Should we Limit our Studies to General Authorities & Conferences?

A rebuttal:

This is a response to a letter from a friend. I had sent him several of my compositions on gospel and social issues and theories (including information on the dangers of the CSE (Comprehensive Sex Ed program), and some resources on how to combat it with a better/appropriate method.). The friend seemed concerned that I encouraged people to read my writings rather than merely pointing them to the writings of the prophets. He said he doesn’t feel inclined to read what I write because I’m not a General Authority in the Church with direct Priesthood office stewardship over him. He further expressed that my topics should not go beyond the scope of basic gospel principles as taught in General Conference.

So should we limit our studies to general conference & general authorities?

I will illustrate how it is an act of compassion to try and help someone understand religious principles in the lens of logic and reason, in a way that they can understand. We hope, we pray, we study, we think long painful hours, about ways to help others find a connection to God, even if it is a roundabout way; we are meeting them where they are, and walking forward with them, because it’s never up to us to say someone is beyond hope, it is our duty to help others, and all judgement of salvation is left to God. Never give up on anyone. Therefore, I write my website. It is to help people. Yes, the church official materials are the core and the key, but writing spelling things out, explaining things in ways that the spirit of the Lord has shown to us for the welfare of ourselves and others, these are divine things.


Yes, the prophets are our leaders.

Are you suggesting we shouldn’t read anything unless a prophet wrote it?

As a family science student, the subject of pornography and sex ed in school is something I deal with in studies, and which I deal with more as a therapist.

The things I find in my research are materials which I think would help parents in their efforts to raise strong oriented children. You may find it interesting that I have disassociated myself with many theorizers and postulators whose ideas step beyond the bounds of church councils. I’ve used caution with the “Two Churches Only” books; vol 1 was great, vol 2 was mostly apostate. I threw out the apostate material. Many “last day” obsessors get too carried away and put too much stock in theories. All topics need to be studied with carefulness.) Same thing with music, I can teach my children that pop music is ok so long as they don’t have music with vulgar lyrics or suggestive tones and words etc. etc. We can help people be happy in their own way, and learn in their own way, so long as it’s within the bounds of the prophet’s councils. Joseph Smith said that there are many superstitions, and that he would pull them down. Monson is a good example of this with his motorbike billboards advertising a biker guy in the I’m a Mormon campaign. Many thought that this type of person should not be advertised as the billboard Mormon, I might have even been one who would think such a thing strange, but as soon as the church officially began to do it in their official billboards, I embraced it full heartedly, and the church teaches me about tolerance, love and appropriate boundaries. I love the church and wouldn’t leave it for anything. When I go on official priesthood duty like home teaching, I’m very careful to load them full of pure doctrine and to not theorize. That pure doctrine strengthens them in the appointed way of course.

When I study the gospel my favorite source materials are the official (and current) manuals of the church. You can’t go wrong with those. If an idea in an old church manual is removed from a current church manual, then I focus on promoting the current not the old idea. Of course, the current prophet trumps old prophets. the current one is the living mouthpiece for Christ whom can clarify his teachings to us in a way that we can understand.

President Lee I think it was called searching the scriptures good clean fun. My study of scripture and words of prophets and topics related thereto like social sciences which can help families is good clean fun you might say.

Further I do not study or promote research which has teachings contrary to the messages of the prophets. If you’ve found a teaching of mine which is against the prophets, let me know and I’ll eradicate it. The Book of Mormon which Monson just urged us to read says that those who receive will get more, and those who won’t receive, what they have will be taken from them until they have nothing. The prophets teach the doctrine and set the bounds, and so long as we keep our passions within the bounds the Lord has set via his prophets, we are free and even encouraged to do much good of our free will, not being commanded in all things like slothful servants. One of the bounds Elder Cook reminded us about this conference was extremism, and to an extent it’s up to each of us to decide what that means. Occasionally I venture to postulate on doctrinal theories. When I do that, I note to the audience that the ideas are mine alone. Sometimes it’s appropriate to share your ideas. Other times it’s not, and I try very hard to be guided by the spirit in the separation of those two types of thoughts. When a certain train of thoughts occur to me and fill me with great joy, how can I help but share those thoughts? Like Lehi at the tree, he sought that this family (and perhaps his associates whom he deemed brothers and sisters) should also partake. What was the fruit? Christ. And at the end of the day, Christ is the center of the messages I share on my website and in emails. Appendages to messages of Christ which I teach deal with things which help us follow Christ. Elder Maxwell also taught that gospel scholarship is a type of worship of God. That is a quote on the wall in the Maxwell Institute building on campus if you’re interested.

If you are disinterested in a scientific study of the effects of modern sex ed on our children (and other pressing social issues, that being the one of our current discussion), I’m fine with that, but for those who do want to study it, feeling called by the spirit to help society in that realm, good for them too. Certainly, you don’t need to feel duty bound to read things I send, unlike how you are duty bound to read what the prophets send. Many a time have modern prophets condemned pornography and homosexuality and underage out of wedlock sex, Hinckley even rebuked the public-school sex ed obsessive system. We’re encouraged to be civically engaged, and in the public square, to change policy we often need an armory of facts/scientific studies to show that our case is valid. That’s what we’re working at here.

Another thing to think about is that while the Book of Mormon says make sure your teachers are men of God, we also see the life of Joseph Smith. He hired a non-LDS Rabbi to teach him and others Hebrew language. We can learn from people who have expertise in their field even if they don’t have a priesthood calling over us. There’s also a D&C passage which tells us to study geography politics foreign affairs biology etc. etc. implying a need to study all things important to the wellbeing of man.

Once (as related to me by a social science professor of mine) Elder L Tom Perry was teaching a group of BYU teachers and asked them if they had any issues with his messages. One social science person raised his hand and said ‘stop telling couples to never go to bed upset. Some issues need a night’s rest to resolve where we can sort things out with a revived mind in the morning.’ Perry said, ‘oh well I guess I better stop saying that then.’ Now Porter I would never say such a thing to a prophet, that was I think man was out of place in saying that (though science supports what he said to a degree, although we know science is often fragmented while revelations of Christ are more pure), but the fact that Perry asked this question to the faculty, and the fact that he responded in that way does illustrate that prophets value the opinions of people whom have expertise in their field. The role of a prophet is to declare the word of God, not to study theories of men, but still there is something to all this. Prophets quote people like Shakespeare and C S Lewis at conference etc. C S Lewis often wrote about gospel theory, probably not too different than I do, though I’m not claiming to be as talented a writer as he. Even though Lewis is not a prophet, apparently several (Lewis is I think the most quoted non-LDS author in General Conference) prophets find his writings as interesting and uplifting. Those who don’t want to read Lewis don’t have to, but those who do might be blessed with little jewels, beautiful jewels of light and truth from the spirit of God as impressed upon that man. Perhaps my writings will share some jewels with interested persons. My writings are focused on sharing with others things which I wish were shared with me. I’ve sought out these things, people haven’t so much approached me about it. But if they did approach me about them, all the more joy I would have, both to have a friend interested in them, and to have found the knowledge they shared! I have several people whom have communicated to me that they indeed benefit from time to time with the things I compile etc. etc.

Apparently, we see things a little differently, and that’s ok. Elder Joseph Worthlin said a man filled with the love of God isn’t satisfied seeking to save those around him, he seeks to bless and save the whole world. We each have our different ways of accomplishing that.

The studies I do which focus on core gospel doctrines are the most important, the others I still think important though less so. Upon returning from my mission my Stake President told me to study the gospel by topic instead of just reading cover to cover. That continues to be a very sweet experience. Study cover to cover is also good (prophets have told us to do it etc.) but by topic to me at least brings extra power to preach the gospel etc. Every member a missionary, right? Also, Elder McConkie had a practice of compiling discourses on certain topics in case called upon at church to speak thereon. I think this was before he had any position in the church. One of my favorite documents I’ve compiled is called Scripture Study, and it compiles quotes of prophets teaching how to study the scriptures. I like to make doctrinal quote summary documents, and book summaries, etc. I put them on a blog, mainly so I don’t lose them and can review them, and secondarily so that a few others might benefit from it. Same with the audio files I make of those; I review them myself! My memory is so bad (everyone’s is) that I can listen to a document I wrote and learn from it later. In a way it’s like how the prophets have counseled us to keep a journal and review it from time to time. I also believe the prophets have encouraged the saints to gather together in independent groups and have discussions about the gospel. I’m thrilled when I get the chance to do that, but with living far apart and busy families, it’s often only possible to share documents and news articles etc. with each other.

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