Skip to content

Mormon Discussion Presents: An Exploration of the Gospel Topic Essays

This is an audio recording of the presentation “Mormon Discussion Presents: A Dialogue on Gospel Topic Essays”.  This was held at the Home of Bill Reel, host of Mormon Discussion Podcast, in Southern Utah on September 16th.  Sound quality is slightly less than desirable but this went so well and the discussion may be extremely helpful to build bridges in mixed faith relationships.  We ended up with about 35 folks with some being very orthodox, others being completely out and then some in between.  folks all along the spectrum found the night to be helpful and beneficial.



18 thoughts on “Mormon Discussion Presents: An Exploration of the Gospel Topic Essays”

  1. I enjoyed the visit Bill. I think it was interesting the differences in the audience with those attending: some were TBM, and others were quite “out”–and of course those in the middle.

    The venue was cozy and nice as well. One of these days you need to come up north to SLC. Bring that Bloxam guy as well–he had some interesting things to say. 🙂

  2. Dear Bill Reel,

    Thank you for this open discussion on the church essays.

    Listening to this podcast until the break time, when you seem to be finished with the translation process. I haven’t heard anyone address the translation process part where the words appear as on parchment, Joseph speaks the words and then the scribe writes down the words and repeats this back to Joseph. If everything is correct then the translation proceeds, but if there is an error, God keeps the original words in place until everything is perfect. This process has been discovered in several journals, so this is what is reported to be the reason we know that the BofM is the most correct book — because literally God does not allow more words to be written until what has been written is completely as God has given it.

    So my question is: How is it that there have been over a thousand corrections to the BofM if the translation process could not proceed until it was written down correctly in the first place? I am speaking of major doctrinal changes such as Jesus being described as God the very Eternal Father being changed to Jesus being the Son of the very Eternal Father.

    I would like to have this question answered in a faith promoting way if possible, as I am trying very hard to make my life-long investment in mormonism work for me.

    I am now continuing listening to the podcast, where perhaps you have addressed my question.

    Thank you,

    1. Gale,
      You ask a great question. I would offer that maybe you look for answers to any question with OBJECTIVITY. Otherwise, you create confirmation bias. I would encourage you to ask a question and study the answer without bias if possible.

      It is a very huge problem to find King James Bible version clerical and grammatical errors in the Book of Mormon IF Joseph could only “translate” the words ONLY after the Lord ok’ed it.

  3. Still listening to the podcast. Right now you are discussing baptisms for the dead and how important those ordinances are to those who have passed on without them. My question is: How do we reconcile D&C 137:7 with the church’s push for doing ordinances for the dead? I heard no one mention this passage of LDS scripture which was canonized in 1981 — not centuries ago, but barely 35 years ago. “Saving ordinances”? Really, what about God’s word in the D&C?

    Thank you for any reply to this puzzle.

  4. Dear Bill Reel,

    Listening to the podcast portion that deals with race & priesthood. I am appalled as I listen to the variety of comments as people apologize for the racism which was in the church for a century.

    Was it doctrine or was it policy?

    Do we not realize that Jesus gave a parable about a house being built on sand as opposed to a house built upon the rock. Every time I hear you say ‘shifting’, I think of sand instead of rock.

    Any other Christian church can tell you what christian doctrine is. What you are describing in this podcast is the ‘great & spacious building’ in Lehi’s dream… has no foundation.

    This is truly distressing to the TBM.

    Thank you,

    1. I agree with you Gale on the Race and the Priesthood. I was frustrated listening to people argue about doctrine vs. policy. DOES IT MATTER? Th e fact on the ground was that for 120+ years, thousands and potentially millions of blacks were damned from eternal saving ordinances. SO, who cares if it was a doctrine or policy. The Church says they were theories. So basically, the Church says there was a doctrine/poliy of eternal significance based on theories. If a policy or practice has the effect of blocking eternal ordinances and the daily lived blessings that are promised by having those in our lives, IT IS A DOCTRINE. In my humble opinion, from Brigham to Kimball, the prophets have led black people astray and white people too, in fact, for believing racist things as the cause.

    2. The way I have reconciled baptisms for the dead is by making the saving ordinances something that is more for me than for them. It is a way for me to feel connected to them. Its a way of me saying, I want you to be in my inner circle of family and friends. I want you to be among my closest loved ones.

      If our heart is big enough we would want to be linked to everyone even the entire human race, but at least starting out from our immediate family.

      God will take care of everything no doubt, but the saving ordinance provides me with a personal reassurance. It’s a ritual we can perform that creates an everlasting effect in our souls and hopefully in theirs as well should they accept our eternal offer… not only of church membership with Christ but as a family bond as well.

      1. Dear David,

        I have noted your comments on other posts in this web-blog. You seem to have a temperate attitude toward other’s opinions which I do appreciate. Thank you.

        I can also appreciate the close bonds you feel with your kindred dead.

