To Whom Does this Church Belong?

By | February 9, 2015

Almost 20 years ago I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I served in various callings in the local ward. When the bishop would ask my opinion on what should be done regarding some issue in the ward, I would provide my thoughts, then always close with “…but it’s your ward, bishop.” My thought, of course, was to remind him that he was the one in charge, it was his calling to make the decision, and I would support him in whatever that decision was.

Half a dozen years later I found myself in a leadership calling in Orem, Utah. In that calling I worked closely with the stake president. In one of our first encounters together he asked my opinion on a matter and I gave my thoughts. As in my previous encounters, I closed with “…but it’s your stake, president.” He turned to me, looked at me tenderly, and said “No, it isn’t. It’s the Lord’s stake.”

I learned an important lesson that day—a lesson I have reflected on quite often since then. True leaders humbly recognize that they are stewards for the real Master.

That lesson came to mind again yesterday evening in a personally powerful way. In the afternoon I drove to North Logan, Utah, to witness the vigil in support of John Dehlin as he attended his disciplinary council.

John Dehlin addresses those at the vigil with his wife, Margi, at his side.

John Dehlin addresses those at the vigil with his wife, Margi, at his side.

At the appointed hour John arrived and briefly spoke words of thanks and encouragement to the roughly 200+ people that were gathered, along with two news crews. By 6:07 he was inside the building and on to the council.

Outside, the vigil’s organizer, Micah Nickolaisen, called the group to order. He invited someone to pray and then the group sang “Come, Come Ye Saints.” Micah then told his story about his faith crisis. Two other speakers (Richard Tripp, a personal friend of John, and Debra Jensen, a board member of Ordain Women) also expressed their appreciation and love for John. All three emotionally explained how John had personally and individually saved them. (All three literally used those words: that John had saved them.)

In traditional Mormon terms, I was witnessing a testimony meeting. It was a short one, though, ending with another song (“Choose the Right”) and devolving into respectful chit chat by 6:40.

The comment, however, that reminded me of my earlier experience with my stake president was one made by Micah in his remarks. He said that he understood that the Church needed to establish boundaries and determine who could rightfully be called a member of the organization. He also understood that we (the Church) were in a period of transition and that we (John and his supporters) deserved a place at the table as those boundaries were reevaluated. “That is,” he said, “all that John wants.”

To my mind, unbidden, came the thought “to whom does this Church belong?” I saw my stake president as he testified to me that the Church belonged to the Lord. It was in stark contrast to what I was hearing about deserving “a place at the table.”

Representatives of Channel 2 news interview a participant in John Dehlin's vigil.

Representatives of Channel 2 news interview a participant in John Dehlin’s vigil.

It struck me that I was, at that time, among 200+ people who didn’t have a firm understanding that the Church really, honestly, truly, actually does belong to the Lord. Most had problems with the concept that He would appear to and choose a flawed young man to restore His Church. They viewed the Church as a man-made organization that was deeply flawed, behind the times, and even, in the eyes of some, oppressive.

Richard Tripp stated during his remarks that he had come to a realization, thanks to John’s efforts, “that Mormonism is larger than the LDS Church.” It is, in his eyes, a nascent cultural identify, such as being Jewish. That sentiment struck me as one that many schismatic Mormon groups could also support.

In the traditional sense, the Dehlin supporters—those attending the vigil—had no testimony of the Church. I can’t speak as to whether they had testimonies of Christ; His name was not mentioned except on a single sign that questioned how many people Christ excommunicated. What these people were left with was a testimony of John Dehlin and what he—as opposed to the Church—had done for them.

Standing with John Dehlin

Standing with John Dehlin

A common refrain over the past month has been “I stand with John Dehlin.” I’ve seen it over and over again on message boards and blogs. I heard it last evening and saw it on signs. I don’t know Bryan King, John’s stake president, but I’ve known many other stake presidents. If he is anything like those others, then I would be willing to wager that, if pressed, he would also say that he, too, stands with John, trying to support John not culturally, but spiritually.

To whom does this Church belong? It doesn’t belong to the members. It doesn’t belong to the leaders. It doesn’t belong to those clamoring for a seat at the table. It belongs to Him whose name it bears. It is a lesson I have learned experientially first and spiritually second. That understanding defines my relationship with the Church and a part of my relationship with my Savior.

