The members in other countries don’t care about the War in Iraq or those other things. I expect to hear spiritual messages like they always do.

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