There are 38 thoughts on “Two Essays on Sustaining and Enlarging the Doctrine”.

  1. Pingback: Some Things New: A review of Terryl and Fiona Givens, All Things New « Meridian Magazine

  2. Dan,
    Thanks for the review. I am just finishing the book and came across your review after looking up Royal Skousen’s treatment of the “woundedness” issue. And I agree with your overall assessment in most respects.

    I think the authors are right that we as a church would benefit from draining the swamp of some cultural assumptions. To your point, I don’t think they adequately deal with scriptural passages that would be contrary to their point of view. It seems that the authors’ general response would be (from the opening pages of the book) that those passages also are from their own cultural context that doesn’t really apply anymore (or should be read figuratively). There is a lot to consider here. The authors make the point early that the book is intended to start a discussion rather than to thoroughly address each of the topics.

    This will be an interesting “discussion” to watch in the coming years. The authors have already had an influence on our popular theology. This newest work seems to be a welcome refreshing of how we think about and implement the existing doctrine, and yet for some ideas it seems more would be needed to show how the ideas connect to existing scriptures and doctrine.

  3. I wanted to comment on this well written book, when I first read your review but I had not yet finished reading it. Now that I have, it is time.

    I very much appreciated Given’s books and this one too but as is the case with most of us, we miss the mark. How so? Well, when we approach the subject of the Atonement, for some reason we rarely, if ever, address the issue of guilt, hell and the justice required by God.

    Sometime ago, while doing my family history, this issue of justice and mercy, hit me very hard. To understand I must relate a story of Jael Sara DeCasseres. I copy and paste from my journal “What makes her “special”? Well, She died 5 February 1943 at Auschwitz. That caught my attention. De Casseres is a name that has been on my family tree for years. Not relatives but married into a couple of my lines. Jael was born 31 August 1864. At age 4, her mother died. Jael finally married at age 30, on the 14th of March 1895, to Adolph van Strien, age 26. I’m sure she was happy. They had two children, Henrika, 9 Jan 1896 and Louis, 11 Oct 1899. Then on 29 Dec 1899 her husband died. She was 34. Then as a widow, in her late 70s, she was hauled off to die in a concentration camp (Auschwitz) and her son was taken to Sobibor, Poland, the infamous SS death camp, were he died 30 Jun 1944 ( I would have been 3 months old.). Then I found that her father Abraham’s 2nd wife was Ester Belinfante. Jael’s step-mother is my 4th cousin 3X removed.”

    Now what does this little story have to do with Given’s book? Well, let just say that for me it is personal, like many who share my father’s ancestry, we can’t help but question the justice of God. Many have turned to atheism. I have not and am LDS, of course.

    That said, when I read this book, I was bothered because he seems to treat the subject much too lightly. I understand, I think, where he is coming from. LDS women, in particular, seem to suffer, overly from quilt and it is a serious issue but when we undertake to soften the blow by leaving off half the theological argument by ignoring the doctrine of Hell, we fail to comprehend, what I consider one of the most powerful and, yes, most “ beautiful” teachings of the BofM.

    Back to my little story of Jael and the Nazi. Just think how relieved she must have felt when she died. I like to think that she was met by her parents, her siblings and then by her son, Louis, as he subsequently died. A joyous reunion indeed. Conversely, I considered what the Nazis would experience when they, in turn passed through the veil.

    In Mosiah 2:38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.

    This does not, of course, refer to what happens at death, but rather to what will happen at the final judgment to those who refuse to repent.

    That, to me, explains or provides an answer to the problem of evil. Books could and should address this most troubling of issues. I am no scholar but I have given this issue considerable thought. I could say much more but this is not the place.

    Thank you for allowing me to “vent”!

    • I reply to my own post. I am reading the Givens’ book again and have reread Bro Peterson’s essay. I enjoyed both. Now, I would still like to read an essay or book that deals with the Justice side of the equation. I wish I were capable of such an endeavor! I also read all the comments below and was, shall I say, not inspired.

