Members deal with difficult problems with history or doctrine by stating that everything good and wonderful done or said by leaders or members is motivated by God and is evidence of the truthfulness of the LDS Church while everything that falls short of some God-like ideal is considered the failings of man (e.g., “speaking as man” or “the church is perfect but the people aren’t”) or was merely meant to test the Saints and make them stronger.
This process of attributing some actions to God and others to man, or good actions as blessings and bad actions as tests, may be viewed as an extremely powerful partitioning algorithm. The LDS Church comes out looking divine—no matter what difficult history a person may be exposed to—by algorithmic definition. The good things are from God and the bad things are either the mistakes of men or are merely God testing (and strengthening) his people. With this algorithm in place, no bad things can ever be associated with the LDS Church itself.
The problem with this algorithm is that it may be too powerful—any institution to which we apply it will also suddenly appear divine. For instance, a Jehovah’s Witness defends their organization in similar terms:
Every person in this organization—every one of Jehovah’s Witnesses including the governing body—we’re all imperfect and thus we are subject to making mistakes. Which means that if you look hard enough, all you will see instead of seeing these amazing things that Jehovah is accomplishing and our tremendous privilege of being part of it, all we are going to see is the errors of men. But when we focus on the good, on the guidance and loving support that we’ve received, aren’t we moved with appreciation to cleave to this body of fellow worshipers. And just look at what Jehovah is accomplishing by means of his imperfect servants. There is no other organization on earth providing spiritual food like the one that we belong to. When we look at all of this, how could we possibly let the failings of just a few people undermine this overwhelming proof of Jehova’s backing? 2016 “remain loyal to jehovah” regional conference
And a Catholic speaking about her Bishops as she defends the Catholic doctrine of forbidding birth control:
Bishops are not CEO’s; they are stand-ins for Christ. The relation of a bishop to the people is not analogous to any ‘power’ relationships in the secular world. They are human and prone to mistakes, but they are also a way that God speaks to the world. Bishops serve lay Catholics by standing up for our beliefs, as they are doing now. I am glad that when the world wants to know “what Catholics think” there is a clear way to find out. I am grateful for the leadership of our bishops in these recent weeks. source
To take it to the very extreme, I will apply the algorithm to Germany’s Nazi Party. I am in no way trying to draw an equivalency between the LDS Church and the Nazi Party, I am merely demonstrating the power of the algorithm to revive organizations responsible for the worst kinds of crimes against humanity (so, an extreme case—which the LDS Church most certainly is not). Warning: this example is meant for rhetorical purposes only and is not meant to disrespect the memories of the victims of WWII and the holocaust.
With the proper partitioning algorithm, I can confidently say that the Nazi party was being guided by God throughout the entire duration of its existence. The party brought peace and stability to Germany and upheld a number of positive ideals (the LDS Church praised them, for instance). Their war-like and genocidal actions were based on the pettiness and faithlessness of some members and leaders at certain points, but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t guiding the organization as a whole or that these leaders and members didn’t do great good at other moments. I would also suggest that their war of aggression and genocide were merely part of God’s overarching plan in order to test both the Nazis and their victims—in these most trying of circumstances everyone was able to definitively prove their allegiance to God and grow tremendously in character (in this life or the next) as they experienced such challenging circumstances. Only rabid anti-Nazi’s with an axe to grind—and lacking in the simple decency to grant that humans make mistakes sometimes—would ever twist the historical record enough in order to find fault with God’s own Nazi party. They are so quick to condemn. The party never made a mistake and God was behind it 100%. People in the party sometimes made absolutely horrible mistakes, but that wasn’t really the party itself—the party only ever did good. True, some people perverted party policy at times through ignorance or to serve a selfish end, but those moments really test whether people would remain true to the perfect ideals of the party itself.