It's Time to Start Over
For most of my 75 years of life, I have been trying to figure out why the church's growth has been so slow and getting slower, why it is so inefficient in everything it does, and why it has such a minimal good effect on the rest of the nation and the world. The expectations of the prophets in the Book of Mormon were that when the church finally did show up in the last days it would be an amazing whirlwind which would change the world, using the Book of Mormon to accomplish that Herculean feat. Needless to say, we are a great deal less than a whirlwind at this point.
In recent years we have seen another discouraging phenomenon where many thousands of church members suddenly discover that there are many things about the history of church which they never realized or thought about, and upon realizing these matters, they suddenly decide that the church is not as full of truth and integrity as they expected, and they either leave directly or are put into a great quandary about what to do about the church and the many questions circulating around it.
We now have some circumstances where the church leaders have essentially berated the church members for not having sufficient levels of unquestioning faith in the church and its leaders to fully support these institutions, no matter what questions may remain unanswered.
But the church leaders seem very reticent and wary in supplying answers to any of these difficult questions. One suspects that the leaders do not believe they should rightfully ever be subject to such probing questioning. There does seem to be a conflict or inconsistency between the church claiming to contain and represent all truth, while being unable to give satisfactory answers to a whole host of inconvenient questions about history, doctrine, policy, performance, and behavior.
One suspects that they would have a great deal more justification for hiding from or avoiding these questions if our current church headquarters had not set itself up as essentially infallible in all things religious to justify the power and influence it wields. One cannot really have it both ways, by first saying that they are the ultimate authority on every question concerning religion, and then only offering partial and incomplete answers when asked for a response. This lack of openness and thoroughness in answers prompts many to assume that many even more serious things are being kept from them and remain unexplained, an assumption that appears to be correct.
The current state of affairs seems very chaotic and troublesome to me, as apparently it does to many other people as well, especially those people who have made the extraordinary effort to either find or create a replacement religion in their lives, after deciding that the LDS church has been measured and found wanting for many different reasons important to the various individuals.
After all my studies, I believe I have finally found a very high-level narrative which seems solid and verifiable to me and explains where we are, how we got here, and what it would take to put us back on the correct course, while, in the process, answering a very large number of legitimate questions about church policy and behavior.
Here, quickly, are the main elements of this new narrative:
1. We have the wrong organizational model
It is evident that the church during the life of Christ and for perhaps up to 100 years thereafter, essentially HAD no central headquarters, beyond the traveling Twelve, a situation which is incomprehensible today, but was vital to the stunning success of that early church which grew at a rate of about 8% to 10% a year for perhaps 300 years. Without having to delve into massive old medieval tomes to verify this assertion, we might merely notice that when the Apostle John, writing in the Book of Revelation, addressed seven of the independent churches in Asia, he was indeed addressing them as independent, self-contained units of the church, each with its own "angels" or leaders. We might surmise that if they were indeed as independent as it appears, that would require that they each had all the priesthood authority and priesthood keys which would allow each of the churches to operate independently, supplying all priesthood ordinances and blessings necessary for complete salvation – baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, endowments, marriages and sealings, etc.
This dispersion of multiple self-contained and independent church units throughout Asia, and elsewhere, would have had many good effects. It would allow the churches to function very effectively using their local languages and their local culture to the best advantage, without waiting for "one-size-fits-all" policy pronouncements from a distant and poorly informed capital city. If any one particular church came under political attack, there would be many other places where the members could disperse, and it would be nearly impossible for multiple political governments to attack all churches at the same time, thereby wiping out every vestige of the priesthood and priesthood structure. In other words, this dispersed organization should make the overall church very resilient and durable. It would also make it very Christian in everyday behavior, more so than anything seen today.
At the practical level, since there was no more Law of Moses, with its rigid tithing regime coupled with the specialized tribal assignments, the members would be free to use all of their personal resources locally. There would be no need to send these resources to some distance place where they would likely be poorly administered and probably even lost through waste or fraud or political interference. In other words, the church members could all behave exactly like the Good Samaritan who used his own resources immediately to the best possible effect, solving the problems of those around them, and giving rise to a great desire among many people to join with the Christians who so obviously quickly took good care of their own as well as many outsiders, providing a very effective social insurance network that required no subscription fees or expensive professional workers. This was a kind of very simple and uncomplicated tribalism or "band of brothers." Their extremely effective use of personal time and resources, something essentially impossible to do under a Law of Moses tithing regime, which is essentially the regime operating today, could not help but be impressive to everyone who knew anything about these good Christians.
There is much talk in the church today about the phrase "and there were no poor among them," and that seems mysterious to many. Many seem to assume that this could only happen if there were a powerful central government organization which taxed the members, collected all the goods and money to one place, and then set up a process for dispensing some subset of those resources to the needy through professional operatives.
But as we can easily observe in our own national government and in the LDS church today, that rigid centralizing of the process of welfare is extremely wasteful and inefficient. As described in the Book of Mosiah, in the ideal church there was no central organization to handle such matters and no need for such an organization. If there were people in need, then the church members simply took care of the matter locally and that was the end of it. There was no need to form a great and wasteful professional bureaucracy which itself would probably consume most of the offerings in the first place, before they could ever get to those who actually needed help. In most cases, almost all peoples' religious needs are local needs, and it is quite completely pointless to send resources off to some distant place and then hope to get some of them back for local use. Far better simply to find the problems and fix them locally, and not worry about trying to expend more administrative resources just to get back resources which were sent somewhere else.
This is the simple "non-organization" that was the basis for church operation during and just after the time of Christ. It was amazingly effective, certainly at least 10 times as effective as our policies and systems today.
Moreover, it is also easy to demonstrate that essentially all the failures of the early church occurred because someone decided that there was a need for a strong central organization. Where the ancient church probably could have gone on forever in its original dispersed and independent mode, it quickly deteriorated as soon as things were centralized and the empire-building mindset took over that centralized unit. That centralizing process included the collecting of member resources which would otherwise have been used to continue to do good among the local members, and instead used those resources to support a central professional bureaucracy. It also included ending the local and independent use of all necessary priesthood authority and keys, making it appear that one could not be saved without the paying of vast resources to that central unit and receiving back the commodity paid for, which was the saving ordinances.
