John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Stem wrote:Surely the Church itself provides information within some degree of accuracy.
I think the church has a pattern of giving contradicting information at the same time to different people. I think a case can be made that this is likely deliberate.

Stem wrote:But what we're talking about here is often debatable issues of history. As it were none of us were there, and none of us know precisely what happened in each case.

All the more reason to be more careful with information and to be more reverent about the individual's need to access relevant information.

Stem wrote:And as it is, millions of Mormons would likely swear by the benefit of following the Mormon leaders.
That can be explained by the basic community provided within the church. Does the fact that people benefit from their participation mean that it does not cause lasting harm? I don't think so. The fact that people depend upon it so much should compel those at the helm to be more circumspect about the morality or immorality of their actions.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Can the leaders of the church claim "i didn't /don't know about the info that is coming /is out
now- i was brainwashed too!"

if they know now should they become exmos?


just askin'
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote:Shall we use a less personal example then?

There are parents who have refused emergency life-saving medical treatment to their children because they say it goes against their religious beliefs, whose children have then died as a result of that inaction.

I say that inaction is immoral. Also, as an additional issue, it is criminal.

Do you want to say they have a right to believe what they do and then act on it, therefore by inaction allowing their child to die? Do they have a right to do that? Is it moral if they sincerely believe that a dead child is safer in the arms of Jesus than under the "Satanic" influence of modern medicine?

Should we refrain from calling their inaction immoral, or should we expect them to meet basic standards of decency and "not harming" that our society holds in common, that of caring for and not neglected our children?

My opinion on this is the same as it was as a believing Mormon: their court pleas betrayed their actions as inpure: if they are willing to let their child die in order to live their religious beliefs, then they should also be willing to pay the lesser price and go to jail for their religious beliefs.


We are dealing with a completely different thing here. I don't recognize enough similarity between this case and devotional or mythological history to pick this up as a line of debate.

In short, using the First Vision again, I don't see how questions regarding the date or precise content of the First Vision would be of the same urgency as medical treatments for a dying person.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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honorentheos wrote:The leadership cut pages out of Joseph Smith's letter book containing the 1832 account of the first vision and hid them in a safe, pretending they didn't exist.


Note the use of the term "leadership" for what was likely the act of one or two people.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:
We are dealing with a completely different thing here. I don't recognize enough similarity between this case and devotional or mythological history to pick this up as a line of debate.

In short, using the First Vision again, I don't see how questions regarding the date or precise content of the First Vision would be of the same urgency as medical treatments for a dying person.


Huh. Well I must conclude that our experience with religion is much more different than I thought. I referred earlier to my own life decisions based on prophetic counsel. For me, they have included life-and-death decisions. And I would say that there are many other LDS who would say that their's have as well.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote:As I said, I was setting up a hypothetical and wasn't done. So I wanted to get both our heads into a similar situation, hopefully to find some common ground.

Once upon a time I had a vegan teenager. She was vegan for moral reasons, so essentially she believed in abstaining from eating animal products due to her beliefs about animal cruelty involved in their production. As her mother, I agreed to support her in her convictions and I made the effort to provide her with enough vegan food choices so she could eat balanced meals that were vegan. She was expected to cook for herself more, with the food I provided, but I also prepared vegan recipes. One day, however, I was making something that was meant for her and I mistakenly put milk in it. I might have not noticed and then served her the food with cow milk, but I remembered before I was done cooking. That was a very frustrating moment. All that effort, and I would not be able to serve this batch with my daughter. Ugh. I admit that I did weigh my options. Could I just "forget" that I realised my mistake and go along as if it was as understood?

Would it have been immoral for me to serve her cake with milk while saying it was vegan when I thought it was vegan? Not necessarily.
Would it have been immoral for me to serve her cake with milk while saying it was vegan when I knew it was not vegan? I think so.

I agree with all of that. I think where things are breaking down between us is when we try to take things to the next more complex level. Get ready for a very contrived example.

What happens when you find out that you find out that your daughter has a life-threatening disease that can only be cured by trace amounts of milk in her diet. She is totally convinced that the life-threatening disease is fake and determined not to ingest any milk at all costs. You are convinced otherwise. How immoral is it to lie to her and slip a little milk into something she eats if it means saving her life?

