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President Oaks' advice to young married couples in Chicago

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https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2019-02-04/president-oaks-advice-to-young-married-couples-in-chicago-on-how-to-tackle-faith-threatening-questions-48930?fbclid=IwAR0vpkbLjE_SRyprFVryPA9DO6Tva5j-kfJT-xKdRmOgDaCSeTuHTYL_QPA

Another talk on faith struggles was recently given and I wanted to share and get some discussion going.  

Quote

“Your generation has grown up with an avalanche of information about the history of the Church that is new to many and concerning to some,” he said. “The time-honored principles of relying on and trusting the Lord and His servants are questioned by some.”

Good that he's acknowledging that the game has changed here.  People are less likely to just blindly trust what they've been told.  

Quote

Additionally, many members — “and you are surely among them” — live in areas where they are a small minority. Each day they associate, and are sometimes governed by, persons who have “radically different” beliefs and standards.

“We are taught to love our neighbors, but it is not easy to love and live with those who have different standards and sometimes challenge us and our standards in a persuasive or even threatening way,” he said.

I find it sad that he's taking a negative approach to living among people with different beliefs.  I just attended the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit last week in Utah and one of the themes of the conference was around diversity and how beneficial it is for successful business.  Is it really that hard to "love and live with" other people?  Is having someone challenge your standards in a "persuasive" way really a bad thing?  

Quote

President Oaks said the leaders of the Church are mindful of young married couples with children. They pray for them and are alert to their circumstances when considering Church issues.

“For example, the voices of young mothers who had great difficulty managing children during a 3-hour block of meetings on Sunday was an important consideration in reducing our worship meetings to two hours and Primary’s duration commensurately.”

The General Authorities, he added, value “the experience and voice and wisdom” of the sister leaders, particularly the General Officers of the auxiliary presidencies.

“These sisters were consulted frequently on the important developments announced during the last year, and their advice was embodied in all of them.”

This is interesting insight as I'm not sure I had heard this explicitly articulated before.  If they are listening to women's voices more than in the past, I think that is a very good thing.  I suspect that this effort to listen to women had a direct impact on the recent temple changes.  All of these things are a good sign for the future and I hope this continues to progress.  

Quote

He acknowledged that some Latter-Saint couples face conflicts over important values and priorities. Matters of Church history and doctrinal issues have led some spouses to inactivity. Some spouses wonder how to best go about researching and responding to such issues.

“I suggest that research is not the answer,” he said.

The Church does offer answers to many familiar questions through its Gospel Topics Essays found at lds.org.

“But the best answer to any question that threatens faith is to work to increase faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said. “Conversion to the Lord precedes conversion to the Church. And conversion to the Lord comes through prayer and study and service, furthered by loving patience on the part of spouse and other concerned family members.”

Here is the whopper of a section.  [Sentence removed. Disagree with church leaders respectfully.] This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense.  Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."  What do you think?  

I'm glad that he points to the Gospel Topics Essays, this is one of the rare times you get an Apostle pointing to this resource in a very public way.  The problem is that he's suggesting that the essays offer "answers" to questions.  Almost as if these answers are the final word, rather than a place to gather additional information and to continue to study and search.

I remember back to when I first started having what I would have called a faith crisis at the time.  I confided in a good counselor in the stake presidency that I was feeling a lot of guilt and discomfort and that I was reading RSR and Dialogue.  This good man comforted me, and encouraged me to continue to study and to read and to search and to not feel guilty about honest inquiry and rigorous research.  He told me it may take me many years and he expressed that there are many questions he still has that are unanswered and that this is part of the journey of life.  I will always be grateful for the early advice that I received that I should not just study things on the surface, but that I should search and research and study deeply. 

This has made me into a much better person, and I think is one of the best pieces of advice to give someone in this situation.  Don't run away from the problems, don't hide and pretend they don't exist, don't ignore them.  If religion and the existential questions about life actually matter, then you need to engage with these questions as if they do really matter.  

I worry that President Oaks doesn't care about actually helping people to grow into mature humans with the advice he's giving but that he only cares whether a person is an active member of the COJCOLDS.  That makes me sad.  

Quote

President Oaks also offered suggestions on teaching children. Answering a child’s difficult question is one of the most important things a parent can do. “When you are asked a difficult question, such as a puzzler about Church history, be honest and, if necessary, say you don't know. But then be sure to say what you do know: ‘I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God’."

