The LDS Church (Sort of) Answers 21 Questions about Mormon Doctrine at

It looks as though Fox News worked w/ the LDS Church to publish answers to some of the typical questions regarding Mormon doctrine. Most of the answers seem relatively accurate…here are the few that did not seem right to me (either because they come across as “partial” or “technical” truths, but not the “whole truth”):

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe its followers can become “gods and goddesses” after death?

The Church’s Answer: “We believe that the apostle Peter’s biblical reference to partaking of the divine nature and the apostle Paul’s reference to being ‘joint heirs with Christ’ reflect the intent that children of God should strive to emulate their Heavenly Father in every way. Throughout the eternities, Mormons believe, they will reverence and worship God the Father and Jesus Christ. The goal is not to equal them or to achieve parity with them but to imitate and someday acquire their perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes.”

This feels like parsing to me. The answer here (as I’ve been taught my entire life) — is unequivocally YES. What am I missing here?

Here’s a speech by past prophet Spencer W. Kimball to illustrate (from the church’s web site). In part it reads,

“We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were said by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.” This is a power available to us as we reach perfection and receive the experience and power to create, to organize, to control native elements.”

And here it is in “Chapter 1: The Origin and Destiny of Mankind,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 1 (again, from the church’s web site):

“It is for the exaltation of man to this state of superior intelligence and Godhead that the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ is instituted; and that noble being, man, made in the image of God, is rendered capable not only of being a son of man, but also a son of God, … and is rendered capable of becoming a God, possessing the power, the majesty, the exaltation and the position of a God. As it is written, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” [1 John 3:2.]”

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?

The Church’s Answer: No.

Again, this feels like parsing to me, and an attempt to avoid answering the question as it is intended. Mormons absolutely believe (as indicated here, in the church’s web site ) that for both women and men, special signs and tokens (and code words) are required for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom — the highest degree of heaven. Mormons receive these things in the temple (as the church’s web site also teaches). That is clearly what the questioners (with an imperfect knowledge of Mormon doctrine) were trying to ask. And the answer should be pretty easy:

President Brigham Young (1801–77) said of the endowment: “Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.”3

The way it was answered here seems as if they were fixating on the word “women”, or the general term “heaven”, and thus trying to avoid answering what the questioner clearly meant to ask — by escape through a technicality. Am I totally off base here?

Q: Does the Mormon Church believe in the existence of another physical planet or planets, where Mormons will “rule” after their death and ascension?

The Church’s Answer: No.

Again, it feels as if lawyers responded to this question, and not someone seeking to tell the complete truth, and answer the questions that were intended. Mormons absolutely believe that those Mormons who live worthily enough will eventually become Gods and Godesses to rule their own worlds (as God does now). See the links and quotes at the top.

Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?

The Church’s Answer: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.

Given our dark history and docrtine on this subject, this answer doesn’t seem to show either the candor, or the contrition that one would expect (based on Jesus’ and the church’s teachings about complete honesty, humilty, etc.). On the black issue, this is perhaps an opportunity for the church to come clean and say, “Leaders of our church once taught many racist teachings about blacks — but those were misguided and wrong”. On the Native American front, complete honesty seems to require that we own up to the fact that the Book of Mormon teaches that Native American dark skin comes as a direct result of a curse from God because of their ancestor’s wickedness.

Anyway, I understand why the church speaks the way it does (some of this stuff is difficult or embarrassing) — but the idealist in me wishes that the church could “tell the whole truth” like it often encourages us to do. It feels as if the church is almost embarrassed by some of its doctrine (unlike the scripture, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” I certainly struggle to see many of our past prophets answering some of these questions in the way they were answered here.

For those of you raised in the LDS Church — where do I have it right and wrong (based on your experience)? I am totally open to being shown wrong or misguided — these are just my initial reactions and feelings.

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  1. John,

    It definitely wants me to pull my hair out. Elder Ballard told us just the other day to write blogs and tell the truth that we know – and what they are saying here is definitely not the true that we know or have been taught.

