How can you tell if you are an orthodox Mormon or not?

August 23, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 10:02 am   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

There have been lots of religious surveys floating around in recent months. Nearly all of them ask participants where they rate themselves on a scale of orthodoxy-liberalism. I have invariably rated myself as an orthodox Mormon. For those of you that have hung around here a bit — Does that surprise you or is that exactly what you would think? In this post I’d like you to help me figure out what those terms orthodox-liberal mean for Mormons.

Here are my orthodox Mormon credentials. I have been a Mormon all of my life (my parents were tracted out and joined the church a year or two before I was born). I have prayed to God all my life and have consistently had my prayers answered, both through good things happening and through revelation to my mind. Among the things I have asked God about are his opinions on the foundational aspects of Mormonism. He has explained to me in very clear terms that those foundational things we teach in Mormonism are in fact true – He really lives, Jesus really is His Son and the savior of our world, The BoM really is scripture, JS really was His prophet, and the current church and its leaders really are doing what He wants them to do. God contunies to occasionally remind of those things. Based on those experiences I am completely committed to God and as such I am committed to this organization. That makes me orthodox right?

But here are the things about me that might make me heterodox or liberal. On the doctrinal front I believe that God lives completely in time and has necessarily limited foreknowledge (see here). I think Brigham, Heber C., and friends were probably right in believing that this world is one of many mortal probations we will go through in our quest to become exalted like God (see here). I lean toward what Elder Widtsoe said about effort being the supreme characteristic that will lead to exaltation and as such believe that the atonement mostly enables and supplements our personal efforts toward that goal (see here). I believe, with Brigham, that God continues to learn and progress. And I believe that God literally lets his under-shepherds run the church and make the decisions here but that he backs them in their policy decisions. I believe he only steps in when a policy decision will seriously hamper his overall objective to bring to pass our eternal life. As such, he lets leaders screw up all the time (see here and here). There is more, but I think you get the gist…

Some of my opinions are clearly not mainstream opinions. So you be the judge: Am I orthodox or heterodox or liberal, or what? And tell us how you rate yourself on those polls and why.


  1. I think you are like most of us. You study the scriptures, the brethren and the doctrine and choose what feels comfortable to you.

    We do that from how we keep the Sabbath day holy, to what we base tithing on. From what eternity to eternity means to why all the skin colors.

    If we look hard enough we can find statements by the brethren, or scriptures we can “twist” to fit just about anything.

    So Geoff – you are what you are, and we are just like you.

    Comment by don — August 23, 2005 @ 10:31 am

  2. I think it depends on what you mean by orthodox. By many accounts I am an orthodox Mormon (I tend to think that I am). However, there are many whose perception of orthodoxy is different than mine and might lable me heterodox. That is fine. I think you would fall under similar appelations.

    Comment by J. Stapley — August 23, 2005 @ 10:43 am

  3. I’m pretty orthodox when it comes to practice, which is what I believe counts most in our faith. In terms of personal belief, I am (surprisingly) also pretty hum-drum, except that I don’t really care that much that people believe the same way I do.

    Comment by Steve Evans — August 23, 2005 @ 10:45 am

  4. Don — Saying I’m like you is a compliment — thanks. So then how do you categorize yourself in these surveys? Orthodox or unorthodox? Conservative or liberal?

    J — It was one of your recent comments that prompted this post. I saw you call yourself something other than orthodox and I found that odd. I guess it seems to me that in this church there are many, many ways to remain orthodox. We can believe all sorts of things and not actually leave the classification of orthodoxy. I suspect this has a lot to do with the largely open form of doctrine and theology we have (as discussed in other posts elsewhere.) I am curious what others think of their own orthodoxy or lack thereof, though (as well as what readers might think of mine).

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 10:53 am

  5. Steve — That doesn’t shock me at all. That is why it is such a shme that BCC seems to be categorized as a liberal or heterodox blog. I think people conflate political leanings (conservative-liberal) with orthodoxy-heterodoxy in theology and doctrine.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 10:56 am

  6. I don’t know if I would consider you too orthodox personally. Obviously you have a strong allegiance to the church and its authorities, however that is not what I see and being orthodox. Orthodoxy has to do with your belief system, one which includes a version of the expansion theory, multiple mortal probations of sorts, a version of Adam-God and the like. I would probably call you mildly heterodox, but not much.