Please don’t get me wrong; I am not finding fault with those who attended the vigil yesterday. It was clear, to me, that those attending loved John and supported him. It was also clear that John loved them. That display and exchange of love was a beautiful thing. It had a real emotional impact.

In his final thoughts, Micah Nickolaisen said, “We couldn’t get what we needed from in there,” pointing over his shoulder to the lighted vestibule of the stake center, “so [thanks to John] we found each other.” It was a thought that resonated well with the audience. Despite the emotional outpouring, it did not resonate well with me, as I know within every fiber of my being to whom this Church belongs.


53 thoughts on “To Whom Does this Church Belong?

  1. Michael G. Reed

    The dichotomy you draw does not exist. If we make up the body of Christ, then it is ours, Christ’s included.

    14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Cor 12)

    1. Allen Post author

      It was good to see you yesterday, Mike. (Hope I didn’t steer you wrong on the facilities. 😉

      I made an observation of what I saw and what I know. In doing so, I did not intentionally draw a dichotomy.

      To clarify (and to use the scriptural allusion you provide), we may belong to the body of Christ, but none of us control or direct the body of Christ. It is, after all, His body.


    2. Rob Manderino

      Michael G. Reed> I have always thought that people who quote scripture to make a point should know well that they can be used both ways.
      Matt 5:29-30 states
      29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
      30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
      This is repeated again in Matt. 18:7-9
      7 ¶Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!
      8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
      9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.
      It seems that Christ was clear that it is appropriate at times to cast off or cut off that which is causing harm to the whole.
      I am glad that people feel passionately about many things and they should follow what they believe is right.

    3. Chris Weiss

      29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

      30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
      Matthew 5:29-30

    4. Glen Capps

      RE: your question, “if we make up the body of Christ”. We don’t make up the body of Christ. He is a separate and whole being all on His own. We are made in His image and it is our choice as to where we choose to stand…with Him as a member of His church or not. His church is not of the people, by the people and for the people. His church is His and His alone.

  2. Lynn Svedin

    “…we (John and his supporters) deserved a place at the table as those boundaries were reevaluated. ‘That is,’ he said, ‘all that John wants.'”

    As an engineer, I don’t understand this logic. I understand the emotion, but not the logic. These questions crossed my mind as I read this article:
    1, If John and his supporters deserve a place at the table, do I also deserve a place at the table?
    2. Who doesn’t deserve a place at the table?
    3. Who deserves a place at the table?
    4. What does “deserve a place at the table” mean?
    a. Does it mean to be able to state your opinion?
    b, Does it mean to be one of the decision makers?
    5. Is the church simply a social club where members get together and decide what rules to follow, not follow, or change?

    D&C 85:8
    While that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning.

    I Samuel 8
    4. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
    5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
    6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
    7 And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

  3. Paula

    Allen, as you know I have been away from the church for a long time. My faith in God has never waivered however. I found your story very refreshing and inspiring, it reminded me of what I’m missing by not attending services. I want to thank you, I have things in my life to over come but you have given me the desire to do so. Once again you have served a mission. God Bless!

    1. Rebecca Blanchette warren

      I do not think i know you Paula, but if all of this commotion does nothing but bring you back. It is enough. You are valued. Thank you Bishop Wyatt.

  4. Mark

    I’m glad to see that Michael quoted some scripture about the body and the contributions of each part. Perhaps this scripture will add additional insight.

    Matthew 5:29-30

    29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
    30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

  5. Rebecca Blanchette warren

    I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is His church and His body. I belong to Him and His Church. I do not need a seat at he table. I kneel at His feet. I do not knowJohn, but I hope he felt loved and supported yesterday. I hope he will always stand in holy places. Thank you for your example bishop Wyatt.

    1. Madison

      This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in a long time.

  6. matt

    This blog and many of the comments touched me today. It is a reality that this church is unlike others, it is Christ’s to move and change as he will. The D&C verse about the ark of the covenant made me think, its not our place to steady the ark, but we can carry the litter if we are willing and worthy.

  7. Julie A

    Thanks for this beautifully written post. So many good things to consider and presented in such a kind way. Thankful to be part of a church with so many different kinds of people all working toward the same goal.