    I’m trying to rectify my faith and come up with reasonable answers that will satisfy my mind and heart. I’m not quite there yet, but the most satisfying answer so far has been, “I don’t know, but I hope so.” If there is a god, then I can only assume that much of what we know in Mormonism is true only in the sense that it is meant to lead us to truth. But, how can you ever get there when you are not even willing to admit the truth as far as we understand it?

  2. What is the church afraid of? I learned we’d become GODS for the past 35 years. It is part of the plan. These vague answers are very lame I think. Why not just say: “yes, we beleive that” and move on. They are so worried that they tiptoe the black, polygamy and other tenets.


  3. This was an exercise in journalistic hostility fueled by rabid bloggers. Why should the Church indulge in candor in this particular instance?

    Although I probably wouldn’t draw the lines in the same places as the Church’s PR department (I think John’s comments about the response to the African and Native Americans question is the most fair and trenchant of his criticisms/rewrites), I can’t fault them for responding to the current media climate in this way. It’s a no-win situation. And I’m not convinced that PR speak is always the way to go.

    On the other hand, do any of us really think that reporters, columnists and bloggers out there are really interested in a civil dialogue and/or have an actual, real interest in the unique doctrines, practices, contexts, personalities and history of Mormonism?

  4. Are you for real? Would GOD or Jesus sidestep the issue? NO, They’d lay it down with an affirmative YES OR NO.

    Why be so coy about it? Is the church embarrased? Is GOD embarrased? It just goes to show that the church is run by nervous men that are slowing losing control and don’t want to rock the boat and have more members leave.

    In 1820’s Joseph had no problem telling people he found Golden Plates and an angel visited him several times. He wasn’t embarassed of that. W

  5. I have been a member of the church my entire life. I have observed many people’s comments on this blog over the months.
    I believe that all people (Prophets, other LDS leaders, members, and non-members) are on a continuum of learning and understanding. I believe this is the way Heavenly Father set it up to be. Everyone is at a different spot along that continuum. Some are embryonic in their understanding, some are childlike, some are teenagers, some highly advanced, etc. Some move back and forth along the continuum. Those further along may or may not relate well to others at different positions on the continuum. I believe that those who are leaders in general are careful how they word things since they may be addressing a broad range of persons with varying levels of understanding and wisdom. And this process is not without flaws, as are the persons involved are not without flaws in the delivery. Some are better than others at it.
    At all levels of understanding we all grope and struggle and feel our way forward to some degree or another. Prophets throughout history have written of their personal struggles. To me, this is a wonderful and inspiring way to have it be. It so underscores the commitment to agency our Father has. The more I see ambiguity and a falling short of the way “I think things should be”, or the way I think questions should be answered, the more I am reminded that this is part of the test. Some will never be tested in this way because they will reject the church and its doctrines right away, others will wonder and struggle and then reject, others will accept without much thought, still others will accept after deep and long lasting consideration. In the end it is a personal journey along that continuum and the more understanding and empathy we have for all our brothers and sisters (including prophets, reporters, or PR personnel) who are also on the continuum, the more joy we will have. Men are that they might have joy.

  6. John,

    You are right on in your analysis. I think the Church is uncomfortable dealing with much of the more esoteric things (special passwords to get into heaven being almost the definition of esoteric)because we haven’t had theologians who can sort through the confusing mess of authoritative-sounding statements we’ve inherited and reconcile those with each other or with basic Christian theology. We like to cite C.S. Lewis as a near-Mormon because he made similar statements to some LDS prophets on deification, but I doubt he meant what we mean be “Godhood”, for instance.

    Therefore, the most common response to a contradictory inheritance for General Authorities is to do what they did in their secular careers as business executives or lawyers: forward most of the hardball questions to the PR guys. When the ranks of General Authorities are seasoned with artists and academics, or even a journalist or two (not likely scenarios) then we could see a change in the responses to these questions.

  7. David,

    I totally agree with everything you said.

    Here’s my question, though: which specific doctrines mentioned above do you agree have been annulled?

    And when will the rest of the church membership be told?

    That’s my only question/point. I’m cool w/ mistakes — I make tons of them daily.