As soon as the church leaders in Rome declared themselves to be different and above all other churches, and began to claim the resources and limit the priesthood ordinances available at all other churches, the church was doomed. In due course, it became the Roman Catholic Church with all its abominable non-Christian and anti-Christian practices. The church today is a long ways down that exact same mistaken path, making it perfectly reasonable to predict that the church today has done all the good it can ever do unless it completely reorganizes. We can hope that the church will never become as bad or actively evil as the Roman Catholic Church became, but there is no obvious reason that the church today would be able to avoid that eventual situation 100 years from now.
2. We have the wrong salvation model
The current subscription model of salvation
Under current rules and procedures, a person cannot get saved and stay saved unless they are continuously paying a full tithing to the Salt Lake City offices. They must certify at least once every two years that their tithing is paid up and thus verify that their salvation is current. If they stop paying that full tithe, they are no longer saved, and to recover their saved status they must bring their tithing account up-to-date. This has the convenient corporate effect of keeping all members under the constant direct control of the Salt Lake City corporate offices, which becomes the only source of salvation, causing the members anxiety about their salvation if their payments lag or lapse. This operates very much like today's online software subscriptions or monthly multilevel marketing payments. If you don't stay perfectly paid-up, you might lose everything and have to start over. For example, all your business and personal data in the computing "cloud" might disappear forever if your monthly payments are not kept current.
If someone ceases being current on their tithing payments to the central offices, it is not perfectly clear whether their priesthood ordinances stay in effect or not. For example, if they were married in the temple, is that temple marriage and sealing placed on hold until all their tithing payments are brought up to date? If things are really so unclear and unsettled, since many people also receive their civil marriage ceremony and license in the temple at the same time they receive their eternal sealing ceremony, one might reasonably ask whether their civil marriage status is also placed on hold until all tithing payments are current.
One of the interesting consequences of this current "salvation by subscription" program is that if some group of people in some far-off land were to hear about the Gospel and wished to learn more about it and begin to live it, the Salt Lake offices would have to tell them, in effect, that until there was a reliable way of taking their money, and making sure it gets to Salt Lake, and having a bishop and a stake president (or a branch president and a district president) who can issue them a temple recommend which is proof of a paid-up salvation subscription, then there's really nothing they can do for those people, and there is no way they can save themselves. They just need to wait until the full church franchise system has been brought to them. Only at that point can they arrange to get saved and stay saved for any length of time.
In other words, this subscription model of salvation works fairly well where the church is already very solidly established as in Utah, and more than adequate management power and capacity is in place, but outside this fully operational and integrated environment, things get a bit sketchy. If a religion cannot demonstrate how salvation is achieved and then deliver that result, of what good is it?
Much like Domino's pizza, if they don't already have a pizza parlor built and operating there, which can deliver pizza on a constant and reliable basis, then they cannot guarantee that the people there can get themselves saved and stay saved. The conclusion then is that until the church can spend the millions of dollars in tithing funds to set up all these money-receiving and salvation-delivering systems, these people are just out of luck and they should wait for developments far in the future. The Gospel is not for them unless they are living in a First World country which is fully current in the computer age. In this way, the church itself becomes a major constraint, probably the largest constraint of all, on the spreading of the Gospel.
So people are "less active" if they are not reliably and verifiably paying their tithing to the Salt Lake City offices. The only records that are kept of good works performed by individuals are the financial records of member payments. That essentially makes money the measure of all things.
These policies and attitudes, while perhaps seeming subtle, are actually very powerful constraints on the Gospel spreading worldwide. If a person comes, through any number of possible routes, to appreciate the many wonderful philosophies and truths that the Gospel teaches, which have changed whole governments of civilizations in the past, but does not wish to put themselves in the position of being financially and socially linked with Salt Lake City, perhaps even appearing to become an employee or agent of those American offices, and being completely dependent on that city and its religion-related systems for their beginning and continuing salvation, then that person is just out of luck today.
As an apparent example, the church today has not yet "opened up" China for missionary work, just as some MLM product delivery system may not have set up all the transportation and contractual and patent and financial arrangements to "open up" some area of the world to begin delivering their miracle skincare product there and reaping the financial benefits from profits generated there. So, just because the Salt Lake City offices cannot set up reliable banking and payment systems to Salt Lake City and cannot build a $200 million-dollar temple in downtown Beijing, complete with barcode scanning systems to record the use of temple recommends, does that mean that the Gospel is denied to the Chinese until all these things can happen? That seems to be the current calculation and condition.
But notice that this seems to be going at the whole problem backwards from a global perspective. The Gospel is exactly what the Chinese people need to be able to fully understand freedom and righteousness, and to eventually convince those who rule them that freedom, as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution, is the best thing for their country, and even for the leaders themselves. The Gospel can only function perfectly where individuals have perfect freedom to live it. So if we are going to wait for the Chinese government to declare itself as free as United States before the Gospel can enter China, then it's going to be a very long wait. The only practical way to proceed is to take whatever steps are feasible to help Gospel information and principles be diffused throughout China so that the process of increasing freedom can proceed. This can be done in many other ways besides having permission to have missionaries roam the streets, have payment systems set up to Salt Lake City, and have franchised chapels and franchised temples scattered throughout the land. Some of those things might be viewed as desired end results, but the church should not find itself in the position of trying to prevent Gospel-related information from even entering China in conditions which are not under the church's control, all for the purpose of holding the religion market in limbo there until the church can finally legally set up a profitable franchise or MLM system in China.
Gospel success should be measured in terms of how many people understand and live the gospel in the world, not how many are compulsively sending money to Salt Lake City to claim salvation rather than claiming to be worthy of salvation through the old route by using their resources to bless their neighbors. It is hard for a profit-seeking business, such as a franchise or MLM operation, to compete with a "free" system, but that is where the church should be, not in the profit-seeking mode.
Obviously, anyone who fully understands the Gospel will want to take advantage of all of its saving ordinances, but in today's world of easy international transportation, the citizens of whole countries could gradually travel to other countries to receive those ordinances, if that is necessary, and then return to their home countries to begin the process of social change so that their own cultures can finally conform to the righteous principles of a Gospel-based civilization. The church leaders might say that there is no profit in allowing people to join the church and claim salvation without paying tithing directly to them for those privileges, but if those tithings or other member religious contributions are used locally so that the church members are again behaving as an army of independent Good Samaritans rather than employees or other appendages of corporate offices in Salt Lake City, that will change hearts and minds much more quickly and more thoroughly than anything which Salt Lake City can accomplish through its standoff system of receiving tithing and authorizing saving ordinances to be delivered like some kind of mail-order or Internet-order system.
