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In Response to Kenneth L. McLaughlin

Here are some excerpts from an article which Kenneth L. McLaughlin wrote for the Herald. I have then included my own comments concerning these passages. Excerpts of his article are in black.
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Everyday Issues of Integrity, by Kenneth A. McLaughlin, Council of Twelve Apostles
from Herald Vol. 149 No. 2 pp.9-10

But until recent years, our history has not been looked at with the kind of honesty and forthrightness that has permitted integrity in historical understanding and assessment.

Let me make clear that I do not wish to unduly judge those who have been traditionally looked to as sources of historical understanding. Those authors were likely doing their best given the context in which they worked. I simply wish to say that historical research and analysis in the past several decades give us a far more accurate view of our movement.

The folk histories studied for years in our Sunday school classes (and regretfully still studied by some) are no longer sufficient. Scholars both within and outside the denomination have brought new light to bear on our past, and we are the richer for it.

I am grateful to live in a time when we can truly honor our heritage through new insights and understandings into the past. Issues such as Joseph Smith Jr.'s participation in polygamy or early church rituals for the deceased no longer threaten our well-being. We no longer feel the need to hide behind revisionist history, but rather can speak with integrity about who we have been these past 175 years.
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Kenneth L. McLaughlin clearly does not regard the early history of our church as accurate. He chides those who adhere to "folk histories" of our church. What are his beliefs about the Book of Mormon? Did an angel by the name of Moroni come to a young man and reveal deep spiritual things, or is this just "folk history"? We have all witnessed the churches' efforts in the recent past to tear down the testimony of Joseph Smith, Jr. and to destroy the testimony of those who cherish that history.
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At the heart of Christian discipleship, therefore, is living with each other in authentic community. Living in such authenticity includes learning ways to graciously articulate our viewpoints, learning to speak with candor and without rancor, and resolving conflicts for the good of all.
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In the last twenty years how has the church leadership resolved conflicts? They silenced the legitimate priesthood. They kicked whole congregations out of the buildings that they had built with their own hands. They controlled the agenda of the church to their own selfish desires, ignoring scripture and church law.

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Discipleship in the twenty-first century requires us to fully and warmly embrace this world of diversity in which we live. It calls us to find ways to communicate clearly with one another, to express thought and feeling without damaging one another, and to create safe environments where all feel able to express their unique selfhood.

I dream of a time in the church when each of us can passionately live out and share our views without fear of criticism or recourse. I dream of a time when peace is not lived out as if walking on eggshells. I hope for a day when disruptive people in congregations and families are no longer-for the sake of kindness-permitted to do damage or dishonor to others. I envision a time when every one of us understands the reality of conflict and has the commitment-and the skill-to manage it.
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Kenneth L. McLaughlin makes himself very clear with this phrase, "I hope for a day when disruptive people in congregations and families are no longer-for the sake of kindness-permitted to do damage or dishonor to others." I hope and pray for that day also. Mr. McLaughlin, I assume, speaks of the many voices which have been raised in opposition to all the things that they, the leaders have done to lead a people into iniquity. Those of us who hold to the gospel know that the church leaders have been disruptive to the people of the Restoration movement. God has warned us about becoming "ripe in iniquity". The Community of Christ is ripening to the point where God will act as He has always promised in the scriptures.
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But even as these larger societal issues press upon us, there are also internal denominational matters to address with integrity, including church governance and leadership, the question of rebaptism, the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church, and interfaith involvement.

It is no secret that some of the matters the church will deal with at the 2002 World Conference are controversial. That is true each time we gather. And it is no surprise that some of these issues are emotionally volatile, where people can, in good faith, hold radically different views.

It is no easy task trying to give leadership on these important issues, and in guiding the church through adaptive changes. Yet there is little integrity in leadership at all levels trying to act neutral or trying to placate disparate views for the sake of keeping everyone as happy as possible. Candidly, a movement that seeks to be a prophetic people cannot, with integrity, always take the middle ground for the sake of keeping things calm.
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Kenneth L. McLaughlin is the apostle in charge of the west coast of North America. The legislation he speaks of, rebaptism, interfaith involvement (World and National Council of Churches) and the acceptance of homosexuality in the life of the church, is being sponsored by stakes and districts in his territory. I do not believe that this is coincidental. Mr. McLaughlin has used his leadership role to place these things before the 2002 World Conference. No, "It is no easy task trying to give leadership on these important issues, and in guiding the church through adaptive changes." But the church leaders have been determined, and it is taking them time and much groundwork. It is a shame that the church leaders have not chosen to use their leadership roles for righteousness. They cannot, in my humble opinion, in any sense of the word be called servants of Jesus Christ and have no right to pretend to represent the will of Jesus Christ. I say this calmly and with conviction, "with candor and without rancor".
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Missional congregations take seriously the need for scriptural literacy, peace advocacy, family strengthening, and theological study.
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What is the point of scriptural literacy if it is to disregard the scriptures? How do we strengthen our families if we do not teach them a moral code which rejects, adultery, fornication, and homosexuality? I fail to see how promoting homosexuality strengthens our church families. Theological studies do not benefit us if it is to promote sin and the promotion of sin does not foster peace.

Respectfully submitted by
Lois


Copyright 2001 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: March 03, 2002

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