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Book Summary, for comment:
Restoring the Restoration:
Repairing 200 years of LDS Doctrinal Drift
and Reaping the Benefits
and Reaping the Benefits
Introduction – Our duty as members today
I personally believe that the most important question any one of us can have individually, concerning our membership in the church, is what the scriptures tell us our role should be today, and whether we are doing it, or at least have a plan to do it. Are we nothing more than bystanders to sacred history, or do we have some specific assignments we should learn about and execute?
Is a restoration of the restoration possible?
It is very early to be proposing a complete solution to this gigantic religious problem of seemingly inevitable doctrinal deterioration, but a hint from the Book of Revelation might be put to good use here. I would like to propose a new and very important mission for the 144,000 high priests mentioned in the Book of Revelation. A large proportion of the LDS church members in the United States are said to be from the tribe of Ephraim, based on their patriarchal blessings. If the 12,000 high priests from the tribe of Ephraim were to qualify themselves to be theological scholars to keep the church on the straight and narrow path, avoiding any serious deviations from the original and scriptural gospel, they would do the church and the world a great service. The full set of 144,000 high priests from the 12 tribes are to "administer the everlasting gospel" and "to bring as many as will come to the church of the firstborn." (D&C 77:11)
The solution and mission I suggest at the moment is to set up this group of scholars who can study all the scriptures and all of church history and then constantly monitor the behavior and practices and policies of the church and its members and point out any possible or potential deviations. I would call this a member audit function.
A few of the problems with today's church
Lessons and hints from the Book of Revelation
If we are looking to the future, and our proper place in it, one of the more interesting places to look is in the Book of Revelation which is all about the last days and the end times.
Premillennialism versus post-millennialism
Does Christ come the second time to begin the millennium or to end it? If he comes to begin it, we have no duty to do anything unusual; all we need to do is wait and everything will be taken care of for us like passive children. If he comes to end it, it is our job to create it in the first place, and that is rather a large and exciting responsibility
The Gathering and Building up of Zion
It appears that the essence of the gospel program on earth is the gathering together of all believers for mutual encouragement and strength. This has been true for thousands of years. But the worldwide Gathering was informally canceled by a single obscure speech in 1977.
The very nature of Christ and his teachings
For 6000 years, Christ always taught and acted vigorously against kings. Do we really expect him to come as a literal King, like the worldly King David, when he comes for the second time?
The 144,000, priesthood keys, and a distributed church
Is today's church improperly using the concept of keys to maintain an absolute worldwide monopoly of priesthood power and therefore all the associated absolute administrative power over all resources? As with all monopolies, that would result in an extremely inefficient organization, with extreme barriers to entry, and an overwhelming drag on member religious productivity.
Issues that are more observable and measurable
Christ was adamantly against a paid ministry in any conceivable form, but the LDS church has embraced it enthusiastically. (See article 8, "The Paid Ministry Issue," for more complete information.)
God as creator
Did God create the Earth, all the animals, and man, or did atheistic evolution create all those things? The LDS church seems undecided, and offers no resistance to the constantly encroaching philosophy of atheism. This is a perfect example of the damage that can be done to the gospel by being lukewarm. (See article 9, "Some Logic Applied to Religion and Evolution," and article 10, "The Debate About Evolution is Over," for more complete information.)
Freedom -- Individual freedom as the "ground of being" for LDS theology
The LDS church could not exist without general freedom and freedom of religion in the United States, but the LDS church is unwilling to vigorously defend political freedom. Is there a logical and practical problem there? (See article 11, "After 200 years, LDS theology is still poorly defined: Part 1 -- Freedom," for more complete information.)
Today's church is perfectly happy to have the government pay for the education of all its children in public schools. There appears to be a very strong link between that situation and the fact that about two-thirds of all Christian children, including Mormons, move away from the church.
Organization and Constitution
Even though the LDS Scriptures incorporate the U.S. Constitution by reference, the church shows little respect for that Constitution and does not incorporate its principles into its operations. It apparently considers itself to be a totally autonomous, closely-held, for-profit business corporation, with no government-style duties or characteristics.
Secularization by incorporation
In 1923, the church headquarters abandoned its nearly 100-year-old member-controlled association form and unilaterally adopted a state-linked corporate form which denies all member involvement in church government, breaking all legal links between members and church headquarters. It went from being a creature of the members to being a creature of the state, which automatically introduces a relentlessly increasing secularism, as we can easily see today.
Administrative inefficiencies -- genealogy work
Even though the church could complete its genealogy responsibilities for the United States in one year and for the entire world in 10 years, it has chosen methods which will ensure that it never finishes anything – not the United States and not the world. At a total resource cost of $2 billion a year, it has wasted at least $38 billion in resources so far, and the current process will continue for hundreds of years with essentially no change. The current cost to create a new unique entry in temple records is about $2000, as opposed to about $2 using better methods which have been available for many years.
Administrative inefficiencies -- missionary work
The current "all in" cost for each new long-term member is an average of about $400,000. Or, put another way, the church is spending about 97.5% of its resources on itself and on its headquarters, with missionary work being at the bottom of the priority list.
Administrative inefficiencies -- representing a people and their welfare
If the LDS headquarters were truly acting on behalf of its members rather than strictly for its separate corporate self, it would have arranged about 80 years ago for church members to have received $10 trillion in pension payments by today through receiving easily arranged commercial payments which would have been five times as large as the current Social Security pension payments. Notice that $10 trillion is about 2000 years at the church's current budget levels.
