Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Eloquent Witness

I recently bought Hugh Nibley's latest book entitled "Eloquent Witness: Nibley on Himself, Others, and the Temple" (See HERE). It's a good thing that something so little as death hasn't slowed Brother Nibley's publishing down! Let me give you a little preview of the Book here.


It is well known that Hugh Nibley was the LDS apologist of all time. It's a little less well known that he had some really critical things to say, at times, about the church as an institution. Notwithstanding his criticism, he always sustained his leaders. An interview reported in the book contains, in part, the following:

MIDGLEY: Are you concerned with the leadership of the Church?
NIBLEY: Nope, not a bit. I certainly am not. The leadership of the Church is Jesus Christ, and he know what he is doing. Don't worry.
MIDGLEY: I am tempted to ask you if you would sustain Judas?
NIBLEY: Of course I would sustain Judas. He was on of the apostles.
MIDGLEY: But he was a devil.
NIBLEY: Remember what the Lord said. "I [have] chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil" (John 6:70). But he chose him. The Lord has his purposes in these things. If we sustained only perfect people, we wouldn't sustain anybody. The Lord has his purposes in these things.(p. 40)


I really like this philosophy. I've had church leaders before who really didn't see things the same way I do. Some of the "brethren" at times have seen things differently than I do. I'm not saying that any of them are "Judas" (so to speak), but should I not sustain them? Isn't it Jesus' Church? If Christ calls someone who isn't perfect, or even someone who is wicked, to a position over me, who am I to oppose it?

What think ye?

16 comments:

Bryce Haymond said...

My view is, the Lord knows what He is doing. He knows who He places at the head of His Church. We should sustain them whether or not we agree with them. Sustaining doesn't mean we agree with everything they say, but it does mean a lot.

Andrew I. Miller said...

Bryce,

Right on!

LifeOnaPlate said...

I agree with Nibley with reservations. Suppose Judas asked me to assist him in denying the Lord. I hope I wouldn't sustain that, eh?

Andrew I. Miller said...

lifeonaplate,

Good point. I like this statement from Brigham Young:

I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation....Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. (Brigham Young, JD 9:150)

Bryce Haymond said...

I guess the big question comes if we do inquire, and the Spirit witnesses that our leaders are not walking in the path the Lord dictates. What then? Do we let it loose, or keep it private? I think I would side with keeping it private since the other course of action leads to apostasy. Of course, I would take my concerns to the leader directly, or those in authority over him, but I would not tell others to go in opposition to the prophets and apostles. Elder Oaks recently stated that it is not appropriate to criticize the brethren, even if the criticism is right.

Andrew I. Miller said...

bryce,

Interesting points. Our current stake president instructed us that we must use white bread for the sacrament and nothing else. This is wrong, of course, but it is also trivial. So, what do we do? Our ward has generally ignored his counsel, but no one has publicly spoken against it that I know of (I guess I just did...)

LifeOnaPlate said...

I'd probably ask why only white bread. I have never seen a directive that such should be done. In fact, the revelation on using water should show that "it matters not."

Andrew I. Miller said...

Why he thinks we should use white bread is beyond me. It's not in the scriptures, it's not in the handbook, it's not even in Mormon Doctrine (ha!). It's just his philosophy, but obviously a flawed one. I don't think the Stake President has the right to give directive that is contrary to the directive given from the First Presidency and the scriptures. If white bread were to be used, don't you think it would come from some other source than the Stake President?

LifeOnaPlate said...

Quite frankly it saddens me that such a peripheral issue is even discussed or mandated. Honestly.

Bryce Haymond said...

Perhaps it is one of those things that the stake president feels is important for his stake, for whatever reason, which he is free to do within his jurisdiction. It would be interesting to know if he thinks it is actual doctrine from the brethren, or if it is just his own personal preference for his stake. As you noted, it is so trivial, and inconsequential, that it might be one of those things left to the stake president to decide.

Andrew I. Miller said...

Leaders are welcome to give whatever counsel they desire, but I think some counsel is inspired and some is not. In this case, I am 99.999% positive the Lord doesn't care whether we use white bread or not in this stake or any other, but I'm sure the Lord does care that we strive to follow our leaders. So, if I'm asked to provide the bread, it will be white. ;)

Bryce Haymond said...

Now that's the spirit! :)

Peter said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. It may not be what colour/ type the bread is. If it's a revelation, perhaps it's just an obedience one...
You have sustained your stake president, as such you are bound to uphold "his law"in church matters (for lack of a better word at this hour). For you it might not matter if it's white or not but it should matter about following your leaders orders.
Sometimes it's not about understanding it's just about following.
I have still need to learn that principal though.

Andrew I. Miller said...

On the other hand, lifeonaplate has a valid point. If your leader were Judas, and he asked you to help him betray the Lord, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be under any obligation to do so. I think if counsel seriously offends the spirit, you're under no obligation to follow it. I think that's what Brigham Young was talking about (see above). However, if it is something that doesn't seem to offend the spirit (white bread for the sacrament, for example), even if it doesn't seem important, you should follow the counsel.


What do you think? I'm really trying to work through this issue. It seems to be a real paradox in some ways.

Bryce Haymond said...

I think you're right. There have been cases when entire stakes have gone into apostasy by following their leadership (e.g. processions before sacrament meeting, etc.). But I think those cases are few and far between. I believe that for the most part we can follow our leaders, and we should seek spiritual confirmation in following them. They are under constant supervision by the authorities over them, which ultimately leads us back to Christ.

RoAnn said...

Interesting discussion! Sometimes we can get all worked up over things that are ultimately unimportant.

I think I'm also with Nibley on this; with the caveat Andrew mentioned when he said, "if it is something that doesn't seem to offend the spirit (white bread for the sacrament, for example), even if it doesn't seem important, you should follow the counsel."