In the above contrived example, either the mother or the daughter could be mistaken about the facts. I'm purposely leaving that ambiguous. Does the morality/immorality of the decision hinge on who is factually correct?
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote:Huh. Well I must conclude that our experience with religion is much more different than I thought. I referred earlier to my own life decisions based on prophetic counsel. For me, they have included life-and-death decisions. And I would say that there are many other LDS who would say that their's have as well.


If we were to agree to stick to the specifics of the moral implications of Mormon history, I would be happy to continue discussing that point. I am not interested in expanding the discussion to general leadership decisions or commandments in order to incorporate life-and-death scenarios. I do not view issues of Mormon history generally to be urgent, life-or-death issues.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote: I think the church has a pattern of giving contradicting information at the same time to different people. I think a case can be made that this is likely deliberate.


You mean history? That's explainable by different people having different views of history, or mistake. What do you mean by deliberate?

Stem wrote:All the more reason to be more careful with information and to be more reverent about the individual's need to access relevant information.


I don't disagree with that take. But I don't know that means anyone is acting immorally for favoring their version of events over another's.

Stem wrote: That can be explained by the basic community provided within the church. Does the fact that people benefit from their participation mean that it does not cause lasting harm? I don't think so.


What lasting harm has it caused my mother? I don't really understand your take, because I know far too many healthy happy Mormons running around out there. They haven't been negatively hit by the Church's narrative of history.

The fact that people depend upon it so much should compel those at the helm to be more circumspect about the morality or immorality of their actions.


What actions? THat they think they tell the true history?

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:
If we were to agree to stick to the specifics of the moral implications of Mormon history, I would be happy to continue discussing that point. I am not interested in expanding the discussion to general leadership decisions or commandments in order to incorporate life-and-death scenarios. I do not view issues of Mormon history generally to be urgent, life-or-death issues.


But that is a major point of the OP, that our important life decisions, including life or death ones, are contingent upon the conclusions drawn from information available to us. We outsource decisions to authority, and the authority is maintained with the assistance of the information. The details of narrative are continually used to define how we frame the role of and implications of authority.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote:But that is a major point of the OP, that our important life decisions, including life or death ones, are contingent upon the conclusions drawn from information available to us. We outsource decisions to authority, and the authority is maintained with the assistance of the information. The details of narrative are continually used to define how we frame the role of and implications of authority.


This is going in circles. One either does or does not accept a spiritual prompting as a basis for making decisions. The LDS Church is founded on the value of spiritual experiences in making important decisions. Its founding texts describe that and model it. If one believes that this is somehow dangerous or immoral, then, yes, that person will probably not choose to live an LDS life. I accept that others value spiritual experiences in their decision-making process. I may not see things exactly as they do, but I do not believe that their viewpoint and way of life is fundamentally immoral.

John Dehlin is arguing from a naturalistic perspective. He believes that a certain kind of history is a necessary foundation for authority. I do not accept his assertion that a naturalistic history is the only legitimate kind of historical narrative for establishing religious authority. Since the entire system of Mormonism revolves around conclusions drawn from prayerful consideration and inspiration, it makes no sense to insist that such a system anchor itself in naturalistic/academic history. It is entirely reasonable that those who promote the faith tell their story in such a way that inspiration is a central feature of it.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:John Dehlin is arguing from a naturalistic perspective. He believes that a certain kind of history is a necessary foundation for authority. I do not accept his assertion that a naturalistic history is the only legitimate kind of historical narrative for establishing religious authority. Since the entire system of Mormonism revolves around conclusions drawn from prayerful consideration and inspiration, it makes no sense to insist that such a system anchor itself in naturalistic/academic history. It is entirely reasonable that those who promote the faith tell their story in such a way that inspiration is a central feature of it.


Mormonism is not just prayerful consideration, it is also to some extent naturalistic. See the significance or a "real" record of the ancient Americas visited by Jesus Christ Himself. Mormonism fundamentally ties it self to naturalistic claims. I think I could likely use every single prophet of the Restoration to support the idea that the Book of Mormon is a concrete record of the Gospel.