    Most of your “orthodox” traits only go to show that you are “Mormon” but it doesn’t really say too much about what kind of Mormon you are. I think that orthodox/heterodox and conservative/liberal are two separate dichotomies which are talking about two similar yet still different things. With regards to doctrine, I would call you mildly heterodox. With regards to life style and implimentation of those doctrines, I would call you fairly conservative.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — August 23, 2005 @ 11:12 am

  7. Good comment Jeffrey. So how about the second part of my question: Where do you rate yourself? (and why)

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 11:41 am

  8. I would definitely consider myself both heterodox and liberal. Not only do I embrace strange doctrines such as A/G and MMP’s, but I also have no problems about going against the grain in the institutional church. I’ve never even tried alcohol or coffee, so I live a fairly conservative lifestye, but I have no qualms at all about disagreeing with the leaders or church policy. I may not act out against it, but I will often think and speak against it if I consider it to be wrong.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — August 23, 2005 @ 12:11 pm

  9. I might say that such categorizations are not useful if I didn’t know that they happen in our heads and in the heads of basically every saint (and every church leader) whether we like it or not. When it comes to assignments/callings in the church these perceptions (unfortunately so in many cases) play a factor. That was my main complaint about gunning for callings. Gunning for callings leads many people to stop aggressively seeking more light and truth for fear of either appearing heterodox or liberal or both. Yet is was this aggressive search for greater light and truth that made Abraham what he became. Remember what he said in Abr. 1:2

    having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 12:44 pm

  10. I definitely agree with that, but we must admit that these people aren’t that far off the mark. Conformity is regarded rather highly, and conformity is hardly the path to greater light and knowledge. It was when I stopped caring about callings in any way that I went “public” with my heterodoxy, and while things have become pretty lonely and frustrating at church, I wouldn’t go back for anything in the world.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — August 23, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

  11. Doctrinally I’m very orthodox. But I’ve never really thought of myself as being Mormon. In my mind the word “Mormon” carries a bunch of cultural stuff that doesn’t apply to me. I’ll use it when people ask me what religion I belong to or whatever, but I don’t think of myself as Mormon. Latter-day Saint, yeah. Mormon, not really.

    Comment by Susan M — August 23, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  12. I think orthodox has many different senses. For instance there is the socially conforming sense of orthodox. I suspect many of us aren’t that. There is the sense of orthodox as being in the mainstream theologically. (Recognizing that’s a moving target) I think many of us are that. There’s orthodox in the sense or religious practice. I suspect most of us are that. Then there is the sense of orthodox in the sense of a kind of support and political sense with the church as a body. I suspect that’s where many divide. I don’t think it is politics proper. But rather how we view the body of the church on such issues as gambling, abortion, same sex marriage, and so forth. Even if we disagree, do we support the church in those issues rhetorically? (Even if that merely means not saying anything)

    I’m not making any value judgments in saying that. I suspect I’m unorthodox according to one or two of the above. But I think the latter is where most of the conflict arises.

    Comment by Clark — August 23, 2005 @ 1:47 pm

  13. Interesting point Susan. I sort of feel like the largely failed attempt to rebrand ourselves as “Latter Day Saints” was in part to flee some of the prejudices we (as a community) faced in the past (like assuming Mormons are all polygamous, etc.) I mostly refer to myself as Mormon now because I think doing anything else causes “brand confusion” of sorts.

    Clark – You bring up some good points. It illustrates the tension between the idea that we need to work out our own salvation and the goal that we “be one” as a community. I suspect that as a budding Zion we can and should be one in some ways, but can’t and shouldn’t be one in other ways.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  14. That’s right, and put much better than I did. What does it mean to be a community of one heart? I think the oft mentioned marriage analogy works quite well. (And is an analogy used in scripture fairly regularly)

    Comment by Clark — August 23, 2005 @ 4:40 pm

  15. Geoff,

    I’ve always considered myself a very “toe the line” orthodox if you will, Mormon. Now I’m not so sure. The more blogs I read and comments on them the more I feel a bit more main stream.

    When I look around at Church, or teach or join in on a lesson I still feel conservative and orthodox. When I get online and comment, or listen I feel like I’m moving center…I don’t know that I would ever be called liberal, at least in the political/philosophy sense.

