The TK Smoothie Rule

In light of Ronan’s helpful rules on cultish behavior and public orthodoxy, my brother and I have developed yet another rule by which to measure our collective worth; especially in light of our place among the religions of the world. Introducing The TK Smoothie Rule.

You’re probably thinking, “David J, WTF is a TK Smoothie?!” Let me give you some background: I believe it was Joseph Fielding Smith who, in his typical cavalier doctrinal musings, indicated that the heirs of the telestial kingdom (that’s the worst one, btw), would not be able to reproduce sexually. The logical conclusion for JFS, then, was to say that the people in the TK would not have male or female genitalia. One also needs to remember that the Mormon view of sexuality in heaven is quite liberal, and that those who go to the celestial kingdom (that’s the best one, btw) will be able to eternally pro-create (possibly a TK Smoothie in itself, but bear with me). In order to do that, they will need their genitalia. So, for JFS, those who go to the CK will have their genitalia and be free to use it for reproductive means, and those who go to the TK will not have their genitalia.

This raises the question: “What will they have then?” Enter the TK Smoothie. About 1 year ago at BCC, some lively discussion ensued in which someone mentioned a TK Smoothie. The TK Smoothie, I came to find out, is the crotch(al) area of a person doomed to the TK. Since it has no features, it will be “smooth,” much like that crotch(al) area of a Barbie doll or a Ken doll. Sound ridiculous? I think it is, and that’s what the TK Smoothie rule is for.

Here’s how it works. If a doctrine of the church seems like it has been created in order to “fix” or explain another, it might be a TK Smoothie. The TK Smoothie is eponymous for all doctrines that are probably bogus but exist in order to clarify some other doctrine or speculation. This begs the question: what was the TK Smoothie doctrine attempting to clarify? We may never know, but at least we can invoke the TK Smoothie rule in order to identify it.

What are some of your (suspected) TK Smoothies?

61 Replies to “The TK Smoothie Rule”

  1. “…those who go to the celestial kingdom (that’s the best one, btw) will be able to eternally pro-create.”

    A technical, but major correction: Only those receiving the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom, those who are exalted, will be able to procreate. Those who are in the two lesser degrees in the CK, are not exalted, and will live singly and separately, not having increase or spiritual progeny, DC 131:1-4, 132:17.

    Via the mercy of God, and the atonement of the Savior, keeping the covenants of baptism are the key to entry into the Celestial Kingdom.

    Via the mercy of God, and the atonement of the Savior, keeping the covenants of the temple ordinances, including celestial marriage, are the key to exaltation.

  2. Here is the quote of interest:

    In both of these kingdoms [i.e., the terrestrial and telestial] there will be changes in the bodies and limitations. They will not have the power of increase, neither the power or nature to live as husbands and wives, for this will be denied them and they cannot increase. Those who receive the exaltation in the celestial kingdom will have the “continuation of the seeds forever.” They will live in the family relationship. In the terrestrial and in the telestial kingdoms there will be no marriage. Those who enter there will remain “separately and singly” forever. Some of the functions in the celestial body will not appear in the terrestrial body, neither in the telestial body, and the power of procreation will be removed. I take it that men and women will, in these kingdoms, be just what the so-called Christian world expects us all to be – neither man nor woman, merely immortal beings having received the resurrection.
    (Doctrines of Salvation. vol. 2, pg. 287-288.)

    Gender is eternal? What?

  3. Wow, I’d never read the above quote. Its plainness certainly is eye opening. And this is why I feel the gospel is sometimes extraordinarily disheartening. I want to believe it is the plan of happiness, but how can I be happy when I know that the majority of all of the human population is destined to be genderless, single, alone – without-family beings? It’s super depressing to me.

    Sorry, I can’t think of any other TK Smoothie examples right now!

  4. The only consolation for this quote is the “I take it…” portion of the quote, which strictly limits it to the mind of JFS2 and not to any sort of divine inspiration. Now there’s something to say a prayer of thanks about.

  5. JSF2 was really good at being wrong — or at least good at publishing the stuff he was wrong about.

    David J — “TK Smoothy”?? The term is amusing enough but the creepy factor outweighs the comedy factor for me…

  6. Let me guess, Dave….

    Sacrament as a renewal of the baptismal covenant in order to compensate for the fact that we don’t practice therapeutic baptism any more? 🙂


    There was definitely a fascist streak in some Mormon “doctrine” of yesteryear. Happily, we seem to have gone all Geoff J: eternal progression for all!

    (Love ya Geoff)

  7. Yes, Ronan. All hail MMP from Geoff. 🙂 But the thing that stumps me is if the TK Smoothie is real (and we’re presuming it is for the time being, seeing that JFS2 was a prophet), and progression between kingdoms is a possibility, I gues the real question is: do the bumpy parts grow back when you eternally progress to the CK? And how do they grow back on a resurrected body?

  8. There are plenty of rather unpleasant and unpalatable folk doctrines that have had their genesis in the manner described above. Here are some: the B&P Curse of Cain propegated through Ham’s marrying a black woman; the manner of Jesus’ conception as speculated upon in JofD; the earth being baptised at Noah’s flood; the earth being created modernly of ancient strata and material from other planets; the earth being near Kolob in irs orbit and then flinging out of its orbit then the Fall occurred; people who join the LDS Church are in fact the remnants of scattered Israel and that is why they are receptive to the gospel because they have a believing spirit; women not needing the Priesthood because they are naturally more charitable; the RC Church being the Church of the Devil as spoken of by Nephi; and so on and so on and so on…. Not all of them are Mormon: the giant water bubble around the world that collapsed at the Deluge is anciently Jewish; the curse of Cain being a black skin and being passed through Ham and Canaan predates LDS thought. Dozens more no doubt.

