Ronan made a funny comment over at BCC the other day that I thought was worthy of posting on. After my favorite doctrinal sparring partner Jeffrey Giliam made a comment and I agreed with it Ronan said:
Has anyone seen Geoff J and Jeffrey G. (GJ>JG>GJ) in the same room together? … Doctroholics come only one per generation. I’m checking your IP’s. New Cool Busted!
The sad part is that I’m starting to think he is on to something… Where are the other doctroholics? Jeffrey and I post heavily on Mormon doctrine and theology, but not many others do. Why is that?
To be fair, there are others that occasionally like to blog on doctrine too – even if not as compulsively as I and JG do. Clark, J Stapley, Don, Kim, RT, and others at the big blogs break out doctrinal/theological posts on occasion. Plus Blake Ostler makes the rounds on the blogs and he is the current Godfather of Mormon theological thinkers. But in general people seem to shy away from the subjects. Instead of blogging on theology and doctrine they like to post on social issues or Mormon history or politics.
I have a couple of theories why thoughtful Mormons shy away from putting energy and time into serious theological study.
1. The S Word. The word speculation has a bad reputation in the church. If you don’t like what someone has to say in a Sunday school lesson, call it speculation and watch them flee from it like it was the plague. We have a real aversion to S word in this church and posting on doctrine and theology is almost by definition speculation.
2. Gunning for callings. I posted on this before. Basically my theory was that otherwise good Mormon theologians learn to keep their mouths shut because they realize that too much speculation could ruin their chances to serve in the church in the future. I don’t think this is unrighteous; rather it is expedient for many people.
3. Intimidation. Lots of people simply feel intimidated by doctrinal discussions. They assume that there is an in group of “knowers” and they aren’t in it yet. Of course they are wrong (not even the GA’s qualify as the unified knowers). One doesn’t have to go very far before we are all making educated guesses. As long as you can support a theory I see no reason not to talk about it.
4. Practice obsession. There is a false idea out there that focusing on what we do is all we need and there is no reason to dig into what we believe and why we believe it. This is a bit short-sighted, of course. Without the foundation of doctrine and theology we have little to inform our choices of correct behavior. Beliefs and practices cannot be separated and focusing on one to the exclusion of the other is generally unwise.
5. Blabbermouths. This is related to the S word. This is the idea that we aren’t allowed to talk about theology that is not in the current correlated materials. It is a belief with little or no scriptural support but there is a lot of cultural support for it.
Now for purposes of brevity I won’t go into the reasons I think we should be studying doctrine and theology right now, but I will suffice it to say I see lots of support for it in the scriptures. It seems to me that we are supposed to seek the mysteries of God here on earth – but for the reasons listed above and probably lots of others many Mormons are just not interested in that task.
What do you think? Where are the doctroholics? Where is the Mormon theology love?
(PS – Check radio.blog in the sidebar for musical support of this post)