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cinepro

Would You Teach A Historical Truth If You Knew It Would Cause Doubts?

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In all this discussion of doubts and Swedish LDS, there is an underlying assumption that rarely gets questioned, and it raises an issue that I think each LDS needs to resolve before they would consider the problem of "doubts".

There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

For example, suppose you came to understand that a fellow ward member did not know about the Priesthood Ban, and they expressed very, very strong feelings that they would never be a member of a Church that would racially discriminate who does or doesn't get the priesthood. They have expressed 100% certainty that they absolutely could not abide such a religion under any circumstances.

Under what conditions would you tell such a person about the Priesthood Ban? Meaning, the plain truth of that part of LDS history totally contradicts their ability to stay in the Church.

I understand the theory that spiritual confirmations and testimony can overcome any objection, but I suspect this isn't the case for all LDS.

So, if I am right and there are certain subsets of people who absolutely will not be able to overcome their objections to different aspects of Church history or policies to which they are currently unaware, how would this change the way the Church approaches the "rescue" of doubters?

I think it would have a very positive effect on interactions between those who would "rescue", and the doubters. Ultimately, I think the best approach for "rescuers" would be the following:

1. Define the issue

2. Put the issue in full historical or doctrinal context

3. Probe for any misinformation, misassumptions or error and try to correct them

4. Acknowledge "gray areas" and unanswered questions about the issue.

5. Offer different ways the issue might be incorporated into continued belief.

Above all, "rescuers" and "doubters" should understand that the object of the discussion isn't to try and return the doubter to their former state of faith in God and attitude towards the Church. Everyone should be clear that this isn't possible. Instead, the object is to help the doubter to form a new faith in God and attitude towards the Church that incorporates these problematic issues.

For some people, this new state is better than what they had before. For others, it's just different. And for others, it's worse.

In other words, if a "rescuer" is not also trained and prepared to be an "exit counselor" if that time comes, they'll never be totally effective.

Edited by cinepro

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I would if I knew all the ins and outs and how to respond to questions but I wouldn't put something out there that I couldn't follow up on

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In all this discussion of doubts and Swedish LDS, there is an underlying assumption that rarely gets questioned, and it raises an issue that I think each LDS needs to resolve before they would consider the problem of "doubts".

There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

For example, suppose you came to understand that a fellow ward member did not know about the Priesthood Ban, and they expressed very, very strong feelings that they would never be a member of a Church that would racially discriminate who does or doesn't get the priesthood. They have expressed 100% certainty that they absolutely could not abide such a religion under any circumstances.

Under what conditions would you tell such a person about the Priesthood Ban? Meaning, the plain truth of that part of LDS history totally contradicts their ability to stay in the Church.

I understand the theory that spiritual confirmations and testimony can overcome any objection, but I suspect this isn't the case for all LDS.

So, if I am right and there are certain subsets of people who absolutely will not be able to overcome their objections to different aspects of Church history or policies to which they are currently unaware, how would this change the way the Church approaches the "rescue" of doubters?

I think it would have a very positive effect on interactions between those who would "rescue", and the doubters. Ultimately, I think the best approach for "rescuers" would be the following:

1. Define the issue

2. Put the issue in full historical or doctrinal context

3. Probe for any misinformation, misassumptions or error and try to correct them

4. Acknowledge "gray areas" and unanswered questions about the issue.

5. Offer different ways the issue might be incorporated into continued belief.

Above all, "rescuers" and "doubters" should understand that the object of the discussion isn't to try and return the doubter to their former state of faith in God and attitude towards the Church. Everyone should be clear that this isn't possible. Instead, the object is to help the doubter to form a new faith in God and attitude towards the Church that incorporates these problematic issues.

For some people, this new state is better than what they had before. For others, it's just different. And for others, it's worse.

In other words, if a "rescuer" is not also trained and prepared to be an "exit counselor" if that time comes, they'll never be totally effective.

Questions are usually the best tools to help someone find the right answers, and we all should learn to rely ulimately on God for our knowledge, wherever that takes us.

For example, if I knew someone had some problems understanding the priesthood ban I would ask them why they had a problem with it, like:

Why is that a problem for you?

