Saturday, May 22, 2010
Infallability's One-way street
[This is about foundational, indispensable, bed-rock doctrines involved in salvation. It is not about trifling changes which can come and go at any time. I'm talking about the big stuff, in the big picture, which will make-or-break salvation itself.]
Here's the destructive course that inevitably follows from the notion that the President of the church cannot lead us astray when foundational changes are made to the doctrine - we can only subtract from our body of principles. We never can add back what we have subtracted.
To illustrate the one-way street problem you need only look at the changes to the endowment. The endowment is considered indispensable for exaltation and therefore part of the required, correct, bed-rock doctrines. In 1990 it was changed to drop a character, eliminate dialogue, alter the manner of covenant-making and delete things considered distasteful. I will not discuss details, although others have and you can find them if you look. That isn't important to understanding the problem. It is only necessary to know some things were deleted.
Suppose that in 2015 there was a consensus that the deletions were wrong and should be returned. If you were to attempt to return them into the endowment, you would immediately raise these questions:
-Do all church members who received their endowment between 1990 and 2015 have to do them over again?
-Do all the vicarious ordinances performed on behalf of the dead between 1990 and 2015 have to be redone?
-If not, then why would a change be made, since it isn't necessary to redo the work already done?
Now suppose that you reach a satisfactory resolution to these questions, and as a result you change back and redo ordinances -immediately critics and others then raise these questions:
-Why did they change them if it was wrong to do so?
-How could they have been "inspired" if they made a mistake?
-Does this mean that the President wasn't a prophet; or, worse, a false prophet when he made this mistake?
-How can we ever trust the President again?
So, even if there were a consensus, a change that returns what was subtracted would be such a set-back to the institution that it could never be seriously entertained. It could not happen without shaking the very foundation of the premise (inerrancy of the President) upon which correlation relies to control the church.
It would take a very different group of people, having a much higher tolerance for changes, and a greater capacity to tolerate human failings, before it would be possible to add back what has once been deliberately subtracted. Such a radically different kind of Saint is unlikely to be produced without some rather dramatic changes to the population. Of course, dramatic changes are what the Lord has always told us will come as a part of preparing the earth for His return. (He calls it "calamity" in D&C 1: 17.)
Now I've used the endowment to illustrate the point, but the same principle works across the board with any bedrock policy, ordinance or teaching which has been deliberately discarded or adopted in place of something else by the church. Once it has been set into place by the correlation process, it is put into concrete and cannot be moved without demolition. Therefore, if we have made any mistake, discarded anything we should have retained, or neglected or opposed any teaching which the Lord wanted us to keep, He will use demolition to prepare us to receive it back again. We can only subtract. Fortunately for us, a caring God can (and will) add upon us still. 'Gotta break some concrete first, of course. But He cares enough to do that. (Psalms 94: 14.) He's determined that we are to be added upon. (Abraham 3: 26.) Even when we prefer subtraction to addition.