Is the question about whether JS is a prophet a question that your kid can ask, or is that an out of bounds question?   

Thats about it for what I wanted to comment on.  Let me know your thoughts.  Thanks

 

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44 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Here is the whopper of a section.  I believe this is not only dishonest, but it is morally bankrupt advice.  This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense.  Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."  What do you think?  

I agree that it's an odd thing for him to say (and then add this:  "The Church does offer answers to many familiar questions through its Gospel Topics Essays found at lds.org."

Why are there footnotes included with the essays if not for those who want to do more research on the topics?  

If there is nothing to hide regarding church history topics and past teachings and doctrines, I cannot understand why he'd say:

“I suggest that research is not the answer,”

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53 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2019-02-04/president-oaks-advice-to-young-married-couples-in-chicago-on-how-to-tackle-faith-threatening-questions-48930?fbclid=IwAR0vpkbLjE_SRyprFVryPA9DO6Tva5j-kfJT-xKdRmOgDaCSeTuHTYL_QPA

Another talk on faith struggles was recently given and I wanted to share and get some discussion going.  

Good that he's acknowledging that the game has changed here.  People are less likely to just blindly trust what they've been told.  

I find it sad that he's taking a negative approach to living among people with different beliefs.  I just attended the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit last week in Utah and one of the themes of the conference was around diversity and how beneficial it is for successful business.  Is it really that hard to "love and live with" other people?  Is having someone challenge your standards in a "persuasive" way really a bad thing?  

This is interesting insight as I'm not sure I had heard this explicitly articulated before.  If they are listening to women's voices more than in the past, I think that is a very good thing.  I suspect that this effort to listen to women had a direct impact on the recent temple changes.  All of these things are a good sign for the future and I hope this continues to progress.  

Here is the whopper of a section.  I believe this is not only dishonest, but it is morally bankrupt advice.  This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense.  Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."  What do you think?  

I'm glad that he points to the Gospel Topics Essays, this is one of the rare times you get an Apostle pointing to this resource in a very public way.  The problem is that he's suggesting that the essays offer "answers" to questions.  Almost as if these answers are the final word, rather than a place to gather additional information and to continue to study and search.

I remember back to when I first started having what I would have called a faith crisis at the time.  I confided in a good counselor in the stake presidency that I was feeling a lot of guilt and discomfort and that I was reading RSR and Dialogue.  This good man comforted me, and encouraged me to continue to study and to read and to search and to not feel guilty about honest inquiry and rigorous research.  He told me it may take me many years and he expressed that there are many questions he still has that are unanswered and that this is part of the journey of life.  I will always be grateful for the early advice that I received that I should not just study things on the surface, but that I should search and research and study deeply. 

This has made me into a much better person, and I think is one of the best pieces of advice to give someone in this situation.  Don't run away from the problems, don't hide and pretend they don't exist, don't ignore them.  If religion and the existential questions about life actually matter, then you need to engage with these questions as if they do really matter.  

I worry that President Oaks doesn't care about actually helping people to grow into mature humans with the advice he's giving but that he only cares whether a person is an active member of the COJCOLDS.  That makes me sad.  

Is the question about whether JS is a prophet a question that your kid can ask, or is that an out of bounds question?   

Thats about it for what I wanted to comment on.  Let me know your thoughts.  Thanks

 

Recently heard a talk that was recorded of him speaking to the Priests (young men) after speaking in the ward's Fast Sunday. He was upset at the young men for taking the bread with their left hands and not right. And he was shocked at how many did that. Now I don't know, but I thought this was no longer a big deal, I guess I am wrong. 

And about your faith crisis talk with a member of the stake presidency, I'm so glad you had that experience! Had it been a harsher reaction who knows where you'd be? 

My first time coming out to a church leader was when a 1st counselor in the bishopric came to my house to call me to teach Primary after being released from a RS presidency calling. It was funny because my husband and I were about to leave and were outside, I was waiting to hop in the truck on the driveway and my husband struck up a conversation with our next door neighbor. So the 1st counselor told me to hop in his car and we would discuss in there what he wanted to talk with me about and that is where I think turned out to be a very amazing conversation.

