Sunday, December 04, 2005

Teaching the Differences

Religious Tolerance Pt. 1

Religious Tolerance Pt. 2

I find this to be an interesting examination of how Mormons should respond to ecumenical relationships. The trend seems to be in getting accepted for what we have in common, rather than simply trying to be understood. J.F. McConkie explains the dangers of acceptance by appearing assimilated very well. I don't know if I totally agree with him, especially in respect to this:

Perhaps we need to rethink the idea of seeking common ground with those we desire to teach. Every likeness we identify leaves them with one less reason to join the Church. When we cease to be different we cease to be. The commandment to flee Babylon has not been revoked, nor has it been amended to suggest that we seek an intellectual marriage with those not of our faith. The fruit of such a marriage will always be outside the covenant.

It is a hard saying, and perhaps a little more harsh than what should be our attitude. After all, usually Mormons are seen as "other" in areas where we are not much different. Perhaps it would be best to be in the middle and say "we are the same on these subjects, but we feel there is much more to be taught and won't cross a particular line." The community of Christ has already shown what happens when uniqueness is jettisoned for mainstream acceptance. Not only have they shrunk and splintered, but they are no more accepted by other faiths as before the Great Compromise. As J.F. McConkie says, you become just another Church like all the rest and lose opportunity for growth. Maybe its time again to celebrate our differences and reconnect with the more unusual aspects of the faith.


Anonymous said...

It is, however, hard to argue with the Prophets example. It would seem that JFMcConkie, is arguing against every public interview President Hinkley has made.

Jettboy said...

Perhaps, in this case, Presient Hinkley is doing good for the Church and also some harm.

Jettboy said...

To elaberate, I have seen too many times that Hinkley has stated things contrary to actual doctrine. Because of that, apologists have had to bend over backward to try and explain what he said or didn't say. Even in General Conference he had to explain that you don't learn doctrine from interviews on television. The implication is that he knew what he said was not entirely accurate and could easily be misunderstood.

Not that he hasn't done some good with his interviews. I very much like that he is not camera shy. The problem is that in order to avoid the more necessary details of doctrine and policy, he makes too many accomidating statements. His interviews are more about making friends and getting heard than about teaching the gospel.

Anonymous said...

President Hinckley has been working on getting the "public relations" approach to everything in the Church since his beginnings there. He is trying to hard-wire that approach into the Church itself. That approach has led to decreasing conversion rates, and greater numbers of people asking for their names to be elimintated from the roles of the Church.
I believe President Hinckley is a Prophet and I sustain him as such. But as a "steward" he certainly has been given the role and some discretion to define for himself what he is going to accomplish. The Lord has said He doesn't want to command us in all things, but would like us to use our agency to bring to pass things on our own. That isn't just the common member, but includes every person, the Prophet not excepted. So I do not think every effort he makes is directly a revelation from God.
I recall President Kimball's time, when we had a clear distinction between us and other faiths. I recall some of the leading brethern then (most notably Bruce R. McConkie) who made no bones about the distinctions between us and others. Perhaps that is where JF McConkie's attitude comes from. During those times, the missionary effort mushroomed. We were baptizing at rates never before seen. We have actually declined from those levels.
In my view, the clearer and brighter the distinction between us and other faiths the better. Only by showing our distinct doctrines can people come to realize the differences. I am a convert. I was raised a Baptist. It was the doctrine which led me to convert. Had I thought this was just another form of Christianity, with nothing much distinctive to offer, I would have never joined. It requires too much to live the faith to accept it as just another store-front form of Christianity.
I continue to be LDS after over 32 years primarily because I believe and love the doctrines taught. I do not care whether we are popular or not, criticized or not, or given good press or not. I do not care if I am personally confronted about my faith, or accepted for my faith. What I do want, however, is to understand my faith the best I can and live it to my best ability.