February 22, 2010

Not true thing of the day #4 – redux

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:54 am

@Jason – Art made a variety of interesting points regarding the inspiration behind callings in the Mormon church.  I would encourage those of you who might be interested to review his description of parts of the process.  To clarify, the point in the original post, the dispute at hand is whether or not the person issuing the calling is always aware of an active, affirmative inspiration before issuing every call.  I assert that Mormon doctrine allows (even predicts) that there may be cases when the person issuing the calling does not perceive an active, affirmative nudge of inspiration.  Reasons for this may include:  You were going to do the right thing anyway, God wants you to exercise your own judgment , etc. etc.

I have heard other Mormon theologians refer to this as the principle of least interference, meaning God will do just that which is necessary to direct the petitioner.  Further, as people become more mature in the gospel the level of perceived inspiration intensity may appear to go down, as the petitioner becomes wiser, needs less inspiration and becomes better at detecting and acting up inspiration, and making the best decision on their own.  This speaks to the issue of a church leader issuing a calling without an affirmative nudge of inspiration, because that action is already in accordance with the will of God and needs no correction or affirmation.  In essence, you don’t need to have affirmative inspiration to do the right thing.

In the words of Morpheus,  ‘Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path


He would make a great Bishop!

As I understand Jason’s dispute, this was the material difference between the perspectives.  Jason wasn’t advocating that the issuing of the calling in the absence of affirmative inspiration was necessarily wrong, or that the person giving the calling was wrong to do so.  I understand him to be saying that the calling can be issued, and that be the right thing, in the absences of affirmative inspiration.

@Art – I believe Art has been seeking to address those who would look at the events *after* the calling is issued, and try to reverse engineer whether or not it was the will of God that it be issued in the first place.  As I read his scenarios, we see a list of areas where the issuing of the calling doesn’t necessarily result in what people would think of as ‘success’ and therefore seek to claim issuing the calling was the wrong decision.  I believe Art has well captured the complexity of trying to reverse engineer those case studies.  In the future, when I address the prayer concept, this will be big – so stay tuned =)

@Paul – Well, of course, that never happens =)  Speaking hypothetically, I think it likely a TBM Mormon would say that the individual exercised their free agency to mess things up after a valid call had been issued by the chosen mouthpiece of God.  A liberal Mormon would be more likely to accept the idea that the calling was a mistake.

In a slightly different case (which of course never happens) I have heard tell of times where pedophiles were called as scoutmasters because the local leaders didn’t notice the annotation on their church records.  In my judgment, it seems likely the local leaders made a mistake, particularly when the person goes on to offend again.  I think it is likely that the more conservative a Mormon is, the more likely they are to try and make the argument that God really did want that calling given, and the pedo just used their free agency, and God/Church leaders are off the hook for issuing a call to a known pedo to work with kids (and then reoffend).  Of course, as I said, this never happens.


  1. In my opinion and experience I have always found that most church members will pray and ask for “inspiration” without ever considering the situation or what they should do for themselves. They just except God to give them the answers. In all the talks on the subject that I can remember church leaders tell people to “study the issue out in their minds, and consider every possibility. Then after you have done that make a decision, and take that decision to God and ask if your decision is right” I imagine God gets very tired of people bringing EVERY problem to him. Im sure he thinks to himself “I gave you all the ability to choose and think for yourself why are you not using it and looking to me to direct and lead you through every aspect of your life?”

    I dont believe that every calling is inspired and I dont think thats a bad thing. All I ask is that the callings given out be thought through and the best person is selected for the job not just who is free at the time.

    Comment by Jason Heilpern — February 23, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  2. Inspiration can be very subtle. In my experience there have been various intensities depending on the nature of the call to be made. For example, having the right Relief Society President is something a bishopric might consider for a number of weeks before taking the decision to the Lord for confirmation. If there is only one active boy in the Deacon’s Quorum, then who to call as President may be a little easier. However, Article of Faith #5 states very clearly that even so, the person “… must be called of God, by prophecy, …”. This is a high standard that church leaders should try and uphold, even if the call is obvious or easy. If I was the boy being called as Deacon’s President, I might take the responsibility more seriously if the bishop told me that he had confirmation from the Lord rather than it being by default. I can’t speak for other leaders, but I always tried to take this process very seriously no matter what the call or it’s perceived importance.

    On the issue at hand, I don’t believe God micro-manages us. We are agents on his errand and we can fail, so some calls may be uninspired. I don’t think it’s all that frequent, but it certainly can’t be excluded.

    Comment by Grandpa Art — February 24, 2010 @ 3:28 am

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