Today’s blog post is an excerpt from the churchistrue Faith Crisis and Reconstruction podcast episode 10 on the subject of “Trickle Up Revelation”.
Next topic: trickle up revelation. One of my favorite topics. I learned this from Greg Prince. He talked about how sometimes policies are enacted in the church and prophet receives revelation on something where it’s prompted by just regular members doing something. And then it trickles up to the prophet who gets visibility on the issue and seeks revelation from the Lord. And then a revelation is made.
He gives an example of single adult wards, where someone, I think in California just said, we have a need for a single adult wards. Let’s do it. And then they did it. And then the church saw how that worked and then received a revelation to implement that policy church wide. And now we have young adult words.
As part of the law of Moses, Israel was told not to have a king and that God would always be their king. Fast forward a few hundred years and the time just before Saul, and they were getting beat down by neighboring enemies. They had just lost a battle and their enemies came in and stole the ark of the covenant.
And they’re deciding that they need a better organizational structure. And they said they wanted a king. Samuel is the prophet, and he advises them not to do this, but they say it’s important. They asked Samuel to receive a revelation about this. And they asked Samuel to go to God, to ask if it’s OK. Samuel is reluctant, but he goes to God and says to God, the people want a king, what should we do?
1 Samuel 8:22 “And the Lord said to Samuel, hearken unto their voice and make them a king.”
And you might think this is like a passive aggressive thing where God is saying, okay, they want a king, they’re going to disobey me. I said that I’d be their King, but if they really want a king, okay, I’ll give them a king, but it’s going to backfire. It’s going to be bad news for Israel. But no, it was the right thing.
Saul wasn’t a great king, but then came David and then came Solomon. And this is Israel’s glory years. They unite Israel and they had power and this was great for them. They built the temple. This was the peak of the Israelite nation. This was their glory years. So, the people were right. I believe this is a true concept that the Body of Christ and that’s anachronistic to think of the Israelites as the Body of Christ.
But let’s say the LDS Body of Christ. What we collectively wish for. I think God will honor. I think the prophet will honor the Body of Christ. And that is a different way of thinking about things. And I’m not saying that the people dominate the prophet and override the prophet. I think the prophet and God honor the voice of the people and that puts a large responsibility on us as the Body of Christ to be informed about issues and to be seeking the Holy Ghost on what’s right. And to have opinions on doctrines and teachings and ideas that are formed by following the the Spirit and the will of the Lord.
And then I think if I disagree with a policy or if I have a disagreement on something, I actually feel like I’m more empowered. I don’t feel powerless in that there’s this prophet, that’s like a dictator and I have no contribution into the process.
We used to have common consent in Joseph Smith’s day. In the early days, they voted on things like they would vote on whether or not a revelation should go into scripture into the Doctrine and Covenants.
They voted on it. And it’s called the doctrine of common consent. There was even one anecdote where Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon disagreed on something and kind of got in an argument. And Sidney Rigdon was in the first presidency at the time. And Joseph Smith wanted to get rid of him and remove him from his office in the first presidency.
And they had a little debate and Joseph Smith spoke to the people and Sidney Rigdon spoke and defended himself, and then others came up and spoke and testified on, on their view of the issue. And then the people voted, and guess how they voted. They voted to keep Sidney Rigdon in his office. And Joseph Smith went along with it as the prophet.
He didn’t say no, I’m the prophet, I’m the boss. I get my way. He honored that as the doctrine of common consent. I’m not making too strong of a point here. I’m not saying that we’re wrong in that we don’t do that anymore. I think that logistically it would be impossible for us as a 15 million member church to still do the common consent.
And we have an organizational structure that’s a little bit different, but I think the prophet does honor that voice of the people and the LDS Body of Christ. And so we’re empowered. If we disagree with something we don’t need to campaign against the prophet, we need to discuss amongst our family and amongst our friends and amongst our sphere of influence and good ideas will win the day, I believe.
And if there are ideas that need to change, the Holy Ghost will work on the Body of Christ and those ideas will come forward and then they will become visible by the prophet and our church leaders. And the prophet will seek revelation on that. And I think that’s a reasonable view of how change is made in our church.
So, my contribution in this effort is to have an informed opinion, following the Holy Ghost and respectfully state my opinion. And then it stops there. If that opinion is something that is shared by a large portion of the Body of Christ, then there’s a good chance that the prophet will then take it upon himself.
And then that becomes his responsibility. Not mine. It becomes the prophet’s responsibility to seek revelation and to decide for the church, which is his steward to receive revelation from God, what direction to go.
That’s not always how revelation is received by the prophet. But I think that is a process that occurs in our church sometimes.