Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dissident LDS Blogger Rock Waterman's "Pure Mormonism" Too "Impure" For LDS Authorities According To New York Times Article

The rumors that dissident LDS blogger Rock Waterman, who edits the Pure Mormonism blog, is in trouble with his local Priesthood chain of command have been confirmed in a New York Times article entitled "Mormons Say Critical Online Comments Draw Threats From Church", published on June 18th, 2014. The New York Times has taken an interest in the latest round of prospective disciplinary actions against dissident Mormons like Kate Kelly and John Dehlin, and have now extended their scrutiny to Rock Waterman. Waterman defines "Pure Mormonism", under Joseph Smith's tutelage, as nothing less than pure Christianity, which is defined as love of God and love of neighbor; anything that does not endorse or amplify that love is considered mere religious baggage.

The money shot:

Rock Waterman, a retired innkeeper in California, writes a blog called Pure Mormonism, which attracts Mormons so orthodox that they believe their church is not sufficiently adhering to its own doctrines.

Last month [May 2014], Mr. Waterman posted a combative challenge addressed to one of the Mormon Church’s top leaders: "Stop making up your own rules and try preaching the Gospel of Christ for a change." [Ed. Note: This phrase appears in the post entitled "Vengeance And The Latter-Day Saint", under the paragraph heading "Mea Culpa"

Two days later, he said, he was summoned to a meeting with his bishop and told to either stop blogging or resign his church membership. If he did not resign he would face excommunication, he said the bishop told him, on orders from another official higher up — one of the church’s leaders known as an Area Seventy.

At the end of the article, the Times says Brother Waterman refuses to resign and is willing to face discipline, quoting him as saying "I’m not trying to get the church to change...I’m trying to get the church to abide by its doctrine".

In response to accusations that the LDS Church is trying to suppress free speech online, the Times recorded these statements by Michael Otterson, managing director of the church’s public affairs office, who appears to be concerned when LDS bloggers use discussion to recruit others for campaigns to change church doctrine or structure.

“There is no coordinated effort to tell local leaders to keep their members from blogging or discussing their questions online. On the contrary, church leaders have encouraged civil online dialogue and recognize that today it’s just part of how the world works.”

“When it goes so far as creating organized groups, staging public events to further a cause and creating literature for members to share in their local congregations, the church has to protect the integrity of its doctrine as well as other members from being misled.”

According to the Times, Rock Waterman is trying to get the church to abide by its doctrine. But is this always so? Perhaps in some cases, although he seems overly fond of hitting the Reset button back to Joseph Smith. But current LDS doctrine holds that consumption of beer is contrary to the Word of Wisdom. Nevertheless, in this post, Waterman suggests that D&C Section 89 verse 17 endorses beer because barely is O.K. for mild drinks.

What Waterman seems to disregard is that subsequent Church presidents have given updated instructions on the Word of Wisdom. And beer is not on the list of approved substances, even though it is not exactly a "mortal sin". The windows of heaven didn't suddenly slam shut when Joseph Smith was martyred; they remained open for all of his successors. The LDS Church continues to operate on the principle of continuous inspiration and revelation. This means the Brethren are free to issue new instruction AT ANY TIME. Not all new instruction rises to the level of requiring an Official Declaration in the Doctrine & Covenants.

Waterman also takes strong issue with LDS investment in the City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City, although it accomplished two beneficial purposes. First, the mall rehabbed a dangerously seedy neighborhood near Temple Square. And second, income from the mall can help sustain the Church through any downturn in tithing revenues. The fact that no new temples have been announced during the last two conferences implies that the LDS Church has not been completely untouched by the economic problems plaguing the rest of the country and much of the world.

On the other hand, Rock Waterman does bring up some worthwhile points. In this post, he urges young people to resist pressure to skip civil marriage and immediately get married in the temple. This becomes of greater import if many of their potential wedding guests wouldn't be able to witness the ceremony because they don't qualify for temple admittance. Quite frankly, it can be a humiliating experience for someone to have to sit downstairs like an outcast while the lovebirds are upstairs exchanging vows in the Celestial Room. And this doesn't happen in Europe, because only civil marriages are officially recognized. Consequently, European Saints are allowed to get the temple marriage performed on the same day after the civil marriage is performed, while in the United States Saints who get a civil marriage first must wait a year before getting a temple marriage. There is absolutely, positively no logical reason for this dichotomy, and Waterman is correct in questioning it.

Rock Waterman also publishes a strong defense of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, alluding to anthropological similarities between the cultures of the Hopewell Indians and the Middle East. Waterman tends to favor the Heartland Theory rather than the Mesoamerican Theory, but we have been given no official revelation nailing down the precise locations of the Book of Mormon civilizations, so debate is still permissible.

