Saturday, May 21, 2016

Being Friendly and Respectful to Others While Keeping Doctrine Pure and Standards High

Editor's note: This is number 27 in a series of posts by Dennis Horne, sharing quotes from his book, Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluating Doctrinal Truth. You can read the introductory post here. The first part of each post is a new introduction, placing the quotes in context with contemporary issues. The quotes that then follow are from the Determining Doctrine book, which contains many quotes that are not readily available elsewhere or are exclusive to the book.

            It takes effort to work with others in worthy common causes, and yet not compromise pure doctrine. This requirement seems to be in the most jeopardy in the academic circles; in the arena of scholarship. Here is where too many are tempted in one way or another to hedge and loosen their standards. Even the best and most experienced are subject to such wavering. Yet the prophets have not done so; they have stood strong and independent. They have joined with other organizations to accomplish much good of many kinds throughout the world, but they have kept the doctrine of the Lord pure and unsullied. Such is our example. From Determining Doctrine:

Gordon B. Hinckley:

            We must do all that is required in moving forward the work of the Lord in building His kingdom in the earth. We can never compromise the doctrine which has come through revelation, but we can live and work with others, respecting their beliefs and admiring their virtues, joining hands in opposition to the sophistries, the quarrels, the hatred—those perils which have been with man from the beginning.

            Without surrendering any element of our doctrine, we can be neighborly, we can be helpful, we can be kind and generous.  (Ensign, May 2004, 84.)

Gordon B. Hinckley:

I believe and testify that it is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it.

There are forces all around us that would deter us from that effort. The world is constantly crowding in on us. From all sides we feel the pressure to soften our stance, to give in here a little and there a little.

We must never lose sight of our objective. We must ever keep before us the goal which the Lord has set for us….

We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do. Others may not agree with us, but I am confident that they will respect us. We will not be left alone. There are many not of our faith but who feel as we do. They will support us. They will sustain us in our efforts.

We cannot be arrogant. We cannot be self-righteous. The very situation in which the Lord has placed us requires that we be humble as the beneficiaries of His direction.

While we cannot agree with others on certain matters, we must never be disagreeable. We must be friendly, soft-spoken, neighborly, and understanding. (Conference Report, October 2003, 85-86.)

Dallin H. Oaks quoting Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Hinckley has given us this good advice about our relations with other churches.  He spoke these words in an interview with Lawrence Spicer of London News Service, in London in 1995 [from Go Forward with Faith, page 580]: 

            “We like to be able to get along with all people.  We recognize the value of religion generally. We say to everyone, we tell you to live the teachings which you have received from your church.  We invite you to come and learn from us, to see if we can add to those teachings and enhance your life and your understanding of things sacred and divine.  We work with people on common causes, many of them, all across the world.  We recognize theological differences.  We believe that we can disagree theologically without being disagreeable, and we hope to do so.  We have been rather careful about surrendering in any way our doctrinal standards or anything of that kind as part of an ecumenical effort, but we certainly have worked with people, and do work with people, and want to work with other groups in tackling common social problems.” 

            That really is the position of the Church; and that is what we practice….  (Dallin H. Oaks, “Chaplain’s Seminar 04,” October 5, 2004, n.p.; see also Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996], 580.)

Boyd K. Packer:

            We are about the only ones left in the world who hold to these standards. When we look around, we cannot find any organization that is holding to the standards. We do not like to talk about the other churches, but we are going to stand alone. If so, there we will stand. (“The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, February 2, 2003, n.p.)

Mark E. Petersen:

            When we teach, you and I must follow the revelations which God has given on Church doctrine.  He may not have given revelations on atomic warfare, but he has given revelations on doctrine.  Therefore, in our teaching, we are to follow the revealed word of God.  We must be very wary of the teachings of men so that the wisdom and the teachings of men do not take us off on a tangent that will get us into difficulty.

            In our line of work, we must avoid sectarianism—avoid the philosophies and doctrines of men which were so denounced by the Lord in the first vision to the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Just because we have an avid desire for learning is no reason why we can set to one side any of the things which the Lord has said and decide that some worldly cleric is a greater authority.  We must remember that the word of God is our great authority, and we must determine to avoid bringing sectarianism into our instruction.  That is vital.  (Mark E. Petersen, “Avoiding Sectarianism,” address to religious educators, June 22, 1962; in Charge to Religious Educators 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City: The Church Educational System and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982], 113.)

Bruce R. McConkie:

            A number of years ago I got a letter from a minister of the Church of Christ in a distant state.  And he said: “I’ve been in contact with some of your elders.  I wanted to discuss gospel subjects with them and they didn’t want to discuss them with me and so they told me to write you.”  And he said, “I would like to have a discussion with you on such and such a subject and we ought to follow these ground rules: I will write so many words and you write so many words, and we will each write so many in reply and then we will each have authority to publish this material.”  I wrote back to him and I said, “For one thing, the matter you want to discuss has been fully and adequately analyzed in printed form and made available to anyone if they want to read such and such books….  But for another thing, may I call your attention to the word of our Lord wherein he said”—and I didn’t tell him where I was quoting from, I just left him to find that out and then I quoted 3 Nephi 11:29-30—“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”  That’s a wonderful statement, and I immediately got a reply, and this had touched such a sore spot with him that he just went through the ceiling to the sidereal heavens, calling me names for accusing him of being contentious.  (“1st and 2nd Timothy,” unpublished lecture transcript, University of Utah Institute, April 1, 1968, n.p.)

The First Presidency (1978):

            Based upon ancient and modern revelation, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gladly teaches and declares the Christian doctrine that all men and women are brothers and sisters, not only by blood relationship from common mortal progenitors, but also as literal spirit children of an Eternal Father.

            The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light.  Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals.

            The Hebrew prophets prepared the way for the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, who should provide salvation for all mankind who believe in the gospel.  Consistent with these truths, we believe that God has given and will give to all peoples sufficient knowledge to help them on their way to eternal salvation, either in this life or in the life to come.

            We also declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ, restored to his Church in our day, provides the only way to a mortal life of happiness and a fulness of joy forever.  For those who have not received this gospel, the opportunity will come to them in the life hereafter if not in this life.

            Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are the sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father. (Cited in Spencer J. Palmer, The Expanding Church [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978], front matter.)

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