Why do you think everyone should have the priesthood... or even that all men should have it?

Are you aware that at one time only the priesthood was restricted to only the descendants of Aaron?

Where are you getting your ideas about all of this?

Have you asked God about it to see what he says?

You don't want to make your mind up without getting a personal answer from him, do you?

Haven't you learned that you need faith from God rather than just believing whatever seems right in your own eyes?

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There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

There are subsets of people of all kinds, which is why the general authorities teach the general principles and we subsets and individuals govern ourselves. I am grateful that the Gift of the Holy Ghost addresses individual and subset needs and exceptions, person by person. Sometimes this is aided by individual, one-on-one ministry by another member or leader.

But if someone were to tell me they are radically opposed to a certain principle, and the Church holds or has held to that principle, I would feel obligated to point that situation out and help him through it. While I think the 5 steps you listed could use some work, I agree that the objective is to help him lead with the faith he does have (borrowing from Elder Holland’s recent talk) to help him process his understanding of and response to the situation at hand. I say "process" instead of "incorporate" since the individual may decide to leave the matter on the back burner for awhile, or forget about it, or otherwise reassess its importance.

RE: #5, I think there is a fine line between offering different ways the issue might be incorporated into continued belief and getting someone to think or rationalize their way through a matter of faith (that is how the trouble started!). I think the root of the real solution and healing is spiritual. Where some people are resistant to the spiritual process, a secular approach or discipline might help him arrive at that point, but it does not help if the rescuer conflates the two or offers a substitute for the Spirit. Then it just becomes an issue of who is smarter, and there will always be someone smarter on either side of the problem.

RE: “exit counseling,” I am aware of several individuals that decided to leave the Church, and in each case where there was discussion with priesthood leaders beforehand, they were treated with respect and assured that the decision to leave was theirs alone and would be accepted by the Church. I’m not sure how much special training these leaders needed; I doubt they received any.

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If you are asking if I would teach the critics interpretation of an historic event? The answer is no. If you are asking if I would teach an historic event, put it in context and discuss it in the proper venue the answer is yes. If you are asking if I would bring up controversial issues in a church class and disrupt a teachers carefully prepared lesson the answer is no. The all encompassing answer is maybe, depending on the venue.

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Excellent question Cinepro and good post. You and CV75 make some excellent points!

Why is that a problem for you?

Why do you think everyone should have the priesthood... or even that all men should have it?

Are you aware that at one time only the priesthood was restricted to only the descendants of Aaron?

Where are you getting your ideas about all of this?

Have you asked God about it to see what he says?

You don't want to make your mind up without getting a personal answer from him, do you?

Haven't you learned that you need faith from God rather than just believing whatever seems right in your own eyes?

Ahab, while I understand what you are getting at, those questions would come off a bit condescending to me, especially the last one.

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Indeed, condescending is what most people with problems in the Church get, on all sides.

I would be in a quandary. Knowing how difficult some knowledge is going to be to said-individual, I'd want to spare him the experience, the pain, the danger even. But also, I am not to blame for the situation. I did not create this mess or contribute to its development in any way. So "Let God sort it out", the world is too big for me to go about trying to solve all the problems it causes. I'll be there for them, though, and do what I can as a friend....

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Ahab, while I understand what you are getting at, those questions would come off a bit condescending to me, especially the last one.

Your idea of what being condescending is probably isn't the same as my idea of being condescending, because I don't see a problem with it. I am taking on the role of a teacher while trying to help somebody learn something I already know, so if that's what you mean by being consdescending then Yes that is what I was doing.

Try just answering the question I asked without assuming I'm being prideful in my desire to teach somebody something.

Edited by Ahab

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A few of Ideas that I try to teach my children

1. I think it is important to teach that we don't have all of the answers, we probably do not have most of the answers, and that is OK.

2. The lord will not hold us accountable for what we don't know, only what we do know.

3. Faith promoting stories are distortions of history. Most of what we do, or anyone, including the Joseph and Brigham, did were not faith promoting. We cherry pick the best parts of their lives, and experiences to share with others. This OK, because we all learn by good examples, bad examples (unless you are teaching what not to do) are not that useful. Most of the time, most of the history of the church is not mentioned. It is only the exceptional items that get repeated, resulting in a very biased teaching of the church history.