Obviously, if a particular group is trying to build a profitable temporal empire of their own, then they must arrange to always be on good terms with the governmental powers that already exist in every country. And, for most practical purposes, they have to largely agree on philosophy and methods with those governments if they are to coexist on good terms.
If one is indeed setting up a franchise system throughout the world, then it has to be approved in every aspect and on every level by the existing governments of new countries. But it is not the job of the Gospel to conform itself to all the existing philosophies and organizations of men on the earth to make itself acceptable, but rather to be a constant and unchanging revolutionary force which, in the most righteous and hopefully peaceful way, overthrows and replaces all these incorrect philosophies and organizations.
As in the case of the seven churches in Asia, operating as independent units springing from the church which Christ first established in Jerusalem, and in the case of the church which he next formed in the New World, and in the cases of the perhaps 10 other completely independent churches he might have formed among others of the scattered tribes of Israel, presumably each having its own functionally independent subunits, it is perfectly feasible for people who cannot practically communicate with each other, or to easily send resources and personnel back and forth, to still have access to all the saving teachings and ordinances wherever they may live. Having a single office trying to get and maintain control of every possible aspect of the Gospel on this entire planet may seem to be on the outer edge of feasibility in our high-technology time, even though it was completely impossible in all earlier times. Even though there appears to be a tempting opportunity to establish the maximum possible religious empire, that does not mean that that is a proper and righteous goal. I believe that no one, except God himself, should ever seek for that level of concentrated temporal power, especially not his prophets.
When people talk about the difficulties of the American church trying to transfer too many American customs abroad, such as holding church Halloween parties in the middle of some other culture with a different religious tradition, they are hinting at a real problem, but missing the point. The real problem of the connection with the American church worldwide is that in order for the church to set up its rigid franchise system of control and profit-taking, it has to have employees or agents in these countries that are loyal to Salt Lake City and must also have banking and financial systems set up for the transfer of money, etc. These are the real-world circumstances and arrangements of American intrusion that cause all the problems, not some harmless Halloween parties.
If the church did not require these ironclad political and financial ties to Salt Lake City before anyone can claim the benefits of the Gospel, that Gospel would be a great deal more free to spread its ideology and good influence throughout the world. The very fact that it was NOT operating under the control of Salt Lake City would be its greatest source of success. The teachings of the Gospel and its ordinances were intended to be perfectly free to the world, not a copyrighted, trademarked, trade secret protected, perhaps even patented set of intellectual property owned and exploited by a Salt Lake City corporation.
By controlling the salvation process in this way, the church itself becomes a major constraint, probably the largest constraint of all, on the spreading of the Gospel. "[F]or the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life." (2 Cor 3:6) Our revived, redefined, and greatly extended Law of Moses tithing system has mostly killed the Gospel.
3. We have excessive otherworldly concerns
It seems strange that the church which has the assignment of causing the gospel to flood the earth among the living, has somehow become almost completely distracted from that task and has been overcome by otherworldly concerns in the form of family history and temple work. This seems to be clerical work that is especially suitable for travel-limited homemakers, much more so than for the brave and hearty men who can imagine doing hard and constructive things and going out into the world.
It appears that the genealogy and temple work program has become the biggest single program the church sponsors, spending perhaps $3 billion a year in resources, while the explicit allocations of resources to missionary work is perhaps only one fourth as much. This disparity ought to also set off some alarm bells. That genealogy and temple work program is estimated to consume $0.5 million in cash for computers and programming, $1.5 billion for member volunteer input, and perhaps another $1 billion for building new temples each year. If we knew all the numbers, we might find out that it is actually a $4 billion program, if all costs are included, out of an entire budget of about $6 billion. Incidentally, it is easy to calculate and demonstrate that we already have more than enough temples in existence to do all the Temple work necessary to complete the entire world, based on the number of available earthly records. That assumes a time period of 100 years to complete all Temple work at a reasonable pace
It appears that all these management inefficiencies and failures are done for the convenience of the church bureaucracy. If it can make people worry excessively about their own salvation, as statistics show it is often easier to do with women, and a lot harder to do with the more independent-minded men, then the women, who often handle the church money, will send the money to the church and the church will maximize its tithing income.
It will also be able to avoid any conflicts that may occur because of members doing missionary work "too enthusiastically." That is one way to avoid any surprise blowback on the church leaders from such "uncontrolled" activity, simply because there is hardly any activity going on. The church does essentially no public advertising to speak of, and leaves it all up to the minimally prepared and resourced young missionaries to be the only way that the Gospel is declared to the world, when it would be possible for the central church, if it chose, to compete directly with Hollywood or even the mainstream media for public mind-share. But it chooses not to pursue such goals, presumably because that would make its life more complicated, and would use up the resources that could be used for making life easier for the central bureaucracy.
This act of consciously turning the focus of the members inwardly, for the benefit of the church leaders, is an interesting situation. The church leaders will occasionally claim that people should do missionary work on their own, while in other situations they do everything they can to keep people from acting independently and aggressively. Keys or permissions are held very jealously for every imaginable bit of member creativity and entrepreneurialism. Physical resources are collected centrally and kept out of the stream of commerce, so to speak.
On the issue of saving the dead, it truly appears "that God can do his own work" and that all of this work for the dead is probably more for the members' own benefit and understanding rather than specifically for the dead. Obviously, we can never do more than a tiny portion of the work for all the dead, so that the other 9/10ths of the work will have to be done through some other mechanism, if it indeed needs to be done at all. We have the interesting case of Alvin Smith achieving exaltation even before all the saving ordinances were restored, demonstrating that our role on earth in proxy ordinances may be less crucial to the dead than we are taught to believe.
The current teachings on the subject of work for the dead, including this seemingly artificial sense of urgency, puts an enormous permanent guilt trip on the members which has the effect of keeping them from doing something more appropriate with and for the living during their lives, and tends to delay too many important things until after this life, including doing missionary work on a grand scale. People need to be able to read the scriptures and apply them themselves as far as getting organized to do the missionary work which is implied in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures.
This is one reason why we need to dismantle the entire church standing army and let people go about their work of being good Christians without that enormous resource drain and constraint on individual actions in so many other ways.
People are hungry to be assured of salvation, especially the women, who often feel more insecure about many things and cling more tightly to religious promises, and it is unethical to exploit those tender feelings for the benefit of the current central church bureaucracy. This is one of the great dangers of a paid ministry, and we have been doing this long enough to see most of the bad effects. If it continues on it will become even worse and we will indeed become just another copy of the Roman Catholic Church.