  4. I really enjoy the work that the Givenses do, but I share some of Dan’s misgivings about their focus on the “woundedness of the world” as opposed to the wickedness. Beyond the 1837 changes, I think a lot of the early sections of the Doctrine and Covenants as well as the 1832 account of the First Vision evince a much greater preoccupation with wickedness in the world rather than a world in need of divine therapy.

    The first thing the Father and the Son do is forgive Joseph’s sins, and then they tell him that the whole world ‘lieth in sin.’ Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants says much more about warning the rebellious and the wicked than it does about binding up the brokenhearted. Furthermore Section 29 is chiefly concerned with gathering up the elect to Zion so that God can pour out His wrath upon the wicked. Furthermore, the Book of Mormon ends with a whole civilization being annihilated because of their wickedness. I think any explanation of the paradigm surrounding sin and salvation that Joseph Smith was operation under has to reckon with these very obvious concerns about wickedness and not merely ‘brokenness.’

    To a broader point, I think there is a tension in Mason’s and the Givenses’ work that might be worth considering. They very ably extoll the many dazzling doctrines that Joseph revealed, but simultaneously promote an attitude that I don’t think helps their readers obtain the same insights that Joseph did or participate in the ongoing Restoration that they eagerly extoll. My understanding of the gospel is that we gain ‘further light and knowledge’ by purifying ourselves so that we can communicate with God and receive revelation from him. To me this very much implies a preoccupation with repenting of our own sins so that He can make us clean. While I certainly don’t think that any of the previously mentioned authors condone or promote wickedness, I do think that their focus on God as some kind of supernatural therapist, and doubt as an ineluctable component of life that is meant to be lived with rather than overcome will ultimately make it less likely that people who adopt the ideas they put forward can actually participate in the ‘ongoing restoration’ vis-à-vis repentance and revelation in the way that Joseph Smith did.

    I definitely don’t think any of them are unfaithful members, but at least in my own life I’ve found Christ’s power to forgive our very real and very wrong sins more miraculous than his ability to comfort us in our distress (although both are of course valuable). To me, focusing on the latter at the expense of the former obscures what is most marvelous about Him and His Atonement.

    • I think that the whole debate on the concept of woundedness or wickedness is based on an understanding of Moses chapter 7 and why our Heavenly Father was weeping. Was He weeping because of the woundedness of his children or because of their wickedness? I believe that Terryl and Fiona’s understanding of this in their book “The God who Weeps” is based on a faulty assumption. The conversation between Enoch and the Lord takes place after Enoch and his city, including eventually all the righteous, have been translated and taken from the earth. Heavenly Father is weeping over the RESIDUE of His children who because of their failure to repent of their wickedness would be soon taken from the earth by the great flood. I also believe that this was the action of a loving Father not allowing them to commit further sin, but to have them enter the spirit world where they would eventually be taught the gospel and would have the opportunity to be forgiven of their wickedness.

      • Yah, Jeff. What the Givens have given is fad philosophy of pure manufacture. And it has acceptance in part because they “hath friends” in places of influence and at every checkpoint. Steve Young has happily admitted in print that he uses givenspeak in teaching Sunday gospel doctrine classes. I would rather hear John Lennon poetry.

        After forty years of reading, seeing, and hearing, it’s crystalline clear to me that the cardinal characteristic of Secularists/Liberals is their theory-making, the creation of alluring false philosophies set forth in pristine, sophisticated prose. To write their blight—to tout their doubt, they MUST depart from our canon, and no one notices or no one cares. Not only is their new-age thought-rot not found in the scriptures, but the writ is fluent with denunciations of it. Liberals’ narratives will mingle with talk of Christ, support for the Book of Mormon and the prophet Joseph. But I am certain he himself would say, “Why, it is a beautiful system. I have but one fault to find with it—it is not true.”