    But shouldn’t we try to be up-front about them? And shouldn’t Mormons all be on the same page as to what is, and is not, doctrine? Should we learn through press releases that certain fundamental doctrines have been repealed? Or should we all get on the same page within the church first?

  8. John,

    My reaction to some of the Church’s answers was nearly identical to yours. The response to the questions on Kolob was equally ambiguous.

    As with most Church statements to the media, I’m quite confident that these answers came from some Church PR representative, rather than someone in a position of authority. But this begs the question–to what extent is PR redefining Mormon doctrine in the 21st century? Many of our more radical doctrines have seemingly been toned down in public statements such as these. And are GAs to some degree delegating the responsibility to expound and explain doctrine to those who are trained to present it in more favorable, mainstream terms?

  9. John, you’re kind of quibling here. I think the church did a good job answering the questions with solid validated answers.

    For your first question, as a member for 9 years, this answer is the most simplified version of the response that can be given. There is nothing incorrect in this response, and in truth, while your “yes” would be correct in Mormon ears, it would not technically be correct in conversing with other denominations.

    For the second, the church officially does not require more than Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End to reach the celestial kingdom. Further, there is that whole person not being faulted for what they could not help doctrine in the modern church. I don’t think anyone thinks entrance into Heaven is like magic words in “Army of Darkness” where you have to get every single sylable correct. As far as I understand, members are at their leisure to take this whole section of the endowment as symbollically or literally as they wish.

    The whole “rule over their own worlds” thing is not currently taught by the church. I think it odd that you said the answer seemed “lawyerly” since the entire answer was “No.” I didn’t no you could determine lawyerliness from a one word, monosylabic answer.

    Finally, I think you are muddying the water on the “racism” issue here. The Church does teach all are alike unto God, and that is the true doctrine of the church right now. I think it would be foolish of the church to make a big controversy over itself on this issue. It is wise and practical for the church to stick with the truth it currently endorses, and not to devolve into past issues. If Foxnews were a decent journalistic group, they’d ask a follow up question.

  10. Matt W.,

    I’ll ask the same thing to you….

    Which specific doctrines mentioned above do you agree have been annulled?

    When will the rest of the church membership be told?

    Finally, I think you know what I mean by saying the “whole truth.” There is always a way to parse a question to justify a less-than-completely-candid answer. To me, these answers feel like just that — parsing, and not offering the whole truth, in the spirit with which they were asked. It feels like numerous attempts to avoid actually answering the question — to avoid something embarrassing or potentially damaging. It’s a bit sad to me, that’s all.

    That’s just my opinion. I respect yours, of course.

  11. John, if Mormons believe they can become gods; what does that really mean? The definition of what is God is not unambiguous. I agree that becoming a partaker of the divine nature is what Mormons believe it means to be a God. Is there more than that explicit in Mormon doctrine? Probably not so much.

    The issue the Church is facing is that they are answering the questions in the spirit they were asked. They weren’t asking for a great treatise on what Mormons believe about their final destiny, Fox was asking for a sound bite.

    If the Church comes out and says, “Yes, we believe we will become gods,” it really doesn’t answer anything since evangelicals have a totally different definition of what we mean when we say it.

    So the PR dept. sticks to the most unambiguous scriptural definition of what we mean when we say we can become Gods. I doubt you disagree that becoming a partaker of the divine nature is not the essence of becoming a god. To go beyond that is to really go out on the skinny branches of theology which hasn’t reached any sort of consensus in the Church. As Geoff J asked at Mormon Mentality:

    Is there one God or are there many Gods? If one God, is that one God a quorum of multiple persons or multiple persons? If multiple persons is it just the Father, and Holy Ghost that makes up the one God? Or do those three have wives that make the on God a six person unity? Or is there polygamy in the Godhead and thus three male persons but more than three wives? Or does the One God consist of more divine persons than that including the progenitors of the being we call Father? (And speaking of that, is there such a thing as viviparous spirit birth or not? Are spirits beginningless as Joseph taught or do they have a beginning as Brigham taught?) If there is a regress of God is there a Head God at the top or is it an eternal regress? Or was Orson Pratt right in assuming that God is the combination of all intelligence in existence rather than a person as we normally assume? And when we become gods what will that mean? Will we be shipped off to run our own planet? Will we have to atone on a planet first like Jesus did (who was obviously a God before coming here after all)? Or will we just join the one Godhead as junior members, if so how can we be like the Father and Son without atoning?

