April 12, 2009
Well, it’s not too late so I’ll go ahead with one of the posts I’ve been thinking about. This one is prompted by this post that was linked from (and is about people associated with) Times and Seasons where Sis. Smith blogs. Although what I have to say is pretty much a tangent.
Anyway, I don’t think that terms like “orthodox” and “heterodox” really apply in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There’s a good reason why we always say “active” or “inactive”—the church is ultimately more about what we do than what we believe. If you can honestly pass a temple recommend interview it doesn’t matter what else you believe. (I say ”what else” because a few of the questions are about belief. You really should believe in God and Jesus and that Joseph Smith was a prophet if you want to be a member.)
I’ve read that once in the early days of the church a member was excommunicated for telling about some outlandish beliefs he held. He appealed to Joseph Smith, and Joseph overturned the excommunication. Someone asked if the things the guy had said were true, then, and Joseph replied that they were utter nonsense but he had never read in the scriptures of anyone being condemned for his beliefs, only for unbelief.
I’ve read several times in church history where Joseph talked about creeds (he was “agin‘ ‘em,”*) and I wonder what he would have said about the way we use the Articles of Faith. But actually teaching them in Primary and memorizing them and such is probably consistent with what he taught as long as we use them as a foundation from which to build rather than as a limitation or constraint on our beliefs.
And as long as we’re talking about the Articles of Faith:
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
The last phrase implies that there are many “great and important things” that we don’t know yet, because God has not yet revealed them, so we shouldn’t get too cocky about thinking we understand the gospel.
* We have a tradition in our family of everyone reporting what they learned at church during Sunday dinner. And I have kind of a joke that when someone just says something like “repentence” or “faith” I’ll ask, “were they fur it or agin’ it?”