As I pondered the messages of the October 2016 general conference, one talk that stood out to me given my current spiritual worldview was that given by M. Russell Ballard. I found that it spoke to a number of the issues with which believers struggle today. To start, I heartily agree with his plea to those whose faith is ‘faltering.’

Never abandon the great truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Never stop reading, pondering, and applying the doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon.

Never fail to give equal time to the Lord through honest attempts to understand what the Lord has revealed. As my dear friend and former colleague Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “We should not assume … that just because something is unexplainable by us it is unexplainable.”

Not only should one study the ‘truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith,’ but should also seek to understand how those truths are held today by the church and the general administration. Are those truths prominent today in the discourse of the church or are they, as the doctrine of the Doctrine and Covenants (also known as the Lectures on Faith) been excised from the focus of the church and replaced by the traditions of men?

Is the doctrine of Christ as contained in the Book of Mormon truly central to the message of the modern day church? Is the necessity of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost as prominent in church teachings today as it is in the ‘doctrine of Christ’ found in Second and Third Nephi? The doctrine of Christ presented by the Savior as He taught the Nephites after His resurrection included this warning:

…whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Does the doctrine of Christ stand in clarity as the doctrine of the church of Jesus Christ or does it have elements of the traditions of men injected into it or the core components of salvation removed from it? One must study this out and seek the direction of the Spirit or answers.

Elder Ballard then proceeded to ask some important questions that each of us must answer, my response follows:

Where will you go to find others who share your belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents, who teach us how to return to Their eternal presence?

Are there others outside the Church,  (some by their own choice and some who had no choice) who share a belief in a Father and Mother God? Are there those who literally believe that the doctrine of Christ and other important information found in the scriptures teach us explicitly how to return to their presence? I would offer an emphatic yes. While the church offers a socially supportive environment, it does not place personal salvation in the forefront. Rather, one is called upon to support the brethren, attend the temple, pay tithing and, is time is left, do your home teaching. None of these activities are specifically mentioned in the doctrine of Christ from the scriptures.

Where will you go to be taught about a Savior who is your best friend, who not only suffered for your sins but who also suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” so “that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities,” including, I believe, the infirmity of loss of faith?

The scriptures speak of our opportunity to know Christ at a personal level. The promise found in D&C 93 encourages us to enter His presence and receive of His comfort. Is the church placing itself as the gate for this privilege? The role of His church should be to help members to establish this relationship on their own efforts and not rely on an intermediary for any communion with Heaven.

Where will you go to learn more about Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness and peace, a plan that is filled with wondrous possibilities, teachings, and guidance for our mortal and eternal lives? Remember, the plan of salvation gives mortal life meaning, purpose, and direction.

Go to the scriptures, go to your Father in Heaven, seek to fulfill the promise of the doctrine of Christ found in chapter 32 of Second Nephi that after we have ‘entered in by the way,’ we have the ability to speak with the tongues of angels and be guided in all we do. No apostles or general conferences are necessary. The authority to baptize historically given to the church does not extend to all communications with God.

Where will you go to find a detailed and inspired Church organizational structure through which you are taught and supported by men and women who are deeply committed to serving the Lord by serving you and your family?

Where is the inspiration recorded that authorizes this Church organizational structure in the first place? Where does the Lord establish a salaried bureaucracy under His name? Which aspect of the three-fold mission of the church supports the billion plus dollar expenditure of sacred funds for the construction of an upscale mall? Where are we told to only seek instruction from these leaders? Where are we told allegiance to this organizational structure is a pre-requisite to other benefits, such as temple attendance? The traditions of men have taken precedence over the doctrine of Christ. His organization, as characterized in Third Nephi, is made up those who acted as ministers and servants, not as rock stars deserving of the highest of obeisance.

Where will you go to find living prophets and apostles, who are called by God to give you another resource for counsel, understanding, comfort, and inspiration for the challenges of our day?

