Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

The famous Mormon loathing for other Christian sects

October 15th, 2013 by Vader

Debunked.     

Though Riskas puts quotation marks around “an abomination before God” as a Mormon attitude about all other faiths, he does not provide a source. Joseph Smith famously did use a different phrase in the 1838 account of his first vision. His actual statement is of a declaration that “all their creeds were an abomination in his sight” (Joseph Smith, History, 19). Having misread the evidence, and therefore, missed the crucial clue, Riskas does not seek out Joseph Smith’s clear explanation of the problem with creeds even though he does list in his bibliography the source where I first read it, The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith opposed creeds, not because they are false teachings (“all of them have some truth”), but because “creeds set up stakes, and say, ‘Hitherto thou shalt come, and no further’; which I cannot subscribe to.”55 Joseph Smith also explained that “the most prominent difference in sentiment between the Latter-day Saints and sectarians was that the latter were all circumscribed by some particular creed, which deprived its members of the privilege of believing anything not contained therein, whereas the Latter-day Saints have no creed, but are ready to believe all true principles that exist, as they are made manifest from time to time.”56 The real problem with creeds is not their content57 but their function. When in place, creeds place a person and a society beyond repentance, beyond change. Creeds box a person in and throw away the keys to further light and knowledge. If that is not abominable, what is?

Thus Kevin Christensen.

Also a warning against developing creeds of our own.

I had a stake president a few years ago who came up with a “Mission of the Aaronic Priesthood” based on some talk by some General Authority in some Conference. It had a lot of good stuff in it about preparing for a mission and the temple and getting a good education and respecting women. Nevertheless, it always troubled me that he had the entire Priesthood in every unit in his stake recite the thing every Sunday in Priesthood opening exercises. Christensen has nicely articulated the danger with this kind of thing, however well-meaning.

The practice was quietly dropped almost at once when a new stake president was called.I am grateful.

Comments (14)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , ,
October 15th, 2013 07:54:14
14 comments

Porter Rockwell
October 15, 2013

I have bin deceived. I want a dad-blame refund.


SteveDensleyJr
October 15, 2013

My guess is that the “Mission of the Aaronic Priesthood” that was being read came from the Church Handbook, not from your stake president. (See C.H.I. 8.1.3.) My stake was reciting this as well. Note, however, that after the purposes are laid out, there is a statement indicating: “Young men should not recite these objectives in their meetings or activities.” If I remember correctly, this statement was added to the new handbook and that is the reason stakes such as yours and mine stopped reciting it.


Vader
October 15, 2013

Thanks for that added information, Steve. I have not had occasion to read the new CHI and am sometimes surprised to learn what is and is not in there.

I think it tends to reinforce my point, though.


Bookslinger
October 15, 2013

It’s interesting how passages of scripture, or certain quotes from modern prophets, can be taken out of context, or taken out of their intended scope of time and place, and be used as creeds.

“No death before the fall” is one. Well… What about previous creations/universes before this one?

“Always”, “never” and “forever” do have limitations of scope when you consider that outside this universe or before the big bang (or after the “big crunch”), or in higher dimensions, time did/does/will not exist. We can say that God the Father was “always” God, but our “always” is bound by the beginning of “our” time as defined by the big bang. He may have been a man in a mortal universe, a child of his own Heavenly Father, saved by His Savior, took upon him the name of his Savior, progressed/attained unto exaltation, ascended/transcended to higher timeless dimensions (“eternity”), then created/organized/big-banged *this* (our) universe in a 3-dimensional time-bound space somewher under His higher station. If something like that were the case, then the words “always” and “forever” could logically be limited by the bounds and time-span of this, our universe. Only by going “up one level” to a dimension that we can only guess at, “back over”, and then “back down a level” could we logically apply the word “was” to a “eternal” being.

_That_ is what I postulate is at the crux of Joseph Smith’s perceived heresy. (Okay, that and the concept of new/continued revelation.) In this, the Dispensation that brings together all the knowledge of previous Dispensations, and adds more, Joseph Smith restored views of “dimensions” (though that may not be the word he used), a cosmological “scope” and “time _versus_ eternity” that was incomprehensible to people of his time.

Joseph Smith taught that “eternity” is more than just “time x infinity”. I don’t know what theoretical mathematics or theoretical physics or theoretical cosmology existed in his day. But it was insufficient to give a picture or framework for his concepts of “eternal” or “eternity”.

I would not be able to have even the miniscule understanding of the teachings of JS that I do have were it not for the likes of Carl Sagan and theoretical cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking.

There is a black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and it is speculated that all galaxies have one. If galaxies eventually collapse into their black hole, that literally would be “the end of time” for that galaxy. And based on how cosmologists have observed and predicted how the mechanics of it would happen (orbiting and swirling inward), it would fit with the scriptural passage of “the heavens and the earth being wrapped together as a scroll.”

If a black hole eventually becomes a “while hole” and the cycle starts anew, how close that sounds to scripture and Jospeh Smith’s usage of how Heavenly Father’s works are “one eternal round.”


Agellius
October 16, 2013

Just curious what you think: Does this count as developing a creed?

http://www.millennialstar.org/the-law-of-chastity-is-not-changing/#more-13618


Bookslinger
October 16, 2013

Ag: I suppose the dictionary definitions of beliefs, creeds and doctrines are actually pretty close.