  12. Gerb,
    “Would GOD or Jesus sidestep the issue?”

    See the many parables he gave as answers pharisees, saducees, and others setting traps, particularly the one about pearls before swine.

    Do you wish we would go back to the old attitudes regarding Blacks, skin, and curses. I am with you in that I think it would do a lot of good to clarify some scriptures and repudiate some old statements but if you look at that answer as authoritative, it effectively throws the older “doctrine” into a tailspin.

    For the record, I think deification is the capstone of Joseph’s restoration and the singular most amazing and convincing doctrine to me of it’s truthfulness. I am somewhat disheartened to see it downplayed, but the fact is, it is a very, very controversial and divisive doctrine, much as the Savior’s claim to be the Son of God was in his day.

  13. John Dehlin: I just don’t see that evasion here.

    Which of the folk Doctrines above were ratified? How were they ratified? Should they be annulled in some way beyond how they were ratified?

    I hate to answer your question with a question, but it seems to me these doctrines need not be annulled if they were ever officially docrtine.

    I would say, however, any and all “race doctrine” was officially annulled in June 1978. And even then, the race thing wasn’t doctrine (see Prince “DOM, rise of modern mormonism”)

  14. Matt W. – anyone who mentions Army of Darkness has a special place in my heart.

    There have been quite a few around the Nacle who have been wondering about this interview. Some have said that maybe the PR guy was a little perturbed by the questions. There is also a question as to how the questions were given, ie. in the same format or differently. I’m also wondering about the questions that weren’t answered. The column says that they submitted 21 questions to the church, but that not all of them were answered. If you look at the column, all of the questions listed have an answer attached to them. Of course, that doesn’t obviscate the answers that were given. I think they did ok, but it still comes across as really robotic.

  15. Matt w.,

    Considering what you’re willing to dismiss as folk doctrine (a core teaching in the Book of Mormon and a core tenant in the plan of salvation) — I wonder what couldn’t be dismissed or jettisoned for convenience sake?

    Seems like distinct Mormon Doctrine is close to dead if we too far down this road.

    I’d be fine if everything were reduced to “love your neighbor” — but I worry about the vitality of Mormonism when that happens.

  16. If these concerns aren’t doctrine, then pull out any instances referring to KOLOB, we will become GODS and BY quotes, Mark Peterson Quotes, etc. that make the church look out of place in the 21st century. They might as well remove Sec. 132 as well since it talks about Polygamy and you know that is a NO NO in modern day mormonism.

  17. My perspective as a non-member: though I’m not LDS, I listen to Mormon podcasts, read Mormon blogs, and have read several books about the church. I find the Mormonism that Mormons talk about amongst themselves to be distinctive and fascinating, and I find its members honest and thoughtful about their faith.

    The Mormonism that gets discussed in the media bears no resemblance to this. Answers like those in this article (1) make the Mormon church look just like any other Christian church, except that they make you stop drinking coffee and beer–not attractive, and/or (2) suggest that the LDS church has something to hide, since the tiniest bit of research would reveal that these answers were, at best, misleading–not attractive either.

  18. “Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?The Church’s Answer: No.Again, this feels like parsing to me,”

    Technically speeching, a person needs to be only baptized to ‘Enter’ the celestial kingdom. The endowment is for a higher grade within this kingdom

  19. Q: Does the Mormon Church believe that women can only gain access to heaven with a special pass or codewords?The Church’s Answer: No.Again, this feels like parsing to me,

    Technically speeching, a person needs to be only baptized to ‘Enter’ the celestial kingdom. The endowment is for a higher grade within this kingdom

  20. Matt W– I’m a life long member, and I agree totally with John here. He was asking people who grew up in the church for their experience. As for Doc’s response, I’m quite happy that blacks can hold the priesthood. I’d be even happier if we formally repudiated the old racist teachings that “explained” why it existed in the first place. The difference is that there was a formal announcement of the change, and at least some explanation. Not just a set of questions and answers issued through Fox News that make it appear as though we never taught the old beliefs.

