So what if some church history is not true?

UnknownA 2013 publication of the Salt Lake City Messenger (‘the Messenger”) talks about Hans Mattsson, a former area official of the LDS Church in Europe.  On July 2, 2013 his story was told in the NY Times.

The Messenger is the periodic publication of the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, “a Christian non-profit organization providing humanitarian outreach to the Community, and printing critical research and documentation on the LDS Church.” It is not kind to the LDS Church in general. I have donated money to it because it does serve a useful purpose—or has in the prior, pre-internet world—by making hard to find documents about the LSD church available to a wide audience.  I usually read them immediately upon receipt.

The Messenger story and the NY Times articles are interesting reads, but this post deals with a different topic also discussed in the Mattsson issue: an article written by Grant H. Palmer which purportedly recounts meetings with a general authority of the LDS during which the general authority admits that he no longer believes the truthfulness of the LDS history as presented by the church among other things.

This purported authority is quoted as saying “the church is like a weakened dam.  At first you don’t see the cracks on the face; nevertheless, things are happening behind the scenes.  Eventually,  small cracks appear, and then the dam will “explode.” When it does, he said, the members are going to be ‘shocked’ and will need scholars/historians like me [I presume Palmer is referring to himself here] to educate them regarding the Mormon past.

Palmer further asserts that “the Mission President and the general authority “both said they attend church every Sunday and feel like ‘a hypocrite and trapped,'” that “each new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is given one million dollars to take care of any financial obligations they have,” and that “it takes about two to three years before the new apostle discovers that the church is not true.”

The primary problem I have with Palmer is that the source in not identified.  It is true that Deep Throat told the truth while staying hidden, but on the record sources are more believable to me—especially when the assertions are so extraordinary. As Carl Sagan said: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”

Leading an organization that does have a good public face and does a lot of good and then coming to believe its foundations are false—what would one do?

Does it matter whether Joseph Smith was a swindling collector of “wives” or a true prophet if the church as it now stands means so much to so many people and does so much good in the world?

What if Krishna is in Hell (as the Jains believe); what if Mohammed was a charlatan; what if Jesus never died on the cross but lived to a ripe old age with Mary Magdalene and kids and grandkids on the southern coast of France?

The primary subject of Tom Robbins’ first book, Another Roadside Attraction is that the mummified body of Jesus is found in the catacombs of the Vatican and removed to Oregon.  Does it really matter to the current church if the ancient stories used  by Dan Brown and Robbins are true or deluded fantasies?

What if I suddenly found myself the head of a church whose history was proven false? What would I do? What would be the right and proper thing to do? To tell the truth  to everyone and let the chips fall where they may?  Assuming I would be believed, would I do it, should I do it? Many would say that pulling the rug of falsehood out from under the church would serve the greater good. But would it?

Not all churches and church people agree with, much even like, the small group of fundamentalist evangelicals who cause so much noise these days. I have no issue with challenging the shouted hatred they claim is the voice of God, no matter how it might affect them and their walk with their view of a God who is so vile as to not be worthy of worship.  [I don’t believe the LDS’s view of the nature of God results in a being worthy of worship either, because he is essentially just a human who has lived a lot longer and learned a lot more than us mere mortals on this Earth. But this is thew subject for another post.]

Most Christians are decent people who get much out of their faith and do much good for the world because of their faith. Would it be right to shatter their beliefs?

This is where I have problems with the Utah Lighthouse Ministry. I have talked to them on the phone several times about this issue. So what if the church has in its past odd things, and has through time changed its doctrines and its rites, making changes to suit the sensibilities of the current generation. Polygamy was abandoned, blacks were given the Priesthood (late in my view of things), and temple ceremonies have been altered to remove things that made people feel uncomfortable (this last, I cannot speak to personally, but have to rely on the writing of others). The LDS church relies on the general authorities to ensure that it is their understanding of God’s will that results in the changes made. Should the question be: what does the church provide its members?

The Catholic church dropped Latin.  Limbo is no longer (whatever happened to all the un-baptized babies that had previously been consigned there?)

The pre-tribulation rapture—apparently spun out of whole cloth by John Darby in 1830—is now firmly entrenched into the doctrine of many denominations. See a discussion of this understanding of the rapture here: Rapture

The Sinner’s Prayer as a requirement for salvation was almost certainly begun by Billy Graham. See one discussion of this here: Sinner’s Prayer

Reincarnation was killed early on— if 400 years after Jesus’ death can be considered early.  See a discussion of this here: Reincarnation

Against these lengths of time from beginning to change, timetable, the changes in the LDS church happened and continue to happen at lightning speed.

What is gained by destroying the foundations of the LDS Church by the UTLM? Why the intent to destroy the faith of millions? It is because the UTLM believes the LDS church to be leading people away from God and Christ and thereby damning their souls.

Pretty good reason if true. But is it? I find very little in the LDS church that has not been taught or is not still taught by one or another of various churches in general Christendom.

No one else teaches men can become God? A matter of degree and speculation.  Many Christians believe in the so-called “crown of glory” concept, where people will receive differing rewards when they get to Heaven based on what they did on earth. See a discussion of this concept here: Crowns of Glory

The Mormons use the passage found in 1 Corinthians 15:4 to begin their defense of the Celestial, Terrestrial and Telestial: The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor, and continue with this analysis of Revelation 22:10 – 11: 10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand [final judgment]. 11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still [telestial kingdom]: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still [outer darkness]: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still [terrestrial kingdom]: and he that is holy, let him be holy still [celestial kingdom].

Maybe the ultimate crown would be to become a god of your own world?

I don’t know what happens after we die.  It’s all speculation, and in may ways, Richard Bach’s book Illusions, which portrays serial lives lived by eternal spirits on earth, for which we choose the circumstances of our life, much like deciding which movie to go see has some resonance in my heart.

If I found evidence of the falsity of the Church General, would I try to kill it and if I so tried, who would believe? And if successful, would that have been right?

A voracious You-Tube content provider using the moniker Thunderfoot states that the internet is the place religions go to die.  I like Thunderfoot, but am not sure he is correct.

We live in interesting times. Things cannot be glossed over and the issues with the LDS Church and with wider Christianity cannot be ignored as easily as in the past. Will the LDS church or the Catholic or any church survive the openness?

[Update of a post from 2013.]

 

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