President Eyring's father was not speaking radically when he said "But in this Church you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true. You go over to the University of Arizona and learn everything you can, and whatever is true is a part of the gospel." So Dehlin's argument is not wholly rooted outside Mormon cosmology.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Stem wrote:Everyone has history to tell. That is the perspective in which my comment comes. We all use history to tell our stories and perhaps to emphasize our priorities and lessons. "once I ran away from a bear and that means this to me....you should do that.."

If crazy uncle Barney tells a story about punching a bear, no-one believes the old coot, and the coot probably knows it. So his misremembered/made-up story is harmless. If the Dalai Lama were to tell a story about punching a bear, millions of people would hear it, thousands might take it to heart, and a dozen might die punching bears.

The Dalai Lama would have killed those dozen people by spreading authoritative myths about bears. Lamas have to watch what they say more carefully than ordinary uncles. And before I preached this point to a big audience I'd probably do more research about bears and the Dalai Lama, and maybe try to find a real example of a crazy uncle instead of making up one named Barney. Since I'm just another internet schmo I reckon my stupid made-up example is harmless; a few people will figure out what I meant and no-one will go after His Holiness—or go off to punch bears.

What I meant is that leaders with actual power have a higher standard, because when they distort history it affects more people.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Meadowchik wrote:Mormonism is not just prayerful consideration, it is also to some extent naturalistic. See the significance or a "real" record of the ancient Americas visited by Jesus Christ Himself. Mormonism fundamentally ties it self to naturalistic claims. I think I could likely use every single prophet of the Restoration to support the idea that the Book of Mormon is a concrete record of the Gospel.

President Eyring's father was not speaking radically when he said "But in this Church you don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true. You go over to the University of Arizona and learn everything you can, and whatever is true is a part of the gospel." So Dehlin's argument is not wholly rooted outside Mormon cosmology.


I don't think this is really the case, however. What is privileged above all is a spiritual witness. One obtains a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, then concludes it is "true," then joins the Church that is governed by authorities that make decisions on the same basis of "inspiration." I agree that Mormons believe that this inspiration indicates something about the truth of the real world, but in epistemological terms the "facts" definitely take a backseat to the spirit. Mormon scholars insist that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text primarily on the basis of their spiritual testimony. As much as you and I may argue back that the facts don't support their view, they will continue to look for a reading of the facts that allows for their point of view to be true. It can be maddening, but that back and forth will not end so long as each side remains committed to its epistemological perspective and priorities.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:
Meadowchik wrote:But that is a major point of the OP, that our important life decisions, including life or death ones, are contingent upon the conclusions drawn from information available to us. We outsource decisions to authority, and the authority is maintained with the assistance of the information. The details of narrative are continually used to define how we frame the role of and implications of authority.


This is going in circles. One either does or does not accept a spiritual prompting as a basis for making decisions. The LDS Church is founded on the value of spiritual experiences in making important decisions. Its founding texts describe that and model it. If one believes that this is somehow dangerous or immoral, then, yes, that person will probably not choose to live an LDS life....
The terms dangerous or immoral don’t necessarily capture the full picture, but certainly being cognizant of the source of “spiritual promptings” allows for a fuller examination of exactly what one is being prompted about.

From a fascinating thread about how “spiritual experiences”:
Dr. W:

The main point here is that the best explanation for the phenomenon of transcendent religious experience and belief is that it is an evolutionarily engineered feature of the human brain. No invisible, external, supernatural, or "spiritual" force is involved or required.

As mentioned elsewhere on the board, the fact that religiosity is pretty much universal, with hundreds or thousands of gods claimed, makes the probability that supernatural gods even exist vanishingly small. The chances that the Mormon Elohim exists are even smaller, owing to the internally inconsistent and logically contradictory attributes ascribed to him.

