The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is unique. It’s core beliefs revolve around the idea that there are prophets in the land again and that the heavens have been opened once again. It differs from the Catholic and Protestant belief that the heavens are closed and that the canon is complete. While most Christians believe that the Bible is the infallible word of God, Mormons (who are also Christian) believe God has once again returned to the earth to set the record straight and give us ongoing “further light and knowledge”. While each of us can receive personal revelation for ourselves, our families, and our stewardships…the prophetic “keys” to receiving revelation for the church is the responsibility of the living apostles.
Some of those apostles are pretty old. Ok…ok…most of them are pretty old. So here’s the big question…
Are those apostles we call “the brethren” too old, irrelevant, and out of touch with reality? Are they fit to be leading a church and should you listen to them?
As of late, there have been a good number of people that have raised their voice online and in the media to challenge the apostles both inside and outside of the church. They want them to catch up with the times and “adjust this doctrine” or “change that policy”.
The quorum of the twelve are not a bunch of dumb old guys sitting in a windowless office somewhere in a Salt Lake basement. If anything…their ages have helped them see more of the world and become more wise and prudent in their decision making. But where you might see only twelve or fifteen “aged” men shaping policy, receiving revelation, and providing instruction…I see a supporting council of some of the best and brightest men and women this world has to offer. The quorums of seventy that span the globe are no slouches either. The mission presidents, temple presidents, and stake presidencies around the world are the cream of the crop. This is not an uninformed group of people and the members of the quorum of the twelve are carefully considering it all.
These are cool, hip, modern, successful, and wise people that are thinking things through and not making rash decisions. Each of them are seeking the will of the the Lord in the decisions that they make and trusting that the Lord is at the helm. I just wonder if it has ever occurred to people that challenge the apostles that maybe…just maybe, the apostles know something that they don’t.
Do you remember when Capt. Moroni absolutely goes off on Pahoran in Alma 60? Moroni and Helaman are fighting for their lives on the battle front against the Lamanites. Pahoran is the chief judge of the land located in Zarahemla. Moroni and Helaman badly need supplies and men to give them relief on the front. Moroni writes to Pahoran for relief and Pahoran sends them nothing.
So Moroni goes off:
“we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state…[while you] sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor.” He goes on to call them “traitors to [their own] country.” After even stronger language he ends by saying that “I seek not for power, but to pull it down.” (Alma 60)
Sound familiar? See any relation to our day? Moroni was a faithful “member” if you will, that was on the outside looking in. He wanted change, and he wanted it now, and he was willing to freak out on Pahoran to get it without knowing all of the facts first.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Moroni here because I love Moroni…but Moroni was completely wrong in this instance. His writing was powerful, his words…elegant, and there’s no doubting his commitment to God and country. “If all men could be like Moroni” the record says, “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever.” Moroni was an obvious stud. There’s no question about that.
But Moroni was about to erroneously revolt and march against his own governor, his own land, and his own people. Moroni didn’t have the whole picture. Moroni assumed something incorrectly, and were it not for the wisdom of Pahoran, Moroni could have caused an unnecessary disaster for himself, his men, Helaman, and his entire nation. Not an ounce of guile was in Pahoran’s voice as he replied to Moroni’s misguided rebuke. He says “…in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people.”
Fortunately…Pahoran’s letter reached Moroni before he made any unfounded life-changing moves on Pahoran and the capital. But what if Pahoran’s letter never reached Moroni? Moroni might not be the hero he is today and the Nephite history might have ended in Alma 63 with civil war. All from an unfounded assumption.
I just wonder how many men and women, “Captain Moroni’s”, there are out there in the church right now with unlimited potential to lead and inspire that have jumped to wrong conclusions about current doctrines and policies. They want change…and they want it now…and if it doesn’t happen now…then they assume that the apostles are just old fashioned, slow to act, and sitting around in a “thoughtless stupor” all day. That is not the case. And just like Captain Moroni, if we could see the entire picture of what Pahoran was dealing with…we might structure our language and our letters a little differently.
The beauty of the restoration is that it’s still taking place…and I’ll bet if you’re patient, you’ll receive that metaphorical “letter from Pahoran” in the near future. It will shed light into persistent questions and bring comfort to your soul in knowing that the Lord has been, and still is guiding His apostles in these last days.