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What Helen Whitney failed to realize, despite all her research, is that what makes the LDS Church different is that it teaches its members to question everything. The LDS church does not teach blind, unquestioning, obedience. That's where the sayings come from like "Don't live on borrowed light" etc. There is no church that teaches its church to question more that the LDS church.

But additionally, what the LDS church teaches is not only to question but also how to get answers. We get those answers through prayer and the Holy Ghost. And these answers are the source of our unshakable faith, hope, and certainty.

Now, there comes along questions that we don't get an answer to immediately. But, the lack of an answer every now and again, does not create doubt or destroy the answers we have already received. We just continue on with faith in what we already know to be true, and that the other answers will soon come. And eventually they do. "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you."

Whitney is biased towards doubt.

"What Helen Whitney failed to realize, despite all her research, is that what makes the LDS Church different is that it teaches its members to question everything. The LDS church does not teach blind, unquestioning, obedience. That's where the sayings come from like "Don't live on borrowed light" etc. There is no church that teaches its church to question more that the LDS church."

Are we talking about the same LDS Church?

Questioning seems to be only promoted if the questioner arrives to the same answer as the leadership.

"What Helen Whitney failed to realize, despite all her research, is that what makes the LDS Church different is that it teaches its members to question everything..."

I'm finding your comment hard to square with any semblance of reality. Elder Packer and Elder Oaks were crystal clear...

I have questioned everything in the church by performing an experiment (Alma 32:27). I try having faith in it, I try doing it (John 7: 17), and then I try praying about it (James 1: 5). And, without fail I have just happened to recieve the same answers as the Brethern of the church (John 16: 13). That is because we are speaking to the same God and he is seeking to bring us to a unity of the faith (Eph. 4: 13).

17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

I'll see your quote and raise you:

"When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done."

R. Conrad Schultz, “Faith Obedience,” Ensign, May 2002, 29

Don't get me wrong. I believe in "faith obedience." But, we can get our own witness. Faith obedience is the first step in the experience on the word, but a witness will come after a trial of our faith.

Please do not misunderstand. I do not support an attitude of do nothing until I recieve my own witness. We should always follow the prophet with "faith obedience" even when we don't know the "why's" at first.

David, if you really think "question everything" is the right way to approach faith questions, it seems like you would respond more favorably to Whitney's take on things. She said, as you recall, that she comes from a tradition that encourages questioning.

So are you disagreeing with Whitney's view? Or agreeing with her, but claiming she simply failed to understand that (as you see it) the Church encourages its members to question all aspects of their faith in order to strengthen it? [I'll bracket for the moment the question of whether "question everything" really captures the LDS approach to building faith.]

I disagree... in this same church I have been taught that to question is the same as having a lack of testimony and that if you don't have a strong testimony you will question things. I have been taught from a young age to stay away from and to not associate with those who question the Church's teachings or who question the Prophet... and that to do so is to sin. That is what the LDS church has taught me.
I find Helen Whitney's perspective refreshing. The response to her documentary was startling to me while reading the reviews from Meridian Magazine. Most of them said the documentary was full of lies which I found interesting. They probably had never heard half of that history and so to them they believed it was all lies. The response from Maurine Proctor at Meridian also was negative toward the documentary and she said it was because most LDS members thought it was derogatory. My dh and I thought it was great and so did most members of my ward. So I wonder what kind of audience it was that responded to Meridian?
As far as Helen's response to testimony meeting... I have to agree with her. It still surprises me today when I hear people say "I know" and I myself have said that as well. I don't know for sure anything that I believe in is true... and probably won't know for sure until I die... no matter how many spiritual experiences I have until then. So until then it is all on faith... and hope.... as Helen pointed out.

Asking questions is not the same thing as doubting. I have been encouraged to ask questions, and I actively encourage others to do so in the classes I've taught.

Stephanie, thanks for the comment. While I would be tempted to draw a difference between Utah and non-Utah audiences in terms of positive or negative response to the series, I'll note that the comments posted at the Deseret News giving unfavorable reactions to the series were from viewers all over the country. It would be interesting to try and figure out what is driving the different responses by LDS members.

I suspect familiarity with LDS history is a primary explanatory item. Maybe they ought to start giving history talks (I mean real history, not faith-promoting sermons) in General Conference. That would get people's attention. Or maybe the strength of the negative reaction will give Elder Jensen some ammunition to argue that the Church Historian's office should take its calling to teach history to the membership of the Church (rather than ride shotgun over the archives) more seriously.

And to build on that last idea, I'd note there was a time when Essentials in Church History -- a 400-page serious treatment of LDS history -- was considered mandatory reading by Mormons. The quality of scholarship attainable by LDS historians has gone up by an order of magnitude in the two generations since Essentials was written. Story of the Latter-day Saints was supposed to be a replacement one-volume history taking the place of the dated Essentials, but was deep-sixed by LDS leaders when they actually read it and came face to face with the quality upgrade. Maybe it's time to rethink that decision and make Story of the Latter-day Saints a mainstay of LDS education and curriculum.

Dave, I liked your earlier idea of using RSR as the Church history text during the D&C year. I liked it so much that I've jump started the D&C year by a full 20 months - I started reading RSR during Sunday school time in April. Maybe they'll ask me to teach it in 2009 (heh.)

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