Friday, January 8, 2016

Who, Why, and What is Church Correlation?

By Dennis B. Horne (guest blogger)

            Among the many subjects that a “bloggernacle” surfer occasionally finds being discussed, usually from a negative standpoint, is Church Correlation. It seems that Correlation’s purpose is not well understood and has become something of a boogeyman to those who have only sketchy knowledge of what it is for or that disagree with what it does. Some bloggers speak of it as something of a secret guardian that bars the interesting subjects and deep doctrines from being discussed in Sunday School and priesthood or Relief Society. If they think the approved curriculum is boring or lacking in sophistication or scholarly depth, they opine that “Correlation” is likely at fault. Since Correlation does not represent a single individual, it seems safer and less disloyal to criticize it than, say, the current prophet or an apostle.

            So what exactly is Church Correlation? What we know as Correlation today began to take formal and organized shape and wield great influence during the administrations of Presidents Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball. The main objectives were to unify church departments, eliminate duplication of work, reduce and simplify curriculum, and ensure doctrinal purity in all printed matter. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains an excellent overview of the history and development of correlation up to the 1990s.[1]

Correlation largely traces its roots to special reading committees, made up mostly of general authorities, organized to review manuscripts proposed for use as church study manuals. Eventually Correlation became its own church department with specific responsibilities to evaluate and approve all Church produced materials (today that includes church websites). It is what the Correlation Department supposedly does with the doctrinal and historical content of Church manuals that raises the ire of some and gives rise to repeated frustrated discussion by some bloggers. Evidently, further education and understanding is in order.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Letter to a Doubter

By Dennis B. Horne (guest blogger)

            Dear _________,

            You may have noticed that something of a trend has become fashionable in some circles regarding doubt and uncertainty being good and beneficial. Some voices have given their opinion that doubt, as it relates to gospel truths, should be celebrated. Some who feel this way have traveled around and given lectures and firesides to audiences filled with those, like you, who doubt. One purpose of such attention to doubt has been to ease and comfort the minds of those who doubt; to tell them that their doubts about doctrine and history can be helpful and assist them in their struggles. You should know, however, that such views and efforts are contrary to established gospel teachings. The only solution is to turn your doubt into conviction; only then will you find the peace, happiness and joy you seek.

            While it is true that Jesus said that his yoke was easy and his burden light (meaning He helps us through trials), He also told us that in order to be worthy to return to live with Him, we must prove ourselves obedient to His gospel (Abraham 3:25). We must pass through tribulations and tests that stretch us to the very limit of what we can bear. It may be that doubt about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is one of your trials. Like other such trials that many people experience (addiction, same-sex attraction, the false philosophies of the world), it must be overcome if you desire Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom. And yes, immortality and eternal life are real, whether doubted and disbelieved, or not.

            Writing as one who knows the truth and reality of the gospel and the afterlife, I have some suggestions for you to consider:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On Excommunication

By Dennis B. Horne (guest blogger)

            As anyone that keeps an eye on the news knows, excommunication as a disciplinary measure in the LDS Church has recently been a noticeable topic. Outside of the stories covering the excommunication of certain higher profile and publicity-seeking individuals, there has also been much discussion about the practice itself. Most of the media attention has been critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and sympathetic to those excommunicated. Biased bloggers have continued to agitate on this issue, constantly stirring the pot for their readers. Through it all the Church has quietly and steadily moved forward, doing that which its doctrine and leaders determine should be done.

            While the Church has and will continue to appropriately defend and explain itself, it may be helpful to notice and review some of the issues at play from a positive perspective.[1] So much of what is written comes from detractors or unofficial, self-appointed spokespersons that misstate church motives, doctrine, and procedures.  

To begin, a definition is in order. A practicing Mormon is or strives to be a disciple of Jesus Christ; one who follows the teachings of Jesus and His prophets and apostles. The Church—often called Mormonism—is not a culture, a club, a democracy, or a dictatorship. It is provided for but not governed by the Constitution of the United States. To be a member of the Church means one has been taught basic doctrines, repented of their sins, exercised faith, and been baptized and confirmed. Faithful Church members serve God and their fellow men and if faithful and worthy, they may become eligible to receive further ordinances in the temples. Then they must endure to the end in righteousness and faith if they wish to receive exaltation and become like their Father in Heaven.