Recorded in the Old Testament is a story of a gardener who was called as a prophet to preach repentance to the established religious organization. I am sure you recall his famous saying: ‘Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’ Is it any different today? Should we expect prophets to appear preaching repentance to those who have erred. The secret that Amos carried was that nothing short of sincere repentance would suffice for those to whom he was sent; otherwise the Lord would withdraw His protection. Are there prophets, outside the establishment, among us today who are brought before us by the Lord to preach repentance? I would offer an emphatic YES!

Where will you go to find people who live by a prescribed set of values and standards that you share and want to pass along to your children and grandchildren?

What are these prescribed values and standards that we are encouraged to live by? Do you speak of the Word of Wisdom? Do you speak of white shirts and ties required to meet the community standard? Do these values and standards bring anything other than a feeling of exclusivity to the proponents? While the church may pride itself on teaching values, it is simply not pertinent to the doctrine of Christ. There are good people outside the church who have similar values and standards without the baggage.

And where will you go to experience the joy that comes through the saving ordinances and covenants of the temple?

Which covenants and ordinances of the temple are you referring to – the Joseph Smith version, the Brigham Young version, the pre-1990’s version or today’s version? Each carries with it differences in covenants. True joy comes from the same source as Alma received it. It comes from being born again. It comes from having our sins purged and our hearts changed. No temple is necessary for that profound and life changing experience.

Brothers and sisters, accepting and living the gospel of Christ can be challenging. It has always been thus, and it ever will be. Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.

I would suggest that the church can be likened to a bus that will carry you part of the way on your journey. To climb that steep and arduous trail, one must put on their own shoes (faith) and tread the trail. No bus will take you up the steep incline. I would encourage all to pause on the path they are on. Seek the Lord in humble prayer and receive of His Spirit. There is no value in relying on an organization to save you. There is no value in completing the checklist. The Lord calls upon your heart to be changed. He invites you belong to His church by repenting and coming unto Him. No more, no less.

I join Elder Ballard in this component of his testimony:

I testify that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ… I further testify that the Lord “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God.”

What think ye?

40 Responses to “Responding to Elder Ballard’s Questions”

  • Rob Osborn:

    I think you have certainly paused on the path but instead of continuing on that same path you are looking for a different path to go forward instead of this church as your path. I get the feeling that you no longer believe in the LDS church.

    • Spektator:

      Rob,
      I wouldn’t say that I have paused. Rather, I would suggest that the Lord has required a different path for me. As for the LDS church, I would refer you to the 27th chapter of 3 Nephi which outlines the criteria for the church to be His church. Tt must bear His name, it has to be built upon His gospel, and the Father has to ‘show forth His own works in it.’

      While the church bears His name, I can’t say that it is built upon HIs gospel as contained in the same chapter. Nor can I see any of the works of the Father, as demonstrated by Christ as He was among the Nephites. The disciples of Christ among the Nephites ‘did heal the sick, and raise the dean, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men.’ As the scriptures indicate, these works, or miracles, are present when the Church is His church.

      It seems that the church has paused and no longer believes in what Joseph Smith taught not holds the Book of Mormon’s recitation of the doctrine of Christ.

      I am sure your mileage may vary but It is clear to me that there is no validation of the LDS church by the Lord as characterized above.
      Spek

      • Rob Osborn:

        I see miracles all the time. I have healed the sick, I have seen devils cast out and I have seen and been part of many miraculous events as a member and part of his church. If one has found though they will not see the miracles, they will not see the good works.

      • Spektator:

        So, Rob.

        Please tell me more. How do you define a miracle? Do you believe that these miracles are a result of the faith of you or the recipient or the result of church membership? When you healed the sick, was it a priesthood blessing and the subject eventually recovered or was it spontaneous as described in the scriptures? How many priesthood blessings have not resulted in a ‘miracle?’ Why do you suggest that some blessings didn’t result in a spontaneous healing?

        I would really like to understand how you view these events and how you see them matching the scriptural version of miracles.

