Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Common Consent: The Voice of the People

Despite my previous comments, there are reasons that might suggest the response received by the "Lots team" was not necessarily given by the Lord. However, I don't believe the question is relevant here.

In the Answer and Covenant, for some reason (which might be worth pondering) the Lord made no stipulation about bringing anything to Him either for approval or before including it, only that "I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people ... [and] when you have an agreed statement of principles I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow." (p. 8) With the Lord's clarification of what He meant by the phrase "mutual agreement" (i.e., "As between one another, you choose to not dispute"), it seems very clear now how to proceed.

But first, two quotes for context:
"Even after a church was organized in 1830, and after a revelation designating Joseph Smith as the only one “appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church,” (D&C 28:2, received in Sept. 1830) common consent was used to decide the will of the Lord. In a conference held November 11, 1831, Reynolds Cahoon wanted an answer: “the question which he wanted settled was whether it was the will of the Lord that he should go to Zion in the spring.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 2, p. 128, minutes of a special conference in Hiram, Ohio) The issue was settled by common consent: “Voted that it is the mind of the conference that our br. Reynolds is not yet commanded to go to Zion in the spring by any thing yet written; Therefore, Voted that our br. Reynolds be not sent up to Zion in the coming spring.” Even the duties of a bishop were decided by common consent in the beginning of the restoration.1 The time has come again for common consent to hold sway in the lives of believers. Relying on others to exercise control more often than not invites abuse." [emphasis added] Preserving the Restoration, pp. 259-260

1 “…and the duty of the Bishop shall be made known by the commandments which have been given and by the voice of the conference.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 2, p. 150; D&C 72:7.) The Crooked Creek Branch of the church voted in a conference on July 7, 1840 to become a stake. They sent conference minutes to the Times and Seasons, which inspired Joseph and Hyrum Smith to publish a letter praising their decision and advising them, “it will be necessary to appoint a Bishop to transact business for said stake, which appointment will be left to the decision of said branch.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 2, No. 2, November 15, 1840, p. 222.) Joseph was church president, Hyrum was in the church presidency and also patriarch to the church, but choosing the bishop was left for the members’ vote.
"Conferences were held to resolve all questions, disputes, ordinations and even mission calls. (See, e.g., JS Papers, Documents Vol. 2, p. 128, minutes of a conference in Hiram, Ohio.) Conferences using common consent allow those in fellowship with each other to prayerfully reason together and grow in unity."  Preserving the Restoration, pp. 515
All that may be required is the voice of the people ("common consent") for which draft of a "statement of principles" to use. And then, those who wind up not having voted for whichever is selected then "choose to not dispute." (And I'm not persuaded that the idea that no vote being needed after some draft is produced holds any water--how can a people agree to something before it has been composed?) Proceeding would thus be as simple as letting the people agree by their voice on one and then, going forward, the body refusing to choose to dispute that vote.

Given the many disputes and arguments over what is deemed doctrinally correct, the quote which will soon appear at the head of the Teachings and Commandments volume seems timely:
"I would rather submit to the decision of the group than insist that my view be followed. For me harmony between brethren is more important than getting what I think best to be followed. I believe harmony can lead to much greater things than can merely enforcement of even a correct view. I know how difficult it is to have a correct view, because of how often I have been corrected by the Lord. Sometimes I am humiliated by my foolishness when the Lord reproves me. Humiliation can lead to humility, but my experience is that the humiliation is accompanied by shame, whereas humility can proceed with a clear conscience. 
"My experience with others leads me to conclude that if we can have one heart first, eventually we can likewise come to have one mind. But if we insist on having one mind at the outset, we may never obtain one heart together." — Denver Snuffer
It aligns well with what the Lord teaches in the Answer:
"Be of one heart, and regard one another with charity. Measure your words before giving voice to them, and consider the hearts of others. Although a man may err in understanding concerning many things, yet he can view his brother with charity, and come unto me and through me he can with patience overcome the world. I can bring him to understanding and knowledge. Therefore if you regard one another with charity then your brother’s error in understanding will not divide you. I lead to all truth. I will lead all who come to me to the truth of all things. The fullness is to receive the truth of all things, and this too from me, in power, by my word and in very deed. For I will come to you if you will come unto me." [emphasis added]
During His mortal life, our Lord could have refuted every incorrect teaching, misunderstanding, and form of unbelief, however He chose not to except on rare occasions as directed by the Father.

As those who have entered into a solemn covenant with the Lord, may we hearken to His example and value harmony with one another above "being right," as we suppose.

"And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen." (D&C 26:2)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for expressing these ideas and thoughts. I find them comforting and uplifting. Lori