4. We have bad program management
For all the enormous resource costs to the members of supporting the central church in its current form, one might at least expect that those things which are centrally managed would be done very well, even brilliantly. But that is clearly not the case, which raises the question of what the central church's goals really are.
First a quick summary of how things are done today concerning missionary work, temple work, and welfare, and then a few more of the details. To start at perhaps the most general viewpoint, looking at missionary work, the church spends overall about $400,000 in member resources for every new long-term member. One might guess that with that astronomical level of costs involved in making any missionary progress, that missionary progress is going to be extremely slow, so slow that the growth in the good effect the church is having on the world is almost too small to measure. It seems that almost anyone with the proper goals in mind could probably come up with a program which was 10 times or 100 times more cost-effective.
In probably the church's largest explicit program, the family history and Temple work program, the church expends about $2000 in member resources for every unique new name that is processed through the temples for the deceased. A more efficient document-processing system could probably bring the cost per name down to about $2. The question then becomes why those 1000 times more efficient methods and systems are not being used. As it is, the methods being used today mean that the basic genealogy work for the United States will never be finished, no matter how many decades this process goes on, and there is no chance whatsoever of ever finishing the world, although a properly structured program could process all the world's available genealogical data within about 10 years, leaving the actual Temple work to be done over the next 100 years..
One might hope that the leaders of the Mormon people would see them and treat them as "a peculiar people," and look out for their best interests as a group, almost as a tribe, especially since the concept of a tribe has a long Gospel history. However, that would be a vain hope. The central church's failure to think creatively and responsibly about the social insurance and welfare needs of its members over about the past 80 years has cost those members, on average, about $2 million each, for a current running total of about $10 trillion. That is the equivalent of about 2000 years of the current central church budget, simply thrown away, presumably for purposes of gaining government political approval for church headquarters activity.
This short list of management problems could all be explained in much more detail, especially the family history and Temple work program which absorbs so much member money, time, and energy. However, the welfare-related program appears to involve the largest amount of money and is also the easiest to explain, so I will address that here.
Explanation: When the new government pension program, called Social Security, was proposed in the 1930s, an option was left open for about the next 50 years for groups to devise their own private pension programs which would need to operate on similar financial contribution parameters. The government Ponzi scheme of taxing workers to pay current benefits to retirees has gradually deteriorated from something that was a very minimal burden on dozens of workers per retiree, until now there are no more than 2.8 workers for each retiree, and the financial pinch on those few workers is very severe and getting worse. Under the government program, during retirement a retiree might receive up to $0.5 million in total retirement benefits, if they live the average lifespan. If they die early, they and their families lose all the remaining potential benefits.
In very marked contrast, typically, those with parallel private pension plans not only receive $2.5 million in total retirement benefits, about five times the government benefits, but they keep those benefits, no matter at what age they die, and those benefits can be passed on to their children if they wish.
It is this minimum of $2 million in extra retirement benefits that have been lost to all church members simply because church headquarters was apparently too focused on its own good relationships with the national government and its leftist ideologies, and was unwilling to suggest and perhaps sponsor some of these alternate private pension programs. It seems obvious that a church headquarters that was focused first on the good of the members, would have snapped up this opportunity to benefit the members financially in a grand way without costing the members or the church another dollar.
This huge amount of "free" money could have been used by members acting independently to create the most aggressive missionary and welfare and family history programs that could be imagined. Instead, under current leaders, the central church seems to seek to maintain the maximum income and maximum political status and capital to itself, which tends to impoverish everyone else for several reasons.
That self-centeredness is extremely expensive in actual money to the members and in the more general benefits to the world. In the case of the world, their loss is that they may never hear about the true gospel or see it in action by members behaving as true good Samaritans, as the spectacularly successful members did just after the time of Christ, and again during the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. They also lose vast sums in wasted resources through unfair and poorly managed social insurance systems.
As I have just shown, in a few limited situations it's possible to calculate the cost of bad program management in all the main areas of church responsibility and activity. But, like the concept of the infinite atonement, it is rather difficult to quantify all the effects of decades or even centuries of bad attitudes and policy. We have the interesting example of the Roman Catholic Church which did a great deal of good and also a great deal of bad. The damage done, or the good which is left undone, by religious activity, the spiritual opportunity cost, so to speak, is surely measured in the hundreds of trillions of dollars. For example, what would be the effect on the church members and on the world of having an active church membership perhaps in the range of 200 million members, a large enough body to greatly influence the morality and good works of an entire nation such as the United States which can have an almost unfathomable effect on the rest of the world. As in finance, the concept of compound interest can double the value of an investment over perhaps two decades. In a similar way, doing a certain amount of good might foster the doing of an even larger amount of good in a kind of virtuous circle or spiral. This kind of calculation is part of the opportunity cost of not doing all the good which could be done at a particular time.
It's fairly easy to get a general idea of the enormous damage done to individuals and the world and the world culture by World War I and World War II in which from 100 million up to 200 million people were actually killed as a direct result of all the circumstances surrounding the war, and certainly at least as many who lived had their lives greatly distorted from what they could have been. The ideologies of pure evil which had such great power in the world also made it seem to many of the inhabitants of various countries that it would be foolish and even evil to give birth to and become the parents of children who might have to suffer through something like that. How do you measure the cost to the unborn and to the world of the hundreds of millions of people who simply were never born because of the chaos and cruelty of our world? I say these things just to touch on the incalculable good which the Gospel might have done that and the evils it might have prevented if it were more widespread.
Looking ahead, what if the Gospel, properly promoted, could prevent World War III from happening, with all the potential horrors of the weapons of mass destruction which man has invented and manufactured and holds ready for use. There have been many groups which we might call "peaceniks" who have called for peace, but have little or no understanding of how one actually influences the world to maintain peace. The Gospel provides those answers, but those answers have been poorly presented to the world. Where these peaceniks might have said "give peace a chance," we might more effectively say "give the Gospel a chance" and actually help provide the basis for real and lasting peace.
What is to be done?