  9. While this concept reaks of the movie Dogma, It does seem contrary to other words of Joseph Fielding Smith, where he notes in the resurrection we will be resurrected to our exact form, as we now are. Thus, sorry, no “smoothie”.

    “There is no reason for any person to be concerned as to the appearance of individuals in the resurrection. Death is a purifying process as far as the body is concerned. We have reason to believe that the appearance of old age will disappear and the body will be restored with the full vigor of manhood and womanhood. Children will arise as children, for there is no growth in the grave. Children will continue to grow until they reach the full stature of their spirits. Anything contrary to this would be inconsistent. When our bodies are restored, they will appear to be in the full vigor of manhood and womanhood, for the condition of physical weakness will all be left behind in the grave. . . .

    “President Joseph F. Smith when speaking at the funeral of Sister Rachel Grant, the mother of President Heber J. Grant, had the following to say in relation to deformities in the resurrection:

    “‘Deformity will be removed; defects will be eliminated, and men and women shall attain to the perfection of their spirits, to the perfection that God designed in the beginning. It is his purpose that men and women, his children, born to become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, shall be made perfect, physically as well as spiritually, through obedience to the law by which he has provided the means that perfection shall come to all his children. . . .’

    “Salvation would be incomplete if individuals should arise in the resurrection with all the deformities, weaknesses, and imperfections that are found in so many of the human family in this mortal existence. We have every reason to believe that the spirits of mankind and all other creatures were in a perfect form in the spirit world. It would be an awful stretch of the imagination to think that the imperfections found so frequently in mortality were defects which were designed in the creation. Moreover, as the Lord made it clear in relation to the man who was born blind, it was not an immortal condition. . . .

    “It is the will of the Lord that in the restoration of all things there shall come perfection. The physical defects, some of which may have resulted before birth, are defects which are due to some physical and mortal condition and not an inheritance from the spirit world” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:185–87, 189).

  10. TK Smoothie Rule: the LDS corollary to the exegetical adage that what is implicit in one generation of scripture becomes explicit in the next.

    Mark: Jesus’ got his start at his baptism.

    Matthew/Luke: Did not! Got his start with a special birth.

    John: Nah uh, dudes! Always existed!

  11. What a way to raise the discourse level or a religion-related blog – to announce the liberal employment of a term describing people’s crotches will be used to denigrate certain beliefs. This is the first time I’ve evet looked at this blog and I was rather taken aback by the top posting. Should I even bother to read on? Nah. Not worth my time. Way to represent…

  12. Sweet post man. I fought with someone here about the same topic recently. I found the concept that people who advance from the Terrestrial Kingdom growing parts back absolutely absurd. 🙂

    Nice quote Matt. David, beautiful use of the rule up there. Laughed my backside off.

  13. Trailertrash, good luck finding a job after writing a dissy on that one…

    Yes Ronan, the sacrament renewing baptismal covenants is one of my favorite TK Smoothies. Also that God controls everything, and I recently dropped MMPs due to this rule as well.

  14. Kurt, you listed many of my TK Smoothies up there too. That the earth had an orbit around Kolob and then was moved to the yellow sun of our solar system… it just defies anything and everything regarding physics and astronomy… yuck!

    Oh and just about everything Orson Pratt ever taught (“celestial vegetables” in the Garden of Eden? Lame! That falls also under the Scientology Rule).

  15. “the earth being created modernly of ancient strata and material from other planets; ”

    This has long been one of my personal beliefs that I use to bridge the gap between Creationism and Evolution. Evolution happens, just not really within the timeline of Man.

    I’m somewhat more inclined towards the Days in which the Earth was created were not our 24-hour periods, which would allow for some evolutionary processes for the animals.

    One wonders for a moment (sorry for straying off course, DavidJ) why so many species of animals were created. For art’s sake? What’s their purpose, exactly? And couldn’t they have left out the roaches and spiders and mosquitoes?

  16. Yuck! I was so glad when the TK Smoothies issue faded away the first time! Why on earth bring back a disgusting reference, or to coin that the name of a rule? Can we just eliminate this whole thread to a trash bin? I agree with h@x0r. This is a lousy discussion and a bad representation.

    Good point was, however, that JFS contradicts JFS. I am reminded that “A prophet is only a prophet when acting as such.” (JS) and that BY contradicted himself on the Adam-God theory as well. Dallin Oaks once said, “Revelations from God — the teachings and directions of the Spirit — are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening to the still, small voice, the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit,” _Ensign_, Mar. 1997, 14)

    Its times like this that makes me grateful for the Correlation Committee.

  17. I just followed the BCC link to this post today and reread David’s TK Smoothie Rule.

    The rule disappoints me. I am no fan of faith promoting rumors but I’m also no fan of making fun of people or their ideas.

    It is unfortunate that some Church leaders in the past have freely speculated about ancillary doctrinal points without clearly identifying those musings as speculation.

    This is not one of those cases. In this case, the selection quoted from JFS in comment # 2, as Matt W. points out above, clearly indicates that JFS is musing and not teaching doctrine when he writes “I take it that”.

    Moreover, the crux of the TK Smoothie Rule is faulty. David writes the logical conclusion for JFS, then, was to say that the people in the TK would not have male or female genitalia. If the selection quoted in comment # 2 is the basis for the rule, then the rule is without substance, even as a rumor. The selection says nothing about the presence (or lack thereof) of either male or female genitalia. It speculates about the functions of celestial or telestial resurrected bodies. Not having the ability to procreate does not necessarily mean not having any genitalia. Plenty of mortal humans have genitalia but cannot physically procreate — for any number of reasons.

