Psalm 119:73; “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.”
One of the coolest things I’ve experienced as a Christian is the freedom we have in Him as Christians. We have freedom to read materials that aren’t necessarily all about Christianity, nor are they always found in Christian bookstores. What materials am I referring to?
Dictionaries. Thesauruses. Concordances. History books. Historical journals. The everyday things that are seemingly mundane when looked at individually. Collectively, however, they give us a broader understanding of what’s going on around us, whereby helping us to make informed decisions. This, in turn, produces a strong faith while building an impartial view of others.
Note: The Works of Josephus is hands down, one of my favorite go-to historical references for Ancient Mesopotamia.
As a Mormon, it never would’ve dawned on me to read history books in conjunction with the Bible, and shockingly, my major in college was, you guessed it; history… go figure…
Sadly, Mormons don’t believe they have the freedom of going to outside resources for any type of references, because they’ve been tricked into believing the only safe information must be filtered through the lens of what church leaders believe is appropriate. Case in point is the Sunday school lessons I saw on their website.
The Church provides a twelve part Sunday school lesson plan for their youth, easily accessible on their site. Each lesson, designed to last a month, comes with a set of weekly questions that focuses attention, and thought solely on their church. Keep in mind, they start off by encouraging the kids to ask questions about what they’re learning, and how to teach others about what they’ve learned.
While perusing over their list of lessons for the month of April, I was struck by the amount of info they cover from within. In other words, the majority of their lessons focuses on the Church and Joe Smith, while using a totally random bible scripture here and there that’s been taken out of context.
For example, one of the lessons for the month of April is, ‘How can I recognize the difference between truth and error?’
I clicked on that and saw a list of resources they’re encouraged to use as guidelines for study. As the title implies, these are supposed to help in understanding how they can effectively guard themselves from being led astray by false teachers.
After looking at the choices available, I clicked on the following random link:
‘Neil L. Andersen, “Joseph Smith,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 28–31’
The link of course, takes you to a speech given by Mr. Neil Andersen back in 2014. After talking at length on how wonderful Joe Smith was, Mr. Andersen went into the oft repeated mantra of why apostates still hate Joseph.
Near the end of this speech, the Mormon apostle made the following comments –
‘We are especially saddened when someone who once revered Joseph retreats from his or her conviction and then maligns the Prophet.
“Studying the Church … through the eyes of its defectors,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, is “like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus. Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that from which they have departed.”’
We’re not sure what this had to do with protecting yourself from false teachings, but we’re positive it’s another ploy for tricking the Mormon youth.
Reading extraneous materials isn’t always a bad thing, and many times helps us to understand a topic we’re studying more fully. Maligning others while teaching a youth group, doesn’t serve the kids well at all.
Mr. Andersen’s comment is just another way of building animosity towards outsiders, and tricks members into believing they shouldn’t read outside information.
Looking over their list of monthly lessons, one can’t help but notice they’re another endless list of things about themselves that has little to nothing, to do with Christianity.