When he asked if I wanted to take the calling I spilled out my whole story of finding things out that I didn't know about, first about JS's polygamy. And then he told me he went through the very same thing a couple of years ago. But then he had a wonderful temple experience where he felt those on the other side reaffriming to him that he was where he needed to be. And then he told me to try not to completely leave but to try even harder to come to church and be involved. But he was very empathetic with me, so it felt wonderful that he too had gone through the same thing. 

Edited by Tacenda

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47 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Here is the whopper of a section.  I believe this is not only dishonest, but it is morally bankrupt advice.  This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense.  Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."  What do you think?

Conversion is not agreement (with concepts).  Conversion is a bodily state that yields the fruits of that state.

However, study is a blessing and meant to contribute to conditions that may lead to conversion.  My faith is in my questions (not the answers I think I may have--because they WILL change the more the scales of my eyes fall off).

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Wow...although I like that he has acknowledged that there are issues...to NOT search answers is more damning than having questions..I mean, seek ye knowledge and if the church is true, they should not fear.

Edited by Jeanne
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3 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I confess I don't see the conflict between the two.

There's nothing wrong with research. Indeed I think inquiry is important for reasons similar to what Clark says. However I also think that ultimately answers are tentative in the sense that typically our inquiry underdetermines the answer. Ask me about the grounds for 19th century polygamy, which I'm deeply uncomfortable with and I can give a bit of data, but not enough to really answer anything satisfactorily. Further inquiry only works if one also has that direct faithful relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ. The way I interpret the stuff on polygamy is fully informed by that faith. Without that faith, I'd probably interpret it more the way an atheist critic would. That doesn't mean I'm being irrational in the least nor avoiding investigation. Just that scholarly investigation only gets me so far.

Thanks for the comments.  I'd like to understand why you think that "further inquiry only works if one also has that direct faithful relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ".  Why can't it work without a relationship with God?  I'm not sure how to really even quantify what a relationship with God is supposed to mean as that it is a deeply personal and uniquely individual experience.  I think Oaks would say that you should prioritize a particular view about God, over anything you might learn through research.  How is this not just a coping mechanism to avoid actual inquiry on any particular topic?  

Your approach on polygamy sounds similar to comments that Thomas Wayment made recently in an interview with Terryl Givens that I posted another thread on a few weeks back.  I'm remember you commenting on that thread and it was around his quote where he said "I had spiritual experiences in my life, I’ve since had them, and I refused to renegotiate those, to reconceptualize those, and to become critical of them."  Is this similar to your approach on the polygamy topic, where you are uncomfortable with what you've learned about it, but instead of letting those feelings of discomfort lead to questions about your faith in the church, you compartmentalize these ideas in a way to protect your faith from potential criticism?  I just want to understand better what you are saying and how you rationalize it.  

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There is profound, yet simple, wisdom in his advice.  Conversion to the Lord precedes conversion to the Church.

My experience has been that those that approach discipleship by looking first to examine and research the Church in an effort to determine whether they are convinced of its bona fides are largely unsuccessful in finding the rest the Lord promises to those who come unto Him—that rest includes freedom from fear and doubt. Instead, they are most often literally “restless.”

Those who follow the pattern proffered by President Oaks and come first to the Lord are able to use their conversion to, and communion with, the Divine to determine what questions are worth asking and rely on the light attendant to that conversion and communion in answering those questions.

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4 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I agree that it's an odd thing for him to say (and then add this:  "The Church does offer answers to many familiar questions through its Gospel Topics Essays found at lds.org."

Why are there footnotes included with the essays if not for those who want to do more research on the topics?  

If there is nothing to hide regarding church history topics and past teachings and doctrines, I cannot understand why he'd say:

“I suggest that research is not the answer,”

Good points.  I believe that many church leaders take an approach to the challenging questions about history and religion, where they just decide to trust that some people smarter than them have reconciled these issues to a level of satisfaction that hasn't lead them outside the church.  They essentially outsource their own wrestle with the deeply problematic issues to the authorities that they trust (historians and scholars). 

At the end of the day it all comes down to an appeal to authority.  

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11 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Thanks for the comments.  I'd like to understand why you think that "further inquiry only works if one also has that direct faithful relationship with Heavenly Father and Christ".  Why can't it work without a relationship with God?

Long term it can. However that usually doesn't help us since that long term might be well past our lifetime.