    Only an intentionally uncharitable reading of the JFS selection leads to an inference that resurrected physical bodies in the Terrestrial and Telestial will have no genitalia like Barbie and Ken dolls. (Unless, of course, this rule is based on something other than the quote in comment # 2, which may very well be possible since I do not have Doctrines of Salvation or Mormon Doctrine memorized — as filled with doctrinal speculation as they might well be.)

    As to the actual doctrine alluded to in the quote in comment # 2, I believe it is accurate to say, even in Mormonism of 2008, that eternal increase is reserved for those who become like God through becoming joint heirs with Christ and are exalted in the Celestial Kingdom. Those who inherit the Telestial Kingdom will neither live with their spouse nor other family — but this will have been their own choice as they will have had the fullest opportunity possible to either accept or reject the Gospel and its accompanying truths regarding eternal life before being consigned to that degree of glory.

    The potentially damaging speculation of JFS comes in through (1) his inferences that eternal increase/posterity in the Celestial Kingdom has something to do with sexual intimacy of the kind we are familiar with in mortality, and (2) his harsh/judgmental perspective on the life of those in the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms, which does in fact seem to contradict to some extent Joseph Smith’s own revelations regarding the salvation enjoyed in those kindgoms.

  18. John, it’s been a long time, so I may be misremembering, but I think JFSII really does say that resurrected physical bodies in the Terrestrial and Telestial kingdoms will lack genitalia.

  19. john f.,
    As I read the quote, especially the last line, it is hard for me to see this as simply the loss of the ability to procreate in some abstract sense:

    “I take it that men and women will, in these kingdoms, be just what the so-called Christian world expects us all to be – neither man nor woman, merely immortal beings having received the resurrection.”

    The primary way that we differentiate male and female in modernity is through bodily markers of sexual difference. What do you take it to mean when he says there will be no male or female?

  20. It’s like getting old. You still have them, but they don’t work the same as they used to when you were young and randy.

  21. Mark B., you mean to say it’s like playing pool with a rope?

    BTW, antis hate it when members start differentiating between “musings” and “official doctrine.” It’s too convenient for the church member to do that. Holding all of the church leaders’ comments to equal accountability is natural, and I don’t blame them for doing that. We do it to their leaders and texts all the time.

    Regardless, the TK Smoothie Rule is useful. I use it for virtually everything now, despite the accuracy/plausibility of its source or interpretation.

  22. John F. in comment 24 seems to be fairly critical of the Doctrines of Salvation and Joseph Fielding Smith. The Doctrines of Salvation is a book that was actually compiled by Bruce R. McConkie, using selected sermons from the former Prophet, but more particularly from his contributions to the Improvement Era. The Improvement Era was basically the former Enzign magazine, and featured segments where members would write to the prophet seeking council, clarification, etc and President Smith would reply. A more complete compilation of these writing is in Answers to Gospel Questions, another book compiled by Elder McConkie under the same gist. I guess according to John F. the members of that day were at disservice by that speculating Prophet. Can you really denounce a Prophet of former generations and still have an unbroken link of Priesthood and revelation from our current leader back to Jesus Christ. The “a prophet is only a prophet…” line is a very convenient editor of anything unpleasant, but fails to address those circumstances when the “erring” Prophet feels that they are speaking as a Prophet. That is a bit tangental, JFS was clear that the TK smoothie was speculative.

  23. If the prophet is wrong, is it OK to denounce him then? I would think truth is a higher moral than endorsing a misguided prophet.

  24. Nitsav- Perhaps denounce was too strong of a word. However, he is critical of JFS and considers many of his teachings to be “speculative”. I don’t think JFS would have considered himself in most regards a doctrinal speculator, and in fact he probably would take offense at such a remark. In particular JFS prided himself as a gospel teacher, and his ability to expound the scriptures. In any regard, what he ultimately was saying was that JFS did not know what he was talking about. To suggest that a prophet was misguided, at least calls into question his abilities as a prophet wouldn’t you think?

    David- I guess your question is my point. If JFS was wrong in this aspect, than I guess there is obviously a much bigger issue the “TK Smoothie” at hand.

  25. David:

    Much bigger problem then. I guess the next question is about the line of “a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such”. Does a prophet always know when they are acting as one, or do the lines between revelation and opinion blur? It could certainly be argued that way for the common member. If they do blur, then how useful is a prophet? And mabey more to the point, is it ever revelation, or does it just sometimes turn out to be good advice, and sometimes bad advice. Avoidance of tobacco – hindsight, good advice. Priesthood ban – hindsight, bad advice.

  26. I’ll give you credit on the word “advice” – very good choice. The WoW was originally intended to be just that – it wasn’t until early 20th century that it became “law.”

    IMO, generally most “prophecy” isn’t all that useful because it generally applies a static interpretation/meaning/law to a dynamic culture/situation. How much of the OT do Christians (and, by extension, Mormons) practice today? Hardly any. Yet it’s part of the official canon (written or unwritten). I would say if one is going to venture to give prophecy or be a prophet, have all your ducks in a row, speak in conditional terms, and always leave the door open to change or confession of error.

    Epistemologically, I’m suspicious of anyone who deals in absolutes over things that no one can demonstrate are truly absolute.