The LDS Church has done some amazing things in its 200 years of existence, but it is time to disassemble and reassemble the entire project, and start over from scratch, so that it can finally make the progress intended. It is easy to demonstrate that the church has maneuvered itself into an organizational cul-de-sac, and it can have no more good influence on the world until it turns around and organizationally retraces its steps back about 120 years from where it finds itself today. At that point, with a different grand strategy in mind, the church could then finally go ahead and accomplish the assignments and goals prophesied for it in the Book of Mormon and other places. Those prophecies give an implied assignment to the church today, but we have completely lost our way and completely lost the ability to ever carry out those assignments without a massive reorganization of everything from top to bottom, including doctrine, policy, and organization
The metaphor of a cul-de-sac is a good way to describe the current situation. But we might describe the situation a little more precisely by borrowing some of the logic and rhetoric from the study of evolution, using such concepts as a local maximum in contrast to a global maximum. An example of a local maximum might be the tallest mountain found in Utah, which, let's say, is King's Peak at 13,123 feet. Someone might climb that mountain and claim that they had climbed the tallest mountain and done the best they could, or the best that could be done by anyone. However, someone who had a complete understanding of the globe we live on, might realize that the tallest mountain of all, Mount Everest, is 29,029 feet tall, putting the Utah accomplishment into the correct overall framework.
In terms of evolution, the church started at a seemingly random place in the world, and, through a long and apparently locally rational chain of incremental evolutionary steps, has built a worldwide empire of a certain size, a size which seems quite stable, but which actually might begin to decrease in size with only minor changes in our social environment. In other words, it appears to have reached a local maximum. The only possible direction remaining is downward. In order to reach a global maximum, it would have to step back and look at the big picture and completely change its goals and methods so that it could actually reach the summit of the much higher and more important mountain, which in its case would be flooding the earth with its good news.
If we reread the 1909 book by James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy, we might have this eerie experience of déjà vu. For about the past 120 years, the church has been carefully following the same path which led to the Roman Catholic Church, the path of extinction of the true Church, amounting to a form of suicide. For some reason we are not sufficiently self-aware to realize that when we vigorously and intentionally follow the path which the early church followed, we will almost inevitably reach the same destination. It is no good to flail about and blame the membership for reacting badly to the now-baked-in errors and inconsistencies. Only when the church leaders put their strategic thinking hats on and consider the essence of the church at the highest possible level of abstraction is there any chance of making the staggering number of necessary corrections to reformulate and re-teach a Gospel which is as vigorous and primal and effective as the Gospel which Christ carefully taught..
We got here incrementally over a long period, but there is no practical way to fix this by incrementally backing out of where we are. We simply have to start over -- knock down the whole edifice and begin again.
When the church started out in our time, there were overwhelming pressures and incentives for the church to become centrally organized so that a pioneering trek westward could be successfully carried out, including bringing 90,000 new church members to Utah from Europe.
But notice that this was all a process of people spontaneously following the advice of the prophet, using their own wisdom and their own personal resources to do what seemed best, without any aspects of organizational bureaucracy or empire-building on the part of the church headquarters. In other words, there WAS no church headquarters bureaucracy, and no enforced central collection of resources until AFTER all the major problems had been successfully solved and the initial gathering completed. It was only in about 1896, under the leadership of Wilford Woodruff, that a permanent central bureaucracy was set up, to be supported by essentially a government-style taxing program, that the church started down the destructive path of Roman Catholic centralization and empire-building.
We might cut these early leaders some slack for their inclination to believe that if some central organization of the saints as a people was good, to enable them to escape Babylon and to establish a safe Zion in the West, then even more of that central organization would be even better for the future. However, it appears that their big mistake was that it was AFTER the crisis had passed that they then decided to double down on pretending to solve a problem that did not exist anymore. Their insistence on claiming to be continuing to solve this nonexistent problem appears to be the essence of why we are where we are today.
If they had reflected more carefully on how the Church was organized and conducted during and just after the life of Christ, and took that situation as the correct new normal, everything would have been fine. Instead, they took as the "new normal" the semi-military and actual military tactics which were necessary to move wagon trains to the west and then defend their new settlements from the politically rapacious East and South of the United States.
Perhaps as soon as 1870 the church leaders could have stood down from their previously almost continuous migration and settlement and war footing, and finally adopted the Savior's methods of church organization. The Civil War had ended the slavery movement, and also rendered it impossible for the Southern slavers to achieve their burning desire to control the new western territories and make them safe for slavery, which, in their mind, meant that the troublesome anti-slavery Mormons impeding their progress needed to be destroyed. Also after 1869, the threat subsided of a second Eastern army attacking Utah, a potential repeat of the 1857-1858 Utah Army, but this time with the new intercontinental railroad as a powerful support to military logistics.
Certainly, after Utah finally achieved statehood in 1896, the church leaders could have given essentially all religious governing and saving authority and powers to local church units, such as stakes, retaining only the minimum power and responsibility at the center. But, unfortunately, there are always many individuals who benefit from being at the head of a standing army, so there is always an enormous built-in incentive for every government or country or would-be empire to have one of those standing armies. In the church case, it was an army of clerks and lawyers, supposedly ready to do battle with the world to advance the church cause, while being obedient and well paid.
It seems a little bit ironic that at about the same time the church clearly chose the path of building and maintaining a standing army/bureaucracy/empire of its own, it was declaring itself to be neutral and pacifist on the issue of any national standing army. Certainly, it declared itself pacifist for World War II, and presumably had done the same during World War I, even though it is hard to see how the church could remain free itself if the nation it resides in does not remain free. Perhaps it saw itself as in competition for its own empire-building resources with the nation's standing army, as it denigrated that national standing army while vigorously building up its own.
All standing armies or national bureaucracies, however necessary they may seem, are usually a greater threat to the country which supports them than they are to other outside nations. As we see today, we have the so-called "deep state" intelligence-military-industrial complex in our nation which has thrown off all pretense of accepting and bowing to the results of democratic elections, and instead wishes to choose its own obedient and compliant emperor.
No ruler would be acceptable to any praetorian guard if that person did not promise to maintain and expand the standing army or state bureaucracy. By the same logic, it is likely that no one today could be accepted and supported by the central bureaucracy as president of the church who would not support the vast and expanding church bureaucracy and its accumulation of resources and power. It appears that we already have the functional equivalent of popes; we just don't call them that yet.
The church's own "intelligence-military bureaucracy" wishes to make sure that it gets to choose its own emperor, and that the lowly members, who used to have the legal power to affirm or deny power to a trustee, have been completely shut out from the slightest hint of any legal power to control the central bureaucracy which demands so much of their money. Now we have exactly the same set of problems that our nation does, for all the exact same reasons, and no one seems to be able to articulate the situation and make clear how inappropriate and ironic the situation is.
