I wanted to post some things from a conversation I am having with a mormon. He is very unusual because though he claims to be LDS he seems to believe that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were fallen prophets.
The best part, though, is probably trying to explain to him that I can quote someone and not believe what they say to be true. He seems to have trouble grasping this. It's the argument of "you are an ex-mormon so you cannot quote mormon leaders because you don't believe in the church!" Excerpts of the conversation follow.
As it began, we were discussing mormon polygamy. I told him that polygamy was not started because there was a shortage of men. That discussion is crazy too but I won't post it all right now. He kept insisting that that was the reason. I gave him all the information and he still refused to believe it. I said this:
LDS Apostle John A. Widtsoe said something about this before. In a book from 1943 called "Evidences and Reconciliations" he said this:
"Plural marriage has been a subject of wide and frequent comment. Members of the Church unfamiliar with its history, and many non-members, have set up fallacious reasons for the origin of this system of marriage among the Latter-day Saints.
The most common of these conjectures is that the Church, through plural marriage, sought to provide husbands for its large surplus of female members. The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church, is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seem always to have been more males than females in the Church...
The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah, and in the Church. Indeed, the excess in Utah has usually been larger than for the whole United States, as would be expected in a pioneer state. The births within the Church obey the usual population law - a slight excess of males...
The theory that plural marriage was a consequence of a surplus of female Church members fails from lack of evidence..."
To this he said: "...And any way how can you quote an apostle?? you seem very against mormons in most respects."
I said: Why can't I quote an apostle?
He said: oh... sorry I took you for a anti mormon...
Me: Why would a non-mormon not be allowed to quote an apostle, though? If I were talking about the beliefs of a Catholic would I not be allowed to quote the pope? If I were talking about the beliefs of a Buddhist would I not be allowed to quote the Buddha? I don't understand.
Him: The only reason that you would quote him would be because you thought that I would think him a credible sourse which I do. However you being a nonmormon do not think him a credible sourse because you through all appearences think that he does not have the preisthood
But I have strayed from the point. and you probably realized that. and as I said I might have flung about already on this issue.
Joseph Smith in having 34 wives was not just practicing polygamy. as he was also taking other mens wives as you (and other sources) say he was also an adulterer. An Adulturous prophet, listen...this has happened before. in the scriptures prophets very righteous ones have grown vain and Adulterous and as a result people in this day and age almost hate these prophets for their bad exsample.
You hate Joseph Smith for doing this, and I too think that not only was it a bad desicion but a horrible one also. but his translating the Book of mormon and a majority of the Doctrine and Covenants were written before his sin. these documents are not tainted. And the section you would take out are wonderful ones I think I will still believe in these sections. they are still good.
Me:Whether I think he has the priesthood or not means nothing. I might not agree with everything he says or with his religious affiliation but there is no reason I shouldn't be able to agree with him on this particular point. Yeah, I used him because I thought it might be a more credible source to you. I don't see the problem here. You don't have to agree with someone's religion to quote them or agree with them on a point.
What you say about josesph is interesting to me. I think you might be in the wrong branch of mormonism. There are branches that believe that joseph was a fallen prophet but the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints is not one of them. They believe joseph was following god up to the end. You can ask your bishop about it.
Him: Whether he has the preisthood or not makes all the difference in the world. If he does not have the preisthood then more often than not he does not have any more credentials to teach the gosepel more than my brother.
Wrong Branch? I think not. the main branch has far as I can see is the only one with actual temples the only one with true claim to the preisthood.
Me: Ok, but I don't actually have to agree with a person to quote them or even to use them to prove a point. Like I said before, If we are talking about Catholicism would it not be ok to quote the Pope, even if you didn't believe he had the priesthood? a person doesn't need power from god to be quoted.
As far as your beliefs about Joseph being a fallen prophet you are in the wrong branch. Why would you say it is the only one that has a true claim to the priesthood? If Joseph was a fallen prophet because of some bad teachings and polygamy and stuff Brigham Young would be too. Brigham taught lots of things that were controversial (lots of very racist doctrine and stuff) and he also married young girls and took other men's wives. If Joseph and Brigham are both fallen prophets how do you know that the rest are not also fallen? perhaps the LDS branch continued into apostasy. Having the most temples doesn't make it the right branch.
Him:In the instance of the pope. He has gone through years and years of study and reflection. Any person should realize that the pope is a great person. and as a person who is knowledgable he should be quoted however I can still dissagree with his interpretations.
Brigham Young may have made racist statements and married women. Joseph smith may have married women. Because they were wicked at the end does nto make their previous statements untrue.
