Some question still exists as to how Jeff Savage was assigned the Governing Principles task. Here are the details: In early January, when the two teams came together, Jeff proposed that section 20 be removed. The group agreed, and Denver explained to us all that a replacement was needed for D&C Section 20. The direction to have someone other than himself write the replacement had been given to him by the Lord. When explained, Chris Hamill immediately responded, "I think Jeff should do it. All those present agreed and Jeff then accepted the assignment.
FOLLOW THE PROPHET
Another question to be addressed is why the original Governing Principles (GP) were removed from the Preview Edition of the scriptures. Once the assignment was given to Jeff, he waited many weeks before feeling prompted to start writing. After finishing, the document was passed to the committee for review, where several edits and additions were suggested. At the end, the document was unanimously accepted by the scripture committee. That document met the requirement given by the Lord. The assignment had been fulfilled. After the announcement of the scriptures project in St. George there arose a significant number of individuals (we were told 230 people), headed by a small contingent that insisted the GP could not be in the scriptures, both because they had not been through the submission process and because Jeff Savage was not an acceptable source for any sort of revelation from the Lord - it could only come through Denver. We were told that if the GP was left in the scriptures, this group would refuse to support the scriptures project. It was determined that what had been offered had apparently not been accepted, and that the GP would be added to the submission list.
Prior to the vote on the submissions, however, alternate versions of the GP were proposed, and rather than have a vote-off, Jeff proposed that a meeting - not unlike the constitutional convention - be held with representatives from each fellowship. As with the convention, the purpose was to decide which document to use as the base text to work from so that each fellowship could come to an agreement on the final product before it was put to a vote.
Had the GP been accepted as presented in St. George, the Lord's assignment would have been satisfied; we could have also voted to accept it after the meeting: "...you could have finished this work a long time ago." For various reasons, there were issues with the result of that meeting, so another was called, eventually resulting in the ongoing struggle now at hand.
WAS IT INSPIRATION?
Everyone on the scripture committee believes that yes, the original document was inspired. Would we argue that every word was exact? No; even the Book of Mormon writers such as Nephi, Mormon and Moroni acknowledged weakness in writing. It is our understanding that, in general, revelation is given through ideas and concepts that we must wrestle through to glean meaning; the process of writing these ideas down on paper is difficult and constraining. What’s more, we learn from the “Sayings” in The Second Comforter,“Revelation from heaven is also a revelation of yourself.” This idea has many ramifications, one of which is that as we grow and develop, so does the depth and breadth of Heaven’s communications to us. "More blessed, therefore, are ... those who will break down their pride and realize they know nothing until they know God. When they meet Him, He will 'reveal all things'...All else is vanity" (see blog post: “Living and Learning”). Jeff does not “know God,” and makes no claim to have all things revealed to him (D&C 101:32). We all see through a glass darkly. As a body, the tendency is, upon receiving something from the Lord, to turn to judgment. In other words, we tend to "show off" our shiny new bauble of understanding by hanging it on our tree of knowledge, pointing the finger rather than refusing to become an accuser.
The Prayer, Answer and Covenant also revealed many truths to us that were unclear to us (as a body of believers) before, not least of which is the primacy of the Sermon on the Mount in guiding our behavior. Second, it is clear that the Lord desires that we learn to respectfully disagree and that we become of one heart even if we can't come to one mind. These two ideas suggest that our mutual agreement may be our collective decision to support the group, to be of one heart - that our faithfulness to each other may be stronger than the cords of death - despite the differences of opinion we each have. Finally, we believe “all things are done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things,” and “all these things shall give [us] experience and be for [our] good.” We believe that all that has happened has been in the Lord’s mind all along; we trust that He has many purposes for the labor we are currently undertaking, and His words will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:8-11).
91% IS NOT OK?
We have been asked how it is possible that decisions were made to include/exclude scriptures from the D&C with little more than 50% of the vote, yet a vote of 91% to adopt the version of the Guide and Standard had not resulted in that document being added to the scriptures.
When the vote was taken following the drafting of the final Guide and Standard, there was evidently a wide scale expectation that common consent would carry. It was our expectation as well. But in the Answer we were given shortly before the 91% vote took place, the Lord changed the terms of what was required of our document. Questions were then raised after the vote about specific language of the Answer, which called into question both the document and our greater collective expectation that common consent was a sound basis for adopting it.
The decision was to take a step back and consider these things before acting. We had no deadline imposed upon us for completing this assignment, and He had told us (through Denver) that the Guide and Standard was not required for the covenant to take place in Boise, so why risk bringing something to the Lord if we were not yet confident it met His requirements?
This is not to say that the language of the Answer removes the 91% approved document from the table, or shuts down common consent as the basis for adoption. It simply means that it has been put on hold while efforts are made to sort out what the Lord really requires of us. For example, what is “mutual agreement?” Or what is meant by the Lord declaring “You are not excused from writing a statement of principles”? Perhaps mutual agreement means first agreeing to be governed as a body by common consent, before implementing it as the basis for adopting a document. Perhaps it means unanimity; perhaps something else. Perhaps “writing a statement of principles” can consist of no more than copying what other inspired souls have written, as Nephi did with Isaiah…perhaps not. There is discussion everywhere, but currently no consensus. If we do not agree on what is required by the Lord, how can we be confident that we’ve met the requirements? Does the document, and a supermajority vote, fully meet the requirements as found in the Answer? We don’t have the answers, and that’s kind of the point. We can wait to take this particular action until we properly understand what we are doing.
When the body, or perhaps a body, can come to agree on the terms the Lord has set, and then fulfills those terms in adopting a statement of principles, we can gladly present the chosen Statement to the Lord for approval, and publish it in the scriptures if approval is received. We fully expect Him to answer.