Monday, January 28, 2008

One point in his favor - he didn't love Jodie Foster

I heard about the death of Gordon B. Hinckley via Twitter. Louis Gray (whose tweet I read) also blogged about this:

Hinckley presided over the church in a time of significant growth, missionary outreach, and temple building world-wide. He also was easily the most visible Mormon prophet to date, showing incredible media poise, appearing on CNN's Larry King Live several times during his presidency.

Of course, there are dissenting voices:

Now would be a good time to remind your Mormon neighbors of the Gospel. No accolades of men, no meritorious works in addition to faith can save a man's soul. God is not an embodied, exhalted man. Men do not become gods. Christ is not Lucifer's "spirit brother."

Concerning both media poise and belief, there is this famous TIME Magazine article from August 4, 1997:

In an interview with TIME, President Hinckley seemed intent on downplaying his faith's distinctiveness. The church's message, he explained, "is a message of Christ. Our church is Christ-centered. He's our leader. He's our head. His name is the name of our church." At first, Hinckley seemed to qualify the idea that men could become gods, suggesting that "it's of course an ideal. It's a hope for a wishful thing," but later affirmed that "yes, of course they can." (He added that women could too, "as companions to their husbands. They can't conceive a king without a queen.") On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, he sounded uncertain, "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it."

The Institute for Religious Research requested clarification, and this is what they received:

Dear Mr. Wilson:

I have been asked to acknowledge your letter of August 27, 1997, with regard to statements reported as made by President Gordon B. Hinckley on the topic of eternal progression in the August 4, 1997, issue of Time magazine.

The quotation you reference was taken out of context. The statement was made in response to a question about the actual circumstances and background surrounding remarks given during the funeral services of a man named King Follet, not the doctrine of exaltation and the blessings that await those who will inherit the celestial kingdom.

The Brethren appreciate your interest in this matter and have asked me to extend their best wishes to you.

Sincerely yours,
F. Michael Watson
Secretary to the First Presidency

But whatever one may say about Hinckley's beliefs (which, I guess, could be allowed to "progress" under LDS theology), his influence was significant, and was felt even before he headed the church:

Starting in 1981, Hinckley shouldered much of the work for three aging Mormon presidents (Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter) who became unable to fulfill everyday duties. But he had to be careful not to act as if he were usurping the prophet's place.

During Benson's decline, Hinckley constantly reassured the faithful that the prophet - though not appearing in public or going to the office - ratified every major decision. At the same time, Hinckley was clearly helping members to re-think their assumptions about church leadership.

In 1992, he described the hierarchy's "back-up system," which allowed the other men to step up.

"When a man is ordained to the apostleship and set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve, he is given the keys of the priesthood of God," Hinckley said. "Each has the keys but is authorized to use them only to the degree granted him by the prophet of the Lord."

But Hinckley never declined.

His mind was clear to the end. He was at work on Friday, doing what he had done for the past seven decades - making decisions and directing affairs for the church he loved and to which he had devoted his whole life.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content