  21. John,

    I viewed the questions/answers through the lens of the statement at the beginning of the FOX news article:

    “The Church objected to answering some of the questions on the grounds that they misrepresent the basic tenets of the Mormon religion.”

    “Many of these questions are typically found on anti-Mormon blogs or Web sites which aim to misrepresent or distort Mormon doctrines,” the Church said in a statement. “Several of these questions do not represent … any serious attempt to depict the core values and beliefs of its members.”

    I felt the answers were appropriate in light of the above premise and the intended audience.

    This reminds me of the throngs of people that followed Jesus after the miracle of loaves and fishes. He was aware that some, perhaps most initially, in his audience, were only interested in real food and not spiritual food. Although, not what he really wanted I think (not sure) he may have obliged these hearers by feeding them again. I think he was more interested in having people follow him (by finding out more by taking the initiative to study and and actually live his teachings).

    This approach may have been sorta what the Church was doing by answering these questions in this way. I really don’t think the Church is avoiding embarrassment. I think it wants to oblige those that really don’t care that much and have a mild curiosity but at the same time it wants to encourage further investigation to those “who have an ear to hear”.

    But, sadly, people, in general, want to be spoon fed. They think they can get broad, expansive truths delivered to them in neat little packages so they can get on to the next thing. This may be a reflection of our fast-paced, information-based society.

    You asked if Mormons ought to be on the same page as to what is and what isn’t doctrine. Well, I think that we, for the most part, are on the same page. This press release should not be viewed as an announcement of doctrine change when you view it in the correct light.

  22. I agree with John Dehlin’s take. I really wish the FoxNews staff would have spoken with some members or former members first to learn how to phrase their questions to match more closely what has been taught in the church.

    I frankly hate it when people are evasive when answering questions. They took advantage of the questioner’s lack of understanding. I have no respect for that. Someone should tell FoxNews how they were just played by the Church.

  23. As I read all the various replies to this post, I am reminded of the scene at the end of Luke 22 where Jesus is being questioned by the council of elders, priests, and scribes. It goes like this:

    66 ¶ And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,
    67 Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
    68 And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
    69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
    70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.

    Here, Christ could have expounded and given a whole discourse on his role as savior but he chose not to. Why was this his choice? Was he “sidestepping” the issue? Was he ashamed of his history? I think not.

  24. I don’t see the evasion here either. What I do see, however, is political correctness. And why not? Afterall, we do live in a world saturated with political correctness and with attention spans suited for nothing more than sound bites. The answers seem very fitting and appropriate for this environment.

    My sense is that the questions are intended to be provacative and thus newsworthy in a sound bite world! I believe the Church’s approach is sound. Why should the Church try to force feed meet when the milk is hard enough to digest? As an example, with respect to the nature of the afterlife, most of the Christian World doesn’t get too far beyond the concept of heaven and hell in general terms.

  25. John,

    I’m surprised given your open minded nature. It seems to me to be the old conflict between Utah-Idaho folk Mormonism and modern Mormonism again. On the first one, since the KFD was never canonized, modern Mormons, including GAs, are free to ignore it as they see fit. Regarding the SWK quote, etc, perhaps he was wrong promoting the KFD just as BY was wrong on the Priesthood ban and Adam-G-d? It seems GBH has pretty much hammered the nails into the KFD’s coffin and I don’t see a resurection outside of folk Mormonism any time soon. The church response to Fox news seems consistant with that and I don’t get the fuss.

