Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Persuasion, long suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned…the perfect way to test these? Put a covenant on the line!

When I attended the Doctrine of Christ conference in March of 2017 held in St. George, Utah a scripture project was announced.  I’ve written about that previously under the title “Accepting an Offered Covenant”; you can see that post here .

At that conference a document was proposed to be added to the scriptures.  It was titled “Governing Principles” and was drafted in order to instruct people all over the world how to worship Christ.

When I saw the article and the title, I rebelled.  I have just come out of an institutional church that governed everything I did, down to the minutiae.  Immediately, one of Joseph Smith’s teachings came to mind, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” (emphasis added)

As I began reading this document I found several items that I did not agree with nor did I feel they were scripturally accurate.  I took this matter to the Lord.  I was deeply concerned and in turmoil over the idea of accepting a set of scriptures containing a document with which I did not agree.

I have been waking up in the early morning hours between 3:30 and 4:30 quite often over the past several months.  It has been a good time to pray and write.  The house is quiet with no one needing mom’s attention. It is a time I can converse with the Lord.

The morning after coming home from the conference I awoke early and was complaining to God about the need to be “governed” by a document with which I did not agree. He calmly asked me what I would write. When I told him, he encouraged me to do so.  I spent the next several days drafting my version of a guide for fellowshipping.

It’s difficult to put into words, and keep this post from becoming enormously wordy, what has transpired with the scripture project over the past month and a half.  Suffice it to say that the committee printed in the first draft edition some of their own writings including “Governing Principles” mentioned earlier.  This opened the door for a lot of personal submissions, some that were closer to the crazy end of the meter, a “recipe for disaster”.  This began serious debate: “what is scripture” and “who is authorized by God to write it”.  People were emailing serious concerns to the scripture committee but feeling dismissed by them.  I was one of those people. 

We were alternately moved upon by the spirit and our own consciences to push the committee to tighten their standards of what is scripture and then felt chastised for “complaining” when Denver would write a blog post chastising complainers.

Things came to a head April 19, 2017.  A small group of us had decided to draft a petition in order to call for several items of immediate action:
  ▪Reconstruct the restoration-era scriptures insofar as is possible;
▪Add contemporary content that few would quibble with (e.g., writings by authorized servants: Denver, translation of John, Joseph Smith) 
▪Pause before moving forward in adopting other “scripture” in order to determine the best approach (e.g. writing from others in the assembly or on the scripture team)
Suggested process for arriving at final set of RE scriptures:
▪All legitimate concerns or suggestions that are submitted should be compiled into the list for voting (no selective filtering).
▪Anything that is new to the scriptures (post-Joseph, not Denver) should be, de facto, put up for comment and vote, not automatically added to the scriptures as “examples” to the rest of us and definitely not because the author is on the scripture team.

We were willing and ready to begin our own scripture project if the current committee continued to dismiss our attempts at common consent.  Denver Snuffer heard about our efforts and called for an emergency meeting at his law office in Sandy, Utah. A representative for the committee attended as well as several people involved with our petition.

The meeting was rough but inspiring. We were all called to repent.  We were all able to understand each other more fully. We were all taught some true doctrine by Denver. During the meeting I was asked by Denver to submit the paper I wrote titled “Guiding Principles” to go up against “Governing Principles” in order for the assembly of saints to have a choice. I was not sure I wanted to do so and I did not commit to sending it in at that time.

One of the stories Denver shared a few times was that of the saints in Joseph Smith’s day complaining about the introduction to the doctrine and Covenants which the scripture team at that time had been tasked with writing.  The people rejected their document and called for Joseph to write a new one. Denver pointed out that this began dependence by the people upon Joseph which darkened their minds.  Denver does not want to repeat history.

The following morning I was contacted by a person who had been in attendance at the meeting.  They were excited because they had realized that morning that we had not repeated history: the people do not like the document the scripture team wrote (Governing Principles) and instead of going to Denver to write a new one, I had gone to the Lord and I had written a new one.  Denver was thrilled that “I did not repeat history” and in addition he was even more thrilled that the work was done by a woman!  They asked me to send in the guiding principles document I had compiled and they wanted my name on it.

I felt overwhelmed by the prospect. I spent that day and the morning of the next praying about what to do. I chose to send it in on Friday the 21st. I attached my name to it with the full realization that this may result in my excommunication from the LDS Church.

Sending in my document has opened a door to help others see that they can have a voice in regards to the scripture project.

Things did not change immediately following that meeting.  I have had two phone calls with a member of the scripture team. These calls were beneficial to both of us, I was given more light and understanding into the choices, decision and labors they are doing on our behalf and they were able to better understand the views of the assembly of saints.  Last Sunday, April 30, I received a phone call asking me how I felt about the team putting together a new committee that would be responsible for drafting a replacement document for Governing Principles and my Guiding Principles. This new committee would be formed out of representatives from any fellowship that felt inspired to be a part of it.  I was elated!  This idea felt right.

It has been two weeks since that emergency meeting and there has been a transformation in the attitude of the scripture team as well as the body of believers.  A lot of personal revelation has been received, a lot of direction on how to proceed. As well as much needed guidance on what exactly is scripture and who is authorized by God to “write” it.  The scripture team issued an apology to the body of saints.  It was beautiful and humble and has given us much needed hope in this process.  With that apology they tightened the parameters of what types of submissions should be considered for inclusion in the scriptures.  They also announced the formation of a new committee which had been discussed with me that morning on the phone.

If we are to have any hope of establishing Zion we must learn to work together, to have common consent, to have charity, love and compassion for one another, to have equality, long suffering, gentleness and persuasion, to have love unfeigned; this scripture project has been a wonderful tool for Christ to begin to teach us how to accomplish these things.  There is nothing like offering a covenant to get us learning and growing in earnest. We have a long way to go, but we have begun.