  27. Regardless of what a prophecy does, generally and particularly with Mormons, a prophecy also qualifies as the mind/voice/will of God to at least a particular group of people. While that element is never proven in any “example” of prophecy I know, it still stands as a qualifier of prophecy, and is what gives authority to the declaration to those who believe. My point behind the whole issue is that there is a prevailing notion in the LDS Church that prophets are at times prophets, and at other times ordinary men. I can generally accept that idea, but only if there can be a clear distinction at times as to who is speaking, the prophet or the man. JFS spoke in most cases as a gospel authority and Gods earthly mouthpiece. Brigham Young said quite a bit which the Church has worked hard both officially and unofficially to resolve. He was serious enough in his teaching that Adam is our Father in Heaven that he was willing to excommunicate Orson Pratt over his disagreement. He pulled no punches on his teaching of race and Priesthood, or on the doctrines of Blood Atonement. I know many of those topics are popular among aponents to the LDS Church, but they are realities in history which we cannot dismiss simply because they are promulgated by groups we have labled as anti-Mormons, can we?

  28. You’re right about what gives prophecy its purported authority – it’s the belief of the people and not based on rationality or empirical evidence of any kind. If you want proof of this, just ask my 4 year old daughter about the reality of Santa Claus. You’ll get a very detailed account of his life and mission, along with (indirect) proof of his visits and greatness.

    The real quandary, it seems to me, is how you make absolute claims in space-time/history – which may in fact be quite contrary to reality – under the guise of a prophet and still retain the mantle of prophethood. You’re right in that the church has been juggling this problem since the day it started putting out prophecies. So the quick and easy response is to quip a statement like “a prophet is a prophet only when he wants to be a prophet,” which in my mind is not only an extraordinarily convenient excuse, but also compounds the problem and confuses the believer.

    And no, just because anti-Mormons use this or that with any great frequency (an attestation that perhaps they’re on to something?), doesn’t mean it should be shirked, avoided, manipulated, or wholly dismissed. For example, I find it shameful that the BYU doesn’t allow its grad students to write theses/dissertations about polygamy (ergo Danel Bachman’s excellent thesis coming out of Purdue and not the Y) or the problem you mention with blacks and priesthood. Perhaps if they allowed grad students to academically and scientifically pursue those topics, those students’ findings could assist in publicly coming to grips with these subjects instead of just running from them or changing the subject when they come up.

  29. Even if we can successfully weasel out of these errors by defining them as opinion or whatever else, doesn’t it bother anyone that these prophets can be so wrong, whether they are claiming their views as official or not?

    I mean, if these guys that supposedly walk and talk with God can be so off the mark about things that should be fundamental (like the nature and identity of God) then what hope do the rest of us have at figuring out what is actually true?

  30. It is apparent that David J, Ishmael, and myself see things the same way. I would be interested in hearing the opinions of someone who acknowledges these statements and errors of B.Y. and other Church leaders, to know why this is not a conflict for them. I may question you in your answers but my intentions are to have an insightful conversation with someone of a differing opinion.

  31. I am going to change my tune for a minute. there are many people here who seem to be very supportive of Prophets and the notion that “a prophet is only a prophet when is acting as such”. Yet, they will then point out that Joseph Fielding Smith was wrong about the TKS. If he was a prophet, are you certain that the TKS “doctrine” is wrong.

  32. Erick & Ishmael,
    Say 3 nice things about the church quickly or you shall be royally banned. This is your only warning.

  33. Bravo Ishmael & Erick. It’s no surprise to me, after all, Judaism was a religion that borrowed from its neighbors, Christianity was bolted on top of that, and Mormonism was bolted on top of that too. Of course you’re going to have things as rediculous as “terrestrial kingdom inhabitants won’t have genitalia” – the more variables in the equation, the more varied the results of that equation.

    And IMO, JFS was wrong on more counts than just the TK Smoothie.

  34. I guess since no one else will bite, I’ll bite (at least half way, as some of these are most definitely not opinions I hold). Here are a range of responses I imagine ‘believing’ LDSs could have:

    1) The prophet may make mistakes, but the prophet is surely much more inspired than I, so I will follow him and believe what he believes because he is not only God’s representative, but so doing is better than relying on my own insight. He may be occasionally wrong, but he surely wouldn’t be as wrong as I would relying on my self.

    2) The prophet speaks as the prophet when I have a confirmation of such by the Holy Ghost (which can manifest himself emotionally and/or intellectually).
    2A) The ‘rigid’ case: Unless I have that confirmation which could come in either the heart or the mind, I will not follow.
    2B) The ‘flexible’ case: I may not right now have a confirmation but I will follow and may latter gain a confirmation. I will continue to do this unless I feel very strongly compelled to oppose.
    2C) I may sense that the prophet is wrong in certain things, but hey, no biggie, I don’t want to rock the boat. I’ll just keep quiet and avoid the issue.

    With #1 the individual seems to believe that we have no way of knowing when the prophet is speaking as the prophet and so we shouldn’t try to guess; whereas in #2 we have a way of knowing but we have to moderate this with certain virtues such as humility so it doesn’t strictly become “the prophet only speaks as the prophet when he agrees with me”; although I suppose a 2D could be made for a ‘strong case’ such as this.

  35. Thanks for the response.

    Two questions regarding your last comment with issues 1 and 2, though you do not mention whether these are your personal views or whether they are just a guess as to what others may think. I will respond as though they are legitimate responses, even if they are not yours, they are most likely someone’s views.

    1) You say in essence that the Prophet is more inspired than you, so following him will save you from the follies of your own myopia. I respect the humility of individuals who recognize the limits of their own understanding, and I often hear member of the Church say things to a similar effect. “The Prophet is much more inspired than me” and “If we knew what the Prophet knows…”. The problem is that we also claim to know that Prophets, The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, etc, are all real because of our personal revelations and inspirations. Is the revelation of these things reserved for those who are inspirationally deficient? In other words, if we come to know a Prophet is inspired by that same inspiration which we do not trust in ourselves, can we be certain that our inspiration in regards to the Prophet is trustworthy? I think the question speaks for itself, and following a Prophet under those conditions would be equally or more myopic than “leaning to our own understanding”.