Me: I don't see how the years of study the pope has gone though change anything. He is a representative of Catholicism and the Catholics believe he speaks for god so it seems that, though I don't believe he speaks for god, I would still quote him if I were talking about what Catholics believe because he symbolizes that. Just like the prophets and apostles are looked at in a similar way by mormons. Of course you are welcome to act as though the words, when quoted by me, are meaningless but I don't see how me quoting them should be an issue.
I didn't say that made the previous statements true or untrue. But LDS do believe that they were prophets and that they were guided by god to the end. You can believe differently but according to LDS doctrine if a prophet leads the church astray he will be stuck off the face of the earth by god. Joseph and Brigham did many things that seemed uninspired and god did not remove them. LDS believe that they were prophets to the end, that is one of the ways the differ from other sects of mormonism that have splintered off. Don't take my word for it. Ask your bishop and church leaders. YOU personally don't have to believe that they were good to the end but your religion does believe that.
Him:Really? I didn't know the Catholics believed that the Pope speaks through god. Then why don't they freak'n call him a prophet. it is the same thing. What is the difference? I could call the pope the Catholic Prophet and that would be true?
Actually being an ex you seem to think that all his statements are untrue. I thought that perhaps this was one of the reasons why you thought that, as it could be. and so I was countering a point you inferred, or maybe I am going crazy.
Joseph and Brigham are dead therefore god has removed them. This can only be for two reasons their mission on earth was complete, or they were so wicked or astray that there was no way that they could complete their mission. We are not here to judge therefore we can not say when the appropriate time for punishment is. 11 years more he lived. whose to say what else might have been done if he had remained righteous
Me: In Catholicism the pope is much like the prophet in Mormonism. Catholic dogma holds the pope as infallible, at least when he is speaking as pope. I suppose he is called the pope and not the prophet much like Mormons call it "the sacrament" and others call it "communion." Both are pretty much the same but have different names.
I guess you could call him the catholic prophet but Catholics might take offense at that. I don't think that is one of the names that is accepted. Like if I called Gordon B. Hinckley a "pope" Mormons would likely find that offense. I don't know if you would but most Mormons would I expect.
I don't understand what you are saying about me thinking his statements are all untrue. When the LDS prophet says something about loving thy neighbor or helping and serving people or being kind to one another or something like that that is commonly thought to be "good" by people of all religions, I agree with that. I don't automatically disagree with everything a prophet says. I disagree with the Mormon church as a whole and I am an ex-Mormon but that doesn't mean I take everything ever said by a prophet or church leader and disbelieve it and call it "bad." I don't believe it is divinely inspired but I can still see it as good. Understand what I mean?
Now, I was talking about how Catholics believe the pope is infallible. In discussing that point what if I quoted some doctrine about it? Like this:
"when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed His church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the church, irreformable." (First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ ch.4, s.9)
Quoting that does not mean in any way that I personally believe the pope is infallible. I am just quoting catholic doctrine because it is what Catholics believe, not because it is what I believe.
If I were doing a research paper I would use quotes in that as well. perhaps I was doing a paper on cats. Maybe I would come across a quote about cats I wanted to use that said something like this:
"Cats are the devil and should all be killed! Cats are the worst pets ever! Everyone should hate cats!" (some guy)
That quote doesn't reflect MY feelings about cats. That quote reflects someone else's feelings about them. If I wanted to use that in my paper as an example of what some people think of cats I could but that doesn't mean that I agree with it.
Now, when I talk about the Mormon beliefs about the prophet I don't claim that I believe the prophet to be a man of god and the quotes I post about it don't reflect my feelings necessarily but they do reflect the teachings of the church. You can quote something or someone and not agree with them.
We are talking about fallen prophets. I will give you this piece of LDS Mormon doctrine about it. That doesn't mean I agree with it but it is what LDS Mormons believe. I will post some quotes:
"The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Wilford Woodruff, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church)
"...continuing revelation and leadership for the Church come through the President of the Church, and he will never mislead the Saints." (James Faust, General Conference, April 1996)
"Follow your leaders who have been duly ordained and have been publicly sustained, and you will not be led astray." (Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, Oct. 1992; Ensign, Nov. 1992)
"I want to give you my testimony that the Lord will not permit any man to lead His Church astray." (Gordon B. Hinckley, talk given on January 21, 1996, reprinted in the Ensign magazine, June 1996, pg 2-8)
Though you may personally believe that the lord let LDS prophets lead the church astray it is not what the LDS church believes. I am not certain how to explain it to you better than this. If you really desire to understand you should ask your bishop about it. Ask him if the church believes Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were fallen prophets in the end.
That is the conversation up to this point. I hope he will get it eventually. Otherwise I might just have to give up on him.