Those who depend on "spiritual" feelings as an integral part of their lives and worldview should at least have the discernment to properly attribute the source and characteristics of these feelings, keeping in mind that a delusion is a belief that is held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=47259&hilit=Spir%2Atual+DrW



Meadowchik’s point about spiritual promptings being outsourced to those in authority puts even more emphasis on the idea that putting your trust in a church that has a history of not being honest in what it shares with members, as well as how it shares, can be dangerous.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:The LDS Church is founded on the value of spiritual experiences in making important decisions. Its founding texts describe that and model it.

One's own spiritual experiences, or those of one's leaders?
Since the entire system of Mormonism revolves around conclusions drawn from prayerful consideration and inspiration, it makes no sense to insist that such a system anchor itself in naturalistic/academic history.

Could it make some sense, though, to insist that followers ought to be able to decide for themselves whether naturalistic history blatantly contradicts the claimed spiritual experiences of their leaders?

The concern I saw in Dehlin's quote was not about spiritual experience usurping the supposedly rightful place of naturalistic history. It was about leaders concealing relevant evidence from followers. Deciding that I'm not going to let historical issue X shake my own spirit-based testimony is one thing; deciding that millions of faithful members don't need to know about issue X is another.

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Lemmie wrote:The terms dangerous or immoral don’t necessarily capture the full picture, but certainly being cognizant of the source of “spiritual promptings” allows for a fuller examination of exactly what one is being prompted about.


Cognizant, in other words, that the source is the brain and the body, not God? In other words, it is necessary to adopt a different epistemology, even if it is fundamentally incompatible with your religion.

Meadowchik’s point about spiritual promptings being outsourced to those in authority puts even more emphasis on the idea that putting your trust in a church that has a history of not being honest in what it shares with members, as well as how it shares, can be dangerous.


But it is your conclusion that dishonesty is what drives the narrative. The point to identifying the epistemology informing the practice of history in the community is to get away from a loaded, prejudicial assessment of the community's way of talking about the past. All we are doing here is going back and forth about the necessity of adopting a naturalistic history in the community in order to practice history morally and safely. If you go with naturalistic assumptions, this seems to be incontrovertibly true. If you don't, it is not obviously true.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Physics Guy wrote:It was about leaders concealing relevant evidence from followers. Deciding that I'm not going to let historical issue X shake my own spirit-based testimony is one thing; deciding that millions of faithful members don't need to know about issue X is another.


So, if you are asking me if I think the Church's handling of historical issues is perfect and cannot stand improvement, then I freely concede that it is not perfect and it could improve. I look at John's statement as being consistent with his general naturalistic viewpoint as expressed elsewhere. He is saying that it is the LDS Church's responsibility to handle history in the way that academic historians ideally handle history. It is his assumption that what is valuable for having an honest history is to place all of the evidence in front of every member, to the extent possible, so that the member can decide what is important him or herself.

I don't think this is a reasonable standard, or one that is consistent with the theology and practice of the religion. I have tried to show why that is the case, pointing to the reality of Mormonism following the tradition of having a scriptural canon to which the Joseph Smith History belongs. Canon is not a neutral category. One cannot expect, let alone reasonably demand, that the Church prefer other versions of the story over the canonical version. I think it is, however, reasonable to suppose that the story of the faith will evolve over time, partly in response to issues regarding its contemporary applicability. The less applicable it seems, the more likely it is to change in order to become sufficiently applicable.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Physics Guy wrote:If crazy uncle Barney tells a story about punching a bear, no-one believes the old coot, and the coot probably knows it. So his misremembered/made-up story is harmless. If the Dalai Lama were to tell a story about punching a bear, millions of people would hear it, thousands might take it to heart, and a dozen might die punching bears.

The Dalai Lama would have killed those dozen people by spreading authoritative myths about bears. Lamas have to watch what they say more carefully than ordinary uncles. And before I preached this point to a big audience I'd probably do more research about bears and the Dalai Lama, and maybe try to find a real example of a crazy uncle instead of making up one named Barney. Since I'm just another internet schmo I reckon my stupid made-up example is harmless; a few people will figure out what I meant and no-one will go after His Holiness—or go off to punch bears.

What I meant is that leaders with actual power have a higher standard, because when they distort history it affects more people.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EC_VEYj3yo

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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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Kishkumen wrote:
honorentheos wrote:The leadership cut pages out of Joseph Smith's letter book containing the 1832 account of the first vision and hid them in a safe, pretending they didn't exist.