I was still editing my comment when you replied, so some of this I anticipated in those comments. I'd just say that inquiry rarely leads to a determinative answer especially with the type of questions pursued in religion. Sometimes it does, but not always. More importantly I think how we interpret the data depends both on the public data, our own biases, and our private experiences. One aspect of faith is a kind of bias that leads us to interpret the data along a certain direction. If I have had a personal encounter with God and have had revelation that the Book of Mormon is true, that imposes certain burdens of proof that change how I view data. To use my earlier example how I interpret the consequences of a lack of metalurgy in the Americas during the relevant time frame is dependent upon that burden of proof.

Of course that sort of thing isn't just a religious issue. Some physicists find string theory very persuasive. Others are extremely skeptical. What leads to this difference between say Peter Woit and Brian Greene? It's not the evidence but what they bring to the evidence. Effectively all I'm saying is that the same thing happens in religion.

11 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

Your approach on polygamy sounds similar to comments that Thomas Wayment made recently in an interview with Terryl Givens that I posted another thread on a few weeks back.  I'm remember you commenting on that thread and it was around his quote where he said "I had spiritual experiences in my life, I’ve since had them, and I refused to renegotiate those, to reconceptualize those, and to become critical of them."  Is this similar to your approach on the polygamy topic, where you are uncomfortable with what you've learned about it, but instead of letting those feelings of discomfort lead to questions about your faith in the church, you compartmentalize these ideas in a way to protect your faith from potential criticism?  I just want to understand better what you are saying and how you rationalize it.  

I've just not had any personal revelation on that particular subject. However I think I've read all the major scholarly works on the subject. I'm confident elements were inspired by God. Why though I couldn't say. Faith often is knowing that something is of God but not understanding why something is. I can of course still continue to inquire. But while I find polygamy disturbing on an emotional level (I'd almost certainly not remarry if my wife died even though oddly I'd hope she would remarry if I died) I have a degree of confidence that it wasn't just Joseph's libido.

There are elements of Wayment's approach I'm quite sympathetic to. However as you might recall I also firmly reject fideism or anything smacking of it. I don't take something "as true" regardless of the evidence. Rather I think one has to faithfully engage with the evidence. It's just that evidence is much less determinate than some assume. (Typically because they're bringing their own biases to play but haven't critically examined their own ways of engaging with the evidence)

I can think of doctrinal topics I've prayed about in the past, received answers to but didn't have evidence for only to find the evidence later in life. I suspect that's common. While I think revelation is evidence, the faithful ability to say I know what I know and that what seems to contradict that will work itself out eventually. Some day there will be a theory of quantum gravity, for instance.

Edited by clarkgoble
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7 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Recently heard a talk that was recorded of him speaking to the Priests (young men) after speaking in the ward's Fast Sunday. He was upset at the young men for taking the bread with their left hands and not right. And he was shocked at how many did that. Now I don't know, but I thought this was no longer a big deal, I guess I am wrong. 

And about your faith crisis talk with a member of the stake presidency, I'm so glad you had that experience! Had it been a harsher reaction who knows where you'd be? 

My first time coming out to a church leader was when a 1st counselor in the bishopric came to my house to call me to teach Primary after being released from a RS presidency calling. It was funny because my husband and I were about to leave and were outside, I was waiting to hop in the truck on the driveway and my husband struck up a conversation with our next door neighbor. So the 1st counselor told me to hop in his car and we would discuss in there what he wanted to talk with me about and that is where I think turned out to be a very amazing conversation.

When he asked if I wanted to take the calling I spilled out my whole story of finding things out that I didn't know about, first about JS's polygamy. And then he told me he went through the very same thing a couple of years ago. But then he had a wonderful temple experience where he felt those on the other side reaffriming to him that he was where he needed to be. And then he told me to try not to completely leave but to try even harder to come to church and be involved. But he was very empathatic with me, so it felt wonderful that he too had gone through the same thing. 

Thanks, I've wondered how I might have reacted in my early days of faith crisis if the people around me that I trusted most, hadn't given me the advice they'd given.  It definitely would have made things more difficult.  My wife should be given a whole lot of credit.  Her trust in me and her love and support even though she was still very orthodox at the time, was a Godsend to me personally.  I don't know how well I would have handled it without her.  