    Comment by don — August 23, 2005 @ 7:10 pm

  16. I worry about orthodox/heterodox labels. This dichotomy gives a lot of power to define me to other people. I think I’m a sincere follower of Christ, and I’m willing to accept as my community everyone else who also thinks of themselves that way. But I’m uncomfortable with the idea that I would be judged as acceptable or unacceptable on the basis of whether my beliefs and opinions match the current mainstream.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 23, 2005 @ 8:01 pm

  17. Don – Hmmm, so the Bloggernacle causes a drift toward the center regarding orthodoxy huh? Perhaps that is why some avowed orthodox folks leave before the inevitable centrist drift gets them too?

    I have said it before but I still mean it. I’m not interested in left vs. right, orthodox vs. heterodox, official doctrine vs. unofficial doctrine — I only care about the Truth and my relationship with God. My associations in the the Bloggernacle help me in my search for greater knowledge and greater righteousness. (I’m partially reacting to discussions over at M* with this comment as well, I guess.)

    RT – We may not like being categorized but it happens to us all regardless. And these surveys always ask us to self-categorize. My point really was that I think of myself as an orthodox Mormon even though I have openly blogged on less-than-mainstream doctrinal leanings I have. How do you self-categorize yourself in those surveys?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 8:10 pm

  18. “I’m not interested in left vs. right, orthodox vs. heterodox, official doctrine vs. unofficial doctrine-I only care about the Truth and my relationship with God.”

    Amen Geoff (although this post is funny in light of that statement of yours!)

    What I don’t get — and I really don’t get it — is how people can conceive of the Bloggernacle as harmful to faith or a place where evil people lurk in the shadows. What sites are these people visiting? T&S, BCC, the MA – I mean, we’re all pretty good Mormons, pretty faithful and honest. I simply do not understand the complaint that somehow we are unwitting minions of Satan by our blogging. Is there something I am not seeing? Has BCC blinded my mind?

    Comment by Steve Evans — August 23, 2005 @ 8:21 pm

  19. Amen Geoff (although this post is funny in light of that statement of yours!)

    Ha! Well I guess I am interested in the concept, I am just not interested in trying to consciously fit into any of those categories. I mostly wrote the post to try to figure out what those words even meant to most of us.

    I suspect that these bizarre accusations that sometimes come up come from those that prefer a calm and sheltered church and doctrinal life. In the ‘Nacle we are on the open seas of discussion and the water can get pretty choppy. Many people are just more comfortable in the calm confines of the harbor I guess. I suppose they think those of us who like the more rigorous sailing conditions are idiots or fools for preferring the challenges associated with being out here on the open water.

    The good news for them is that blogging is a completely voluntary hobby.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 8:49 pm

  20. This probably won’t surprise anyone, but I would rate myself as extremely heterodox. My outward behavior isn’t too far from the Mormon norm, but my beliefs (or lack thereof) diverge significantly with the orthodoxy.

    Comment by NFlanders — August 23, 2005 @ 8:53 pm

  21. Actually that does surprise me, Ned. Is it just because you haven’t been attending services lately or is it because you have some yet-undisclosed doctrinal views that would freak us all out? Do you consider yourself doctrinally heterodox or mostly socially heterodox?

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 9:04 pm

  22. Steve, I think that’s a very good question and I think it’ll vary from person to person. Really it gets down to what people think is being critical, what people think is being supportive and more importantly the rhetoric used. I confess that I don’t see the big deal. It doesn’t bother me. There are some individuals I strongly disagree with and others that I think are intentionally trying to be edgy or iconoclast. But by and large I don’t care. But I can also see how others are a little more touchy about what is or isn’t being supportive.

    Not to keep turning to relationship allegories, but I think they just happen to work so well. But I’ve had girlfriends who were very touchy about the language I used and others who weren’t. Some felt that you need to be more rhetorically supportive while others didn’t care and could joke. The problem is that if there is one thing the internet is poor for, it is in communicating tone. I can think of lots of times when I thought people were joking back and forth when they weren’t, and times when I thought people were being biting when they weren’t. Tone is just such a difficult thing to judge, but it’s also probably what people notice most when it comes to feeling included, feeling like you are supporting the common aims and so forth.