  8. Kelly Smith

    This is a great post. Thank you for your comments and insight. Yesterday, I spend fruitless attempt trying to defend the church on Twitter and the Salt Lake Tribune comment section. I guess I should’ve known better. Everybody made all these comments about how wrong it was for the church to squash free thought, which was something that was quite clearly not the issue and the reason the church had to respond to some of his claims. There seems to be a notion in our world today that we have to accept everyone and the tolerance crowd is up in arms when somebody is not accepted for some reason. To them everything goes and there are no boundaries, rules or regulations and we should be allowed to do what we want no matter what.

    In reality this man set himself up as a light into the world and has become a priestcraft unto others, something specifically forbidden in the Book of Mormon. Oddly, he has proclaimed that he does not believe in God anymore and said that the Book of Mormon is fictional writing of the 19th century and host of other things against the church. Do all of his supporters feel the same way? If he is the one that saved them, then why doesn’t he go and form his own church? That seems to be what he is done.

    The stake president did the right thing. This entire story shows how important it is to stay within the mainstream of the church. I for one was happy to see that the church still stood for something.

  9. Macy

    I don’t care to weigh in on the circumstances surrounding John Dehlin, but I believe you are incorrect in your stance about who the church belongs to. Yes, I fully believe the church belongs to Christ, it’s in the name. The church OF Jesus Christ, but the remainder of the name is important as well. This church is also OF Latter Day Saints. It is Christ’s gospel, but I fully believe it is my church.

    1. Allen Post author


      Thanks for your comments. The phrase “of Latter-day Saints” is used to distinguish this dispensation’s “Church of Jesus Christ” from His church in earlier dispensations. The Church still belongs to Christ, not to the members, regardless of the dispensation.


      1. Macy

        I (along with many English scholars) will agree to disagree. To be “of”- indicating an association between two entities, typically one of belonging.

        1. Craig Hanks

          An English scholar understands that ‘of’ is among our trickier words, with many possible uses. Among them, derivation or origin (i.e. “the works of Emily Bronte”), or component parts, substance, or contents (i.e. “a package of carrots”).

          It would be nice if language were more precise, but recognizing and compensating for ambiguity will help.

        2. Dawson


          How can the church belong to more than one person? Especially when throughout scripture, it is referred to as His church (most prominently in Mosiah 18 and 3rd Nephi 27). So is this contemporary church different?

        3. Michael Andersen

          “Of” can also denote composition. For example, “this cup is made of glass; the other of ceramic.”

          In the name of the Church, the first “of” is possessive; the Church belongs to Christ. The second “of” is compositive; the Church is made of members.

  10. Jeff

    I too believe very firmly that it is the Lord’s church… I am going to attempt to remain neutral, and only add speaking points.

    What is one to do when they find a contradiction between what they believe Christ would have them do and what the church would have them do? Yes there are the flippant responses of “doubt your doubts” and “hold to the rod”… but if you are doing exactly that, and you understanding of the saviour and the concepts of faith, hope, charity, and love are in direct conflict with what you see as rejection, belittling, and hatred within a fellow church member, no matter their rank, are you to remain quiet? When you firmly believe that Christ would not have it done that way, what should you do?

    I am familiar with the scriptures and the concept of steadying the ark… you get burned. There is more than one way of interpreting those versus, not all of them are kind to the church. Many find the idea of being destroyed for trying to do the right thing very unchristlike.

    The problem with a crisis of faith is that the reasons behind them are usually very well founded, and unraveling the knot in the path can be painful and difficult, especially when you can feel the spirit urging you on in convictions that appear on cursory inspection to be in contradiction to what you understand of the church.

    An example. Christ is known to have consumed alcohol. The scriptural and church historical records of drinking wine are rational and irrefutable, and the spirit testifies of the truth of it… and yet mentioning this in a lesson regarding the word of wisdom or likely in these comments will unleash a firestorm of backlash from some zealous members. They will rationalize unscripturally and often with great anger against such an assertion… such a simple and utterly unimportant issue to go to war over… when the simple answer is we do not consume alcohol because we have chosen not to and committed to the saviour, not the church, that we will not.

    There are many members of the church who are willing to turn the entirety of their God given intelligence and will over to the church, despite the church’s and the Lord’s encouragements to educate themselves and obtain a personal testimony of every facet. Be honest, do have you prayerfully and carefully studied the topic of whatever? Or do you simply do as the church directs?

