If "time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thought can only find out [the things of God]", is there any justification for giving strict time limits to someone who seeks to defend himself before a Church disciplinary council? If the results of a disciplinary council really do have eternal consequences, shouldn't we take the time to make sure the decision is made correctly? Why don't we?
"When you follow false prophets, when you start toward apostasy, you are on the wrong side," said Elder Oaks in his now famous "Boise Rescue" talk. What he apparently forgot was that when you follow any prophet, you're on the wrong side. We're to receive prophets and their messages, but follow only Christ.
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
My wife just said something I found profound: Christ can work with people who are willing to make mistakes.
If we spend our lives sitting comfortably in Church, following repeated instructions to go home teaching, pray as families, and crack open the scriptures every couple days, are we cold? Hot? Lukewarm? What if we're willing to say, "I think the Lord asked me to _____. I guess I'll try it out, er... experiment on the word ... and see what it brings me."
There's this new thing in the Church called "leadership roulette". It refers to the fact that you can support Ordain Women, or Denver Snuffer, or call Brethrenitism into question, in one ward without any repercussions, but in another ward you'll get excommunicated for it. A related idea is that some folks that get excommunicated can get re-instated and their excommunication expunged from their record, whereas others remain condemned. In short, church discipline is somewhat arbitrary.
This is hardly a surprise, of course, but here's the thing: if the Lord is "no respecter of persons", wouldn't His discipline have to be consistently applied? Therefore any moderately arbitrary disciplinary system cannot possibly reflect the Lord's judgments. So go get yourself excommunicated, with someone you love.
WHEREAS: I'm supposed to read the scriptures. They even say so (John 5:39, among many others), and provided I have some witness that the scriptures contain valuable truth, that should be enough. Speaking only for myself here, I do have that witness, so I need to study the scriptures.
WHEREAS: Scriptures are words spoken by messengers, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. D&C 68:4: "And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." So I should study the stuff that the Lord gives messengers that come to me, to my family, to my ward and stake, and to the church as a whole.
WHEREAS: When scriptures are given, they should be written, and promulgated among the people to whom they were addressed, so they can use them to build up the church, and prepare themselves for Christ's coming.. D&C 104:58-59: "I have commanded you ... to print my words, the fulness of my scriptures, the revelations which I have given unto you, and which I shall, hereafter, from time to time give unto you -- for the purpose of building up my church and kingdom on the earth, and to prepare my people for the time when I shall dwell with them, which is nigh at hand." When someone speaks when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, write it down and pass it along.
WHEREAS: These scriptures should be the law by which the church is governed: D&C 42:59 "Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church." Scriptures are the law, not part of the law, or a contributing component of the law, but the entire law.
THEREFORE: Since the scriptures are the law of the church, changes to the law governing the church must come by new scripture -- that is, something spoken (or presumably conveyed with words some other way) to the church. This new scripture should be transmitted to the church generally, for study, preparation, and building the church. Revelations received which change the operation of the church, clarifying the previously muddled or modifying prior practice, must be given when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, must be considered scripture, and must be made available to the church.
Official Declarations 1 and 2 contain arguably the most drastic changes in church government in the latter days, (ostensibly) ending plural marriage, and allowing all worthy males to receive the priesthood. If you pay some attention when reading them, you'll notice neither is a revelation; they're both letters announcing that a revelation was received. That being the case, here's a question: Where's the revelation? The declarations say one was received. Doesn't it change the law unto the church? Shouldn't it be printed, presented before the church, and proposed to be voted upon as scripture just like the changes they introduced were voted upon? Who was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and what were they moved upon to say? I realize we have this idea, promulgated by then Elder Benson in his talk, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" (which got Benson in trouble with the leadership) that a revelation doesn't need to say "thus sayeth the Lord" to be revelation. That may be true (maybe), but still, a revelation does need to say something!
Please, Church, show us the revelation. In previous dispensations, the Lord's people were governed by scripture. The Lord gives them scripture, they read it, they try (or not) to do as those scriptures say, and they progress (or not) toward eternal life. But with the declarations (and much of subsequent church management) we instead have the leaders of the church telling us they have new scripture and here's what what the new scripture means, so we don't have to bother reading it, or slog through the messy details of interpreting it ourselves. They're setting themselves up as scripture interpreting intermediaries for the masses of the church. In scriptural language, we call that "priestcraft". Please stop it.