It would be very hard to find a case in the Scriptures where the Prince of Peace organized a military bureaucracy, or any kind of bureaucracy, to defend his word and his will. He very specifically did not form even the slightest hint of a central bureaucracy, and made it very clear to everyone around him that there should not be any such thing. Nonetheless, the church today embraces this new version of a tax supported militant bureaucracy and imagines that it has done a great thing.
When members began repeating the comment published in 1909 by an outside observer that the LDS Church was nearly as well organized as the German army, that should have set off sirens and alarm bells everywhere. Nothing in the religious world could ever be more wrong than that, but, at the time, the church members and church leaders took that as a compliment. Apparently they were well on their way to building another Roman Catholic empire, and they patted themselves on the back for being so progressive. After first being mentioned in 1909, the comment was oft repeated thereafter. For example, a 1910 conference talk repeats that idea as though it were common knowledge and widely approved wisdom.
In looking at information about the Catholic Church hierarchy, the term "metropolitan" caught my eye as being an especially interesting term. To me that suggests the corruption of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as opposed to the more pure atmosphere and freedom of the open spaces maintained by the patriarch Abraham. The Catholic Church hierarchy begins with a parish, usually presided over by a priest, and then comes a bishop of a diocese consisting of multiple parishes, and then comes a metropolitan bishop, or simply "metropolitan" who presides over multiple bishops. The LDS equivalents might be a branch president or bishop at the congregation level, a stake president or district president at the next level up of presiding over multiple wards or branches, with perhaps an area authority or area authority Seventy functioning in a role similar to a metropolitan. The LDS church also has area presidencies further up the hierarchy.
The mere existence of this extensive and very expensive multilevel bureaucracy, with perhaps up to 12 layers of bureaucracy between individual members and the president of the church, perhaps ought to be taken as a source of puzzlement at the actual need for such a military-like hierarchy. It certainly seems to begin with the assumption that church members are rambunctious children, with no family supervision, who must be watched over very carefully to make sure they don't run in the street. Or perhaps the members should be viewed as undisciplined conscripts, as the leaders apparently do.
It is quite possible that the beginning of the end for the early church was the inventing of the metropolitans, focusing authority and resources and power in one place, typically in one major city. That is exactly the process that began politically under Wilford Woodruff in our own time and we now see the full consequences of that unwise choice.
When we have Elder Holland today expressing his anger at the church members for failing to stay in the "good ship Zion" as currently constituted, without suggesting what the problem may be, or proposing any changes whatsoever as to how the church does business, perhaps we should take that as an indication that the church leaders are in over their heads and actually have no idea how we got where we are, or why, or what to do about it. At this point we certainly have no one who can remember the way the church operated back before it entered this particular cul-de-sac, so perhaps they cannot begin to comprehend or even suspect that there was once a better way.
The church at the time of Christ, like the church at the time of Joseph Smith, was working in the way it was intended, but we are about 180 years beyond the time of Joseph Smith, and about 150 years beyond Brigham Young, and all the important aspects of why the church was successful then have been forgotten, leaving us paralyzed and thoroughly neutralized today,
Elder Holland does seem to be saying that doubting or inconstant members don't have enough faith, whatever that means. By that he presumably is referring to the need for the unquestioning faith of members in the church and its leaders. It seems that that kind of unquestioning faith among members is often directed at the gospel and at the Scriptures, but is less confident about the current church organization and its leaders.
When Mormon families were casually declared to be units of the central church, we should have realized that we had gone too far. Does that mean that now all the families are essentially employees or conscripts of the central single mind? This is the absolute denial of the principle of heavenly freedom and of the patriarchal principle. We do not imagine that in heaven we will live in a giant commune with only one mind controlling us, that of God the father or of Jesus Christ or perhaps Satan. We imagine that we will be independent heads of families. Why would we not teach and model the same thing here, instead of teaching the Satanic doctrine that everyone ought to be under the central control of a single mind? That is exactly what Satan teaches and seeks. Anything that looks like that ought to be very carefully avoided.
Very simply, our central command-and-control and intelligence bureaucracy needs to be completely dismantled and all functions necessary for salvation be dispersed to the stake level, as it was at the time of Christ and immediately thereafter. In those days, there was no central church bureaucracy, because there was no NEED for a central church bureaucracy. All the saving ordinances were available at the local level. There was no need to pull back all of those priesthood powers, those keys, at the same time all the resources were pulled back from the members to a central site, and then redistributed to the extent that they were not wasted in making that mostly one-way trip to the central bureaucracy.
As an analogy, we might notice that under the Law of Moses, which was supposedly completely terminated by Christ, 1/10 of only the foodstuffs of the 11 tribes was sent to the Levites to sustain them in their full-time jobs as priesthood operatives. 10% of that 10% (1%) of foodstuffs was in turn sent by the Levites to the central temple operations. Without the need for full-time paid priesthood operatives churchwide, why would one need the Law of Moses tithing concept? Today, every man is his own priest in the Gospel of Christ.
In other words, that should tell us that far less than 1% of the total resources of today's often prosperous members ought to be designated for and consumed by the central bureaucracy, if there is one. Emphasizing freedom at every step, the central bureaucracy ought to claim no power by supposed right of law or doctrine to take anything from the church members to pay for the saving ordinances which all ought to be free. They would be welcome at headquarters to explain the needs as they see them, perhaps for a new temple, and the church members could then decide themselves whether they wished to spend their resources on being good Samaritans to those around them, or to send some portion of their resources to the central offices. That continual need to explain and defend themselves and their programs at headquarters is exactly the difference between having a mandatory taxing regime on pain of losing your salvation, as opposed to having complete religious freedom, especially to use your own religious contributions as you see fit.
We should note and compare the efficiencies of the missionary program after the time of Christ, with the extreme inefficiencies of our current central religion bureaucracy. First of all, there was no central cost of doing missionary work and welfare work and family history and temple work. The Church maintained a growth rate of somewhere in the 8% to 10% range for hundreds of years, presumably because the church members showed themselves to be the best possible people because they used their own personal resources directly to help others. There was none of this horrible inefficiency of sending resources to a central place where that central place is thoroughly unable to use those resources well and instead largely wastes them, where if they were used locally, members could get a much greater bang for their bucks, perhaps 100 times greater. It could result in a 100 times more effective welfare program so that the poor would simply disappear from view. All it takes is to leave church members with their own resources and let the central church shrink accordingly.
