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The parable of the unjust steward is one of a number of parables that are recorded in only one of the synoptic gospels, in this case Luke. Luke 16:1-8 reads:

1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.

2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.

4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

5 So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?

6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.

7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

A lot of lessons can be drawn from this story, some of them more appropriate or commendable than others. One fairly straightforward reading of the parable is as a commendation of the wisdom of preparing for ones future state. A believer might take this as an indication that given the inevitability of death and judgment, one should forsake the world, and gain favor with God.

However, a non-believer could just as reasonably (though with perhaps more problematic results) apply this advice to their own situation. One (such as John) [1] who knew or suspected that he would soon be excommunicated for his actions and who derives significant financial benefit from Mormon-related activities [2] might reasonably seek to situate himself so as to assure continued financial security in his changed cirumstances.

Looking to the future is commendable, and whatever defects one finds in John actions or character he has shown remarkably good strategic instincts on a number of occasions over an extended period of time. However, as in the parable the various actions that comprise his preparing for a future state are not necessarily commendable.

He has been promoting a number of ex-Mormon groups. A quick sampling of his Facebook page shows him advertizing for the “Post-Mormon Relief Society” (12/18/2014), which he endorses, saying that “I certainly can vouch for the awesomeness of my friend who is starting this up.” He next puts in a plug for “Phoenix Open Mormons” (12/18/2014) saying that it provides “a fabulous community of support there. Check it out if interested. I can’t say enough good things about the people in this group.” He next encourages people to build online communities which replace many of the functions of a conventional ward,

Wanna hear a secret that can literally transform your life in unimaginably positive ways?

Find 200 close friends on Facebook. Create a Facebook group. If it’s people all over the world. Fine. If it’s people who live near you, even better (cuz….casseroles!!!! and book clubs!!! and play groups!!! and campouts/hikes!!!).

Work to become closer to each other over time. Share your experiences. Your ups and your downs. Your triumphs and tragedies. Invest in the group like it means something to you. Get together in person whenever you can. Serve each other. And soon you will have a cyber-ward that can literally last you a lifetime.

I’m not making this up. I’ve seen this work. First hand. And it can be truly magical. And transformative. Try it!!!

His efforts over the last several have also included weeks comments alleging that the church leaders do not speak for God , speculation that his stake president had not excommunicated him because he was intimidated by John’s maleness, statements that he had deliberately defied his stake president while appearing to comply, and characterization of the Book of Mormon as fan fiction. They have also included his statements alleging that the evidence against the Book of Mormon as a translation of an ancient document is overwhelming, and that those who disagree do so because of their white/male/straight/married privlege, and because they derive financial/familial/social/psychological benefits from continuing to associate or believe, see here and that spiritual experiences are nothing more than feelings, and are no more ultimately informative.

Whatever one may think of his statements, and much has been said rebutting his claims as illustrated in the previously supplied links, it is relatively clear that they are geared towards, and will be helpful in establishing his credibility among the several ex-Mormon who he will presumably use to forward his enterprises in the future. Establishing or rather reestablishing credibility in these communities is made necessary in part because John has by turns acted in ways favorable or contrary to the interests of those communities. Most notably, shortly before the release of the Greg Smith review of Mormon Stories, which Dehlin attempted to censor, he went through a period of apparent repentance, apparently in order to shield himself from the anticipated consequences of the review. This involved throwing those communities under the bus for a time, but fortunately for him, people have short memories, and those communities are happy enough to accept even relatively inconsistent support, especially if it can lend name recognition or public attention to their cause. Whether Dehlin will be able to derive a stable income in his new strategic posture after his exit, or whether he will ultimately decide it is in his own financial interests to throw them under the bus yet again remains to be seen. In the mean time one thing is clear: in a rare moment of scriptural wisdom Dehlin has his eyes on the future.

[1] John recently posted on a Facebook thread that, “I have been informed that he [John’s Stake President] plans a council, but wanted to get the Christmas/New Years holidays out of the way before he convenes one. Yes…he actually told someone this.”
[2] John Dehlin’s Salary from his Open Stories Foundation is $56,225.95 according to its website, a significant financial interest.

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