Thats so cool that you had such a good interaction with that person in your bishopric.  There are such good and loving people in the church.  I'm constantly amazed at the experiences I keep having with my local members.  On Sunday I got up to bear my extremely unorthodox testimony for the first time in many years, and I essentially said that I don't believe the church is true, like most people do, but I do believe the people are good and that I don't look at the church in terms of truth anymore, but I'm a fan of the church and it is important to me, and I see this relationship as similar to how I'm a fan of the Utah Jazz but that I don't always agree with the things the decisions the coach makes.  

After the meeting I expected some negative push back from at least some people, but nothing at all. I had a lot of positive comments from many and the Bishop who works for the Larry H. Miller company even razzed me about the Jazz comment, telling me that they are the one true team, and I got that part wrong.  And he's a very orthodox believer.  Anyway, I'm finding some recent success with my activity lately, and its been so encouraging.  

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16 minutes ago, Maidservant said:

Conversion is not agreement (with concepts).  Conversion is a bodily state that yields the fruits of that state.

However, study is a blessing and meant to contribute to conditions that may lead to conversion.  My faith is in my questions (not the answers I think I may have--because they WILL change the more the scales of my eyes fall off).

Good thoughts.  I like to think of conversion as an ongoing process, rather than an event in time and place.  I really like that you have faith in the questions.  I think questions are much more important than answers at this stage in my life.  

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13 minutes ago, let’s roll said:

There is profound, yet simple, wisdom in his advice.  Conversion to the Lord precedes conversion to the Church.

My experience has been that those that approach discipleship by looking first to examine and research the Church in an effort to determine whether they are convinced of its bona fides are largely unsuccessful in finding the rest the Lord promises to those who come unto Him—that rest includes freedom from fear and doubt. Instead, they are most often literally “restless.”

Those who follow the pattern proffered by President Oaks and come first to the Lord are able to use their conversion to, and communion with, the Divine to determine what questions are worth asking and rely on the light attendant to that conversion and communion in answering those questions.

The word precede suggests that after a person is converted to the Lord, the next step is conversion to the church.  I don't like that binary approach of course, because of the exclusivity claim.  I would decouple that idea as I know many people have a deep devotion to divinity and no relationship with the COJCOLDS.  

For most people I know who were born into the church, they had the conversion to the church first anyway, they were born into it.  The process of faith crisis had me first question my beliefs in the church and then question my belief in God.  I continue to see how incredibility out of touch some of these leaders are when it comes to faith crisis issues.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2019-02-04/president-oaks-advice-to-young-married-couples-in-chicago-on-how-to-tackle-faith-threatening-questions-48930?fbclid=IwAR0vpkbLjE_SRyprFVryPA9DO6Tva5j-kfJT-xKdRmOgDaCSeTuHTYL_QPA

Another talk on faith struggles was recently given and I wanted to share and get some discussion going.  

Good that he's acknowledging that the game has changed here.  People are less likely to just blindly trust what they've been told.  

I find it sad that he's taking a negative approach to living among people with different beliefs.  I just attended the Silicon Slopes Tech Summit last week in Utah and one of the themes of the conference was around diversity and how beneficial it is for successful business.  Is it really that hard to "love and live with" other people?  Is having someone challenge your standards in a "persuasive" way really a bad thing?  

This is interesting insight as I'm not sure I had heard this explicitly articulated before.  If they are listening to women's voices more than in the past, I think that is a very good thing.  I suspect that this effort to listen to women had a direct impact on the recent temple changes.  All of these things are a good sign for the future and I hope this continues to progress.  

Here is the whopper of a section.  I believe this is not only dishonest, but it is morally bankrupt advice.  This runs counter to previously given advice and common sense.  Think of this in light of the famous quote from J. Reuben Clark, "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed."  What do you think?  

I'm glad that he points to the Gospel Topics Essays, this is one of the rare times you get an Apostle pointing to this resource in a very public way.  The problem is that he's suggesting that the essays offer "answers" to questions.  Almost as if these answers are the final word, rather than a place to gather additional information and to continue to study and search.

I remember back to when I first started having what I would have called a faith crisis at the time.  I confided in a good counselor in the stake presidency that I was feeling a lot of guilt and discomfort and that I was reading RSR and Dialogue.  This good man comforted me, and encouraged me to continue to study and to read and to search and to not feel guilty about honest inquiry and rigorous research.  He told me it may take me many years and he expressed that there are many questions he still has that are unanswered and that this is part of the journey of life.  I will always be grateful for the early advice that I received that I should not just study things on the surface, but that I should search and research and study deeply. 