    It’s hard for me to criticize those who get a negative feel just because I don’t. Heavens, to me, I love the more academic fight of ideas. I think that most times that’s the best way to get at an idea. Heavens, I’ll debate both sides so as to better understand which really throws some people for a loop. Tone really affects people and if someone is coming away with a bad feeling, then my personal feeling is that they shouldn’t keep putting themselves in that situation. At the same time I’m not sure we should treat the whole debate as if it were an objective thing. People come away with different effects and we have to consider that as we interact with people. That turns the whole discussion into the public vs. private discussion. And there I can understand where blogs fit an odd niche. Are they public or private? I don’t know.

    Comment by Clark — August 23, 2005 @ 9:21 pm

  23. To answer the second part of your question while ignoring the first (because I simply don’t know. I just think you’re great. Is that an option?), I consider myself quasi-orthodox.

    I don’t think I’m heterodox, excepting perhaps in my opinion that gay marriage should be legal, because I don’t really believe anything that goes against Church Teaching. But at the same time, I try to resist a lot of “culture” that I think is besides the point of whether I’m ‘Mormon’ or not.

    Oh, and I always skip Relief Society.

    Comment by Crystal — August 23, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

  24. Geoff,

    I imagine that people who introduce an orthodox/heterodox distinction into a discussion would typically consider me heterodox. So that’s what I’d say on a survey, since it best fits what I take to be the intent of the question. But I really just think of myself as a person trying my best to muddle through, be happy, and connect with God. And I feel that calling me heterodox is just a way of putting me in a box so that I can be disregarded and condemned.

    As to the point that I’ll be classified in these terms whether I like it or not, you’re right. Evil does unavoidably exist in the world. And the evil of other people deciding to label and then disregard doesn’t even break the top 50 list. But I still wish we could find a more excellent way.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 23, 2005 @ 9:59 pm

  25. RT – Well I suppose that anybody who blogs at all might be considered pretty unorthodox by the majority of the saints. I blame Stapley for this post, by the way. He has made occasional comments about levels of orthodoxy and I have been left wondering how one would even judge such a thing.

    Crystal – Oooooh! I’m tellin!

    Comment by Geoff J — August 23, 2005 @ 10:30 pm

  26. I think that whether someone is orthodox is a very fluid thing. To the partying mormon kids that I went to high school with I was orthodox. To the fellow ward members in my BYU married student ward I was heterodox.

    I have always actively practice the teachings of the gospel but looking back on my life I can see that there have been times where I was more orthodox than others.

    Comment by Kristen J — August 23, 2005 @ 10:36 pm

  27. I think the word orthopraxy might be useful in this discussion.

    Comment by Bryce I — August 23, 2005 @ 11:46 pm

  28. Amen, Bryce.

    Steve’s comment “I’m pretty orthodox when it comes to practice” had be laughing. Let’s rephrase that: Steve is orthopraxic when it comes to practice and probably somewhere between orthodox and heterodox when it comes to belief. Orthodoxy is a term relating to belief, not practice. Orthopraxis relates to practice.

    Comment by Kaimi — August 24, 2005 @ 1:15 am

  29. err, had *me laughing.

    I need to learn not to blog at 1 am. I start to spell like Naet.

    Comment by Kaimi — August 24, 2005 @ 1:16 am

  30. This is a really, really stupid question, but I often wonder why orthodoxy is valued in our religion so much. All religious leaders, including Jesus, Muhammed, and, yes, Joseph Smith, turned the world upside down as they began preaching about being the literal son of God and the Messiah, how we should pray five times a day towards Mecca, or that there was a gold “Bible” buried in a mountainside holding the keys to salvation.

    I guess I should read more Weber and Durkheim to understand organizational structures better, but why should we value one person’s ability to see through the current paradigm and establish a higher state of consciousness and practice while denigrating this ability in others?

    I wish there were more of a balance to be struck in the LDS Church through accepting personal revelation when it challenges the status quo. This is a dangerous proposition, but I think it’s necessary for a Church to be personally vibrant and fulfilling and not a stagnant bureaucracy.

    If you look at the LDS doctrine and teachings, you’ll see that there is a lot of flexibility (and encouragement) to receive and act on personal revelation while remaining true to the doctrines and teachings of the Church. I’m fascinated by the reality that, even though personal revelation is one of the pillars of our faith, many people in the LDS Church (and certainly other Churches – I’m not just singling out Mormons here), cringe at the thought of a faithful discussion of the issues – and cringe even further at the thought that I could have received personal revelation that tells me two earrings really are better than one. :)

    Anyway, it bothers me that orthodoxy is praised too often at the expense of developing our own spiritual sense.