4. Finding faults whether in our church leaders past or present, or in others is very easy to do, but is not productive. Finding the good in others is harder and brings more joy.

5. We are not the Church of Brigham, Joseph, Gordon or Thomas, we are the church of the Lord. Although we think highly of them, they were mortals who needed the atonement as much as I do.

6. The lord gives us commandments for our day . He may command us to do different things today than he commanded people to do in the past. (this is my explanation when I am asked why it was OK for Jesus to drink wine and it isn't for us, I always thought the grape juice explanation was rather weak.)

7. The lord will judge the people in the past according to their knowledge, faith and obedience. He doesn't need our help.

I don't think it is my duty to go around asking people if they know every bad thing Joseph, Brigham, Bruce or Boyd has said or did. If an uncomfortable subject come up (for example about blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, polyandry, etc ). I usually try to be as direct, and accurate as possible, letting them know what I know and what I don't know. I try not to explain stuff, or justify stuff. I do however encourage them to find out more about the details (rather than opinions). I may give my opinion and let them know it is my opinion.

Edited by Danzo

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There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

I'm curious. Is there any history recorded in the Bible that would rock your faith? And

if you were from the Catholic or a Protestant side of Christianity, what act or principle

done or taught by said church would cause you to want to leave it?

Thanks,

Jim

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I'm curious. Is there any history recorded in the Bible that would rock your faith? And

if you were from the Catholic or a Protestant side of Christianity, what act or principle

done or taught by said church would cause you to want to leave it?

Thanks,

Jim

How about God supporting an adulterer and murderer as leader of Israel.

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In all this discussion of doubts and Swedish LDS, there is an underlying assumption that rarely gets questioned, and it raises an issue that I think each LDS needs to resolve before they would consider the problem of "doubts".

There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

For example, suppose you came to understand that a fellow ward member did not know about the Priesthood Ban, and they expressed very, very strong feelings that they would never be a member of a Church that would racially discriminate who does or doesn't get the priesthood. They have expressed 100% certainty that they absolutely could not abide such a religion under any circumstances.

Under what conditions would you tell such a person about the Priesthood Ban? Meaning, the plain truth of that part of LDS history totally contradicts their ability to stay in the Church.

I understand the theory that spiritual confirmations and testimony can overcome any objection, but I suspect this isn't the case for all LDS.

So, if I am right and there are certain subsets of people who absolutely will not be able to overcome their objections to different aspects of Church history or policies to which they are currently unaware, how would this change the way the Church approaches the "rescue" of doubters?

I think it would have a very positive effect on interactions between those who would "rescue", and the doubters. Ultimately, I think the best approach for "rescuers" would be the following:

1. Define the issue

2. Put the issue in full historical or doctrinal context

3. Probe for any misinformation, misassumptions or error and try to correct them

4. Acknowledge "gray areas" and unanswered questions about the issue.

5. Offer different ways the issue might be incorporated into continued belief.

Above all, "rescuers" and "doubters" should understand that the object of the discussion isn't to try and return the doubter to their former state of faith in God and attitude towards the Church. Everyone should be clear that this isn't possible. Instead, the object is to help the doubter to form a new faith in God and attitude towards the Church that incorporates these problematic issues.

For some people, this new state is better than what they had before. For others, it's just different. And for others, it's worse.

In other words, if a "rescuer" is not also trained and prepared to be an "exit counselor" if that time comes, they'll never be totally effective.

If you have to lie to a person to convince them to your position. Then your position is automatically false, and untenable.

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People with concerns deserve to be given perspective and context. Ahab's approach is best. Ask questions to determine the actual concern. The same applies to politics. When people have strong objections I always ask why. If they have a problem with polygamy i ask why they dont' take issue with Abraham. If they have a problem with destroying the printing press, I ask why they don't take issue with Peter killing two members for not paying a full tithe. They require perspective.

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How about God supporting an adulterer and murderer as leader of Israel.

