A Different Take on a Proposal
We have a different take on a proposal to complete the work of getting a “Guide and Standard” printed in the appendix of the scriptures.
We do not believe there is an impasse created by people holding differing opinions or because of folks having different understandings and points of view.
We do not view (us, and at least all the folks we visited with) that we should have a majority vs. minority situation with the Guide and Standard. We do not view that there is a wicked majority or a wicked minority.
We, all who have accepted the covenant, have labored together to produce a Guide and Standard for publishing. We are all one group.
Our ideas or points of view may differ and be unique and that is what the Lord intended, in our opinion. That is not a problem. We all can hold differing ideas or points of view with respect to the manner in which to accomplish an assignment. Our ideas and points of view come according to our many unique life experiences and understandings and that is great. God purposely made sure that every single one of the billions of snowflakes is different but each of these billions of unique snowflakes combines with all of the others to create a beautiful landscape and bring life giving water.
Understanding now that mutual agreement, according to the Lord, simply means choosing not to dispute with each other means that there can very easily exist, without any problem, differing points of view, different understandings and different ideas according to each person’s experiences and time and we can still possess mutual agreement as a group.
As we understand it, there does not have to be unanimity of ideas or points of view, according to the Lord, for mutual agreement to exist. We do not have to have unanimous agreement. We can retain our own opinions and feelings and be just fine. The only thing that will disqualify us from being in mutual agreement with anyone of any point of view or understanding is if we choose to dispute.
We see something very instructive in the account in RE 3 Nephi 12 paragraph 4.
“…it came to pass that the disciples were gathered together and were united in mighty prayer and fasting. And Jesus shewed himself unto them for they were praying unto the Father in his name, and Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and said unto them, What will ye that I shall give unto you? And they said unto him, Lord, we will that thou wouldst tell us the name whereby we shall call this church, for there are disputations among the people concerning this matter.”
If we understand it right, there were differing opinions, ideas, and points of view concerning even the name of the church among a people who had been with the Lord in person, felt the signs in His hands and feet, had the Lord administer ordinances for them (the sacrament and others that are alluded to but are not and cannot be written in the scriptures), had the Lord prophesy all things to them, had their sick and afflicted healed by the Lord, had angels minister to their children and had their children open their mouths and speak even greater things than the Lord had spoken.
If it is possible for folks who have had those experiences to still have unique and differing ideas, points of view and understandings then how much more likely is that among us?
Further on in 4th Nephi the description of this happy people states that there were no contentions among them. The Book of Mormon never talks about them being unanimous in all their decisions, ideas, points of view or understanding. It states they did not contend.
If we actually happened to complete this first assignment and the Lord in His mercy were to give us another one we should expect that with any subsequent assignments there would always exist unique ideas, opinions, points of view and understandings. Just like snowflakes.
With this explanation of what we believe, here is how we propose that the assignment may be completed.
There are three things, at least, that we do believe we all as one group together can unanimously agree on that provide the key to finishing the assignment. These bring the mutual agreement even with differences of opinion and different understandings.
1) The Lord will do His own work. “…I, the Lord will bring again Zion,…” (Answer and Covenant, Page 9, par.5) In the end it is only the Lord who will get any credit for bringing forth Zion.
2) We must each be filled with the love of God for each other. “You pray each time you partake of the sacrament to always have my Spirit to be with you. And what is my Spirit? It is to love one another as I have loved you.” (Answer and Covenant, page 7, par. 4)
3) We are, everyone of us, awfully blind. “I answer you on behalf of all the people, and not as to any individual.” (Answer and Covenant, page 1, par. 1) and then He said, “I desire to heal you from an awful state of blindness so that you may see clearly my will, to do it.” (Answer and Covenant, page 2, par.6)
If we each truly acknowledge our current state of awful blindness, as a little child so readily would, then we come to see that we know pretty much nothing about the work the Lord is undertaking. If we couple that true understanding with a realization that He can and will do His own work and we are only invited, for our benefit and blessing, to participate if we will and then we add to those two truths a true love of one another as He loves us all then our differences of opinion do not mean anything as far as getting in the way of doing whatever the Lord requests of us as a group.
We, all of us together, are going to make mistakes. Hopefully, they will be new mistakes and not the catastrophic mistakes of the past; disputations, envying, strifes, jarrings and contentions, lustful and covetous desires.
If at least those three truths are really active in us, written on the fleshy tables of our hearts, we are harmless to each other. Even if most in the group do not share our same opinion concerning an assignment we are able to mutually agree with them because we have no fear of each other.
We will not see ourselves as either a majority or a minority. Those terms come from fear and suspicion. They are terms that pit us against each other because there must be a winner and a loser in those terms and that means someone’s ideas or point of view must be wrong and unwelcome for the other to be right. Those are institutional terms, in our opinion.