Rock Waterman publishes a lot of material on Pure Mormonism with which I disagree, some of it strongly. Yet I see no evidence that Waterman has crossed the bright line into apostasy. Kate Kelly crossed the line when she showed up for tickets to the General Priesthood Meeting after being told she would not get tickets; this constituted open rebellion against the Brethren. I see no evidence of open rebellion against the Brethren on Waterman's blog, although he does reprove with considerable "sharpness" from time to time.


Anonymous said...

I can see your points. I believe that Mr. Waterman is not in rebellion against the First Presidency. I believe it would be wrong for Mr. Waterman to be excommunicated.

What bothers me is that with church discipline being left up to each individual stake/ward, there is no consistency in determining what constitutes disfellowship or excommunication.

For example, if two Bishops were given the exact same situation for church discipline, each Bishop would come to a different conclusion and outcome. One would say excommunication and the other would say no action needed now. Not hardly fair, or consistent. There needs to be more specific guidelines.

I say this because of John Dehlin. He keeps escaping church discipline. I believe his keaders are such good friends with him they do not have the fortitude to address his actions. He is openly Atheist, openly defient to the First Presidency and Twelve, openly states he does no longer believes the doctrine, and he leads people out of the church not to mention the huge following he has.
Something is wrong with this picture. It is not right for some to be threatened with being excommunicated when others, who are openly trying to destroy the church, get a free pass to do so and nothing happens to them for doing it. Waterman and Kelly have done nothing compared to what Dehlin has done. So not right.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I do not agree with Denver Snuffer being exed. If John Dehlin can keep his membership, and not face church discipline , and not be exed, then neither should anyone else!

James said...

In regards to Rock Waterman's objections I have this to offer.

Rock Waterman brings up logical and well reasoned points which need addressed.
Getting back to original LDS doctrines would be good.

Rock is being made a scape goat, when in reality the Utah Church should be repenting.

Lets study church history to explain my comment and why I say as I do.

Emma Smith Refutes Accusations Joseph Was Polygamist

"No such thing as polygamy, or spiritual wifery, was taught, publically or privately, before my husbands death,that I have now, or ever had knowledge of"

( Emma Smith Feb 9, 1879, Church History Vol. 3, p.355. )

Joseph Smith Repudiates Polygamy

A man asked me whether the commandment [revelation] was given that a man may have seven wives; and now the new prophet has charged me with adultery.... Wilson Law [William's brother] also swears that I told him I was guilty of adultery.... I have rattled chains before in a dungeon for truth's sake. I am innocent of all these charges, and you can bear witness of my innocence, for you know me yourselves.... What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago [when charged with polygamy shortly after his marriage to Emma Hale]; and I can prove them all perjurers.

(LDS History of the Church 6:410–411; italics added)

Brigham Young Speaking in Alta California Denied Polygamy in Early Church

Brigham Young confesses polygamy was not part if early LDS Church doctrine and teaching...

Brigham Young, being interviewed by United States Senator Trumbull, in 1869, said: "As to our institution, we know we are right, and polygamy which you object to, was not originally a part of our system, but was adopted by us as a necessity, after we came here." Alta California......

The Utah LDS Church Publication, Deseret News,Confirms polygamy never was part of original LDS faith!

"The Mormon church existed for many years without polygamy.Indeed, correctly speaking, polygamy is not now and never has been even a tenet of the Mormon faith."

- Deseret News, Dec. 11, 1881 or Dec. 7, 1882.

The Mormon Church Rewrote Joseph Smith's Personal and Church History

The Mormon Church Has Published:

"Moreover, since the death of the Prophet Joseph, the history has been carefully revised under the strict inspection of President Brigham Young, and approved by him"(LDS History of the Church 1:v–vi).

Brigham Young Admitted There Were Liars Within The Church
“Some of the Elders seem to be tripped up in a moment, if the wicked can find any fault with the members of this Church; but bless your souls, I would not yet have this people faultless, for the day of separation has not yet arrived. I have many a time, in this stand, dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention.
“We can pick out Elders in Israel right here who can beat the world at gambling, who can handle the cards, cut and shuffle them with the smartest rogue on the face of God’s foot-stool. I can produce Elders here who can shave their smartest shavers, and take their money from them. We can beat the world at any game.”

— Journal of Discourses 4:76–77 (Nov 9, 1856)

It is my observation that anyone willing to eye the evidences with honesty, has to admit something is wrong with "Mormon" teaching and doctrine.

Making Rock Waterman a scape goat for telling the truth, as did Emma Smith, as did Joseph Smith, as did Jesus Christ, is in effect crucifying them all again.

BFitzy said...

In response to your paragraph regarding Rock's opinion on the Word of Wisdom, I think Rock hit the nail on the head.