We might note that the entire governments of entire nations have historically operated very successfully on only 5% of the resources of the citizens. Logically, the church's demanding 10%, on pain of loss of salvation, should require it to provide for every imaginable legitimate need of its members/citizens, but instead it takes its 10% while watching the members pay another 5-10% to the state and another 5-40% to the central government. If it wanted to maximize and better justify its own excessive income, it might rationally work to minimize the "take" of all the other governments which claim taxing authority instead of simply joining in the taking process. All of these resource flows are completely out of any rational or historical bounds and contribute greatly to the general weakness of the church and its members today.
The "required communalism" issue
Another common theme and misconception that is encouraged by the central bureaucracy for its own financial benefit (or at least is not discouraged) is the old consecration/United Order concept, a semi-Marxist import into church lore and doctrine pushed by the anti-Mormons outside the church and the Marxist-leaning members inside the church. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were adamantly against that idea, but the church, especially through its fourth president, Wilford Woodruff, eventually eagerly embraced it, and the rest is history, as they say. I suspect that if Wilford Woodruff had not done it, others such as Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, and Heber J. Grant would have done it anyway, but Woodruff did break the ice early and get things started in that destructive direction.
We must return to an earlier time and philosophy in order to save ourselves. Brigham Young said that this kind of collectivist, centralizing, United Order thinking would destroy the church, and he was completely right. He delayed it during his life, but his influence was buried in the flood of wrong thinking that came later. This collectivist philosophy is the essence of Satan's thinking, and all he has to do is get this camel's nose under the tent, and the whole enterprise is lost.
That is the rhetoric and logic of empire, not individual freedom and patriarchy, so naturally, the church leaders accept it, even in the teeth of the clear rejection of it by the first two prophets. It is anti-freedom and so is welcomed by ambitious leaders and their lawyers/Sanhedrin staff. It is the philosophy of a class society, even while seeming to be arguing for a classless society. In such a society, while all are "equal," some are more equal than others, as it has been famously observed about how this philosophy always ends up.
The issue of freedom of religious speech within the church
A fear of retribution from the center for "dangerous speech" that could tend to limit the growth of the current push for an ever-growing central bureaucracy (especially coming from a center which shouldn't necessarily even exist) is a clear sign of empire/power thinking and is totally inappropriate for any gospel organization. This is another activity of the church "intelligence bureaucracy" that seems very much akin to the same kind of bureaucracy at the national level, even including some overlap in personnel.
The apostasy issue
The usual explanation within the LDS Church of a major reason for the need for the restoration is that "the apostasy of the early church was caused by the death of the apostles." However, on closer examination, this appears to be a simplified Primary-level or missionary-level explanation of the medieval apostasy which actually explains almost nothing. This greatly simplified, and possibly "focus-group-tested" explanation, which quickly brushes away any logical difficulties about the actual process of the apostasy of the early church, enlightens us very little. The main purpose of that explanation seems to be to keep people from noticing that the church today is following the exact same pattern and course as the early church.
Of course the apostles all died, because that is what always happens to men when they are 70 years of age or older, and then, some indeterminate time later, the church fell apart. But that simple sequence does not tell us very much. We should also notice that the church was still probably quite healthy and growing quickly for the first 300 years, continuing for a long time after all the original apostles would have died at the usual age.
As long as the various churches operated independently, and were widely dispersed, they should have remained quite resilient and continued to grow quickly. In fact, Christianity grew so quickly, finally reaching a size of 4 to 5 million within the Roman civilization, that it gradually replaced paganism as the main religion of the Romans, so that around 300 A.D. Constantine could take advantage of the demographics and politics of the situation and make Christianity the official religion of Rome.
As usual, it appears that it was not the outside attacks on the church which destroyed its leadership and caused it to veer off course, but rather more likely it was the continual seduction of empire-building among the many remaining leaders that caused the problem. This may have been something similar to the later fall of Rome itself, where it was not really the attacks of the barbarians which ended Rome, but rather the moral and sociological decay which made Rome ripe to be overthrown.
For example, there is the story about Peter being crucified upside down. But notice that this occurred about 38 years after the death of Christ, at a time when the church had probably grown to a size in the 40,000-50,000 range worldwide, seemingly making it very simple to find experienced men who could be given the apostleship and themselves remain widely dispersed so that it would be highly unlikely that they would all perish at once and be unable to leave replacements.
As recorded in the New Testament, when a replacement was to be found for Judas, the process of choosing Mathias to replace Judas, and setting Mathias apart might have been accomplished with the efforts of a day or two, certainly providing little or no bureaucratic delay that could itself threaten the longevity of the true Church..
The 1909 book by Apostle James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy: Considered in the Light of Scriptural and Secular History, which purports to explain what happened in those early times, itself also explains essentially nothing. It seems to dwell on the personal sins and errors of the popes themselves as evidence that the authority was lost through the personal unrighteousness of those leaders, but this is a very incomplete and unsatisfactory answer. We are told that Joseph Smith, if he had become a fallen prophet, would still have the authority to pass on his authority to someone else who was more worthy to exercise it. As far as I know, no one has defined how many steps the authority might be passed along until it reaches someone worthy to exercise it. All one has to do is get through a few hundred years of hard medieval times by this daisychaining process, and the Roman Catholic church of today could have a good-sounding claim to the original authority.
Most of all, Talmage does not point out the obvious, that it was the very centralizing of religious and temporal power in one place and in one man within the church which was itself the main source and cause of the very corruption of which he spoke. Talmage finished his book in 1909 and it was published, and the next year was republished with a larger print run. It would probably never occur to someone today to view his book as an indirect defense of the empire-building going on within the church of which he was a part, a kind of apologetic writing for a church which was intentionally following the exact same course as the church which he condemned, but that seems to be the truth of the matter. He probably did not say anything that was not true, he just obfuscated the issue and made sure that the empire-building of today seemed reasonable, where the results of the empire building of an earlier time did not. But it is a distinction without a difference.
From this, one might guess that Talmage, as a scientist and a proponent of organic evolution, was himself a so-called political progressive, and thus, naturally, a proponent of religious empire building, just as he would likely be a proponent of the centralizing of all government power. Certainly, academics today, who have filled their minds with the wisdom of men, have an overwhelming tendency to consider themselves perfect candidates to become the next philosopher-king, rightfully empowered to rule over the masses with their great wisdom, while effectively working to lower the general level of freedom for their own personal benefit, maximizing the contrast between themselves and the masses. But, of course, that is exactly what Satan seeks.