    On the Temple rites, I think many Mormons confuse the present presentation of the Endowment with the Endowment, the latter being a personal and private matter. At best, the mechanical aspects of temple worship are preparatory and we could do sometime completely different that would serve just as well. Cetainly it’s silly to think information readily avaible to all via apostates will serve as some kind of pass code in the hereafter. On that score, I think the “Kirkland Endowment” and the “Nauvoo Endowment” got the worshiper to the same place albeit in a diffeent fashion, just as animal sacrifice once had a place in ancient worship. In time, I think the GAs will improve the mechanics of the presentation further by eliminating all the symbolism that had meaning to early Mormons, but which is now lost and just seems odd and of questionable purpose.

  26. Anna #17-

    I agree, the sad state of these PR answers by the church is that any person interested in the church may be quickly turned away by it upon doing a few google searches. They walk away thinking, oh the church is lying.

    Ih303 #21-

    The biggest difference, IMO, between what Christ said in the verses you cited and what the Church PR people did is that what Christ said did not instill doubt on what His followers believe or had believed. The PR statements leave some amount of doubt on TBM’s as to what we as Mormons may or may not believe.

  27. John:

    I don’t think the answers deny either such thing.

    For the POS tenet, I assume you mean the “Gods and Goddesses” bit, but let’s face it, the answer given is precisely correct. It did not deny the divinity of man, but qualified the terms for outside of LDS understanding. Personally, I think it is a fantastic answer.

    For the “Core Teaching of the Book of Mormon”, that’s just rubbish, mate. It is in the Book of Mormon, but it is certainly not a core teaching, whereas, all are alike unto God, and prosperity comes from faith and obedience, etc etc, are there.

  28. Narrator,
    The membership of the church are encouraged to forge and hone their beliefs through personal study and revelation. In a 1991 Ensign article, Elder Boyd K. Packer said this:

    Personal testimony is confirmed to us initially and is reaffirmed and enlarged thereafter through a harmonious combining of both the intellect and the spirit.

    A PR statement failing to elaborate on the finer points of non-core doctrine should not trouble any member who has defined their beliefs in such a way.

  29. I just don’t see that evasion here. (#13)

    In response to the question about whether believers may become gods and goddesses in the hereafter, the Church never clearly answers in the affirmative. Saying that believers might “partak[e] of the divine nature,” become “joint heirs with Christ,” “emulate their Heavenly Father,” or “acquire [God’s] perfect goodness, love and other divine attributes” is not the same as saying “Yes–we believe that we may become gods and goddesses.” The above phrases are easily reconciled with mainstream Christian beliefs about the duties and potential of believers in Christ, and do not necessarily convey to non-Mormon ears a belief in deification. Emulating God, acquiring divine characteristics, and inheriting His kingdom do not state an unequivocal belief in the possibility of becoming gods, but rather, describe general goals that all mainstream Christians are likely to hold. As a result, the Church leaves the readers guessing at whether we or not we believe in deification. An appropriate follow-up question might have been, “So, uh, do you believe in deification?”

    The Church could have easily given a resounding “Yes” to the question, and then given the explanation and justification that they did give. The response that was given, however, is an incomplete answer that was meant to avoid discussion of a doctrine that sounds “weird” to mainstream Christians. The Church’s overpowering desire to be seen as Christian (even if it means watering down its doctrine) is extremely evident in its answers to Fox.

    In October Conference, Elder Ballard said, “Those who are curious . . . deserve clear and accurate information that comes directly from those of us who are members so that they do not have to rely on the incomplete answers, half-truths, or false statements that may come from the media or other outside voices.” I don’t see this philosophy reflected in the Church’s answers to Fox. Rather, I see many “incomplete answers” that do not clearly or accurately convey LDS belief. If you asked these same questions to any given Elders Quorum or Gospel Doctrine class, you’d likely receive markedly different answers.

    The Church PR reps are bending over backwards to convince the world that we are Christian. As I alluded to in my earlier comment, it will be interesting (or perhaps distressing) to see how PR shapes Mormonism in the 21st century.

  30. ih303-

    Sorry, I did not elaborate properly but I agree with you that sound study is an important part of developing one’s testimony. I personally don’t really care what a “PR guy” says. It does not change my testimony.