This has made me into a much better person, and I think is one of the best pieces of advice to give someone in this situation.  Don't run away from the problems, don't hide and pretend they don't exist, don't ignore them.  If religion and the existential questions about life actually matter, then you need to engage with these questions as if they do really matter.  

I worry that President Oaks doesn't care about actually helping people to grow into mature humans with the advice he's giving but that he only cares whether a person is an active member of the COJCOLDS.  That makes me sad.  

Is the question about whether JS is a prophet a question that your kid can ask, or is that an out of bounds question?   

Thats about it for what I wanted to comment on.  Let me know your thoughts.  Thanks

I would check out his (and others’) talks on diversity:

https://www.lds.org/topics/diversity-and-unity-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/loving-others-and-living-with-differences?lang=eng

https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-leaders-speak-diversity-love-inclusion

The “whopper” to me is essentially the same message as Elder Corbridge’s. “Research” alone, without divine learning (which he gets to the next paragraph) is not the answer. Fowler’s stages of faith development model (as well as other similar models) is often misused and abused in this context to portray the Elders as doing something they are not.

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36 minutes ago, ALarson said:

I agree that it's an odd thing for him to say (and then add this:  "The Church does offer answers to many familiar questions through its Gospel Topics Essays found at lds.org."

Why are there footnotes included with the essays if not for those who want to do more research on the topics?  

If there is nothing to hide regarding church history topics and past teachings and doctrines, I cannot understand why he'd say:

“I suggest that research is not the answer,”

I think he means research alone is not the answer. see this thread:

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/71510-elder-corbridge-byu-devotional-on-“questions”-22-jan-2019/

 

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I’m going to assume the best.  I think he means research is not the answer to building faith. 

I’m ok with pursuing both. 

 

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35 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I was still editing my comment when you replied, so some of this I anticipated in those comments. I'd just say that inquiry rarely leads to a determinative answer especially with the type of questions pursued in religion. Sometimes it does, but not always. More importantly I think how we interpret the data depends both on the public data, our own biases, and our private experiences. One aspect of faith is a kind of bias that leads us to interpret the data along a certain direction. If I have had a personal encounter with God and have had revelation that the Book of Mormon is true, that imposes certain burdens of proof that change how I view data. To use my earlier example how I interpret the consequences of a lack of metalurgy in the Americas during the relevant time frame is dependent upon that burden of proof.

Of course that sort of thing isn't just a religious issue. Some physicists find string theory very persuasive. Others are extremely skeptical. What leads to this difference between say Peter Woit and Brian Greene? It's not the evidence but what they bring to the evidence. Effectively all I'm saying is that the same thing happens in religion.

Ok, thanks, this does help.  As i mentioned in another comment, I'm more interested in questions and the exploration of those questions as an opportunity to learn and grow and explore and hopefully become more wise in the process.  I have a seeking orientation and it sounds like you do as well.  

I'm not sure that I agree that having an encounter with God or the BoM imposes a specific burden of proof in the way that you seem to suggest.   I think a person's spiritual experiences definitely become part of their operating paradigm, but I don't think that they have to be prescribed in specific ways.  For example, the question of BoM historicity, doesn't have a direct tie back to an answer to prayer about the BoM.  That is an unnecessary assumption that you bring to the table ahead of time.  Even if the person praying were asking specifically about BoM historicity in their prayer, answers come in many different forms and its the interpretation that the person praying layers onto the spiritual experience.  The interpretation of the answer to prayer comes from an imperfect and flawed human.  

44 minutes ago, clarkgoble said:

I've just not had any personal revelation on that particular subject. However I think I've read all the major scholarly works on the subject. I'm confident elements were inspired by God. Why though I couldn't say. Faith often is knowing that something is of God but not understanding why something is. I can of course still continue to inquire. But while I find polygamy disturbing on an emotional level (I'd almost certainly not remarry if my wife died even though oddly I'd hope she would remarry if I died) I have a degree of confidence that it wasn't just Joseph's libido.

