Neal Rappleye volunteers with FairMormon, The Interpreter Foundation, and writes on his own blog called Studio et Quoque Fide. He is currently attending Utah Valley University and working towards a degree in History, with a minor in Political Science. He served a mission for the LDS Church in the Virginia Richmond Mission from August 2006 to August 2008. He joins us today to talk about an article that he wrote on his blog, the entry is entitled, Making God in Our Own Image to Cast Aside His Prophets.
Questions addressed in this episode:
While a more direct rebuttal to an article featured on the Rational Faith’s blog by Lori Burkman, entitled Disgracing God to Save a Prophet. The themes in the article and the general principles are the points I wish to focus.
In that article on Rational Faiths, there is an assumption that the author makes, and frankly, others have made as well. That is that God would not have commanded polygamy. That conclusion is compounded by the idea that, consequently, Joseph Smith must have been a mistake of Joseph’s own making. How do you answer that concern?
Part of the arguments that are presented by both articles are a perceived allegiance to God or Prophet’s almost to the point that they are mutually exclusive choices, it is one or the other. In Lori’s article her assertion is in her title, defending Joseph is seen as disparaging God. Your counter argument seems to be that Lori, and perhaps others that share her conclusions, are creating a god that fits what they feel comfortable worshiping, they create a god they can agree with, rather than seeking to find a way to agree with God as he is, regardless of the comforts that are in jeopardy with such an assumption. In some ways it sounds like you are both making the same argument but in different directions. So what makes your way, more agreeable in your sight?
For those that engage in reading blogs and various material found online, even from those professing to be members of the church, is a troubling undercurrent, and this is brought up in your article that is, “that people seem know better what God’s will is than do his chosen prophets, past and present.” Perhaps you could elaborate on that point.
There is a point that I think is interesting to consider when looking at any critique of either the church or its teachings. In your article you project or even take the path of Lori’s rationale to its next logical step. You say, “She would replace a God who commands polygamy under some circumstances with one that is inept in actually guiding his Church, or alternatively chooses (for some reason) entirely inept leaders.” Is this the conundrum so to speak, when people open the door to eroding prophetic authority with church practices? Is this the conclusion that they must then face? Is this the kind of God I believe in?
I would love it if you could read your own words, the concluding paragraph of the article as I believe it puts a nice conclusion on both this interview and the article:
I don’t like polygamy any more than you do. Personal experience of my own makes it very hard for me to cope with the idea that God would command his prophet to do something that could so deeply hurt and seemingly betray his wife Emma. I very much feel for Emma and admire the courage she showed during such a trying part of her life. I am not saying God is to blame for every action (related to polygamy) of Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young or anyone else trying to live this difficult command from God. But faith requires that we come to terms with the things God does that we don’t really like—not pawn all the blame onto his prophets who are imperfectly but sincerely trying to follow his will.