Radio Free Mormon: 241: Mormonism’s Orthodox Religion

RFM gives a live presentation in American Fork, Utah. The subject is how Mormonism went from being a highly unorthodox religious sect to a worldwide religion with its own established orthodoxy. Through this understanding we can gain insight on how this affects our personal relationship with Mormonism, whether past, present or future.

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3 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 241: Mormonism’s Orthodox Religion”

  1. So insightful, both RFM and William James.

    “A survey of history shows us that, as a rule, religious geniuses attract disciples, and produce groups of sympathizers. When these groups get strong enough to “organize” themselves, they become ecclesiastical institutions with corporate ambitions of their own. The Spirit of politics and the lust of dogmatic rule are then apt to enter and to contaminate the originally innocent thing;”

    “A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be a heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman. If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over: the spring is dry; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn. The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration.”

    “The basenesses so commonly charged to religion’s account are thus, almost all of them, not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion’s wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate dominion. And the bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion’s wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in theoretic system.”
    William James, THE VALUE OF SAINTLINESS

  2. The thesis given by William James is poignant. Like RFM, I independently reached the understanding he presents. There is a corporate church and a church of lay members and the corporate church exploits the trust of the members for its profit and power. One clear example. Mission presidents are compensated, and quite well, for their service. Senior missionaries pay to serve.

    Church leaders flounder trying to explain this divide. They will rationalize mission presidents are often leaving high paying corporate jobs and so they need compensation. So apparently, if you are a corporate executive, the church leadership “feels” your financial pain. But if you are retired or a cubicle desk jockey the church leadership believes you ought to give your meager income and little spare time to them, and feel grateful you are able to sacrifice.

    I also love the message of the restored gospel. I greatly enjoy my association with fellow Christians who believe in a God of wonder who wants men & women to do many great things of their free will and choice.

    A church run with the intention of stifling thought and controlling its membership is foreign to me, and very distasteful. I feel like I am watching a legacy enterprise – Sears or KMart – as the financiers work to extract every last penny from the asset before it crumbles away.

    Day by day, John chapter 10 has greater meaning to me:

    “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

    I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

    But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

    The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”

  3. I was lucky enough to attend this live presentation and enjoyed it. RFM, inspired by your discussion here about Elder Renlund’s talk, I’ve composed new words for a primary song entitled A Child’s Prayer In Response To Elder Renlund’s April 2022 General Conference Talk:

    Mother in heaven, are you really there?
    And do you really think the way we treat you’s fair?
    Some say it’s wrong to you to pray,
    And that it’s arrogance to ask our way.
    Mother in heaven, I remember now
    Something that Joseph taught us long ago –
    If ye lack wisdom, just ask of God!
    Is revelation real or just a fraud?

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