    I was simply pointing out that I understand the position of those people that would be troubled by such a statement by a PR guy who is representing (keyword:representing)the church.

    I mean…imagine how it could have hurt the testimonies of the followers of Christ if the scripture you cited went something like this:

    Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, “[NO], Ye say that I am.”

    A continuing string of such comments could instill doubt in any person. One could start to ask, “so do we not believe that?”

    That being said I don’t blame the church for its attempt at political correctness. I blame the media and echo the words of Thomas Jefferson,

    “Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”

    Now expand that to all of the media in our day and I don’t think he was that far off. The media is all about pushing forward their own personal agendas and catchy soundbites; what good does it do for the church to use the media in general as an effective way of transmitting its message.

  31. I have posted on this at my blog, which you can get to by clicking on my name. I had a similar reaction to John’s. My comments, though, are a tad bit snarkier. So surfer beware. :-)

  32. if we keep going down this road of being politically correct in our answers to questions about certain doctrines then we become closer and closer to being viewed as mainstream christianity and that deteriorates the richness of our church and its doctrines. the beauty of our church is in its unique doctrines, why hide that???

  33. It just seems that if you give information to the media in general it simply becomes regurgitated rather than simply transmitted.

  34. Why doesn’t the Prophet answer the questions and not a PR department? Afterall he has the mantle of the Lord and can be guided directly to answer the questions in the manner the Lord would have him answer to appease all.

    If you’re gonna keep the crazy doctrine then admit the truthfulness when asked. If not, throw it out and move the on to modern christianity.

    I don’t buy that political correctness. Mormonism is a unique religion. Why play the media games? Gordon B. Hinckley needs to stand up for every doctrine spoken, packaged and sold to the Saints from the beginning of the religion and not shy away from it as the ugly step child.

  35. Why didn’t Christ just admit he was the promised Messiah and Son of God rather than play games with his detractors? His was a unique religion, If he was going to keep the crazy idea that God was his father, he should not have shied away from who he was, obviously he was not behaving as the Messiah should, treating the divine sonship like garbage.

  36. “Why didn’t Christ just admit he was the promised Messiah and Son of God rather than play games with his detractors?”

    Maybe because he didn’t want to claim to be something he wasn’t?

    Or maybe the accounts given are not completely trustworthy. Do we know what he said? The earliest texts upon which the current versions of the New Testament books are based date to decades after the life of Jesus.

  37. By the way, comment #30 is me. I am not usually one given to sarcasm, but Gerb question has been answered several times with this analogy, and not acknowledged. I think it is naive to think we could run the church or handle the media, rightfully distrusted IMHO, any better than those who run the Church.

  38. No wonder we have so many people leave the church. Not given the straight truth can devastate people and cause massive confusion regarding a restored gospel that can’t come to terms with their past leadership and doctrine. I have kept semi-active with the LDS church which is good and bad and hopefully some day all the obscure doctrine will be sold off.

  39. Doc,

    I’m quite sure Jesus admitted that he was the Son of God and Messiah – similarly to others at that time and throughout history. He didn’t shy away from his unique religion, “I am the way, the truth, and the light…” And, he died for what he said.

    Political correctness is definitely part of our religion today, and it truly appears that the Church is evading the issue. It may be that it recognises the fragility of doctrine as it relates to truth and the eternities. Doctrines and polices change. The doctrines that it feels comfortable addressing we can be assured that these will take the most time to change. Those doctrines they are evading must be in the process of change. We can look forward to a better day when church doctrines are more inline with Christian idealism.

  40. Doctrine and Covenants 132:19-20

    19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the kseeds forever and ever.

    20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from aeverlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have call power, and the angels are subject unto them.

    This is possibly the structure upon which our slogan “Families can be together forever” is built upon… in summary, the very core of our doctrines and the very purpose of our existance, and by our definition, the work and the glory of God.

    We shouldn’t feel ashamed nor lie about this essencial and grand doctrine.

