It was while reading Hugh Nibley that I first learned that the Greek word gnosis simply meant “knowledge”. Therefore the term Gnostic meant basically “knower” or a person who claimed to have secret knowledge. Among the ancient Gnostics were the various quacks and whatnot that claimed to have the secret knowledge that Jesus imparted to his apostles. After the apostles and priesthood were taken from the earth some Gnostics (so-called) had a field day with the seekers of truth. The reason I bring this up is because until a few years ago I still believed (as I suspect most church members still do) that there was some sort of inner circle in the church of those who had the gnosis — who jointly knew and understood the mysteries of God. I thought there was a sort of club that included lots of folks… temple presidencies, general authorities, religion professors and institute directors, and perhaps other leaders that knew the answers to all those unclear deep doctrinal questions I had. Not only did they know the answers in my mind, but that all agreed on those answers. Boy was I ever wrong!
Over at Splendid Sun they are talking about when is a doctrine an official doctrine. Why would we need to ask such a question? Because apostles and prophets have often totally disagreed on fundamental doctrinal issues. This prophet believes X about the nature of God and this apostle believes Y. Then one prophet teaches Z about the pre-existence and another teaches Q. It turns out there is not really much of an inside club when it comes to some of the mysteries of God. God has given us the current standard works and the temple ceremony and some other data points and has decided that is sufficient for now. If we want to learn more we need to either figure it out ourselves or ask him, or more likely do both.
I have mixed feelings about this reality. Part of me wishes there was an insiders club with all the answers and that I could get in. But another part of me likes the idea that the answers need to come from God himself. I mean what good is it to know about God if we don’t really get to know God? I would rather be acquainted with him through dialogic communication than know all about him because I got in some club that knew the answers.
Of course there is the fact that the truth is pretty much a fixed thing out there. All of the theories are either true or false when it comes down to it. There either is or there isn’t a Mother in Heaven. Our pre-mortal existence really happened somehow. God either has exhaustive foreknowledge or He doesn’t. You get the idea.
So maybe the questions should be: Should we be aggressively investigating the truth of these matters? Are there more important things? And if we feel like we have the answers to one of these questions is there a problem with sharing that with others? Are they obscured because God wants it that way or simply because the truth just isn’t commonly known? (Or is it that the adversary has actively hid the truth on some of these things?)
These are important questions to us bloggers. One school of thought might be “I need to stay well within traditions so I don’t mess up a chance to serve my fellow man later on in leadership capacities”. Another, as exemplified by our own Blake Ostler, is to actively tackle tough doctrinal questions and posit strong opinions on them. I adamantly agree with some of Blake’s opinions on theology and doctrine and adamantly disagree with others. But the point is that because he has been courageous enough to go out on a limb and share his beliefs on some of these things we can all benefit by discussing some of those things openly now.
I, like probably most of you, happen to have pretty strong opinions on several doctrinal issues that are important but are potentially hot potatoes. I have slowly and gingerly been broaching them here for some time. I can tell that a few others around the Bloggernacle are doing the same thing right now. What do you think of this? What of this idea of trying to tactfully and respectfully broach doctrinal possibilities in the Bloggernacle? Is this the best part of the Bloggernacle of the most awful and dangerous part?