        • Glen, this is beyond ridiculous. Can you give one example of what you talking about from the Peterson article?otherwise it is your opinion on something you’ve never read.

          • Heck, CS—new to the mess? Some comments have evolved from the mentions of Givens and Mason in the article. The steer should be clear. Some have misgivings about Givens—and Patrick. For good reason, I think. I am a fan of Dan—that is, his wrought thought. Beyond fond, ridiculously devoted.

            Very Best — ???

  5. “It seems to only add insult to injury for anyone dealing with such a struggle to be denounced by some”

    No one is denouncing Saints in faith crisis. We are speaking of doctrine; doctrine is not cruel unless you are Nephi’s grousing older brothers who accused Nephi of being angry with them. For that matter, there are no more effusive, pointed condemnations of doubt than those that routinely come from Jesus’ own lips that swim through our entire canon.

  6. It’s not a matter or orthodoxy. And defense of Faith is not “defensive.” This is not an issue of thin skin, but of slick and sophisticated philosophies that undermine belief and faith by substituting them with doubt as a belief system. It is ‘let me give you mine unbelief’ and call it “Belief and Belonging.”

    • Except doubt is an essential element of the development of faith, and continues as long as faith is enlarged. Joseph doubted the way the gospel was taught, and therefore sought more knowledge which led to the first vision. His doubt of his worthiness led to a prayer that led to Moroni appearing. I suspect we could follow through much of his prophetic career and find that some doubt or question propelled him to greater faith. Doubt and questions are essential to progress in faith.

      • I don’t believe the scriptures anywhere support the new Liberal doctrine that doubt is “essential.” In clearest, most pointed terms the Savior reproved doubt. Always. The New Testament is effusive with condemnations of doubt. Doubt has never been a means to resolving concerns. In fact the very opposite is true—Faith and belief being necessary is replete in the NT. Saying Doubt is a means is like saying influenza is necessary or a means for good health.

        The most insidious doctrine ever manufactured by the Liberal colony in the Church is that Doubt is “belief and belonging.” It should shock every schooled Latter-day Saint when they hear that sleaze philosophy parroted in Sunday classes. It is marketed by Deseret Book and BYU courtesy of its authors, who have received funds & fame along with it—the very essence and definition of priestcraft.

        This is why I object to the presence of Liberaldom in the Faith—NOT merely because I disagree with it, but because its toxic breathings hurt people and the very fabric of church culture itself.

      • So Brant are we now being asked to believe that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was brought about because of doubt rather than faith? Are you saying that our founding prophet Joseph Smith was continually having doubts which caused him to ask questions of the Lord? Was President Monson wrong then when he said “Doubt never inspires faith”?
        I am sure that we all have questions but surely those questions are based on faith, not because we continually doubt the answers we receive, upon which our testimony is built!!!. I believe that honest questions are inspired by the Lord, doubts are placed in our minds by Satan, who does not want us to find truth. I liken the gospel to a large jigsaw puzzle, when we receive our testimonies we are given the edge pieces. We then have the eternal quest to find out where all the many other pieces fit in. Sometimes we cannot see where a particular piece fits, what do we do then? Do we doubt that the whole puzzle is a fraud and throw it away? No we put the piece to one side and build the pieces that we know fit together, and eventually we find where the other pieces go which makes the puzzle complete.
        I strongly believe that we are living in the harvest time which our Saviour predicted would happen before His Second Coming. Satan knowing this is sowing doubts into the mind of the saints, especially our youth.
        The counsel of Elder Uchtdorf rings very true to me. “Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith”.
        My advice would be to rely on the scriptures and the words of the ones who have the awesome responsibility to lead the Church rather that the philosophies of men (Mingled with scripture)

      • I wasn’t going to comment on this article, but Glen is getting ganged up on.

        If I might tactfully say, I completely disagree with Dan, with Givens, with Mason, and with Brant.