The Lord, speaking to all of us, said, “Your visages have been so marred that your hardness, mistrust, suspicions, resentments, fear, jealousies, and anger toward your fellow man bear outward witness of your inner self; you cannot hide it.” (Answer and Covenant, page 7, par. 2) This is where we find ourselves. Because of this condition we find ourselves as the Lord says, “When I appear to you, instead of confidence you feel shame. You fear and withdraw from me because you bear the blood and sins of your treatment of brothers and sisters.” (Answer and Covenant, page 7, par. 2)
Our anger against, resentments for, suspicions of, fears of, jealousies of, hardness towards and mistrust of each other are what is keeping us from moving forward. These are our sins and they cause us to shrink before Him. We fear to present anything to Him as a result of our effort, because these things exist in us, as a group.
If repentance means to simply turn and face Him then let’s turn and rid ourselves of our resentments for each other’s ideas and points of view. Let’s do away with our suspicions that others are trying to undermine us or usurp power over us. Let’s banish our fears that if we trust what others in this group understand it will all fail. Let’s stop being angry when someone expresses themself or when we do not have the same opinions. Let’s not be jealous thinking someone else will get credit for something or be a part of something “special” that we are not a part of. The only one who will get credit is the Lord and every single person in the group is special to Him. Indeed every soul is. Let’s not mistrust each other’s motives. Let’s be soft and kind one to another.
The Lord promises if we will do this, “Come to me and I will make sins of scarlet become white as snow, and I will make you stand boldly before me, confident of my love.” (Answer and Covenant, page 7, par. 2)
A few of the characteristics of God are that He is slow to anger and He is longsuffering and He is quick to forgive.
We believe what God has said, that He does not expect perfection in one step but He expects us to learn. He perfectly understands all of our lack of understanding.
We believe that if we as a covenant group are filled with love for each other, if a Guide and Standard is published but it is not sufficient for His purposes, after all our laboring together in faith, He will mercifully make it known and correct us. Let’s approach Him in humility, filled with love for one another, since we have all toiled together to complete the task.
If we truly posses love for each other we may bring our results before Him boldly; confident of His love for us, trusting that He, doing His own work, will lovingly correct our failures because he invited us to be servants and work alongside Him in His vineyard.
In such a scenario there is no feeling in the heart of anyone in the covenant group of being divided into a majority, or a minority, or winners, or losers because each person has banished such feelings from their heart. There is only a complete group of unique individuals who love God to the point that they love each other and trust each other to the point that they are harmless to one another.
We believe it is possible for us as a covenant group to complete this assignment now by being harmless to each other.
Regardless of which Guide and Standard is published no one would or could be left behind. Those who truly are filled with love for each other would never stop fellowshipping with each other because they hold differing opinions.
Our understanding is that we ourselves are the only ones who would or could leave ourselves behind; by our own choices and actions.
Our own choices will determine our status. If we choose to dispute or if we choose to stay behind that is up to us. It is a self selection thing. We will self select by our own actions to stay behind. It is between us and God. If we choose to dispute or we choose to stop fellowshipping or assisting those in need we will be unable to assimilate what He, God, is going to teach to some group of people in order for them to inhabit Zion. No one else is stopping our progression or saying "you can't come here" because we happen to see things differently than they individually or they as a group see things. If this assignment is completed everyone moves forward who wants to regardless of their agreement or disagreement with the published statement.
We as a couple believe that He is looking to see who really does desire peace. If we as a couple personally insist that we are right, especially with our awful blindness, then we do not desire peace.
We as a couple hope that in our hearts we will be found to truly desire peace; His peace, that comes from a true love of God, a love of all men and a love of truth.
The Lord stated, “…I require a statement of principles to be adopted by the mutual agreement of my people, for if you cannot do so you will be unable to accomplish other works that I will require at your hands.” (Answer and Covenant, page 8, par. 3) Who knows, but what He may be telling us that He knows that we will always have differing opinions, ideas, understandings and points of view but it is our anger, suspicion, hardness, jealousy, etc. that would stop us from being able to do other works if it stops us from doing this work.
We as a couple are not concerned by what will be put in the appendix of the scriptures. Using the three above mentioned truths as our lenses with which to view this assignment we have no problem upholding what most in the group have been persuaded most recently to accept as a finished Guide and Standard. We feel that if it is inadequate the Lord, in His mercy, will direct that it be corrected if we truly are filled with love towards each other and if we truly trust Him to do His work.
We invite all to view this assignment in the same way.
We, like one of the groups who proposed a Guide and Standard, pray that God will bless each and every one of you, our fellow covenant holders, with joy and peace. We pray that He will bless you in your homes and wherever you find yourselves. We hope one day to become the type of people who will be filled with that perfect love for all of you.
Jon and Tina Saunders