    I guess I haven’t answered your questions directly, Geoff, but if I had to label myself I’d say that I’m a frustrating combination of both orthodoxy and heterodoxy – and probably not doing a great job of discerning when (or if) one approach is better than the other.

    Comment by Elisabeth — August 24, 2005 @ 6:16 am

  31. I once had a long conversation about this with a good LDS friend of mine. We discovered that we were pretty close in our philosophical views about the church (excepting the Big Questions) but miles apart in practice. So, considering I am not a member, I am fairly orthodox, but wildly heteropraxic. (Which, it seems to me after typing that, is somewhat of an odd combination.)

    Whether or not you are heterodox or orthodox, Geoff, I believe you give a good name to the Saints, and perhaps that’s what matters.

    Comment by Pris — August 24, 2005 @ 8:01 am

  32. Bryce & Kaimi – Your point is well taken. Part of the problem with both the polls and with some of our loose conversations on this subject is that they are not nuanced enough. The polls invariably use hamfisted categories that are not precise enough for me to feel comfortable answering. (The same problem arises with questions about the afterlife in some polls as well).

    BTW — I want to give some after-usage definitions for our readers here…

    ortho = “correct”
    hetero = “different or other”
    dox(a) = “belief or opinion”
    praxis = “practice”

    Comment by Geoff J — August 24, 2005 @ 9:33 am

  33. Elizabeth – I think the tension you bring up is a variation on the theme Clark and I discussed earlier between the individual and the community. I am becoming more comfortable with that tension as a result of discussions like these though. I think that the community pressures help with the stability we all need. Yet it is the instability of the individuals receiving personal revelation and acting on it that allows for progress. Too much stability means no progress and too little stability leads to utter chaos and collapse. I’ve decided that there is a place and a need for people like us bloggers to move and wiggle even in our tightly wound up community that values stability (aka orthodoxy and orthopraxy) so highly.

    Pris – Hey thanks! That last sentnce is about as good of a compliment as I could ever hope for.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 24, 2005 @ 9:42 am

  34. Kaimi, you turdball. Laughing because I used ‘orthodoxy’ where I should have used ‘orthopraxy’?

    Comment by Steve Evans — August 24, 2005 @ 11:35 am

  35. If James E. Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, and Ezra Taft Benson were orthodox, then I am orthodox because I believe almost everything that any of them taught, and I believe it fervently. However, in saying this, I acknowledge that I am not being perfectly consistent because there was not always perfect agreement among these men about everything. In the case of Bruce R. McConkie, in his later writings he sometimes contradicted his earlier writings, and I am more inclined to believe his earlier writings.

    I am not particularly orthodox in the way I live my life. While I keep all of the commandments to the best of my ability, still I married outside my own race, raised three mixed race children to adulthood, stayed at home with the children while my wife earned the living, and never sent my children to public school but taught them in the home. Also, I don’t vote Republican very often, preferring to vote for right-wing third parties. Further, I am strongly anti-Bush, and against the Iraq War. My political hero is Patrick J. Buchanan although I don’t agree with him completely on immigration or Israeli Zionism. That is definitely not mainstream or orthodox Mormon living.

    Also, while I strongly believe the doctrine that the living prophet is a more certain source of truth than any past prophet, I am not happy with what seems to be a mainstreaming of Mormonism in recent decades. I did not join the Church from the Baptist faith just to return to where I started. I glory in those Mormon teachings that differentiate us from the greater Christian community. In fact, I don’t like to think of the Church as part of the “greater Christian community.” McConkie and many of the early brethren referred to it as “apostate Christendom,” and I find that term much more emotionally satisfying.

    I agree with Clark who points out that there are various definitions of the term “orthodox.” I consider myself very orthodox, but there are others who might not.

    Geoff, since I define orthodoxy to mean “Whatever Bruce said,” I would not call you orthodox because of your belief in multiple mortal probations, and your belief that God is still progressing in knowledge. However, you do seem to believe the teachings of the Church, for the most part. And in that sense, you are far more orthodox than many of the Mormon skeptics, doubters, and critics of the Brethren that I run across on the Internet.

