Marina Gorodilova. Is the LDS Church true?
The springing board for my thoughts is the verse in D & C 1:30, the part of which reads that the LDS Church is У the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually.Ф (I rely only on reasoning and not on faith in this discussion. If I relied on faith this verse would be the end of discussion on truthfulness of the LDS Church.)
How do I determine the standard for truthfulness? The above-cited verse implies that truthfulness is determined by looking at the doctrine and not at the behavior of the individual members of the Church. (A side note on the behavior of the members: If at a certain time the behavior of the members was in accord with the doctrine but later that behavior was condemned by the same Church as УuntrueФ and УwrongФ, then the doctrine which those members followed was false, even though at a certain time it was considered true.)
Therefore, the question before me is the truthfulness of the doctrine of the LDS Church. How do I determine whether the doctrine is true of false? Should I follow subjective or objective standard? The standard for truthfulness if one adopts subjective approach would be as follows: If a certain individual according to his/her personal criteria for truthfulness considers the Church to be true, then the Church is true. The problem with accepting this approach is that in this case one of the LDS ChurchТs main postulates becomes absurd, namely the principle that the УtruthsФ revealed by the Church are universal and they restore Уthe plain and precious thingsФ that were taken out of the Bible. (1 Nephi 13:40; D & C 123:12). When we consider the truth to be subjective it cannot be universal because the truthfulness of the specific religion, church, or idea would depend upon perceptions of individual mind. Therefore, the Church could not assert its truthfulness depending on the perceptions of a certain individual and subjective standard of truthfulness cannot be applied.
The logic of my reasoning then suggests that the standard for truthfulness should be objective. The question is whether the objective, absolute truth can change with time, depending on the circumstances surrounding it. Looking at the philosophical concept of truth (and also the ideal concept of truth that each of us have in our minds), it is possible to assert that the absolute (objective, Уout thereФ) truth exists and it is unchangeable, as God himself is unchangeable. Philosophers bring the following argument for the proposition that the universal, absolute truth exists. If it did not exist then our society would have fallen apart since each and everyone would have followed his/her own subjective idea of truth about what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. A society where every member is the law unto himself/herself turns into anarchy and chaos. Therefore, absolute truth exists because we follow it more or less in our lives in order to preserve harmonious society.
The problem with the LDS doctrine is that if we test it under the absolute universal objective truth standard it does not withstand the test. (The test is if the doctrine is an embodiment of the objective truth then it is unchangeable.) These are the proofs that the doctrine fails the objective truth test:
1. LDS Church preached different doctrines at different times. These are some of the doctrines that were later abolished: plural marriage (D & C 132:61-62), ban on giving the priesthood to the blacks (needs more research to find a specific resource where the doctrine is written), blood atonement (somewhere in the Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young; needs research because I need to find unedited, original document; all the edited documents do not contain this doctrine), God-Adam doctrine (same situation as with the previous one).
Justifications for this inconsistency are:
(a) At a certain time the doctrine was useful in order to help the Church and the members to survive (e.g. polygamy)
The question that I have for this justification is why Joseph Smith presented polygamy as the principle taught to him by God? If it was simply for the purposes of survival Joseph Smith could have said, Уit is reasonable for us if we want to survive to practice plural marriage for some time.Ф This would be fair.
(b) Some of the doctrinal changes (e.g. priesthood to blacks) are feebly justified by Уit is behind usФ (Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley by Mike Wallace http://www.lds-mormon.com/60min.shtml)
(c) Doctrines like blood atonement and God-Adam are simply not mentioned at all to the majority of the members and were taken out of the official publications of the Journal of Discourses of Brigham Young. (I personally went to the BYU bookstore and asked for a copy of Journal of Discourses; the only copy they had was the version edited and compiled by J. Widstoe that did not contain any of the above-mentioned doctrines. Sounds like communist Russia, where the communists printed the works of Tolstoy but took out significant portions of the text (Уedited the textФ) that were contrary to the official propaganda.)
2. Temple endowment had undergone some changes after 1990 because some things in it where not politically correct. (e.g. Eve was talking directly to God in the new version; the signs of execution as a punishment for not keeping the preceding covenant were removed.) The question is should the sacred temple ceremony, revealed by Joseph Smith in all its fullness be deprived of such fullness because of a vain, temporary doctrine of political correctness? Why was it changed then? Is the Church sacrificing the truth to the fashions of the day?
The conclusion from the above said is that the LDS Church cannot be true from the objective standard of truth because its doctrine had undergone significant changes, whereas absolute truth does not change. As I have discussed earlier, according to the subjective standard of truth it cannot be true either since one of the most important principles of the LDS teaching would be violated, namely that everyone would eventually accept the true principles (read Mormon principles) or at least have a knowledge that these principles are true and, thus, universal.
Even if I have to accept, for the sake of brain exercise, that the Church is true from the subjective standpoint, then I would have to apply my own standards of truthfulness. My own standards of truthfulness are such that I would recognize the Church as untrue (this is a separate discussion).
The overall conclusion is that the LDS Church is not a true Church.
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