        This conversation could be private as an alternative. spektator@gmail.com

        spek

  • Rob Osborn:

    I email you

  • Boo:

    Enjoyed your thoughts. Frankly you are more charitable than I . That is a good thing. My initial response to the question ” where will you go ” is that 2/3 s of the church have already left and seemed happy enough that they have not felt any need to return. 70 percent of members have left by the time they are 20. Only 15 percent of young men go on missions . Of those who do 10 percent come home early. 50 percent of those who last the 2 years will go inactive. I like Elder Ballard but the fact he gives a talk like this tells me he doesn’t understand how to stop the bleeding. I teach the 16 year olds . I also have a 22 year old son at BYU and another 30 year old that just finished grad school and can tell you that Greg Prince is correct – the biggest problem among teens and millennials is boredom. We have taken the most delicious and exciting thing in the universe – the gospel and made it deadly . Hence people are voting with their feet and apparently the Q 12 don’t have a clue what to do about. They could start by listening to you.

    • Spektator:

      Boo,
      I am, perhaps, restrained because I remember how narrowly I viewed the situation when I was uber-active and how it took a real trauma to shed the blinders. The statistics you include in your comment are damning. I still have a sorrowful memory of a bright young man who was Seminary president, got a scholarship to BYU, lasted one year and lost his testimony, not only of the church, but God also.

      I would suggest that the ‘boredom’ you describe was the, perhaps unintended, result of correlation. It is unfortunate that they believe that the process preserves the purity of the gospel when it appears to be gutting it of all the is miraculous and convincing.

      Spek

  • Rob Osborn:

    I tend to disagree. Jesus Christ’s church is centered around service to others. Not sure what you guys believe but as we serve others, and I mean WORK VERY VERY HARD, at serving others we begin to see God’s glory and his miracles in the church. I am a youth leader and one thing I can tell you- teaching them to serve others is the key to allowing them to see and be a part of the miracles of God. While you guys sit around, bashing the Brethren, you have become blinded to the world of God, no longer seeing by faith or the spirit. This you see a broken church with broken leaders. I can testify it’s the exact opposite. The Brethren are led about by faith working miracle upon miracle everyday.

    • Spektator:

      Rob,
      I heartily agree that serving others is very important. In Mosiah, chapter 4 one can find that service to others is a requirement if we are to retain a remission of our sins brought about by the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. The people of King Benjamin were told to ‘succor those that stand in need of your succor’ and ‘administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need’ and ‘not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain.’ Translated to our day, we are to serve and support those around us who need help.

      I am disappointed in your judgement of who ‘we’ are. Blinded to the world of God, no longer seeing by faith or the spirit? The Pharisees said the same of Christ. Did that make them right?

      The scriptures are replete of warnings that this modern day church is subject to the same pride and haughtiness that brought down every other dispensation. Moroni, in chapter 8, saw us in this day and stated:

      36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.
      37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
      38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

      Again, Moroni asks ‘why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Given he wrote this about 400 years after Christ crucified and about 100 years after the organization He started was subsumed by the Romans, he must be talking to us. He asked this question as he saw what we gentiles have done to the restoration. How have we polluted the holy church of God? You must seek your own answer to this question and why Moroni issued his warning.

      You belong to an organization that preaches service but only allocates a few percentage points of its wealth to the poor and needy. You belong to a church that has seen fit to invest billions of sacred funds in real estate ventures and upscale malls. You have an elite class of leadership that is casting out those who do not wish to trust in the arm of flesh; much like the people at the time of Alma who ‘did persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure.’

      What miracles do the Brethren produce on a day by day basis? In an address in Calgary given May 7, 2000. Elder Dallin Oaks stated that ‘”there is something miraculous about the way the members of our Church pay their tithing so faithfully and are so blessed for doing so.”

      He want on to say that “The effect of our Family Search Internet Genealogy Service in the year it has been available is truly miraculous. After one year our Internet site averages 8 million hits per day, representing daily visits by about 130,000 persons. In this same one-year period, the site registered users from 117 countries who downloaded over 410,000 copies of our Personal Ancestral File. This was an 8-fold increase in usage over the prior technology.”

      Are these the miracles of which you speak? If so, you are seeing, as described in 3 Nephi, chapter 27, an organization built on the works of men. They will ‘have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire…”

      You have described what you consider a miracle in your own life. I can only encourage you to seek out what that means to you personally and what God has stated regarding the criteria for His church as He talked to his 12 disciples. They were demonstrating the works of God and did so as illustrated in 4 Nephi verse 5.