  41. I agree with Doc.

    The word parsing comes up. The idea of being ‘candid’ or ‘transparent’ come up. But where in the exhortations does it say to be ‘transparent’? Where does it say to fully divulge any possibly related information? Where does it say that we are to tell everything on our minds or everything we think the semantics of our doctrines and revelations might mean? Joseph got it right when he pointed out that we often share too much with our enemies. Being honest has never demanded we confess all corollaries of thought and speculation and detail.

  42. You know there is a middle ground between the extremes of downloading all doctrine on a person when they ask a question and being so stingy with the truth that the partial truth one provides is misleading.

    The way the church answered those questions would give many readers the incorrect impression that the Church doesn’t teach that it’s members believe they can become gods, that it doesn’t have any special teachings about Native Americans, that it doesn’t believe in anything like passwords. Are we really so petty that because they didn’t use our terms (names, signs, and tokens), we won’t answer the spirit of the question they were asking? We’d rather hide behind our strict terminology, so that we can give an answer that will be more acceptable to the public because we know the answer we gave will leave them with a misleading impression.

    I can see you guys defending the church’s approach to these questions, but I don’t see how you cannot recognize that the church was clearly parsing and being misleading by only giving partial truths. No one expects a novel. But, it is obvious what the questioner was trying to get at with their questions. Why “play dumb” and act like you don’t know what they are trying to get at?

  43. I am not unhappy with church’s responses. I do agree they are politically correct. Given that most non-menbers who even think they know anything about the church can’t get it right, I can’t expect complete answers to those questions making it any easier for the majority of people to understand.

    Furthermore, (I always like that word) what makes you think that even if you provided a complete answer to the question about the Planet Kolob, that people would understand when they can’t even get the true nature of God and Jesus right.

  44. If a non-member is honestly curious about an LDS doctrine he’s heard about and asks the church about it, and the church won’t give a straight answer because they think the non-member won’t understand it, don’t be surprised when that non-member views the church as dishonest or and/or feels insulted. And don’t complain when he goes to non-church sources to find out about the doctrine.

  45. Two points –

    First, here’s a well known concept brought to us from the JST of Matthew 7:6 –

    10 And the mysteries of the kingdom ye shall keep within yourselves; for it is not meet to give that which is holy unto the dogs; neither cast ye your pearls unto swine, lest they trample them under their feet.
    11 For the world cannot receive that which ye, yourselves, are not able to bear; wherefore ye shall not give your pearls unto them, lest they turn again and rend you.

    And then from Elder D. Todd Christofferson –

    Always remember, as holiness grows within and you are entrusted with greater knowledge and understanding, you must treat these things with care. The Lord said, “That which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit” (D&C 63:64). He also commanded that we must not cast pearls before swine or give that which is holy to dogs (see 3 Ne. 14:6; D&C 41:6), meaning sacred things should not be discussed with those who are not prepared to appreciate their value. [italics added

    This seems pretty straight forward.

    Secondly, don’t forget the target audience of this press release – Fox News. The church makes public, through its website, thousands upon thousands of pages of literature, scriptures, an FAQ, and many other supporting materials addressing the gamut of teachings and doctrine for those truly interested. But they come out with one press release that only briefly touches on some of our more obscure doctrine and they are being deceitful or misleading? Come on.

  46. I’m now imagining someone telling me, “Anna, I only misled you because telling you the truth about that doctrine would have been casting pearls before swine.”

    It may be that this approach is correct–that’s not for me to say. But don’t be surprised if it generates some negative attitudes toward the people who take it.

  47. You know, it was Jesus who coined the pearls and swine metaphor. It seems he wasn’t too concerned about the negative attitudes his teachings generated.

  48. If the answer to a question is too sacred or personal, then politely decline to answer it. Don’t answer it with a misleading answer. To me, this is just a matter of basic honesty and integrity.

    The Church didn’t have to participate in answering these questions put forward by FoxNews. But, if they were going to answer them, they should answer them in a way that is not misleading.

  49. A lot of the back and forth discussion on this thread could be avoided if people remembered the statement by the Church at the beginning of the Fox News article. It gives the reader a key on how to interpret the questions and the answers.

    Nonetheless, I have enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.

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