    If you would like to see an example of me being unorthodox, check out my post commenting on President Hinckley’s remarks on the Iraq War. I don’t always agree with my Church leaders on everything. I just try really hard to, and I feel really bad when I don’t.

    Comment by John W. Redelfs — August 24, 2005 @ 2:25 pm

  36. Ha! Now that was a humdinger of a comment, John.

    Here are my favorite lines:

    I define orthodoxy to mean “Whatever Bruce said,”

    you do seem to believe the teachings of the Church, for the most part

    I’m glad we have you in the Bloggernacle to fill the extreme right wing position around here.

    So I guess early Bruce trumps all others for you, huh? Well, to each his own. I think your perspective is an interesting one though. Since the 70s it does seem that “whatever Bruce said” really was a litmus test of orthodoxy to many saints. I think it is a sad thing because let’s face it — Bruce had no more authority than, say, Marvin J. Ashton. But it shows the power of publishing and marketing I guess. He who publishes most and gives his books the most pretentious titles wins? (I mean who writes a book and calls it Mormon Doctrine fer cryin’ out loud?) It seems to me that with Gen Xers and later generations the influence of brother Bruce is much less powerful than it was on Baby Boomers. We are coming up on 20 years since his passing and I suspect that his influence will wane more and more over the years. However, it still holds a lot of sway thanks to the power of writing and publishing.

    BTW – I must be living a sheltered life. I had completely forgotten that there might still be some Mormons that consider marrying someone who was “outside of their own race” to be inappropriate…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 24, 2005 @ 3:05 pm

  37. Who’s this Bruce R. McConkie fellow?


    Comment by Crystal — August 24, 2005 @ 7:44 pm

  38. It’s hard to resist using my homodoxual/orthosexual joke in this thread, until I remember I already used it elsewhere, and there’s no greater sin than telling the same joke twice in the Bloggernacle.

    I’m never sure what to say when I’m asked (usually by non-Mormons) whether or not I’m “orthodox.” I usually say “sort of” or “it depends.” I live the Mormon lifestyle pretty much (except I’m terrible about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and I watch a lot of trashy media). Nothing too scandalous there. Intellectually, I’m fairly heterodox. Or am I? I guess I’m very agnostic about a lot of things, though I can’t think of much that’s orthodox in belief that I’m militantly opposed to. I obviously have a problem with what I see as overblown notions of prophetic authority and divine access, but I’ve beaten that horse to death elsewhere.

    I really strongly agree with certain points in your third paragraph, Geoff. Perhaps that makes me less than orthodox.

    I almost never come visit over here, and I think I will try to stop by more often…

    Aaron B

    Comment by Aaron Brown — August 24, 2005 @ 8:05 pm

  39. Aaron,

    You can’t just leave us hanging regarding your joke — at least provide us with a link to the thread where you already told it…

    Comment by Geoff J — August 24, 2005 @ 11:26 pm

  40. Don’t worry, Geoff; I don’t have any undisclosed freaky beliefs that I am waiting to spring on the ‘nacle (but don’t ask me about the Ten Tribes emerging from beneath the North Pole). My problem is that I have a sharply fluctuating level of belief that really doesn’t have a place in our “I’ve always had a testimony” culture. Sometimes I wonder if having a divine witness of the truth is even possible. I think that puts me pretty firmly in the land of the unorthodox.

    Comment by NFlanders — August 24, 2005 @ 11:40 pm

  41. Geoff, the nice thing about McConkie’s pretentious publishing is that it’s fairly clear how to go about trumping him; just become an apostle and publish a book called God’s Revealed Truth: A Comprehensive Review. If you want to be truly McConkie-esque, of course, you will include a bunch of unsubstantiated personal opinions in your book. That way, the next generation of young Mormon intellectuals will also have something harmless to rebel against!

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 25, 2005 @ 11:51 am

  42. Ned, I’m pretty much with you on the point that I think we humans have to live with a lot more uncertainty than we sometimes want to acknowledge. This is a big part of the reason that I think others would call me heterodox.

    There’s a kind of interesting point here. It seems there are two ways to be unorthodox: either by having more beliefs than the average Mormon (like I think Geoff does), or by having fewer beliefs, or more exactly more doubts, than the average Mormon would admit to (like I think you do, and I do).