According to you, we have "received new instruction from the brethren" regarding the WOW, but where exactly is this new instruction? To be more specific, at what point did one of the prophets speak to the members of the Church and say "We're changing a few things in the WOW and we're now making it a mandatory commandment." (verse 2 states that the revelation does not come by command or constraint)? Sure, nowadays there's no question how the majority of the Church as well as the brethren regard the WOW, but with the absence of any official statement, doesn't it seem like our current dogmatic approach to the revelation comes from following tradition (which the scriptures warn us about) rather than divine instruction?

Even assuming there was an official statement by a prophet making these changes, was this statement revelatory? You say that "not all new instruction [from Church leadership] rises to the level of requiring an official declaration in the Doctrine and Covenants" but I disagree, especially in the context of the WOW. If Church leadership is going to change doctrine and compel us to adhere to and obey these changes, it absolutely must come from the Lord, it must be sustained publicly by all members (doctrine of comment consent) and it must be canonized. To argue otherwise is to suggest that the prophet's authority makes him a perfect, infallible individual and that we have no need for protocol that was divinely instituted by the Lord Himself.

On the subject of City Creek, do you really think investing billions of dollars worth of sacred tithing funds (profits from the "business arm" of the Church should still be considered sacred since they ultimately originated from faithful, tithe-paying members) into a high-end shopping mall that begs consumers to live beyond their means during an economic depression was a good investment? You're right when you say that the development cleaned up a seedy area of downtown SLC, but at what expense? That "seedy area" was full of homeless, destitute individuals who needed help and compassion rather than the hard side of a boot. Imagine how far those billions of dollars could have gone had the Church used it to help those needy brothers and sisters instead of dumping it into that mall. It's funny to me that when Christ was here during His mortal ministry, he drove out the merchants and money changers from the temple and sojourned with the downtrodden and the poor while we, as the Church, seem to be doing quite the opposite...

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that even-handed assessment of my beliefs, Jack.

I thank BFitzy said above for elucidating my position that our doctrines come from God, not from the president of the Church. If the president or any general authority announces changes in doctrine, it must come by way of an actual revelation. Our current "false doctrine" that prohibits beer was never given through revelation, but rather the personal opinion of Heber Grant.

I would also submit that the leaders of the Church committed funds for a shopping center without first getting the approval of the members. The Lord commands them that monies placed into the treasury shall “not be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by voice and common consent” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:71 See also D&C 26:2).

I'm also curious to see the revelation given to the fifteen "prophets, seers, and revelators" at the top of the Church hierarchy where the Lord wished this shopping center to be constructed by his servants. Or was this simply their own idea?

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Waterman has brought up points which could use some answering, but he lacks knowledge and the authority to answer them himself. If you want answers to these questions, ask a bishop, stake president, or write a letter to an apostle.
One man should not determine the faith of those who have been in the LDS church. Some disciplinary actions can be a little extreme, but they question their faith and then their church. That doesn't sit right with me.

BK said...

Anonymous 8:31,

If the LDS Church is in the wrong, I highly doubt their leaders are going to believe it or admit it or even know about it.

So seeking the truth by asking a Bishop, Stake Pres. or Apostle is a quite nieve.

To find the real truth one needs to do their own research in proven historical documents back to Joseph Smith and more importantly study the words of Christ to see if they are exactly what the Church today is preaching & practicing.

Asking men who are biased & blindly believe whatever the Church tells them will only lead us in circles.

Just me said...

Just a correction: Couples who are sealed in the temple do not exchange their vows in the Celestial room. They do it in a sealing room.

DMF MD said...

Any religious institution that spends over a billion dollars to build an upscale mall ought to have crossed the line of apostasy!

Mattias Welander said...

Not sure whether it's appropriate to re-vamp this old thread but I stumbled upon it so why not throw in my two cents =)

OP wrote:
subsequent Church presidents have given updated instructions on the Word of Wisdom. And beer is not on the list of approved substances, even though it is not exactly a "mortal sin".

My question:
If this "updated instruction" came about by other means than revelation, how is it any different than what the pharisees were doing in the days of Jesus? A practice he sorely condemned them for.

OP wrote:
The windows of heaven didn't suddenly slam shut when Joseph Smith was martyred; they remained open for all of his successors. The LDS Church continues to operate on the principle of continuous inspiration and revelation.

My question:
I don't doubt that the windows of heaven are open to any and all of us if that is what we desire. But can you provide any evidence whatsoever to support your claim that att successors (or even one of them) has found that window of heaven and managed to get it open? Because when I read what the LDS church leaders publish, it seems like all belief and idéas of their own, not one of them have ever related a vision or revelation, not one of them have testified of seeing the Lord face to face. Most admit that and some still hold out in hiding behind the phrase "I know, through experiences too numerous and sacred to discuss..." yet not testifying of a single encounter with the divine.

OP wrote:
This means the Brethren are free to issue new instruction AT ANY TIME

My question:
Based off of what? If God didn't relay a message, what authority do these "brethren" have to dictate your relationship to or conduct before God, at all?