Controversy LDS Church

Controversy Seems to Surround the LDS Church

The Bloggernacle is Alive and Well

Much has changed in the LDS blogging world over the past seventeen years since I started blogging here. I still see posts from blogs I have read for over twenty years. I find new LDS-themed blogs popping up, sharing some interesting content for a season and then disappearing. But one thing remains constant … controversy seems to surround the LDS Church, or at least that’s the impression from a Google search today.

Controversy can be good, right? It gets clicks. It gets people to read. Advertisers love that. I’m sure the leadership of the LDS Church appreciates people clicking and reading, as long as they control the landing page. But it doesn’t work that way on the Internet. The narrative can only be controlled to a certain extent. There are always going to be dissenters. That’s why there is controversy. And it’s still good.

Contention is not a Good Thing

Controversy arises along with a lot of discussion and argument about something, often with strong feelings of anger or disapproval. Controversy is disagreement, typically prolonged, public, and heated. It is a remarkably stark difference of opinion. Controversy can invoke contention, where those involved take sides and vociferously defend their positions. That’s when controversy begins to take a turn for the negative.

Contention is harmful to the human soul. It can be destructive, especially when involving anger. Most people I know desire to avoid contention. We may have differences of opinion and disagree about facts, but we try to refrain from contention and disputation. Argument, by itself, is not a negative thing. One can and should use argument to persuade, as long as the argument does not involve anger or personal attacks.

Persuasive Arguments are a Good Thing

Not one of us is perfect. We all have weaknesses. To present a persuasive argument without invoking anger is a rare skill. Blessed is the man or woman who has developed this talent and uses it to do good. Overcoming the natural tendency to insult or offend takes effort, but is worth it to those who wish to influence for good. Frankly, it’s a fine line between being boring and making the subject exciting or interesting. It is an art.

Sometimes, I think the Google search algorithm has perfected this art form in the results they return. I work with Google every day. It long ago became my source for instruction manuals on old deprecated systems that I continue to support in my daily employment. I couldn’t do my job without Google helping me find information I need. But Google is only regurgitating links that must be evaluated for accuracy.

Historical Facts and Controversy

Fact-checkers have become a political tool. Humans tend to want an authoritative source to turn to when controversy arises. The LDS Church recognizes this and has added many different tools over the years to fill this need, such as “Topics and Questions.” But who checks the fact-checkers? How reliable is the current interpretation of important LDS historical events from the organization that directly benefits?

I tend to use this glossary of gospel terms as a reliable topical guide to questions I have about LDS doctrine and history. For example, compare this article about marriage with this entry from Topics and Questions. Both pretty good, right? But drill down a little bit to “Plural Marriage” on the LDS site. Compare that interpretation of history to this one, as found on the Restoration Archives, a more reliable source.

Respecting the Beliefs of Another

But, wait. Am I saying a website not controlled by the LDS Church is more reliable than the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to obtain historical information about the church? Yes. Yes, I am. And can I back up that claim? Yes. Yes, I can. I have done so in multiple posts over the years. A prime example is the question of who introduced polygamy to the church.

Of course you can say, “Well, Tim, that’s your opinion and your own interpretation of history.” Yes, you can say that, which brings me to the point of this post. I hope we can agree to disagree and be kind in the process of so doing. Fellowship is important to me. We have a common hope in Christ. Attending church with you each week is wonderful. Thank you for allowing me to worship with you each Sunday.

The Holy Spirit of Promise

I’ve made what I think are some pretty good arguments here on LDC against the passing of the mantle of prophet that obviously rested upon Joseph Smith. I’ve posted multiple times that the sealing power can only be received directly from the Lord. I believe it can’t be passed from man to man. Although the lesser priesthood can be received from another man, the higher priesthood is only received directly from God.

I also believe the historical record bears this out. Marriage and the sealing power get right to the heart of everything that is controversial about the LDS Church. If there’s one subject about which I have studied, prayed about and asked for a confirming witness, it’s about what one must do to be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Most LDS folks I know believe all you need is to be married in the temple.

Worshiping Together in Harmony

I think you can tell I’ve written this to somebody in my ward. Although I’m not a member, I’m still very active in the LDS Church. There are so many good things about the church and especially the people. I appreciate so much that you let me sing in the choir with Carol. It brings me great satisfaction to be allowed to speak up and share my thoughts in Gospel Doctrine class and in Priesthood meetings.

I’m not asking you to change your beliefs. But please consider that someone can come to a different conclusion about the presentation of the historical record as delivered by the LDS Church. Even the official web sites, including the Joseph Smith Papers include misleading footnotes that make unwarranted conclusions about what the writer meant. I want the liberty of believing as I please.

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