        “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

        Elder Packer:
        “Tests of faith are growing experiences. We all have unanswered questions. Seeking and questioning, periods of doubt, in an effort to find answers, are part of the process of discovery. The kind of doubt which is spiritually dangerous does not relate to questions so much as to answers.”

        I have recently gone through a time of testing in faith seeking to receive answers to prayer. The only “doubt” I have experienced has been directly the result of the devil’s interference. He tempted me to doubt, which I shook off and accordingly have been able to receive precious communication from God. Doubt is the great enemy of faith, not any kind of aid to it whatsoever. I have never found one prophet or apostle who spoke approvingly of doubt (even as they readily acknowledge it exists), but I have seen Givens and others that Glen has mentioned speak well of it; even to celebrate it. I saw a blog post by Brian Hauglid a few years ago on the icky liberal “By Common Consent” in which he spoke well of doubt and said it should be celebrated; now look where he says he is.

        It was not doubt that caused Joseph to ask of God, it was faith. Reread Moroni’s whole lengthy instruction about faith after relating the experience of the brother of Jared. All miracles and mighty works happen after faith, not doubt.

        Glen, thanks for standing up for right and truth.

        • The discussion about doubt only serves to highlight the semantic problem of doubt. It is similar to when Pres. Benson said that pride was never good. That can be true–depending upon how one defines pride. The problem is semantic. What is the real difference between a question and doubt? One could invent a difference, but they are functionally the same. The “doctrinal” difference is whether the previous knowledge-base is considered correct or somehow in need of improvement. When I say that Joseph doubted Methodism and Presbyterianism, is there a significant change if I say he questioned them?

          If one’s personal definition of their faith crisis uses the word doubt, it doesn’t help to tell them that they are doing something wrong. If one’s lack of a faith crisis means they never ask questions, they will never learn. It is wonderful to achieve faith. It is wonderful to maintain faith. Suggesting that faith happens in a place where there are no questions diminishes faith. If the questions are serious enough to begin to question faith, perhaps then we can call that doubt. What is the solution? The solution is to answer the questions and resolve the doubt. The problem isn’t that something creates the need to ask questions, but the inability to be in a place where the answers can come to increase faith.

          Jeff Walah said:

          So Brant are we now being asked to believe that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was brought about because of doubt rather than faith?

          That is an unfortunate misreading of what I said. Let’s remember that the trigger verse for the first vision was about those who lacked faith to ask. Joseph felt he was in that position. Of course, he had sufficient faith to act, and then his faith increased. Faith isn’t a singular thing. I often wish English had the verb form that Greek does. Perhaps then we could understand faith as a process rather than some singular thing that one either has or doesn’t have.

        • Dennis, I don’t think the Elder Packer quotation says what you think it says. I suspect you are reading into it. Elder Packer talks about “the kind” of doubt, not all kinds of doubt. What does it matter that Prophets haven’t spoken out approvingly on doubt? Should we just trust your research? Why? Of course Joseph had faith to go into the Sacred Grove but it’s because he first doubted he could find answers from the local clergy and their interpretations of the Bible. One thing that Prophets have spoken on is holier than thou attitudes. Dennis, don’t be blinded by your extreme self righteousness, it isn’t helping. You and Glen see “liberal” as bad thing, whereas others see it differently.
          Please read President Charles W. Penrose’s words, ” “Our religion is a progressive faith. We hear that term that term used a good deal nowadays, and it does not, in many instances, convey the proper impression. Progressiveness does not imply throwing away anything that we have learned that is true but it means getting further light and knowledge and information on those things that we have learned, and an advancement into other truths, which of course will be in harmony with that which we have received; because truth is always in harmony with itself”
          Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, January, 1913
          Elder David B. Haight said in April 1994, “Our scriptures teach us gospel truths, and inspired writers add to our understanding.” This was after he said that Frederic Farrar, the noted Anglican clergy, was a believer and inspired. In our day we should be thankful for Patrick Mason, The Givens’ and others not of our faith who are believers and are open to inspiration to help us know the Gospel better. So, I am thankful for them for standing up for truth and right and helping us know what that even means.