    The Lord does not want blind sheep… he wants intelligent, well educated (spiritually and temporally) peers to stand with him in the next life. He wants people who UNDERSTAND the plan and can execute it… not sheep who can only do what they are told as long as it is explained in simple enough terms… I assure you he dislikes having to dumb it down for those who do not wish to think.

    So herein is the consternation… there are logical incongruities and contridictions within the church. We’re there none, there would be no debates, ever. But there are none within the gospel… the bride and groom are disjoint, they are not the same entity. Not yet. If you doubt and need a scriptural reference for this I call upon the sealed portion of the plates… our side is not whole. And as such, just as there is in any relationship, there is a need to improve the understanding in order for the two to become one…

    So what is one to do when they see an area where the bride needs to improve, but the bride fails to see it herself? Or the bride is not ready for the improvement?

    I am not saying apostates are all well intending bridesmaids… what I am saying is that not everyone who questions the church is apostate.

    1. Terri

      That is a beautiful and thoughtful response, one that clearly indicates some life experience around the subject matter. It is funny how much we come to see when the path of our life moves us to an unexpected destination. It can be scary and challenging to navigate these waters from a different perspective, especially when so many that a person might look to for love and support choose a different response. Thanks for sharing. It was one of the most thoughtful responses to the article that I read, no judgement, no criticism, just a different perspective.

  11. Patrick

    The author invents a question that no one is asking and answers in order to make a point no one is disputing. Its a completely specious argument. The question that these and many other are REALLY asking, is “Who is the Church for?” Is it for sinners? Is it for people who have weird beliefs and never speak about them? Is it for people that want to understand things that we don’t talk about in church that weigh heavily on our minds? In a way, by ex-ing Delhin, his stake president and council is saying that people who do not check their set of testimony boxes can’t be members. If this is Jesus’ church, as I believe it is, then why are we telling someone who questions the historicity of the Book of Mormon they don’t belong? Jesus said ‘All those who come unto me, and repent, and are baptized in my name shall have eternal life.’ Belief that Nephi was real, per the author’s concerns for example, was left out of those criteria.

    Second, the fact that his man is using his poorly thought-out argument to say that these people don’t have a testimony of the church or possibly Christ is odd to say the least. Our modern day charge is to bring people to Christ. The church does not save them, Christ does. We testify of Christ, not a church. Besides, the people at the vigil are there to show support for a person facing a difficult challenge, not to flesh out their personal belief systems. It would be odd, given the setting, if the only spoke of Christ, and not about Delhin.

    The authors comments that people received some help from Delihn that the church did not offer. This is a significant point. The “the Church is big enough for all of you” comment made by Uchtdorf has not changed the fact that many seem to feel like the church didn’t have a place for them.

    Lastly and most importantly, the author’s main flaw in all of this is his conflation of Christ and his Christ. Just because a Church is the Lord’s does not make all the decisions that all leaders in the world make for the Church perfect and correct. When you assume this, you turn a blind eye to the spiritual needs of your members with questions about their faith. There are two way to deal with those with questions: you create some way to address their concerns, or you call them sinners, and blame their questions on sin. John did the former; the author, at least, seems to advocate the latter.

    1. Allen Post author


      Thanks for your comments. I never said that people at the vigil didn’t have a testimony of Christ. In fact, I specifically said “I can’t speak as to whether they had testimonies of Christ.” I stand by that statement; I am not their judge.

      I can, however, say that they don’t have testimonies of the Church. I was there. I saw it. I heard it. I felt it. All I can do is share my feelings and my experience at the event.

      Finally, I think you are reading way more into my essay than what I said when you say that I’m conflating Christ and His Church. I’m not; I know they are different. But, I also know that it is His Church.

      My best to you.


    2. Allen Post author


      By the way, as to your implication that the excommunication of John Dehlin gives a signal that those with questions (or wavering testimonies) are not welcome at Church, you really should read this excellent blog post:

      Despite the easy narrative that John was excommunicated for “only asking questions,” that is not the case. It is a huge step between doubter and activist/organizer. John took that step, and it was a step too far.