        My concern is that we pick & choose which scripture to adhere to and which to ignore. My question is how can we reconcile D&C 137:7 and the opposing church doctrine of baptisms for the dead and other proxy ordinances?

        And as Randall Brower says, what about Moroni 8:22-23? These scripture conflict with ordinances for the dead. Or I could be mistaken in my understanding of these scriptures.

        I am eager to understand so that I no longer have a conflict in my mind over this matter.

        Thank you for any insights you may share on this matter.

  5. My quarrel is not so much with Joseph Smith and colleagues of the 1800s. The clarity, or lack thereof, of my own history over time would likely have some confusion when carefully researched and written. However, you discussed Joseph Fielding Smith and his manipulation of LDS historical records. If one reads his embarassing “Essentials in Church History” and “Man, His Origin and Destiny” it would appear that cutting out an original page from a journal with a pen-knife was not a difficult decision for him. I spent 40 years as a university professor and dean. The results of his actions were poor quality writing (“C” effort; “F” scholarship ) and academic misconduct (cutting out the journal page to protect his hypothesis). We dismissed a number of students for these behaviors with the purposeful deception being the more egregious. I’m not nearly ok with it as you seemed to be. Yes, I understand the motivation but integrity was lacking.

  6. Gale,
    I’m no Bill Reel, but let me throw in my 2 cents. REgading baptism for the dead. THAT IS A HUGE CONUNDRUM. You are right D&C 137:7…” 7 Thus came the avoice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died bwithout a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God”
    Moroni 8: 22-23
    “22 For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—

    23 But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.”

    Yes you read that correctly. ALL those that died without the law…baptism availeth them nothing. AND, to make it worse, it is a mockery before God to do so.

    My TBM father couldn’t explain that one away either.

    1. Gale and Randall,
      It can be assumed that we can’t be a judge of who or who doesn’t have the law. We just do the work for all and let the Lord deal with those details. What does that actually mean…”without law”? Little children are obviously not capable due to their under developed cognitive development. Moroni doesn’t infer any resurrection glory and we should necessarily read such into that scripture. It just says they are alive in Christ and baptism availeth them nothing. In D&C 76 those without the law apparently do not even inherit Celestial glory and are those who will be of the Terestial glory. This glory is a glory of salvation and requires no baptism! Interesting when proper dots are connected. We need to be careful how we read and assume the intent of doctrinal application and the authors intent. Also, little children aren’t even mentioned in section 76 as recipients of Celestial glory. However, we have other narrative and sources that make claim of those who die before the age of accountability will be heirs of the Celestial Kingdim. Therefore, I don’t see the contradiction with respect for saving ordinances of the dead as is being assumed by reading Moroni 8:22-23.

      As for Section 137 (dated in 1836…,4 years after Section 76) the caveat is those who died without the law but “would have” received the Gospel and ordinances in the flesh. This is a building doctrinal statement that adds additional light to Section 76. Since those without law inherit Terestial glory, per Section 76, there is an exception as we get in Section 137. Therefore, per section 76, baptism is a requirement for Celestial glory. Therefore, the need to perform the saving ordinances in the Temple. Again, we can’t be that judge.

      This is just my observations and I can’t speak formally for the Church. Willing for yours other comments on the subject. Thanks.

  7. It’s very hurtful for TBM’s to hear words such as: I get it, this is hard, it’s messy, it’s complicated. The problem is those words are not used just once throughout the night but its a constant barrage through the +3 hour long meeting.

    I feel sick when we over validate the critic’s point of view. At what point do we honor and appreciate the faith that we do have. There are times when you try to do it, but more often the not the critic outweighs the faithful perspective to the point that whenever you want to honor the faith it feels like double speak and lip-service… when it’s obvious you have over validated the critic.

    This all from a feel perspective. So from a TBM perspective what could you do to be more fair. Start by going to the temple more often, you haven’t been there in a long time, yes you have a temple recommend, but when was the last time you were ever there. Yes, you admit that come out feeling more engage with god, but at the same time you invalidate it almost with words such as there are parts of the temple that make me feel extremely uncomfortable, and maybe that’s true, but still make it your purpose to go for yourself again.

    I think a lot more should be said to those who don’t want to make Mormonism work. They stop bothering to make it work, there’s always a faithful angle when we try to find one. Give more credit to church members that are out there trying to make it work and keep providing them with tools to make it better, but it all seems so hard if not impossible when we validate the data points you reference never mind all the other data points that speak to the beautiful community that we do have.

    I’m all for making the church a better place for everyone, but I wonder at what price will that come. Will we lose too much in the process. Will members just start paying tithing on their surplus will that be enough to keep the church a float and strong.

    Sure we make mistakes as church members all the time, but I’m afraid that with your perspective we will just honor the whole church by becoming less active and we will call it part of their spiritual growth while they are at it. Never mind the fact that the church may lose it’s vitality, strength, and relevance.

