"People make that perilous leap from 'this church is true' to 'this church is perfect,' she said. "I am the church. You are the church. We are not perfect. I have no expectation that any man is perfect. I support and sustain my leaders as good, and even holy, men, but they are men. The beauty of our belief system shows us that God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things. I marvel at the work that is done in LDS Humanitarian Services, and the church's welfare system is praised by all who are aware of it, and that's ordinary folks doing that."
"The church," Barlow said, "is made up entirely of human beings with all of the implications of that, and errors and possibilities of human failings and faults that can entail. The Mormon people are human beings who are trying to respond to the divine with which they have been touched, including through prophetic leadership."
Faith and scholarship
Mason, Mauss, Barlow and other members of the Mormon Studies community responded positively to the enhancement of Gospel Topics pages at LDS.org with rigorous, transparent history, especially the "Race and the Priesthood" page.
"Naturally I was delighted to see it, as, indeed, I was to see the earlier one on the First Vision," Mauss said. These new (or revised) treatments of subjects listed in lds.org/topics indicate a new and greater level of candor and transparency in the church’s official handling of sensitive and controversial issues in its history, doctrines and policies."
Mauss studied the "Race and the Priesthood" essay and found 10 "newly recognized historical realities," pieces not new to scholars but perhaps so for some members.
His list included the fact the priesthood ban "did not originate in divine revelation" but "arose in the context of the national division over race and racial politics, in which Utah’s political situation was enmeshed." Mauss also said the justifications were "mostly borrowed from the national discourse outside," and that though they did not come from revelation and therefore were not official doctrine, they were taught by early LDS leaders.
For Gray, living for 14 years in the church without the priesthood added deep meaning to living with it for the past 36. The church's essay was a new chapter.
"There is more that could be said," Gray said, "and hopefully in days to come additional comment will be made, added, for even greater clarity, but for this day, it is absolutely stellar."
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