    2) If someone were to have an intellectual/cognitive experience with revelation, be it physical/meta-physical, emphasize experience, with the divine, which gave them knowledge of the truthfullness of religious claims – then I can comfortably argue that for that individual the case is closed. The problem with LDS notions of revelation is that once you get to the nuts and bolt behind it, the heavens being opened in todays world applying to the everyday lives of the rank and file within the church, amounts to a hot sensation brought on by emotionally charged media. Books, videos, pictures, dramtized reproductions (written, oral, acted, etc.) of the First Vision, are all geared toward an emotional response. That response triggered within members and investigators is then transformed into a witness of “The Holy Ghost” in the minds of believers followed by a tangent of if-then-reasoning. The challenge I had with this as a missionary was that, in accordance with the disscusions and missionary guide, I would have to point out to a prospect that “Bro. jones, that feeling you are having is the Holy Ghost telling you that our message is true.” I had to point out that they were having a revelation, I expected divine communication to be more clear. I have studied to try and understand where in Church history did the “burning in the bosom” really became the main mainifestation of the Holy Ghost. In the earliest periods of the Church, the witnesses were much more emphatic. My point is, the concept of revelation is probably the greatest message of Mormonism, but the test is whether it can be manifested in a meaningful way. This is sort of where I have resolved my faith and place in the Church. If I can have a meaningful experience in this regard, all of the other issues really won’t matter, but if I can’t the issues which I have mentioned throughout this blog have tremendous pertinence.

  36. I have not idea what is going on here. However, it is good to see David J, even if it will only be a fleeting moment.

  37. Is the revelation of these things reserved for those who are inspirationally deficient? In other words, if we come to know a Prophet is inspired by that same inspiration which we do not trust in ourselves, can we be certain that our inspiration in regards to the Prophet is trustworthy?

    Let’s agree that #1 is inconsistent, although I suppose someone wanting to defend this position could come up with a way to explain the inconsistency.

    It seems like you have little rejection to #2 and some of its permutations so as long as a cognitive element is included in the role of the HG.

    Let me perhaps re-articulate #2 now having more time to think about it.

    The prophet has a responsibility to persuade. While most LDSs typically do not use the term ‘persuade’, and would feel uncomfortable using language that necessitates a prophet ‘must’ do a particular action, I find this a more direct way of saying, “We need to feel the Spirit in order to believe the prophet.”

    Using this more direct language I would say that there are different modes of persuasion. Many members will rely on a touching experience as a sufficient condition for persuasion. Other members will want something more cognitive. And perhaps there are shades in between.

    I see two questions resulting from this scenario that deserve to be separated out:

    1) How do we cope with the fact that one mode of persuasion is sufficient for some members, but not for others?

    2) What should I do if I am not persuaded?

    I think the latter question is easier to answer because it can be more easily approached from a pragmatic angle where the former can not. This falls back into the A, B, C, etc. approaches listed above. One can reject the position of the prophet as not correct and vocalize that opinion in various ways, or choose not to vocalize it. One could also consent to the position and hope that s/he will be persuaded at a later date.

    The former question is much more difficult to answer. Personally I believe that we have a duty to each other to communicate a particular message we believe to be ‘true’ in as many ‘persuasions’ as possible. Having said that I also believe that some religious things are more difficult to communicate than others. If the prophet were to try to explain something to me and it didn’t make sense, and he would say something to the effect of “trust me on this one”, I would probably take the 2B approach. If that later turned out to be wrong that would of course weaken my trust in future statements. I think that many members, however, have a tendency to jump right to the conclusion that the prophet said it so ‘case closed’, when in fact the prophet himself may even be open to further discussion. Anyhow, these are my random thoughts on the matter.

  38. I can entirely accept #2 so long as the “witness” of the Holy Ghost comes as a substantive experience, even if only personal, just as Joseph Smith said- “…pure intelligence.” I cannot accept that the first comforter, which has no other effect, would provide “pure intelligence” based on if-then-reasoning. “lets see, I feel good, I guess this is right”. Pure intelligence seems to imply revelation in the scriptural sense, visions, angels, prophecy, those circumstances where the subject is not unclear of the communication – and where the experience cannot be denied. It has become very fashionable among members of the Church to say something to the effect of “I know the Church is true, I haven’t seen an angel, like Nephi, or heard a voice like Sammuel, but I did have a feeling when I read The Book of Mormon”. The message of the Mormon Church is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to man, but then we play down the effect of the Holy Ghost to a trivial non-substantive feeling. According to Joseph Smiths history, his telling of the First Vision excited a great deal of prejudice and disagreement among people, yet

    “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two aPersonages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was bhated and cpersecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me dfalsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not edeny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

    While I would agree that there is a bit of persuading entailed in being a Prophet, that isn’t the gist of it. I would argue that a Prophet (from the LDS perspective) is Gods emissary to convey his will to the world regardless of how persuasive it is. Though I agree with your comments as to individuals respond to the Prophets counsel.

