Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Bottom-up, again

No, this is not a post about drinking games.

Back in April, I asked about whether a bottom-up approach to things in the Church fits with our model of revelation. My recent reading has led me to consider this topic again.

I'm reading The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis, and enjoying it quite a bit. One of the principles discussed is Budgeting for Outcomes, or, in other words, determining what the desired results are (and what their priorities are), what the available budget is, and then allocating budget toward achieving those results. The authors emphasize that the desired results are not those desired by the governor or political parties, but by the public at large.

So I started to wonder to what extent we can and should take this kind of approach in the context of Church government. I asked my wife, who is on the ward activities committee, if the committee has a good sense of what the ward members want from ward activities. She answered, “No, but we have a good idea of what the bishopric wants.” Apparently, the bishopric has given fairly specific direction about what ward activities should accomplish and how they should do so (as well as what not to do).

Given our model of revelatory stewardship, I think we have to have room for this kind of top-down direction to some extent. But if the ward members aren't getting what they want from ward activities, they simply won't come. Then, no matter how inspired the bishopric's counsel is, very few people will benefit from it. So I thought perhaps the activities committee could come up with a survey of ward members, asking them what they wanted out of ward activities. The question is, even given decent feedback, how is this best meshed with the bishopric's stewardship?

It seems to me that this approach is modeled at the highest levels of the Church, who have done surveys for many years. In fact, the Church has an official online survey website at (apparently an invitation “coupon” is required to register for the site). The Welfare Plan was developed after the Church conducted a survey of members. The changes to the temple ceremony in 1990 may have been influenced by the results of a 1988 survey that included questions about the temple. More recently, in May, 2001, the Church surveyed women members about their experience in the Church.

The Church seems to be setting an example of “studying it out in your mind” as an essential part of the revelatory process. Can we effectively do the same at the local level?

And, of course, this applies to far more than the activities committee. One of the biggest struggles we had in our “Perfect the Saints” priesthood committee was figuring out what we were supposed to do. While I thought we came up with some pretty decent ideas, and had some direction from the bishopric, I think we could have been much more effective if we had been able to know from ward members how they felt we could best help them. And the same goes for Relief Society (imagine Enrichment nights based on a survey of what sisters want Enrichment nights to be like!), youth organizations, and so forth.

So don't delay; find out how you can be more effective by getting your organization to do a survey of your ward (or stake) members. Oh, and let me know how it goes...

Friday, September 24, 2004

As far as it is translated

Adam Greenwood started an interesting discussion over at Times & Seasons about how different approaches to “close reading” of the scriptures affect the conclusions we may reach from our reading. This brought up the question whether close reading is helpful, especially given the limitations of language to express revelation.

On that thread, I commented:

Perhaps the great value in close reading is not so much what we conclude, but the process of questioning, exploring, learning, pondering, and asking God for further light and knowledge. In the meantime, we can make tentative conclusions, as long as we recognize that we may be wrong.

Last night, I did some reading in the scriptures in German. I had to concentrate more than I do when reading in English (which I think is a value in itself). I found that as I read with concentration and focus, certain points of the text struck me differently than they do in English, and I learned some new things. I'm sure those of you who know multiple languages have had similar experiences. I think this is an excellent illustration of the principle I outlined above.

We don't claim that the Church's translation of the Doctrine & Covenants into German is divinely inspired. Yet a close reading of the German text may influence me to understand the scriptures differently than the English text does. I don't think this is because one is necessarily more “correct” than the other; I think it's just the natural consequence of different languages, with all the associated history, connotations, linguistic connections, and so forth.

We can ask whether the German text is faithful to the English, but that breaks down at a certain point. As Clark noted in his post on Umberto Eco on translation, being overly “faithful” to the source text may be a negative thing. Inevitably, what is said in German, no matter how much effort is made to express the same ideas as the English text, will be different. And I think this is a very positive thing, not a negative one.

The idea of an open canon applies as much on the level of a verse as it does on the level of an entire book. There are a couple of quotes on this subject that I like very much, from Dallin H. Oaks' article, Scripture Reading and Revelation:

Our belief in an open canon also includes private revelations to individual seekers of the meaning of existing scriptures. Such revelations are necessary because, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve observed, “Each pronouncement in the holy scriptures ... is so written as to reveal little or much, depending on the spiritual capacity of the student” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985, p. 71)...

