Dear 100 Hour Board,
What are your thoughts about President Uchtdorf no longer being in the first presidency? I know it's caused quite a stir among some circles in Mormonism (naturally among ex-members as well). I expect that most active members will say that the callings are made through revelation and I get that, but it does seem like the church is taking a step towards being more hard-line conservative since President Uchtdorf was considered by many to be more liberal in his messages, not to mention that he's the only non-American in the twelve. This seems especially true when you consider that a counselor being removed from the first presidency has only happened a couple times, one who was in poor health and the other who had spoken in favor of blacks receiving the priesthood before the official change was announced. I know, either the church is true or it isn't, but I was hoping it wouldn't push out those who have more inclusive views.
- Disappointed progressive
I was sad when I first heard that Elder Uchtdorf would no longer be in the First Presidency. He gives my favorite talks and I am going to miss him giving 3 talks every conference. Although we won't get to hear from him as much in conference, his new assignments were just announced in the Deseret News. "His new assignments include chair of the Missionary Executive Council, chair of the Correlation Executive Council and the primary contact for the Europe and Europe East Areas." Isn't that awesome! Elder Uchtdorf is going to do a great job in those assignments so I guess I can deal with only hearing from him once at conference.
As for Elder Uchtdorf being replaced by President Oaks, I wouldn't worry about the church's views shifting. The way the church is organized is different from typical organizations. One huge example of this is that all decisions made by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have to be unanimous. Not only do regular members of the quorum have the same say as members of the First Presidency, but the First Presidency won't go along with something if the whole quorum isn't on board. I would agree that individual apostles come from a different background with different opinions, but they are united in their testimony of Christ. The church is working hard to serve all of the members and make people feel loved and accepted. We aren't perfect, but I think we are improving, and I wouldn't expect that to change.
I apologize if I misread your question, but to me it appeared to bear more resemblance to a President appointing a Supreme Court Justice rather than a prophet of God calling a counselor. I do think it was received by revelation, but I also think that any of the apostles could serve equally as well in the First Presidency. I don't think the Church gets more liberal or more conservative to increase or stop a progressive movement.
I really think you are reading way too much into this one.
-Sunday Night Banter
This just doesn't seem that weird to me. They recently changed the relief society presidency in my ward. The new president kept one or two people from the old counselors/secretaries and otherwise called new ones. I think its probably nice for her and the ward that it worked out that way because it provides some continuity but also brings in different voices to our auxiliary's leadership. The presidency now is set up under her leadership rather than the leadership of the previous RS president. I think the changes allow similar advantages to the Church and President Nelson.
I think some callings are made through revelation, and some are made by humans seeking God's approval. That doesn't particularly bother me as it seems consistent with the LDS teaching that making choices is an important part of mortality. President Nelson and President Oaks are good friends who have worked with each other for a long time, so I'm not surprised by Elder Oaks' call. I don't think they called Elder Oaks with the idea of pushing Elder Uchtdorf out. They kept President Eyring, after all, and he is pretty tender and soft.
That said, I love Elder Uchtdorf and will miss hearing more from him.
President Nelson: "How could I choose only two?"
Me: "Well, Brigham Young had eight counselors...."
President Nelson: "I'm deeply grateful to the Lord for answering my fervent prayers."
Sounds to me like the Lord was involved in this choice. I believe that.
I love President Oaks and am thrilled to hear more from him. President Uchtdorf did a lot of good and said some really important things. The things he said won't just go away. And he'll be around for a long time yet, with plenty of talks left in him.
Having new people in the First Presidency means an increasingly diverse set of viewpoints being taught. Every new person adds something to the ever-expanding record of teachings. But really, all of them represent Jesus Christ. They have different perspectives, but the same goal, so it doesn't really matter who leads as long as they're willing to serve as the Lord would have them serve.
I totally understand where you're coming from, I immediately had the same thoughts, and I was worried about the removal of Uchtdorf from the First Presidency meant. But as I thought about what happened I was reminded of an experience that I had that was very analogous to this situation, and hopefully will be helpful for you.
When I was serving on my mission, I was called to be a branch president of a small branch. The branch had at one point in time had about 30 members, and was one of the major branches in that area of Poland. Later, there was a missionary branch president who was fairly strict and enforced a lot of rules. He did some things that seemed pretty heartless to me, and I was furious with him. Because of his actions and several other events that happened at the same time, almost every member of the branch left the church or went inactive. I inherited a branch that had effectively one active member, and several partly active members. I cursed that missionary's name for a while, and was kind of confused at why the Lord would ever let that happen to the branch. Why would he ever be allowed to be in a position of leadership and offend so many people?
I served as the complete opposite of the branch president. I barely spoke Polish at the time, and I'm pretty scared of confrontation. I used the only tool I really felt I had, and I loved those members and I loved that branch as much as I could. The branch began to grow again. But over the year and a half that I served there, I started to learn more and more about what had happened in my city. I started to understand why that missionary had done what he had. I understood his faults, and I understood the situation. The branch starting growing and experiencing miracles in a way that it never could have if that missionary branch president had not done what he did. I eventually saw the Lord's hand in what had happened. I started to see that certain things were absolutely crucial to the growth of the branch, and the damage caused was not only temporary, but needed.
The Lord needed him to serve as branch president, and he needed me to serve later. We both fulfilled a specific role that was desperately needed at the time. He corrected out of love, and I reached out in love to humbled branch members. It was easy for me to resent what he did to the branch, and it took a while for me to understand why. But once I did I respected and loved him more than I ever thought I could.
The point of that story is not to imply anything about what Elder Oaks will do to the church, or that his role will somehow be to offend people and cause people to leave the church. The point is that every leader brings something different. In my experience, the switch of leadership could have been seen as a massive change in leadership style and the stance of the church. But it was certain people with different experiences that needed to do different things. I hope that experience is somewhat helpful, and helps to explain my thoughts on the change.
Keep it real,