Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beware of False Doctrines

In the past week I have been exposed to three false doctrines. I'll confess this is not a rare occurrence, though I wish I could say our members were well grounded in the true doctrines so the false ones wouldn't ever see the light of day.

Here they are:

1. That openly gay men are holding positions of authority in the priesthood and the Church is softening its position over the LGBT agenda. These stories often come as anecdotal references like, "I have a friend who lives in Southern California in a ward where an openly gay man in a relationship with another man is the president of the elders' quorum." Beware of these kinds of stories, because they simply are not true. Someone is soon going to have to start a Snopes page to sniff out these falsities and expose them for what they are.

After responding to the person who shared this latest story with me, the Church issued a statement on its Newsroom Blog page refuting these kinds of claims. In part the blog post said:

"In this period that many are calling another 'Mormon Moment,' Mattingly correctly asserts, 'If people make claims about evolving Mormon doctrines, look for names, titles and clear statements of attribution.'

"There is a lot of interest in the Church and a lot being written about it. It's important for the public to distinguish between fact, opinion and personal advocacy."

2. I received an e-mail from a well-informed young man who is a student of the scriptures. In the e-mail he quoted Heber C. Kimball to the effect that our Heavenly Father was not only the Father of our spirits, but also the Father of our physical bodies.

"I have a question that I’ve been pondering for some time and thought you might be able help me with it.  As I have studied the creation more I find the verses in Moses 2:27-28 and Genesis 1:27-28 perplexing.  When it speaks of creating man it does not mention that they are created of the dust in these verses until the next chapter in verse Moses 3:7 - It mentions that they form man again this time out of the dust and man becomes the “first flesh upon the earth”. So I conclude that the account of the days 1-6 of creation is actually the spiritual creation, and the physical creation happened on the 7th day or at least the creation of man (D&C 77:12).  This brings me to my question, I want to know what the above verses mean when it says '…be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'? Because Adam and Eve are only spirits at this point… So, Is Heavenly Father teaching them that this will be their role in life…? Or is he asking them to spiritually pro-create at this point? And this would allow them to create spiritual tabernacles in the same way we create physical tabernacles in mortality…?"

Elder Harold B. Lee
His question reminded me specifically of a quote from Elder Harold B. Lee that arose out of his summer lecture series in 1954, where his audience was comprised of Seminary and Institute instructors. During the summer he discussed many and varied doctrinal topics, and in particular this one referenced in the e-mail to me. I responded by saying I had read the entire Heber C. Kimball discourse in its original source and that one statement appeared to me to have been lifted out of context. This is a favorite tactic of anti-Mormon writers who delight in this practice to misrepresent and embarrass current leaders of the Church whose statements are pitted against the early leaders of the Church to create intentional conflict. Said Elder Lee:

"It is just as dangerous for teachers of religion to teach as absolute facts that can't be controverted, something that still is in the realm of speculation and theory, and when you find someone who is writing a book in which they speak with a pedantic authority as though it were an accomplished fact and couldn't be gainsaid, then you put a question mark by it and write 'theory.' I will tell you what I do, as I read these many books that come (and I think the day is here when we have got to be more discriminating in our reading than ever before).

"Let me suggest a method. As you read these books, no matter who writes them, read carefully down the record and where their teaching is in complete agreement with the revelations that the Lord has given us and with the teachings of the scriptures, accept it as being fact, but where they go off into imaginative suppositions or speculations that are not fully proved by the scriptures, write out in the margin, the name of the author. It is his idea, you see. Distinguish as between the individual's idea and that which is supported by scriptures. It is perfectly all right for us to get another's idea. . .

"Talk in simple language -- keep your teachings just as simple as the Lord has told it -- simple for the purpose that he told Moses, 'To bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39). He showed Moses the history of this world, who saw it in vision, but of all things else pertaining to the rest of the universe, he didn't show him. Perhaps if we had the full story of the creation of the earth and man told to us in great detail, it would be more of a mystery than the simple few statements that we have contained in the Bible, because of our lack of ability to comprehend. Therefore, for reasons best known to the Lord, he has kept us in darkness. Wait until the Lord speaks, or wait until that day when he shall come, and when we shall be among the privileged either to come up out of our graves and be caught up into the clouds of heaven or shall be living upon the earth likewise to be so translated before him. Then we shall know all things pertaining to this earth, how it was made, and all things that now as children we are groping for and trying to understand.

"Let's reserve judgment as to the facts concerning the creation until we know these things for sure. Then let us answer those who offer their theories with reference to the creation, which come from men: 'We don't know, and nobody knows.' Label 'theory' by the name of the man who gave us the theory and think of it as has been said by Elder [James E.] Talmage, as merely the scaffolding, until the walls of our faith are built and that glorious day when we are permitted to enter into the presence of the Lord and receive greater instructions."
(Elder Harold B. Lee, manuscript copy of 1954 lecture series at BYU for Seminary and Institute instructors [unpublished], pp. 38, 44).

3. A text message asking if I was aware that the "matriarchal priesthood" was going to be restored to the earth before the Second Coming. When I inquired further into the origins of the statement, I discovered there are many women who have spiritual gifts enabling them to heal physical, emotional and spiritual ailments of all kinds. These women are wonderful examples to me of deeply spiritual and committed individuals who exercise supernal gifts of the Spirit. One of those enumerated gifts in the scriptures (see Moroni 10; D&C 46; 1 Corinthians 12) is the gift of healing. Spiritual gifts, of course, are not distinguishable between male and female, and often operate outside the authoritative priesthood keys that are the domain of men only. They are clearly explained in the context of the spiritual keys of power available to men and women without regard to their free exercise by males or females. In the past Scott Strong and I have written extensively about these distinctions, and I would refer you to our compilation on these topics.

There can be little doubt these spiritual gifts can, do and have always existed among women in the Church. The evidence they are efficacious and beneficial for many is irrefutable. However, there is no need to force the invention of a modality linking this spiritual gift to the priesthood keys of authority to somehow reach for authenticity. Such is a false idea and if pursued would foul the pure channel from which the gift flows to those individuals so endowed.

That said, the exercise of the spiritual gifts and discerning of how the those gifts exercised by others within the boundary of his congregation is clearly within the domain of priesthood leaders and the priesthood keys of authority he holds. (See D&C 46 and 50). However, to assert that women must have something called the "matriarchal order of the priesthood" to freely exercise their spiritual gift is absolutely false on its face.

Ask yourselves, when confronted with such ideas, "In all my life in the Church, have I ever heard anyone in a position of authority offer such an idea?"

If the answer to that simple question is "NO," then leave it where you found it and don't pick it up again. Left unchecked and unchallenged, repeated to the uninformed and gullible, these ideas gain more power than they deserve to garner.

No comments:

Post a Comment