The Lord promised Nephi: “Unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have” (2 Ne. 28:30; see also Matt. 13:12). That verse capsulizes the Latter-day Saint belief in the importance of continuing revelation as we read and interpret the scriptures. Even if there were no additional revelations to be added to the published canon, an open canon would still be an essential part of our belief and practice in scripture reading...

The idea that scripture reading can lead to inspiration and revelation opens the door to the truth that a scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what that scripture means to a reader today. Even more, scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time. We do not overstate the point when we say that the scriptures can be a Urim and Thummim to assist each of us to receive personal revelation.

The problem with not valuing close reading is that we close off a great avenue for further revelation and understanding. When we read closely, we recognize that we don't have all the answers, and we begin to ask questions of the scriptures, and to allow them to raise questions for us. Different translations (such as the JST, modern Bible translations into English or any other language, etc.) can encourage this process, not necessarily because they necessarily bring us to more correct conclusions of themselves, but because they get us asking questions.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Model of prophetic authority

What good are prophets if they're not infallible? This is a question I have been asked many times, and a variant of this question has come up on Times & Seasons.

Nate has challenged John H.: “The trick is to come up with some theory that doesn’t reduce the prophets to well meaning old men; some theory that still concedes to them some meaningful special access to the divine.” And his definition of “meaningful special access” of prophetic authority has these three points: “(1) we are given substantive counsel; (2) that we should follow; (3) that differs from our own substantive views.”

It seems to me that such a model is actually quite simple, though I'm not sure “special access to the divine” is quite the right phrase. I'd like to lay out some groundwork underlying my model, then propose my model of prophetic authority.

The prophets are the only ones who can receive revelation for the whole Church. While (as in an example given in the comments on the T&S thread) Church members can receive exactly the same revelations, their revelations are not for the Church as a whole. Perhaps we can call this “revelatory scope.” This is strongly emphasized by the Brethren, and, as far as I can tell, it is the only difference between revelations of prophets, seers, and revelators and the general membership of the Church. Many prophets (especially President Hinckley) have taught that they receive revelation in the same way the rest of us do, and that even the rarer, more unusual manifestations are available to every one of us as we are prepared to receive them.

This brings up the question of preparation. It seems to me that we tend to describe the men called as prophets, seers, and revelators as especially righteous. While it is likely generally the case that these men are very righteous, I'm not sure that we can say that they are necessarily the most prepared of anyone in the Church to receive revelation. There may very well be many other people in the Church who are better prepared to receive revelation, but may not have the other qualities that led to the calling of the Brethren to their positions. But it does seem that, for the most part, the Brethren must have a minimum of preparation to receive divine guidance for their duties. Someone unprepared to receive revelation is not a likely candidate for such a high position of responsibility. (That said, it seems probable that some of them may struggle with this more than others. For example, see some of the accounts of Heber J. Grant's call to become a stake president and, later, an apostle.)

From the foregoing, then, it seems that we have a couple of items: 1. The revelatory scope of prophets, seers, and revelators is greater than that of the general membership. 2. Prophets, seers, and revelators are generally very righteous men, who qualify to receive revelation. This does not make them infallible, however. In fact, they have specifically denied any claim of infallibility.

A third item (in connection with revelatory scope) is that the pronouncements of unified prophets, seers, and revelators can be binding on the Church. Whether something is binding on the Church is not the same thing as whether it is correct, however. A binding pronouncement is one that, if violated, results in consequences such as loss of a temple recommend or excommunication from the Church. For example: the Word of Wisdom (including a prohibition on wine) is binding on the Church, even though the Lord drank wine and has stated his intention to do so again with his prophets. The rule is binding on the Church, even if it may not be correct in all its particulars.

I recognize that my example above is one of practice, rather than doctrine. However, the decanonization of the Lectures on Faith seems to indicate that the same principle applies to doctrinally binding statements. The Lectures on Faith, as part of the Doctrine & Covenants, were doctrinally binding on the Church, as are all the standard works. And our acknowledgment of possible errors in the Bible and the Book of Mormon does not prevent those from being doctrinally binding on the Church.

Given this groundwork, I would propose the following model of prophetic authority:

Sometimes the prophets receive true revelation that I should follow that differs from my substantive views: I am not infallible. And sometimes I receive true revelation that leads me to differ with the substantive views of the prophets: they are not infallible.

Messy, huh? Yes, but the order comes in the authority: in what is applicable to and binding on the Church as a whole. What this means, unfortunately, is that sometimes we have to make hard decisions: are we confident enough in our own revelation (and is it substantive enough) to continue to differ with the prophets, seers, and revelators, or do we defer to their authority because we value order? We are just as fallible as they are.