I’m not sure what meaning or connotation that the word “creed” had in Joseph Smith’s day that separated it from “belief” or “doctrine”. Perhaps “creed” was more “derived” or “secondary” as explained in the article “Mormons Get Their Own Planet When they Die” as opposed to a direct statement found in canonized scripture.

My take is that “creeds” referred to binding statements of faith, such as the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creed, which were indeed “secondary” or “derived” from scriptural and other sources but were given _primacy_ over scriptures, and all subsequent interpretation of scripture had to be viewed through the creeds’ lens. The fact that continuing revelation was denied also, in effect, gave creeds primacy over continuing revelation.

The church does have a concise statement of basic beliefs called the “Articles of Faith” which JS composed in response to a journalist who asked what the Mormons believe. We also have a book called “Doctrine and Covenants” which was previously entitled “Book of Commandments.”


Agellius
October 16, 2013

I don’t agree that the traditional creeds were given primacy over scripture, but I won’t argue about that here.

My question was really, doesn’t LDSPhilosopher’s argument that what he calls the “law of chastity” can never change, amount to making it into an element of a creed? Isn’t he giving the current teaching “primacy over continuing revelation” by saying that it can never change? Isn’t he “depriv[ing] its members of the privilege of believing anything not contained therein”?


Adam G.
October 17, 2013

Agellius,

I think your questions about whether LDSPhil’s views amount to an unmormonly creedalization of the law of chastity would best be directed to him. Perhaps he would make a distinction between theological beliefs (the normal subject of the creeds) and ethical and moral rules of conduct like the law of chastity, but I don’t know.

As a general commentary on Mormons and creeds, I observe that Mormons do in fact have beliefs to which one must formally adhere but that the beliefs are fewer and less specific than with the generality of creedal confessions. Thus, one could openly if quietly disbelieve in the core Mormon doctrine of deification and, as long as one didn’t create scandal by getting up an agitation against it, one could likely continue to be a Mormon in full standing with a temple recommend and all.

I would warn against making a counter-creed of Joseph Smith’s polemic against creeds.


Vader
October 17, 2013

I would warn against making a counter-creed of Joseph Smith’s polemic against creeds.

Indeed. :)

I think Joseph Smith would have agreed that there are things in creeds we are certain are true. It’s the notion that there is nothing more to be said on the subject that he objected to. It’s a subtle thing, and there is gray area. I tried to post an example over at the original site: Being certain of our position on homosexuality does not preclude receiving further instruction, let’s say, on the doctrine of divorce.

Though, to be fair, even Christ’s NT pronouncements on divorce had a bit more of a ring of policy than doctrine.


Agellius
October 17, 2013

Adam:

“I think your questions about whether LDSPhil’s views amount to an unmormonly creedalization of the law of chastity would best be directed to him.”

Yeah, I debated whether to comment here with a link to the other post, or on the other with a link to this one. I decided to post here seeing as how the other had already run into some 85 comments and I didn’t want to stir up further contention. Besides, on the other post this would be a side issue whereas here it fits in with the main topic.

I’ve been puzzled for a long time about this idea of Mormonism being un-creedal. In fact I’ve probably asked about it before. I hope I’m not being a pest.

I suppose the Mormon core doctrines are fewer and less specific than, say, Catholic ones. But regarding your statement that “one could openly if quietly disbelieve in the core Mormon doctrine of deification and, as long as one didn’t create scandal by getting up an agitation against it”, that’s pretty much the case in Catholicism too. I mean there are some doctrines that are “core”, which we call dogma, and you can’t reject those even internally while claiming to be a faithful Catholic; at least, it’s my opinion that you can’t do so logically, since that would amount to claiming to have faith in the Church while not believing what the Church teaches to be essential. In what then does such a faith consist?

But there are other issues on which I think Catholics may dissent with a clear conscience as long as they don’t go around agitating. The Church has acknowledged that some may want to believe something but simply find themselves unable (this is something I find hard to understand personally, but hey, people are different). Such people are encouraged to discuss their difficulties privately but not go around proclaiming that they are right and the Church is wrong.

My point is that for all the LDS emphasis on not being creedal, I’m having a hard time seeing any essential difference between our churches with regard to creeds.


Agellius
October 17, 2013

Vader:

“It’s the notion that there is nothing more to be said on the subject that he objected to.”

That’s a notion that I would object to as well. Long after the creeds were written, people continued (and still continue) to elaborate on their contents.


Adam G.
October 17, 2013

Agellius,
we may not be the folks to answer your question because anyone here adheres to a strong form of the argument that Mormonism is non-creedal. Personally I see the differences between Mormonism in that regard as more a matter of degree than of kind, both in the degree to which we allow latitude of belief and also in the degree to which we conceptualize something other than a set of beliefs as our defining core.
Also remember that Joseph Smith almost certainly did not have Catholicism in mind specifically.


Agellius
October 17, 2013

“Also remember that Joseph Smith almost certainly did not have Catholicism in mind specifically.”

That’s a good point, and one that crossed my mind as well. I think some fundamentalist sects are actually quite dogmatic and very limited in what they consider to be acceptable beliefs, and do not at all like the idea of development or elaboration of doctrine. In other words they have very strict creeds “which [deprive] [their] members of the privilege of believing anything not contained therein”.


h_nu
October 18, 2013

I guess that’s true if you assume that that is the only way Joseph meant his first statement…
In my opinion, that is “one” way in which Joseph explicates that statement, not the “only” way.
Just be careful about the assumptions…

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