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.