Columbia JReubs

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Procedure & Revelation in Ecclesiastical Trials

By popular demand, this is my topic for discussion tomorrow. Sorry I'm a day late posting.

I've been working on this paper for a while now (mostly in my mind rather than putting pen to paper). It came out of a discussion about Joshua ch. 7. Basically, the question is, if we have revelation, why is there any need for a process or procedure in religious trials?

Joshua 7: Clearly the Lord is involved in the process (v. 14), but if He is going to reveal the individual to Joshua, why the elaborate process? In the words of a colleague: "Why doesn't God just tell Joshua who it is?"

Another examples from OT: Num. 5:11-28. We assume the Lord is going to determine the outcome, rather than viewing this as superstition, by why the ritual process?

In the D&C, procedure for the High Council is relatively elaborate (D&C 102:13-23), but it clearly creates a role for revelation in making decisions (v. 23). Current practice of High Councils focuses more on revelation, but retains the basic procedural structure.

I'll post some of my thoughts below, and talk about them a little tomorrow. I'd love to have other identify other examples from the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, contribute your thoughts and explanations, and provide comments, critiques, and criticism of my thoughts.

See you all tomorrow!


  • Some thoughts on why the Lord might choose to combine elements of procedure and revelation.

    I. Benefits for the Tribunal:

    Combining rational process (in the case of modern procedure) illustrates the Lord’s principle of economy of revelation. The Lord expects that we will not seek revelation lightly, but will prepare ourselves. D&C 9:8 commands that we study out a matter in our mind before asking the Lord. The process outlined for the High Council institutionalizes the idea of rational study followed by revelation. Even where, as in the Old Testament examples, the process does not seem rational from our view, it probably did seem appropriate to the people of that time and thus also taught them this principle.

    II. Benefits for the Accused:

    The process creates a sense of fairness and impartiality for the accused. This may be particularly important in the case of a transgressor whose testimony of revelation or priesthood leaders is weakened. The accused may also view the process as a check on arbitrariness of leaders.

    III. Benefits for the Church:

    The process that accompanies the revelation helps to standardize the process across the Church. Process can also help members place the revelation in the appropriate context, just as those called to new positions by revelation are sustained publically.

    This last idea seems the hardest for me to explain. I'd love some help with it.

    By Blogger Cliff, at 3:28 PM  

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