    Sometimes it seems that the only sensible thing to do is become inactive. I don’t wish that for anyone, but it seems like that the only sensible thing left to do… and place our hopes on some mystical Christ, because god only know’s if he’s real. It’s only real when we make it real.

    Sorry for ranting this much, wasn’t really my intention to do so. All I’m left feeling is a sense of loss, and with desires to just cry. It’s all for nothing, all I have is the here and now. I suppose we will all be fine in the next life since it doesn’t really matter anyways whether you’re a member or not. You did your best and that’s all that counts. The data seems to paint that no matter what you do its all a drop in a bucket so Christ grace saves us all. Amen & Kumbaya. We’ve pretty much made everything Anathema.

    Either that, or follow some deceased polygamist founding father faith in Christ. Where does my faith lead to? Does it spring to everlasting life or everlasting hopelessness? I suppose that when all is said and done and I’m left with a conclusion the conclusion that I like the most is to think that we are Children of God making our way back to become like him. But what kind of God allows someone like Joseph be the head of his Church. Was that the best that God have available to restore his Church with and the other churches better off that we are?

    I’ve mind dump way too much… not having simple answers really sucks, but just carrying on doesn’t make much sense either. It’s always important to leave on a positive note… so in that spirit I say that I love the Mormon conundrum, the spiritual battle that we need to overcome. I love the Mormon ideal and the people that fight for it. I wish everyone could wrestle with the thoughts and ideas that we need to go through as Latter-day Saints. Joseph was wrong, but there were many things he got right, and while things are not quite what we thought they ought to be its still a beautiful space and place that I want to be part of, and god willing he will make it better for all of us. May the restoration continue forward, onwards, and upwards.

    1. David, I am sorry. I sense you want nothing more than for this puzzle to go together in a certain way. Sadly, at least from my view, it doesn’t. You want people to argue in favor of some sort of Mormonism that upholds the miracle stories and the supernatural events. I simply can’t fight for that Mormonism. I sense you deep down get it but you want so bad for it to be something other than what you deeply get that it is. That internal battle inside yourself is at the heart of your tension. I actually think your battle has little to do with Bill Reel or his podcast. Instead it is that he is pointing you towards what you already know but don’t want to hear.

      1. That was a very thoughtful but not pandering answer to David. I think we all feel his pain, as we have learned things we didn’t necessarily wish to know.

        Bill, I want you to know that I appreciate your podcasts very much. They have been part of helping me to wake up. Which waking up has wounded by feelings, but is so important to my salvation.

        Anyway, I am a RS teacher and this month I am using a conference talk on the Holy Ghost. I wish to have your permission to use some of the material from your podcast about internal authority; I thought it was profound. If you have any objections to my use of your interpretation of why Jesus had to go away in order for the Holy Ghost to inspire his disciples, I would really like to know.

        Thank you for the work you do.

      2. Thanks Bill,

        I wonder if overstepped myself. You ought to know that I have listened to every single podcast you have published. Part of me wants to keep the dream alive, as I think of the alternatives to replace it with something else, I can’t think of anything better than a version of the plan of salvation that Mormonism shares. Sure maybe it needs a little tweaking but it can’t be completely off.

  8. Well…I want to post again. I was there during the meeting, and there were only 3 people there I knew: Bill was one of them.

    Like I said above, I was surprised at the different levels and understanding of those involved. Everyone had some inkling of history; however, the interpretations of that history varied wildly!

    One thing that surprised me was the “mental gymnastics” that happened. Many people wanted to hold onto a narrative of the integrity of leaders, how it reflects in the current restoration narrative, and at the same time hold onto current teachings. It was amazing actually because so many of the opinions were ones I share myself.

    One thing that amazed me was the JFS story of cutting a page out of JS journal regarding the 1832 account. That is dishonest–it hides truth and distorts reality, preventing others from having a sense of “informed consent”.

    I remember hearing Elder Anderson say: “give brother Joseph a break”…and hearing a chuckle in the audience.

    This chills me….right to the bone. I’ve heard similar things said by abusers: “He is a good man (or woman”, “He has an important position–we can’t jeopardize that”….etc.

    Does the church condone intellectual abuse in a like manner?…like they condone the abuse JS perpetrated on people like Emma? (To deny Emma was NOT abused, at least emotionally, I believe is utterly indefensible).

    The simple act of cutting out a page of VERY important history and hiding it for decades is intellectually dishonest (and from a historical perspective, criminal), and I have a problem giving JFS a “break”.

    Did he ever apologize for that action? I would be interested in knowing that. I believe in his mind, he probably thought he was protecting the church.

    Protecting the church from what?…the truth? WAIT a second!!!!….the church espouses truth,…but needs to be protected from it?

    Its this kindof stuff I can’t accept. The fact JFS was the church historian is like releasing a pyromaniac into a munitions plant!…and yes, I know what I’m saying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *