Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reasons Behind My Disaffection : Reason 2 : Faith Promoting History

Shortly after my interest was peaked in regards to the History of the Church I came across a few websites that explained the idea of "faith promoting history". This is the idea that the Church provides only one version of history so that it might uplift and promote faith. This was the first I had heard of this term and I was floored. I thought that the Church was very straight forward when it came to its history. I mean, who had "Truth" cornered if not for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I quickly realized that the history that we read in church manuals and share with investigators was only a part of the story.

For a church that espouses to the truth more strongly than any other religion I have researched, it certainly didn't have any problem providing a version of history that made it easier for everyone to swallow.

Faith promoting history, in its essence, means that the Church does not trust their members to understand the whole of the story. Church leaders design church manuals and proselyting materials in such a way to shed the best possible light on the subject. In its simplest form, its PR spin or story doctoring. It's leaving the unsavory parts out so that the story is easier to swallow. In this way, the Church unsuspectingly sets up their members with the task of dealing with experiences down the road that will try their faith.

The Church doesn't worry about this, however, as they have devised an intricate indoctrination process to combat the inevitable. Members are taught, in some not-so-subtle ways, that the Church is the source of all truth and that they should not trust any other source. We are taught that we should not read "anti-Mormon" material. We are taught that we should read the scriptures every day, focusing on the Book of Mormon and current Church leaders. We are taught that the Devil will temp us with all manner of thoughts that might contradict our "knowledge" of the truthfulness of the Gospel. We are taught that feeling the Holy Ghost when contemplating or searching for answers on Church approved topics is a confirmation of the truthfulness of said doctrine, but feeling the Holy Ghost for questions contrary to the teachings of the Church is a confirmation that Satan is trying to trick you. We are taught that it is not our lot to know all things at this time and the holes will be filled in when we are spiritually ready, which usually means after we die. In time, all Members have ingrained in their subconscious an ability to deflect all faith harming materials that might come their way. Every faith challenging experience is considered a test, a test that must passed with flying colors or forever be tormented with the knowledge of not being faithful enough.

I found a statement by Boyd K. Packer:

"There are qualifications to teach or write the history of this church. If one is lacking in any one of these qualifications, he cannot properly teach the history of the Church... I will state these qualifications in the form of questions so that you can assess your own qualifications. Do you believe that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ personally appeared to the boy prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., in the year 1820? Do you have personal witness that the Father and the Son appeared in all their glory and stood above that young man and instructed him according to the testimony that he gave to the world in his published history?" BYU Studies, Summer 1981, pp 272-273.

In the same address Packer states,
"There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."
In short, you cannot write about Church history unless you are a completely faithful member and you should know how to discern between the useful and "not very useful" truth of which to write.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks provides further insight:
"Our individual, personal testimonies are based on the witness of the Spirit, not on any combination or accumulation of historical facts. If we are so grounded, no alteration of historical facts can shake our testimonies." ("1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium," Brigham Young University, Aug. 16, 1985, page 26)
This must be why my faith was shaken. (see reason 1)

Furthermore, the Church goes to the extreme by excommunicating those who publish information that may be contrary to the accepted history of the Church. Church members are taught, by these excommunications, that deviation from the standard reading material as outlined by Church leaders is paramount to one of the gravest sins one can commit, denying the Holy Ghost. This encourages members, very subtly, to steer clear of all non-Church approved reading material.

It is understandable that the Church would want to provide a "more clear" version of Church events to help its members understand the history of the Church. However, It is my opinion that keeping the rest of the history from its members is a sin of omission and constitutes lying in order to keep the members in the Church at a level where they will believe and obey everything that the Brethren happen to say.

As I have read through much of the history that the Church does not want me to read, I can personally attest to reasoning behind the decisions they have made. If my sole purpose was to keep members from leaving the Church, I would certainly do the same as they have done. However, if the goal is to bring every soul to Christ, then lying as a means to an end is simply not acceptable to me. The Church, ultimately, should not have to hide its history in order to convert someone to their cause. The history of the Church should be its own testament that it is the true church. However, due to the constant contradictions and multiple revisions of historic events, it seems that the Church has no choice but to continue the course. This is, of course, if you believe that the purpose for so doing is purely innocent. My conclusion is that the Church values its members obedience more than its members unshakable testimony in the truth; for the truth should be circumscribed as one great whole and not as parts taken to make a fictional whole that will warrant its members undying devotion regardless of the opposition.


Zelph said...


You have a great blog happening. It is amazing how many people there are that when you look at their profile, you could simply copy and paste it onto your own.

Zelph said...

One other thing, just keep posting and commenting on other blogs. It took me a good couple of months before I got a substantial number of readers.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Hiya FP. Great continuation of your exit from Momoism. I'm really enjoying your clear writing and how you explain the thoughts that are so similar to mine as well.

If the church is what it claims it is, it should be able to withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately......

paranoidfr33k said...

Zelph, thank you for the comments. Like I've said in comments on your blog, you have influenced my writing.

SML, Thank you for the compliments. I'm encouraged if you don't think its not half bad. As long as I re-read it many times and make multiple revisions, I can usually get the point across.

Quick comment for everyone... please let me know if you see anything that is factually wrong in these posts. I want it to be as accurate as possible. If I end up giving this to family one day I don't want it to be full of inaccuracies... :)