Note the use of the term "leadership" for what was likely the act of one or two people.

As noted earlier, it's convenient to blame a couple of individuals when seeking to protect the institution on the one hand, and then blame the institution when seeking to protect the behavior of select individuals who are merely acting out their beliefs as provided by the institution.

I don't believe Dehlin said anything about handling the history the way academic historians might, or that the issue is one of professional ethics. The comment is that there is a significant amount of influence the Church wields over it's membership that is based on it's claims that inherently tie history to the church's function as a religious institution. By manipulating it's history, it's asserting it knows better than the layperson in the Church what is best for them and infantilizes them by doing so. Arguing that this should be permissible because religious history is in a class deserving special protection is in effect agreeing that the church knows better than the lay membership what is in their best interest. That's pretty arrogant.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

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honorentheos wrote:As noted earlier, it's convenient to blame a couple of individuals when seeking to protect the institution on the one hand, and then blame the institution when seeking to protect the behavior of select individuals who are merely acting out their beliefs as provided by the institution.


Well, in this case, the facts are that it was not the "leadership" who excised that account and put it in Joseph Fielding Smith's safe.

honorentheos wrote:I don't believe Dehlin said anything about handling the history the way academic historians might, or that the issue is one of professional ethics.


What other kind of history represents the ideal of dealing forthrightly and expertly with the facts? Academic history sets the standard. It is clear that he has always promoted scholarly history in preference to devotional history.

honorentheos wrote:The comment is that there is a significant amount of influence the Church wields over it's membership that is based on it's claims that inherently tie history to the church's function as a religious institution.


Yes!

honorentheos wrote:By manipulating it's history, it's asserting it knows better than the layperson in the Church what is best for them and infantilizes them by doing so.


You see, this is where you have it absolutely backward. The history did not start out as the facts that someone deviously twisted. The history started out as the story of the faith. It was constructed as that from the very beginning. Scholarly history tells a different kind of story of the past. But it was never the case that there was a pristine factual narrative. If anything there was a story of the faith that was later challenged and edited according to the influence of scholarly history.

honorentheos wrote:Arguing that this should be permissible because religious history is in a class deserving special protection is in effect agreeing that the church knows better than the lay membership what is in their best interest. That's pretty arrogant.


It is not permissible or impermissible. It is. There is a story of the faith, and it has traditionally been the narrative members were converted by and placed faith in. So there really is nothing "arrogant" about it. It is instead arrogant and ignorant not to recognize and acknowledge the actual relationship between these narratives. The influence of scholarly or academic history will change that story over time.

In the meantime we can talk about how immoral it is that the story is not changing quickly enough to suit us.
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Re: John Dehlin on the Immorality of Mormonism!

Post by Meadowchik »

Kishkumen wrote:
Meadowchik wrote:
I don't think this is really the case, however. What is privileged above all is a spiritual witness. One obtains a spiritual witness of the Book of Mormon, then concludes it is "true," then joins the Church that is governed by authorities that make decisions on the same basis of "inspiration." I agree that Mormons believe that this inspiration indicates something about the truth of the real world, but in epistemological terms the "facts" definitely take a backseat to the spirit. Mormon scholars insist that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text primarily on the basis of their spiritual testimony. As much as you and I may argue back that the facts don't support their view, they will continue to look for a reading of the facts that allows for their point of view to be true. It can be maddening, but that back and forth will not end so long as each side remains committed to its epistemological perspective and priorities.


I think that the leadership decisions can be just as prone to prioritizing the natural, material limitations when it suits while prioritizing so-called inspiration when it suits. It's a historical pattern since the founding. Let's not pretend that it's always only "the Spirit" that guides them. One could say that Dehlin's quote is simply holding up a mirror to the church institution, the same mirror which it has given individual members for inspecting themselves.

ETA: That mirror Mormonism creates for the regular member definitely does not prioritize the spiritual witness above all, it has very material expectations, day in and day out, and it has always been that way. The church has always held up its material claims as evidence of its spiritual authority.

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