Ongoing and open revelation sets the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints apart from many other religious traditions. Mormons believe there is a living prophet of God on Earth and that he has the power and authority to receive new doctrine directly from the Lord. Despite its infrequent implementation, the ninth article of faith is one of the most important tenets of Mormon doctrine: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Open revelation is at the heart of the recent excommunication of Mormon feminist Kate Kelly.
There’s an old bumper sticker with the words “Question authority.” To which the proper response, of course, is: “Says who?” As that reply suggests, suspicion of authority, however well advised, does not solve or clarify the problem of authority. Whenever we want someone to heed what we’re saying, we end up invoking or assuming some kind of authority.
In the waning days of the Episcopal Church’s July 5-15 General Convention in Denver, a weary sense of déjà vu descended on the bishops and the lay and clergy deputies who make up the church’s highest legislative body. Twenty-four years ago the General Convention made headlines by permitting the ordination of women as priests.