  39. Erick (#46) – I totally agree with that. The big problem with Mormon revelation (or even “Christian” revelation) is that it is almost always private and individual. Those revelations we supposedly have of group experiences are suspect in their own right (google them if you want, I won’t go into their respective problems here). What I’m getting at is the epistemology of revelation – it is completely contradictory to the rational mind that the human being possesses. A private sensation, alone in my room, while studying scripture, is supposed to tell me that a far-fetched religion such as Christianity or Mormonism is 100% true? REALLY? Well, I’ve had those exact same feelings studying astronomy, libertarianism, and Ayn Rand too. It’s a lot to swallow, so it’s NO WONDER that we spend an entire hour once per month, with little tidbits beyond that in things like lessons, CONSTANTLY reminding ourselves that we “know” this gospel to be “true.” To me, such constant reminder of purported “knowledge” actually suggests the opposite – if a person or people continually affirm something as absolutely true (especially when said truth cannot be verified in the real world), then that’s probably their weakness, and I would even suggest that it’s an insight into the person’s subconscious – the person or people are repressing their natural inclination to think that the constant affirmation they purport to “know” is actually quite false and contradictory to the world around them. The garment is a classic example of this – a constant reminder of a strange experience filled (at least before 1990) full of threats and graphic images – it’s a fear tactic (as well as other methods). Epistemologically, there isn’t a single member that knows that the gospel is true, otherwise he or she could easily prove its purported veracity to the non-believer. “I know it’s true” is a misnomer for “I strongly believe it’s true.” HUGE difference. I don’t say, and have never said in my life, that I knew the church was true, becuase I know what it means to know something. Knowing and believing are very different. The Mormon approach to “knowledge” (which is really belief) comes across as arrogant, condescending, and rude. I had investigators who kicked us out for our audacity all the time (or rather, my companion’s audacity).

    And Chris H. – it’s nice to see you too! The only reason I jumped back into this is because whenever somebody replies to one of my previous posts, it sends me an email.

  40. David J.,

    I figured as much. Let me know when you want to start “Reason Promoting Rumor.”

    As usual: rage on.

    Chris H.

  41. Bookslinger: (#1) A technical, but major correction: Only those receiving the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom, those who are exalted, will be able to procreate. Those who are in the two lesser degrees in the CK, are not exalted, and will live singly and separately, not having increase or spiritual progeny, DC 131:1-4, 132:17.

    That’s the typical reading. I think it’s still up in the air whether D&C 131 is talking about the three main degrees of glory or whether it’s talking about three degrees in the CK. Go to the original text and it’s even more ambiguous than the edited text that was added to the D&C. Sadly the original text is just a few brief notes from someone other than Joseph completely devoid of context.

    I’m not particularly partial to either reading. Although I do believe it logically makes sense there’d be level in the CK. But one should be careful to note that a lot of the theology that’s built up about the CK doesn’t necessarily have a lot of revelation that it rests upon.

    The issue of the nature of a resurrected body is pretty interesting. The assumption that you’d be missing parts seems contrary to Alma 11 among others. Clearly this is some questionable reasoning which assumes that genitals are always functional. I think that part of this also comes out of the Catholic or Protestant angelology where angels typically don’t have genitals. So I suspect this is less a theology arising out of a problem than a borrowing of existing theological traditions. Right on par with the debate about whether Adam had a navel.

    In a Mormon context we know so little about the nature of spirit birth (or whether there actually was a quasi-biological spirit birth at all) let alone the biology of resurrected beings.

    It is a common belief though.

    Regarding JFS/BRM I think the error is in assuming too close a connection between gender and sexual reproduction. Even here on earth folks without the ability to reproduce can have gender and even sexual organs that work in all the other ways. I’d second Matt W.’s warning though. I don’t know of any place JFS suggests the form isn’t there. Although I take his quote to imply most of the functions are gone.

  42. FaithHopeLove: (#19) “the earth being created modernly of ancient strata and material from other planets; ”

    This has long been one of my personal beliefs that I use to bridge the gap between Creationism and Evolution. Evolution happens, just not really within the timeline of Man.

    I think it was for many. It was a pretty prominent doctrine during the BY phase of Mormon history. It is rather easy to show wrong scientifically though. So it really doesn’t buy one anything.

    The one way to recover it is seeing Adam’s journey as more akin to Noah’s, Jared’s or Lehi’s. Thus the world is recreated much as the Nephites found a new world and created it. I think Nibley suggests this although Nibley still tended to follow BY on a lot of this issues here.

  43. Why not view the creation narrative in Genesis for what it is – a week-long festival ripped off from surrounding cultures that commemorates the creation of the earth? Each day commemorates something that the gods created, culminating in the creation of humans. I mean, even the names in there hint toward a play or act of some kind – “Adam” is the word for “man,” “Eve” is the word for “life,” etc. etc. I know as Mormons it’s difficult because you get it crammed into your brain as a historical narrative in the endowment (and also you get additional print versions from restoration scripture), but that’s expected given the climate in which Mormonism was born (the fundamentalism of the colonial “Great Awakening”).

    I think the scientific evidence for evolution is unmatched by anything the religious community could toss at it. Only science itself will be able to change evolution (since Darwin, biologists have only been able to modify or add very small and minor subtleties to it – it’s that timeless).

  44. Re #49:

    I’m not entirely sure how your last response relates to the initial objection you raise a few posts earlier. Your concern seems to be about making sense of competing interpretations of ‘when the prophet is speaking as the prophet’ (as opposed to his own musings).

    I’m not sure recourse to a more ‘substantive experience’, at least the way that you’ve defined it as possibly subjective and not bound by a duty of persuasion, actually solves the problem. I’m not disagreeing with the notion of ‘substantive experiences’ per se, but the way in which those experiences lead to a shared conclusion of ‘when the prophet is speaking as the prophet’. Perhaps you can point out where I’m misunderstanding.