What good are prophets if they're not infallible? I would reply with similar questions: What good are teachers if they're not infallible? What good is peer review in the academic world if it is not infallible? What good are the scriptures if they're not infallible? Here's the good: They challenge us; they teach us; they remind us; they prompt us to seek further, not to be satisfied with where we are; they prod us Godward.

And they do this for the community as a whole, which is a value in itself. Mormonism is strongly focused on community. We are not, despite the high value we place on agency, a religion that is all about our individual relationship with God. Mormonism is a religion that is all about our communal relationship with God and each other. That is why questions are raised about the "Mormonness" of someone who questions the prophets -- because we place a very high emphasis on community.

The trick, as Nate might put it, is in finding the balance between the community and the individual, between prophetic authority and personal revelation, between continuity of doctrine and continuing revelation.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Oath and covenant

D&C 84:33-42 is often called “the oath and covenant of the priesthood.” But I don't think it is. It makes reference to the oath and covenant, and gives a description of the blessings associated with them, but I do not think they are contained in this section. Rather, I think they are administered in the temple. I think this section points us in that direction. Let's take a close look at portions of the section:

4Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. 5For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. 6And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;

This is followed by Moses' line of authority (which itself is interesting enough for another post). But the key here is the “And the sons of Moses” beginning verse 6. The whole discussion that follows about the descent of the priesthood and the different orders of the priesthood are all parenthetical, up to verse 31, where we pick up again:

31Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses—for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed— 32And the sons of Moses and of Aaron shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, upon Mount Zion in the Lord's house, whose sons are ye; and also many whom I have called and sent forth to build up my church.

Note again that this is talking about the temple. The temple is where the keys of the priesthood are administered, and where the fulness of the priesthood may be obtained. The next verses parallel aspects of the temple endowment. While I will not go into great detail, I hope that my allusions to the endowment ceremony will be familiar to those who have been through the temple.

33For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

Two things to note about verse 33: obtaining the “two priesthoods:” the endowment ceremony is divided into Aaronic and Melchizedek portions. Brigham Young considered splitting up the temple ceremony so that one could receive the Aaronic portion first, and then, after a time of proving, prepare to receive the Melchizedek portion:

The reason of this is that when we give the brethren their endowments, we are obliged to confer upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood; but I expect to see the day when we shall be so situated that we can say to a company of brethren you can go and receive the ordinances pertaining to the Aaronic order of Priesthood, and then you can go into the world and preach the Gospel, or do something that will prove whether you will honor that Priesthood before you receive more. Now we pass them through the ordinances of both Priesthoods in one day, but this is not as it should be and would if we had a Temple wherein to administer these ordinances. But this is all right at present; we should not be satisfied in any other way, and consequently we do according to the circumstances we are placed in.

(Journal of Discourses, 10:309)

The second thing to note is that those who receive these priesthoods are “sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.” This may have reference to the resurrection of the just, which is figured in the veil ceremony in the temple. Continuing with D&C 84:

34They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

This deals with the progressions of priesthood: Aaron (Aaronic priesthood), Moses (Melchizedek priesthood), and Abraham (Patriarchal priesthood). Becoming the seed of these men occurs through the Abrahamic covenant administered in the temple, and the sealing into the Patriarchal Order.

35And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; 36For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; 37And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; 38And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

This also follows the pattern of the endowment in two ways: first, the way the gospel and the keys are administered from Father to Son to servants to us; second, the progression of names and references through the endowment. Receiving the Father's kingdom is symbolized by entrance into the celestial room.

39And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

Where are oaths and covenants belonging to the priesthood administered? In the temple. There are many references in the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets to this effect. The fulness of the priesthood can only be obtained by oath in the temple.

40Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. 41But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

All covenants we make with God are conditional, and we can repent if we break those covenants -- except for the “unconditional” covenant that is the culminating ordinance of the temple: the sealing up unto eternal life. This is not the same as eternal marriage, though eternal marriage is a prerequisite. This is the sealing up that we are informed early in the endowment may be ours if we are faithful to our covenants. It is the sealing up that accompanies the receipt of the fulness of the priesthood as husband and wife: the second anointings. With reference to this, D&C 132 further explains (emphasis mine):

27The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

After we have received the fulness of the new and everlasting covenant of the priesthood, if we turn from it altogether, we have committed the unpardonable sin.