The well-known 1915 book by Talmage entitled Jesus the Christ appears also to have been made to serve a similar purpose as The Great Apostasy. If a book which purports to tell us all the important facts about the Savior and his life, nonetheless leaves out the extremely important practical consequences of his absolutely refusing to have the slightest hint of political or economic power and refusing to build up even the slightest hint of a bureaucracy, or to let any of his followers do such a thing, that book also serves to obfuscate and greatly minimize the most obvious deviation of the modern-day church from the Scriptures, that being its enthusiastic embrace of empire building on every level -- doctrinal, financial, and organizational.
Talmage might easily have included in his interpretation of Christ's words concerning such things as "the lilies of the field," "the rich young ruler," "the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head," etc., the obvious implication that his kingdom truly was not of this world and that no empire-building and bureaucracy-constructing was valid. But, of course, Talmage said no such thing. That would seriously conflict with the project which was going forth with enthusiasm during his time to build up another religious empire in the latter days, potentially to rival the empire of the Roman Catholic Church which had been built up earlier. ("But we will do it right this time.") If an author can downplay these many obvious meanings, and set the pattern for the next century as to how these important scriptures are to be interpreted, then perhaps the church can avoid criticism for its studied ignoring of the New Testament on this crucial point of organization.
It may seem a little jarring that a trusted apostle and apologist for the church can also be revealed as a propagandist for a distorted version of the church, but that seems to be the situation with Talmage.
This all seems to indicate that the other leaders at the time of Talmage were also closet political progressives who were happy to let a more outspoken academic and political progressive help create the cover story for what they wanted to do anyway concerning building an empire.
It might be worth investigating whether the US presidents of that time -- William McKinley 1897-1901, Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909, William Howard Taft 1909-1913, and Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921, especially Woodrow Wilson with his vigorous form of progressivism -- had a strong effect on the thinking of the church leaders of the time. It certainly seems so, because the church leaders seem to be incapable of an independent thought of their own on the question of the relationship of church and state.
During that same period, although there were some minimal efforts to counteract the effects of the concept of organic evolution, those small efforts seemed to quickly die out, and, with the obvious exception of the book by Joseph Fielding Smith, Man His Origin and Destiny, which was naturally largely rejected by the progressives, that entire subject seemed to completely drop off the church's radar.
It is interesting that as a young man, J. Reuben Clark, who later became a counselor in the first presidency, was sponsored and mentored by James E. Talmage, who was known as "the foremost scholar and scientist in the LDS Church." We know that Utah voted for FDR four times and for Truman once, indicating that the people of Utah were operating on the left side of the political spectrum at that time. It would be interesting to know if church leaders were partially responsible for preachments which helped move Utah politics to the left.
Today there is an apparent stark contrast, where Utah County has recently been considered the reddest county in the entire United States. It would take a lot of study to understand how that apparent shift to the right politically came to be. But I can say with some confidence that unless the red county of Utah County can get nearly complete control of the church again, the whole church enterprise is doomed.
It seems possible that the inhabitants of Utah actually noticed all the bad effects of the leftist political philosophies put into practice by FDR and his similarly-minded successors, and they gradually changed their opinions. But at this point, without adequate study, that is a matter of pure speculation on my part. Or, perhaps it can be explained by positing that the political attitudes of Utahns are quite a stable center-right position, and rest of the country has moved further left creating the apparent political distance between viewpoints.
A left-leaning church that should be conservative?
It appears to me that we have another unexpected situation, and another irony, in the fact that the church leaders and senior staff are almost all operating on the political left, whatever their stated party affiliation might be. (I believe there is a slight majority of registered Republicans, but some are registered Democrats, and quite a number, about 4, are unregistered. In this politically charged environment, I would count that as being a Democrat). Here we have a group of political leftists who have moved the church very far to the left, and, strangely enough, at the same time, the people who are complaining about the church are themselves mostly operating on the left or far left of the political spectrum.
I see irony in the fact that these people of the left, in leadership positions and as regular members, have gotten exactly what their philosophies preferred, and now many of the ordinary members, even those on the left, do not like the result. I think the lesson is that leftist politics are always wrong and bad and damaging, but people on the left are simply too blinded by their own nice-sounding, bleeding-heart, but anti-freedom ideologies, to realize that that is the inevitable result, but still they are resentful when it happens.
Really, the biggest problem of all, is that the entire church leadership and staff, and a very large portion of the church members, are all operating so far to the political left (always hoping for big government everywhere) that in order to re-create a church which would actually operate effectively in the real world, that probable majority of the church that inhabits the political left, would have to be chopped off, and perhaps organized into a separate church, before there is any chance that a successfully functioning church could be created and last intact for any length of time.
No king in Israel
As a final thought on the Bible's many teachings about the importance of freedom, no matter who wishes to infringe upon it, I like very much a thought from the Book of Judges:
Judges 17:6; 21:25: In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Unfortunately, today we have some "kings in Israel" who, through example, I believe are teaching the church members and the people of the world many wrong things about organizations in general and the church in particular.
With few exceptions, I believe the materials in this article are either so obvious as to need no explanation or verification, or are so non-obvious that it requires an entire chapter of logic and explanation to support some particular assertion. A separate book was assembled chapter by chapter over a period of several years to experimentally explore a whole range of church related questions and issues. Hopefully, that book will contain useful background explanations on the main issues covered in this article. For example, a 28-page exploration of the "paid ministry" issue supports most of the assertions concerning today's church organization.
That unpublished book presented for reference is entitled "The Church That Could Save the World, But Chooses Not to." That book contains another earlier book entitled "Restoring the Restoration: Repairing 200 Years of LDS Doctrinal Drift." All these efforts, and many others, were part of the incremental process of forming a judgment about the history of the Church and why we have reached where we find ourselves today. This material can be viewed at http://MormonAudit.blogspot.com
On the issues related to the church's family history and temple work program, an entire book and several related articles and documents are available on the following website: http://www.ProgenyLink.com
Preliminary to all of this are the four books, three of them published, all by Kent W. Huff, which address the historical issue of required communalism and the issues of church growth.
Joseph Smith's United Order: A Non-Communalistic Interpretation (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 1988);
Brigham Young's United Order: A Contextual Interpretation (Spanish Fork: Theological ThinkTank, 1998);
Brigham Young's United Order: A Contextual Interpretation; Volume 2, Related Anomalies and Side Issues (unpublished, 1998)
Creating the Millennium: Social Forces and Church Growth in the 21st Century (Spanish Fork, Utah: Theological Thinktank, 2000)
These books are available online at http://www.zionv7.org