          • CS/whizbang,
            Funny you should quote from Pres. Penrose (and ignore the scripture I quoted warning against doubt). I almost quoted Pres. Penrose myself but didn’t at the last minute. Regarding the subject of the article/book review and also what is being further discussed, he said (in general conference):

            I have heard some of my brethren say, “Well, do you want to stop men from thinking?” Not at all. Liberty to think and liberty to act upon the thought if you don’t infringe the rights of others. Liberty to think, liberty to read, liberty to have theories and notions and ideas; but, my brethren, it isn’t your province nor mine to introduce theories into the Church that are not in accordance with the revelations that have been given. Don’t forget that. And if any change in policy is to be introduced, it is to come through the proper channel. The Lord said only his servant Joseph should do that while he lived, and then after he died others were to be called to occupy the place, and the key is in the hands of the man who stands at the head, if any change is to be introduced in our Church. Don’t let us fix our minds too much on the ideas and notions that are called science. If it is really science that they produce, something demonstrated, something proved to be true, that is all right, and there is not a doctrine of our Church that I can find that comes in direct conflict or contradiction to the sciences of the times if they are sciences, but a great deal of that which is called science is only philosophy, and much of it speculative philosophy, and these ideas change with the ages, as we can see by reference to what has been called science in times that are past. . . .
            The boundless universe is before us all to learn and to live and to come up to the standard occupied by our Eternal Father and to be fit for his society. Let our minds enlarge, our understanding increase and let everything that is proved to be true and established and demonstrated come in to us as part of our belief, but the theories and notions of men that are in contradiction to the revelations of Almighty God are not to be considered in the light that some people view them. Let us be very careful about these things.
            (Conference Report, April 1918, 21-22.)

            Let us indeed be very careful about these things. It is not the “province” of the Givens’s or Mason or any of the other liberal progressives to be introducing new theories into the church under the name of revisiting the revelations, ridding ourselves of the alleged (really imaginary) false traditions of our fathers, etc.

            The formal process for that to happen, for the Restoration to unfold, is the general handbook, not a book by Givens. I want nothing to do with his philosophies that I find so unscriptural. The Givens, Mason, Spencer, Reiss tails (or tales) do not wag the Church dog. And for them to say that yes, the prophets and apostles give the doctrine to the church, but over here in our corner we will theorize and speculate and experiment and revisit and reimagine and so forth is deeply dangerous to their readers, in my view. And it would seem, in Pres. Penrose’s.

            • Dennis, or one of the “others” who post under name on your blog
              I ignored the verse because it isn’t relevant. Christ was saying look unto him and doubt not, can you provide any examples from Mason, Givens and now you are piling Spencer and Riess in as well to not look unto Christ? Of course not-because they don’t think we shouldn’t look to Christ and therefore it is irrelevant.
              Let’s talk about “introducing theories” into the Church here. Is it your province to publicly call for Jana Riess to give up her temple recommend? No. Is it your province to say this, “Those activists who agitate and push the Church to change its doctrine (really God’s doctrine) to allow for homosexual attraction, marriage, and/or relations to be part of God’s plan in the spirit world and the resurrection are deeply and tragically deceived and will one day find themselves sorely disappointed, standing at the left hand of God” No, it isn’t. Is it your province to say that “BYU is giving aid and comfort to the adversary”? No. is your province to say this, “May I simply state that if these essays became church doctrine, or began to overcome the Church, it would be a sign that the wild olive branches were overtaking the tame ones; that philosophy was again replacing revelation; that another Great Apostasy was overtaking the Restored Church of Jesus Christ” No. One thing you did say that is true though is “I would go inactive and wait for death eagerly, as I assume many who lived in the days when the original Twelve were dying off (in the meridian of time) did, when God took His priesthood and revelation from the earth. I would not be a member of a Church that believed the speculations promoted by these essayists.” You call others unstable, “ilk”, “ apostate” and here you are threatening to go inactive. Nice Dennis. I can on and on about your own theories that you introduce, none of which are your province to say so. I didn’t even put my favourite one on the list, it’s about how you claim that you know are not one of the brethren but you are a watchman for the church. If you conservatives want the Church to stop progressing and getting further revelation, then that is fine but you don’t speak for others and you certaintly don’t speak for the Church Dennis.
              It’s weird you speak out against doubt except when it’s your own doubt as to the Givens, Mason et al. It’s fine for you to doubt them but it isn’t, apparently, for others.
              “I want nothing to do with his philosophies that I find so unscriptural”. Then don’t read his books, it’s that simple. Mind you I doubt you actually read anything he or the others’ have actually written but rely on these reviews. I find all of these theories you introduce in direct contradiction to the established policies of the Church and so I agree with President Penrose that we shouldn’t give any credence to the theories of Dennis Horne.