      1. David M

        There is a difference in asking and telling.
        Dehlin and Kelly both seem to not differentiate between personal doubts and publicly denouncing the church and the gospel.
        Wondering why women aren’t ordained with the priesthood and insisting publicly that they should be given the priesthood are two different things.
        Wondering about homosexuals being allowed to marry and insisting publicly that they should be allowed to are two different things.
        There is a difference between having doubts in your heart and shouting from the rooftops that the church is wrong.
        Once a person is in a position they are leading others away from Christ and the gospel excommunication is warranted.
        It seems to me he was trying to be an anti-missionary, helping to convince people to leave the church and the gospel.

  12. Brandon

    Thank you! You are exactly rift with this post. If we take the metaphor that the body is Christ a little further, we see that He is the head. In layman’s terms, He is the brains of the operation. We cannot dictate what we are to do, just as the hand cannot say of the foot that it is not needed. We must follow Christ, which is to follow the Church He organized.
    Question? Yes! That way the Spirit can teach us the truth as we seek answers. But to seek those answers by listening to the preaching of the learned who “think” they are wise as they mix worldly and spiritual doctrine? That is risky.

  13. deacon blues

    I used to believe that the LDS church was the Lord’s only true church. Even then it seemed self evident that mistakes would be made because the Lord directs his church through fallible humans. Remember Paul’s criticism of Peter in Galatians chapter 2? There is another viewpoint that I am exploring. It is the view that we all are the Lord’s, and He allows all of us, even church leaders to make mistakes- big ones that hurt people; but, through the grace of God, those mistakes can be corrected. This view is being resisted. I hear people say that it is wrong to criticize leaders, that when the prophet speaks the thinking has been done, that we will blessed for following the prophet even if he is wrong. Part of exploring the new view is having a dialogue with both people who agree with it, and those who disagree with it. Those who emphasize that it is wrong to criticize church leaders seem to resist even having a discussion. Yet because of actions like John’s excommunication, it seems like the church is telling me and others we can’t have a dialogue unless it is only with people who emphasize that the mistakes of church leaders are to be ignored or justified. Paul disagreed with Peter (Galatians 2), yet both recognized they were the Lord’s. I’m also reminded of the conflict between Martin Luther and the Catholic Church. The Catholic church chose not to dialogue with, but to excommunicate Luther, though many felt his criticisms were just. I still believe patient dialogue is best. I appreciate all thoughtful comments- a gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1

  14. Jeff Whillhite

    The Church belongs to about 20 to 30 wealthy white families who intermarry and appoint themselves to the highest positions of centralized authority.

  15. Pingback: The Church of John Dehlin

  16. Connie Squires

    This quote from “The Crucible of Doubt” by Terryl and Fiona Givens seems to speak directly to this issue:

    “In Salt Lake’s old Thirteenth Ward, Bishop Edwin D. Woolley frequently found himself at odds with President Brigham Young. On a certain occasion, as they ended one such fractious encounter, Young had a final parting remark: “Now, Bishop Woolley, I guess you will go off and apostatize.” To which the bishop rejoined, “If this were your church, President Young, I would be tempted to do so. But this is just as much my church as it is yours, and why should I apostatize from my own church?”25 That sense of ownership, or, better, of full and equal membership in the body of Christ, was Bishop Woolley’s salvation. He wisely realized, as not all do, that forsaking the Church out of hurt or frustration would be as unprofitable as any other form of misdirected energy. It would make as much sense, in one author’s words, as “drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.”26 In Nephi’s less colorful query, “Why should I give way . . . , that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?”27 Why so willingly give up our spiritual home to emotional termites?”

  17. Sara

    This is a beautifully written article. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with a tone of kindness and love.

  18. Steve Clubb

    ‘On every issue it behooves us to determine what the Lord would have us do and what counsel he has given through the appointed officers of his kingdom on earth.
    No true Latter-day Saint will ever take a stand that is in opposition to what the Lord has revealed to those who direct the affairs of his earthly kingdom.
    No Latter-day Saint who is true and faithful in all things will ever pursue a course, or espouse a cause, or publish an article or book that weakens or destroys faith.
    There is, in fact, no such thing as neutrality where the gospel is concerned.
    Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathered not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matt. 12:30.)
    And it was Jacob who said: “They who are not for me are against me, saith our God.” (2 Ne. 10:16.)
    If we do not sustain and uphold and support the kingdom of God in all things, we are thereby aiding a cause other than the Lord’s.’

