Saturday, May 05, 2007

Helen Whitney and Agnostic Intellectualism vs. LDS Christian Science

Helen Whitney is the director and producer of the new Frontline/American Experience documentary entited "The Mormons" which aired on PBS last week. Despite all her research she failed to understand this one point; what makes the LDS Church different is that it teaches its members to question everything. The LDS church does not teach blind, unquestioning, obedience. That’s where the sayings come from like “Don’t live on borrowed light” etc. There is no church that teaches its church to question more that the LDS church.

But additionally, what the LDS church teaches is not only to question but also how to get answers. We get those answers through prayer and the Holy Ghost. God promises anwers about Christ, about the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith and these answers are the source of our unshakable faith, hope, and certainty.

This is the whole significance of Joseph Smith's first vision. He had a question; which church was true? and he sought an answer as the Bible directs. Joseph Smith performed one of the most important spirtual experiments in our day. And he got an answer. And Joseph Smith continued to ask questions: about priesthood, scripture, atonement, church organization, baptism, familes, the temple, where we came from, what is the purpose of life, and what happens after we die. And then Joseph Smith encouraged others to ask the same questions for themselves and get their own answers.

Now, there comes along questions that we don’t get an answer to immediately. But, the lack of an answer every now and again, does not create doubt or destroy the answers we have already received. We just continue on in faith in what we already know to be true, trusting that answers will come. Depite the things we don't know, what we do know (our testimony) become a sure foundation. And eventually the answers to our question will and do come, just as Christ promised: “Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

Whitney has clearly indicated that she thinks “doubt” is necessary to be considered an “honest intellectual.” Well, the LDS church is not about creating intellectuals. They are about about creating “honest christian scientists.” LDS members value faith, questioning, experimenting, and getting answers (the scientific method) while intellectuals unfortunately, seem to value the questions, lack of answers and doubt.


Jeff G said...

"The LDS church does not teach blind, unquestioning, obedience. That’s where the sayings come from like “Don’t live on borrowed light” etc. There is no church that teaches its church to question more that the LDS church."

I almost spit my food on my computer when I read this. Sure, Mormons are taught to pray about any and everything. Nobody is denying this. What is being left out of such a story, however, is how if somebody receives an answer which is not in harmony with LDS doctrine, they did not "really" receive an answer at all. Thus, rigid conformity is built into the process.

If it is what the church believes, its probably from God and true.

If it conflicts with the church, its not from God.

If this isn't a blank check for unquestioning obedience, I don't know what is.

BRoz said...

Sorry to unsettle your stomach. Please read my other post for a clarification of my viewpoint. Yes, the LDS church teaches to both practice "faith obedience" and to pray or question everything.

However, the unity that result from revelation is not a result of mindless comformity. Also, Whitney is wrong to consider our "faith obedience" "blind obedience."

What Whitney doesn't realize is that the LDS member already has a spiritual witness and knowledge of certain things and the church expects its members to act according to that knowledge.

That is why it seems like our leaders expect unquestioning conformity, because we have already questioned and we have already recieved answers.

Anonymous said...

One simple thing that was totaly left out was a study of the published voumes of Church History had she read that she would of known the first Black person Ordained in the Church was done by Joseph Smith subsequently he recieved Revolation that told him to stop the prattice and that closer to the end of time that the priesthood would then be allowed to be given to the decendants of Cane the history of the Church was plain and clearly written the varrious comments used in the doccumentary were personal opinions of those that happend to be higher in the Church but were not scripture or doctrine but simply opinion.