Or, how about God commanding the genocide of hundreds of thousands of peoples, commanding to slaughter men, women, and innocent children...well, all except for the really hot women. The Israelites were permitted to keep the really hot ones after they had slaughtered their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. After she had mourned the loss of her family for a month, it was then ok to "go in unto her." If, after killing her family then sleeping with her one month later, the men had "no delight" in their new hot trophies, it was ok to throw them out in the street after they had "humbled" her. (Deut 21: 10-14)

The OT is replete with disturbing and potentially faith shattering stories.

Edited by pogi

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People with concerns deserve to be given perspective and context. Ahab's approach is best. Ask questions to determine the actual concern. The same applies to politics. When people have strong objections I always ask why. If they have a problem with polygamy i ask why they dont' take issue with Abraham. If they have a problem with destroying the printing press, I ask why they don't take issue with Peter killing two members for not paying a full tithe. They require perspective.

in regards to the destruction of the Nauvoo printing press I always remind them of the destruction of the W.W. Phelp's printing press in July of 1833!

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Your idea of what being condescending is probably isn't the same as my idea of being condescending, because I don't see a problem with it. I am taking on the role of a teacher while trying to help somebody learn something I already know, so if that's what you mean by being consdescending then Yes that is what I was doing.

Try just answering the question I asked without assuming I'm being prideful in my desire to teach somebody something.

I don't doubt your desire or intentions, I just think that we need to be careful to come off as respectful of other's questions and struggles with faith. Perhaps the wording on your last question could be modified, that's all. It comes of as snarky and condemning. It's kind of like you are saying, "duh! You should know this and be living it." I'm sure that's not what you intended.

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My personal feeling is that it is best to teach the truth, the whole truth, rather than half truths. It is better to just lay out the facts to the extent they are known, and then put whatever justifiable positive spin you can put on them with out distorting anything. I don't want anyone coming back at me accusing me of not telling them something or correcting them when they stated something like they could never be a member of a church which had discriminated against people because of their race. That does not mean that you give it the ugly spin that those who are trying to injure the Church do. I think if a person patiently explains the situation and history, that most people will accept and understand. If they can't accept and understand under those circumstances, chances are they were headed out the door eventually anyway. Not everyone, in fact very few Mormons, are going to be able to sustain their perfect Church bubble their entire lives, normally something or a series of somethings is going to puncture the bubble, that does not mean they will lose their testimony, it just means they will accept the Church as a real organization with leaders trying to do the best they can, but who may not have their spiritual radio constantly tuned into the right channel when it comes to every thing that they are confronted with including cultural errors of long standing.

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It all depends on the audience and the circumstances. Sometimes I don't think it is necessary to bring out things that aren't flattering, such as in Gospel Doctrine class. However, I do think it's important to correct incorrect assumptions when they are mentioned. For example, whenever the story of Joseph Smith's leg surgery as a child is discussed, someone invariably comments about how he had the courage to refuse alcohol, clearly thinking that he was "obeying the word of wisdom." I just cringe. I want to say, actually, the word of Wisdom wasn't revealed until Kirtland, and wasn't binding until long after the Saints' exodus to Utah, and (shudder) Joseph was known to enjoy a glass of beer now and then. This is akin to when people say "the wine Jesus drank was grape juice." Likewise, when I hear "the Saints practiced polygamy because there were so many widows who couldn't own land...bla bla bla." Allowing false ideas such as these to go uncorrected can set a person up for disillusionment down the road. My own faith crisis was largely the result of false assumptions. I thought Joseph Smith was pretty much infallible, and dang near perfect. I also assumed that the gospel was restored in a vacuum, so to speak, and was shocked to learn that Mormonism was part of a larger "Restorationist" movement. My faith has survived, and although I still struggle with doubt at times, I believe I have and will continue to be a better Latter-day Saint because I've had to adjust my cognitive schematics of certain things, and dismiss some false paradigms and assumptions.

