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Doctrine or Just Your Opinion?

Henry Eyring said:

There are few ways in which good people do more harm to those who take them seriously than to defend the gospel with arguments that won’t hold water. Many of the difficulties encountered by young people going to college would be avoided if parents and teachers were more careful to distinguish between what they know to be true and what they think may be true. Impetuous youth, upon finding the authority it trusts crumbling, even on unimportant details, is apt to lump everything together and throw the baby out with the bath.


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • MB June 12, 2013, 5:16 am

    Interesting. Please cite the source so I can read the quote in context before I comment.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 12, 2013, 11:25 am

    Site sources, MB? What, are you trying to make this hard for me? 😉

    OK, now updated. Here is more info:

    “What Are the Things That Really Matter?” Mormon Scientist: the Life and Faith of Henry Eyring p. 246.


    Here’s a similar Eyring Sr. quote from another source.

    It is only fair to warn parents and teachers that a young person is going to face a very substantial body of scientific evidence supporting the earth’s age as millions of years, and that a young person might “throw the baby out with the bath” unless allowed to seek the truth, from whatever source, without prejudice.

    Reflections of a Scientist, page 56.

    This last one is very interesting to me in light of how schools teach science.
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  • MB June 14, 2013, 7:42 am

    “if parents and teachers were more careful to distinguish between what they know to be true and what they think may be true”

    In other words, adults need 1)to be at peace with ambiguity and uncertainty in a religion that has a tradition of respecting and expecting the phrases “I know” or “I know without a shadow of a doubt” in what is delivered over the pulpit on Sundays and 2) to be able to articulate well why they believe what they do believe in the presence of that ambiguity and uncertainty.

    They also must be open to new information and to new scientific discovery, aware of and forgiving of the sins of the past and the present, and remove from themselves any sense that the church or its teachings must be laudable and perfect in order to feel good about their commitment to the gospel and their decision to be a member of the church.

    That is a tall order since most humans generally abhor ambiguity, feel threatened when they are affiliated with an organization that they sense is not universally admired, have minds that, when they cannot find a reason for why something is the way it is, create a reasoning on their own that they can cling to to justify it, are generally averse to considering information that is contrary to the reasoning upon which they have built their assumptions and conclusions and almost always are dealing with pride, which makes them fearful of being disrespected if they do not appear to have answers to every question and makes them feel threatened by people within their faith tradition who see things differently than they do.

    However, we are all called to put off the natural man (see previous paragraph). Hopefully we will. It certainly is helpful to the younger generation when we do.

  • Amy Lockhart June 14, 2013, 10:11 am

    MB: Thank you for that. It could easily tie in to the seminary thread as well.

    I find that the older I get the less I “know” and the more shadows of doubt there are. The other side of the story is always there, and is generally much more complex than we often have courage to believe. Especially when life and choices don’t fit the widely accepted norm.

    Be it how old the earth is, the “right” person to vote for, what programs to participate in, and much more, I find there is a great deal of room for respect and understanding that is left untapped because we “know” so much.

    I believe faith is real and I live with hope that it is. A grateful heart and positive thinking have gotten me far, but “knowing” has escaped me for quite sometime now. In fact, it is usually when I think I know something that the very thing is called into question in sometimes very trying ways.

    I do better knowing less and trusting more that all things can be for my good. And understanding that an open mind and heart help me to not only be more charitable, but allow me to see things that I was once utterly closed off to.
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  • IDIAT June 14, 2013, 3:22 pm

    I have come to believe that most of what we call “doctrine” is in fact found in the Gospel Doctrine Manual. Just about everything else is not. The lessons there are mostly referenced to the Standard Works, with some quotes from leaders for good measure. We do have to be careful to distinguish speculation from pure doctrine and, as Bro. Millet once noted quoting from a Protestant friend, figuring out our doctrine is like nailing Jell-O to a tree. In many ways, the doctrine is actually very clear. It’s using our judgment to apply that doctrine to every day life experiences that is a challenge.

  • Glenn Thigpen June 20, 2013, 6:52 am

    The more rigid the paradigm, the more likely it is that any new knowledge that distorts that paradigm will cause it to crack and maybe shatter. (My opinion, so please do not do a CFR.)

    The only I know’s that I passed on to my children were those of Jesus Christ, the restoration, etc. The rest were open to discussion. Some still fell away from the Church, but not because of paradigm destruction.


  • jennycherie June 22, 2013, 3:40 pm

    what is a CFR?
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  • Happy Valley Mom July 11, 2013, 3:14 pm

    Many of the things we consider “Gospel Doctrine” in our Utah congregations are really cultural norms that like Pres. Eyring said may not hold water outside of Utah. There is big controversy of late over pant suits in church for women, yet in Tonga, our LDS men wear a “skirt” and have tattoos. Is my mullet wearing son less worthy to bless the sacrament than his short haired quorum friends? He has just turned in his mission papers, pulled his mullet into a pony tail for the mission pics. He’s perfectly morally clean and spiritually sound will be cutting his mullet before he enters the MTC. I’ll be the one cutting it. For now, he’s sporting a mullet. Outside of Utah, that would hardly be questioned. I’ve lived most of my life outside of Utah. I feel qualified to say that LDS Utah has a “culture” all it’s own, and expectations that we are often pressured to adhere to. This doesn’t make the church any more or less true in Utah vs. any other area of the world. Testimonies are neither stronger or weaker just because we live in Utah. I agree – the only true absolutes in this church are Jesus Christ, his atoning sacrifice and his teachings on the Sermon on the Mount. Follow His Example. Serve. Don’t Judge. Love One Another. Remain Temple Worthy and go as often as you can. Be Kind. That’s the Gospel.

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