So, to sum up: I have tried to show that the oath and covenant of the priesthood is not contained in Doctrine & Covenants 84; rather, it is referred to there, and administered in the temple. It is there that the keys of the priesthood are administered; it is there that we become the seed of Aaron, Moses, and Abraham; it is there that we take upon ourselves the names of the Son and the Father; it is there that we enter into the Patriarchal Order and the fulness of the priesthood.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The gospel of risk

I like to preach the gospel of risk. Not foolish risk, mind you, but simply the recognition of the adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” I believe the teachings of the scriptures and the Church advocate thoughtful risk-taking, and condemn an attitude of fear that drives the “better safe than sorry” approach. For example:

  • We hear that, in the pre-mortal world, we were offered a sort of “risk-free” plan by Lucifer, in contrast to the plan put forth by Father, which involved real risk. But we recognized that, without taking the risk, we could not develop to become like our Parents.
  • We honor Eve for her wisdom in choosing to partake of the forbidden fruit. She understood that it was better to pass through sorrow, to risk pain from wrong choices, than to stagnate in eternal Paradise.
  • We commend those who convert to the Church despite the resistance of family and friends, who are disowned or whose lives are even threatened. We admire their willingness to risk for the gospel.
  • We have Jesus' parable of the talents, in which the servant who feared hid his talent, unwilling to risk. He was condemned for this unwillingness, and his talent given to the one who had risked, and gained, the most.

I could go on listing numerous examples from the scriptures and from Church teachings to support this point. But these examples include foundational teachings that underlie so much of Mormonism that I don't think it's necessary. It seems abundantly clear to me that we are supposed to have the faith to take risks. Indeed, it seems that risk is an inherent aspect of faith. And God has provided us with a means to overcome the evils and pains that may result from this risk: atonement. His desire for us to grow, even when it means that we risk being wrong and foolish and wicked, is so great that he was willing to suffer more than we can describe. By being unwilling to take thoughtful risks, we spurn his gift.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Dutiful happiness

We've all heard the stories of people who approach a member of the Church saying something like, “You're always so happy. Why is that? I want to have what you have.” -- a golden opportunity to share the gospel.

Well, that's never happened to me. I consider myself a pretty happy person; my life is going fairly well, I generally enjoy my ward and my job and love my family. I am excited by many aspects of the gospel and love to study and ponder it. I'm relatively outgoing. And I think much of that has roots in the Church and the gospel.

But I'm not sure I'm significantly happier than many of my (non-Mormon) neighbors seem to be. Should I be? After all, the scriptures instruct us to “be of good cheer” and to “lift up your hearts and rejoice.” Is this intended to be an inward rejoicing and cheer, or something the world is to see and desire? Do I have a duty to be happier?

On a related note, to what extent is the gospel intended to make us happier in this life? Does it have a more significant effect on our happiness than, say, sufficient food, a roof over our heads, adequate transportation, a family who loves us, a fulfilling job, enjoyable hobbies, etc.? Do you think that you are happier than your neighbors because of the gospel?

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Liberating the Gospels

I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews.

(2 Nephi 25:5)

Our church meetings switched from the 11:00 schedule to the 9:00 schedule this year. While, for practical reasons (I have five small boys), I prefer the 9:00 start time, there is one aspect of starting at 9:00 that I don't like: I miss the Sunday morning radio broadcast of the sermon from St. Olaf College, and pastor Bruce Benson's Sing For Joy, a program of sacred choral music.

One thing these two radio programs have in common is that they are centered around the Lutheran liturgical year. Though I have never experienced a liturgical year in a church, it is an area where I feel holy envy. Perhaps this is due in part to the influence of my mother, who was raised Lutheran, and who instilled in her children a love of certain liturgical ritual, such as the Advent season.

The liturgical calendar offers a structure for spiritual reflection, and returning to the same themes and scriptural readings again and again offers the opportunity to remember that we can learn much more than a single thing from a given scriptural passage. In addition, I think the liturgy can have a real unifying effect -- it can bring a community of diverse views together.

And so I really enjoyed Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes, by Anglican Bishop John Shelby Spong. Spong is well-known for his very liberal views on just about every theological issue, from sexuality to gender issues to historicity, resurrection, exclusivity of Christianity, and so forth. While I do not share many of his conclusions, I find his writing very thought-provoking.

The thesis of Liberating the Gospels is that the four New Testament gospels are structured around the Jewish liturgical year. Spong credits his associate, Michael Goulder, for the ideas that form the basis of the book, and describes the book as “my attempt to make accessible to the general public the insights of Michael Goulder.” The bulk of the book consists of examples from the gospels and the Old Testament parallels connected with the Jewish liturgical year.