          • By the way, I would like readers to know that CS, alias Whizbang, is my unwanted internet stalker. He always tries to post critical material on where I blog but the owner/moderator mostly deletes him because his comments are so absurd and poorly written.

            Since Interpreter lets him criticize me here, all I ask is that readers go to my blogs (at to get full context for those items he poorly criticizes here below. I stand by everything on it, but it is much more understandable in context, rather than his anti-Mormon style of snippet charges and false interpretations.

          • Dan, it’s because most every thing you say in your piece is wrong and contrary to true gospel teachings.
            I am emailing you a quickly written explanation that goes into far more detail than I want to here. You can post that explanation here or not as you please.

            • Dennis:

              I trust that you’re a committed, faithful, orthodox member of the Church.

              So am I.

              I’m disinclined to post your lengthy explanation here, primarily because I would feel an imperative need to reply to it (and to what I regard, candidly, as its manifold errors), and I simply don’t have the time or the energy for that.

              Suffice it to say that we disagree at many, many points. And yet, curiously, I’m quite confident that we agree on all of the most important ones.

        • Please no — no ganging up. This is a good discussion that’s just meant as such. I don’t know Glen but I both appreciate the perspective and fully realize the potential of ending up traveling on strange roads. I enthusiastically agree with the scripture and quote you provided including the “doubt your doubts first” quote from Elder Uchtdorf posted somewhere else on this thread.

          For some, doubt is as unavoidable as breathing – and not because they have a bad attitude about faith. It’s not a matter of just applying the principle that “they heeded them not”. They just can’t ignore their own minds and the difficult acknowledgement that “I’d far rather be happy than right any day.” (Douglas Adams)

          Faith seems like both a gift of the spirit and a choice where given two options you take the faith-full explanation without feeling like you’re violating your intellectual integrity. Doubt is not like that. It would be incredibly difficult to choose not to have doubt — meaning to simply silence your mind. I might even call it harmful.

          Having experienced both, I can’t explain how one day I woke up and doubt about some of the most important things was gone. Quite miraculously. I still can’t explain “the great and marvelous change which had taken place” – which is why I call it a miracle.

          But even with that there are perspectives, doctrines, opinions, histories, frameworks that I question — not because I am critical of them but because I am curious, or something doesn’t seem quite right to me. That’s doubt at work and in that process (and while remaining faithful) I have found so many deep and meaningful insights. I completely credit faith, not doubt, for the outcome. But it’s doubt that got me thinking and pondering.

          Moroni’s “doubt not, but be believing” is the end of that process. Not because you choose option 1 despite your intellect screaming at you but because, having pondered the alternatives, you’ve arrived at the blessed spot where you can trust God in the choice you made.

          I feel no entitlement to step on that demanding process for someone in the middle of it or imply heresy just because I sense some misalignment with what I perceive to be correct.