There are elements of Wayment's approach I'm quite sympathetic to. However as you might recall I also firmly reject fideism or anything smacking of it. I don't take something "as true" regardless of the evidence. Rather I think one has to faithfully engage with the evidence. It's just that evidence is much less determinate than some assume. (Typically because they're bringing their own biases to play but haven't critically examined their own ways of engaging with the evidence)

I can think of doctrinal topics I've prayed about in the past, received answers to but didn't have evidence for only to find the evidence later in life. I suspect that's common. While I think revelation is evidence, the faithful ability to say I know what I know and that what seems to contradict that will work itself out eventually. Some day there will be a theory of quantum gravity, for instance.

The question I would ask is whether you've ever been confident that something was inspired by God, and then later had a change of heart?   I personally have and those experiences have contributed towards my skeptical orientation these days.  I think the question I would ask someone who says that they have faith that some elements of polygamy were inspired by God, is what would you do if the current President of the church reinstated polygamy and you were called to practice it?  Would this be a challenge to your faith?  

And thanks for the clarification and edits to your original post.  I think that better reflects what I remember reading from you before.  Thanks much! 

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32 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I would check out his (and others’) talks on diversity:

 

https://www.lds.org/topics/diversity-and-unity-in-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?lang=eng

https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/loving-others-and-living-with-differences?lang=eng

https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormon-leaders-speak-diversity-love-inclusion

 

 

The “whopper” to me is essentially the same message as Elder Corbridge’s. “Research” alone, without divine learning (which he gets to the next paragraph) is not the answer. Fowler’s stages of faith development model (as well as other similar models) is often misused and abused in this context to portray the Elders as doing something they are not.

 

I've followed the Elder Corbridge talk and comments closely, and I see some similarities between the two messages.  I disagree with both Oaks and Corbridge's approaches on many levels and I think they are the wrong direction to take for people struggling with faith.  I much more like the recent Elder Uchtdorf approach on this topic.  

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1 hour ago, hope_for_things said:

Good points.  I believe that many church leaders take an approach to the challenging questions about history and religion, where they just decide to trust that some people smarter than them have reconciled these issues to a level of satisfaction that hasn't lead them outside the church.  They essentially outsource their own wrestle with the deeply problematic issues to the authorities that they trust (historians and scholars). 

At the end of the day it all comes down to an appeal to authority.  

By the end of the day, it all comes down to which authority you will appeal.

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2 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

By the end of the day, it all comes down to which authority you will appeal.

That's the false dichotomy that they are setting up.  We shouldn't appeal to any authority.  We should appeal to the truth and continually be evaluating what we know in light of new information.  

Follow me for a moment.  Think about all the things that church leaders have been completely wrong about throughout history.  Blacks, Adam-God, BoM geography, etc.   Which would be better, to appeal to a mistaken leader or to appeal to actual truth?  If you had the choice between the two options, would you choose to stand with the truth or to stand with the mistaken leader who is doing real harm and damage based on their mistaken position? 

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6 minutes ago, bluebell said:

He did say this at the last General Conference-

When we seek the truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods appropriate for that search: prayer, the witness of the Holy Ghost, and study of the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. I am always sad when I hear of one who reports a loss of religious faith because of secular teachings. Those who once had spiritual vision can suffer from self-inflicted spiritual blindness. As President Henry B. Eyring said, “Their problem does not lie in what they think they see; it lies in what they cannot yet see.”1

The methods of science lead us to what we call scientific truth. But “scientific truth” is not the whole of life. Those who do not learn “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118) limit their understanding of truth to what they can verify by scientific means. That puts artificial limits on their pursuit of truth.

President James E. Faust said: “Those who have been [baptized] put their eternal soul at risk by carelessly pursuing only the secular source of learning. We believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the fulness of the gospel of Christ, which gospel is the essence of truth and eternal enlightenment.”2

We find true and enduring joy by coming to know and acting upon the truth about who we are, the meaning of mortal life, and where we are going when we die. Those truths cannot be learned by scientific or secular methods.

Is it fair to use his previous words to help us interpret what he said in this address?  (sincere question)

I think we can take them into account, but Pres. Oaks is not one to NOT state what he means and do so with clarity.  For this discussion, I think we should not be posting what we believe he meant to say and discuss what he did state.  This thread is about the talk he just gave to young couples and not what he's stated in the past.  

Edited by ALarson

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