      One final thought. In 3 Nephi, chapter 16 verse 6, we read of the gentiles received a witness of the God through the Holy Ghost. It is these same gentiles who, later in the chapter, are found to ‘reject the fulness of the gospel’ and ‘shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations.’ The Lord promises that when this happens, he will take the fulness of the gospel away from the gentiles. Who do you think he was talking about?

      Rob, I can only tell you that I have been put on the path I am on through heartfelt fasting and prayer. This is not the path I wanted nor desired but such is my lot.

      Spek

      • Rob Osborn:

        You are misinterpreting 3 Nephi 16. The Lord gives an either/or statement about the Gentiles. It specifies how, once God brings his true gospel back on earth (through Josrph Smith/Book of Mormon), that if they then reject it and continue to destroy the Indians that he would remoce his gosoel from them. But, if they change, and take care of the Indians and build his gosoel he will continue to bless them. This is the case here where we are receiving blessings.

        It’s sad that all you see is a worldly vain church because that’s not what it is. Our church houses and temples are built with quality materials to last. We take after Nephi in this respect. I find it interesting that you don’t have anything to say negatively about Nephi who built things with exceedingly great craftsmanship but when us “gentiles” do it it’s suddenly “vain”. Sounds like you judge with a double standard.

      • Spektator:

        Rob,
        You need to reread 3 Nephi, chapter 16:

        “At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.”

        It is not ‘if’ the Gentiles reject the gospel, it is ‘when.’ The gentiles will sin against the gospel and reject the fulness of the gospel, they will lose it. Read the Joseph Smith translation of Matthew, chapter 23. the kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles and then taken from the Gentiles.

        “And when the Lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, he will destroy those miserable, wicked men, and will let again his vineyard unto other husbandmen, even in the last days, who shall render him the fruits in their season. And then understood they the parable which he spake with them, that the Gentiles also, when the Lord should descent out of heaven to reign in his vineyard…”

        The only conditional aspect in 3 Nephi is found here:

        “But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel.”

        The only ones who make it through this will be the ones who return and repent. That is the message that the Lord embedded in the scriptures, we Gentiles need to repent. If we do repent and return to supporting the fulness of the gospel, he will number with the house of Israel. Otherwise, we will be cut off.

        I was not referring to the temples and meeting houses when I mentioned real estate. I was referring to the Cross Roads mall, the massive land acquisitions and the recently announcement that the church was funding a large housing development in Florida. These are the works of men and, I believe, are not acceptable to the Lord.

        But, since you brought up the temples, I find in the scriptures, the Lord’s command to build the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples. Where is the revelation to build any other of the 100 plus temples? Does this make the rest of the temples the works of men? Wouldn’t one expect the Lord to sanction the building of the Salt Lake temple just as He did the Nauvoo and Kirtland temples? The saints were driven from Nauvoo because the Lord removed His protection when they did not finish the temple as He commanded.

        Do you seriously believe we have taken good care of the indians? I grew up in the middle of the Ute Indian reservation. Alcoholism and poverty were and are still rampant. They, the native americans, in general have not joined the church en masse. The saints mistreated the local indian populations just as the broader gentiles did, read Trail of Tears if you want to see what happened.

  • Rob Osborn:

    The church has the most effective self sustained welfare system on the planet. From individual neighborhoods to helping worldwide no other organization or beaurocracy can come close to its efficiency and effectiveness. The for profit umbrella corporations owned by the church are not funded by tithing dollars but yet their profits are used to build the kingdom of God on earth. So, you tell me- according to the parable of the talents, are we not commanded to increase our investments? Let me ask- do you work for money? Do you stop at for profit companies? So, if you are a holy being, as all of us are, then our entire lives events- everything we do housing the temple of God, is our ministry. That said, it’s no different for the church to own a for profit company as it is for you to work for one and pay tithing to the Lord off that money, and in turn, the Lord blessed not only you but also the for profit company you work for and those investers.

