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|Doctrine — can less be more?|
Aug. 12th, 2007 at 10:16 pm
When my parents married, they did a very smart thing; they decided to seek marital counseling often, regardless of how their marriage was going. The counselor they saw and became close friends with over a span of decades was the late Carl Broderick, one of my favorite intellectuals and a man the Church was very blessed to know. In one of his talks, The Uses of Adversity, Dr. Broderick related some terrible and tragic ironies faced by people with whom he had counseled, and he delved into some lessons learned from those experiences. The essence of his message can be found in this passage:
Regarding these core propostions of our faith, the Church’s recent press release on doctrine states:
The thought struck me after the PBS documentary, and from reading the stories here and in other forums of people who have left the Church for one reason or another, that in these people’s stories, that language of “I know” or “I knew” is missing, and with the exception of Grant Palmer, I do not see in these stories language expressing a conviction centered in Jesus Christ, or more specifically, in the Church’s concept of Jesus Christ. What are more common among “dissenters and exiles” are expressions of a lost sense of community they miss (Margaret Toscano), or memories of having felt like they were a part of something larger than themselves (Trevor Southey), or, as Tal Bachman expressed, memories of a sort of mindless zeal.
How is it that people spend years and years in the Church, and when interviewed for a nationwide TV program on the Church, they find in unnecessary to speak to the core claims of the Church regarding the Atonement? My guess is that if a similar show were done for Evangelical faiths, the people interviewed would express the conviction we should have heard voiced in The Mormons — that their faith stands completely in their conversion to Christ. Moreover, I imagine their convictions would be expressed in experiential language, such as “He changed me,” “In Him I found the strength to turn my life around,” etc., rather than a simple claim of I know, with no further elaboration.
Do we simply have too much of what might be construed as doctrine? Too many exotic doctrinal “side dishes,” so to speak, that serve to remove our focus from the main course? Is it problematic that a four-hour documentary can be made about us, covering vast swaths of our doctrine, without giving more than a slight hint that we are even Christian?