  45. Smallaxe:

    I don’t know if I fully understand your question, see if this helps.

    As David J has implied, this is really an issue of epistemology. We could narrow this down to policy issues such as how to know whether a proposed church policy (political advocacy on traditional marriage perhaps) is the mind, will and voice of God. We could expand it to the larger questions of how do I know if Joseph Smith was a prophet, the LDS church is true etc. If I understand what you mean by “persuasion” then I would argue that from the official LDS position, persuasion serves as the vehicle by which the Holy Ghost operates. In other words, intellectual persuasion is dicouraged and members are rather encouraged to “feel the spirit” or “invite the spirit” through their discussions of religious matters and efforts to “bring souls unto Christ”. The discouragement of intellectual persuasion I think is a bit tricky because arguing from a doctrinal/scriptural/spiritual historical perspective could all be intellectual, but the governing principle is that if such efforts are accompanied by the “spirit” then such efforts are deemed appropriate. I think anyone who has been throug the Missionary program, or Sunday School program would agree that this is the Mormon missionary MO. My point is that just as you said, regardless of what a Prophet says, ultimately each member must submit to it. This I think requires the rationalizations that you suggested in #45, either I trust the Prophet more than myself, or I have had my own “witness” or expect one from complying with a particular issue. Ultimately what I mean by a substantive experience is that the Church frankly, over promises and underdelivers when it comes to the issue modern day revelation. This has been my experience, and from conversations with member in various forums (blogs, sunday school, close friends) nobody that I know (or especially, trust) has ever related a personal experience of theirs which has been more than a “feeling”, which if I understand that feeling from my own experiences – I would have to conclue those feeling, at least, could be contrived. So the problem becomes that when we dismiss the positions of doctrine, policy, etc of Prophets from a former generation by the teachings of the prophets of the current generation, one has to wonder by what medium the corrections are made – and why that medium was not available to the former generation of seers. Is it possible that if the former prophets were affected by time, space and culture, are the current ones also. Hence current Church policy and revisionist doctrine does not reflect eternal truth, but rather bends to the needs of modern PR. This of course undermines the entire Church, at is not at all relevant if we truly know, in the epistemological sense, again even if that knowledge is only personal -revelation in the scriptural sense, than the mountain of inconsistencies and contradictions can be sorted out even if we cannot understand all of them at a given point in time. If we don’t t know however, these inconsitencies should be considered with a much greater eye of scrutiny. So what I was really trying to find out in a respectful way, does anybody have a truly substantial reason as to why they believe/know, or am I correct and everybody is motivated by the “feeling”, and if so does this ever cause concern for you?

  46. Erick, it was a HUGE concern for me, until I confronted it for what it is – a subjective, personal experience. I have repeatedly experienced the “testimony experience” in my life amid gospel study and ponderings. But once I recognized the pattern in my life that I have had identical “feelings” regarding other topics, which I briefly mention above, I recognized that the missionary trick of getting people to “feel” the veracity of the gospel need not apply only to Mormonism, and moreover, is a very poor test of absolute truth (which Mormons claim they have). Again, epistemologically, if a person KNOWS something, then the thing which is known can be easily demonstrated and proved even to the non-believer. And that’s where belief comes in. No single member of the church knows it is true in any real way – they just believe it with such arrogance that they claim they know it is true (again, to my point above, I believe they’re actually revealing its shortcomings by doing so, but whatever).

    I know this is a rude example, but it is true. The same feelings that Mormons have about their gospel is not exclusive. Case in point: when OBL gathers his jihadists around him and expounds the Quran to them and they feel intense zeal for Allah from it, the feeling those men experience is the exact same feeling that Mormons (or any other believer) feel when the president of the church gathers his folks together in general conference and expounds the BofM to them and they feel intense zeal for the Jesus or “Elohim.” Likewise, when these jihadists are studying their Quran in private and have intense experiences with it, it is no different than anybody else in any other religion doing the same thing with their own holy text. Other examples abound.

    All I’m saying is that the subjectability of feelings is an inaccurate guage of absolute truth, and yet the Mormon church has chosen to hang its hat on this one. So yeah, I’m wary of it.

  47. Hence current Church policy and revisionist doctrine does not reflect eternal truth, but rather bends to the needs of modern PR.

    So you’re saying that if the zeitgeist goes whooshing by in a forest, the Mormon church hears it? Hmmmm….

  48. David J – I think you and I see things along the same lines. I think many people when they are being honest, have “felt the spirit” at times that have no spiritual relevance. It becomes more confusing when mulitiple members “feel the spirit” in conflict with one another, such as marriage proposals. One person feels that the HG is telling them that they should be married, while another feels they are being told not to marry. I have found myself listening to music (modern country/pop/rock) where I “felt the spirit”. While I would view the particular songs that provided this effect as wholesome and positive, they are very spiritually irelevant.

    I have one thought on epistemology where I think I disagree. I understand that in order for a subject to pass the test of being classified knowledge, it must possess an empirical quality. This generally concludes that the scientific method of testability and repeatability become the means of determining the classification for knowledge. I can accept that God within a Christian or Mormon context would require that he is sought out on an individual plane, and only reveals himself on an individual plane. Hence personal revelations, prophecy, angelic ministrations, I think could be a possibility and given some divine light could satisfy knowledge on an individual basis. This would not provide demonstratability/provability from “me to you’, for example, therefore could never be accepted socially as law. Yet, if a person was to have had any of these experiences they would have knowledge based on God’s manifestation. So I am not at odds with the notion that because I cannot prove to someone else that God is real, or because someone cannot prove to me that Joseph Smith was a Prophet, no one can – taking a strict agnostic position. What I am suggesting is that what we call “feeling the spirit” is a natural set of emotions which, like you said – is an inaccurate gauge of truth. These emotions can easily be manipulated, and frankly I think that is primary goal of Bonneville Communications. However, I would trust an experience, if I were to have one such as the vision in 1 Nephi 8, 11-15. Or in Moses chapter 1, or section 77-77. Point is I haven’t, and what I have been offered would require me to forfeit my intelligence.