    Bruce R McConkie

  19. Richy

    The statement keeps coming up that Jesus is accepting of everyone. Well, yes and no. This is a very inelegant analogy, but I think it fits. In grade school, we learn about function machines. The teacher shows a cardboard box open at both ends. You put in a 0, it comes out a 4. You put in a 6, it comes out 10, you put in 100, it comes out 104. The point of the lesson is to figure out what the function machine does. In this case, it adds 4.

    If we think of Jesus and the atonement as that function box, we can see that he is accepting of everyone. Anyone can enter that function box. It does not matter how many doubts you have, what you have done in your life, how sinful you are, what you look like, your gender, race, etc. EVERYONE is accepted in. However, Christ has stated “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Perfection is the result of what comes out the other side of the function machine. Jesus does not accept anything or anyone less than full and complete perfection once He is done with us. So Jesus accepts anything in, but only perfection out.

    The gotcha is that Jesus can only work on us as long as we are willing. LDS theology has a unique view of the word damned. It is not being thrust down to Hell as that word is viewed in many other religions. It is the act of being stopped or blocked in our progress toward perfection. I personally do not believe Jesus damns anyone. I think we damn ourselves. At some point we decide that what we are is good enough, and that Jesus will accept us coming out of the function machine as we are. We think this because we once felt the infinite acceptance he offers when we entered the function machine.

    This is just my opinion, but it feels to me like those who support John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and their viewpoints have this idea that Jesus is not only infinitely accepting of what goes into the function machine, but also of what comes out. The only thing this belief can lead to is excommunication and eventually damnation.

  20. TRG

    I am a supporter of John Dehlin, and a long-time friend. It saddens me to see John and his work so flagrantly misrepresented. I am tempted to go point by point through the misrepresentations and fallacies, but, what could would it do?

    If anything, this whole incident with John this past week has revealed an ugly truth about members of the Church – we don’t listen to each other. Instead, we write blog posts full of straw men that we dismantle, pretending to understand. Our people are going through a crisis right now. More people are leaving the Church than anytime since the Kirtland banking scandal (per Elder Jensen himself!).

    Posts like this provide a false sense of security and pious righteousness to orthodox members.

    I don’t think there’s anything I can to to stop the tumult that has started, and which is perpetuated by posts like this.

    I can only sit back and watch.

    It’s so sad.

    I am not orthodox. I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is a literal history, but I do believe that it’s Scripture and I do believe in God and the Restoration. For Allan Wyatt to make the sweeping generalization that people like me don’t have a testimony of the Church is extremely dishonest, hurtful and divisive.

    So far, I’ve refused to accept that the Church is a small tent for only orthodox, literal believers.

    But maybe I’m wrong.

    I’ve been wrong before.

    If I am wrong, how heartbreaking.

    1. Allen Post author


      I’m sorry you are hurting; I know how that feels.

      My post is not “full of straw men.” How could it be? It does nothing but relate my feelings — what I personally experienced — at John’s vigil. Those feelings don’t deprecate John or anyone else; they relate how the event impacted me. Others may have different experiences relative to the vigil, and I am fine with that. (Were you there?)

      My best to you as you work your way through your issues relative to the Church and/or the gospel. It can be a long, arduous, and ultimately rewarding journey.


      1. TRG

        “In the traditional sense, the Dehlin supporters—those attending the vigil—had no testimony of the Church. ”

        “It struck me that I was, at that time, among 200+ people who didn’t have a firm understanding that the Church really, honestly, truly, actually does belong to the Lord. Most had problems with the concept that He would appear to and choose a flawed young man to restore His Church. They viewed the Church as a man-made organization that was deeply flawed, behind the times, and even, in the eyes of some, oppressive.”

        Allen, I know a little about you, and I know that you’re smart. These are straw men, dripping with passive aggressive condescension. I know that you know these are straw men arguments.

        Like I said, we don’t listen to each other. I am just a shmoe member, and there’s little I can do about this problem but watch it burn as people talk past each other.

        This is not Zion.

        1. ZSF

          Well if the Church requires a belief in the Book of Mormon which states to be a history of this continent, not a mere allegory, then you have already outed yourself has lacking a complete testimony. Fine. Embrace that. But don’t pretend as though you can speak for the Church as one who has a testimony in its message and mission. Unorthodox or not, labels don’ change this simple fact. If you have the conviction and feeling toward your beliefs then there should be no reason to have hurt feelings. However, you don’t which is why you are insisting that all must accept your beliefs. As the Stake President said, your free to have your opinion and promote it, but not as a member in good standing. See, we listened to you. We just disagree. Learn to agree to disagree.

