If we don't have "Strongmen" making Zion's trains run on time, won't that lead to anarchy, chaos, disorder, and general craziness?
Imagine it! What would happen if people "governed themselves" without leaders? How would we know what to do? Or how to serve? When to worship? Who to follow?
Why, everyone would be running around serving God and their fellowmen, anxiously engaged in good causes and following the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost, exercising their God-given spiritual initiative, honoring each other's diversity of gifts, without leaders assigning and telling us what to do . . .
Does God Live By Common Consent?
If Zion is going to be like heaven, then is common consent a celestial law?
Heaven is a House of Order. So the big question is:
(1) Can we have both common consent and order?
(2) Or can we only have order through a hierarchy with authoritarian leaders?
That's the real fear, isn't it? That without leaders we'll disassemble, aimlessly working out our salvation without organization. After all, don't we believe that "authority" is the glue holding everything together?
But what if "authority" was not the glue, but was actually the thing preventing Zion from forming?
Because what if the thing we call "authority" was actually "priestcraft"?
Hello? We Already Have a Leader!
Well, why are we afraid of being leaderless when we already have a Shephard, Jesus Christ, our great high priest?
Why are we so committed to middle-managers when we have direct access the King of Heaven and Earth?
Even so am I in the midst of you. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
(D&C 6:32, 34)
Is His "rock" the house of cards we see in hierarchies?
What's the difference between Christ's sure foundation and the Church?
1. Can God violate our agency?
2. Can God force our consent?
3. Is Heaven is an everlasting dominion that uses "compulsory means" (D&C 121:46) to maintain order?
No, no, and a big-fat-no.
On the other hand, we see earthly hierarchies compromising our agency all the time. How? By using fear, guilt, control, and compulsion upon the souls of the children of men.
Earthly hierarchies have taken a page out of the devil's handbook . . . I mean, playbook . . . who was cast out of heaven because he "sought to destroy the agency of man" (Moses 4:3). And yet here we are, doing the same thing.
Well, how else will we get results?
The United Order
Let's look again at the Lord's way:
For all things mustbe done in order,AND by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.
What if common consent is the true "united order?" King Benjamin said:
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.
Recently we had a church lesson on "joy in the gospel." As I listened to the comments of the members, I thought about when the Church was shut down for coronavirus, and everything ground to a halt. I talked to lots of people and not a single one was excited to return to regular church meetings.
Why is that?
The Order of Common Consent
There is no such thing as consecration without common consent.
There is no such thing as "one heart and one mind" without common consent.
There is no such thing as equality without common consent.
There is no such thing as Zion without common consent.
And all things [what percentage is 'all'?] shall be done [is 'shall' advisory or mandatory?] by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.
Well, how in the world did we decide common consent meant the practice of voicing our support for church leaders and ward assignments? Whaaaaat?
My, my my.
Alma, Could You Help Us, Please?
We don't need to reinvent the wheel. Alma showed us the way to live in the Covenant of Common Consent.
At the Waters of Mormon, he prepared the people's minds by giving them this inspired charge:
As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people . . .
Okay, so here Alma is going to describe what is required to be "in" the fold of God and to become "his people." Watch carefully at what is required of followers of Christ:
1. Between Believers:
(1) Bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; and
(2) Mourn with those that mourn; and
(3) Comfort those that stand in need of comfort;
2. Between Believers and God:
(4) Stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death; and
(5) Serve God and keep His commandments. (Mosiah 18:8-10)
3. Between Believers and Leaders:
(6) . . .
Hmmmm. I guess there's nothing about following leaders in this covenant.
Really? I better re-read it, just to make sure.
See? Not a single term of the covenant requires a hierarchy.
Leaders Need Not Apply?
Last Sunday I was reading in Luke 1 with my children. I love the Song of Mary, also called the Magnificat, in verses 46-55.
Here is the Mother of God, filled with the Holy Ghost, prophesying about her Child, and what does she say about Him?
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
I think we can safely say "God resisteth the proud" (1 Peter 5:5).
And the worst form of pride comes from the arrogance of status, the hubris of authority, and the vanity of inequality.
Here's the point: How can we claim to eschew pride, when we celebrate and give honor to status, rank, office, keys . . . all the trappings of Babylon the Great.
Our hierarchy has institutionalized pride. We just call it "authority."
A New and Everlasting Covenant
Christ showed us that the right of primogeniture did not come with a silver spoon, but with a bitter cup.
His authority comes not from His status, but from His pure love, which is the greatest of all.
All old covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a new and everlasting covenant, even that which was from the beginning.
Why does the Lord call baptism "a new and everlasting covenant" if it has been around from the beginning?
How is baptism a symbol of our willingness to live without status and to be equal with each other, as children of Christ?
Baptism+ Plus Plan
Well, let's pretend baptism is not enough. Now we need to upgrade to the Baptism+ Plus Plan.
As opposed to, for example, the Doctrine of Christ:
I will unfold unto them this great mystery;
For, behold, I will gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if they will not harden their hearts;
Yea, if they will come, they may, and partake of the waters of life freely.
Behold, this is my doctrine-- whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.
Whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of me, but is against me; therefore he is not of my church.
And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
Ahhh, never mind. Let's go back to the Baptism+ Plus Plan. We want to upgrade our salvation? Then welcome to priestcraft. If we do [x] [y] [z], then we'll get special privileges and perks.
So we see priestcraft thriving in Christian churches today. The name-of-the-game is buying tokens, or golden tickets, to fly first-class to heaven whilst our fellows are consigned to coach class.
Here the Magisterium not only embraces priestcraft, but institutionalizes it in God's name.
When we turn priesthood into a profession, we all lose something sacred. The covenant of baptism requires us to be brothers and sisters in Christ, so a hierarchy kinda defeats the purpose, right?
There were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
Have our hierarchies occluded heaven? Have we artificially divided brothers and sisters into "leaders" and "followers"? Are we shivering in the shadow of Strongmen instead of stepping into the sun and taking our own spiritual initiative?
The priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal.
Alma made explicit that nobody should have a higher status than another.