William James

William James
We must get by on what truth we have today, and be willing to call it error tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hypothetical Pronouncements From Thomas S. Monson On The Book Of Mormon And Other Topics

The questions were put:

"What would you do if Pres. Monson said that the Book of Mormon is not inspired?
What would you do if Pres. Monson said that Joseph Smith wasn't a Prophet, but "an earnest seeker after God" or "a man who tried to express God's mercy but his theology wasn't biblical"
What would you do if Pres. Monson announced that we were saved by "grace alone" and that the LDS Church would stop proselyting other Christians or teach exclusive doctrines?"

To which I responded:

I think that this poll suffers from two main problems, and therefore I did not vote. First, the questions don't deal with the more difficult question: what if the BoM is "inspired" in the sense that it conveys at least some true doctrines as revealed by God to JS, but is not what it purports to be, i.e., a literal translation of an authentic ancient writing, without JS's editorializing and own ideas? If Monson would say the BoM is not even "inspired," then that would seem to constitute an admission that JS was not a prophet and that would destroy the foundation which distinguishes Mormonism from other Christian faiths. Secondly, none of the choices are acceptable: leaving the church does not mean that one must necessarily that one turns atheist or evangelical or joins some wacko sect. A person might leave the church, continue to believe in God, and simply dissociate himself from organized religion, for example. The "stay with the church" choice is also severely lacking in that it does not include conditions, limitations, and reservations that might accompany a person's choice to remain a member.

In my own case, I have determined that: 1) it seems impossible for me to know the extent to which the BoM is authentic; 2) the BoM in any event contains truth which I consider to be God-inspired; and 3) whether the BoM is authentic has no bearing on my views towards current church doctrine. Even if it is authentic, that does not, in my view, mean that the Church is correct in its doctrines about blacks and the priesthood, temple ordinances, eternal families, the eternal nature of gender, sexuality, pornography, masturbation, homosexuality, polygamy, etc. 4) at most, the BoM is a highly editorialized historic document partially translated by JS with his own ideas but mingled with God-inspired revelation; and 5) at least, the BoM is a creative hoax made up by JS, Sidney Rigdon, and/or some of JS's cronies, with a few truths developed by the philosophy of men.

Surely there are some people who would discount any statement (whether by Monson or anyone else) that the BoM is not inspired; they would hold that such a statement would demonstrate that Monson has fallen away and is no longer God's chosen prophet.

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