A Proposal to Build on the Progress Thus Far
It appears we are very close to mutual agreement on the Lots document. Very few still choose to dispute it. Addressing those disputes seems the best way to come to mutual agreement, rather than opening up a new round of voting with more documents and further division. It seems counterproductive at this point to abandon the progress that has been made and start the process over with more documents. I would even go so far as to suggest the people have not been asked if this is their desire and if such an approach is authorized by the covenant body.
The people were, however, consulted about the Lots document, and its process was authorized by the voice of the people, clear through to adoption. Therefore, I suggest the best approach is that we build upon, and bring to completion, the approach already ratified by the voice of the people, rather than starting a new process by committee fiat.
I propose an announcement be made at the first session of the March conference somewhat along these lines:
“Fellow covenant holders, it appears we, as a general body, have reached mutual agreement on the Lots document and we are prepared to publish it in the scriptures as the Lord has required, if this is indeed the case. Because the Lord has defined mutual agreement “as between yourselves, you choose not to dispute” we now desire to know, before we proceed, if there are any who dispute the adoption of this document. If you choose to dispute it, will you please raise your hand?”
Any raised hands will then be noted and addressed personally in a private meeting after the conference session. I would suggest that in each case (meaning each person who raises a dispute) a member of the Lots committee and a member of the scripture committee, randomly drawn, meet together with that person to listen to, understand and document their dispute, and ascertain whether the dispute is over the document itself, or some other issue.
(Examples of other issues include their preference for another document, their dispute over who wrote it, their issues with process, or people, or another factor outside the document itself.)
If they do not dispute the document itself, adoption can continue.
If they dispute the words as written, the dispute must be carefully considered against the standard of truth as contained in scripture, by the two who meet with the person. If either the Lots committee member or the scripture committee member is persuaded the dispute has scriptural merit and must be addressed, the lots committee will be invited to revise the document to eliminate the dispute so adoption can proceed.
If it can be revised before the second conference session, the revision(s) will be announced in the second session, together with the agreed end of the dispute(s) that brought about the revision(s). At that point it will be asked again if there are any disputes that have not yet been raised. If not, it goes in. If there are yet disputes to the document itself, it is tabled until next conference.
Strengths of this proposal:
1. It builds on the unity we’ve already achieved, rather than fracturing it.
2. All are free to make their voice heard, if they so desire, knowing their dispute will be heard and carefully considered.
3. It allows for flexibility and a mechanism to resolve disputes, if at all possible.
4. It enthrones the scriptures as the arbiter of truth.
5. It exactly follows the Lord’s word and definition of mutual agreement, rather than merely proposing a majority vote wins.
6. It is achievable, and may result in completion of this assignment.
I recognize this proposal also has weaknesses. I further recognize this approach may not be the best one, or the right way to proceed. It is merely my suggestion as a way to move forward in keeping with the established will of the body. I offer it because the Scripture Committee asked for recommendations, and I want to support the body in bringing this assignment to completion.
Having proposed this, I will refrain from commenting on it, defending it, or arguing about it, and leave it for others to discuss the relative merits or problems with it. I do not wish to dispute, and if I’ve gotten it wrong, please offer corrections or improvements.