Sunday, October 26, 2014

I See... The Problem with Church History

The Mormon Third Eye sees at least five problems with church history. Not with church history itself, but how it has been and will be discussed in cyberspace.  If you’re a regular reader of the Mormon Third Eye, you won’t be surprised at how it deals with these problems from unexpected angles.

As a hospitable venue for fluent historians and critical thinkers of faith, the Mormon Third Eye has been pondering deeply on the inspiration implemented by church senior leadership to release carefully researched summaries of controversial issues in church history; controversial in the context that they are being widely discussed and debated, especially among those who are critical of or disaffected with church organizations, beliefs or background for a variety of reasons.  You can read the most recent narrative about the Prophet Joseph Smith and his implementation of divine guidance to practice plural marriage here.

Facts by themselves are relatively useless. It is what we do with them that count. They just kind of float out there in intellectual outer space, waiting for someone to apply their personal or institutional bias in interpreting them.  

The MTE’s critical analysis of these researched summaries reveals that they generate several new problems for several adhoc sectors of the general Mormon populace:

Problem #1: For disgruntled members who have used an array of alternative narratives of church history to justify disagreements with doctrine, authority or standards, they’re going to be disappointed.  The honesty and clarity of the summaries effectively disarms their arguments. They will have to find another chink in the LDS armor to pick at.

Problem #2: For serious seekers of truth, who may be innocently struggling with their testimonies and are sincerely troubled about bumps and scars in church history, they will have to employ the faith-bound methodology for resolving gospel knowledge gaps eloquently explained in Alma Chapter 32. They now have a lot more material to earnestly live and pray and ponder about. Where will they find the time?

Problem #3: For those who have built houses of belief on sandy foundations, watered-down testimonies drawn from the well of floating facts of church history from any source will run dry. They will now have to struggle with resolving the emotional and spiritual torture of cognitive dissonance by either 1) seeking temporary comfort in an illusory lifestyle of pseudo-freedom in prisons built by the philosophies of man, or 2) rebuilding their testimonies by embracing the spiritually perilous soul-breaking work of planting a foundation of faith in eternal gospel principles. Either road is not easy, but not for the same reasons.

Problem #4: For those of us with testimonies founded solely in sacred spiritual experiences refined in the fire of faith in pure gospel principles and an all-knowing, all-loving God, we will now have more opportunities to share those testimonies more often when unsightly warts of church history are discussed.  Technically, this is not a problem for us but for those critics who are flustered with our faith-based approach.

Problem #5: Finally, the greatest challenge is for all of us to accept the love of God regardless of which problem we are wrestling with, for as Nephi so dynamically described it, “I know that he loveth his children;  nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” I sincerely believe that every child of God dealing with any of these problems will, through the Infinite Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, ultimately find lasting happiness on the Lord’s timetable.

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