There were prescribed readings throughout the Jewish year, with its various feasts and holy days (such as Passover). It was in the context of these prescribed readings that Jesus

went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

(Luke 4:16-21)

This scripture illustrates what Spong claims the gospel writers were trying to do: to show how the Jewish liturgy was fulfilled in Jesus. They wrote their accounts to show Jesus as the fulfillment of the Jewish faith, so that stories of Jesus would parallel the Old Testament accounts already used in the synagogues.

Spong provides many convincing examples of how the structure of the gospels reflects the Jewish liturgical year. Different gospels started at different points of the year, and covered different portions of it. He argues that later gospels built on what was provided by earlier ones to fill in the gaps or to provide a different emphasis to a particular account (which is why we may find the same account in different places in two or three different gospels). (On a more technical note, he rejects the “Q” hypothesis, and argues that this liturgical hypothesis obviates the need for a “Q” document.) As with nearly all parallelistic studies, some of the parallels may be a stretch, but for the most part, I found them very reasonable. More importantly, I found them very enlightening, providing connections back to Jewish stories that add richness and layers of meaning to both Old and New Testament accounts.

Spong tends to conclude that this means most of the gospel accounts are not historical -- that they were constructed as a midrashic commentary on the Jewish liturgy to place Jesus' mission in the context of Jewish worship. While there are a few instances where such an interpretation may be warranted, for the most part, I don't see why the accounts couldn't be historical, but recounted and structured in such a way as to fit with the Jewish liturgical year.

I highly recommend this book, not so much for Spong's conclusions about Biblical historicity (though I think he has some good points in his discussion about Biblical fundamentalism) as for a really eye-opening new way to read the scriptures.

And, to tie this back into the Book of Mormon quote that started this post: Some studies of the Book of Mormon have noted that Nephi's account of his family's journey is constructed in terms of the Exodus. There are other Book of Mormon stories that seem to parallel Old Testament accounts. Spong argues that we cannot truly understand the gospels for what they are unless we read them through Jewish eyes. Given Nephi's statement and his own use of Old Testament accounts as a structural framework for his own writings, it seems that the same may be true for the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

GrasshopperMuse resurrected

My personal blog, GrasshopperMuse, is active again. Check out the first of a new feature: game reviews.

Church activity

There has been some discussion in the Bloggernacle about orthopraxy and orthodoxy, with some claiming that right practice is more important in the Church than is right belief, and some claiming the opposite. I ran across some interesting facts in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, in the entry titled “Activity in the Church” that seem relevant:

When Latter-day Saints speak of being "active in the Church," they have reference to observing a full religious lifestyle of attendance, devotion, service, and learning. As one measure of their rate of activity, 48 percent of adult Latter-day Saints in the United States in 1989 reported that they attended church services weekly, compared to 38 percent of adult members in other denominations.

As far as I know, this figure hasn't changed much since 1989. The last figure I recall hearing was either 45% or 50%. Outside the United States, that measure of activity tends to be lower. I've heard that in South America it ranges around 25%; during my mission in Italy I would estimate it at around 30% or so.

General surveys show that even though private religious practice is strongly encouraged by the Church, only 67 percent of active adult Latter-day Saints pray daily, compared to 83 percent in other denominations; and 41 percent reported reading the scriptures daily or several times a week, compared to 52 percent in other denominations (Research Division; cf. National Opinion Research Center; Princeton Religion Research Center).

Note that this paragraph is comparing active Latter-day Saints with active members of other denominations. These are private practices, rather than public ones, which could make for some interesting speculation about how we, as a church, differ in our approach to private vs. public practices.

Anecdotally, I would guess that maybe half of “active” Latter-day Saints are full tithe payers, and fewer are temple recommend holders. So, out of a Church membership of 11 million people, I would guess that, once we count out all the baptized children who are not old enough for a temple recommend yet, as well as single sisters who are typically not encouraged to get a temple recommend until marriage or mission, there are perhaps 500,000 temple recommend holders.

My guess is that most of the active participants in the Bloggernacle fall into this category, and I think this affects our perception of the question of whether orthodoxy or orthopraxy is more important in the Church. The statistics on Church activity are low enough that I'm sure general Church leaders are more concerned about that than about orthodoxy outside of very basic doctrines. However, among members who are already highly active in the Church, orthodoxy may rise in importance. This might help explain why John H.'s experience with the (active) members of the Church may be different from the emphasis of the Brethren.