How Wide Is The Divide?

Today in high priest group we discussed Elder Holland’s talk to the last General Conference entitled, “My Words Never Cease.”  In it he discusses the doctrine and scripture underlying the principle of continuing revelation and the concept of new scripture that adds to what we already have in the Bible.  During the discussion I became aware of two forces or ideas that were being expressed.  One is that we must teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ in such a manner that it does not offend anyone.  The other is that we must preach the truth even if some are offended because truth always offends some.

Which is it?  Must we preach truth even if some are going to be offended?  Or should we carefully avoid bringing up doctrinal differences with other faiths who might be offended in the interests of being accepted as mainstream or perhaps not so mainstream Christians?  Just how different are our doctrinal beliefs?  Or “how wide is the divide” as some have recently expressed it?  And if the divide is wide, if our beliefs are very different from those of traditional Christianity, how likely is it that we will be able to convince them that we are Christian even though we believe very differently?

Finally, is there any danger to the saints themselves in coming to believe there is very little difference between what we believe and what the evangelicals and other traditional Christians believe?  Is there any chance that some of our own members will become confused about doctrine and begin to think that “one church is as good as another” or that it isn’t really important to be a baptized Mormon if one is a sincere believer in a Protestant faith that is pretty much the same?


5 Responses to How Wide Is The Divide?

  1. Mike, perhaps your thought is a good one, but your use of the word “guile” does not seem right to me. If you read all the passages in scripture that include the word, you will find that guile in a man is always to be avoided. It is a sin, a form of dishonesty. The Savior was a man without guile.

  2. Mike says:

    While we should not be ashamed, we should also be prudent that we don’t throw pearls before swine. Look at the example of Pres. Hinckley….

    When asked straight-out doctrinal questions about exaltation during press interviews, he pretended ignorance, claiming that it was “just a couplet,” i.e. not doctrine, and that we didn’t really teach it anymore, despite it being in the lesson manual that year! We all had a good laugh in conference that year at him putting those reporters in their place.

    We should, as the Book of Mormon says, rely a bit more on guile to help convert people properly, and not just spread the more subtle and deeper doctrines to the world, but only to the penitent.

  3. Sara says:

    What do you think about this……We must never be ashamed of the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must speak the truth and share it in that light. But we must be careful that when we share it is not with an intent to be offensive or tear someone else’s beliefs down. With a true spirit of missionary work, the truth (which will be offensive to some) can be shared without an inention to offend. In the end, it will offend sometimes (and as society and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ beliefs diverge more and more, the teaching will offend more and more), but that should be because of the receivers attitude, and it should never be because it is the intent of the person sharing the gospel.

    I feel we will be seeing an increasing division of the wheat and the tares within the church, as some do not realize the increasing division between the doctrines of the gospel and the views of other religions and societies.

  4. In my view, it is a balancing act. When faced with teaching the truth about Jesus Christ and the fullness of his gospel, we can sometimes choose between teaching it in a blunt and often offensive manner. Or we can choose to be as diplomatic as possible while teaching the truth in an inoffensive way. But some truths are themselves offensive to some. For an example, there are many evangelical Christians who are deeply offended by the idea that there may be scripture outside of the Bible, or that the Bible may be incorrectly translated in some passages. No amount of diplomacy can gloss over this fundamental truth. Does this mean that we should not teach it? I do not believe so. In this I feel that teaching the truth is more important than keeping everybody happy. There are limits to diplomacy, and in some cases it is the truth itself rather than the way we express it that offends others.

    There are other truths that are offensive no matter how carefully and diplomatically taught. Our refusal to teach those truths is a refusal to testify of Christ and his gospel. This is a violation of the covenants that we have made, and a transgression of God’s law. In other words, such reticence is sinful and cowardly.

    I agree however that a saint should be as gentle and diplomatic as possible when teaching the truth.

  5. Tim Malone says:

    Can we teach the truth in a manner that is not offensive by being respectful of others who do not yet understand some of our beliefs that are very different from theirs? Even within the church among those who we may think understand some of the unique doctrines of our church I have found those who were shocked when such truths were plainly taught.

    I think we should make it clear that we do indeed have many unique truths that cannot be found in other churches, else what special thing do we have to offer that is beyond what others already have? Do we not says to the world, “Come and join us. Bring all the truth that you possess and let us add to it.” Temple sealings are one such basic example.

    And yes, John it is a real danger that some saints already believe that there is not much difference between what we believe and what other churches believe. I’m sure you have seen as well as I have that some members are confused about doctrine, based especially on some of the comments they leave on what should be basic stuff. Maybe it’s just among some of the younger generation who have not studied as much.

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