    Actually, in my case, I’m not sure I am comfortable with the term “doubt.” I certainly am inclined to accept and cope with uncertainty. But that’s not exactly the same thing as doubting; it’s less active, since the uncertainty is a situation rather than a behavior. There are also some beliefs that many Mormons hold which I’ve had to separate from my belief system. But, again, I don’t really have serious doubts about these beliefs.

    Okay, enough introspective babbling for one day…

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — August 25, 2005 @ 12:02 pm

  43. I was out on vacation, so I’m late on this one.

    I’d have to answer very heterodox, but orthopraxy.

    “(but don’t ask me about the Ten Tribes emerging from beneath the
    North Pole). ” – NFlanders

    NFlanders: Yo! I think its an actual possibility myself. So are you into hallowed earth theory as well?

    Comment by Speaking Up — September 6, 2005 @ 12:47 pm

  44. what Elder Widtsoe said about effort being the supreme characteristic that will lead to exaltation and as such believe that the atonement mostly enables and supplements our personal efforts toward that goa

    I didnt’ see thisquote in the thread you linked to, and I’m interested in source/reading it.

    thanks :)

    Comment by Ben S. — January 31, 2006 @ 7:12 am

  45. Ben,

    Here is the main quote (I used it in the Free Ride post).

    It is clear also that, as with every other being, the power of God has resulted from the exercise of his will. In “the beginning” which transcends our understanding, God undoubtedly exercised his will vigorously, and thus gained experience of the forces lying about him… We may be certain that through self-effort, the inherent and innate powers of God have been developed to a God-like degree. Thus, He has become God… Self-effort, the conscious operation of will, has enabled man to attain his present high position. However, while all progress is due to self-effort, other beings of power may contribute largely to the ease of man’s growth. (Rational Theology, 25-27)

    Comment by Geoff J — January 31, 2006 @ 9:17 am

  46. This is a fascinating page of comments for me to peruse. I originally wasn’t going to comment as it is out of my league – I found this page looking for information that tries to interface LDS belief systems and structures with Eastern Orthodox claims.

    What all of you have raised is fascinating, and it is a question that plagues all ‘conservative’ strains of Christianity.

    As an Orthodox Christian, I totally agree that there is a split between orthodoxy and orthopraxia. This distinction doesn’t always come across amongst believers, but conceptually the two are separate and equally yoked – word and deed in the classic Ancient Near Eastern sense.

    On some level the cultural accidents of faith as they look at any given time generally mutate to match their surroundings – this is an inevitable outcome of trying to build according to a plan but being forced to work with new materials.

    This leads to all sorts of incarnational theology talk – about how Christ continually reveals himself in the flesh so that He can ‘reach us’ and bring us closer to his level.

    But in the end of the day, if orthodoxy is the blueprint for a house, orthopraxia is how you build it with the materials at your disposal. God will never blame you for the state of the world you live in, what has happened to you, or what he has had to give you. On the other hand, God says “I’ve given you the blueprint for building my house here on earth. I’ve given you materials to do so – a soul, energy, mind, life, emotions, money, etc. I’ve even created you specifically for this purpose.” There is definitely an opportunity to fail at these simple tasks – and 99% out of ignorance or immaturity.

    I guess my point is that in evaluating personal regiment, it depends not only on the vision but also the ingredients.

    I noticed a lot of commentors starting quoting and working with different revealed doctrines – these things are nice but they are ingredients that should not be confused with the overall recipe. At the same time, having all the right ingredients in life does not help by itself – wisdom is manifest in the ability to sustain the good things in life eternally.

    So although they are separate – orthologia and orthopraxis – they do work hand in hand. That being said, I have mormon friends who I know are strict to their faith in doctrine, but who are able to use remarkably liberal materials in reflecting that faith.

    Some gave the example of Christ and other prophets who destroyed paradigms. Redefining a paradigm is not destroying it – it is taking the same created ingredients and rearranging them to function in a different way. Function and composition are apples to oranges… Jesus is not a creative being – he transfigures dead matter into vibrance.

    Anyway, I know this conversation is nearly a year old, but I wanted to post just as an outsider’s view on what I think is a valid problem for many conservative-bent faith models.

    Comment by Jacob Gorny — January 19, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  47. Thanks for stopping by Jacob G. Your thoughtful comments are appreciated.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 19, 2007 @ 4:17 pm