William James

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

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On The LDS Church Admitting Mistakes

The comment was made:

"One of the things that came out of my thread on the banning of Blacks from holding the Priesthood is the possibility that it was just a mistake. The idea (as expressed by some GA's) that the ban my have just evolved from the social morays of the time within all churches. Many posted articles that noted that such institutional racism was common in the mid 1800's among most churches. Some churches have made apologies for past wrongs, leading others to ask why can't we (The Mormons) do the same?

But those who advocate this (who are not members) do not seek an apology, but rather by doing so we show the world that our former Presidents were not Prophets after all. As such it becomes what many call, "a no win situation". This puts the LDS Church in a unique situation that other churches do not face.

If we found that it was indeed a "policy" rather than a "doctrine", what must we do?"

To which I responded:

Members and leaders must realize a few critical points, namely:
(1) Even a major mistake such as a false doctrine denying blacks the priesthood, does not by itself prove that the revealer of the doctrine was not a prophet; therefore, admitting the mistake does not constitute an admission that the LDS church presidents from Brigham Young through Joseph Fielding Smith were false prophets. Only a few small-minded people would take an apology as an admission of the prophets' inauthenticity.
(2) What such a major mistake DOES establish, though, is that even true prophets can be fallible, and that the mere fact that a purported revelation, doctrine, or policy is handed down by a church president or other high-ranking leader as being God's will on the subject, is not a guaranty of the accuracy thereof. The necessary implication is that members have the burden of sorting through doctrines and policies themselves, and cannot just have them spoon-fed by dogmatic or (sometimes) ignorant leaders who may be relying upon their own poorly-reasoned opinions. This is what the church is most afraid of- having to trust the general membership to come to conclusions on their own about any doctrines.
(3) Try as the Church might, I am 99.999% certain that a refusal to issue an apology will make the church worse off, and no amount of rationalization will be able to talk our way around the simple fact that the denial of the priesthood to blacks was the result of people's racism, plain and simple. (side comment: likewise, the church's continuing puritannical stance on sexuality and its expression is the result of leaders' unwillingness to cast aside their pre-existing prejudices and consider the matter anew)

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