        2. Allen Post author


          I doubt you were at the vigil, but I could be wrong.

          If you were at the vigil, we could both have different feelings about what transpired there. I’m OK with that, as I said.

          If you weren’t at the vigil, then I don’t understand why you would dismiss, out of hand, my first-hand account of what *I* felt while there. This was *my* perception, *my* feelings, *my* impressions. As such, they are not straw men. And, unless you can read my mind better than I can, there is no way you can know whether I’m being either passive aggressive or condescending.

          Again, I wish you the best in your spiritual journey.

    2. Sylvia

      At the invitation of Utah State University professor Philip Barlow, Jensen held a “Q&A” with a Mormon Studies student group on November 11, 2011. Jensen was asked if church leaders were aware that members were discovering problems with LDS Church history through the internet, and what is to be done for those who may be affected or “who are already leaving in droves”. Jensen responded that top church leaders “realize that, maybe, since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now, largely over these issues.” He said a new church initiative would give answers to troubling questions, and such issues should be discussed more openly with the new internet-savvy generation. These remarks were recorded by a student and circulated online, and were picked up in a Reuters “Special Report”. Jensen later clarified that critics were overstating his remarks, saying “To say we are experiencing some Titanic-like wave of apostasy is inaccurate.”[41][42][43][44]

      1. TRG

        Well, then, Sylvia, it appears that all is well in Zion. Thanks for setting that straight. We’ve got nothing to worry about.

      2. Kaylan

        The wheat and the tares. Those leaving are not converted. So, become converted and have peace. Read the scriptures. Pray. Read the scriptures. Pray. and again. Learn of Christ. Pray. Read of Christ. Pray. It’s simple, not easy. Again. and again…

    3. Kaylan

      And when we’re hurting, we turn to the Savior and his infinite atonement for healing and comfort. I don’t know who ANY of these people are and what the deal is. When I attempt to boil down the reason why some women want to be given the priesthood, or want to feel entitled to wear pants to church, it all comes down to one thing: they don’t feel the Savior’s love; His healing balm. They’re hurt, and in retaliation, target someone to “take the blame”. But an attempt to place blame isn’t going to heal their pain. ONLY the Savior can do that. NOBODY CAN SAVE ANYBODY except Christ! A perfect knowledge of the gospel and doctrine is not needed before the spirit can witness to us. Disciplinary councils are not a way to hurt someone, rather, it’s an act of love, just as the Savior told the sinner to “go and sin no more”. I love the gospel. I love our leaders. I love my Savior. A

      1. Kaylan

        Yes, this is Christ’s church, however there’s a BIGGER point that many miss! “THE BIG PICTURE” is, that the DOCTRINE WE FOLLOW IS ETERNAL TRUTH, AND SPIRITUAL LAW THAT WILL.NEVER.CHANGE. Even if there was no organized church, THAT LAW REMAINS AND IT WILL.NOT.CHANGE. Raise your hand if you think God is going to change the priesthood because some woman wants it. GOD CAN’T CHANGE ETERNAL LAW!!!! What’s so hard to understand about that??? I’M GRATEFUL for that! He is bound! As one of my seminary teachers used to say, “Damnation is having our progress stopped. Hell will be knowing for eternity, that we could have had so much more!” Come unto Christ. Period.

    4. Kaylan

      A partial testimony is a testimony still. But it’s not conversion.

  21. Katie

    I think if we try to remember that this is Christ’s church that doctrine’s will be easier to follow and our testimonies will be strengthened as we trust in him and follow him. Thanks for the post it was excellent!

  22. Evan C

    “Please don’t get me wrong; I am not finding fault with those who attended the vigil yesterday.”

    But that’s what the majority of your post was about: people attending the vigil… how only one sign referenced Christ and how they don’t understand the LDS Church.

  23. Choke

    A very well-written and loving response to the vigil. Thank you for reminding me that I can vehemently disagree with someone’s argument, but still love them.

  24. Hank Miller

    I find it interesting that people who follow the teachings of Dehlin are in the rightt, but people who follow church leaders are blind. Ill follow the prophet before I follow a guy on an internet blog.

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