    • Spektator:

      Rob,
      You need to do some research on how much the church spends on humanitarian efforts. Most put the number at around an average of $50M per year over the last couple decades. Based on estimates of church income, about 0.7 percent goes to humanitarian efforts. The United Methodists contribute more the 25% of their income to relief projects.

      How did the church come to own the for profit companies in the first place? Every asset the church owns was given to them as a donation. One of my ancestors was required to give the church his sugar processing plant when the United Order was set up in Brigham City. Did he get it back when the effort failed? No, the church kept the assets. Are the profits used to build up the kingdom of God or are they used to build the works of men like the Cross Roads mall? You know the answer there.

      I don’t believe the parable of the talents is the best example. When the rich young ruler came to Christ and told him that he had kept all the commandments, the Lord told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor.

      “But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

      The church as used its position to acquire great wealth, I would suggest that it is equally appropriate to say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich church to build the kingdom of God.

      • Rob Osborn:

        Seeing things differently is where we can’t agree. This is where I stated the church welfare system is more efficient and effective than any other organization of beaurocracy on the planet. For instance, the welfare system of the United States gives away an astronomical amount of taxpayers money to fund an entirely broken system. Its not efficient and certainly far from effective. You canr just throw loads of money at something and expect to fix things, its not the Lords way. This is why the church welfare system and charities is set up the way it is. Instead of just donating tens of millions of dollars to second and third world countries/communities, we take our resources and put it to work yhe best way. We go in, teach them how build and farm properly, help them to have clean water and sewer, then supply the minimal funding necessary for the community to become self sufficient and effective. Besides this, we then offer educational support and means to the existing and rising generations to pull themselves out of poverty. In similar yet oppisite manner The government on the other hand just throws money their way as a token of charity and within less than one generation the mobey is gone, more corruption exusts, more problems arise.

        In this country alone a strong argument could be made that our entire gang and drug related culture is the direct byproduct of a broken welfare system that got its start from government funds starting inner city projects (welfare communities) that then subsisted off of welfare for decades creating ripe environments for unwed mothers to birth fatherless children as a means of income. Over the course of two generations, entire inner city schools failed, welfare became overburdened, children from fatherless homes joined gangs and it in turn created a domino effect that essentially costs us taxpayers tenfold to try to correct these souls in correctional facilities across the nation.

        This is precisely why the Lord, in his great wisdom set up his system through our church to help his children learn how to help themselves so that in turn they can properly help and show others how to do the same.

        I have an aunt that lives in Montana who was part of a school bored there that devated the use of funding. Her strong argument was that you can’t fix a broken system with money alone and often times throwing more money at it just makes the problems worse. She was part of a pilot program that instead used resources already available, combined with the right dedicated personel to fix a problem that up until then wasted money couldnt fix. It shows that money alone, doesnt fix problems. Its utilizing resources to their full potential and then supplying necessary funding to achieve the correct long term result. This is why the church system is so effective. We can go into third world countries, spend a minimal dollars and use resources correctly and in effect do far more than the government could do throwing tens of millions of dollars at it.

        Its thus not wise for the church to spend excess money on handouts to the poor because in a few years the money would dry up and those on the receiving end wouldnt learn anything and be worse off later just as we see all the time with government welfare.

      • Spektator:

        I am not sure that taking a position that the church welfare system is better than the US government welfare is really saying a lot. I agree that the unintended consequences of the government dole has been to create an attitude that foments crime and drugs.

        Just think what the ‘efficient’ system you describe could accomplish if they spent just 19% of their income on helping the poor and needy…

        King Benjamin taught that we are not to judge the needs of others.

        “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
        But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.”

        I believe this applies to us individually and collectively as a church. another reason why the church elders should not be sitting on a pile of money.

  • Rob Osborn:

    I was part of the Lords system this last weekend in my own ward. The bishop organized three projects last weekend that helped three families out. One project was moving some things, another was cutting and delivering firewood, the other was laying some sod. How much did it cost the ward? 0$!

    • Spektator:

      I commend you for your service to others. As I have stated earlier, service to others in need is an element of retaining a remission of our sins. I must, however, remind you of the Lords statement in Matthew, chapter 7.