    • I can only acknowledge the real risk of being deceived by various philosophies and perspectives (or even by our own desires to be justified in our favorite sins). I grew up taking several hours of philosophy every week in high school and I am still dealing with the fallout ~35 years later ?.

      But I am recognizing something very different from “slick and sophisticated philosophies that undermine belief and faith” in the contributions of the authors mentioned in this thread. Maybe we’re putting different meaning behind the same word. If doubt means approaching all religious inquiry with cynicism, or if it means systematically addressing all faith-related propositions with skepticism or even with mostly intellectual approaches, then I think we are very much missing what God intended us to do with the process of faith.

      Legitimate doubt to me means – for example – not being sure that God exists quite the way I currently think He does, or wondering if I truly understand the implications of salvation and exaltation, or how agency will continue through eternity, etc. That’s basic human nature (of the good kind I think) and in that sense, it seems I know more people – including in the Church – whose lives are riddled with doubt than not.

      As incredibly expansive as the Restored Gospel is (and probably because of that), it still leaves mountains of unanswered questions — many of which still strongly beg for answers today.

      It seems to me that the published ideas discussed in this thread are just a manifestation of this ongoing process. And — as I would expect — they include various research, musings and ideas that try to make sense out of personal experiences and/or perceived gaps in the big picture.

      It doesn’t feel right to criticize those efforts, let alone their authors. And in many of those similar discussions what I hear from the author is not “let me give you mine unbelief”, but “let me tell you what I really struggle with and what I have come up with”. That sounds pretty legitimate to me.

  7. Dan’s essay here is beautifully written—and makes me deeply breath disappointment. I believe an era has passed—a Truman Madsen one. The past and present is noted with earmarks: I never saw nor can I conceive Truman including apostates in the appreciations of his books, nor cozying up to them in buddy photos. I cannot, with all the effort that could be mustered, see him front a false and damaging philosophy of doubt as a means, and calling it “belief and belonging.” I read this well-written piece and feel the sting of renewed regret. I also feel a fresh resolve to “Choose your friends carefully, you will become like them,” (Litwiller), and “Be careful of your friends, they can make you or break you,” (Gordon B. Hinckley).

    An era of faithful scholars has largely passed. It is being replaced with a new fraternity that is characterized by pristine fad philosophies and a toxic new belief system that lauds Doubt. All are being taken in by them. Joseph would say, “Why, it is a beautiful system. There is only one fault I have with it: it is not true.”

    • Thank you Glen, I am glad that there are those among us that question the so called “New Mormon History”. The only person on earth that can ENLARGE doctrine is the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

      • It seems that Elder Roberts and I didn’t express ourselves clearly enough.

        I agree — and, in my essay, explicitly said — that final doctrinal authority rests solely with the Brethren.

        However, Truman Madsen (mentioned by Glen Danielsen, above) and others like him greatly enlarged my view of Latter-day Saint doctrine over the years, for which I’m deeply grateful.

      • I think it was a Sister—Eliza Snow—who first expanded and enlarged our understanding of a Mother in Heaven. That truth has been spoken of by subsequent Church leaders over the years. I am grateful for receipt of these truths.

      • I would like to clarify, Dan: I never meant to imply that you, nor the Givens, nor Patrick Mason are nor ever have been apostates. I would have been clearer—or more specific—but then my comment would have been axed by Gardner because he sees the criticism of individuals as personal attacks. What I was referring to is the Givens mention of Lavinia Fielding Anderson in their book appreciations. Anderson is an apostate. Brant: An apostate is one who was excommunicated for apostasy, and who engages in apostate activities. I don’t know if that is an ‘official’ church definition, and I do not care. (Who has stipulated that a stated opinion must also been official church doctrine?) Now, will this comment be nixed by Gardner because of its being so specific? Almost certainly.

