1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”.
In the December 2016 issue of Ensign, LDS Apostle Russell Ballard wrote in an article on how times have changed, and so must the teaching methods of the Church. Necessitating the change, he said, is the way people retrieve info nowadays.
The internet has changed everything, for all of us, that is for sure. No longer are we placing books on hold at the library to Xerox an obscure reference to something we’re studying. Nor are we having to reserve a section of our homes for oversized dictionaries, and outdated sets of Encyclopedias. All one has to do now is boot up a 3×5” phone, and your eyeballs are beholding everything you need to know. Who knew, right?
Well, this is the dilemma the LDS Church has found themselves in today. Try as they might, they can no longer get away with telling members in a class ‘Oh, we’ll find out about that someday’.
‘Someday’ has arrived.
The Church will need to rearrange everything they’ve done since its inception, in order to keep it growing. Mr. Ballard’s article reminded teachers on how they need to approach this new era –
‘… more than at any time in our history, your students also need to be blessed by learning doctrinal and historical content and context by study and by faith accompanied by pure testimony so they can experience a mature and lasting conversion to the gospel and a lifelong commitment to Jesus Christ. Mature and lasting conversion means they will “stay in the boat and hold on” throughout their entire lives.6’
A ‘pure testimony’ consists of everything uplifting that shines a positive light on Joe Smith, and Mormonism in general. Anything outside those parameters isn’t pure, nor is it acceptable.
‘Conversion to the gospel’ simply means the student should be converted to the Mormon gospel, not that which is found in the Bible. Here’s the advice he gave teachers on how to handle LDS history –
‘For you to understand the doctrinal and historical content and context of the scriptures and our history, you will need to study from the “best books,” as the Lord has directed (D&C 88:118). The “best books” include the scriptures, the teachings of modern prophets and apostles, and the best LDS scholarship available.
You’ll notice Mr. Ballard’s very specific words…’the best LDS scholarship…’ This means it’s inclusive, and subjective. The only scholars they should read are those sitting in Provo, Utah at BYU, or Church HQ, in Salt Lake City.
Not only are the books they should read subjective, so is the attitude required in order to keep things afloat. Ballard explained it this way –
Through your diligent efforts to learn by study and by faith, you will be able to help your students learn the skills and attitudes necessary to distinguish between reliable information that will lift them up and the half-truths and incorrect interpretations of doctrine, history, and practices that will bring them down.’
Admittedly, there are a lot of half-truths about the Church floating around in cyberspace. However, the biggest culprit of these half-truths, and misinterpretations, comes from within, not from outsiders.
The skills and attitudes necessary to buy into the Mormon gospel in the 21stcentury, are simply a hefty set of blinders. Sadly, our friend over at Cumorah.com invested in just such a system. We reported a few days ago that after extensive research, he found the internet had no effect on Church growth. See Church Membership Increase Lowest in 30 Years.
The more this man spoke, the deeper my heart sank. His instructions were nothing more than a modern-day example of tricking people and keeping them in the dark.
To read Mr. Ballard’s article in full, see Ensign, ‘By Study and by Faith,’ December 2016.