      “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils: and in thy name done many wonderful works?
      and then will I profess to them, I never know you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

      Doing works will not necessarily provide entrance into the kingdom of God. I have pondered this concept for a long time, can one do many works in the Lord’s name yet not know him or be known by him (depending on which version of the scripture you prefer). Much of what I have written in this blog is focused on coming to know the Lord and be known by him. I believe that He will know us through the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost which He administers (3 Nephi 12:1-2)

      The recipe, I believe, is summarized in D&C 93:1:

      “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;”

      that is what we should be striving for. To know and be known by the Lord. It is also important to consider what we read in D&C, Section 10, regarding what the Lord calls His doctrine:

      “Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
      Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.”

      This is the Lord’s definition of the church. It also tells us that we must come unto him to be a part of his church, no more and no less. I hope you will ponder the meaning of these scriptures in reference to our discussion of the church.

  • Rob Osborn:

    Spek,
    The system the church has is working as effective as possible. You keep thinking to throw more money at it. It can’t possibly work effectively. Who are we going to give the money too?

    • Spektator:

      I certainly wouldn’t be building a massive housing complex in Florida…

      I visited Salt Lake this summer and saw the beggars outside temple square along with the sign asking people not to give them any support. I thought that was unfortunate. What could the church do to address these issues in the shadow of the temple? Of course, you may say that they have brought this upon themselves and withhold your support. Not a good thing to do based on what King Benjamin said.

  • Rob Osborn:

    The beggars in SLC are generally free loader drug and alcohol addicts and definitely not true out of work honest people. By giving them money we are just enabling them in their bad habits. The church and other religioys affiliations in SLC have set up the right means to help out those in need- FOR EVERYONE that wants to truly help themselves.

    The sad part is that no matter how much the church trys to help these supposedly homeless people there always comes more scam artists, druggies and alcoholics wishing to cheat a few bucks out of humble LDS willing to help where others wouldnt.

    We can help the truly homeless. We can help the truly destitute. But, we cant help the career criminals who dont want help but just want to freeload off of others hard work.

    • Spektator:

      Rob,
      let me reinforce what I stated earlier. King Benjamin told the people who had just received a remission of their sins through the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost that they needed to take care of the poor to retain this remission. He went on to say that

      “Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just— 18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent”

      As I read this, King Benjamin is basically saying that it is not your job to judge the poor and decide who to help. If you are petitioned you are to provide any means at your disposal to help them. By saying these beggars are simply moochers, you are doing what is condemned in these verses. I know that is hard to justify in these days, but it is clearly what the people were taught.

      • Rob Osborn:

        The scripture referenced does not apply to basic “thieves” and “liars” who receive the humble to get gain. The problem is that the so called beggars around temple square are not poor, many of them make middle income wages by begging everyday living on lies and iften in trouble with the law.

      • Spektator:

        How do you know this is true and they are not angels in disguise to test us? ;>]

        As I read the referenced verse, it applies to anyone who petitions us for help. On what basis do you decide one is a beggar and another is a thief?

  • Rob Osborn:

    This is a story typical of the problem
    https://www.ksl.com/?sid=27782692

    This is a solution to stop the scanning of panhandlinghttp://www.good4utah.com/news/top-stories/end-to-panhandling

    Here is a good site explaining how we can stop panhandling and actually help the homeless and less fortunate.
    http://www.slchost.org/end-panhandling

  • Rob Osborn:

    BTW,

    I picked up a beggar in my town, he told me his son story, I took him to dinner where he pleaded with me to stay in a rent in my backyard until he could raise money to go to Colorado to see his son in the hospital. I declined according to the spirit. About two months later I saw this same panhandler with a sign begging for completely different reasons. He lied to me and he continues to lie to others. Beggars these days are not like the beggars from Mosiahs day

  • Boo:

    Rob I have had some of the same experiences as have you. I do not doubt that many perhaps most panhandlers are guilty of the crimes you accuse them of. I teach the gospel doctrine class in my ward and interestingly we had this very discussion yesterday in connection with the Saviors admonition in 3 Nephi 12:42 which says ” give to him that asketh”and D&C 88:123 which says” learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires”. The views you articulate were well represented and were perhaps the majority opinion. I did point out that most modern translation of the sermon on the mount say instead of asketh ” beggeth”. In Greek the words mean the same thing. I used to feel the same as you do now. My attitude changed because of several things . First I realized that the Saviors admonition was unconditional and did not permit us the luxury of judging the beggars worthiness to receive. Secondly I read something by Joseph where he said it is better to give to 10 charlatans that let one who was truly needy go hungry .Thirdly for the last several years I have been teaching an institute class in our state prison to a group of sexual offenders who have typically long sentences for serious crimes. Of the 20 or so who attend weekly 3/4s are LDS and half of that number are RMs. All acknowledge that they are guilty of the crimes for which they are imprisoned ( some up to life) . They range in age from early 20s to 83. However I have never associated with a group of men I think the Lord loves more than this group. Without exception they are broken hearted and contrite. The only time that I have consistently felt the spirit of the Savior and seen prayers answered ,and revelation given as much as in this group was occasionally during the 14 years I served in a bishopric in a struggling blues collar ward populated mostly by single mothers and racial minorities.Finally I serve once a week at a local Catholic shelter for the homeless by cooking and serving 200 or so souls. I learned long ago that I was incapable of accurately judging another I decided I would leave that to the Lord and simply do what he commanded me to do which was give to him that asketh. Thanks for your thoughts. Bellamy

    • Rob Osborn:

      Boo,
      I agree with much of your points. I volunteer at the community dinner table where I live, I give to others and pay fast offerings to help the poor. Our family business takes on a lot of local charity work donating thousands of dollars of service to help the less fortunate. This is my point though. The Lord’s way of giving to the poor is better directed and more efficient. We kind of hot sidetracked with the panhadlers and why the church don’t give to them. We have beaten that topic to death!

      The point though is that the church gives to the full extent of what it can to be most effective in truly helping others. Spectator is of the assumption that it’s for profit companies shouldn’t exist and instead create a role system for the poor. But what would that solve? Especially in light of the fact that the church already had reserved and resources available to all who truly seek help.

      I’m curious to hear what alternative Spek would have in mind to distribute the wealth reserves of the church while still maintaining a perpetual reserve for the inevitable taint data that are coming.

    • Spektator:

      Rob, you should check with your brother who is a bishop. I understand that the church is now instructing bishops to direct the ‘needy’ to first the government and secondly to family before relying on the church for help.

      I also understand that tithing funds that are not used within a year are moved to general funds making the money available for any church directed project. So the sacred funds magically disappear and become available to support the works of men rather than the needs of the poor. That way they can say that tithing funds are not being used for their pet projects.

      From my perspective, helping the poor should be done at the community level. Part of the problem is that people become faceless and nameless when a centralized organization is responsible for assistance.

      The difference between now and the time when the scriptures were penned is that we have now a mobile society. In another time, the needs were handled at a community level. People knew each other and could easily assess whether their needs were legitimate. Perhaps, we need to get back to that model. That is what Denver Snuffer has recommended for those that want to build their own community, encouraging them to manage their ‘tithes’ locally and address the needs of their own group. In an ideal situation, that is preferable to a centralized approach.

  • Rob Osborn:

    Stupid spell check, argg.

    • Spektator:

      Rob,
      I am not sure I can decipher what the spell check did to your comments. If you want to send me an updated version by email, I will be your spell checker corrector.
      spek

  • Rob Osborn:

    Spek,
    You are wrong about the church directing members first to government assistance. Where did you get that idea from?

    • Spektator:

      Here is a comment from Lizzy60 on the LDSFF from 2013:

      “What about a church that requires the needy to apply for all government welfare for which they qualify, before receiving anything from the bishop’s storehouse? I was advised to give this requirement to members when I was RS President, and also as a counselor on the Stake RS board, and I have friends who have been denied food from the storehouse, because they prayed about government assistance and the Holy Spirit told them not to go to the government. The Bishop then refused to help them in any way.”

      My understanding is the CHI direction to bishops is to become familiar with resources, including the government, that are available to the person in need.