  49. I was sure that if I googled the terms zeitgeist, forest and Mormon, there would only be a hit on this page. Boy, was i wrong!
    (adding whooshing helps)

    Thanks for the comment, Clark, although it doesn’t seem much different from the Noah’s Ark concept. Whether it was created from pieces of other older worlds, or simply existed as a planet for eons before Adam was placed – eh.

    I’ve been reading about the Big Bang theory and it astounds me how they can point out how statistically unlikely it is that we even exist – Earth being perfectly situated where it to support life – and not see a divine hand in it? Where everything else in the universe tends towards entropy and somehow the forces aligned to create an environment like ours? Come ON!

  50. Erick, I think we’re very close as well. It’s good to meet another freethinker!

    I might have spoken too generically. Surely there are things that I don’t “know for sure” but I have an inclination that they are real, but there’s a difference between things of religious nature and things that are “provable.” For example: take the continent of Antarctica. I don’t “know” it exists because I have no personal empirical evidence of its existence (I’m assuming you don’t either), and all the films and books in the world can’t convey that. However, belief that a frozen, mountainous continent resides at the bottom of the world doesn’t challenge my worldview or my perception of reality. Belief in Antarctica doesn’t require me to keep a set of outdated laws, doesn’t require me to abhor same-sex marriage, believe in ancient texts written in an ancient non-existent hybrid language, ostracize me for not voting Republikan, doesn’t require me to beleive in 5 heavens, doesn’t require to believe that the world is hundreds of years old, doesn’t ask me to quit drinking coffee or beer, etc. etc. I can’t prove to you the existence of Antarctica without taking you by the hand and leading you there myself. But demonstrating its existence doesn’t require you or me to warp our worldview into something unseemly, illogical, or far-fetched. In history, every time “the church” (by that I mean all churches) has wanted to intervene into history to change it or challenge it, it is because the issue at hand has somehow threatened one or more of these “beleifs.” Yet over and over again intellectual and scientific inquiry has prevailed. If you want an interesting topic to read on, go check out books/articles on cognitive dissonance. Christians have been dealing with it ever since the day Jesus died, and the case study of Mormon hierarchy at the end of 1890 when the second coming didn’t happen is especially insightful.

    Erick don’t you find it extraordinarily convenient that most, if not all, “revelations” and “visitations” and other manifestations of that sort are by and large received in private? I find it terribly suspect. Not even in the OT does Yahweh come clean with the multitude – he’s always got somebody running to him or speaking from behind a curtain or some clouds or something. Hilarious.

  51. FHL, you’re reading the wrong Big Bang books. I’ve got a small biblio if you want more on the probability of life. And even if this earth is a random ocurrence, the anthropic principle of scientific inquiry doesn’t change the fact it is MORE improbable that an extremely complex organism like the Christian god was the thing that started it all. It actually creates more problems and questions than it resolves, IMO.

  52. Alas, I find myself drawn into this thread. It seems to me that there’s a sense of bitterness that I would like to soften.

    This statement seems a bit too strongly worded for me:

    Hence current Church policy and revisionist doctrine does not reflect eternal truth, but rather bends to the needs of modern PR.

    Is it not possible that current Church policy and doctrine also “bends” to the needs of current church members? We already have several examples of that idea in scripture, e.g. the Law as a disciplinarian or schoolmaster (Gal 3:19-24). I find myself a bit uncomfortable with claims to absolute truth and in favor of understanding many, if not most, doctrines as partial formulations of a greater whole. Certain parts of our oral tradition would support this idea, I think.

    And can we add a #3 to Smallaxe’s list of potential responses? Something to the effect that some, if not most, of these speculative ideas are not essential, perhaps? And that it is quite okay to take no position at all on them, regardless of their source?

    This statement seems to me to exceed what can be known:

    when OBL gathers his jihadists around him and expounds the Quran to them and they feel intense zeal for Allah from it, the feeling those men experience is the exact same feeling that Mormons (or any other believer) feel when the president of the church gathers his folks together in general conference and expounds the BofM to them and they feel intense zeal for the Jesus or “Elohim.”

    Laying aside truth claims for a bit, I’m not sure how we could say that the feelings are “the same” in any rigorous sense. Picking up the idea of truth claims again, I find myself disagreeing with this statement. I don’t think that the issue is really the zeal, because people feel zeal for all sorts of things. Indeed, I tend to regard my tomatoes with a great deal of zeal!

    Is it really impossible to distinguish between emotional reactions that engender violence and those that fill us with peace and a desire to serve others? Militant fundamentalism definitely lies down the first road, while it is possible that Christianity is somewhere down the second. And it seems to me that we can indeed distinguish these reactions at this level.

    Finally, I find myself concerned about the potential for insult. My thought is that our ability to debate some of these points requires that we all take great care to phrase our thoughts with the appropriate concern for all the conversation partners. All of us tend to have strong sensitivities on some aspects of what we’re discussing here. I am not suggesting that we be less than candid, but that we remain aware of others and the effect that how we say what we say might have on them.

    Nice, chaste Mogget-kisses to all, and feel free to use the email addy on the sidebar if you’d like to have a more private conversation.


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