Additional Articles and Other Materials
Over the past few years I have written a large number of articles, which have ended up more as experiments, or memoranda to my own self and for my own files, rather than being used as current messages to the public, although part of the search was to try to construct an article that might be suitable for publication. I have covered so much material on so many topics that it would be a very time-consuming and boring process to try to take this material and collate and concentrate it into a textbook-style treatment of the current doctrinal and administrative problems of the church. Rather than spend many painful months trying to do that work of consolidation, basically taking the enthusiasm and spontaneity of my earlier writing out of these articles, I thought I would just publish the articles as they existed in past years. There will be some inconsistencies, representing my changes of understanding and attitudes over time, but they do generally all go in the same direction.
1. Should the modern church strive to fulfill ancient prophecy? -- 11pp -- p19
The prophetic assignment of the restored church to change the nation and the world is clear in the Book of Mormon, although those ancient charges are essentially ignored today.
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2. Making Mormonism the Mighty Force for Good It Was Intended To Be -- 6pp -- p30
The church needs to adopt the religious policies and organization that allowed the church to grow quickly just after the life of Christ and for 80 years after Joseph Smith had his first vision.
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3. Are All LDS Church 200th Birthdays Terminal? -- 5pp -- p36
At the 200-year mark after the restoration in our time, the church has deviated from the gospel in many ways. In all known past cases, that has led to the end of the church. Without vigorous changes, the same result should soon be expected in our time.
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4. The LDS McDonald's Strategy -- 2pp -- p41
The church sees its role as just an ordinary business seeking customers from around the world. It actively avoids changing other societies, even though its scriptural assignment is to change all societies greatly.
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5. Church Grand Strategy Considered: Continually snatching defeat from the jaws of victory -- 15pp -- p43
The church's current "big tent" attitude towards various conflicting ideologies dilutes its teachings and actions enough to completely neutralize it. It must change many things to be able to execute The Gathering and to Build Up Zion.
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6. The LDS Church's role in the modern world -- Version 1 -- 5pp -- p59
The church is assigned to change the world, and the extensive resources needed to do that task are available.
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7. The LDS Church's role in the modern world -- Version 2 -- 37pp -- p64
In order to actually meet the strenuous commitments the Scriptures have placed on the church in our day, I believe there are four major things which are needed, none of which we actually have today:
1. An accurate and comprehensive version of the true church
1.1 Hiding the critical doctrine of Freedom, contravening the Scriptures
1.2 Accepting a paid ministry, contravening the Scriptures
1.3 Failing to maintain an accurate understanding of church history and related doctrine
1.4 Accepting atheistic evolution, which "proves" there is no God
2. Finding the necessary resources to influence the world
3. Unity of purpose on all major religious and social issues
4. A comprehensive plan, including all second-level information which may not be included explicitly in the description of the true church
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8. The Paid Ministry Issue -- 28pp -- p101
Although the Scriptures are unanimous in condemning a paid ministry, the current church has embraced it enthusiastically and there are many negative consequences of that choice.
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9. Some Logic Applied to Religion and Evolution -- 9pp -- p130
The church cannot seriously be the church of God if it is not willing to constantly affirm the role of God in creating the earth and everything on it, especially including humans, but the church today ignores that issue.
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10. The Debate about Evolution Is Over -- 2pp -- p139
In about 74 scientific studies beginning in the 1950s, evolution has been proven not to apply to humans.
11. After 200 years, LDS theology is still poorly defined: Part 1 -- Freedom -- 5pp -- p141
Political freedom is crucial to living the gospel correctly, as taught unequivocally in LDS Scriptures. The LDS church today sees no reason to promote freedom, even though it could not exist today if other Christians, including early church members, had not put enormous effort into establishing political freedom.
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12. The Silent Prophets -- 19pp -- p146
The church members and many other people in the world are calling for prophets to intervene in our failing society, but our current leaders are too busy managing our current "McDonald's hamburgers" operations around the world to engage with the world as other prophets have done in the past and as it has been prophesied that it will happen in our time.
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13. Two Versions of the 12th Article of Faith -- 3pp -- p166
As part of its worldwide strategy, the church today emphasizes the children's version of the 12th Article of Faith and ignores the more robust adult version available in the Scriptures.
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14. The Real Reasons Why Mormons are not Christians anymore -- 4pp -- p169
The LDS church has abandoned the cause of political freedom, the signature cause which the Christian religion invented and has prosecuted for hundreds of years.
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15. The Cost of a Soul -- 2pp -- p174
The current cost to the church of a new long-term member is about $400,000, a grossly unreasonable figure.
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16. The Minimal Modern Church: A Member Strategic Audit Report, Volume I -- 5pp -- p176
The modern church headquarters looks out only for itself and displays minimal idealism and altruism, even towards its own members.
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17. "Hastening the Work:" Church Management Failures And Their Costs To Fix -- 10pp -- p181
Fourteen areas of church policy and practice are poorly defined and managed.
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18. Can the LDS Church Ever Become a World Church? -- 11pp -- p190
Being considered a world religion requires that there be a civilization based on the values taught by that religion. Only when the LDS church has created a gospel-based civilization (often referred to as "Zion") can it be considered a world church.
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19. A Suggestion For An LDS Member Constitutional Convention: A Church Trajectory Review -- 16pp -- p201
The voluminous scriptures we have been given today provide a "constitution" for the gospel. The teachings and practices of the church today have deviated greatly from that inspired "constitution," even though we have that "constitution" before us at all times. Apparently, only vigorous member involvement can rectify the deterioration caused by the many destructive administrative changes.