Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Doctrine of Non-Infallibilty

Anonymous D shared a great insight with me that he gave me permission to pass on:
Catholics have a doctrine of infallibility that many don't really believe, and Mormons don't have a doctrine of infallibility even if many think there is one.
Now, I mean no offense to my Catholic friends who belong to a great Christian tradition. Having survived schism, crusade, inquisition, reformation, revolution, and many difficulties in history, it is a mature church. They seem to be adjusting well to a new Pope who seems to be a sincere Franciscan and true Christian. I don't even think that's all that incompatible with my Faith.

I also mean no disrespect to my Mormon friends as the relatively young Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints seems to be in its teenage years dealing with internal doubt and growing pains. It wasn't much fun for me going through my own teen angst. And somehow, in those difficult years and my young adulthood, I was able to face the fascinating aspects of Mormon history and doctrine that seem to be giving some so much trouble these days. I'm still surprised when members claim surprise this far along.

This all comes as the LDS Church is becoming more well known externally and internally. There is the wonderful Church History Library, the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and the publication of fuller official histories and doctrinal development on including the admission of past errors.

Here's a list of links to new historical essays on various topics that I borrowed from (with proper attribution and link). And I understand there are more to come!

Are Mormons Christian?
Book of Mormon Translation
First Vision Accounts
Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah
Race and the Priesthood

I don't even have a problem with the statement in President Woodruff's discourses that the Lord will not allow him to lead the church astray in relation to the revocation of the practice of polygamy . (See D&C, OD 1) It means exactly that in the context of the revocation. And I think there is a broader principle - not that the Lord won't allow mistakes - he certainly has with most humans, well, all except one who walked the earth as God and human. The point is that as long as we follow the Lord's prophet and priesthood, we will not be lead astray as a church or a people. That doesn't require blind obedience or lack of personal responsibility. The responsibility is to do and act to determine if we are following the Lord through the confirmation of His Spirit and our Faith. It's still personal and individual even if we do come together eventually as followers of Christ.

In my own family history work I've found that the more evidence there is the better. But that doesn't mean all evidences are consistent. Maybe it's the lawyer in me but I find it very hard to come to ultimate truth without keeping my options open for more facts and evidences even as I commit myself to a particular course reconciling all I can to the best approximation of truth.

You can parse all you want in this modern age of ever-learning yet somehow escaping truth. I make the choice to exercise faith and follow the Lord's anointed. To a point - and that's between me and the Lord even as I try to explain my mistakes and the things I get right to you all. I just keep trying to work in Hope and Charity as I move forward.

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Comments are welcome. Feel free to disagree as many do. You can even be passionate (in moderation). Comments that contain offensive language, too many caps, conspiracy theories, gratuitous Mormon bashing, personal attacks on others who comment, or commercial solicitations- I send to spam. This is a troll-free zone. Charity always!