    • Spektator:

      More comments on the question. I haven’t been in a bishopric for over a decade so I don’t have any current experience on the question. Here is a snippit from a post by Anonymous Bishop:

      “Bishops in the church are very limited, practically speaking, in what they can give to the needy. I won’t bore you with details of what most of you already likely know. But, I will say I am surprised the church now teaches that a needy member should exhaust family and government assistance before coming to the church for help. It used to be that government was the last resort.

      We are all too familiar with needy people who leave the bishop’s office dejected because they were turned down for help. I remember seeing a woman crying in the back of the chapel one Sunday before Sacrament meeting. I asked her what was wrong. She told me how humiliated she was because she had just asked the bishop for help with food. When the bishop found out her troubled 20-year-old daughter lived with her (who had drug problems), he told this hungry elderly woman this was a good opportunity for her daughter to “step up.” This woman was not highly educated. She was a convert of 5 years or less in the church. She had lived a hard life, was nearly crippled in her advanced age and despite her meager income, always paid her tithing. In her own words, she had never asked “this bishop” or the church for anything. “This bishop” was a successful doctor from Salt Lake City.” (http://anonymousbishop.com/2014/12/02/no-poor-among-them-2/#comments)

      There are enough of these ‘testimonials’ to suggest that this is happening in areas within the church.

      Spek

  • Rob Osborn:

    Spek,
    I just had my bishop look it up in his instruction books and it doesnt state what you claim. The official wording states that they should first turn to families and then if they still need help the church is ready to help. It states that bishops and bishop coucils should be aware of “other” resources to help.

    I would caution against getting your sources from anti-mormon sources.

    • Spektator:

      What do you think I claimed? Other than the CHI instructed the bishops to be familiar with the resources available, including government?

      Are you suggesting that Anonymous Bishop is anti-mormon? He is a standing bishop, therefore, you are speaking against the Lord’s anointed.

      And yes, Rob, one has to be careful one’s sources. We all know that former members are apostates, liars and deceivers.

      Spek

  • Rob Osborn:

    Anonymous bishops material is largely considered anti Mormon. Not all, but a substancial amount. I have no problem calling him a fringe Mormon who is a wolf amongst the sheep of Christs fold.

  • Rob Osborn:

    Your claims about the church welfare system in regards to the church referring the members first to government then to church is false.

  • Spektator:

    “lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all people of the whole earth…”

    What you are showing, Rob, is that the prophecy in 3 Nephi, chapter 16, is being fulfilled. What is more arrogant and prideful than to boast that “The church has the most effective self sustained welfare system on the planet. From individual neighborhoods to helping worldwide no other organization or beaurocracy [sic] can come close to its efficiency and effectiveness?”

    At the time of Christ, the Pharisees were equally blinded with pride. They held themselves to be the ‘elite,’ the children of Abraham. Their pride kept them from seeing the true messenger when He stood in front of them and condemned their prideful behavior.

    And based on your one data point, you claim that my assertion is false regarding the way that welfare is handled at the ward and stake level. Rather than accept the perspective of others, you choose to label them as ‘anti-mormon.’ All I can say is to echo the plea to the Gentiles to ‘return and repent.’ That message to us, as Gentiles, is to come back to an understanding of the true meaning of the gospel and to work to raise one another, not to boast, but to fulfill the commandment to love our neighbors.

    • Rob Osborn:

      We obviously see things differently. Anonymous bishop is “anonymous” because his dialogue is not in harmony with the church. Its obvious he lies and distorts the truth to fill his iwn agenda. If he really is a bishop he should know how the church welfare system wirks at the ward level. Because he lied, he either is extremely negligent and uncaring as a bishop, or he intentionally lies. On either account, he did not do the true research and instead chose his own misinformed information to create dissent.

  • Boo:

    Rob mileage may differ but I can tell you that during the 8 years I was bishop I was encouraged by multiple levels of leadership to find non church methods for dealing with the poor whenever I could . I even called a welfare specialist whose sole calling was to get members off reliance on welfare by getting them on things like SS disability, govt healthcare and govt programs for rental assistance . My SP would publically praise the great job I was doing in shifting the welfare burden from the church to other groups including particularly the govt. It is my recent experience that such institutional encouragement remains.

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