Along with many others, I believe it's critical that we teach members, investigators, and especially our children and young people, about difficult issues in a faithful context. I hope I'm able to teach my children in a way that they see the Restoration as a Marvelous Work and a Wonder not because it is/was seamless and perfect, but rather because the Savior did it through imperfect mortals, including Joseph Smith. I will tell them about how, as an 8 year old child, my father baptized me and something I'd never felt before, and haven't quite felt since, came over me. It wasn't emotion, as so many critics like to jump on. It was an almost physical feeling. I'll likewise tell them how for me, the Book of Mormon really is the keystone. I absolutely cannot believe that a con-man would write such a book, even if he could.

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I believe he could have written the BoM. But not as a scam. I think he really believed in the work. Js really was confused with what was out there and wanted truth, probably didn't believe a lot of what was being preached. And felt inspiration to start his own church that held a better afterlife belief. I believe he could have worked on it for several years, not several months. So still a faithful approach if you take in account he may have made up a few things to get the church on it's feet.

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There may be a subset of LDS membership who hold an aversion to specific acts or principles, and they would not want to be a member of any Church that has these acts or principles in its history. In other words, the only reason they are still members of the LDS Church is because they don't know certain things about our history!

More than once as a missionary, I heard an investigator say, 'I could never be a member of a church that X'. In my head I would think, 'Well, this is going to be interesting' and then forge ahead. As just one example, the first time we met with LB, in the home of a member friend, she complained about the money collecting that occurred at the church in which she had been raised and then said, approximately, 'I have no interest in any church that expects its members to hand over so much money'. Weeks later, as we prepared to teach her about the principles of tithing and fasting, I remember thinking that she was going to walk away. But she didn't. She happily committed to both principles. It appeared that what she had experienced during the intervening time had completely eliminated her original aversion. I watched this process happen over and over again with different investigators. To me it's the very essence of what we mean by the word conversion. And I sincerely hope it applies to members as much as it does to investigators. Regardless, we should confidently teach people the truth and hope for the best.

I understand the theory that spiritual confirmations and testimony can overcome any objection, but I suspect this isn't the case for all LDS.

I genuinely fear for these people: 'If we are serious about our discipleship, Jesus will eventually request each of us to do those very things which are most difficult for us to do' (Neal A. Maxwell). In their cases, I see little-to-no benefit in postponing what would seem to be the inevitable.

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If you are asking if I would teach the critics interpretation of an historic event? The answer is no. If you are asking if I would teach an historic event, put it in context and discuss it in the proper venue the answer is yes. If you are asking if I would bring up controversial issues in a church class and disrupt a teachers carefully prepared lesson the answer is no. The all encompassing answer is maybe, depending on the venue.

On the other hand, contrary opinions and interpretations (controversial issues) are the warp and woof of a good elder's quorum or high priests group discussion. Indeed, this makes the class more meaningful and brings the guys back for more each sunday. Perhaps you are suggesting that questions and points made during a discussion be tailored to the audience.

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On the other hand, contrary opinions and interpretations (controversial issues) are the warp and woof of a good elder's quorum or high priests group discussion.

I don't remember the discussion being even remotely controversial, but 15 years ago my then elders quorum president -- a man pursuing a PhD in history -- brought the four different accounts of the First Vision into our EQ meeting.

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The hardest for me is when members ask me about what issues I have with the church.

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Can we make sure the following is included in the next set of manuals. I'd never read it before and it made me fully laugh out loud for several minutes:

Thomas B. Marsh... took a course to sustain his wife and oppose the Prophet of God, and she led him away.

What!--sustain a woman, a wife, in preference to sustaining the Prophet Joseph, brother Brigham, and his brethren! Your religion is vain when you take that course. Well, my wife may say, "If you will sustain Brigham in preference to me, I will leave you." I should reply, "Leave, and be damned!" and that very quickly. That is a part of my religion--"Leave quickly, you poor snoop."

President Heber C. Kimball, made at the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, July 12, 1857.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Journal_of_Discourses/5/7

I'm so glad I no longer believe that even when the prophets think they are speaking as prophets they actually sometimes aren't.

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The hardest for me is when members ask me about what issues I have with the church.

At Christmas I was asked this by family. I got a bit flustered and said, "oh, just things I've read." Well what things, they wanted to know. I told them they could go and read it for themselves if they wanted to know but would rather not impose things on them.

I got accused by an in-law of being patronising and having an agenda. I thought I was being protective and helpful

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