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One of my favorite daily rituals is reading "First Things" a daily commentary on religion which I nearly always find to be thought provoking and sometimes even profound.
I found today's publication particularly interesting https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/01/the-catholic-church-doesnt-do-paradigm-shifts
It discusses Kuhn's idea of "paradigm shifts" and the relevance of that idea to Catholicism, and by extension, I would like to apply it to Mormonism as well. I will presume that most here are at least somewhat familiar with the notion of "paradigm shifts", and if you are not, just consult the article itself which gives a pretty fair if very brief explanation of the general idea of what a paradigm shift is.
The author makes the point that as thoughts and ideas about the nature of the world shift, Catholicism seems to be in trouble because it has no internal mechanism to account for altering doctrines to fit changes in beliefs among its adherents.
On the other hand, there have been a few threads touching on "objective truth" which does not change and how that is interpreted in Mormonism. It seems to me that in Mormonism we have a mechanism to allow for paradigm shifts- the belief that we have the "true and living church" which is based on personal revelation. We also have an open canon as most recently manifested by the Proclamation on the Family- a document which has not yet been canonized, but has certainly been treated as if it has been. We have other examples as well of changing doctrine found in shifts in the practices of polygamy and of African Americans holding the priesthood.
So it seems we are open to change whereas the Catholics are not.
But are we really? From the article regarding the Catholic view of doctrine:
And the article continues discussing the fallout from the use of the term "paradigm shift".
With our alleged "open canon" and belief in ongoing revelation are WE really ready for "paradigm shifts" or in practice are we having trouble with the idea just as Catholicism is??
SHOULD we be more flexible? We supposedly have the mechanisms in place, but do we really?
The topics of "blind obedience" and "prophetic infallibility" come up often, and for years I've tried to adequately explain the problems I see with what the Church says it wants compared to what it really wants.
Apparently, I'm not the first person to see the incongruity. And I'm also the least eloquent, because a recent article by Polly Welker really lays it all out.
The Mormon Version of Infallibility
Here are some of the points that I think are worth discussing:
Some will claim that there is no Mormon orthodoxy and in fact no such thing as true Mormon doctrine. The faith of Mormonism seems to be vastly more concerned with orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy.
A friend recently tried to become a baptized member of the LDS church and he related this story
This isn't a matter of doubt for my friend. He is firmly and unshakeably convinced that the Book of Mormon does not reflect a history of any people.
What do you think, were the missionaries right to deny him membership? Should he have shopped for a different set of priesthood holders? Should he have have nuanced his beliefs so that the missionaries heard what they needed to hear?
If historicity is a requirement to obtain membership, should it be a requirement to maintian membership?