Sisters and Brothers,
This is going to be a long explanation. Whenever we try to be brief, we wind up regretting it due to the complaints about lack of details.
We are grateful for all of the work, prayer, and thought that has gone into developing a statement of principles that can be accepted by the people (The Lord hasn’t required His stamp of approval on it, simply our own mutual agreement). Because the committee has been learning as we go, we have done the best we know how, but we’ve come to realize that the task isn’t finished yet. As the title of this post implies, there is a choice to make.
The most recent challenge that we are faced with is what to do with the acceptance votes for the August 5th version of the Governing Principles. That document was put on hold and wasn’t published into the scriptures because of the mutual agreement issue. The helpful understanding recently received from the Lord has released that hold. The August 5th document received as strong an approval as the recent Lots document and therefore is just as deserving of consideration. So now what? And what about any other documents that meet the criteria set by the Lord?
Discussion within the committee and with others makes it clear that the scripture committee is not the body to decide which version finally goes into the scriptures. That is up to all of us. We recognize that many are tired of votes that are not final. A formal request has been made to the committee to vote on all versions that have been put forth. In turn, we have a responsibility as the scripture committee to ensure that whatever is adopted into the scriptures meets the criteria established by the Lord, and then to actually publish them. As this call for a vote on all documents helps us fulfill our responsibility in preparing and publishing the scriptures, by bringing the people to make a decision on which G&S to adopt and publish, we agree with and support it. Because some of the submitted documents cannot be considered for adoption, we propose that it be a final vote on all qualified versions of the Guide and Standard / Governing Principles. This is the only fair means of resolution we are aware of. The top ranked version will be the accepted Guide and Standard included in our scriptures.
In the Answer to Prayer for Covenant the Lord has given us the criteria that a G&S document must meet to be included in the vote:
1. You are not excused from writing – "I, the Lord, say to you: You have asked of me concerning the scriptures prepared on behalf of all those who seek to become my covenant people, and therefore I answer you on behalf of all the people, and not as to any individual...I answer you as one." This means that "You" at the beginning of this criteria point is inclusive - the writing of the statement must have been open in some way to participation by anyone and everyone.
2. a statement of principles... – "a" indicates that we must produce one statement, not a collection; "statement" indicates that it will include views and explanations, not simply a list; and "principles" indicates that it can't be a set of rules, but rather must provide underlying understanding of why something is said or done.
3. to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people... – "Adopted" indicates a voluntary willingness to abide by what is stated. Because the statement is to be adopted by "my people", it is covenant holders who vote to adopt it. Those who eventually receive the covenant will likewise be adopting the same statement of principles.
4. Remember there are others who know nothing, as yet, of my work now underway, and therefore the guide and standard is to bless, benefit and inform them – The intended audience is "them," not the current covenant holders. It is a blessing to have help from others who are on the same path and who have already struggled with how to begin living what the Lord has given. The benefit is the basic framework and understanding shared that allows newcomers to hopefully start off on the right foot. The Guide and Standard gives them the fundamental information on practices that anyone would ask about. As steps are taken to become one with the covenant people, they have the Holy Ghost to "show unto [them] all things what [they] should do." Additionally, the question used to title this post is the crux of the entire project: Which one would serve a stranger the best? The question turns the focus from inward – our preferences and biases – to the outward perspective that requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and calls on us to serve, like our Savior.
5. — so I command you to be wise in word and kind in deed as you write... – What we are proposing involves the most wisdom and kindness we can muster. We acknowledge that there has been unkindness and foolishness throughout the process and ask the Lord to forgive such as we come together to complete His commanded task.The following versions meet these criteria and will be included in the voting:
● August 5th Governing Principles
● Guide and Standard Chosen by Lots
● A version of the original Governing Principles that was open to public participation.
● If there are others, we are not aware of them and invite correction.FAILED VERSIONS:
● The original Governing Principles – though this was originally acceptable to the Lord, it was rejected by many people, and then once the new criteria were introduced in the Answer, this document failed because it was not open to being written by everyone - it was written by Jeff Savage and edited by the scripture committee.
● All other documents proposed as a Guide and Standard were written by only one or only a few people and were not open to all to develop, including: The Rock of Jesus Christ, Nonmancaaf Swhafugs Guide and Standard, A Different Idea From One of the Lots Group, A Proposal to Bridge the Gap, Amalgamation of G&S Versions, Adolpho Guide and Standard, Chandler Guide and Standard, Statement of Principles, Anonymous1, and Simple Guide and Standard. Regardless of any other reasons, this alone disqualifies them.We likewise propose that there be a time of preparation – this month of December – so that everyone has the opportunity to read and study the various versions, and to discuss with and persuade others. All qualified documents will be posted with no names or dates, in order to reduce authorship bias. The vote will then be taken over 3 days. The manner of voting will be a ranking of the versions in order of preference, just like we did once before. The version that has the highest ranking will be the one that will be included as our Guide and Standard in the scriptures: "When you have an agreed statement of principles, I require it to also be added as a guide and standard for my people to follow." There is no suggestion or requirement that the Lord approve the document.
The argument that mutual agreement requires unanimity is a flawed perspective. Because the Lord's explanation of mutual agreement points to dispute and not disagreement, it is clear that people who disagree can still be in mutual agreement. So any regular vote that we have experienced, even presidential elections, conform to this perspective. We vote, and if our choice isn't the winner, we acknowledge that and move on. Mutual agreement acknowledges the voice of the people and majority rule (see Helaman 1:1-2). Those who choose to dispute such a result, though they may be part of the community, choose to deny the choice each of the others has made. We have a responsibility to hear what they have to say and to endeavor to persuade them. We are to love them and treat them kindly, but they do not have a right to prevent the outcome of the vote to be adopted. In our case, if they refuse to accept the version of the G&S selected, they are free to go print their own version and to continue worshiping with the rest of us, but they do not control the choice. We must likewise remain open to respectful disagreement. Also, to claim that continued disputes means we do not have mutual agreement likewise shows a misunderstanding. Human nature is such that there will always be a few who choose to dispute. The choice to dispute self-selects a distancing away from the body of believers who choose to not dispute; it does not hold the main body hostage until the disputes are all resolved. The Lord requires mutual agreement, therefore He requires that we choose to not dispute. Disputes and efforts to control the decision-making process can't exist in Zion.
Just as important, we need to see the G&S for what it really is – a Quick Start guide to be found in the appendix. It isn't canonized scripture, it isn't a revelation, it is simply an effort to help investigators and newcomers get their feet under them. We need to complete this task so that we can move forward and hopefully receive further light and knowledge as promised.
The scripture committee