        To clarify further: Truman Madsen expanded upon my understanding of doctrine as well. But he did not do as Patrick Mason and Adam Miller have—to change doctrine and manufacture new and toxic doctrine, (specifically the new fad philosophy of the acceptability of Doubt, or doubt as a means).

        Now, I will stay away from Interpreter.

        • I have also expressed appreciation to Lavina Fielding Anderson in books. I know the value she adds, and based on what I have learned from her, the implication of apostate that you appear to intend is much worse than the reality, despite definitions. Knowing her and her contributions, she is much more faithful and Christlike than many who opine but don’t have that label.

        • I see no good reason, Glen, for you to “stay away from Interpreter.”

          But you’re entirely free to do so. And, anyway, splitting into warring, mutually exclusive, non-communicative camps and hurling anathemas at each other seems increasingly to be the characteristic mark of our time.

          • Dan: Thank you. I thought I had worn out my welcome! 🙂 But on the warring camps, I do see it differently. I believe it important to choose friends carefully. I mentioned a quote from President Hinckley above that seems to suggest that, and it makes sense to me. I believe there are times when boundaries are good, even important. I love Sister Sharon Eubank’s conference talk on the sanctity of unity. On the other hand, I will not be of one heart with priestcraft and the new Liberals’ gospel of “sincere doubt,” (Mason/Miller/etc).

            I see real damage being done in the Faith by secularists; I’ve sounded off much about it before here in this great forum, so I won’t right here/right now, and I’m tired of brant-rant emails and the use of a sensor’s button more often than not simply because my writing rubs liberal sensibilities. This is not mere quibble; it is about punk censorship used to quash viewpoint.

            Thanks again, though. I had thought that you might be irreparably offended because of a perception that I had pigeonholed you as an unfaithful, (THAT would be weirdly far from the truth). I do wish to apologize to you for offending your personal choice of friends, if I have.

            Very Best. 🙂

            • I think that stubborn and chronic doubt exists in some people — maybe in many. Such nagging doubt is beyond frustrating for those who ache with a “desire to believe” but can only ask — and have done so sometimes for years — to please “help thou my unbelief”. It seems to only add insult to injury for anyone dealing with such a struggle to be denounced by some that might have otherwise been considered a brother or a sister.

              Significant doubt (about the Restored Gospel, or about Jesus’s divinity, or about God, etc.) might seem incomprehensible to those who have been blessed with the gift of faith, or at least deal with less (emotional/chemical/intellectual/philosophical/etc.) baggage than those struggling with doubt.

              Sometimes, some almost wear doubt as a badge of honor because that is the best they can do with the cards they have been dealt. One cannot simply wave away doubt. Even with prayer, fasting, and a dedicated study of the word of God. Blessedly, that last statement is not indefinitely true. But it can be true for an agonizingly long time. It would be extremely demoralizing to be made to feel like an infidel in the midst of that struggle.

              I am worried about calling the influence of self-admitting doubters damaging, or unilaterally declaring them secular or unfaithful, especially because in doing so, we a) make implicit comparisons of righteousness that imply a measure of unfitness on their part, b) we deprive both us and them of the excellent dialog and valuable insights that are gained from trying to understand each other’s views, and c) it makes an ambiguous statement about our own understanding of the practice of mourning with those that mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort. And actually, many of the insights shared by the Givenses seem very much worth considering. Whatever doubt I might recognize in their contributions is definitely not the kind of doubt whose semantic opposite is faith, or that implies anything less than a sincere commitment to the foundational principles of the Gospel.

              I hope that while some might feel defensive and critical toward those whose views are not always aligned with what we define as orthodox, many others will respond to their contributions like Dan Peterson. Especially because I expect that often, their publications are sincere and well-intentioned attempts to make sense of their own personal experiences. Attempts which, I have found, very often contain profound and rewarding insights when approached with somewhat of an open mind — not even as a Gospel scholar/philosopher but as an interested disciple of Jesus Christ.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

Close this window

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This